Rob Sabin

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Rob Sabin Posted: Mar 12, 2014 4 comments
It’s been said that the sound associated with watching video is “half” of the experience. But is it really? Or is it actually more than half? Or less?

Answering this question was the goal of a clever study recently commissioned by DTS, with an eye toward promoting its new DTS Headphone:X technology. For those unfamiliar, Headphone:X has been at the heart of one of the more impressive CES show demos for the last two years running.

Rob Sabin Posted: Mar 07, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Lowest price ever for a Sonos starter system
Attractive, décor-friendly design
Natural, unhyped sound quality
Minus
Needs near-wall placement or optional SUB to sound its best

THE VERDICT
The Play:1’s low price and natural sound quality make starting or expanding a Sonos system easier than ever.

At $199 each, the Play:1 represents the new low entry point for the Sonos multiroom wireless audio system. Connect it to your router, download the free controller app to your smartphone or tablet, and you’re ready to start building a wireless wholehouse music system fed by your personal music library or any of the dozens of streaming services now integrated with the system. If you’d rather put your Play:1 in a room distant from your router, you can buy the $49 Bridge adapter to make the one required wired network connection, and you’ll be free to add Sonos components wirelessly all over the house.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 29, 2014 8 comments
Panasonic’s Departure from the Plasma Market is Heartbreaking, and Inevitable

There is both irony and tragedy in the fact that this year’s much-deserved prize for our Top Pick product for all of 2013 goes to TC-P65ZT60, whose short life and lineage will begin and end with the 2013 model year...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 29, 2014 6 comments
Here’s a happy problem: Following the merge of Sound & Vision and Home Theater last year, selecting our 2013 Top Picks of the Year involved culling through more than 120 products that had been granted HT Top Pick or S&V Certified status—13 issues’ worth, plus dedicated online reviews. While it was still easy to pluck out the stuff that really rose to the top, the end result was more standouts than usual. You’ll find several recommendable entries equally sharing the various category honors this year. Of course, we’ve still identified a single, very special piece of gear as our ultimate Top Pick of 2013. Care to take a guess?
Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 14, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $70

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Small, concealable form factor
Easy installation with good documentation
Excellent performance

Minus
May cost as much as a new router

THE VERDICT
There may be other options for improving your Wi-Fi, but the REC10 represents an exceptionally simple and effective path to robust video streaming on SmartTVs and tablets.

With Internet-connected smart TVs flying off the shelves during the holiday season and into Super Bowl Sunday, many consumers may find themselves trying to stream music and video to their new sets from Pandora, Netflix, Amazon VOD, et. al. But relatively few will have a wired ethernet connection near their televisions, and nothing can dumb down a smart TV faster than a weak Wi-Fi signal. Weak Wi-Fi can have immediate and noticeable effects on your audio and video quality. To compound the problem, you may not even know what’s causing them. An inability to connect promptly to your desired services may indicate that your router is too far away. But a laptop in the same room might have no trouble at all loading web pages, and a reasonable person might think the stuttering, buffering, or lack of resolution on your TV screen is a function of heavy Web traffic during peak periods, bad infrastructure at your Internet provider, or a technical failing of the playback device.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 06, 2014 1 comments
In the aftermath of the late 2013 news that it was abandoning the plasma TV market, Panasonic came to the 2014 CES armed with a new line-up of advanced 4K-resolution, LED-backit HDTVs—though no OLED models were annonced.

According to Julie Bauer, president of the Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company, the new high end 4K HDTVs will fill the hole in image quality that many enthusiasts believe will be left by the disappearance of the firm’s plasmas.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 16, 2013 16 comments
I had the unexpected and unexpectedly pleasant experience recently of viewing the 3D version of the theatrical blockbuster Gravity in what proved to be a perfectly competent RealD (i.e., not IMAX) presentation. I say unexpected because I’d actually recommended that our group that day skip the 3D entirely and just watch the (undoubtedly brighter) 2D version—such has my need for theatrical and at-home 3D dropped off the cliff. I only walked into the theater reservedly after a mishap in which the wrong tickets got purchased online in advance of our arrival.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 13, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,277

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Simple setup
Intuitive, engaging, easy interface
Excellent sonics when mated with good speakers
Minus
Limited streaming music options
No desktop controller

THE VERDICT
Though its wireless system isn’t as built out as the popular Sonos system, NuVo delivers a worthy competitor and a foundation for the future.

Back in Sound & Vision’s July/August 2013 issue, my colleague John Sciacca favorably reviewed the NuVo Technologies Wireless Audio System, a multiroom music solution that goes after the popular Sonos system head on, delivered by a company with an even longer history in distributed audio. (Read John's review here.) About 10 years ago, when Sonos didn’t exist and companies like Russound dominated the multiroom industry with traditional pushbutton wall pads that blindly operated hidden CD players, radio tuners, or other analog sources using flaky infrared signals, NuVo had another way.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 05, 2013 0 comments
The annual CEDIA Expo, held this past September in Denver, was a great show. The mood was more upbeat than many of us remember from recent years’ Expos. Traffic was brisk for most of all three days, and the manufacturers we visited seemed excited that the worst of the recession had finally passed, and that the custom install biz—which is notably affected by housing activity—had a vibrance not seen for a long while.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Nov 01, 2013 4 comments
The accompanying OLED stories mark our first up-close look at a display technology that goes by an acronym best pronounced as “Oh-lead,” and one that stands for the future of television. That’s a bold statement, and the time line should perhaps be qualified as “near-future” inasmuch as anything can happen in the developing world of display technology, and taken in its entirety, the future is known to be a very, very long time. But I dare say we’ve waited a long time to this point just to see OLED’s promise, and having now witnessed it firsthand, I’m having a hard time guessing what could better it short of a holographic display with equal image quality or something that does just what OLED does for a whole lot cheaper.

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