Mike Wood

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Mike Wood Posted: Jul 02, 2001 Published: Jul 03, 2001 0 comments
Feeding the Beast and Chasing Its Gremlins : A basic guide for harnessing AC power.

There's absolutely nothing worse than putting together an awesome home theater system that's starved for power or buzzing with ground loops. We often take electricity for granted, assuming it will be there when we need it. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. You don't necessarily need an electrician just to connect your audio and video system, but you may need to check out your electrical system before you spend hours, if not days, connecting all your components. The two things you should consider are whether your system is getting enough power and if your components are connected to that power system correctly.

Mike Wood Posted: May 02, 2001 Published: May 03, 2001 0 comments
The truth behind progressive-scan DVD players.

Conspiracy theories are like computer problems—almost everyone has one. From JFK's assassination to the demise of TWA flight 800, it's rare that everyone will accept the simplest explanation as the truth. Consumer electronics has its fair share of conspiracy theories, as well. They may not be as complex as a Louisiana district attorney's triangulated-bullet-trajectory theory, but they exist, nonetheless. What do you expect to happen when a large number of obsessive-compulsive personalities have too much free time and join a chat room?

Mike Wood Posted: Mar 31, 2001 Published: Apr 01, 2001 0 comments
High-end, high-definition satellite thrills.

The press has lamented the lack of HDTV programming for far too long. In reality, there's a reasonable amount of HDTV broadcasts right now—enough to warrant the purchase of an HDTV, anyway. You just have to know where to look for it. In certain areas, you can get most of CBS's prime-time lineup, as well as various shows and movies from NBC and ABC. Almost anywhere in the country, there are at least two cable networks, Showtime and HBO, and one pay-per-view channel that broadcast HDTV signals. Granted, there isn't as much high-def programming as there is NTSC programming and you can't get it from cable, but who needs cable when you can have satellite?

Mike Wood Posted: Feb 28, 2001 Published: Mar 01, 2001 0 comments
Toshiba's SD-9200 and Onkyo's DV-S939 are part of a new breed of what might as well be called "super" DVD players. Like a handful of others, they're high-quality DVD players that offer a progressive-scan video output and can decode the high-resolution audio signal from DVD-Audio recordings. With the category becoming almost appliancelike, these players are a welcome addition to any writer's queue of review products.
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Mike Wood Posted: Feb 28, 2001 Published: Mar 01, 2001 0 comments
The world's most complete guide to DVD-player features.

If you're thinking of buying a DVD player, the number of features most players offer might overwhelm you. Sure, you know the basics: DVD is the hottest thing since the first time man invented something round. It consists of a disc the size of an audio CD but with 10 to 15 times more storage capacity. The disc has enough room to store a full-length motion picture with a digital picture that's better than that of laserdisc or satellite broadcasts. A progressive-scan DVD player connected to a widescreen TV can even approach the quality of high-definition television. The digital audio can include up to five full-range, discrete (meaning separate) channels with one LFE, or low-frequency-effects (aka the .1), channel for impact. The best part is that DVD players and movies should be compatible with your current system, no matter how archaic it is. You can buy a DVD player now and almost certainly enjoy the benefits right away, and you can upgrade various parts of your system and glean even more performance from the DVD software that you'll undoubtedly start collecting. What you really want to know, though, is what features to look for in your first/next DVD-player purchase. As usual, we're here to explain them to you. We've also included a couple of tips on how you can take your DVD/home theater experience to the next level.

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Mike Wood Posted: Jan 31, 2001 Published: Feb 01, 2001 0 comments
In the continuing saga to explain our measurements charts, senior technical editor Mike Wood explores ground control for your home theater: the preamp/processor.

Launching the space shuttle requires the actions of thousands of control systems and hundreds of people all directed by, ultimately, one person. Technicians sit in front of dozens of monitors, checking systems, subsystems, weather patterns, and so on—all to make sure that, when the chief gives the order, the big hunk of steel sitting on the launch pad is able to take off without a glitch. You may not be igniting hundreds of thousands of pounds of rocket fuel when you press play on your DVD-player remote, but you are trying to launch your home theater system, and you usually want it to happen without too many hang-ups. The main component that controls this process is the pre/pro, or preamp/ processor. This is the subject of our latest Boot Camp in the series explaining the technical measurements that accompany our product reviews.

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Mike Wood Posted: Jan 18, 2001 Published: Jan 19, 2001 0 comments
In part three of our series explaining our technical measurements, senior technical editor Mike Wood takes on the amplifier—more specifically, the receiver and the amplifier.

A. A dedicated multichannel amplifier doesn't have the frills of a receiver but likely offers better performance.
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Mike Wood Posted: Jan 18, 2001 Published: Jan 19, 2001 0 comments
"It's not dead yet! In fact, it looks like it's going for a walk."

Monty Python's take on the plague in the Middle Ages could just as easily be applied to the CRT-based front-projector market. Pundits have long proclaimed that CRT technology, at least 30 to 40 years old and an admitted setup and maintenance hassle, is dead, or at least in its last years of life. Upstarts like DLP and D-ILA and adolescents like LCD are ready to take CRT's place in the front-projector market. Then, as other consumer-projector manufacturers close their doors, a new CRT company pops up.

Mike Wood Posted: Jan 18, 2001 Published: Jan 19, 2001 1 comments
Making TV Simple Again—that's what Sony has done with their KV-36XBR400 direct-view television.

It used to be that a TV plugged into the antenna or cable outlet and that was that. Then we got fancy and connected the antenna to the VCR and then to the TV.

Mike Wood Posted: Dec 27, 2000 Published: Dec 28, 2000 0 comments
Recordable DVD . . . Need We Say More? Probably.

Here it is. The moment you've been waiting for. Recordable DVD! That's right. That last remaining excuse for you not to buy a DVD player has finally been expunged, at least to some extent. While they made announcements at last January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, manufacturers are just now following through on their release plans for recordable DVD players. As usual, the excuse was copyright issues, that never-ending thorn in home theater's side. Panasonic finally sent us a sample of the DMR-E10 DVD-RAM player, which should be available for the holiday season and, if nothing else, is just one of the coolest products to come along since DVD first came out.

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