Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
For 2014 Vizio announced three new lines of HDTVs in a bewildering range of sizes. The big news is that all of the new sets, including the cheapest 23-incher in the budget E-Series, will have full array LED backlighting with local dimming. The only compromise is in the number of LED zones behind the screen. The E-Series will have 16—not a lot, but at least potentially better than the edge lighting used in most other sets at equivalent or higher prices). The more upscale M-Series (shown in the photo) will have 32 zones.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
Vizio also announced five new Ultra HD sets in its P-Series. These UHD designs will have 64 zones of local dimming and will be available in 5-inch increments from 50-inches ($999!) to 70-inches ($2600). They will, of course, have all of Vizio’s smart TV features.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
Topping off Vizio’s 2014 offerings will be the company’s new Ultra HD Reference Series. The big news here is the inclusion of Dolby’s new High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology. The Reference Series panels are capable of 800 nits of peak lunimance (just under 234 foot-lamberts).
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2014 1 comments
The Holy Grail of 3D has long been 3D without glasses—technically known as autostereoscopic 3D. But past CES demos of this technology have been notable duds.

The only way to do 3D without glasses is to process the image so that the images to each eye are isolated. But this has a side effect. You can see the 3D when viewed straight on. Move off center by a few degrees and the 3D disappears, taking some image quality with it. Move a bit further off-axis and the 3D returns. And so on—and off. The result is you get 3D only in a limited range of viewing zones, and poor image quality in others.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2014 0 comments
Sony realizes that without 4K content, a 4k Ultra HD set isn't fully complete. There is, of course, the movie server the company has offered recently and continues to offer, with 120 movies now available for download onto it. There's also the promise, not yet in place, for downloading or streamimg 4K material from a range of Internet movie sites.

But perhaps the most interesting potential source may come from you, via Sony's new FDR-AX100 4K Handycam Camcorder. With 14-megapixel resolution, a Zeiss lens, Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization, and more, for $2000 you can record and play back your own timeless videos, either exasperating or thrilling friends and family alike with your inner Steven Spielberg.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2014 0 comments
LG isn’t just talking HDTV picture quality this year. Like other manufacturers, it’s now it’s into everything but the kitchen sink—actually they may be into that as well. In any event, if you can plug it in or it runs on batteries, LG probably makes it.

Even in TV, various forms of Smart TV and how they can light up your life are front and center this year with every TV maker. But quality HDTV and Ultra HD are my beats today and I’m sticking to them.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 02, 2014 0 comments

Performa3 F208 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

B112 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $13,300 (with stands)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb overall performance
Impeccable fit and finish
Effective subwoofer EQ
Minus
Complex subwoofer EQ setup

THE VERDICT
While not inexpensive, the Performa3s can challenge anything out there on either music or movies, and likely come out in front.

Has it really been six years since I last reviewed a Revel speaker system? It has. That system, anchored at the front by the Ultima2 Studio2s, is still available—but combined with a five-star dinner for two, it will cost you around $40,000. Although I imagine its sales have met expectations, I suspect that system isn’t exactly flying out the doors at Fred’s High-Ende Audio Shoppe.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 23, 2013 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
If you’re a fan of science fiction and haven’t heard of the TV series Farscape (1999-2003) you don’t get out much. If you’re not a sci-fi fan, this series might just make you one. It offers more compelling characters, action, humor, drama, weird plot twists, sudden mood shifts, poignancy, and stunning performances than any other dozen TV shows you might name.

It all begins when astronaut John Crichton encounters a wormhole on an experimental mission. He’s flung to a distant quadrant of the galaxy, encounters a gigantic vessel nearby, and docks with it. It turns out to be a living ship, know to the locals a leviathan, operated by a bonded pilot. The ship’s occupants are alien prisoners escaping from their captors. The latter, the Mr. Bigs in this area of space, call themselves the Peacekeepers, and from all appearances (externally at least) appear indistinguishable from humans.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 06, 2013 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color
Crisp detail
Punchy image
Minus
Dim 3D
So-so blacks and contrast

THE VERDICT
You won’t find the deepest blacks in this price class, but the HC8000D’s bright, sharp, pleasing 2D picture is worth a look.

It seems like only yesterday that Mitsubishi ended its solitary status as the last holdout in the rear-projection DLP business. Oh, wait, it was only yesterday—at least in geologic HDTV time. But this was by no means the twilight of Mitsubishi Electric’s DLP video ambitions. These live on in a wide range of projectors, including the HC8000D single-chip DLP—a key player in the company’s consumer lineup.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 29, 2013 3 comments
Lasers, or Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, have been with us for half a century. A laser produces a highly focused (spatially coherent) beam of light having a very specific wavelength, the latter depending on the design and application. They’re used in medicine, industry, laser printing, barcode scanners, CD, DVD, and Blu-ray players, laser light shows, and innumerable other applications.

Lasers can also be used as a light source for digital projection. While this is still under development, we’re likely to see it first in movie theaters. Lasers can not only produce a much brighter image—which can help overcome the dimness of 3D presentations—but also offer cost benefits to theater owners. Conventional xenon lamps are expensive to replace, and have a useful life of perhaps 1000 hours (some theaters try to stretch this as much as possible, often with negative effects on picture quality). A laser light source can stretch this by at least twenty-fold or even more. While replacement lasers will likely be significantly more expensive to early on, they’ll still be cheaper per hour of use. Another possible cost saving might come from using a centralized “light farm,” with the light from a single remotely located bank of lasers routed to multiple projectors via fiber optics.

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