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Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 19, 2002 Published: Dec 20, 2002 0 comments
Just how does the StudioCinema 350 speaker system find that mystical balance between high performance and low price?

I used to wonder why I felt such an affinity for so many of Definitive Technology's speakers. What is it, I asked, that gives these slender, sock-smothered sirens their perennial appeal? Is it magnetism? (Well, surely, they use magnets, but that couldn't be it.) Is it the sexy allure of not being able to yank off a speaker's grille cloth to reveal what's hidden underneath? (Instead, you have to gently coax the soft sock covering down, slowly undressing the speaker. It's an act best done in the privacy of your own home after the children have gone to bed.) Maybe it's some secret, arcane knowledge inherited from the Knights Templar (promising riches, wealth, and speakers with popularity beyond reason)—or possibly it's from an earlier era, gleaned from chiseled hieroglyphics on the ancient stone walls of the pyramids at Giza (regaling in an afterlife filled with music and movies).

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 05, 2002 Published: Aug 06, 2002 0 comments
After billions of years of evolution, Mother Nature still needs a proper soundtrack.

As a Home Theater reader, you probably fit into the fine category of people for whom music and movies are a big part of life. I'm willing to bet that, when it comes to electronic entertainment, you think inside the box. Well, I guess it's more like two boxes: your home and your car. Sure, no self-respecting Home Theaters reader feels complete without a DVD player and full-blown home theater in his or her living room, and most of you probably couldn't live without a CD player in your car. But how many of you have come to realize that Mother Nature's soundtrack could use a little assistance (especially if you happen to be, like me, an environmentally challenged city dweller)?

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 29, 2001 Published: Dec 30, 2001 0 comments
Bass beyond belief.

There are some things you just don't expect to find together—say, peanut butter and foie gras or Anne Rice's vampire Lestat in a Garlique commercial. Other combinations may be more desirable and more elusive: a multiterm politician with integrity, for example, or computer products that not only work as advertised but do so consistently (wow, what a concept!). Rarer still is that mythical, mystical creation, immortalized in song and story and lusted after by speaker designers since the invention of the voice coil: the bookshelf speaker with bass.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 30, 2001 Published: Oct 01, 2001 0 comments
This A-BUS makes it easy to "Take the 'A' Train" in any room in your home.

Three computers and one broadband Internet connection in my house means that there's a computer network in my future. Right now, it's a hypothetical network, since my ISP (Prodigy) has only succeeded in providing hypothetical DSL service. I know it's coming, though, and I'm looking forward to installing the network about as much as one looks forward to shaking hands with his proctologist. My life is complicated enough without the added grief that a router, a switcher, numerous runs of CAT-5 cable, and unsavory terms like Ethernet and TCP/IP will bring into it. I want something elegant and simple that will provide me with the intended result—in this case, Web pages that load before I've finished typing in the URL and the ability to steal hard-drive space from my kids' computer—without requiring me to complete a doctoral thesis in connectivity and network administration.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 31, 2001 Published: Aug 01, 2001 0 comments
Put away that charcoal. Here's a different kind of grille for your patio.

My, how times have changed. Back when vinyl records were king and a 25-inch-diagonal TV screen was considered big, here's how you had a good time in the backyard: a keg of beer, burgers on a charcoal grill, and your roommate's big, ugly speakers (carted out from the living room) blasting Rush (Geddy Lee, et al) until the conservative neighbors call the cops. A decade or so goes by, and the fun gets more sophisticated: a cooler of imported beer (maybe a margarita machine), steaks on a gas grill, and a big, ugly boombox belting out Rush (Limbaugh) until the liberal neighbors call the cops. Today, it's likely to be takeout from a local BBQ joint, a mini-fridge full of hard lemonade, and steam from the hot tub mingling with big-band music from outdoor speakers hidden somewhere in the (twice-monthly manicured) foliage.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 28, 2001 Published: Jun 29, 2001 0 comments
Move over, Volvo. There's a new Swedish import to love.

I used to be one of those snide individuals who took joy in deriding people who drove Volvos. In my admittedly limited experience, a swiftly moving Volvo was invariably piloted by an aggressive female hell-bent on a mission to get Junior to his soccer game or Missy to her Brownie troop meeting on time. In the minds of these monomaniacal matriarchs, the brakes included on the vehicle were exclusively for emergencies. Then, through a curious train of events, I became the owner of a used Volvo 740GL. Despite some of its nagging proclivities—like spending more time parked in the mechanic's garage than in mine—I became quite enamored of that car. Its boxy shape and heavily overbuilt feel made it a deeply comforting and enjoyable automobile in which to travel. I'm not talking the plush and cushy kind of comfort here. This was more the secure and stable kind of comfort.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 28, 2001 Published: Jun 29, 2001 0 comments
A tasty sampler of in-wall speakers that let you enjoy intoxicating performance without any of the headaches.

I love chocolate. No, I lust for chocolate. I'm incapable of walking down a candy aisle without lingering to look at the tight foil wrappings and the seductively enticing labels with their bold promises of the sinfully rich pleasure within. Sometimes, I stop, unable to control myself, and furtively fondle a bar of this darkly ambrosial substance that the Aztecs quite correctly considered the food of the gods. Certain no one is looking, I'll even bring a wrapped bar, more precious than its weight in gold, to my nostrils for a fleeting, stolen whiff of its wondrous scent. My mouth begins to water. My body shudders with excitement—an embarrassing moment of weakness in my struggle to remain pure.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 28, 2001 Published: Mar 01, 2001 0 comments
Better than I pixelled it.

The first step in overcoming any problem is admitting that you have one, so I'll admit that I don't normally like LCD projectors. There's no point in hiding the fact—it was bound to come out. Of course, I'm ashamed to admit that I'm prejudiced against an entire class of display devices. This is America, after all, where products should be judged on merit and not the composition of their pixels. But, you know, they're fine for other people. It's just not the kind of projector I'd have in my living room . . . . So, I was fully prepared not to like Sharp's XV-DW100U LCD projector. Sure, it can accept input signals from an analog NTSC tuner all the way up to 720p and 1080i from an outboard DTV tuner. So what if it easily connects to your computer, too? All right, it is amazingly easy to set up. OK, it works as a front or rear, floor or ceiling projector. I'll even give you the fact that it's a blast to watch. But, hey, it's still an LCD projector, remember?

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 28, 2001 Published: Mar 01, 2001 0 comments
A mean machine isn't a lean machine.

I hate going shopping by myself. I don't know whether it's the result of nature or nurture (after mapping the human genome, maybe they'll discover a treatment for the cheapskate gene), but I am often afflicted with serious outbreaks of miserable, miserly thriftiness. At its worst, it can make an innocent trip to the grocery store a torturous hell—as I rub brain cells raw attempting to mathematically determine, among other things, which roll of toilet paper provides the best deal per square foot. Considering my penchant for the finer-but-cheaper things in life, I should be absolutely thrilled by the vertiginous free-fall of prices on entry-level DVD players over the last few years. It wasn't that long ago that the least expensive DVD player would set you back $1,000 or more. Today, it took me fewer than 10 minutes to track down a DVD player selling for less than $120 at a national retailer. While the available information on this machine was pretty sparse, I'd be shocked if it weighed more than five or six pounds. Giving it the weighty benefit of a very generous doubt, six pounds brings the cost of the player in at just under $20 per pound. That's a lot to pay for a roll of Charmin, but it's dirt-cheap for a DVD player. Interestingly, I've noticed that low-end DVD players and cheap toilet paper share a close correlation: The lower the price, the thinner and lighter each one gets. At some point, the performance of both really begins to suffer.

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