Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 31, 2013 0 comments
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Ralph plays the bad guy in the decades-old video game Fix-It Felix, Jr. Each time the game is reset, he trashes the high-rise apartment building that serves as the game’s main setting, only to have Felix instantly repair the damage. It’s a living, but Ralph lives alone in a junk pile, the other characters in the game want nothing to do with him, and he finds relief only in a Bad-Anon support group. As another member of that group argues, he may be a bad guy, but he isn’t a bad guy.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 18, 2013 0 comments
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James P. “Sulley” Sullivan is the pride of Monsters, Inc., the power company for Monstropolis. As Sulley and the other Monster scarers pass through doors leading into children’s bedrooms, the energy generated by kids’ screams is captured and stored. Sulley is the champion scarer, and Mike Wazowski is his coach, right-hand monster, and best pal.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 11, 2013 19 comments

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Price: $7,000
At A Glance
: Four times the native resolution of standard HD • Advanced color technology • State-of-the-art 3D

With the introduction of its new 2013 XBR sets, Sony has shown that it’s serious about bringing Ultra HD, popularly referred to as 4K, to consumers at prices that, while still high, are less seizure-inducing than the $25,000 sticker on its 84-inch XBR-84X900 (Home Theater, June 2013).

Technically, 4K is shorthand for a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels—the professional 4K format. Consumer 4K sets, on the other hand, have a resolution of 3840 x 2160, exactly four times the pixel count of full HD 1080p. Regardless of the industry’s plan to refer to such sets as Ultra HD, 4K has already crept into the lexicon as the popular term for 3840 x 2160 home video.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 10, 2013 0 comments
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Kai, a young falcon, yearns to spread his wings and explore the world, more specifically an avian community called Zambezia. There he hopes to join the Hurricanes, the skilled and brave flying corps that defends the city. But his father is unalterably opposed to his leaving their safe but boring life for reasons Kai does not at first understand. Kai leaves the nest on his own anyway, joining a flock of geese headed to the fabled bird city. Once there, he finds the city in danger from a terrifying enemy.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 01, 2013 0 comments
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Written by novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie and produced as a London stage play in 1904, Peter Pan has become a timeless classic, finding its way onto stage, screen, and television. But it’s this 1953 Disney film that defines the story for most modern audiences.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 29, 2013 4 comments
Despite all the talk about 4K (or Ultra HD) displays, there are already a bazillion hours of “standard” 2K HD programming out there in videoland. Consumer 4K sources will be slow in coming, and they might well arrive over the Internet. The question remains as to whether or not the inherent data rate limitations of streaming video could dilute or eliminate the supposed benefits of 4K resolution—apart from the marketing hype.

Over the next couple of years, therefore, and assuming that 4K sets take fire in the marketplace, the smart money will be on upconverting 2K sources to 4K. No form of upconverting can add real resolution; genuine Ultra HD starts and ends with 4K resolution. Nevertheless, we expect plenty of action on the 2K to 4K upconversion front. Since consumer 2K is largely (though not entirely) 1920 x 1080 pixels, and consumer 4K is 3840 x 2160, it would appear that such upconversion might simply involve taking the content of each 2K pixel and quadrupling it (with no added enhancement) to fill a 2 x 2 pixel area on the 4K display. But that will gain nothing in subjective resolution, and may actually reduce image quality due to the added processing required. Most upconversion, therefore, will likely include enhancement and/or other digital manipulation, designed to both eliminate possible upconversion losses and better simulate the look of true 4K.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 28, 2013 0 comments
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Price: $1,000 At A Glance: Stunning brightness • Good color and detail • Mediocre black level and contrast

While our subject here is the W1070 home theater projector from BenQ, there’s more than a little business projector DNA in its genes. How else to explain a single-chip DLP design that’s a third the size and weight of most dedicated home theater models, has built-in audio with grim but usable mono sound, is equipped with a “digital zoom” that magnifies the image within the frame set by the standard zoom control (just the thing for a close examination of that quarterly profit and loss spreadsheet), still offers an S-video input, and has a relatively close-throw lens with a significant vertical offset?

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 14, 2013 7 comments

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Price: $3,150 At A Glance: Crisp, detailed picture • Superb color performance • Near reference-quality blacks and shadow detail

When Samsung launched its new line of plasma HDTVs at last January’s CES, we were impressed. Those early demos indicated improved black levels and overall good performance. We were surprised to find later that the prices, though not exactly “Attention, K-Mart shoppers!” specials, aren’t Beverly Hills exclusives, either. From what we see here, these new Samsung plasmas, while unlikely to alter the market dominance of LCD, are welcome additions to the battle.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 07, 2013 0 comments

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Price: $3,300 At A Glance: Rich black level and good shadow detail • New color technology • Bright, punchy 3D

The new KDL-55W900A is Sony’s newest, top-of-the-line, non-XBR set. All of the XBRs, going forward, will be Ultra HD (4K) sets, but the KDL-55W900A, as all of the KDL designs, is firmly in the standard HD, 1920 x 1080 camp. It’s an edge-lit design with local dimming, but its marquee feature has nothing to do with contrast and black levels. Color is the plot here, and Triluminos, a term Sony has used in the past (see sidebar), promises a wider color gamut.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 29, 2013 0 comments
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Threatened with eviction from his lifelong home, Carl Fredrickson cuts loose in an unexpected way and sets off on a journey to the South American wilderness he and his late wife had long yearned to visit. Along the way, he picks up a few unwelcome (at first) fellow travelers: Russell, an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer; Kevin, a rare bird and a key plot McGuffin; and Dug, a talking dog. Carl also runs into his boyhood idol, explorer Charles Muntz, who turns out to be less of a hero than he had long imagined.

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