Back in October 2004, we tested the ZVOX audio system, an all-in-one "virtual" surround option for those who want something better than built-in TV speakers. Now comes the $199 ZVOX mini audio system, a shrunk-down, portable version intended to provide sound for music players like the iPod or for TVs.
It wasn't long ago that you'd hear old-school audiophiles at CES bemoaning the disappearance of tubes - the vacuum tubes in audio gear, that is. But the latest technology to beat a quick retreat from the mega-electronics show is the picture tube, or CRT, used in traditional TVs.
When I tested Sony’s flagship XBR-55HX929 TV for our November 2011 issue, I called it out as having “the best-looking picture I’ve seen from an LCD TV in a long time.” Jump forward a few months, and I’m attending a demonstration at Sony’s HQ. During the demo, Sony put its flagship XBR, a model with a full-array LED backlight, up against a group of other TVs, including the company’s new edge-lit HX85 Series set. If you follow our reviews, you’ll know that LCDs with edge-lit LED backlights typically don’t fare well, mostly due to screen uniformity issues. However, the HX85 set in Sony’s shootout not only smoked the competition but was about on par with the company’s XBR model. Naturally, I was eager to get my hands on one.
Aside from a huge, costly flat-panel TV, the easiest way to put a big video image up on your wall is to buy a front-projector/projection screen combo. And with good high-rez front projectors now selling for as little as $2,000, that option can be particularly budget-friendly.
Way up on the list of reader questions we field on a regular basis is, "Which is better, plasma or LCD?" Compared with more affordable tube-type TVs, both technologies are relatively new. But their flat form factor, combined with an ultra-bright picture that looks good from any position on your couch, gives many folks a spasm of techno-lust.
Along with a deluge of bigger, flatter HDTVs of various technological stripes, a hot TV news item at CES 2005 was the arrival of digital cable-ready TVs with slots for a CableCARD. This credit-card-size device was designed to eliminate set-top cable decoders - those ugly black boxes that have squatted, like parasites, on or below our TVs for the past two decades.
To hear Sony tell it, the future will be in 4K. This stance comes as no surprise: The company’s 4K-rez digital cinema projectors have been installed in over 13,000 theaters, and at least 75 Sony-produced titles have either been shot with 4K digital cameras, or transferred to the higher-rez format from film. And Sony isn’t just pushing 4K for theaters — it wants viewers to experience it at home.
Anyone who's set up a home theater system knows how much work is involved. Once you find the right TV and speaker system, you need to round up a stack of components, including a DVD player, a video recorder, and, perhaps, a satellite receiver. Then you have to spin a frightening web of wires to route all of those signals through your A/V receiver or preamp/surround processor.
When Sony debuted its $27,000 SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) front projector a couple of years back, my first thought after drooling over its fine, filmlike picture was: They'll really have something if they can get this technology into a TV that sells for a few thousand dollars.