2003 Sound & Vision Reviewer's Choice Awards Page 3

Photos by Tony Cordoza Athena Audition Series Home Theater Speaker System athena audition series(original review, November) This no-nonsense Canadian speaker setup sounded "right" on most everything I fed it, delivering surprisingly wide dynamics at a price not much higher than those of many one-carton minisystems. Athena's Audition Series suite is perfectly pleasant to look at, if plain, but looks aren't what you listen to. The two-way AS-F2 towers struck me with their natural tonal balance, fine detail, impressive extension, and huge quantities of sound - especially for just $600 a pair. The AS-C1 center speaker ($180) is good if not perfect, and the very compact AS-R1 surrounds ($250 a pair) are practically invisible. Finally, the 10-inch AS-P400 subwoofer ($400) is as small as the towers are large, yet it delivered solid support all the way down to 25 Hz or so, an honest half-octave deeper than the towers could manage on their own. All this for $1,430 makes the Athena Audition Series system one hell of a bargain. Athena Technologies www.athenaspeakers.com, 416-321-1800

- Daniel Kumin

InFocus ScreenPlay 7200 DLP Front Projector infocus screenplay 7200 (original review, November, "Bringing the Theater Home") InFocus is huge in the corporate/industrial world but has only recently started to sell projectors aimed at the home theater enthusiast. The company's first foray into HDTV-grade front projection is the ScreenPlay 7200, and it's obvious the engineers did their homework. In addition to a 1,280 x 720-pixel Mustang HD2 DLP (Digital Light Processing) chip, the ScreenPlay is equipped with Faroudja DCDi processing, a wide range of connection options, and enough tweaky setup features to keep video perfectionists busy for hours. But the best thing about this projector is its bright, eye-popping image - the 7200's light output measured better, by a long shot, than any other front projector we've tested. And brightness doesn't come at the expense of other factors, like shadow detail and color fidelity. Everything from HDTV to sports programs on standard cable looked fantastic. Eight grand might seem like a lot, but it's a decent price for a projector of this caliber. InFocus www.infocushome.com, 800-294-6400

- Al Griffin

Toshiba 57HLX82 57-inch HDTV Monitor toshiba hdtv monitor - 0603 (original review, June) As the first TV ever with 1080p (progressive-scan) resolution, Toshiba's flagship rear-projection set brings home the bits like nobody's business. Despite a steep list price ($9,000), it's actually the least-expensive HDTV that can display every tiny element of a high-definition 1080i (interlaced) picture. All that detail comes courtesy of another first: a three-chip LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) light engine that makes traditional cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays seem like dinosaurs. LCoS requires no maintenance and won't burn in, but its chief shortcoming, at least in first-generation models like this one, is an inability to reproduce true inky blacks. Still, I was extremely impressed by its artifact-busting video processing, solid colors, and breathtaking detail, especially with HDTV programs. Toshiba also wrapped the set in a high-tech cabinet that stands a mere 18 inches from the back wall. Best of all, the 57HLX82's replacement, the 57HL83, sells for $3,500 less than its predecessor. Now that's the kind of progress I like to see in a new technology. Toshiba www.tacp.toshiba.com, 800-631-3811

- David Katzmaier