Here's a question to wrap your mind around: What's the best home-entertainment deal going? If you answered, "a Windows Media Center PC," you're way off track. If you thought, "a $49 progressive-scan DVD player," you're closer, but still no cigar. But if you blurted out, "an LCD front projector," you're absolutely right.
Here's a message if you spend time squinting at a small TV: big screens are better for watching movies and most everything else. And I don't mean those puny 50-inch sets most folks consider "big screen." I'm talking about pictures that make you feel like you're actually in a movie theater - pictures 100 inches or larger!
With LCD TVs nipping at their heels, plasma sets have quickly abandoned their industrial heritage and evolved to become a user-friendly centerpiece for your home theater. Basically, they've grown bigger - screen sizes will soon hit 70 inches - and accrued tons of cool features.
There's no question that a DVD will look great on a widescreen HDTV, especially if your player happens to be a progressive-scan model. But with razor-sharp high-definition movies regularly showing on cable, satellite, and even broadcast TV, DVD has started to lose a bit of its luster.
Way up on the list of reader questions we field on a regular basis is, "Which is better, plasma or LCD?" Compared with more affordable tube-type TVs, both technologies are relatively new. But their flat form factor, combined with an ultra-bright picture that looks good from any position on your couch, gives many folks a spasm of techno-lust.
Not long ago, someone figured out it was possible to get good sound from small, inexpensively made speakers - and ever since, the home theater scene has been dominated by compact six-piece rigs that sell for a thousand bucks or less.
The popularity of flat-panel TVs with LCD (liquid-crystal display) screens was very much in evidence at CES 2005. From well-established names like Sharp and Toshiba to relative newcomers in the U.S. market like BenQ and Moxell, a good number of manufacturers displayed LCD models ranging from 15 to 55 inches.
Along with a deluge of bigger, flatter HDTVs of various technological stripes, a hot TV news item at CES 2005 was the arrival of digital cable-ready TVs with slots for a CableCARD. This credit-card-size device was designed to eliminate set-top cable decoders - those ugly black boxes that have squatted, like parasites, on or below our TVs for the past two decades.
Ever since "universal" DVD players first appeared, I've waited patiently for prices to come down and for the flood of Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio titles initially promised to arrive. Well, the flood never came - I've got Yes's Fragile on DVD-Audio and Miles Davis's Kind of Blue on SACD, but I'm still waiting on the Beatles' Sgt.