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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 18, 2016 5 comments
It’s been no secret up to now that calibrating a display for high dynamic range (HDR) is a work in progress. But the recent release of an HDR10 workflow for CalMAN 2016 (the newest software from SpectraCal) promises to change that. CalMAN is widely used by calibrators and reviewers to optimize display setup.

HDR10 is one of the two most prominent HDR formats (though there are others lurking around looking for a niche). Both of these formats require specialized, and different, calibration techniques. A CalMAN workflow for the other format, Dolby Vision, has been around for several months.

But most UHD/HDR sets offer HDR10, as do all UHD Blu-rays to date, making an HDR10 calibration perhaps even more significant...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 05, 2016 1 comments
How can one distinguish between a guilty pleasure and a hidden treasure? Many movies fall into a gap somewhere between the two. They’re not so good to be called classics, but impressive or different enough to click with the right audience.

Emperor tells an important yet little known story. In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese surrender in World War II, General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Japan with his staff to lead the occupation. But before the rebuilding of the country and its government could begin, the issue of what to do with the Japanese military and political leadership had to be dealt with—most importantly Emperor Hirohito. Many in Washington, and in the U.S. public as well, wanted him tried and executed as a war criminal...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 21, 2016 4 comments
On a recent visit back to Los Angeles I took in the 2016 Newport, California hi-fi-show, more properly known as T.H.E. (The Home Entertainment) Show Newport (though it’s now actually held in Irvine). You can read my observations on the show, along with those from other Stereophile contributors (I write occasional reports and reviews for Stereophile, though Sound & Vision is my main beat) at Stereophile.com. Like virtually all such events (of which there are several in the U.S. each year under various management), this was a show for 2-channel audiophiles. Count me among them, but no more so than for multichannel music, movies, video, and home theater.

The only show in the U.S. that features video as it relates to home theater is September’s CEDIA Expo...

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 15, 2016 6 comments

2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent HDR in both Dolby Vision and HDR10
Blacks to die for
Solid off-center viewing
Minus
Expensive
Careful setup critical for best results
Menus tedious to navigate

THE VERDICT
Our brief time with LG’s flagship OLED for 2016 suggested it’s not perfect (what is?), but apart from the fact that LCD sets still go brighter than OLEDs, it’s unlikely that any other new HDR-equipped Ultra HDTV will be able to match or exceed the performance of this one.

While this article is structured as a Test Report, in fact it’s a good bit short of a full-fledged evaluation. The combination of the cost of LG’s flagship OLED and the limited supply of review samples in early April prompted the company to set up a couple of displays at a venue in New York City, then shuttle in groups of A/V journalists to lay hands on the set—so to speak.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 07, 2016 8 comments
We’ve been fortunate in the 1080p world in having a variety of test discs available. While a full calibration requires special test tools, such discs can tell you a lot about how your set performs and help get the basic picture settings right. One of the most popular of such discs, and one of the first, is Digital Video Essentials, shown in the photo here.

But while 4K with high dynamic range (HDR) is now here, there’s still a lack of test materials for this format, particularly the high dynamic range end of the equation...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 02, 2016 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
In June 1957, Soviet spy Rudolf Abel is captured in New York City. Insurance attorney James B. Donovan is appointed to handle the defense, based on his experience at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Reluctant to take the case at first, Donovan ultimately accepts, passionate in his belief that everyone deserves a fair trial.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 17, 2016 2 comments
It hasn’t been that long ago that when I arrived back from the annual January CES, my desk looked something like the photo here, staring back at me with a “pick me, pick me” plea. But with all of the brochures and press releases and miscellaneous literature first transferred to CD-ROM, now to flash drives, and (in some cases) merely a cryptic card directing you to the manufacturer’s website, the reading material can now fit in a tiny corner of my suitcase.

Owners’ manuals were once like that, but with a fundamental difference. They were slender things that could be read and understood in an hour or two. But as products, particularly HDTVs and AVRs, became more complicated, their manuals grew larger, not to mention the need to produce them in 15 languages...

Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 12, 2016 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
World’s first UHD Blu-ray player
Outstanding overall performance
Reasonable price (for a “first”)
Minus
No auto picture adjustments for HDR, non-HDR, and 1080p discs with current UHDTVs
Small, frustrating remote

THE VERDICT
As the first Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Samsung UBD-K8500 provides exceptional performance with the right display and disc. But as with any new format, there are growing pains to be sorted out before we can toast to its complete success.

The video world, or at least the segment that still values packaged media, has been waiting impatiently for Ultra HD discs. Many of us still prefer to pay for our movies once and have them on the shelf. More important, we want their video and audio quality uncompromised by Internet bandwidth limitations. Editor's note: For our reviewers' impressions of some the first UHD Blu-ray movie titles, see "Eye on UHD: 14 Ultra HD Blu-ray Movies Reviewed."

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 03, 2016 9 comments
If you’ve been following my writing (I know there’s at least one of you out there somewhere!) you know that I’m a major fan of packaged media. With a Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc I only have to buy it once and it’s always there, on the shelf, ready to access whenever I want it and offering the best of the best in both picture and sound quality. And it won’t vaporize if I want to see it again but the streaming service decides to no longer offer it...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 19, 2016 2 comments
What’s a “nit” and what’s it have to do with what you see on your TV screen as we enter the Age of High Dynamic Range (aka HDR) video.

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