Compared with the "in the lab" box for one of our test reports on, say, an A/V receiver, the lab data for a TV review may seem skimpy. While there aren't a lot of numbers, the ones we do generate can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from the set - particularly its color reproduction, which is arguably the most important aspect of a TV's performance.
My first brush with home theater was in a large, dedicated room equipped with a top-shelf cathode-ray-tube (CRT) front projector, a Faroudja video processor, a 100-inch (diagonal) screen, and a killer sound system. Subsequently, I've measured every home theater experience against that one, making me a tough customer to please.
There's no denying that digital high-definition TV (HDTV) is a vast improvement over our old analog TV system, but if you want to record any of the high-def programs delivered over the air by local broadcasters or via satellite from Dish Network or DirecTV, your options are ridiculously limited.
Anyone who's set up a home theater system knows how much work is involved. Once you find the right TV and speaker system, you need to round up a stack of components, including a DVD player, a video recorder, and, perhaps, a satellite receiver. Then you have to spin a frightening web of wires to route all of those signals through your A/V receiver or preamp/surround processor.
First it was shark attacks and the Gary Condit debacle, and then came September 11. The year 2001 wasn't a great one overall, but it was pretty good for high-definition television (HDTV), which continues to make steady advances despite the drooping economy.
When progressive-scan DVD players first emerged almost two years ago, the already excellent picture quality we'd come to expect from standard players suddenly got a whole lot better. That's because the new models could convert video signals to a progressive-scan format for display on a TV or monitor with progressive-scan capabilities.
The DVD format advanced from a high concept to a hot commodity blindingly fast. Navigating the crowded aisles of their local video stores, DVD enthusiasts - who just yesterday felt like elite, high-tech trailblazers - today rub shoulders with increasingly large crowds of new converts. And as models of DVD players have multiplied in number, so have their features and capabilities.