Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 28, 2014 1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $15,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Smooth, clean detail
Excellent color
Rich, dark blacks
Minus
Occasional iris pumping
Pricey

THE VERDICT
With its compelling reproduction of smooth detail, fine color, and impressive brightness with 2D content, the VPL-VW600ES offers a tantalizing taste of 4K.

In case you haven’t noticed—or have just returned from an extended spring break in Antarctica—the newest thing in home video is Ultra HD, or 4K. 3D is so 2010. 4K is now.

But 4K home projectors are still a rarity, and so far, there haven’t been any true 4K consumer projectors even remotely approaching the price of a good 1080p model. Until now, that is. Sony’s new VPL-VW600ES comes in at an MSRP of $15,000, or just over half the price of the company’s VPL-VW1100ES, a recent update of the VPL-VW1000ES (Sony’s first consumer 4K model). That’s not exactly chicken feed, but it’s a move in the right direction.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 21, 2014 0 comments
Some time back I was in the South Bay area of Los Angeles to pick up some gear at our California headquarters in El Segundo, some 30 miles from my home in the Valley (that’s the San Fernando Valley, the pre- and near post- WWII home to hundreds of western movie shoots and, more recently, to freeways, mega suburbia, and Valley Girls). Even Angelinos may not be aware that El Segundo got its name from being the site of the second Standard Oil refinery built on the West Coast. As far as I know there’s no town immortalizing El Primero or El Tercero.

But I digress.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 12, 2014 0 comments
Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
When we last saw Gru, our slightly dorky but lovable and (in his own mind) super-villain, he had softened up thanks to the trio of meet-cute orphans. Gru is now happily domesticated, has renounced his bad-guy role, and has converted his villain’s lair into a production facility for a range of delicious jams and jellies.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 07, 2014 0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color and resolution
Good blacks and shadow detail
Satisfyingly bright 3D
Minus
Typical LCD off-axis limitations
Minor 3D flicker and ghosting

THE VERDICT
It may lack the headline-grabbing, 4K bling-zing of Sony’s XBR Ultra HD designs, but this 65-inch KDL series HDTV sits at the top of the company’s bread-and-butter line and offers more than enough features and performance to satisfy a wide range of buyers.

With all the ink spilled these days about the trendy but expensive Ultra HDTVs, a plain vanilla HDTV, with its resolution of 1920 x 1080, may seem a little ho-hum. But Ultra HD (4K, or more correctly, 3840 x 2160) is still consumer 4K content-starved with its specs not yet fully complete, and the jury is still out as to whether or not it will offer significant benefits in typical home screen sizes. Its price of admission also remains high. As a result, top-of-the-line, non-Ultra HDTVs, such as Sony’s new KDL-65W850A, remain serious players in the high-end video market.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Gary Supernova is an ace coordinator at Mission Control on the planet BAAB. His specialty is keeping his lunkheaded brother Scorch, the planet’s superhero-astronaut, from getting himself killed on dangerous missions. But when the most hazardous mission of all comes up—to the Dark Planet from which no one has ever returned—Gary doesn’t want his brother to risk it. Scorch takes the assignment anyway, and Gary refuses to help. But when Scorch gets captured on the Dark Planet and imprisoned in Area 51 along with other alien life forms, Gary comes to the rescue.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 26, 2014 2 comments
Ultra HD Blues…and Reds, and Greens I recently completed a review of Sony’s new VPL-VW600ES Ultra HD (4K) projector. This isn’t a sneak peak—that would cannibalize our coverage. The review will appear in the May 2014 issue of Sound & Vision. But for those who can’t wait, I’ll just say here that while the 600ES isn’t the champ in all respects, it’s still, overall, the best-looking projector I’ve yet had in my home theater.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 14, 2014 5 comments
2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $40,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate color
Superb resolution
Near state-of-the-art black level and shadow detail
Huge, bright picture
Minus
Price

THE VERDICT
The UN85S9AF is a hyper-expensive flagship for Samsung, and more of a technology demonstration than a product for the masses. But the money, as they say in Hollywood, is up there on the screen to see.

I once joked about the humongous 100-inch-plus HDTVs many manufacturers trot out at trade shows, suggesting that the best way to get them into your house was to place the TV where you thought it should go on the slab of your house under construction, then build the house around it. Samsung’s new 85-inch (diagonal) Ultra HD isn’t that big, but it’s close.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 13, 2014 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $350

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good video performance
Unique ergonomics
Vertical or horizontal placement
Minus
No front-panel display
Sluggish YouTube access

THE VERDICT
Its video performance, 4K upconversion, and atypical form factor may well attract buyers, while its slight edge enhancement and mixed performance on some Internet sites may not. But it’s clear that this Toshiba is not your father’s disc player.

It’s getting harder these days for a manufacturer to build and sell a high-end Blu-ray player simply as a Blu-ray player. The market is saturated, and the latecomers, who finally realize that DVD is not high definition and a Blu-ray Disc offers the best quality video currently available to the consumer, seem content to pop for the $49.99 Blu-ray special on aisle 5.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 11, 2014 12 comments
I recently completed a review of The Right Stuff on Blu-ray, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Sound & Vision as well as on this website. Since space is limited in my print review, I've decided to dedicate this blog to how I evaluated the 96kHz audio offered on the disc.

Last year, Dolby announced a new variation on its TrueHD audio codec for Blu-ray, a process that uses 96kHz upsampling of the. Its purpose is to eliminate some common digital artifacts (see Geoff Morrison's article for a more detailed explanation of how this works).

The process has only been used to date, however, on a few releases. The Right Stuff, originally released on Blu-ray in November 2013, was supposed to be one them. Through a mastering error, however, the process was not engaged. Now, two months later, Warner Brothers has re-released the film with the 96kHz upsampled soundtrack.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 30, 2014 0 comments
Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
Kaiju is a Japanese word meaning, monster—typically a big monster and a very bad hombre with anger issues. Kaiju are hard to miss, and the founder of the Kaiju feast was, of course, Godzilla the Great.

In Pacific Rim, Kaiju (gesundheit) are popping up all over, emerging from a rift in the ocean floor and stomping all over the biggest cities around the Pacific. To counter the looming apocalypse, mankind has built mechanical monsters of its own, mechas known as Jaegers. Jaeger means hunter in German, but while my first encounter with a Jaeger was a schnitzel, these Jaegers are huge machines, matching the size and strength of the Kaiju.

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