Digital surround receivers are by far the most complicated products we test. Not only do they have two primary modes of operation - two-channel stereo and multichannel surround sound - both using their digital inputs, but today they may also be called on to handle multichannel high-resolution analog signals from a DVD-Audio or Super Audio CD player.
The latest DVD recorders have so many advanced features that they can be daunting to use. Just pick up the instruction manual, and you'll likely find yourself slogging through pages of editing commands as well as countless rules for recording on different disc formats.
Getting the best picture resolution remains one of the chief goals of HDTV shoppers. But as I explained in last month's "Tech Talk," human visual acuity limits how much detail you can see in any image, live or onscreen.
"So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye." So goes the song. But only some of those sentiments apply to four digital-audio formats that have gone, or are about to depart, from the consumer-electronics scene. DAT, DCC, MD, and SACD never did fare "well" in the marketplace.
At a glance, you'd probably think that Panasonic's $1,000 DMR-HS2 looks pretty much like every other DVD recorder out there-including the Panasonic DMR-E30 that I reviewed just last month. But the DMR-HS2's chassis carries clues that something more is going on here.
The introduction of the compact disc was the greatest single leap forward in the history of recorded audio after Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877 and the introduction of electrical recording in the late 1920s. By 1983 the long-playing (LP) record had entered what the late Peter Mitchell, my prime audio mentor, aptly referred to as its Baroque period.
While I was working on this review, my friend Rob - a filmmaker who has a day job as a video editor at MTV - asked if I could recommend a DVD recorder to help him get rid of his bulky collection of VHS tapes. In true New York style, I started my reply with, "Have I got a deal for you . . .
Nothing beats using home movies to evaluate TVs. You choose what to shoot so you can stress a specific aspect of screen performance. Since you're the cameraman, you know precisely what each scene is supposed to look like.
At $2,800, the least expensive Vaio PC in Sony's MX desktop line doesn't seem like much of a bargain these days, even for a 1.7-GHz, Pentium 4 with an 80-gigabyte (GB) hard drive, 512 megabytes (MB) of memory, the exciting "home" version of Windows XP, and two better-than-average speakers (the 15-inch Sony LCD monitor shown is $600 extra).