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Tom Norton Posted: Mar 09, 2016 10 comments
High dynamic range source material (HDR) has been available for downloading for months now, but the offerings have been spotty and, like the other enhancements that comprise the new Ultra HD format (4K 2160p resolution and longer, lower and wider color) constrained by the often limited bandwidth of Internet delivery. While popular notions of ever expanding bandwidth and more efficient compression abound, no one can know the future. And even now not all areas of the country are served by even the minimum Internet bandwidth required for fully featured Ultra HD delivery, much less at the highest possible quality
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 23, 2016 1 comments
We assume you’re into home theater because you love movies, so this blog is the first in an on and off series of movie (and possibly TV-series) recommendations. I first wanted to dub them “Hidden Treasures and Guilty Pleasures.” But while I liked the alliteration, it was too long for a headline so I’ll have to settle for alternating between the two, as appropriate. [Ed. note: We worked a little magic to make the head fit.]

I have a broad taste in movies, from historical to science fiction and a lot in between. I’m not big on crime dramas, grisly horror movies (unless the sci-fi elements outweigh the gore, as in Alien and Aliens), or gross comedies that make me squirm more than laugh. But almost anything else is fair game. The Dish isn’t a story about Hollywood gossip, but rather an Australian film about a 100-ton satellite communications dish parked in a sheep paddock near the small town of Parkes in the rural Down Under. If that sounds boring, it’s anything but...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 02, 2016 36 comments
Living in coastal northwest Florida has its benefits, but first-rate movie theaters isn’t one of them. In moving from the Los Angeles area last year I left behind some of the best movie theaters in the country...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 26, 2016 24 comments
We’re only a couple of months away from the scheduled introduction of Ultra HD Blu-ray players and the UHD discs to play on them. At CES both Samsung and Philips announced players due in March, and 17 titles are currently listed on Amazon for release March 1.
Tom Norton Posted: Jan 12, 2016 11 comments
Another year, another CES. I’ve been doing them for so long you think they’d become second nature, or even boring. But they always surprise, and there’s always too much of interest to see in the show’s four short days, jostling through 175,000 of my closest friends.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 22, 2015 1 comments
‘Tis the Season—for last minute, desperation shopping. But what could be easier than one or a few Blu-ray discs for that stocking by the fireplace. So here are a few recommendations...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 08, 2015 4 comments
On September 19, 2015, SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) published a Study Group Report titled “High Dynamic Range (HDR) Imaging Ecosystem.” The emphasis is on the production side, but the bottom line appears to be this: The industry is still engaged in a protracted study of HDR, with no current standards for the production and display of content in that format.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 24, 2015 4 comments
So you’ve got plans to go over the river and through the woods for that sleep-inducing turkey dinner. But the day won’t be complete without you later getting as bloated on football as on the banquet stuffing. After the feast everyone will sit down to see the MaciNacs of Mackenna Tech take on the Okidokes of Northwest Virginia A&T.

But as soon as you sit down in front of the TV you see something amiss. The Nacs and Dokes, normally the smallest players in the Little 7 Conference, look like wide-bodied extras from Lord of the Dwarfs: The Return of Gimli (I hope I’m not giving Peter Jackson any ideas).

You, our hawkeyed video purist, spots the problem immediately...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 10, 2015 7 comments
As we’ve taken pains to point out previously here at Sound & Vision, there’s more to Ultra HD than just 4K resolution. The latter merely offers eight times as many pixels as 1080p HD. That’s unlikely to make much difference on any but the very largest sets viewed from 6-8 feet from the screen. Advanced color and high dynamic range (HDR), are also a part of the specs for Ultra HD (or UHD for short), and will definitely up the ante in the eye-candy department even on a small set viewed from across the room.

While advanced color and HDR remain, for now, small players in the psychodrama that most folks still refer to as simply 4K, they’re definitely on their way...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 27, 2015 0 comments
My first CEDIA was in Dallas in 1995, and it was held there for the next year or two. But unless my memory deceives me, 2015 was its first time back in the Big D. As I rode the Super Shuttle into the city from the airport, the building that housed that 1995 event was clearly visible next to the expressway. I went to a boatload of classes and seminars that year. There was plenty of time for them. You could cover the main exhibit floor in less than an hour—if you lingered. Calling them exhibits that year was a little grandiose; they were simply tables occupied by many new, unknown manufacturers hoping to grab a foothold in the growing but still small home theater custom installation market.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 13, 2015 3 comments
I had a dream last night. I was wandering around lower Manhattan (New York). I think I was trying to find my way, but as dreams go I’m not exactly sure where to. I was apparently using a map on my tablet, but the tablet was an old CRT the size of the integrated CRT monitor/computer on the first iMac. I wandered into a bookstore, apparently in search of a more usable map, but all I recall seeing was a copy of Widescreen Review and a children’s version of the New York Times, the latter’s cover filled with full color comics (definitively proving, I suppose, that we do dream in color, though the hues were so odd that they must have been captured in two-strip Technicolor). I had left my “tablet” outside (perhaps the bookstore was a tablet-free zone) and when I went back outside it was still there but the screen had been smashed. In a New York minute. Then I woke up.

This was all likely inspired by my recent trip to New York to attend the Vizio launch of its new Reference series Ultra HDTVs...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 29, 2015 7 comments
It’s fall, and a young man’s fancy (and we hope a woman’s as well) turns to thoughts of evenings by a roaring fire listening to music or watching a movie or two on that new flat screen UHD TV (hopefully not mounted above said fireplace!). There have been so many interesting posts to the S&V website recently that I can’t resist the temptation to offer a few thoughts on some of them. Some commenters to these individual posts have beaten me to the punch, but I’ll press on.

Paradigm Concept I’ll soon be finishing up a review of the Paradigm Prestige 95F loudspeaker for our sister publication Stereophile. No sneak peeks here, but it has certainly grabbed my attention.

So I was intrigued when I read about the prototype Paradigm Concept 4F.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 15, 2015 35 comments
Moving, either across town or across country is up there with life's highest stress producers, just below a death in the family, divorce, being fired, or taxes. And as I've alluded to in previous blogs, when an audiophile or home theater enthusiast is involved (and many of us are both), all bets are off as to which of these events is the worst! I’ve written a bit about my recent move before, but there’s always more to say...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 01, 2015 3 comments
Last year the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) laid down what it considered the minimum standards for a 4K Ultra HD set. A few months later it introduced a voluntary UHD logo program that manufacturers could use in advertising and labeling sets that meet the standards. This logo also clarified the name to be used for these sets: 4K Ultra HD. While manufacturers are free to make and sell 4K Ultra HD sets of any description (the CEA has no legal authority to stop them), they can’t use the logo if their sets don’t meet these standards. The logo will read either 4K Ultra HD or 4K Ultra HD Connected (though there’s nothing to stop a manufacturer who doesn’t meet the standards from calling their sets simply 4K, or Ultra HD)...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 18, 2015 9 comments
Join me in the WayBack Machine for a trip to 1995. Somewhere in North America a Stereophile Hi-Fi Show is in progress, and the writing staff is gathered for an Ask the Editor’s session. A question arises about the then fledgling music downloading technology. I recall I answered that, “We’ll be able to do it before we can do it well.”

As it turned out that was correct, though I’m no soothsayer...