THE CONNECTED LIFE

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John Sciacca Posted: Nov 16, 2016 4 comments
Last month I wrote a blog titled, Day and Date: How Much Would You Pay? which pondered how much avid home theater owners like Sound & Vision readers might be willing to pay for the privilege of viewing first-run Hollywood films at home. To give this some perspective, it’s important to point out that the only system capable of doing this is the stratospherically priced PRIMA Cinema, with hardware selling for $35,000 and a $500 per film rental charge.
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John Sciacca Posted: Nov 09, 2016 1 comments
I was stunned when in August I learned movie server pioneer, Kaleidescape, had closed its doors. The company remained closed for nearly three weeks—though it continued delivering movies via its movie store and systems in the field remained fully operational—before securing new funding and resuming operations.
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John Sciacca Posted: Oct 26, 2016 3 comments
For many, going out to the movies is the perfect excuse to escape from the house. Get away from the kids. Unwind from work. Enjoy a date night. Whatever. Many people love the shared, communal experience of the local Cineplex. And, for the longest time, that has been the only way for law abiding, non-Hollywood types to watch a first room movie without waiting months for it to release to the home market whether on disc, on demand rental, or streaming.

But what if there were a way to watch movies at home, day-and-date when they were released in the theater? Would this be worth something to you? And if so, how much…?

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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 13, 2016 0 comments
As football season gets underway, it’s inevitable that I’ll get phone calls about mounting TVs on a porch, deck, or some other outside area as people prepare to watch their favorite team while enjoying the fall weather. And, I have to say, after spending a long weekend lounging by my swimming pool, sipping a beer, and watching The Masters golf tournament, I get the allure of outdoor video.
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John Sciacca Posted: Aug 24, 2016 1 comments
When you’re constantly surrounded by technology and automation, you tend to take things for granted, just accepting all the cool stuff happening around you as normal. It isn’t until someone who doesn’t live with this stuff on a daily basis comes over and points out all the stuff that happens in our house as different and special that we pay attention to it and realize how awesome it is.
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John Sciacca Posted: Aug 10, 2016 3 comments
I’ll be honest, when I first heard about Husqvarna’s Automower robotic lawnmower, my first thought was, “Well, that’s stupid.” I mean, why would someone need a Roomba for their lawn? Dumb.

Then I thought about it a little longer and started to weight the cost of the Automower versus my personal time and cost of cutting the grass or what I have been paying someone else to do it, and how nice it would be to come home and always have a perfectly groomed lawn, and Automower started to make a lot more sense. Then when I started to think about all the grief I get from my lawn guy – broken sprinkler heads, not coming for weeks at a time, yearly price increases – I started getting really excited about the prospect of letting a robot cut my grass.

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John Sciacca Posted: Jul 27, 2016 2 comments
One of my favorite comedies is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a film starring the incredibly well-cast Michael Caine as a savvy, sophisticated British confidence man trying to first mentor and then ultimately compete against the boorish, uncultured, bumbling American swindler played by Steve Martin.

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John Sciacca Posted: Jun 29, 2016 1 comments
As I write this I’m sitting in a hospital room waiting for my wife, Dana, to be induced sometime around 5:00 this evening. My weekend plans had been to grab some craft beer and watch The Masters in 4K on DirecTV, but this was a late-in-life, bonus baby (I’m 46), and the pregnancy has been fraught with “excitement” as we’ve dealt with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. If you get nothing else from this column, heed my advice to have kids sooner rather than later.
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John Sciacca Posted: May 25, 2016 1 comments
One of the biggest benefits computing integration has brought to modern AV gear is the advent of flash memory that can be repeatedly and easily updated with new firmware. Firmware updates provide not only ongoing improvements and performance benefits, but can even add new features. Let us count the ways…
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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 13, 2016 8 comments
One of the more unexpected non-events of January’s CES 2016 was the soft and lackluster launch of Ultra High Definition Blu-ray (UHD BD) players. While the industry had been expecting hardware capable of spinning new 4K discs to feed the millions of 4K TVs that have been sold, the fanfare at the show was surprisingly ho-hum. In fact...
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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 06, 2016 8 comments
Last summer NPR posted a story entitled ”How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?” that let users “blindly” compare six different tracks recorded at identical volume levels at three different qualities: MP3 at 128 Kbps, MP3 at 320 Kbps, and uncompressed WAV. The goal was to see if listeners could discern the quality difference and then correctly pick which version was WAV.

After thousands of results it turns out that people can tell the difference. But just barely.

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John Sciacca Posted: Mar 16, 2016 6 comments
For most of its life, your audio gear probably just sits there, quietly doing its thing, providing (hopefully) years of quality entertainment. But all the while, a silent killer lurks in your house: dust. And unless your listening room is like some kind of Silicon Valley clean space or you have a hermetically sealed audio rack—in which case you’ve probably got some ventilation issues to address—your gear is under constant attack from dust particles that could shorten its life.
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John Sciacca Posted: Feb 03, 2016 7 comments
Resident audio professor, Ken C. Pohlmann, recently wrote a blog entitled “Millenials: Your Soundbars are Killing Us” that generated quite a bit of ire among readers. The post generated over 30 comments both for, but mainly against, Ken’s assertion that millennials’ “insatiable love of soundbars” was going to ruin audio for the rest of us.
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John Sciacca Posted: Jan 20, 2016 2 comments
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch nearly every Dolby Atmos-encoded Blu-ray disc that has been released so far and while some of the movies are terrific (Gravity) others are more just things you suffer through (Jupiter Ascending). To save you some time trying to find the best scenes to demo, I’m gonna pinpoint each film’s marquee Atmos audio moment!
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John Sciacca Posted: Dec 23, 2015 1 comments
As we get ready to head into the new year, 3D "immersive audio" is the driving force behind home theater. A rundown of where things stand with the three competing formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D.

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