I've recently noticed that most video companies have names that begin with letters at the end of the alphabet and most audio companies have names that start with letters at the beginning of the alphabet. Most of my theories on this are far-fetched (some involve mind control) and get me "the look" from other people whenever I share them. My need to get out more notwithstanding, perhaps it has something to do with the word "video" starting with a "V" and the word "audio" starting with an "A." If that's the case, then Vidikron not only starts with a "V," but it shares its first three letters with the word "video."
Odd as it may seem for a speaker review, I must begin with my first visual impression of Paradigm's new Reference Signature speakers. Granted, I usually stress that a speaker's physical appearance means little—after all, we don't buy speakers to look at them. If the current trend is any indication, though, many people don't agree, as evidenced by the proliferation of smaller, prettier, and more aesthetically sensitive speakers.
What can you get from a single box not much larger than a DVD player with three small drivers firing forward and a woofer port firing rearward? If the box is the Zvox 315 Sound Console, you get more sound than you might think - full, wide stereo and a surprising amount of surround sound.
Once high-priced curiosities, TVs based on newer technologies like LCD and Texas Instruments' DLP (Digital Light Processing) now provide a reasonably affordable alternative to the tube sets we've been watching for decades.
Media Center PCs are designed to replace a stack of A/V components, letting you watch live or recorded TV shows, play or burn DVDs, download movies and music, and play home videos and photo slideshows. Available in various hardware configurations from several computer manufacturers, these remote-controllable systems share the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 operating system.
Panasonic has recognized their customers' desire for high-quality performance with easy setup, and the result is their new home theater receiver, the SA-XR70 ($400). This fully digital receiver features HDMI connectivity, which simplifies the connection to other sources and allows for high-quality playback. It supports high-definition images up to 1080p and the DVD-Audio multichannel audio format. The SA-XR70 has built-in decoders for DTS, DTS ES, Dolby EX, and Dolby Pro Logic IIx. Connections include optical inputs and outputs, component video, and S-video.
Panasonic (800) 211-7262 www.panasonic.com
DVD: Raising Helen—Buena Vista
In the breezy comedy Raising Helen, Kate Hudson's fast track to agenting in the modeling business gets sidetracked when her sister's three kids move in with her after a fatal accident kills their mom. With the exception of a couple of surprisingly touching moments and the mega-talents of Joan Cusack, no feathers are ruffled too much, leading to the predictable conclusion with lots of smiles and hugs.
Texas Instruments continues to push the envelope of projector technology, and high-end manufacturers continue to adopt TI devices into ever-better projectors. TI's latest Digital Light Processing (DLP) devices are known as "DarkChips" for their improved contrast, a result of narrower gaps between mirror elements, smaller mirror hinges, higher reflectivity, and in a seeming paradox, better light absorption thanks to a new coating. DarkChips are said to offer better color uniformity and much lower dithering effects than their predecessors.
Better late than never. Years after mandating a changeover from analog to digital television broadcasting, the Federal Communications Commission (<A HREF="http://www.fcc.gov">FCC</A>) has launched a campaign to inform consumers about the benefits of the new format.