A/V VETERAN

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 16, 2018  |  6 comments
A recent product announcement from Amazon touted the launch of a “subwoofer” to supplement the response of Amazon’s popular Echo vocal assistant. Presumably it will work with the even smaller Echo Dot as well. But for me it raised a couple of eyebrows.

Given that the low frequency response of an Echo alone probably doesn’t reproduce any useful output much lower than 100 Hz (admittedly an educated guess), the Echo Sub certainly can't hurt. But given its size and its 6-inch driver, there's no way that such a product it can be considered a subwoofer...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 02, 2018  |  1 comments
While the movers behind the Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek franchises aren’t at risk of losing sleep over dinosaurs just yet, the Jurassic worlds and parks do threaten to chomp on more than a few toes over the coming years.

When Jurassic Park debuted in 1993 it could have been a boom or a bust. Computer generated effects (CGI) were just coming into their own, but with a few exceptions (notably Terminator 2) they still hadn’t eaten the film business alive. Though keenly aware of his problems with the anamatronic shark in 1975’s Jaws, director Steven Spielberg was also aware that CGI, while still in its infancy, had significantly advanced the possibilities for special effects since the (on-set) practical effects of 1975.

So Spielberg went ahead. Using a brilliant combination of anamatronics and CGI he crafted a classic movie with effects that still hold up today. Four other Jurassic films have followed, three of them directed by others...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 11, 2018  |  0 comments
The 2018 edition of CEDIA Expo is now history and, although it may not be as grand as CES, it still left us with plenty to chew on.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 06, 2018  |  2 comments
For 2019, Sony has further refined the VPL-VW285ES projector I reviewed last year and is now calling it the VPL-VW295ES. I was able to spend some time to spend with it before heading off to CEDIA.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 21, 2018  |  6 comments
Avengers: Infinity War was a more compelling experience at home in 4K and HDR than in my local IMAX theater.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 07, 2018  |  3 comments
Last week Sound & Vision editor Al Griffin wrote on this site about Sony’s recent New York event. The subject was the launching of the company’s new Master Series flagship televisions, the new A9F OLEDs (in 55- and 65-inch sizes) and Z9F LCDs (65- and 75-inches). The event was held in a venue that in its past life was an exclusive dinner theater from 1938 to 1951, fell into disrepair in the following decades, and was remodeled in 2013. Since then it has been contracted to Sony, renamed Sony Hall, and used for a variety of theatrical and business events.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 24, 2018  |  0 comments
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (that is, a sequel) opened in theaters this week. I didn’t realize that the first film, Mamma Mia! The Musical was a major hit when it was released in 2009, selling hundreds of billions of tickets to folks worldwide. I wasn’t of them, having a love/hate relationship with the Abba tunes featured in the film.

In fact I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with movie musicals. La La Land lost me after the first song and dance number from the otherwise appealing leads who could neither sing nor dance. And apart from that title and a few others (notably The Greatest Showman—a recent release now available on a spectacular UHD Blu-ray), the musical hasn’t received a lot of film love in recent years. But it was, for decades, a movie staple...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 10, 2018  |  3 comments
No, you can’t yet buy an 8K set anywhere, nor is there any 8k programming being streamed, broadcast, or engraved on a physical disc that a consumer can buy. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t being seriously discussed in R&D circles.

In the last week in June a well-attended, two-day seminar on near-future UHDTV display technologies took place in Hollywood, CA. Conducted by Insight Media (www.insightmedia.info), a company that both consults with companies in the video display industry and conducts media-related tech conferences, and sponsored by Samsung, the conference dove heavily into subjects such as 8K, Quantum Dots, and micro LEDs...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 25, 2018  |  0 comments
We rarely discuss smartphones here at Sound & Vision, but I suspect that most readers, if forced to choose which device they’d choose to keep if they had to divest themselves of all but one, would choose their smartphone. But that wouldn’t include me. I don’t check my phone 20 times a day, and Facebook and Twitter are strangers to me. In the past I’ve used my phone mainly for e-mails, news, Listen-In radio, and phone calls.

But my recent experience with a new smartphone offers cautionary lessons also applicable to our more house-bound entertainment goodies: televisions, AVRs, speakers, home assistants, home automation, and more...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 12, 2018  |  2 comments
I covered the pros and cons of choosing a projector or a flat screen set in a blog late last year. But a new candidate makes it worth a second look. That technology is the short throw projector, currently being heavily promoted by several manufacturers. Many of these devices are still pricey, but a few models that are at least competitive with premium flat screen sets are now available, with more sure to come...
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 29, 2018  |  7 comments
Ah, summer movies. The summer blockbuster tradition is relatively new, but summer moviegoing likely became a big thing when air conditioning was new and “Air Conditioning” on a theater marque guaranteed an audience.

But as I sat in a nearly empty local theater last week watching Avengers: Infinity War (it was a weekday afternoon and the movie had been out for 2 weeks), I wondered if the now ubiquitous Marvel Universe has painted itself into a corner. There are now too many characters to squeeze into a single film, even if some of the lesser lights were sidelined in this one (on holiday, perhaps—after all, only the future of the universe was at stake). So you have a gaggle of actors, each one of which is expecting significant screen time by getting his or her own little slice of the pie. That means a few meaty and/or witty lines for each of them and then off to the next battle. And if there’s one thing this movie isn’t lacking, it’s a next battle. And the next. And the next...

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 15, 2018  |  8 comments
Every year there’s a major high-end audio show in Munich, Germany, held in a large convention-center type facility. By all reports it’s the biggest such event in the world, though it began as a modest hotel show in Frankfurt (also Germany, not Kentucky). I actually attended two of those 80s shows when I was stationed in Germany in the Air Force, an hour’s drive from Frankfurt.

But this isn’t about audio shows, though from what I’ve heard about the Munich event it’s more about viewing than serious auditioning. And since home theater isn’t nearly as significant in Europe as it is in the U.S., Munich is mainly about 2-channel audio. I have no issue with that; I’m a fan myself. But the high-end 2-channel market isn’t doing itself any favors with the current trend toward crazy pricing. While a new, $250,000 pair of monoblock amplifiers from an industry icon may be an outlier, it’s symptomatic...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 24, 2018  |  2 comments
Back in the Jurassic age movie theaters routinely offered double features. That practice has long since disappeared, but you can recreate it by seeing two movies on the same day. It takes some doing to get the schedule right, with perhaps a half hour between the end of the first film and the beginning of the second—just enough time to see a man about a dog. Of course it will cost you for separate tickets, and you’ll want to be sure you can get good seats for both films.

Then there’s the challenge of making a good pairing...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 10, 2018  |  27 comments
The recent departure of Oppo from the new disc player landscape* has produced a flurry of “packaged media is dead” vs. “I want my video discs” chatter on the Web. It has also prompted me to ponder once again both sides of the question.

I don’t believe that Oppo’s decision has much to do with any sign that packaged media is likely to imminently disappear. Check the release schedules shown on a number of disc review sites (such as thedigitalbits.com) and you’ll see that dozens of titles are released each week. Some are new, some are re-releases, and many are unreleased movie titles dumped directly to video...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 27, 2018  |  10 comments
Elsewhere on this site I discuss my experiences at the press events I attended in Los Angeles (LG) and New York (Sony). Between these two events I elected to spend a few extra days in Los Angeles to pay informal visits to two manufacturers and also to check out the latest movies in good movie theaters—including one of the best in the country.

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