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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 27, 2012 1 comments

Stewart Active 170 3D
Performance
Setup
Value


Da-Lite High Power
Performance
Setup
Value
Stewart Filmscreen Reflections Active 170 3D
Price: Varies by size, type (see review) At A Glance: Higher gain than popular StudioTek 130 G3 • Good off-axis performance and color uniformity • Noticeable hot spot

Da-Lite High Power
Price: Varies by size, type (see review) At A Glance: High Gain • Picture darkens visibly off-axis • Hotspotting virtually undetectable

We’ve come a long way from the days when screens were an afterthought. I imagine there are still a few enthusiasts who cut their projection teeth on a sheet or a bare white wall, or even an old, beaded, home-movie screen. Today we know better. The screen is a vital part of the projection setup.

Screens now come in a wide variety of sizes and characteristics. Their physical construction—fixed frame, retractable, flat or curved, masked or unmasked, perforated or not—is a subject for another day. There are also rear-projection screens. Here, however, we’re primarily concerned with the characteristics of the screen material itself, as used in front-projection setups, the type most commonly found in theaters, both commercial and home.

HT Staff Posted: Feb 03, 2012 0 comments
It’s always a blast around here to take a look back and see which of the hundred or so components we’ve reviewed in the last year really rose to the top. Of course, the best of these end up on our Top Picks list, but like watching a good movie whose message or performances resonate in the days and months that follow, there are always a few pieces of gear that prove themselves to be just a little more special over time.
Scott Wilkinson Posted: Nov 24, 2011 1 comments
As the song says, it's the most wonderful time of the year—or the most dreadful, depending on whether or not you plan to join the buying frenzy on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Many stores open at an ungodly hour and offer seemingly outrageous deals on certain products to get people in the door, hoping that they'll buy more than they bargained for and put the store's accounts in the black for the year, which is why it's called Black Friday—either that, or it might be due to all the black eyes resulting from fights over the last remaining $40 Blu-ray player.

Scanning some of the myriad Black Friday websites—my favorite is bfads.net because you can search by product category from multiple retailers—I found a few great deals on home theater gear. In many cases, however, these products are already available at less than the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price), so the savings I cite here might not be as great as they appear. I've included links to HT's reviews of the same or similar items if available, so let your mouse do the clicking before you venture forth to battle the hordes.

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Jamie Sorcher Posted: Nov 18, 2011 0 comments
Home Theater’s gift guide goes outside the black box with cool stuff for the movie, music, and game lovers on your list.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…are you humming along with me yet? Time to get in the mood and brace yourself for a few crazy weeks. The holiday hype started in stores weeks before Halloween, the commercials are nonstop now, and many folks made their wish lists months ago. So did we. We scoured pre-holiday events, called manufacturers, and went on an all-out hunt to find some of this season’s hottest holiday tech swag—gifts you’ll want to both give and get. Skipping the 3DTVs and audio gear we report on month in and month out, we instead zeroed in on some cool extras that’ll enhance your theater room or help you and your giftees enjoy your favorite movies and music on the go. Prices range from totally affordable to the serious splurge, but there’s a little something here for everyone. Read on for our selections, and happy holidays from Home Theater!

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Setup
Value
Price: $2,699 At A Glance: Gets the black bars out • Solid value • Minor uniformity issues

Elite Screens may be less well known than some of the bigger names in the business, but they offer a wide range of projection screens for every application. Since their products are manufactured in China, they’re more than competitive in price. But this limits their ability to offer customization, such as sizes not included in their standard lineup.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 12, 2011 4 comments
SRS & the Future of Surround

Like most Home Theater readers, I’ve known SRS Labs primarily as the company that does virtual surround sound and other audio solutions for HDTVs and soundbars—features largely dismissed by serious enthusiasts as lightweight hocus-pocus. So it was with some skepticism that, back in March, I rolled into the firm’s Santa Ana, California, headquarters for a private demo of some new surround sound technology.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 17, 2011 1 comments
Successful streaming is about making the right connection.

If you’ve just read “Streaming for the Masses”, you’ve got some idea of the range of hardware that lets you stream video and music from the Internet to your home entertainment system. The primary options include HDTVs, Blu-ray players, A/V receivers, game consoles, and various DVRs and dedicated streaming appliances. To some extent, it does matter which you choose, both in terms of the content you can access and your ability to connect it for the best picture or sound quality.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 14, 2011 5 comments
Streaming video has gone mainstream. Are you ready?

Once upon a time, outside factors controlled when and where you could watch a TV show or feature film. Over the past 35 years, that’s evolved dramatically. The revolution began with the introduction of the VCR in 1976. Its ability to record and archive broadcast TV shows and movies on magnetic tape burst open the floodgates for entertainment in the home. Other formats followed, all the way up to our present-day high-density Blu-ray Discs. One thing they’ve all had in common, though, is their physical nature. That’s all changing now. Like it or not, we’re entering a transition phase from physical media to streaming and the cloud. Looks like a revolution all over again.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 26, 2011 2 comments
Price: $2,199 At A Glance: Image pops with room lights on • Minimizes room reflections with lights off • Fixed frame—no retractable version

Lighten Up

Many of us will tolerate a projection system that requires a totally darkened room for movie watching. But when other family matters make this impossible, or when your buddies come over on a Sunday afternoon for the big game, how many of us are willing to totally blacken the room and leave everyone to stumble around in the dark?

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HT Staff Posted: Nov 23, 2010 0 comments
Give a Little Bit

Looking for the perfect gift for the techie in your life? Home Theater’s writers and editors are here to help spread the holiday season cheer.

HT Staff Posted: Nov 15, 2010 0 comments
This might be my favorite tent in the annual Home Theater circus. The Home Theater Top Picks of the Year are the very best components we’ve reviewed over the past year in all the major categories. We also call out an overall Product of the Year and a Budget Pick of the Year. This year we see a terrific mix of emerging new technologies—3D and next-gen media servers are both represented—and stalwart audio brands that deliver high-end sound year in and year out amid the constant churn of technology.
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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: Aug 03, 2010 0 comments
With all the fuss about the great images on HDTVs, particularly from Blu-ray, it’s easy to forget that sound is half the experience—maybe even more. Blu-ray offers more than just great video. By making use of its generous data-storage capacity and new ways to encode audio, it offers an audio experience that’s a significant step beyond the digital movie sound formats we’ve lived with. In fact, it’s arguably equivalent to the sound the engineers and filmmakers heard during the mastering session.
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HT Staff Posted: Nov 16, 2009 0 comments
Home Theater’s writers and editors step out of line to help you find the perfect tech gifts that will make this a holiday season to remember.
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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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