A/V Veteran

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 06, 2017  |  0 comments
In a spare few minutes while waiting for yet another video demo I wandered into the surprisingly extensive space at the Convention Center reserved for drones of all sizes and shapes, each of them demonstrated inside barred cages that were actually, thin, heavy strings that looked like they could be easily breached by a rabid, runaway drone...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 29, 2022  |  0 comments
When I wrote about the new film version of Dune some months back my reaction was positive. I saw it in a movie theater—my first visit to one in two years. There was plenty of social distancing during my visit; with a dozen or so other attendees at a midweek, midafternoon showing I could have swung a cat on a 10 foot rope without hitting anyone (with apologies to cat people). I enjoyed the film, but as I noted in that October 2021 blog, I was disappointed by the quality of much of the cinematography. This was surprising, since it was the Dolby Cinema in my local AMC-plex. Dolby Cinema is by far my favorite way to see a movie in a commercial theater. It wasn't the sort of disappointment the average viewer would feel, and even I could set my concerns aside once I got into the film. But I know Dolby Cinema can do better and the film deserved it.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 05, 2016  |  0 comments
How can one distinguish between a guilty pleasure and a hidden treasure? Many movies fall into a gap somewhere between the two. They’re not so good to be called classics, but impressive or different enough to click with the right audience.

Emperor tells an important yet little known story. In the immediate aftermath of the Japanese surrender in World War II, General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Japan with his staff to lead the occupation. But before the rebuilding of the country and its government could begin, the issue of what to do with the Japanese military and political leadership had to be dealt with—most importantly Emperor Hirohito. Many in Washington, and in the U.S. public as well, wanted him tried and executed as a war criminal...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 21, 2017  |  0 comments
New proposed Energy Star requirements for TVs are designed to insure viewers are aware of which picture modes/settings meet the Energy Star certification. But that's not all...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 01, 2021  |  2 comments
Epson America recently filed a lawsuit against Vava (Sunvalleytek International Inc.), claiming erroneous ANSI Lumens claims for the latter's VA-LT002 4K UST (Ultra Short Throw) laser projector.

It's easy to get into the weeds on this subject (I pity the poor judge assigned to adjudicate the claim!). You'll usually see a projector's overall luminance specified in one of two ways: either simply in lumens or in ANSI Lumens. The latter spec must follow procedures established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The former doesn't...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 21, 2017  |  2 comments
Before the era of sound movies the frame rates for silent films varied considerably due to the hand-cranked cameras of the time. When picture and sound became the future of movies in the late 1920s, however, the industry settled on 24Hz (24 frames per second) for both production and display standards. But 24fps alone would have produced significant jitter. For acceptably smooth motion, each film frame was flashed on the screen twice, using a two-bladed shutter in the projector (or, more rarely, three times with a triple blade shutter). This rate was also chosen, rather than an even higher one, to keep film costs manageable.

Even though the digital bits that now convey our films from the studio to the screen are far cheaper than celluloid, 24fps still dominates the films we see in both the multiplex and at home. But occasional efforts have tried to break the mold...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 02, 2019  |  3 comments
A selection of discs and streaming content to watch during those lazy days of summer.
Tom Norton  |  Dec 07, 2022  |  8 comments
A few years ago a friend acquired a heavy, bound volume of all of Audio magazine's 1960 issues. Riffling through the issues was fascinating as writers dealt with the introduction of the stereo LP and the associated equipment needed to create 2-channel stereophonic sound, which represented a significant leap over the single-channel mono format. Let’s see what else those early days of home hi-fi reveal.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 31, 2009  |  2 comments

A couple of blogs down I talked about loudspeakers, and alluded to the small but enthusiastic click of hobbyists who choose to make their own, rather than rely on far more expensive commercial designs.

Tom Norton  |  Aug 31, 2009  |  0 comments

Here's another DIY speaker from a clearly dedicated and talented enthusiast. As before, of course, we have no way of knowing how this intriguing design sounds. But the driovers here are among the most well-respected. I don't know the woofer, but the midrange is a 3" dome from ATC and the tweeter a ring radiator from Scan Speak, used in a number of very expensive speakers. Building this, in this configuration, would clearly be beyond the capability of most of us. But if it were a commercial design it would easily command high in the five figure range .

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 23, 2013  |  0 comments
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If you’re a fan of science fiction and haven’t heard of the TV series Farscape (1999-2003) you don’t get out much. If you’re not a sci-fi fan, this series might just make you one. It offers more compelling characters, action, humor, drama, weird plot twists, sudden mood shifts, poignancy, and stunning performances than any other dozen TV shows you might name.

It all begins when astronaut John Crichton encounters a wormhole on an experimental mission. He’s flung to a distant quadrant of the galaxy, encounters a gigantic vessel nearby, and docks with it. It turns out to be a living ship, know to the locals a leviathan, operated by a bonded pilot. The ship’s occupants are alien prisoners escaping from their captors. The latter, the Mr. Bigs in this area of space, call themselves the Peacekeepers, and from all appearances (externally at least) appear indistinguishable from humans.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 12, 2021  |  8 comments
If you were under 10-years old in the early twenty-aughts you might never have experienced a TV series considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best, science fiction series ever produced for television. Yes, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica came along shortly after. Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis ran seemingly forever. And I risk permanent expulsion from the club if I don't mention everything Star Trek. There are others shows that have their fans as well. What, no love here for Lost or Game of Thrones (if we can include them in this category—sci-fi is often a big tent, to the dismay of purists). I love both of these in their own ways, but neither of them ended well.

One that did end well is my candidate for the best ever. Over the recent holidays I revisited the first season of Farscape on Blu-ray.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 16, 2016  |  1 comments
Ever had the experience of surfing the web and finding a link to a site that you never knew existed? OK, there are a lot of sites most of us never knew existed. But if that site is endlessly fascinating and useful to you, that’s a different story. I can’t recall how I first came across bluraystats.com, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it before...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 08, 2007  |  First Published: Jun 09, 2007  |  2 comments

Sometimes there's more to be said about a reviewed product—information we've gleaned after the review is posted. It doesn't happen often; our schedule does not allow for leisurely, post-review ruminations. We have to move on to other gear. But sometimes we do learn new things. Or we need to follow up on something left hanging, perhaps after we've received a belated second sample. Often such updates are simply added to the existing review. But sometimes, particularly if the original review has scrolled off the home page and an important addition to it might be easily overlooked, the information will receive more attention elsewhere—such as in a blog.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 04, 2022  |  3 comments
Readers new to the home theater universe might not be aware that the Blu-ray video disc format wasn't always the only game in town. Back in the late aughts it was engaged in a brief but hard fought format war with a similar competitor for the consumer's high definition dollars: HD DVD.

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