The Big Picture

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Scott Wilkinson  |  Feb 28, 2011  |  8 comments
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, my favorite awards show of the year is the Grammys. But for home-theater enthusiasts—including myself—the most important awards show is clearly the Oscars, broadcast from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA. Watched by an estimated one billion people worldwide, this year's show was rather strange, but I thought most of the winners were well-justified with one or two exceptions.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Feb 22, 2011  |  0 comments
Recently, I came across a blog by George Walter, VP of home cinema at Digital Projection, about why dual-projector 3D systems should be avoided in the home. It's important to note that Digital Projection makes single-projector 3D systems, so Walter has a dog in this fight, but his arguments make sense for all but the richest home-theater owners.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Feb 17, 2011  |  3 comments
The 3D TV landscape got a whole lot more complicated at this year's CES—and it was already plenty complicated before the show! In addition to displays that use active-shutter glasses, we now have some that use passive-polarized glasses and a few flat panels that use no glasses at all. In particular, I've been seeing quite a few blogs about glasses-free 3D, such as this one by Grant Clauser for CEPro and this one by Stewart Wolpin for TWICE. Both commentators reject the current viability of glasses-free 3D, which is more formally known as auto-stereoscopic, and with good reason—it looks lousy, and it confuses the 3D market considerably.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Feb 14, 2011  |  1 comments
My favorite awards show of the year is the Grammys, because it's all about music and musicians, and except for the occasional backing track, all the performances are live. I've attended the show twice, but aside from the excitement of being with 20,000 of my closest friends at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, I prefer to watch at home, where I can control the volume and see the performers up close in high-def.

This year, the show was held on Sunday, February 13, and I have to say I was disappointed overall, though there were a few worthwhile moments…

Scott Wilkinson  |  Feb 08, 2011  |  3 comments
Whenever anyone starts proclaiming that plasma is a dying technology, I put my hands over my ears and start singing, "La, la, la, I can't hear you!" Sure, LCD TVs have come a long way in terms of black levels and motion detail thanks to LED illumination and frame interpolation, but these are work-arounds for problems that most plasmas never had in the first place—and they often come with their own odious artifacts, such as frame interpolation's "soap-opera effect." So it was with great glee that I read a report in This Week In Consumer Electronics about a study from market-research firm DisplaySearch, which found that shipments of plasma panels to TV manufacturers in 2010 were way up from the previous year.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Feb 03, 2011  |  1 comments
As wildly successful as Avatar was, many people still complained of eye fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms of what I call 3D sickness. (If you haven't yet taken our poll on whether or not you suffer from this malady, I invite you to do so here.) So director James Cameron plans to significantly improve the 3D experience of Avatar 2—scheduled for release in December 2014—as revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Feb 01, 2011  |  1 comments
Last Thursday, Ken Florance, Director of Content Delivery at Netflix, posted the results of a very interesting study on the Netflix Tech Blog. The company measured the effective throughput speed of its HD streams as delivered by many ISPs in the US and Canada from the first of October to the middle of January. The US results are shown above, while the Canadian results are shown below.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 25, 2011  |  1 comments
This week's poll question—Do You Suffer From 3D Sickness?—has yielded some interesting results. Of those who have voted so far, 38 percent say they never experience eye strain, headaches, nausea, etc. while watching stereoscopic content on 3D TVs or in 3D movie theaters, and 19 percent say they have never seen stereoscopic 3D. That leaves a whopping 43 percent who experience 3D sickness at least sometimes. Why?
Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 28, 2010  |  6 comments
Our latest poll question—Do You Prefer the Sound of Digital or Analog Audio Media?—has inspired more comments than any I've posted up to now, and I'm grateful to everyone who has added their two cents to the discussion so far, as well as those who will do so in the future. This is exactly what I had hoped these questions would stimulate—a lively but respectful discussion of the issues that concern all who enjoy the audio/video hobby.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 17, 2010  |  1 comments
Apropos of this week's Vote question, I recently came across an item from (formerly the Television Bureau of Advertising), which analyzed the November Nielsen data and found that wired-cable service to American TV households has hit a 21-year low, though it's still the dominant TV delivery system at 60.7 percent. Meanwhile, what that group calls "alternate delivery systems" (ADS)—which in this case means only satellite and microwave broadcasting, not over-the-air or online—has hit an all-time high of 30.5 percent.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 16, 2010  |  1 comments
It's nice to have connected friends. Last night, I got to attend a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) screening of Tron: Legacy, which opens in theatrical release tomorrow, as a guest of member Nina Goldin, a talented voice actress and singer/songwriter. The screening was held at the Main Theater on Disney Studios' backlot in Burbank, CA, where security was pretty tight—metal-detector wands to prevent any cell phones or cameras (or sound-level meters) in the theater.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 14, 2010  |  1 comments
Sony, Imax, and the Discovery Channel have announced new 3D programming for 2011, with three new series, two specials, and the broadcast debut of Open Season in 3D, the first feature-length animated movie from Sony Pictures Animation. The specials include Imax's Space Station narrated by Tom Cruise and a 3D episode of Discovery's Ghost Lab.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  3 comments
I'm pleased and proud to announce that Home Theater Geeks is among iTunes' "Best of 2010" podcasts. It shares this honor with 12 other shows produced by our friends at TWiT, which garnered more entries on the list than any other network—NPR has the next highest number with eight.

The TWiT podcasts in the list are:

Audio: Tech News Today, This Week in Computer Hardware, Home Theater Geeks, NSFW

Video: This Week in Tech, MacBreak Weekly, TWiT Live Specials, iPad Today, Tech News Today, The Tech Guy, This Week in Google, Windows Weekly

Classic Audio: This Week in Tech

Congratulations to all my TWiT cohorts!

Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 08, 2010  |  5 comments
A few weeks ago, I visited SRS Labs in Irvine, California, to see—and hear—its new Advanced Rendering Laboratory (ARL). This facility is custom built to test any imaginable physical or psychoacoustic audio system—in other words, it's an audio geek's dream come true.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  3 comments
Are you bothered by TV commercials that seem louder than the program in which they are embedded? If so, you're not alone—the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has received millions of consumer complaints about this, and in a rare moment of bipartisanship, the US House of Representatives passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act last Thursday, following the Senate's unanimous passage in October. According to the reports I've read, this legislation empowers the FCC to require broadcasters to adopt industry technology—which Dolby has been working on for the last decade—that modulates sound levels and prevents overly loud commercials within one year.