Ultimate AV Editors' Choice Awards 2005 Introduction

Our Editor's Choice awards began as an annual event back in the January 1999 issue of the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, Ultimate A's predecessor.

The home theater landscape has changed a lot since then. HDTV has become a given in the marketplace, and if it isn't yet commonplace, there is now plenty of HD source material and affordable hardware, something that couldn't be said seven years ago.

DVD became the fastest-growing format in consumer electronics history, revolutionizing movie distribution in a way that has been a blessing for Hollywood and a curse for movie theaters.

CRTs are going the way of the Dodo bird, at least in the big-screen department. They still do some important things better than any other type of video display. But the sales appeal of newer technologies, and flat panel sets in particular, will win out in the end.

And the VCR is still with us, but how many of us are still using one. With DVD recorders and hard-drive digital video recorders increasingly common and easy to use, the VCR looks more and more like an antique.

Technology will continue to change the audio, video, and home theater landscape in ways we can scarcely imagine. In another few years we'll be wondering what hit us.

But there are plenty of outstanding products available today. In this 2005 edition of our Editor's Choice awards we pick those that have most impressed us since our 2004 awards were presented over a year ago.

To be eligible, a product must have received a full review in Ultimate AV or Stereophile Guide to Home Theater during that period. Each editor voted for his top 3 choices in each product category, and those votes determined the winners.

Some categories have two winners. Platinum awards are presented to price-no-object products, Gold awards to products offering outstanding performance and outstanding value. A winner of a Platinum or Gold award doesn't always take home one of our two most coveted awards—Budget Product of the Year and Product of the Year—but it often turns out that way, as it did this time around.

As always, if you find these the bite-size capsules presented here intriguing enough to put the product on your short-list for a possible purchase, we recommend you read the full review. Simply click on the links provided and you're there.

The 2005 Ultimate AVEditors' Choice awards will be formally presented during the ELF reception at the 2005 CEDIA EXPO in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 9.

The envelopes, please!