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Mike Wood

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Mike Wood Posted: Nov 04, 2002 Published: Nov 05, 2002 0 comments
Big new toys.

Everybody loves new toys. When you're a geek like me, new toys come in the form of test equipment. This year, Christmas came early for the Home Theater video department, as we finally got the OK to buy an HDTV test-pattern generator. Woo-hoo! OK, so maybe test-pattern generators aren't your idea of fun. Maybe a 73-inch rear-projection TV is your idea of fun. Well, we got one of those in, too.

Mike Wood Posted: Nov 04, 2002 Published: Nov 05, 2002 0 comments
Part two: Construction and acoustic treatment.

Last month, I introduced some basic concepts to help you design the ultimate home theater. For those of you who missed it, we invited three home theater design gurus to help us build a new listening room: Anthony Grimani, Russ Herschelmann, and Norm Varney. I tried to cover everything you'd need to build a great home theater, regardless of your budget. This month, I continue that approach as I discuss the construction and acoustic treatment of our room.

Mike Wood Posted: Oct 05, 2002 Published: Oct 06, 2002 0 comments
We did it...with a little help.

How many people have purchased high-performance sports cars only to drive them in bumper-to-bumper traffic? Sure, they might attract attention, but they certainly aren't taking advantage of the car's performance benefits. The world of home theater isn't all that different. Your listening environment can noticeably affect your system's performance, for better or for worse. Changing that environment may cost nothing, or it may cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Then again, we review plenty of subwoofers and amplifiers that cost thousands of dollars. Perhaps spending a little on room acoustics may not be such a bad idea.

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Mike Wood Posted: Sep 02, 2002 Published: Sep 03, 2002 0 comments
With the LC-30HV2U LCD TV, the king of LCD brings the skinny to the medium-sized market.

Thin is definitely the wave of the future. Just look at most Hollywood actresses. Their faces get more gaunt with each passing season. Television displays are the same way. People are tired of the little black box. Consumers have clamored for skinny plasmas and liquid crystal displays (LCDs) since their introduction a few years back. The only problem's been that plasmas have come in large screen sizes (42 to 60 inches diagonally) while LCDs have been relegated mostly to computer-monitor service. Sharp, longtime master of the LCD panel, has now brought forth a midsized panel for midsized environments.

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Mike Wood Posted: Aug 05, 2002 Published: Aug 06, 2002 0 comments
If you call Runco's company headquarters and get put on hold, you'll hear about Roger Ebert's love for the film and Runco products, as well as his opinion that the latter makes home theater look much like the former. As my wife and I recently watched Panic Room in a real movie theater, I couldn't help but wonder if Ebert's comment was much of an endorsement. The picture quality was good. We just realized that, among other things, film has a lousy black level. Dark scenes were dark enough, but the blackout drapes along the sides of the screen were much darker. I've often used to the black level of CRT-based home theater projectors; I've been spoiled. I wondered, if film isn't the panacea of imaging, what is?
Mike Wood Posted: Apr 09, 2002 Published: Apr 10, 2002 0 comments
Determining amplifier-power requirements for your home theater system.

Power output is often the biggest selling point for receivers and standalone amplifiers. Bells and whistles aside, you can often spend a lot less money for an amplifier or receiver that has a lot less power. While there are several factors that influence an amplifier's sound quality, we're not going to go into many of them in this article. We're going to focus on power. Ideally, an amplifier should be rated with low distortion, measured over the entire audible frequency range and with all channels driven. You should always listen to an amplifier before you purchase it. Whether you should test the 60-watt model or the 150-watt version depends on many factors, including your listening environment, the speakers you'll be using with it, and your listening habits.

Mike Wood Posted: Mar 06, 2002 Published: Mar 07, 2002 0 comments
Ten HD-ready and two HDTV rear-projection televisions lock heads in a battle to the death.

Hi, my name is Mike, and I have a problem. My problem is that I open my big mouth during editorial meetings. Sure, I have some good ideas (like the van-speakers story, which I mentioned as a joke yet everybody loved it—you people are weird). But, for every good idea, there's a multitude of crappy ones. It's a statistical-average thing. Unfortunately, the ideas that editor Maureen Jenson seems to like are the big, time-consuming, and labor-intensive ones. Take this Face Off, for example. We had a couple of sets already. I figured I'd invite other manufacturers, get one or two more sets, and have a good, manageable comparison. It's just my luck that nearly every manufacturer decided to participate.

Mike Wood Posted: Feb 02, 2002 Published: Feb 03, 2002 0 comments
The next step in system control.

I could make some witty comment about how difficult it is to use the typical home theater, but, at this point, that would be a cliché. Basically, unless you take a great deal of care or spend considerable funds on a touchpanel-based control system, it's likely that, at best, only one person in your house will be able to play a DVD in the correct aspect ratio with 5.1 sound. To be honest, I'm surprised more people don't just read a book. It would certainly take less effort.

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Mike Wood Posted: Dec 29, 2001 Published: Dec 30, 2001 0 comments
The Piano HE-3100 DLP projector is such a bargain, you can add fries and a Coke.

Let's face it. Cheeseburgers, at least to low-income-bracket electronics reviewers, are one of three perfect foods (pizza and beer being the other two). So, I greatly anticipated tasting southwest-U.S.-based fast-food chain Carl's Jr.'s Six-Dollar Burger . . . for $3.95. Supposedly, we can now have the same-quality burger normally found at Chili's or T.G.I. Friday's or wherever, but for less money. It was with much the same anticipation that I looked upon PLUS Corporation's announcement that they would market a $3,000 DLP projector, dubbed the Piano. Since most home-theater-based DLP projectors, like the ones in our recent Face Off (October 2001), cost around $10,000, $3,000 seemed like a pretty tasty deal.

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Mike Wood Posted: Sep 04, 2001 Published: Sep 05, 2001 0 comments
A three-step guide to receiving HDTV signals.

You used to be able to buy a TV, plug it into an antenna or cable outlet, and start flipping channels. It was an amazingly simple system. Digital television and its high-resolution subsystem, high-definition television, aren't quite as plug-and-play . . . yet. Antennas only pick up high-def signals in some markets; cable usually doesn't pick them up at all. Satellite seems like a good bet, but it doesn't offer everything. Plus, certain DTV tuners don't work with certain displays. It's enough to drive any self-respecting videophile to drink (not that we'd fault you for that). But there is hope. The following three-step guide is intended to make setting up an HDTV system easier than following that other multistep program. First, figure out what sources are available to you, then find a tuner that works with those sources. Finally, buy a high-definition display that works with that tuner.

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