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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week we had fireworks and speeches in Denver, as 84,000 screaming fans jammed Invesco Field to celebrate the upcoming CEDIA Expo. It was the biggest kickoff CEDIA has had since Bose sued them for use of the term "Lifestyle."
<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/patton.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Released in 1970, <I>Patton</I> is the cream of the crop of World War II films released recently on Blu-ray by 20th Century Fox. The film won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. George C. Scott, in the title role, famously turned down the honor as he didn't believe in competing with other actors. That takes nothing away from one of the most compelling performances ever put on film.
Living as I do in a suburb of LA, it's hard to avoid movie news. The local rag, the <I>Los Angeles Times</I>, is awash in it. Its theater listings take up an entire section of the paper, which on Friday and Sunday can feature huge, double-page ads for major releases. So if a movie opens to big notices and reviews, good or bad, it's hard to avoid hearing about it around here.