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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 22, 2015 9 comments
TV shopping has become vastly more complicated over the past decade. Buyer confusion used to revolve around issues of 720p versus 1080p, LCD versus plasma, edge-lit versus full-array, 3D or not 3D, and “What’s a smart TV?” All manageable problems, in retrospect.
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 17, 2015 3 comments
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Q Are different wireless speakers compatible with each other? I own several Sonos speakers, but have recently noticed more top-line speaker makers (e.g., Definitive Technology, Polk) starting to distribute their own. As I continue expanding my wireless hook-ups, I’m wondering if I'm locked-in to using just Sonos? —Stephen Romanelli

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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 09, 2015 5 comments
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Q Several months ago, I cut the cord and started relying on over-the-air digital broadcasts for TV, supplemented by a Roku streaming box. Here’s my issue: I get decent reception, but know that it could be better if my indoor TV antenna was located at a higher point in the house. My wife, however, doesn't want an outdoor antenna installed on the roof or in the attic. Running cable from the second floor to the first is also out of the question. Is there a solution similar to wireless speakers that would let me install the antenna and a wireless transmitter on the second floor with a receiver connected to the TV on the first? —Rick Mesick / Simsbury, CT

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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 02, 2015 3 comments
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Q I store my music collection on an iMac and use iTunes for playback. I have a plan to use two JBL powered studio monitors and an old Sunfire MKII subwoofer for a desktop speaker system. Here’s my question: How do I set the system up for optimal sound quality? Should I buy a USB DAC? If I did, how would I integrate it with the speakers and sub? Is there a DAC with three RCA outputs and a built-in subwoofer crossover? —Rick Martinez

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 25, 2015 8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate color
Good contrast
Inexpensive
Minus
So-so shadow detail

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s E65-C3 is a very good HDTV that delivers considerable bang for the buck.

Let’s hear it for the good, old-fashioned HDTV. You know, the sort that once wowed us with its ability to display crisp, highdefinition broadcasts, Blu-ray Discs, and other next-gen sources of home entertainment. In recent years, however, HDTVs have been upstaged by Ultra HDTVs— fancy-pants upstarts that promise compatibility with all manner of future innovations, from UHD Blu-ray to High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. It should come as no surprise, then, that such sets cost on average 50 percent more than their regular HDTV brethren.

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 24, 2015 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Spacious sound
Fold-up, portable design
Cool conversation piece
Minus
Limited volume
Limited bass
Pricey compared with Bluetooth speakers with similar volume/bass capabilities

THE VERDICT
BenQ’s treVolo is a lush-sounding Bluetooth speaker that should please audiophiles with reasonable expectations.

Portable Bluetooth speakers range from toy-like novelties you can tote along in the shower to high-end Danish audio lunch boxes designed to survive a day at the beach. In between, you’ll find plenty of other options ranging from cheap and bad-sounding to pricey and good-sounding.

With Bluetooth speakers starting to become not just a popular, but a default audio playback system for many people, it’s perhaps time to take the category seriously. BenQ, a company best known for video monitors and projectors, has entered the crowded Bluetooth speaker arena with an attention-grabbing effort: a compact portable design that uses electrostatic panels—the same tech found in speakers from companies like MartinLogan—to convey sound. If that doesn’t count as a bid for Bluetooth speaker seriousness, I don’t know what would.

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 23, 2015 3 comments
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Q Should an LCD TV be expected to last 10 years without repairs, or is that unrealistic? — Pat Templeton / via e-mail

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 18, 2015 5 comments
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Q I’m using an older A/V receiver in my home theater to connect the optical digital audio outputs from a Fios TV box, OPPO Blu-ray player, and Gen-2 Apple TV. I want to upgrade to the new Apple TV, but it only has an HDMI output and no optical digital audio connection. Here’s my question: Are there any optical-to-HDMI audio converters that will let me keep using the same receiver in my setup? —Lavern Lee

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 11, 2015 3 comments
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Q I’m preparing to make a big, across-the-board system upgrade, much like I did several years back when HDMI 1.3 became standard for most devices. Will I need to replace my 5-year-old HDMI cables with new, higher speed ones to accommodate 4K video and HDMI 2.0/HDPC 2.2? —Mark Johnson

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 04, 2015 3 comments
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Q I am in the market to buy a high-end Dolby Atmos AV Receiver for my basement home theater and have shortlisted the following receivers: Yamaha RX-A3050, Denon AVR-X5200W, and Marantz SR 7010. I also have a Sony receiver that powers a KEF 5.1 speaker system in my living room.

I was looking at the manuals for these receivers online and they all have second-zone HDMI and preamp outputs. Would it possible to use the new receiver’s Zone 2 HDMI or preamp outputs to send surround to my 5.1 system upstairs? —Bhaskar Vooradi

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