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.
As soon as you pull it from the carton, you know that the Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD player means business. Its 17-inch rack-size width and 20 pounds of heft beckon to a day when men were men and DVD players were both taller and heavier than a slice of white bread.
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.
Ever since "universal" DVD players first appeared, I've waited patiently for prices to come down and for the flood of Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio titles initially promised to arrive. Well, the flood never came - I've got Yes's Fragile on DVD-Audio and Miles Davis's Kind of Blue on SACD, but I'm still waiting on the Beatles' Sgt.
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.
First, the obvious: The Astell&Kern AK100 is beautiful, both visually and in tactile terms, much the same way as the first iPod you ever saw was. Who cares what it is or what it does? You just want to hold it. And own it.
I'm struggling with this: What do you call these things? Digital Media Streamers? Digital Media Receivers? How about media extenders, media streamers, or digital media adapters? Maybe Internet Streaming Devices? If you abbreviate that last one, it sounds a bit sinister. "Dude, I got an ISD." Annnnnnnd, you're on a list somewhere.
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.