Photos by Tony Cordoza Up against the wall! That's the marching order being given to speaker designers by companies that want to offer systems to complement flat-screen TVs. With cabinets barely exceeding the 3- to 4-inch average depth of most plasma or LCD sets, some new speakers incorporate this directive literally.
One argument made by naysayers when 3D TV first arrived was that the feature would jack up prices for flat-panel sets. That did prove sort of true at first, but 3D was quickly folded into the general feature package for most TVs, leaving set prices to continue their downward trajectory. Case in point: Panasonic’s new TC-P55ST50. The first Panasonic 3D TV I reviewed 2 years back had a 50-inch screen and cost $2,600. But the company’s new P55ST50 3D plasma has a larger, 55-inch screen and costs around $1,600. Depending on how the rest of this review plays out, that could mean we have a serious bargain on our hands.
Sony's XBR series TVs have a devoted following, but some of the sets in the line tend to be priced higher than models with similar features from other set-makers. So if you're an XBR fan who is in the market for an HDTV with a really big screen, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the price of Sony's new 65-inch rear-projection HDTV monitor.
While HDTVs are a lot cheaper now than they were a few years back, the options are still limited if you're looking to score a high-def model for not too much cash. You can get a hefty direct-view tube TV for less than $1,000, but the screen size on that baby is likely to be only 30 inches or less - too small if you want an engaging home theater experience.
Audiophiles and musicians alike will recognize the name Tannoy from the pro-sound world - the company's speakers are used in recording studios around the globe. So I was surprised to see speakers from such a serious outfit show up in a funky, fun package like the Arena system. The Arena's podlike satellites owe a debt to 1970s sci-fi style: think rounded, organic, and amoeboid.