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Mike Wood

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Mike Wood Posted: Mar 05, 2003 Published: Mar 06, 2003 0 comments
Eight plasma displays go head to head.,

Yes, you heard right, kiddies. The plasma antichrist (me) is performing a comparison of eight mostly industrial-strength plasma displays. Will I deride them all? Probably. Will their beauteous splendor turn me to the dark side? Possibly. Will I lose my mind in the process? Read on to find out.

Mike Wood Posted: Nov 04, 2002 Published: Nov 05, 2002 0 comments
Part two: Construction and acoustic treatment.

Last month, I introduced some basic concepts to help you design the ultimate home theater. For those of you who missed it, we invited three home theater design gurus to help us build a new listening room: Anthony Grimani, Russ Herschelmann, and Norm Varney. I tried to cover everything you'd need to build a great home theater, regardless of your budget. This month, I continue that approach as I discuss the construction and acoustic treatment of our room.

Mike Wood Posted: Oct 05, 2002 Published: Oct 06, 2002 0 comments
We did it...with a little help.

How many people have purchased high-performance sports cars only to drive them in bumper-to-bumper traffic? Sure, they might attract attention, but they certainly aren't taking advantage of the car's performance benefits. The world of home theater isn't all that different. Your listening environment can noticeably affect your system's performance, for better or for worse. Changing that environment may cost nothing, or it may cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Then again, we review plenty of subwoofers and amplifiers that cost thousands of dollars. Perhaps spending a little on room acoustics may not be such a bad idea.

Mike Wood Posted: Mar 31, 2001 Published: Apr 01, 2001 0 comments
High-end, high-definition satellite thrills.

The press has lamented the lack of HDTV programming for far too long. In reality, there's a reasonable amount of HDTV broadcasts right now—enough to warrant the purchase of an HDTV, anyway. You just have to know where to look for it. In certain areas, you can get most of CBS's prime-time lineup, as well as various shows and movies from NBC and ABC. Almost anywhere in the country, there are at least two cable networks, Showtime and HBO, and one pay-per-view channel that broadcast HDTV signals. Granted, there isn't as much high-def programming as there is NTSC programming and you can't get it from cable, but who needs cable when you can have satellite?

Mike Wood Posted: Sep 03, 2000 Published: Sep 04, 2000 0 comments
A four-way Face Off of 50-inch NTSC televisions.

In this age of high-definition/digital television, it might seem odd for us to be reviewing NTSC (aka analog) displays. After all, digital television (DTV) and its subgroup, high-definition television (HDTV), are the way of the future, destined to replace our analog NTSC system. However, even if you consider the current crop of digital programming adequate enough to warrant purchasing one of the newer, more-advanced ATSC (aka digital) displays, they're still fairly expensive. If you're looking to spend more than $3,000 on a display, we strongly suggest that you consider DTV or DTV-ready products. However, for those of us who didn't cash in our Internet stock options in time, there are some good deals to be had on big TVs, and, as usual, Home Theater is here to point you in the right direction.

Mike Wood Posted: Feb 28, 2000 Published: Feb 29, 2000 0 comments
Mike Wood Conducts a Five-Way Face Off of Step-Up DVD Players. Christmas may be over, but tax day is only a few months away. You know what that means? Refunds! Assuming you file your tax return correctly (or cheat), you should be getting some money back, and we know just the way to spend it: Buy a new DVD player! This format has skyrocketed by leaps and bounds. By this, I don't mean the typical "Well gee, DVD has started off better than CD's or VHS's launch," even though it has. I'm talking the "according to one source, DVD sales are up at least 300 percent over last year" kind of skyrocketing. Three-hundred percent! Everyone else is obviously doing it, so why aren't you? If you haven't witnessed the startling visual and audio clarity available with the shiny little discs, you need to jump on the bandwagon.
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Mike Wood Posted: Apr 28, 2000 Published: Apr 29, 2000 0 comments
The struggle continues: single versus dual speakers; dipoles versus monopoles.

Lightsabers swirl all around, machines explode to the side, and lasers come from directly behind you. If you saw The Phantom Menace in a Dolby Digital Surround EX-equipped theater, you heard one of the more spatially realistic soundtracks recorded to date. Now, that same technology has entered the home market under the moniker THX Surround EX (non-THX-certified products might refer to a similar process as 6.1), and a familiar question returns to haunt us: Should you use dipole or monopole (also known as direct-radiating) loudspeakers for the back channel? This time around, the question comes with a new twist: Should you use one or two speakers for this channel? Willing to conquer any challenge and answer any question, we at Home Theater took it upon ourselves to test various speaker configurations. After describing the process itself and the advantages and disadvantages of dipole and monopole speakers, we'll let you know what our panel of judges thought of the various options.

Mike Wood Posted: Jun 27, 2003 Published: Jun 28, 2003 0 comments
Samsung SIR-TS160, Zenith HD-SAT520, and Sony SAT-HD200 HD DirecTV Tuners: Connect to the future of digital TV.

Whether we like it or not, digital video connections are the way of the future. Growing consensus from manufacturers suggests that consumers who have HD-capable displays that only have analog (Y/Pb/Pr or RGB) high-definition connections won't be left out in the cold, which is good news. However, while Hollywood may allow legacy equipment to remain in service, they prefer the potential copyright protection that's available through digital signals. We enthusiasts like the opportunity to pass digital signals directly to the display without stopping along the way for an unnecessary conversion back to an analog signal. Finally, several manufacturers have come out with new HD-capable DirecTV tuners to accommodate the growing number of displays with digital connections.

Mike Wood Posted: Jan 25, 2000 Published: Jan 26, 2000 0 comments
How to embrace convergence technology.

Computer sales are climbing as Internet traffic doubles every 100 days. With progressive-scan DVD players finally hitting the market, DVD-player sales are expected to reach $3 million or more by year's end. Regularly broadcast HDTV programming is up from last year's one hour a week to almost 30 hours a week of prime-time programming. How do you find a display that can take advantage of these technologies without breaking the bank? Look for a multimedia display. This growing segment of the television market makes the most of your imaging resources. With products like Hitachi's 36SDX88B, your house doesn't have to look like NASA's control room.

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Mike Wood Posted: Sep 04, 2001 Published: Sep 05, 2001 0 comments
A three-step guide to receiving HDTV signals.

You used to be able to buy a TV, plug it into an antenna or cable outlet, and start flipping channels. It was an amazingly simple system. Digital television and its high-resolution subsystem, high-definition television, aren't quite as plug-and-play . . . yet. Antennas only pick up high-def signals in some markets; cable usually doesn't pick them up at all. Satellite seems like a good bet, but it doesn't offer everything. Plus, certain DTV tuners don't work with certain displays. It's enough to drive any self-respecting videophile to drink (not that we'd fault you for that). But there is hope. The following three-step guide is intended to make setting up an HDTV system easier than following that other multistep program. First, figure out what sources are available to you, then find a tuner that works with those sources. Finally, buy a high-definition display that works with that tuner.

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