2004 Reviewer's Choice Awards Page 2

RCA Scenium Profiles HD61THW263 61-inch DLP HDTV rca seneium reviewers Photo by Tony Cordoza

(original review, December 2004) RCA and InFocus engineers put their new Digital Light Processing (DLP) TVs on the Atkins diet, and it worked. The HD61THW263 is skinnier than any other rear-projection TV ever - at less than 7 inches deep, no other projection set comes close. It takes up very little space, and you can even hang it on the wall. And yes, at $10,000 list, it costs almost as much as a like-sized plasma TV, but it provides a better picture than any 61-inch plasma I've seen. RCA has also included an imaginative batch of features, like a built-in Web browser complete with wireless keyboard, an excellent array of picture-customization options, and comprehensive connectivity with both a CableCARD slot and an HDTV tuner.

But most surprising was the picture. Aside from a few nitpicks, the set's shallow depth had no negative effect on the image quality. I saw the same sharp, well-defined picture I've come to expect from high-end DLP sets, with relatively deep blacks and very little video noise. In the end, the RCA wins for its radical design, which other TV makers will soon try to emulate. But RCA got there first.

-David Katzmaier

RCA rca.com, 800-336-1900

Harman Kardon AVR 7300 Digital Surround Receiver Harman Kardon AVR 7300 reviewers

(original review, November) The AVR 7300 from the venerable Harman Kardon brand is a "flagship" receiver that really earns its rank, and even at $2,400 (list), it's less expensive than many others. It's one of the first receivers to incorporate Faroudja's acclaimed DCDi digital video processing, which upconverts standard-definition 480i (interlaced) sources like regular TV to enhanced-definition 480p (progressive-scan). You can also tweak numerous video parameters individually by input, and all incoming signals are upconverted to component video.

On the audio side, the AVR 7300 had the highest all-channels-driven power I've measured from any receiver and was excellent to exceptional in every important test. You'll find gobs of inputs and outputs, of course, plus auto setup using a microphone built into the remote control, which gets the job done with impressive accuracy. For its copious power, generous connection options, and overall performance, the AVR 7300 more than merits a Reviewer's Choice Award.

-Daniel Kumin

Harman Kardon harmankardon.com, 800-422-8027

Panasonic SC-HT1000 Home Theater System panasonic sc-ht 1000 Photo by Tony Cordoza

(original review, April, "Home Theater Made Easy") The SC-HT1000 is every bit as svelte as a megabuck Bang & Olufsen system - except it lists for only $1,000. More important, it's the first home theater in a box (HTiB) to include a DVD recorder. The recorder, which can burn both write-once DVD-R and rewritable DVD-RAM discs, has a TV tuner and a timer and works pretty much like a VCR except that there's no rewinding and you can start or stop recording nearly instantaneously. Everything I copied from cable to DVD-RAM was indistinguishable from the originals when I used the highest-quality recording mode.

Panasonic has loaded the SC-HT1000 with a bunch of signal-processing tricks like Multi Rear Surround, which enhances the sense of envelopment by creating the illusion of more than two surround speakers. More important, the SC-HT1000 (recently replaced by the more fully featured SC- HT1500) sounds as good as any $1,000 HTiB I've heard, which is like having the DVD recorder thrown in for free.

-Rich Warren

Panasonic, panasonic.com, 800-211-7262