Rob Sabin

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Rob Sabin Posted: Sep 12, 2011 0 comments
Sanus showed off a revision of its value-priced ready-to-assemble Basics Series furniture line with an attractive new feature: tool-less construction. Really, not even a screwdriver. The screws and screw cams/posts of yesteryear have been replaced with a combination of internally hinged parts (such as drawers) that are already partially constructed and simply fold out to their final shape, and easy-to-use lever cams that pull the final pieces together and hold strong. The new designs both speed and simplify construction—something to celebrate if you've ever pieced one of these together the old way.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Sep 11, 2011 Published: Sep 12, 2011 0 comments
Manufacturers of control systems and many other products have embraced the iPad in a big way, building apps that turn these small flatpanel computers into easy-to-use, high powered touchscreen controllers. But the iPad's (or iPhone's) strength as a do-it-all device is also a weakness if you're going to use it as a remote control. The reality is that these multipurpose machines can be quite inconvenient if at the moment you need to switch an input on your receiver or press the Pause button for your disc player your tablet isn't woken up, unlocked, and running the correct page of the control app in its open window. And that assumes the device hasn't walked away altogether with another family member who needs it for web browsing or a round of Fruit Ninja. RTI's solution, believe it or not, is a second inexpensive remote to keep around as a backup. The new SURFiR ($149, shown next to the iPad) is an option for anyone using one of RTI's controllers and the company's RTIPanel app for Apple iDevices. Unlike the company's usual remotes, the SURFiR requires no programming, and system commands you execute with it automatically update the RTIPanel display—the two track each other. Apps are great, but if you're busy looking at email and just want to make a quick volume adjustment, the SURFiR companion remote is intended to provide quick, easy, tactile control at low cost.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Sep 11, 2011 Published: Sep 12, 2011 0 comments
Canadian audio manufacturer Bryston Ltd. was showing off its soon to be released SP3 surround processor at CEDIA 2011. Taking a purist approach, there's no video processing to potentially muck up the audio signal, but the unit provides convenient HDMI v1.4 video pass through from each of seven HDMI inputs, and should a higher HDMI version ever be required, modular construction insures that a factory upgrade can do the trick. The prototype on display was a 7.1-channel model that decodes all the latest Blu-ray codecs and steers the audio to either balanced or RCA outputs. There's also a pair of AES/EBU inputs and a USB input along with the usual mix of analog and digital stereo inputs. Bryston sales VP James Tanner said the SP3 uses all discreet Class A circuitry in its analog stages for optimal sound quality, and great care was taken in the circuit topology to keep incoming video signals away from the audio, including dedicated power supplies for the video and audio circuits with no shared common grounds. Price is expected to be $9,500 when the SP3 ships at the end of September.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Aug 25, 2011 4 comments
Have you been throttled lately? If you have, Home Theater wants to hear about it.

Okay, I'll explain.

In this brave new world where streaming media from the likes of Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu have virtually eliminated video rental stores and threaten to carry away our beloved reference-qualty Blu-rays on a river of rushing bits, the notion of "internet access" takes on new meaning. The capacity of the data pipeline running into our homes affects both the quality and quantity of the video content we can download, not to mention our ability to upload, store, and share our personal media in the Cloud.

And on this front, I'm afraid all is not well in Streamville...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 14, 2011 3 comments
Take a deep breath and inhale that acrid air, my friends. No, it's not the wildfires burning out west this season, but the stench of fuming Netflix customers as they cancel their subscriptions in droves following the announcement Tuesday of a startling 60% rate hike for the company's popular streaming/DVD combo plan.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 12, 2011 4 comments
SRS & the Future of Surround

Like most Home Theater readers, I’ve known SRS Labs primarily as the company that does virtual surround sound and other audio solutions for HDTVs and soundbars—features largely dismissed by serious enthusiasts as lightweight hocus-pocus. So it was with some skepticism that, back in March, I rolled into the firm’s Santa Ana, California, headquarters for a private demo of some new surround sound technology.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 11, 2011 2 comments
It’s a given that most readers of Home Theater are that guy—the one friends and family call when they need a new HDTV. But it doesn’t stop there. Because after your 82-year-old grandmother finally tosses out that old Sylvania console and buys a 52-inch LCD on your expert recommendation, you still have to help with the picture settings. We can’t have nana blowing out her sensitive retinas on the factory torch mode, now can we? Oh, what those eyes have seen...
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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 08, 2011 0 comments
If you're shopping for an HDTV this weekend, you might find yourself battle-scarred by a war you didn't even know was happening. Anyone considering a set with 3D compatibility—which now comes along for the ride in most better flat panels —will be forced to choose between one that comes with either active-shutter or passive 3D technology. The key proponents of active-shutter 3D are Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony. Leading the charge for the more recently introduced passive technology are Toshiba, Vizio, and LG (which developed the passive home 3D system being used by the others). Although both types will play back the same 3D Blu-ray Discs and broadcasts, the glasses and the resulting 3D image are different. Here are some facts to help you sort things out.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 17, 2011 1 comments
Successful streaming is about making the right connection.

If you’ve just read “Streaming for the Masses”, you’ve got some idea of the range of hardware that lets you stream video and music from the Internet to your home entertainment system. The primary options include HDTVs, Blu-ray players, A/V receivers, game consoles, and various DVRs and dedicated streaming appliances. To some extent, it does matter which you choose, both in terms of the content you can access and your ability to connect it for the best picture or sound quality.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 12, 2011 0 comments

I took the invitation a while back to visit the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory in Los Angeles, where the company introduced its 3D Innovation Center to members of the press. PHL is a research and mastering center where Panasonic works with filmmakers on new camera, editing, encoding and playback technologies.


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