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Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 02, 2006  |  0 comments

You know the gag. You see someone walking down the street and about to step on a banana peel. Do you shout "STOP," or remain silent and then applaud as he does an awesome pirouette.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 22, 2007  |  9 comments

<B><I>In a special guest Blog, erstwhile Stereophile and UAV contributor Barry Willis remembers Randy Tomlinson, his friend of over 25 years...</I></B>

Tom Norton  |  Oct 05, 2007  |  1 comments

Back in late July I blogged about a demo kiosk at my local Best Buy. You can scroll down and read about it. It was set up in a DirecTV promotion kiosk, but it wasn't clear whether or not it was also intended to promoting Best Buy's new video calibration services.

Tom Norton  |  Mar 12, 2013  |  10 comments
In my review of Samsung’s flagship UN75ES9000, 75-inch LCD-LED HDTV, I remark that potential buyers should beware of bad demos of this very expensive set ($9000). Such a demo could make it very difficult to justify the expense.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 24, 2012  |  6 comments
Movie theaters are always eager to find new ways to drag consumers off their living-room sofas and into the multiplex. In recent years, this has become more difficult as big-screen HDTV and home surround sound can often exceed the movie-going experience. Apart from sheer screen size, consumers have less and less incentive to spend $12 a head, or more, just for the seat—never mind the cost of refreshments.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 26, 2010  |  First Published: May 27, 2010  |  10 comments

Movie studios don't miss a thing when it comes to keeping a tight watch on the effectiveness of Blu-ray copy protection. Recently, in an apparent attempt to close an assumed (I assume) breach, 20th Century Fox updated its BD+ copy codes in an effort to keep the door firmly locked. The first disc I noted a problem with was (surprise!) <I>Avatar</I>, which was so firmly locked it would not play. After an inordinately long loading cycle it decided it couldn't get along with an Oppo BDP-83 player, which I've admittedly been lax in updating. The same proved to be the case on another current but not updated model, the Pioneer BDP-320. Same long wait, same lack of a payoff. Or at least not a welcome one. All I got was a bright red screen telling me to update my player.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 17, 2021  |  3 comments
In case you haven't noticed, big screen TVs are becoming almost affordable. And by big screen, I mean BIG, as in over 80-inches diagonal. I was browsing in Sam's Club the other day where rows of TVs in that size were on sale. If an 85-inch Vizio P-Series Quantum X at $2,900 isn't surprising enough, how about an 82-inch Samsung Crystal UHD 7-Series TU700D for $1,396?

Granted, both sets were 2020 models on closeout and not the latest 2021s. The Vizio was that company's best, or next to best, model for 2020, but the Samsung was in a 2020 budget range. But still, about $17 per diagonal inch for the Vizio and $34 per inch for the Samsung?

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 08, 2008  |  3 comments

In a recent e-mail, an old friend and audio reviewer asked about Blu-ray players. I tried to steer him away (successfully, I hope) from what he thought was a good deal on an new, unused first generation Sony Blu-ray player. The seller had apparently almost convinced him that this was some sort of undiscovered gem, akin (though in a different application) to the early, tank-like SACD players held in high regard by some audiophiles.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 20, 2018  |  0 comments
I have little experience with Black Friday mania, having studiously avoided any contact with Best Buy, Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, or Targea on that frenzied day. Black Friday doesn’t mean a day of mourning, but is rather named for the day of the year when retailers anticipate their annual sales will finally go positive—out of the red and into the black.

And there’s no denying it to be an important day to people with plastic and a yearning for good stuff at fire-sale prices. For them it’s a Holy Day of Obligation. They line up outside at closing time on Thanksgiving (the day before the main event) to spend a cold night bundled up outside hoping to score that new flat screen TV (though Black Friday Vigil sales late on Turkey Day are now a thing)...

Thomas J. Norton  |  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.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 02, 2012  |  4 comments
It may surprise some readers, but apart from the Blu-ray discs we are assigned to review and the occasional disc that flies over the transom, most of us here at Home Theater actually buy the Blu-rays we watch. True, at one time (as the editor of the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and Ultimate AV), I received many screeners for review. So I do have a large collection of DVDs (many of which have been donated away), Blu-rays, and HD DVDs (RIP). But the pile has grown far more slowly in recent years. Nevertheless, I look forward to upcoming releases just as much as before, and I'll be in line to purchase titles I want that don't come my way for review.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 12, 2010  |  7 comments

With the analog audio section of this multi-part tome largely out of the way (though a listen to the audio from the Special Edition Oppo BDP-83 is still to come), I turned to video. All of the testing was done with duplicate copies of high quality Blu-ray discs. The players were compared directly, two at a time, with the disc in one of the players running roughly 12 seconds behind the other. Making allowances for a switching delay of about 5 seconds (which the players needed to re-sync with the display following the switch) this staggered cueing let me watch the same few seconds of program material first on one player and then on the other.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 05, 2010  |  4 comments

Break out the fireworks. Fire up the grille. Happy 4th of July. A new chapter in the Neverending Story of this Blu-ray player saga has arrived.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 20, 2010  |  1 comments
At long last, we come to the final chapter of the ongoing Blu-ray player saga. It has been a journey too-often interrupted by the need to adjust to new system components coming in and out for their own reviews. Nothing is more disruptive than having to adjust to the sound of new speakers.

But enough with that. First, a brief summary of what this entire effort has been about....

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 18, 2015  |  9 comments
Join me in the WayBack Machine for a trip to 1995. Somewhere in North America a Stereophile Hi-Fi Show is in progress, and the writing staff is gathered for an Ask the Editor’s session. A question arises about the then fledgling music downloading technology. I recall I answered that, “We’ll be able to do it before we can do it well.”

As it turned out that was correct, though I’m no soothsayer...

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