We last wrote about the explosion of science fiction TV shows on DVD in a two part feature that appeared in the November 2004 and January 2005 print issues of Ultimate AV. Those features, which covered the gamut from Star Trek to Babylon 5, will be posted on the website in April. Watch for it.
As the old saying goes, what if they started a war and nobody came? That seems to be the case with the simmering format war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD. To the consumer who bothers to keep up on developments, it must look like a phony war.
Sony's 2006 line show for dealers and press offered few surprises. Yes, there was the new BDP-S1 Blu-ray player, planned for release in July at $1000. But it must rankle Sony every time they announce that the first Blu-ray player to market, day-and-date with the first Blu-ray titles in late May, will be from Samsung (if you haven't already heard, the delay of the PlayStation3 gaming console/BD player until November has created that awkward situation.)
Pioneer's newest flagship 50-inch plasma display differs from its predecessors, including the <A HREF="http://ultimateavmag.com/flatpaneldisplays/405pioneer/ "> Elite Pro-1120HD</A>, in a number of important ways. For the buyer, however, the most important change is the price. At $5500, the Elite PRO-1130HD is a whopping $8000 cheaper than the $13,500 PRO-1120HD we reviewed back in April 2005. The fact that the PRO-1130HD is also better than last year's model illustrates just how competitive flat panel sales have become. Pioneer has had to dance as fast as it can to keep up with the major players in the market.
My first experience with Energy speakers came in 1994, when I reviewed the Canadian company's then flagship speaker, the Veritas v2.8. It rotated in and out of my system for years, occasionally bettered in specifics by speakers selling for its original price ($6000/pair) or more, but never trumped overall, to my ears. The pair I own is still a valued two-channel reference, but unfortunately Energy never made a center channel speaker to match it.
Last time I mentioned a letter from a reader asking me to recommend great movie theaters he should check out on a visit to Los Angeles. I also suggested that out-of-towners visiting The Big Orange for our upcoming Home Entertainment 2006 show on June 2-4 (you are coming, right?) might want to include a visit to one or more of the best theaters in the world in their plans—particularly if they're from a theater-challenged part of the country. There are new multiplexes in LA <I>suburbs</I>, for example, that are likely better than any movie theater in the entire state of New Mexico (I know from experience, having lived in Santa Fe for 10 years and visited most of the theaters there and in nearby Albuquerque, the state's biggest city by far).
Our annual Home Entertainment show, sponsored by Primedia's home tech and photography publications—<I>Ultimate AV</I>, <I>Stereophile</I>, <I>Home Theater</I>, <I>Audio Video Interiors</I>, and <I>Shutterbug</I>—is still three months away. But time has a way of catching us off guard. If you plan on attending from out of town, you need to make plans now!
If there's one factor limiting the wider acceptance of front video projection in the home it's the need to view the projected image in a darkened room. I can't count the number of times I've seen visitors to various on-line forums asking how well this or that projector works in a room with only partial light control. In <I>every</I> case, the answer should have included (but didn't always), "Not nearly as well as it will in a totally darkened room." The simple fact is that video screens reflect light, and if that light comes from something other than a projector—a partially covered window, perhaps—the screen doesn't care. Stray light, reflected off the screen, will inevitably degrade the richness and depth of the image. At worst, it will make it washed out and unwatchable.
With the HD DVD competition set to launch within a month, Sony invited members of the CE press to the Sony Studios in Culver City, California for an update on Blu-ray technology and a demonstration of that format's formidable capabilities.
It was the most ambitious do-it-yourself carpentry work I've done in five years, ever since I covered the windows in my home theater studio to shut out the light and minimize extraneous outside sounds. The latest project involved building a false wall directly in front of an existing wall, not only to conveniently hang an expected ongoing parade of flat panel displays coming in for review, but also to facilitate a planned series of on-wall speaker reviews. There's no question that on-wall speakers are a significant trend, and one that we can't continue to ignore here at <I>Ultimate AV</I>. As for in-walls, well, that's a project for the future.