While some of the competition (particularly LG) went all out for OLED this year (though OLED was hardly the talk of the show, an honor reserved for 4K) Panasonic didn't make any OLED product announcements. But they haven't been sitting on their hands.
Parasound's new ZoneMaster 1250 12-channel amplifier couldn't have arrived at a better time. Of course the name suggests a custom installation with multiple zones, but it could be used to satisfy the demands of Atmos as well, supporting a multitude of ceiling and surround speakers in a variety of configurations. Any pair of channels can also be bridged. Without bridging, the power is rated at 50W per channel into 8 ohms, all channels driven. A bridged pair of channels is rated at 120W into 8 ohms and 200W into 4 ohms. I can conceive of a user bridging three pairs for the front channels and using the other six unbridged for a 5.2.4 Atmos setup.
Most of our budgets won't stretch to the $18,000/pair level of these floorstanders, but with their Nextel series drivers from Seas of Norway, each speaker with one 7-inch midrange driver, one 10-1/4-inch long excursion woofer, and a 1.1-inch HEXADYM™ magnet tweeter, the Pass Pabs SR-2s sounded mighty sweet.
Will the prices of HD DVDs and BDs—the discs themselves, never mind the players)—keep the brakes on sales of the new format? If current trends continue, those of us with big DVD collections had better start saving up if we want to eventually replace them with HD DVDs and BDs (Blu-ray discs).
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/patton.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Released in 1970, <I>Patton</I> is the cream of the crop of World War II films released recently on Blu-ray by 20th Century Fox. The film won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. George C. Scott, in the title role, famously turned down the honor as he didn't believe in competing with other actors. That takes nothing away from one of the most compelling performances ever put on film.
Wisdom Audio teamed up for its demo with Datasat (preamp-processor), Barco (projector) Seymour Screen Excellence, and HTE (Home Theater Environments), and likely others to whom I apologize for leaving out here due to my rapidly scribbled notes. The wide-ranging selection of program material was particularly noteworthy. 2K from Blu-ray, and no Atmos in sight, but it was excellent nonetheless (though the videophile in me whispers that the gamma was a bit too high, making for rather dark and contrasty images!). HTE deserves special mention for the most stylish room at the show, which should be evident from the picture above. But HTE is from Italy, so that's not surprising!
Written by novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie and produced as a London stage play in 1904, Peter Pan has become a timeless classic, finding its way onto stage, screen, and television. But it’s this 1953 Disney film that defines the story for most modern audiences.
AT A GLANCE Plus
Excellent UHD performance
Solid build quality
Limited streaming apps
Less-than-perfect 4K upconversion
It’s not without minor flaws, but the second UHD Blu-ray player on the U.S. market delivers a stellar picture from UHD discs at an attractive price.
The launch of Ultra HD Blu-ray players has now progressed from a slow drip to a trickle. Samsung was first with the UBD-K8500 (reviewed in our June issue and also available at soundandvision.com). At CEDIA, Sony showed its upscale UBP-X1000ES but won’t have it out till next spring and hasn’t announced pricing. Oppo’s new player is expected sometime this fall. And Panasonic’s own high-end DMP-UB900, at $700, became available in late September as we were going to press (watch for a future review).