EDITOR'S EYE

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 04, 2013 1 comments
I love the walk down (short-term) memory lane that accompanies the preparation of our annual Top Picks of the Year feature. At the forefront of that is the great pride I take in revisiting all the hard work our reviewers and edit/art staff have put in throughout the prior 12 months.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 26, 2012 11 comments
Editor-in-chief Rob Sabin reminisces about a meeting with superstar amplifier designer Dan D’Agostino and lessons learned from a demonstration he'll never forget.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 15, 2012 9 comments
I made it a point this weekend to be among the first to view Peter Jackson’s latest epic, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure, in its native 48 frames-per-second frame rate. If you’ve not been keeping up with the news surrounding this movie, Jackson made the decision early on to shoot it digitally at twice the 24 fps rate used for the last 80 years or so. The 24 fps rate is closely associated with the look of film as we’ve come to know it. Increasing that rate can greatly reduce blurring and judder on fast motion and camera pans, allowing for extra detail that would otherwise be lost when shooting either film or video at 24 fps. Fast frame rates also improve the 3D experience, making viewing easier on the eyes and reducing the instance of crosstalk or “ghosting” artifacts. But it imparts a sheen that most of us would more closely associate with native video rather than film. If you’ve looked at film-based content on any LCD television that has its 120 Hz or 240 Hz motion enhancement features turned on, you know what I’m talking about. Such circuits cause content originally shot at 24 fps to look like video — the so-called “soap opera” effect. Some folks like the look and some don’t. Whichever side you fall on, there’s no arguing that the look these circuits impart to 24 fps native content is an artifice—it’s clearly not what the director was watching when he composed the film or what he intended for your viewing.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 10, 2012 2 comments
Find out why Editor-in-Chief Rob Sabin thinks the concept of transmitting high-quality sound via a wireless link should not be taken lightly.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Nov 21, 2012 4 comments
As the holiday seasons kicks off, a report from dealnews.com suggests that Black Friday will see some insane TV deals—like 55-inch 1080p HDTVs going for $499.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Sep 25, 2012 2 comments
With great gear, it's all about the "something special."

Reviewers at Home Theater have a near-impossible task. Their job is to communicate, with words on a page accompanied by a few photographs, an experience with an audio or video component that can only be rightly conveyed viscerally. That is to say, in real life we don’t just listen to or view components, we react to them: physically, emotionally, intuitively.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Aug 10, 2012 10 comments
Regular readers of Home Theater have heard me espouse, maybe once or twice too often, my belief in a broad definition of what makes a home theater. At the risk of repeating myself, perhaps verbatim, it’s not about how many speakers you have, how expensive your electronics are, how big your screen is, or whether you own a front-projection system.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 03, 2011 2 comments
I’ve given a lot of thought lately to our Top Picks list and what it should take for a product to achieve Top Picks status. This is no small matter. Most of us on the edit staff have counted on magazines just like this one to help direct our purchases, so we take the responsibility seriously. Home Theater’s list of best products needs to reflect the highest standards we can apply—and to be presented in a fashion that’s intuitive and useful.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 03, 2011 8 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
A lot of consumer electronics editors and reviewers have a love-hate relationship with product ratings. The love side comes from knowing they make readers happy. Assuming the ratings structure is well thought out (that is, simple and easy to understand) and the ratings are applied with fairness and accuracy, they wrap the whole product up in a nice little ball and tell you, at a quick glance, whether it's a winner, loser, or in-betweener. Perhaps most important, a good rating, or a good rating coupled with a seal of approval like our Top Picks designation, is validation that the product is worthy of the money you plan to spend on it. Given the sea of black boxes, identically thin TVs, and similar speaker systems out there, we recognize that giving you this validation is really the essence of our job at Home Theater.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Aug 25, 2011 4 comments
Have you been throttled lately? If you have, Home Theater wants to hear about it.

Okay, I'll explain.

In this brave new world where streaming media from the likes of Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu have virtually eliminated video rental stores and threaten to carry away our beloved reference-qualty Blu-rays on a river of rushing bits, the notion of "internet access" takes on new meaning. The capacity of the data pipeline running into our homes affects both the quality and quantity of the video content we can download, not to mention our ability to upload, store, and share our personal media in the Cloud.

And on this front, I'm afraid all is not well in Streamville...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 14, 2011 3 comments
Take a deep breath and inhale that acrid air, my friends. No, it's not the wildfires burning out west this season, but the stench of fuming Netflix customers as they cancel their subscriptions in droves following the announcement Tuesday of a startling 60% rate hike for the company's popular streaming/DVD combo plan.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 12, 2011 0 comments

I took the invitation a while back to visit the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory in Los Angeles, where the company introduced its 3D Innovation Center to members of the press. PHL is a research and mastering center where Panasonic works with filmmakers on new camera, editing, encoding and playback technologies.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 25, 2011 9 comments
In recent months we've received a number of letters at Home Theater complaining about our coverage of the new 3D video technology and of the Web-streaming capabilities appearing in everything from TVs to Blu-ray players to set-top boxes. Most of our video reviews now have a dedicated section describing 3D performance and a short discussion of what content is available on each product's streaming platform. Some readers who are skeptical or not interested in these new part-time features think we shouldn't be wasting their time by writing about them, while others have defended us and acknowledged our obligation to report on any significant new features and assess their performance.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Mar 21, 2011 14 comments
"Once in awhile, even a blind pig finds an acorn."

I'll never forget when I first heard that expression. I was just starting my consumer electronics journalism career, writing for a car audio enthusiast magazine, a city slicker from New York interviewing a down-home Southern boy about a high-end install he'd done in his old Acura. I asked him how he'd managed to win all these big car stereo competition trophies, and he let loose that platitude as a way of saying, "well, if you work hard enough and just keep stumbling around, eventually you can't help but get lucky."

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