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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 24, 2008 0 comments
Price: $4,999 At A Glance: Exceptional black level and shadow detail• Accurate color & superb resolution • Superior video processing • Limited acceptable viewing angle

Light Me Up, Dim Me Down

Last year, Samsung launched its first generation of LCD flat-panel sets with LED backlighting, the 81 Series. These sets were exciting in a number of ways. LEDs offer potentially superior color performance compared with conventional fluorescent backlights and also provide lower energy consumption.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 10, 2008 0 comments
Price: $2,600 At A Glance: Excellent image depth • First-rate resolution, particularly in HD • Frame interpolation can’t be defeated • Colors are pleasing but not accurate

120 Hertz and All That Jazz

It hasn’t been that long since JVC left the rear-projection business. Its LCOS designs were among the best on the market—which is appropriate for a company that still makes LCOS front projectors.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 03, 2008 0 comments
Price: $7,000 Highlights: Superb sound for both movies and music • 10 channels of powerful Class D amplification • Sets a steep learning curve but rewards with immense flexibility • Video processing has limitations, including no upconversion of HDMI sources

And the Kitchen Sink

Sometimes I get nostalgic for the early days of home theater. For example, I fondly remember the Proceed AVP processor I reviewed for Stereophile Guide to Home Theater in 1997. Conventional Dolby Digital and DTS were its most exotic operating modes, the remote had fewer than a dozen buttons, and it didn’t provide room equalization, extra surround modes, or onboard video processing. In fact, it didn’t have any video switching beyond S-video. We didn’t need no stinkin’ component, and no one had even heard of HDMI. Laserdisc was the most established source, DVD was brand new, and consumer high definition was still a mote in the FCC’s eye.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 03, 2008 0 comments
Price: $5,000 Highlights: Blacks to die for • Precise color and excellent resolution • 72-hertz operation on film-based sources for judder-free motion • Video processing could be better

Once More, With Feeling

My review schedule is starting to look a bit like the Pioneer Channel. But timing is everything. Pioneer is introducing a boatload of interesting new products, including the newest KURO flat panels. These include the upcoming Signature Series KURO monitor plasma models. Pioneer says these models will offer enough adjustments to inspire video calibrators to set up shop in buyers’ homes. “Will calibrate for room and board.”

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 08, 2008 3 comments

In a recent e-mail, an old friend and audio reviewer asked about Blu-ray players. I tried to steer him away (successfully, I hope) from what he thought was a good deal on an new, unused first generation Sony Blu-ray player. The seller had apparently almost convinced him that this was some sort of undiscovered gem, akin (though in a different application) to the early, tank-like SACD players held in high regard by some audiophiles.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 06, 2008 0 comments
The One to Beat?

While LCD displays may dominate that video wall at your local Best Circuit Shack these days, don’t dismiss the benefits of plasmas. No company has put more R&D into plasma development than Panasonic, and it’s paid off. People may disagree about who makes the best plasma sets, but no one will dispute that Panasonic is in the thick of the action. When it comes to the breadth of its product range, Panasonic is the champ.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 29, 2008 0 comments
Anyone can calibrate.

According to Websites that investigate such things, there are 219 million televisions in the United States. That averages to about 0.74 TVs per person. Bermuda leads the world with more than one TV per person (must be all those hotels). And China reports it has 400 million TVs in all.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 16, 2008 0 comments
Samsung has an unusual history with high-definition video projectors. Its most recent 720p DLP model, designed in consultation with video expert Joe Kane, was superb, even standard-setting in many important respects. But dealers were rare, and worse, the projectors arrived on the market just as comparably priced 1080p models were becoming available. They ultimately sold out to lucky buyers at bargain prices.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 08, 2008 0 comments
“i” is for intense.

Every audio reviewer thinks back on specific products and sometimes wishes that he or she bought them following the review. For me, one such product was the Polk RT3000p. The two-piece speaker featured a powered subwoofer, with the mid-tweeter section perched on top in a separate cabinet. The system had a gutsy, meaty quality to it that beautifully suited movie soundtracks.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 08, 2008 0 comments
Deeper and darker.

When Pioneer released its first KURO plasma sets last year, its eighth generation of plasmas overall, they met with nearly universal praise. Critics acclaimed the KURO series for the new standards it set with the depth of its blacks. Fittingly, the word “kuro” means deep, dark, and penetrating in Japanese.

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