A/V VETERAN

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Tom Norton Posted: Mar 12, 2013 10 comments
In my review of Samsung’s flagship UN75ES9000, 75-inch LCD-LED HDTV, I remark that potential buyers should beware of bad demos of this very expensive set ($9000). Such a demo could make it very difficult to justify the expense.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 09, 2012 0 comments
In our experience, most active 3D glasses are sensitive to head position or, more precisely, head tilt. With most of them, however, the effect is minor and limited to a slight darkening of the picture.

But Sony's active 3D glasses, up to now, have been different. When using the company's HDTV 3D glasses, a 3D image on the Sony displays we've tested doesn't darken as you tilt your head from side to side. Instead, the left and right images break up, producing significant 3D crosstalk or, as this artifact is more colorfully known, ghosting. In addition, the Sony's 3D color varies with head position, shifting reddish with a tilt in one direction from vertical and bluish in the other. The latter effect makes it impossible to do a reliable 3D calibration; one eyepiece of the 3D glasses has to be placed over the lens of the measurement meter for a 3D calibration, and even a slight tilt can affect the result. Fortunately, the Sony 3D sets we've tested recently have produced visually satisfying 3D color even without a 3D calibration, though it's unlikely to be accurate. Nevertheless, the head-tilt ghosting and color shifting are annoying.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 05, 2012 2 comments
It may surprise you to learn that Technicolor is now a French-owned company, with its main offices outside of Paris. It may also be new to you that, to a significant degree, the company is now involved in audio post-production work, rather than the film processes for which it is best known.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 14, 2012 1 comments
The weekend before last, I drove to Newport Beach, CA, for the second iteration of The Home Entertainment (T.H.E. Show), Newport Beach, or THESNB. (Just kidding on the latter, though the full name is a bit cumbersome.) Last year's installment was fun but a little thin on exhibitors. This year, the show was so much bigger that it had to spread out from the main venue of the Hilton Hotel to the Atrium Hotel next door. If I had known it was going to be so big, I would have arranged to spend two days there instead of simply making it a day trip.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 24, 2012 6 comments
Movie theaters are always eager to find new ways to drag consumers off their living-room sofas and into the multiplex. In recent years, this has become more difficult as big-screen HDTV and home surround sound can often exceed the movie-going experience. Apart from sheer screen size, consumers have less and less incentive to spend $12 a head, or more, just for the seat—never mind the cost of refreshments.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 02, 2012 4 comments
It may surprise some readers, but apart from the Blu-ray discs we are assigned to review and the occasional disc that flies over the transom, most of us here at Home Theater actually buy the Blu-rays we watch. True, at one time (as the editor of the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and Ultimate AV), I received many screeners for review. So I do have a large collection of DVDs (many of which have been donated away), Blu-rays, and HD DVDs (RIP). But the pile has grown far more slowly in recent years. Nevertheless, I look forward to upcoming releases just as much as before, and I'll be in line to purchase titles I want that don't come my way for review.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 01, 2011 12 comments
In response to my review of the new 60-inch Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD LED-backlit LCD TV, a question arose in the online comments as to the power it consumes relative to the 60-inch Pioneer Elite PRO-141FD Kuro plasma I compared it to. The answer surprised me.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 27, 2011 8 comments
Would you suppose that the speaker shown in this photo is some new commercial speaker selling for six figures?
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 09, 2011 3 comments
The trademarked Elite name is still used by its owner, Pioneer, for a variety of products. But the company dropped its video-display business over two years ago. At that time, the Elite Kuro plasmas were widely considered, by us and many others, to be the best HDTVs available. Though they are no longer made, many observers still consider those last Pioneer Kuros better than any flat panel HDTV you can buy today.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 06, 2011 5 comments
Recently, I was doing some online research for my review of the new, Extended Edition The Lord of the Rings Blu-ray boxed set, which will appear in the October 2011 issue of Home Theater magazine. A search for director Peter Jackson produced a pile of information. Jackson today doesn't look as much like a slightly oversized Hobbit as he did when the show was in production (Jenny Craig got to him, or something). His earliest cinematic fascination was with gross-out horror—an interest clearly reflected in the designs for the Orcs and other nasties in Rings. There's a particularly disgusting added sequence near the end of the Extended Edition of The Return of the King that clearly shows this fixation is far from conquered. If "The Mouth of Sauron" is any indication, Sauron and his minions need a much better dental plan.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 03, 2011 5 comments
I was so ready to ignore the British royal wedding. I had zero interest. So when I set my PVR to record one of the interminable PBS reruns of the five-hour HD event, I told myself I was doing it just in case. Maybe someone would trip over the bridal train and send the whole entourage tumbling like a row of dominoes. That would be historic. Of course, getting a choice clip or two of video out of the closed world of the PVR is a puzzle I haven't yet solved—including the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction from a few years back that has now sadly succumbed to the eventual fate awaiting all our precious ones and zeros: Erased from existence.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 28, 2011 0 comments
When I read Stephen Beney's questions regarding the best way to connect his Oppo BDP-95 player to his Denon AVR-4308CI receiver and Scott Wilkinson's reply, I thought Scott's advice was good. But there are some other points I want to make about how to hook up that player for the best audio results—points that could apply to any universal disc player with claims of superior audio quality.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 01, 2011 0 comments
Actually, I do have bananas. A whole bunch of them, in fact. Not the edible variety, but rather banana plugs, those handy little devices for connecting your speakers to you’re A/V receiver or amplifier(s).
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Tom Norton Posted: Dec 22, 2010 0 comments
Come December 25, Santa will be slipping new Blu-ray players and discs under many a Christmas tree. But will those Blu-ray discs actually look better to you?

The Blu-ray format may be four years old, but I still see comments on various websites—not to mention in the mainstream (non-enthusiast) press—to the effect that those Blu-rays don't look any better than upconverted DVDs. When you read these comments, you need to ask a few questions about the commenter, questions to clarify the circumstances surrounding the observation. These questions may even relate to your own experiences…

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 09, 2010 1 comments
3D at home can be fun, but in my reviews of 3D displays from most major manufacturers (Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, and Panasonic), I've come across a problem that has been little noted. This problem is not with the displays themselves, all of which do a good job with the 3D effect, apart from occasional ghosting or crosstalk (double images when one eye sees the image meant for the other eye).

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