AV GLOSSARY

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 08, 2010 0 comments
All for 1.4, and 1.4 for All?

In 2002, the video world was just getting comfortable with component analog video. HDTV and DVD were only starting to acquire mass-market status. We were using three separate video cables to connect our shiny new HDTVs to our best sources. Add to that up to six audio cables to our A/V receivers. This forest of cables wasn’t heaven (except to cable vendors), but it worked, and it provided most viewers with their first real taste of high-quality video. We also had DVI, a standard for digital video borrowed from the computer world. But because its clunky connector only carried video and not audio as well, it never achieved critical mass.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 14, 2009 0 comments
THX, Dolby, and Audyssey deliver reference-level punch at lower volumes.

You know the drill. You’re just getting into the latest action blockbuster on your new home theater rig when a still, small voice wafts gently into your SPL-addled ear. “Isn’t that a bit loud?” Or perhaps the voice comes screeching in from another room. “I can’t hear myself think in here.” Or there’s a knock at the front door from the men in blue, demanding that you surrender your assault rifle in exchange for a fun stay in the slam with Tony the Hammer.

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Joshua Zyber Posted: Mar 16, 2009 0 comments
How important is HDMI 1.3 anyway?

The HDMI standard was developed with noble intentions. Most people in the home theater hobby know the hazards of cable clutter. When you have a lot of equipment connected this way and that by separate audio and video cables, you wind up with a tangled mess of wires behind your equipment rack or entertainment center. The problem is compounded by component video (three cables just for picture) and multichannel analog audio (six to eight more cables!). Now factor in a DVR, a couple of DVD players, a Blu-ray player, a video processor, and an A/V receiver all interconnected in one theater room. If you want to add or remove any piece of equipment, you’ll have to squat behind the rack with a flashlight and trying to trace each cable from end to end. Which unit did this blue one come from? If I plug that red cable into here, will I get my picture back, or will my speakers start blaring obnoxious noises?

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 14, 2009 0 comments
How does color accuracy measure up?

There’s more that goes into making a good display than accurate color, but it’s certainly one of the biggies. Color in a video display may seem like a relatively simple subject, but it’s not. In this Gear Works, I’ll outline the two most important factors in assessing and measuring the color accuracy of the HDTVs we review—color tracking and color gamut. I’ll also show you how we present this in the HT Labs Measures graphics that accompany our reviews. This article will shed some light on what these important measurements tell us about the color accuracy of the displays we test here at Home Theater.

Joshua Zyber Posted: Feb 09, 2009 0 comments
In movies, one size never fits all.

By now, most home theater fans have undoubtedly grown used to seeing letterbox bars on many movies they watch. In today’s high-definition era, any content with an aspect ratio that’s greater than a 16:9 (a.k.a. 1.78:1) HDTV screen must be presented with black bars on the top and bottom of the frame. Blu-ray viewers have many examples of this. Approximately half of all modern theatrical films are photographed in the scope aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Iron Man, Tropic Thunder, and Wall-E fall into that category. Scope photography is sometimes referred to as 2.35:1 for reasons that are too complicated to explain in detail here. Just know that 2.40:1 is technically correct, although many people in the industry continue to use the term 2.35:1 interchangeably. At the other extreme, material narrower than 16:9 (classics like Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood are 1.37:1) will have pillarbox bars on the sides. In the middle, movies composed for 1.85:1 (such as the The Sixth Sense, Hellboy, or Knocked Up) nearly fill an HDTV.

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Joshua Zyber Posted: May 19, 2008 0 comments
To bitstream or not to bitstream?

For all the dramatic improvements they’ve given us in the picture and sound quality of movie playback in our homes, sometimes it feels like the new high-definition disc formats—both Blu-ray and HD DVD—also make our lives needlessly complicated in some respects. Case in point is the process of getting high-resolution surround sound audio from the disc player to an A/V receiver or processor. Let’s be frank here and admit that, in this regard, things were a lot simpler with standard DVD, where there was far less confusion about the different audio formats and hardware hookup requirements.

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Mar 24, 2008 0 comments
Still lacking simple self-control.

The holy grail of home theater simplicity is to have fewer remote controls and one-touch operation without confusing programming. HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) promises to control components that are connected via HDMI cables with just one remote. Turning components off and on and one-touch play and record are some of the first features enabled on these initial HDMI CEC home theater offerings. But they often prove to be not so easy. You must set up the HDMI CEC in each component’s menu, and controlling the components can be inconsistent. Plus, each brand has its own nomenclature for menu and action items. But perhaps being forewarned will enable you to be forearmed.

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Feb 26, 2008 Published: Jan 26, 2008 0 comments
The greatest thing to happen to LCD, ever.

The coolest demo I saw at CEDIA 2007 was a demo I saw at CEDIA 2006. The original demo was at the Planar suite. Dolby now owns the company that was working with Planar, BrightSide Technologies, and the technology shown in these demos has a name—Dolby Vision. The short version is this: Using LEDs, you can dim specific areas of the backlight to go along with what is happening with the video. In other words, you can dim certain areas of the screen, while keeping other areas bright. In the simplest form, picture a split screen with black on one side and white on the other. Local dimming would allow the LEDs on the black side to be off and the LEDs on the white side to be lit. The result is a fantastic, legitimate contrast ratio, along with possible energy savings and a host of other potential benefits. But first, we have to understand the problem before we can talk about this solution.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Oct 04, 2007 2 comments
You've installed your speakers, but your room still doesn't sound right. In this installment, we show you how to tweak your room's sound with acoustics.
Steve Faber Posted: Oct 01, 2007 2 comments
Set up your video display to get a great picture.
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Steve Faber Posted: Sep 21, 2007 2 comments
The art of making your whole system sound great.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 12, 2007 0 comments
An important feature of HDMI is its ability to carry both video and audio. If it passes this information in bitstream form, the receiver or pre-pro, rather than the player, decodes the various versions of Dolby Digital and DTS.
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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Aug 13, 2007 Published: Jul 13, 2007 0 comments
The bad, the ugly, and the 120 hertz.

I have long been a complainer about motion blur with LCDs. It drives me crazy. I have gotten a lot of flack over the years for this, which I really couldn't care less about. (You don't see me making fun of your issues, do you?) I would just like to point this out: Why, if I weren't the only one who hated motion blur with LCDs, would nearly every LCD manufacturer come to market with 120-hertz LCD panels that claim to eliminate motion blur (a problem that they, surprisingly, haven't mentioned before)? Before I rub it in and say, "I told you so," let's look at what causes motion blur, why it may or may not be a big deal, and how a 120-Hz refresh rate can help solve the problem for LCDs.

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jul 16, 2007 Published: Jun 16, 2007 0 comments
What it is. What it isn't.

In our November 2006 issue, I wrote an article in this space on the difference between 1080p and 1080i. In the same issue, we reported on how many TVs don't deinterlace 1080i correctly, and how even fewer pick up the 3:2 sequence when given a 1080i signal from a film-based source. The resulting confusion caused a torrent of e-mails. Let me clear up what this all means for you. But, before I go on, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I feel that every TV should deinterlace and pick up 3:2 properly; but, while it is a shame if they don't, it is not the end of the world.

HT Staff Posted: May 25, 2007 0 comments
Introduction
Shopping for an AVR you're going to be confronted with sheer tonnage of surround sound decoding options. You don't really have to pick and choose among them since they're all included, but we thought that you might want to know what you're buying in all those little logos that appear on your AVR's front panel, and also get a basic primer on surround sound in general.

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