While it might take a village to raise a child, it takes an army and lots of time to build an estate! Custom Theater and Audio (CTA) in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where I work as lead system designer, was recently involved in all aspects of the A/V design and installation for Phil and Janet Pate's new home in North Myrtle Beach.
At a glance, you'd probably think that Panasonic's $1,000 DMR-HS2 looks pretty much like every other DVD recorder out there-including the Panasonic DMR-E30 that I reviewed just last month. But the DMR-HS2's chassis carries clues that something more is going on here.
Unlike almost everything else, the price of new home-entertainment gear moves only one way - down. While $99 DVD recorders bulk-stacked at the Quik-Mart are still a few years away, DVD recorders have already come down to match what a high-end VCR used to cost. Witness Pioneer's new DVR-320 and DVR-520H, with list prices of just $399 and $599, respectively.
Lots can happen in the A/V world over a 3-year span, but that same length of time is an eternity in the computer world, where changes take place almost daily. Any new A/V gear that you buy is likely to remain up to date for at least a few years, but it’s not unusual for a state-of-the-art computer to become a paperweight in almost no time.
Turning DVDs with Pioneer's DVR-810H is so simple my dog could do it (true, he is a German shepherd). That's because the deck is also a TiVo hard-disk recorder, and it restricts any DVD burning to dubbing what's already on the hard drive. In other words, it doesn't give you the flexibility of a standalone DVD recorder, but it's ridiculously easy to use.
Music servers are everywhere these days. Simple or complex, inexpensive or expensive, technically you're using one right now to read this webpage. But not all music servers are alike. The audio quality can vary greatly. For example, things like well designed digital to analog converters (DACs) are a huge part in getting good sound from your digital music.
Enter Olive. The San Francisco based company has been making gorgeous high-end music servers for several years now. With the 06HD, they're aiming right at the audiophile market.
Most of the Samsung DVD players we've tested have had something "different" about them. There were, for example, a couple of models with Nuon game-playing capability, and the last one we looked at could reproduce still pictures stored on Memory Stick flash-memory cards.
A year or so ago, a new "universal" DVD player - one that could handle both DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD multichannel music recordings as well as conventional DVDs and CDs - priced at anything less than a thousand bucks might have been big news. Today, a growing number of universal players are finding their way onto dealers' shelves.
For those of us without six figures of disposable funds, there are still some ways to improve a home theater/media room that don’t involve organ donation or a potential divorce. Here are some simple, won’t-break-the-bank enhancements that you can do on your own.
I review a lot of gear. While I don't think of myself as jaded, it does take a lot to get me truly excited about a product. The new Apple TV did it. I love this thing, and I am by no means an Apple fanboy.
The reasons why are simple. Apple TV combines several products I use on a regular basis into one user-friendly box. I use a PS3 or Blu-ray player for Netflix streaming, a Wadia 170iTransport for music playback, and my computer if I want to watch a TV show that I downloaded from iTunes. Apple TV takes care of all those things, and more.