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Michael Fremer

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 14, 2005 0 comments

Who do you think benefits most from corporate investments in technological research and development: so-called "early adopters" or average consumers? After I reviewed Infinity's top-of-the-line, high-performance Prelude MTS speakers a few years ago for <I>Stereophile</I> (Joel Brinkley reviewed the 5.1 version in <I>The Stereophile Guide to Home Theater</I>), I would have concluded "early adopters." But after spending a few months with the relatively inexpensive Beta ensemble, which is based on the driver technology developed for the Prelude MTS, I think mainstream consumers gain the most and they get it at near Wal-Mart prices.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 14, 2005 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>I lose my appetite viewing pie charts. Bar graphs leave me tipsy. But even a chronic mathlexic like me can see where the display business is heading, and it's not a pretty picture.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 11, 2005 0 comments

"Name a product the 'Ultimate' anything and you've opened yourself up to a world of potential hurt and ridicule. The name's a boast and it's bound to instigate a challenge. That's what I thought as I unpacked Bob Carver's latest brag, months before this publication was renamed <I>Ultimate AV</I>, and I'm not changing my lead because of that."

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 10, 2005 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Out-of-the-box product failure is an unfortunate fact of life for both consumers and reviewers. Failure curves for most consumer-electronics products spike early and then drop sharply to residual levels (unless they're lemons) until late in their life expectancies when they once again begin to rise, though gradually this time.

Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 03, 2005 0 comments

Form factor fueled the development of Hitachi's new line of handsome, black-lacquer-finished LCD RPTVs. Hitachi's focus-group research told them that consumers clamor for plasma more for the thin form factor than for the picture quality. But high plasma prices inhibit sales, so the company decided to take advantage of one of its core competencies&mdash;lens technology&mdash;to build a microdisplay that <I>looked</I> like a plasma but was priced within reach of a larger group of consumers.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 13, 2005 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>A <I>Wall Street Journal</I> expos&#233; last April on television "tech gurus" who are paid by manufacturers to show products on the air caught the attention of many media watchdogs. The story, by James Bandler, also caught a buzz among working journalists, including those of us at <I>Stereophile</I> and <I>UAV</I>, since the story's main focus was on former <I>Stereophile</I> writer and current <I>Today Show</I> tech editor Corey Greenberg.

Michael Fremer Posted: May 08, 2005 0 comments
In our ongoing run-up to our 10th anniversary in early 2005, Michael Fremer looks at his experiences working on the soundtrack to the groundbreaking movie Tron. This article was first published in our Fall 1997 issue. We've made a few edits to account for changes since then (particularly in the references to laserdiscs!), but MF's description of the creation of an early-1980s soundtrack is as fascinating, interesting, and pertinent as ever. Modern digital techniques have revolutionized the film-sound business, but a good soundtrack is still a good soundtrack.
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Michael Fremer Posted: May 08, 2005 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Voom shut down for good on April 30, 2005. It was sad to watch the promise of an HDTV-based satellite system with almost 40 HD channels, including a lineup of stations unique to Voom, go dark. Ten of those channels should be available on Dish Network by the time you read this, which isn't surprising&mdash;EchoStar, Dish Network's parent company, recently bought the Voom satellite and other assets.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 10, 2005 Published: Apr 11, 2005 0 comments

That last cell phone you bought&mdash;the one with the nearly telephone book-sized instruction manual&mdash;did you take the time to read through the tome completely, learning every function and programming feature before using it to actually make phone calls? Products are becoming so over-engineered and laden with features and functions, most of us merely skim the surface of the ones we buy, often remaining content with just getting the thing to actually function as intended.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 03, 2005 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.mf.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=180 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>A paraphrase of Winston Churchill's famous WWII line, "It may not be the beginning of the end, but it may very well be the end of the beginning," served as the Consumer Electronics Association's official assessment of the state of the 18-year-and-counting transition to digital television at its 10th Annual HDTV Summit, held this past Ides of March in Washington, D.C.

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