Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 27, 2011 5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,000 At A Glance: Accurate color, excellent resolution • Exceptional control features • Good but relatively dim 3D

We’ve said it before: Plasmas are the sand-in-the-face-at-the-beach, wallflower, last-kid-picked members of the flat-panel team. LCDs clearly dominate today’s HDTV market. But plasmas are also the Cinderella stepsister whose beauty becomes obvious when you really look for it. And at least three major manufacturers, including Samsung, think enough of plasma sets that they continue to make and promote them.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 27, 2011 8 comments
Would you suppose that the speaker shown in this photo is some new commercial speaker selling for six figures?
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 13, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $6,995 At A Glance: Satisfying brightness on a big screen • Excellent resolution and color • So-so black level and contrast

A few months back, we reviewed the Digital Projection HighLite Cine 260-HC (Home Theater, May 2011). But like most three-chip DLP designs, its $30,000 price could buy a nicely equipped new car. Some day, perhaps, the prices of such projectors may come down to earth, but until then, most of us are left to other options.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 28, 2011 11 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,800 At A Glance: Exceptional black levels • Outstanding detail and color • Head-tilt 3D ghosting

With the growing popularity of LED backlighting for LCD HDTVs, it’s easy to forget that not all such backlighting is created equal. LEDs can be configured to provide either backlighting or edge lighting. In either case, the lighting can be steady, with image brightness dependent only on the pixels of the LCD imaging panel, which darkens the picture as the source requires. Or the lighting can be dynamic, in which the set can dim the backlighting or edge lighting from instant to instant, as needed, assisting the LCD pixels in adjusting for the optimum light output.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 21, 2011 1 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $5,500 At A Glance: Bright, punchy images • Good (though not highly accurate) color • Middling black level and contrast

Many of us here at Home Theater are big on 3D, but a lot of front-projection fans have been holding off. Until recently, their only options in the $5,000 3D projector market were two identical JVC models (sold either through that company’s pro or consumer distribution channels).

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 19, 2011 0 comments
Blu is a companion to Linda, and the two are inseparable. But when Brazilian ornithologist Tulio shows up, Linda learns that Blu is the only male blue macaw in existence and must mate to save the species. Linda reluctantly agrees, and she, Blu, and Tulio set off to Rio de Janeiro. This leads to events Linda never dreamed of back home in Moose Lake, Minnesocold. And when birdnappers, together with a particularly nasty jailbird, enter Blu’s world, his adventures parallel hers.

Produced by Blue Sky Studios, the computer animation house behind the successful Ice Age franchise, Rio’s story line doesn’t feel all that promising at first. But it grows on you. While 2011 hasn’t yet equaled 2010 for potential entries in the animation hall of fame, a chameleon, a panda, and now a macaw are more than enough to keep the current golden age of computer animation firing on all cylinders.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 12, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Setup
Value
Price: $2,699 At A Glance: Gets the black bars out • Solid value • Minor uniformity issues

Elite Screens may be less well known than some of the bigger names in the business, but they offer a wide range of projection screens for every application. Since their products are manufactured in China, they’re more than competitive in price. But this limits their ability to offer customization, such as sizes not included in their standard lineup.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 15, 2011 2 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $3,095 At a Glance: Superior left-center-right uniformity • Excellent imaging and depth • Outstanding value

When Portland, Oregon–based Aperion Audio began selling speakers about 10 years ago, its business plan was simple: design the speakers here, build them where manufacturing costs are low (China—as with many of today’s speakers), and sell direct to buyers to avoid the middlemen—distributors and conventional dealers.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 09, 2011 3 comments
The trademarked Elite name is still used by its owner, Pioneer, for a variety of products. But the company dropped its video-display business over two years ago. At that time, the Elite Kuro plasmas were widely considered, by us and many others, to be the best HDTVs available. Though they are no longer made, many observers still consider those last Pioneer Kuros better than any flat panel HDTV you can buy today.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 03, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,100 At A Glance: Bright, pleasing picture • Crisp detail • Poor contrast • Highly reflective screen

We’re reasonably certain that most folks looking for a budget HDTV probably aren’t poring through the pages of enthusiast publications like Home Theater for advice. If they’re researching at all, they’re studying the easy-to-digest bubble ratings in Consumer Reports or Which Video, or Googling generic consumer-help Websites.

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