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Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 13, 2012 2 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
When I was a wee lad, I was taken to a movie about a boy and his dog. It was a Lassie movie, I believe, although I was too young for that to mean anything. According to my mother, however, I cried so hard they could hear me in the back of the balcony. (All theaters had balconies in olden times.)
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 09, 2012 7 comments
3D Performance
2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,530 At A Glance: Crisp resolution and superb color • Full control and calibration features • White uniformity could be better

With all the talk about LCD this and LED that, and the buzz about upcoming OLED sets that are expected to set the video world on fire (a very pricey fire, at least to begin with), plasmas are still very much with us. Samsung remains one of the technology’s biggest supporters, although LCD sets remain its bread and butter.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 03, 2012 10 comments

3D Performance
2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,700 At A Glance: Bright, punchy picture • Blacks and shadow detail approaching reference quality • Near-complete adjustability

Panasonic has improved its plasma sets each year, and while that march forward has generated torturous verbiage to describe its continually improving plasma HDTV black levels (Infinite Black, Infinite Black Pro, Infinite Black Ultra, and, perhaps next year, Infinite Black Pro Ultra), the company has kept pushing the design envelope. And it has done so even as flat panel prices continue to drop. A 65-inch plasma for $3,700 would have been considered an impossible dream just a few years ago when the goal was to get prices down to $100 per diagonal inch.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 05, 2012 2 comments
It may surprise you to learn that Technicolor is now a French-owned company, with its main offices outside of Paris. It may also be new to you that, to a significant degree, the company is now involved in audio post-production work, rather than the film processes for which it is best known.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 14, 2012 6 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,700 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Vivid yet natural color • Solid black level and shadow detail • Outstanding value

HDTV manufacturers’ fortunes have been in a perpetual state of flux for years. With prices continually dropping, profit margins are slim. While the TV makers haven’t quite yet adopted a business plan that calls for losing money on each sale, there isn’t much further they can go without them paying you to take the set home. Just kidding, of course. But apart from the dicey economy (or perhaps because of it?), this is a golden age for the consumer to buy a great HDTV for not a lot of cash.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 14, 2012 1 comments
The weekend before last, I drove to Newport Beach, CA, for the second iteration of The Home Entertainment (T.H.E. Show), Newport Beach, or THESNB. (Just kidding on the latter, though the full name is a bit cumbersome.) Last year's installment was fun but a little thin on exhibitors. This year, the show was so much bigger that it had to spread out from the main venue of the Hilton Hotel to the Atrium Hotel next door. If I had known it was going to be so big, I would have arranged to spend two days there instead of simply making it a day trip.
Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 30, 2012 2 comments

LSiM707 Surround Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
DSWmicroPRO3000 subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $9,600 At A Glance: Excellent dynamic range • Solid imaging and depth • Could use more top-end air

Polk Audio has a proud history stretching back to the early 1970s. Its products have leaned more to the familiar and affordable rather than to the expensive and esoteric, but there have been exceptions. The SRT series, introduced in 1995, was a surround system with seven separate speakers encompassing 35 active drivers, including two subwoofers said to be capable of 120 decibels at 30 hertz. It corralled its fair share of buyers willing to pony up the $10,000 asking price.

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 10, 2012 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $10,000 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Excellent color • Top-class video processing

Projection lamps: Can’t live without ’em, can’t shoot ’em. Until recently, that is.

Projection lamps are slow to turn on and off, hot, often unstable, and have a nasty habit of getting dimmer with age, while their color balance deteriorates. If you’re fussy about your video—and if you’re reading this review you should be—the 2,000-hour useful lifetime that’s usually specified (to half brightness) for projection lamps will likely be closer to 1,000 hours or less. With a replacement averaging around $400, that’s about $0.40 per hour of use, not including the bottom line on your electric bill.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 27, 2012 1 comments

Stewart Active 170 3D
Performance
Setup
Value


Da-Lite High Power
Performance
Setup
Value
Stewart Filmscreen Reflections Active 170 3D
Price: Varies by size, type (see review) At A Glance: Higher gain than popular StudioTek 130 G3 • Good off-axis performance and color uniformity • Noticeable hot spot

Da-Lite High Power
Price: Varies by size, type (see review) At A Glance: High Gain • Picture darkens visibly off-axis • Hotspotting virtually undetectable

We’ve come a long way from the days when screens were an afterthought. I imagine there are still a few enthusiasts who cut their projection teeth on a sheet or a bare white wall, or even an old, beaded, home-movie screen. Today we know better. The screen is a vital part of the projection setup.

Screens now come in a wide variety of sizes and characteristics. Their physical construction—fixed frame, retractable, flat or curved, masked or unmasked, perforated or not—is a subject for another day. There are also rear-projection screens. Here, however, we’re primarily concerned with the characteristics of the screen material itself, as used in front-projection setups, the type most commonly found in theaters, both commercial and home.

Filed under
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 24, 2012 6 comments
Movie theaters are always eager to find new ways to drag consumers off their living-room sofas and into the multiplex. In recent years, this has become more difficult as big-screen HDTV and home surround sound can often exceed the movie-going experience. Apart from sheer screen size, consumers have less and less incentive to spend $12 a head, or more, just for the seat—never mind the cost of refreshments.

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