Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 13, 2015 0 comments
I had a dream last night. I was wandering around lower Manhattan (New York). I think I was trying to find my way, but as dreams go I’m not exactly sure where to. I was apparently using a map on my tablet, but the tablet was an old CRT the size of the integrated CRT monitor/computer on the first iMac. I wandered into a bookstore, apparently in search of a more usable map, but all I recall seeing was a copy of Widescreen Review and a children’s version of the New York Times, the latter’s cover filled with full color comics (definitively proving, I suppose, that we do dream in color, though the hues were so odd that they must have been captured in two-strip Technicolor). I had left my “tablet” outside (perhaps the bookstore was a tablet-free zone) and when I went back outside it was still there but the screen had been smashed. In a New York minute. Then I woke up.

This was all likely inspired by my recent trip to New York to attend the Vizio launch of its new Reference series Ultra HDTVs...

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 29, 2015 7 comments
It’s fall, and a young man’s fancy (and we hope a woman’s as well) turns to thoughts of evenings by a roaring fire listening to music or watching a movie or two on that new flat screen UHD TV (hopefully not mounted above said fireplace!). There have been so many interesting posts to the S&V website recently that I can’t resist the temptation to offer a few thoughts on some of them. Some commenters to these individual posts have beaten me to the punch, but I’ll press on.

Paradigm Concept I’ll soon be finishing up a review of the Paradigm Prestige 95F loudspeaker for our sister publication Stereophile. No sneak peeks here, but it has certainly grabbed my attention.

So I was intrigued when I read about the prototype Paradigm Concept 4F.

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 15, 2015 5 comments
Moving, either across town or across country is up there with life's highest stress producers, just below a death in the family, divorce, being fired, or taxes. And as I've alluded to in previous blogs, when an audiophile or home theater enthusiast is involved (and many of us are both), all bets are off as to which of these events is the worst! I’ve written a bit about my recent move before, but there’s always more to say...
Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 01, 2015 2 comments
Last year the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) laid down what it considered the minimum standards for a 4K Ultra HD set. A few months later it introduced a voluntary UHD logo program that manufacturers could use in advertising and labeling sets that meet the standards. This logo also clarified the name to be used for these sets: 4K Ultra HD. While manufacturers are free to make and sell 4K Ultra HD sets of any description (the CEA has no legal authority to stop them), they can’t use the logo if their sets don’t meet these standards. The logo will read either 4K Ultra HD or 4K Ultra HD Connected (though there’s nothing to stop a manufacturer who doesn’t meet the standards from calling their sets simply 4K, or Ultra HD)...
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 19, 2015 1 comments
PRICE $1,500

Excellent 4K upconversion
Good blacks
Solid value
Odd gamma
Clips above white and below black
No enhanced-color or HDR future-proofing

As with most current 4K sets, the Vizio M65-C1 delivers only the 4K portion of the full Ultra HD toy box. It also has a few nagging technical issues. But for the most part, these fade into the background of the set’s compelling viewing experience.

Vizio is the value leader in a tough HDTV market. While the safest route for them to maintain their commanding share would have been to change their 1080p E series and M series models just enough for a “new for 2015” promotional campaign, Vizio chose the long view: The E series remains the company’s 1080p budget line, but the M series is now 4K, while still priced well below most of the competition.

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 18, 2015 9 comments
Join me in the WayBack Machine for a trip to 1995. Somewhere in North America a Stereophile Hi-Fi Show is in progress, and the writing staff is gathered for an Ask the Editor’s session. A question arises about the then fledgling music downloading technology. I recall I answered that, “We’ll be able to do it before we can do it well.”

As it turned out that was correct, though I’m no soothsayer...

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 04, 2015 2 comments
What turns a movie into a guilty pleasure? I suppose it’s a film that you enjoy, though you know you shouldn’t because everyone else seems to hate it. There’s a lot of such films in my collection, some of them bought by me, others remnants of the “too odd to review” bins in the publications I’ve written for, from the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater to the present.

Here are ten of them, and they’re by no means the only ones on my shelf...

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 22, 2015 3 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
PRICE $6,499

First-rate blacks and shadow detail
Superb resolution—in both 4K and 1080p Full HD
Impressive sense of image depth—even in 2D
Best 3D seen anywhere
Image degrades significantly off center
Annoying remote control
Glitchy voice- and gesture-control features

This is the first consumer Ultra HDTV out of the gate offering more than just four times the resolution of 1080p HD. While it will require more UHD program material to fully judge its ability to provide 10-bit color, a wider color gamut, and higher dynamic range than today’s content, this Samsung is still a strong candidate for the best LCD set launched to date.

Ultra HD remains very much a work in progress. Source material is still scarce, and while some is available through various forms of downloading and streaming, the promised delivery of Ultra HD on Blu-ray (the route most likely to offer the best UHD quality) is still months away. Furthermore, the UHD sets that have appeared to date offer little more than enhanced resolution—resolution that isn’t really significant unless you see it on the biggest screen you can afford and sit closer than some folks prefer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a UHD set isn’t desirable...

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 21, 2015 10 comments
While many of you can’t recall when the VCR shook up the TV landscape, I remember the transition to color television. It was an exciting time, but those new sets were very expensive relative to the average middle class income. They were also seldom larger than 21-inches—about the size of many of today’s computer monitors.

Understandably, many consumers waited years for color television to come down in price. I still remember relatives and family friends claiming that they were waiting for them to be perfected. If by “perfected” they meant that they wanted to see the technology stabilize, they’re waiting!

Technology is never stable. While the Ian Malcolm character in Jurassic Park may have said, “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should,” (truly an odd statement coming from a scientist—oh wait, it came from a screenwriter) there’s always something new and enticing just over the next hill.

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 07, 2015 2 comments
If you asked me if my passion for things audio and video began with music or movies, I'd have a hard time answering. But one of the things that attract me to movies is their music. Movie scores (instrumental, not the string of pop tunes that often passes for a soundtrack) are certainly far down the list of the most popular music genres, but their importance to the success of a film can't be denied. Most film critics mention the score only if it's prominent enough to annoy them. But for me a great score can turn a middling movie into to good one. It can also (though less often) turn a good film into a great one.

The art of film scoring attracts a wide range of talents, but we recently lost one of the best. James Horner died late last month when the private plane he was piloting crashed in a California forest.

I first discovered Horner's work in 1982...


Enter your Sound & Vision username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.