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John Sciacca Posted: Jun 21, 2012 0 comments

This is the tale of two companies whose products you likely interact with on a daily basis. Two companies that aim to capture the Holy Grail of the consumer electronics world: your living room. One company has had great success with its mission, while the other one has repeatedly failed.

The companies are Apple and Microsoft.

John Sciacca Posted: Jun 06, 2012 0 comments

Summer’s arrival means it’s time to peel your pasty self off of the couch and head outside for a little sunshine and fresh air. But just because you’re stepping outside the indoor A/V sanctuary doesn’t mean you have to go all Trappist monk with your entertainment. And I’m not talking about dragging an iPod and headphones or (heaven forbid) some relic of a boombox outside.

John Sciacca Posted: Jun 05, 2012 0 comments

Elite is Pioneer’s premier home audio line, much like Lexus is to Toyota. That means you can expect better build quality, a longer warranty, step-up features, and premium performance. New to Elite this year are two network audio players, the N-30 and N-50, that stream audio (including high-rez files up to 192-kHz/24-bit) from a computer, play Internet radio, and use Apple’s AirPlay for easy wireless networking with iOS devices. When it comes to basic features, the two are essentially the same. But there are several key performance differences between the players that make it easy to argue the case for the N-50’s $200 price premium.

John Sciacca Posted: Mar 26, 2012 0 comments

Control4 unveiled two new processors at this year’s CES, the HC800 ($999) and the HC250 ($599). They offer way more power for system control and provide a much zippier interface when controlling different areas of the home or browsing a media library.

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John Sciacca Posted: Mar 26, 2012 0 comments

At some point, CES ceased having much of anything to do with the home theater experience, and became primarily about TV makers launching the latest, biggest, and thinnest TVs. Oh, and there are also a couple of floors of stratospherically expensive high-end audio gear, and now headphones.

John Sciacca Posted: Jan 30, 2012 0 comments

Many people love the idea of a house-wide audio system, but they may not love the idea of paying to have one installed. Plus, the fancy features that come with dedicated multiroom audio systems — such as keypad controllers with metadata feedback, and the ability to divide a home into numerous listening zones — might be more than what many people actually need.

In fact, for the way many people actually live, two listening zones may be the perfect amount: a “main” zone linked to the TV/surround system and a secondary zone for playing music, radio, or something else in a different room. Think one person watching Oprah’s Life Lessons, while a second seeks refuge on the patio with ESPN radio and a beer. If a two-zone audio system sounds like it would fit your bill, chances are that you’ve actually got most of the components for it already on hand.

John Sciacca Posted: Jan 30, 2012 0 comments

First impressions can be a dangerous thing, especially for an A/V equipment reviewer. Allowing yourself to become predisposed to thinking that one company’s component will be this and another company’s component will be that can cloud a review and allow for the praising of some unworthy products while subjecting others to unfair criticism.

John Sciacca Posted: Dec 28, 2011 0 comments

Most new Blu-ray players are capable of streaming both movies and music, so why would you ever consider buying a dedicated music-streaming device? I mean, if you learned nothing else from your mother, you’re probably at least squared away on the concept of not buying the cow if you’re already getting the milk for free.

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John Sciacca Posted: Nov 30, 2011 0 comments

Today, 3D has become a de facto feature on almost every higher-end TV and even many projectors, and it continues to make headlines. But the biggest news to come out of the CEDIA Expo trade show this past September wasn’t of the three-dimensional variety. The news that took many attendees by surprise was 4K.

John Sciacca Posted: Oct 19, 2011 0 comments

Peanut butter and chocolate. Wine and cheese. Lennon and McCartney. Some things are great on their own, but when they meet their perfect counterpart, the result can be pure magic.


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