Al Griffin

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 02, 2011 0 comments

It’s that time of year again when the undead walk the earth. But along with ghosts, vampires, and zombies, another partially animated entity haunts us: Blu-ray players in need of a firmware update.

Al Griffin Posted: Oct 19, 2011 0 comments

When they first arrived a few years back, LED-driven LCD TVs with a full array backlight made a big splash. Why? Because the backlight, a grid of LED lamp modules spanning the rear of the display panel, can be modulated via local dimming — a process that enables the set to track specific areas in the image, turning select modules on, off, or somewhere in between.

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Al Griffin Posted: Sep 27, 2011 0 comments

As an A/V connection standard, HDMI has its downsides: limited cable length, glitches, slow switching, and version upgrades that make new gear incompatible with old stuff — the list goes on. But a major upside is that one interconnect can handle the jobs previously carried out by a thick wad of cables. In its most current version, HDMI 1.4, a single link will convey high-def video/multichannel audio, link devices to a local network (HDMI Ethernet Channel), and route audio signals from a TV back out to an A/V receiver  (Audio Return Channel). Sweet!

But any TV making the hook-up also needs to be plugged into a power socket. That means an additional wire, plus the logistical problem of locating a TV near an AC outlet — or, for a wall-mounted installation, of embedding one within the wall (a task that generally requires the services of an electrician). Wouldn’t it be great if HDMI also carried power?

HDMI can’t. But HDBaseT can.

Al Griffin Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

While Panasonic plasmas traditionally excel on the picture-quality front, they’ve lagged a bit behind other flat-panel TVs when it comes to style. Take last year’s VT25 series. The picture on those sets was hard to fault (the 50-incher we reviewed won our 2010 Video Product of the Year award), but when positioned alongside new, ultra-slim plasmas from companies like Samsung, the Panasonic’s 3-inch panel depth and thick gloss-black bezel rendered it caveman-like by comparison.

Al Griffin Posted: Aug 29, 2011 0 comments

While 3D movies haven’t totally taken over the multiplex, the format remains a force to be reckoned with. Michael Bay just released a new Transformers installment in 3D (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), James Cameron is at work on Avatar sequels, and the entire Star Wars saga is being formatted for 3D release.

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Al Griffin Posted: Aug 01, 2011 0 comments

Collecting records is an activity linked in most folks’ minds with combing through dusty stacks in cramped storefronts or at garage sales. But there’s an alternative way to check out vintage vinyl, and I don’t mean record fairs (though those are cool, too). I’m talking about YouTube.

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Al Griffin Posted: Jul 19, 2011 0 comments

Sometimes the mere fact of something being inaccessible can enhance its value — a lot. Take Spotify, for example. For years we’ve wondered when music labels would finally allow the European online music service to make its supposed 15 million-track library available here. That day has finally arrived.

Al Griffin Posted: Jul 13, 2011 0 comments

At 3D theaters, you’re handed lightweight passive glasses that work in tandem with a polarizing filter positioned over the projector’s lens. When viewing at home with a 3D TV, you use bulky, battery-powered glasses with active shutter liquid-crystal lenses. Passive glasses in theaters are cheap and easily replaced. But at an average cost of $100 per pair, glasses used at home represent a sizable investment. Better to put them in a safe place — and keep ’em away from kids!

Al Griffin Posted: Jul 13, 2011 0 comments

Blu-ray players are becoming less a means to play discs than a gateway to online services — and to any media stored on computers, smartphones, and iDevices lying around your home. Take LG’s BD670. You might pick up this modest-looking machine thinking you’d use it to play Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D discs, along with DVDs and CDs.

Al Griffin Posted: Jun 16, 2011 0 comments

TEST BENCH

Color temperature (ISF Expert 2 mode/Warm color temperature preset before/after calibration):

20-IRE: 6,817 K/6,431 K
30-IRE: 6,816 K/6,499 K
40-IRE: 6,819 K/6,548 K
50-IRE: 6,796 K/6,527 K
60-IRE: 6,720 K/6,515 K
70-IRE: 6,726 K/6,495 K
80-IRE: 6,685 K/6,492 K
90-IRE: 6,638 K/6,464 K
100-IRE: 6,572 K/6,405 K

Primary Color Point Accuracy vs. SMPTE HD Standard

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