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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 03, 2008 0 comments
Price: $7,000 Highlights: Superb sound for both movies and music • 10 channels of powerful Class D amplification • Sets a steep learning curve but rewards with immense flexibility • Video processing has limitations, including no upconversion of HDMI sources

And the Kitchen Sink

Sometimes I get nostalgic for the early days of home theater. For example, I fondly remember the Proceed AVP processor I reviewed for Stereophile Guide to Home Theater in 1997. Conventional Dolby Digital and DTS were its most exotic operating modes, the remote had fewer than a dozen buttons, and it didn’t provide room equalization, extra surround modes, or onboard video processing. In fact, it didn’t have any video switching beyond S-video. We didn’t need no stinkin’ component, and no one had even heard of HDMI. Laserdisc was the most established source, DVD was brand new, and consumer high definition was still a mote in the FCC’s eye.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 08, 2008 3 comments

In a recent e-mail, an old friend and audio reviewer asked about Blu-ray players. I tried to steer him away (successfully, I hope) from what he thought was a good deal on an new, unused first generation Sony Blu-ray player. The seller had apparently almost convinced him that this was some sort of undiscovered gem, akin (though in a different application) to the early, tank-like SACD players held in high regard by some audiophiles.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 06, 2008 0 comments
The One to Beat?

While LCD displays may dominate that video wall at your local Best Circuit Shack these days, don’t dismiss the benefits of plasmas. No company has put more R&D into plasma development than Panasonic, and it’s paid off. People may disagree about who makes the best plasma sets, but no one will dispute that Panasonic is in the thick of the action. When it comes to the breadth of its product range, Panasonic is the champ.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 29, 2008 0 comments
Anyone can calibrate.

According to Websites that investigate such things, there are 219 million televisions in the United States. That averages to about 0.74 TVs per person. Bermuda leads the world with more than one TV per person (must be all those hotels). And China reports it has 400 million TVs in all.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 16, 2008 0 comments
Samsung has an unusual history with high-definition video projectors. Its most recent 720p DLP model, designed in consultation with video expert Joe Kane, was superb, even standard-setting in many important respects. But dealers were rare, and worse, the projectors arrived on the market just as comparably priced 1080p models were becoming available. They ultimately sold out to lucky buyers at bargain prices.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 08, 2008 0 comments
Deeper and darker.

When Pioneer released its first KURO plasma sets last year, its eighth generation of plasmas overall, they met with nearly universal praise. Critics acclaimed the KURO series for the new standards it set with the depth of its blacks. Fittingly, the word “kuro” means deep, dark, and penetrating in Japanese.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 08, 2008 0 comments
“i” is for intense.

Every audio reviewer thinks back on specific products and sometimes wishes that he or she bought them following the review. For me, one such product was the Polk RT3000p. The two-piece speaker featured a powered subwoofer, with the mid-tweeter section perched on top in a separate cabinet. The system had a gutsy, meaty quality to it that beautifully suited movie soundtracks.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 01, 2008 0 comments

Last week we had fireworks and speeches in Denver, as 84,000 screaming fans jammed Invesco Field to celebrate the upcoming CEDIA Expo. It was the biggest kickoff CEDIA has had since Bose sued them for use of the term "Lifestyle."

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 12, 2008 0 comments

<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.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 07, 2008 Published: Aug 07, 2008 0 comments
The right size, the right price, the right controls.

Video experts and video reviewers can be a cantankerous bunch. We’re always engaged in a tug of war with manufacturers about what we’d like to see in new HDTVs. We aren’t often successful, not necessarily because the manufacturers are stubborn (OK, sometimes they are), but because they’re more concerned than we are about the realities of the wider marketplace. We couldn’t care less about floodlight-worthy light output, a remote that will also start your car, or a little jig the TV plays when you turn it on or off. But we’re sticklers for good blacks, natural-looking detail, and accurate color.

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