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David Vaughn

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 09, 2012 8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $499 At A Glance: Impeccable build quality • 4K x 2K video output • The first Blu-ray player with HDMI inputs

We’ve come a long way since Blu-ray hit the market in 2006. Back then, players retailed for over $1,000, took more than a minute to boot up, and as long as two and a half minutes to load a disc. Thankfully, those days are behind us and the user experience with Blu-ray is now approaching that of a DVD player—although we’ll never get rid of the frequent firmware updates thanks to Hollywood’s piracy fears.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 23, 2012 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Four Atlanta businessmen set out in two canoes down the fictional Cahulawassee River before a dam is built to generate electricity for the growing population of Atlanta. Their adventure starts normal enough, but you get the impression that something isn’t right with the inbred people of the backcountry—and their enjoyable river ride turns into a horrific life-changing experience.
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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 24, 2012 2 comments
The buddy movie has been a staple in Hollywood going back to the days of Abbott and Costello. The 1980s revived it with films such as 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon, and there have been quite a few copycats over the years that have made their mark. Like most successful films, sequels are a surety, and this is where the Mel Gibson–fueled franchise proved its worth with nearly $500 million in box-office receipts for the four films.
David Vaughn Posted: Sep 17, 2012 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $199

At a Glance: Four-port HDMI switch • Inconsistent 2D-to-3D conversion • 3D conversion of video games causes lag

Believe it or not, the idea behind 3D movies started in the 1890s when William Friese-Greene filed a patent for a 3D movie process in which two films would be projected side by side on the screen and the viewers would look through a stereoscope to converge the two images. Needless to say, this didn't take off given the impractical viewing conditions. Over the next 100-plus years, 3D would attempt—and fail—to catch on with audiences.

David Vaughn Posted: Sep 05, 2012 18 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $250 At A Glance: Elegant design • Plethora of streaming options • Fast startup and loading of Blu-ray Discs

Sony single-handedly won the format war with its timely release of the PlayStation 3. Up until the PS3 hit the market in November 2006, HD DVD was beginning to gain the upper hand with disc and player sales. But the vaunted game station changed the marketplace virtually overnight and signaled the beginning of the end for the red-laser format. Fast-forward almost six years, and the PS3 is still the most-owned Blu-ray player on the market, although the standalone units have closed the performance gap and in some cases, surpassed the powerful game system.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 28, 2012 2 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $2,000 At a Glance: Extremely small form factor • Powerful, tight bass response • Impeccable build quality

Bob Carver is a legend in the A/V industry, and when he formed Sunfire in the 1990s, the company’s name became closely associated with subwoofers. In 1996, the Sunfire True Subwoofer, as it was marketed, was born, and it popularized what eventually became a whole new subcategory (so to speak) of the speaker industry. The 11.5-inch cube produced a copious amount of bass from a small enclosure by utilizing specially designed drive units and a patented Tracking Downconverter (TDC) amplifier that could dynamically adjust its power supply based on the incoming signals.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 24, 2012 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $499 At A Glance: Internet radio with a plethora of cloud streaming services • PiP source input preview • iDevice and Android Onkyo Remote app

Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the Onkyo TX-NR609 AVR (Home Theater, August 2011), which offered a boatload of features, including seven channels of amplification, firstrate video processing, THX-Select certification, and many of the goodies found on the flagship products for the attractive price of $599. When I was done with my audition, I gladly gave the product Top Pick status and recommended it for anyone looking for near-flagship performance on a tight budget.

David Vaughn Posted: Aug 14, 2012 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $150 At A Glance: Fast loading of Blu-ray Discs • 802.11n Wi-Fi • Bevy of streaming options • No additional memory needed for BD-Live

The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) requires mutual fund companies to tell investors that a fund’s past performance does not necessarily predict future results—and the same could be said of Blu-ray players. In the case of LG, I’ve had the opportunity to audition its top-of-the-line offering for each of the past four years. In 2009, the company’s BD390 (Home Theater, January 2010) was the fastest player I’d ever used, and in July 2010, I awarded its BD590 a Top Pick because of its solid Blu-ray performance and plethora of streaming services. Unfortunately, in 2011 LG dropped the ball with the BD690 (Home Theater, September 2011) with faulty firmware releases and buggy disc playback.

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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 02, 2012 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
During World War II, Casablanca served as an exit point for many Europeans seeking to escape the gripping hand of the Nazis. American expatriate Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), owner of Rick’s Café Américain, isn’t what you would call a people person. When Rick’s ex-lover, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), arrives in town with European resistance fighter Victor Laszlo, they seek out Rick’s help in obtaining papers to escape Casablanca. Can the man who refuses to “stick his neck out for nobody” set his cynicism aside and do the right thing?
David Vaughn Posted: Jul 05, 2012 0 comments
Do wireless HDMI kits really work? We test three to find out.

In late 2003, HDMI-equipped consumer-electronic devices started to appear on the market. Unfortunately, the transition to digital has been anything but smooth. Although HDMI was a vast improvement over DVI (Digital Visual Interface) in its ability to carry both audio and video in one cable, it came with its own set of issues.

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