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David Vaughn Posted: Aug 14, 2012 3 comments
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
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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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 25, 2012 0 comments

The trailer for this movie showed a lot of promise and the star power of Mark Wahlberg had me eagerly awaiting its release on Blu-ray. Sadly, the screenplay is a predictable mess, the acting inconsistent, and the twists and turns have been done countless times in Hollywood that the ending couldn't come soon enough. At least the AVC video encode is loaded with detail and other than some occasional black crush, there isn't much to complain about, but the best aspect of the entire production is the fantastic DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack the features plenty of frequency response and some pinpoint imaging.
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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 18, 2012 6 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Price: $1,100 At A Glance: Audiophile-quality sound • Great build quality • Outstanding iDevice app

In George Orwell’s futuristic novel 1984, Big Brother takes away the citizens’ free choice. This is one man’s vision of our future—and it’s turned out to be just the opposite. In fact, one could argue we have too many choices. For example, say you’re looking for a new car and have narrowed down your choice to a Ford Mustang. Your decision doesn’t stop there. You must now choose among 11 different models that range from $21k for the base to a jaw-dropping $54k for a Shelby GT500 Convertible. If money is no object, then grab some sunscreen and cruise in style. But for anyone on a budget, some difficult decisions need to be made before your purchase.

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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 17, 2012 4 comments

When the first Mission: Impossible hit the theaters in 1996, I found the story to be a little confusing and flat. Subsequent viewings showed it to be a movie that got better with time. Unfortunately, the sequel in 2000 was a dud—the action was great, but the screenplay wasn't anything to brag about. Lucky for us, J.J. Abrams took over in 2006 and delivered the strongest movie in Mission: Impossible III with end-to-end action and a compelling story. The fourth installment is produced by Abrams and directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles), who shows he can deliver a live-action film with fantastic pacing and intriguing characters. I guess Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is just like fine wine—he gets better with age. Not only do I think this is the best film of the bunch, the audio and video quality are demo-worthy with fabulous detail, rich colors, and one of the most engaging Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtracks available on Blu-ray.
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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 10, 2012 6 comments

Director Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation, and he knows how to capture an audience's attention and keep it riveted to the screen. While War Horse isn't one of his best pictures, it does create an emotional bond to the main character—a horse—and we get to follow his journey from his humble beginnings through his adventure in the First World War. The cinematography is fantastic, but it's the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack that makes this a demo-worthy disc, with pinpoint imaging and some of the most intense LFE since Saving Private Ryan.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 30, 2012 0 comments

September 11, 2001, is a day that I doubt anyone in the world will ever forget. For young Oskar, it was the day he lost his best friend—his dad. Based on the bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is an emotional rollercoaster about a preteen trying to cope with the loss of his father in his own unique way. I enjoyed the film a lot and was especially impressed with the AVC video encode with its outstanding level of detail and rich color saturation. The enveloping DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is no slouch either and features crisp dialog and pinpoint imaging.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 23, 2012 0 comments

Director Paul W.S. Anderson isn't what you would call an A-list talent and he stoops to an all-time low with The Three Musketeers. The classic novel from Alexandre Dumas is butchered beyond believe with horrendous dialog, wooden acting, and some of the most mind-numbing suspension of belief ever witnessed in cinema (a 17th century airship battle—really?). While the 3D is a serviceable effort, the 2D encode is so good you'll want to put the glasses away and relish some of the most amazing detail you've ever seen from a Blu-ray. Not to be outshined is the outstanding DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack that features pinpoint discrete effects and jaw-dropping imaging. If you're looking for some eye and ear candy to demo your system then this would be a great addition to your library.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 20, 2012 1 comments

As a product of the Muppets generation I had high hopes for their return to the silver screen and eventually Blu-ray, but color me very disappointed. While the technical aspects of the Blu-ray are pure reference-quality with amazing detail, vibrant colors, and enveloping surround sound, the script leaves a lot to be desired with uninspiring human characters, a paint by numbers script, and middling musical numbers—and no, I don't think "Man or Muppet" should have won the Oscar. My kids have generally liked the Muppet productions but were just as disappointed in this one as I was, but at least it looked and sounded great and is a worthy candidate for showing off your gear.