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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 11, 2006 8 comments

Last time I mentioned a letter from a reader asking me to recommend great movie theaters he should check out on a visit to Los Angeles. I also suggested that out-of-towners visiting The Big Orange for our upcoming Home Entertainment 2006 show on June 2-4 (you are coming, right?) might want to include a visit to one or more of the best theaters in the world in their plans&mdash;particularly if they're from a theater-challenged part of the country. There are new multiplexes in LA <I>suburbs</I>, for example, that are likely better than any movie theater in the entire state of New Mexico (I know from experience, having lived in Santa Fe for 10 years and visited most of the theaters there and in nearby Albuquerque, the state's biggest city by far).

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 07, 2006 Published: Mar 08, 2006 0 comments

Our annual Home Entertainment show, sponsored by Primedia's home tech and photography publications&mdash;<I>Ultimate AV</I>, <I>Stereophile</I>, <I>Home Theater</I>, <I>Audio Video Interiors</I>, and <I>Shutterbug</I>&mdash;is still three months away. But time has a way of catching us off guard. If you plan on attending from out of town, you need to make plans now!

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 01, 2006 8 comments

With the HD DVD competition set to launch within a month, Sony invited members of the CE press to the Sony Studios in Culver City, California for an update on Blu-ray technology and a demonstration of that format's formidable capabilities.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 22, 2006 3 comments

It was the most ambitious do-it-yourself carpentry work I've done in five years, ever since I covered the windows in my home theater studio to shut out the light and minimize extraneous outside sounds. The latest project involved building a false wall directly in front of an existing wall, not only to conveniently hang an expected ongoing parade of flat panel displays coming in for review, but also to facilitate a planned series of on-wall speaker reviews. There's no question that on-wall speakers are a significant trend, and one that we can't continue to ignore here at <I>Ultimate AV</I>. As for in-walls, well, that's a project for the future.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 12, 2006 4 comments

Last week the local ABC affiliate in Los Angeles, KABC, became the first station in California (or so they said) to broadcast their local news programs in high definition. That includes the midday, late afternoon, early evening, and late night editions. And while that might not raise hosannas for a station whose idea of news includes shameless plugs for what's coming up that evening on <I>Dance With the Stars</I>, when you've got endless hours of news time to fill, what do you expect&mdash;an in-depth analysis of what's happening at city hall?

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 02, 2006 0 comments

Steven Soderbergh's feature film, <I>Bubble</I>, premiered last week in high definition on HDNet. It also opened simultaneously in several dozen theaters around the country, all of them either Landmark theaters (owned by HDNet owner Mark Cuban) or independent art houses. Theater chains boycotted the film because in its simultaneous release on cable television, in theaters, and (this past Tuesday) on DVD, it represented a perceived threat to their box office revenue.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 25, 2006 5 comments

Broadcasters are getting serious about HDTV, and for that we're all grateful. But some of them, and their sponsors, still don't get it.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 18, 2006 0 comments

If you're an old hand at this home theater audio business, you know that both Dolby Digital and DTS first appeared in theaters, then on laserdiscs, and finally moved on to DVD. Because of the limited data space for audio on all of these delivery systems, the audio had to be heavily compressed&mdash;not in dynamic range (a common misconception) but to reduce the space it takes up on the film or disc. Both DTS and Dolby Digital use sophisticated encoding schemes to allow them to save space by discarding data that are not deemed audible. This "perceptual coding," together with other clever tricks, allow full-bodied, powerful sound to be squeezed into that itty-bitty living space.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 03, 2006 3 comments

This is the week. Throngs of unsuspecting innocents are expected to descend on the Las Vegas Convention Center. (That's in Nevada, not Las Vegas, NM. Yes, there is such a place, but they don't hold conventions (there aren't enough rooms at the Motel 6).

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 28, 2005 2 comments

You could write a book about how loudspeakers work in real-world listening rooms. In fact, many experts have. And while they may differ on many of the details, I suspect they will all agree on one point: The room-loudspeaker interface remains most neglected link in the audio reproduction chain.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 23, 2005 4 comments

Going ape over that last minute gift for the home theater enthusiast? Or looking to drop a hint on a gift for yourself? Check out Universal's recent release, <I>King Kong: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries</I>. Boxed in a faux-antique file briefcase that someone was paid entirely too much money to design and that you'll probably ditch anyway because it won't fit on your bookshelf, this set contains a production memoir, four limited edition prints (my signed Certificate of Authenticity is number 32,786!), and, most important, two DVDs filled with behind the scenes production material on the making of the film.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 20, 2005 0 comments

"Buy any 61-inch or larger Samsung HDTV or any Samsung 1080p HDTV and receive a high definition, upconverting DVD player."

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 17, 2005 3 comments

In my previous blog, "In the Black," I stated that the new Sony VPL-VW100 SXRD projector would not accept 1080p directly. That was the impression I obtained at its press introduction at last September's CEDIA. But I subsequently learned, in completing Part I of my review of that projector, which will be posted on this site tomorrow (Sunday, December 18, 2005), that it will indeed accept 1080p/60 at its HDMI and DVI inputs.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 09, 2005 8 comments

Joel Brinkley's recent comments on black level issues with the new digital video displays was right on the mark for flat panel displays, but things are looking up, at least a little, with front and rear projection sets. I'm currently working on reviews of two new models, the front projection Sony VPL-VW100 SXRD projector and the Hewlett-Packard md5880n DLP. Both of these are 1080p displays&mdash;though only the HP will accept 1080p through its HDMI inputs.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 02, 2005 1 comments

Earlier this week companies supporting the upcoming Blu-ray high definition disc format gathered at the Fox Studios in Los Angeles to give an update to the assembled press. The companies represented were Buena Vista Entertainment (Disney, Touchstone, Miramax), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Panasonic, Pioneer, Dell, and Sony.

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