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Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 13, 2013 3 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
Price: $1,600 At A Glance: Outstanding picture at any viewing angle • Cinematic curvature • Excellent value

At one time, two of my favorite Los Angeles–area theaters were in Westwood: the Village and the National. The Village had, and still has, a huge, flat screen. The National (tragically closed and torn down in 2008) had a gently curved one of about the same size. While the Village had the more awesome audio, I always preferred the subtly more immersive visual presentation at the National.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 13, 2013 1 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
Price: $2,899 At A Glance: viewable with ambient lighting • Works best with carefully planned lighting • Image dims significantly from center screen to the side

The best projection quality has always required a completely darkened room. This takes the edge off that Super Bowl party, with guests stumbling around in the dark spilling their buttered popcorn and drinks in your lap.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 14, 2013 2 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,499 At A Glance: Crisp and detailed picture • Good black levels • Thorough but com- plex calibration controls

Panasonic entered the home theater projector market in 2001. But the company already had decades of experience in the business projector world, beginning with CRTs in 1975 and later moving into its current mix of LCDs and DLPs. All of the company’s home theater designs have used LCD imaging chips, however, and the PT-AE8000U is the latest link in a long chain dating back to that 2001 model, the PT-AE100.

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 11, 2013 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
If you don’t know the Cinderella story, you must have had a deprived childhood. It goes like this: Girl’s father dies, leaving her to live with her evil stepmother and two noxious stepsisters; royal ball is held for all the eligible young women, but Cinderella is left out; cue fairy godmother, coach, dancing with the prince, midnight magic hour, quick exit, search for who fits the glass slipper, yadda, yadda, yadda; wedding bells.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 05, 2013 2 comments
Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
When Marvel Comics’ gang of superheroes—Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye—get together after the first four of them starred in their own movies, you know something big is up. And it’s no surprise that Loki, Thor’s adopted brother, who teamed up with an army of nasty aliens, is behind it.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 04, 2013 5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $4,000 At A Glance: Superb detail resolution • Superior blacks and shadow detail • Solid color performance • Includes spare lamp

In Sony’s pantheon of projectors, the VPL-HW models are the company’s solid middle-class family. While a product selling for $4,000 or nearly so isn’t likely to be found at Target or Walmart, in the projector world it sits nicely between bargain basement and “if you have to ask” pricing.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 03, 2013 5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,900 At A Glance: Exceptional detail • Rich, compelling color • Solid black level and shadow detail

Full LED backlighting with local dimming, when properly implemented, is the gold standard for achieving the best black levels in an LCD HDTV. But such a set also requires a lot of gold to acquire. LED edge-lit designs, needing fewer LEDs and less complex processing, cost less. While LG makes fully LEDbacklit local-dimming sets (its LM9600 Nano designs), the company’s premier, edge-lit LM8600 offerings also include local dimming. Local dimming, even in an edge-lit set, is usually better than none at all, but it’s less comprehensive and in theory less effective than the fully backlit variety. We reviewed the 55LM9600 Nano back in our September 2012 issue. But the 55LM8600 now lays down a strong challenge to its pricier sibling.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 21, 2012 1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,200 At A Glance: Compelling color and resolution • Superb value • Middling black level

Psst, buddy. Wanna buy a cheap plasma?”

You don’t often hear this from your friendly neighborhood white-van salesmen; they’re more into selling cardboard speakers. $1,200 HDTVs, no matter how good, just aren’t their thing.

They aren’t always ours, either, but when Samsung offered us the chance to have a look at its $1,200, 51-inch (diagonal) PN51E550D1F plasma, we couldn’t resist. That may be a lot of green for a public that once considered $300 a fair price for a new television, but today it falls solidly in the lowmid price range for a namebrand flat-screen HDTV in this size category.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 13, 2012 5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,500 At A Glance: Plasma-quality blacks • Near flawless color • Bright, vivid 3D

All LCD HDTVs require some form of backlighting. The LCD panel’s pixels modulate the light and provide filtered color, but without backlighting to shine through the panel, you’d have no picture. Recently, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have replaced the fluorescent backlights used in older flat-screen LCD sets. LCDs aren’t perfect in blocking light (which is why so many early models had poor black levels), but if you can shut off or dim the LEDs on demand, the LCDs’ light-blocking chores become far more efficient. And LEDs can do this; they can be shut off and turned back on almost instantaneously in reaction to the signal coming in.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 20, 2012 4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,000 At A Glance: Impressive overall performance • Outstanding value • 2D only

It’s long been true that if you wait long enough, the price of technology will drop down to meet your budget. Flat-screen HDTVs are prime examples. We’ve recently seen manufacturers respond to the current global financial malaise by squeezing their beans hard enough to produce decent sets for around $1,000. While it’s difficult to say if this trend is due to economic conditions or pressure from price-aggressive new manufacturers, Vizio has been in the vanguard of the young guns making life difficult for traditional HDTV companies. And the company’s not standing still. Exhibit A: Vizio’s new $1,000 E601i-A3. Like its big brother, the 70-inch, $2000 E701i-A3, it’s a true budget buster, but for a change, the budget they’re busting isn’t yours.

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