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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 12, 2016 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
World’s first UHD Blu-ray player
Outstanding overall performance
Reasonable price (for a “first”)
Minus
No auto picture adjustments for HDR, non-HDR, and 1080p discs with current UHDTVs
Small, frustrating remote

THE VERDICT
As the first Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Samsung UBD-K8500 provides exceptional performance with the right display and disc. But as with any new format, there are growing pains to be sorted out before we can toast to its complete success.

The video world, or at least the segment that still values packaged media, has been waiting impatiently for Ultra HD discs. Many of us still prefer to pay for our movies once and have them on the shelf. More important, we want their video and audio quality uncompromised by Internet bandwidth limitations. Editor's note: For our reviewers' impressions of some the first UHD Blu-ray movie titles, see "Eye on UHD: 14 Ultra HD Blu-ray Movies Reviewed."

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 03, 2016 8 comments
If you’ve been following my writing (I know there’s at least one of you out there somewhere!) you know that I’m a major fan of packaged media. With a Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc I only have to buy it once and it’s always there, on the shelf, ready to access whenever I want it and offering the best of the best in both picture and sound quality. And it won’t vaporize if I want to see it again but the streaming service decides to no longer offer it...
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 19, 2016 1 comments
What’s a “nit” and what’s it have to do with what you see on your TV screen as we enter the Age of High Dynamic Range (aka HDR) video.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 15, 2016 0 comments
Picture
3D-Ness
Sound
Extras
Ant-Man begins in 1989 as genius inventor and industrialist Hank Pym achieves a major success in a revolutionary shrinking technology that can reduce a man to the size of an ant while increasing his strength a hundredfold or more. But he hides his accomplishment and resigns from his company to keep the development from falling into the wrong hands. As we jump to the present, his protégé, Darren Cross, is now the head of the company and close to the success that Pym secretly achieved in 1989.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 05, 2016 1 comments
Yes, I do have an odd taste in movies. But there must be others who can equally enjoy science fiction and action films, animated features, and well-done historical dramas. Only recently I revisited the DVDs of Zulu (the 1964 film with a very young Michael Caine in his first major role), and the first episodes of Shaka Zulu (a late ‘80s mini-series with a riveting performance by Henry Cele as Shaka). The technical quality on Zulu was very good for a DVD (there is a Blu-ray release that has received mixed reports, but I haven’t seen it). The picture quality on Shaka Zulu (1.33:1) is poor, but watchable. Both have mediocre audio at best, but despite their technical limitations are superb.

Anonymous is a much more recent effort (2011)...

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 01, 2016 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Damian Hale, an extremely wealthy and self-centered businessman (is there any other kind in the movies?), is in his late sixties and dying of cancer. But he’s found an escape in a secretive company that has developed a way to transfer the contents of someone’s brain into a younger, healthy human body. They call the process shedding. It succeeds on Damian, but with complications he didn’t anticipate.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 22, 2016 9 comments
A recent posting here on Sound&Vision showed a very ambitious do-it-yourself speaker built by a skilled audio enthusiast in Latvia. The finished product was originally found by us here and originated on one of the most exhaustive and impressive loudspeaker DIY websites, troelsgravesen.dk.

One question in the posting’s comments section suggested that the roughly $5000/pair cost that would go into building such speakers (not including time and labor) might be better put into buying a finished pair of $5000 speakers...

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 18, 2016 0 comments
Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
We first met the Minions in the Despicable Me films. They were the henchmen of Gru, desperate to be seen as The Greatest Villain of All Time. But the Minions movie begins at the dawn of time when these funny, goggle-wearing creatures, babbling in their unique humina-humina-humina language, emerge from the primordial sea. They’re immediately driven to seek out the greatest villain they can find. But no sooner do they find one than they bumble into eliminating him.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 11, 2016 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Aladdin was released theatrically in 1992, during a renaissance in Disney’s hand-drawn animation that also gave us Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. But its release on DVD didn’t happen until 2004, and this is its first time on Blu-ray. It’s been too long a wait.

You know the story. Street rat Aladdin finds a magic lamp, he rubs it, and a genie appears to grant his new master three wishes. It’s a tale of redemption, growth, love, treachery, and—oh, forget all that. Its Boy meets Genie, Boy loses Genie, Boy gets Genie.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 23, 2016 8 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Blacks are truly black
Fine detail
Near-perfect off-axis viewing
Minus
Pricey
Annoying calibration menus

THE VERDICT
LG’s recent price adjustments have made the company’s OLED sets more approachable, though hardly cheap in the biggest-screen Ultra HD models. But in today’s market, you’re unlikely to find a UHDTV that offers better performance than this one.

While OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology offers most of the benefits of the now sadly departed plasma sets (and in some ways, more benefits), it’s been difficult to manufacture at commercially viable prices. So far, only LG is actively marketing OLED in the U.S. (though we hope others will follow). A recent drop in LG’s prices for OLED sets has rendered them more affordable, though still far from generating “Attention, Shoppers” announcements at K-Mart.

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