LATEST ADDITIONS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 27, 2005 8 comments

What's a blog? It's the hot topic on the Internet these days, but what, exactly, is it? Since we've just launched four new blogs here on <I>Ultimate AV</I>, this is a timely question. Three of the blogs have been converted directly from our previous monthly columns. A fourth is brand new.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 26, 2005 0 comments

<I>Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Nucci, Gloria Stewart, David Warner, Victor Garber, and Bill Paxton. Directed by James Cameron. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1. 174 minutes (film). 1997. Dolby Digital 5.1EX, DTS 6.1ES, and 2.0 Dolby Surround (English), French, Spanish. Paramount 03135. PG-13. $29.99.</I>

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 24, 2005 0 comments
Once a marvel of technology, the portable DVD player is now on its way to becoming a "been there, spun that" kind of product category. (Oh, how quickly we take electronic things for granted nowadays…) So manufacturers - and there are many - of this kind of portable device have to focus their design attention on enhanced features or reduced weight/size/cost in order to attract the attention of the much loved, cash-carrying consumer. (Yeah, don't go looking around the room. I'm talking about you.)
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 24, 2005 0 comments
Pity those poor manufacturers of portable audio and video devices whose names don't begin with an "A" and who don't make gadgets with a model numbers starting with a lower-case "i". HandHeld Entertainment, makers of one of those "not an iPod audio/video" portables, sees an avenue to fame and success in offering a handheld portable player that costs significantly less than an iPod from Apple. Prior to Apple's much ballyhooed introduction earlier this month, HandHeld Entertainment announced plans for the next generation of their digital video/audio/photo media players.
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Lawrence E. Ullman Posted: Oct 23, 2005 0 comments

Sony's new, $2000 STR-DA7100ES AV receiver carries forward the shiny silver hewn-from-solid-block look of previous ES-series receivers, such as the <A href="http://www.ultimateavmag.com/avreceivers/1204sony/">STR-DA9000ES</A> ($4500) recently reviewed by TJN. Although the front panel looks like solid aluminum, it is actually a 2mm-thick formed sheet. Most of the controls are hidden behind a drop-down panel, leaving a clean front panel with just volume and input-selector knobs, half a dozen little buttons, and the display. The various knobs and controls have great tactile appeal, operating with a solid, positive feel and silky smooth action.

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Posted: Oct 23, 2005 0 comments

Some are calling it the end of the format war, others are calling it the beginning. Warner Home Video announced last week that it has joined the Blu-ray Disc Association and will release its films on Blu-ray, and, ostensibly, HD DVD as well. Universal is now the only studio of the six majors to be committed to HD DVD and not Blu-ray.

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Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Oct 22, 2005 0 comments
It dares to be different.

In the crowded world of flat panels, a manufacturer that can make their product distinctive certainly has a leg up on the competition. Philips clearly understands this, equipping their line of LCD and plasma displays with some unique features that help these displays stand out from the pack. Of course, when you veer away from the tried-and-true approach, you also risk alienating some consumers.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 22, 2005 0 comments
American beauties.

Flat-screen-friendly speakers, iPod-inspired microspeakers, and adorable HTIBs are selling like crazy, but Vandersteen Audio is immune to such flights of fancy. Their speakers are all plus-size beauties—the company's new VCC-5 Reference center channel measures a healthy 24 inches wide, 9.75 high, and 18 deep. So, sure, it would be a hell of a lot easier to sell a slimmer design, but the company's head honcho, Richard Vandersteen, doesn't play that game. He designs speakers for buyers who care more about sound than fashion. His stuck-in-the-1980s styling isn't a calculated stab at retro—the handsome 1C tower speaker was originally introduced in 1981 as the Model 1, and the "C" iteration debuted in 1996. You see, change for the sake of change isn't an option at Vandersteen Audio, and that extends to bucking the industry stampede to move production offshore. They still build every speaker in Hanford, California, and they test and measure every speaker in their own anechoic chamber. That's commitment.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Oct 22, 2005 0 comments
Diamonds can be everyone's best friend.

If truth be told, I have little use for diamonds in their conventional form. This probably stems from all the pomp and pageantry that surrounds them—not to mention my disdain for those people who drape themselves in the stones and attempt to outshine everyone else with their brilliance. This hardly means that I have little respect for diamonds, though, even if this respect is far more about material than materialism. Since ancient times, mankind has recognized the value of the diamond for pragmatic applications, in everything from grinding and engraving tools, to drill bits, to turntable styli and semiconductors.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 22, 2005 0 comments
Feed your hungry eyes and ears on an attractively entertaining meal of lean on-wall speakers and tender, choice electronics.

Whether by nature or nurture, I'm a speaker guy. I'm more captivated by speakers than any of the associated electronics in a home theater system. As a result of this singular infatuation, I've always believed, as a general rule of thumb, that you should allocate at least half of the total cost of the audio portion of your system to the speakers. I don't know why the math seems to work out that way, but, in my mind, it just does. So what am I to make of a system in which the Primare electronics cost twice as much as the Sequence/REL speaker package?

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