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Peter Pachal  |  Feb 05, 2007  |  0 comments

TRICKS FOR THE TRADE Denon threw that conspicuous "CI" into this receiver's product number to let you know it has some special tricks for custom installers. Trick 1: Source renaming, so your front panel doesn't just have to say "DVD" - call your player "Philips 721" or even "Ralph" if you want.

Drew Thompson  |  Feb 06, 2007  |  0 comments

Microsoft makes it easy to morph your Xbox 360 into a high-def movie machine, thanks to its HD DVD add-on. Just plug it into your console, and you're ready to go. And at $200, it's less than half the price of the cheapest standalone HD DVD player.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 06, 2007  |  0 comments

CHEST-THUMPING SOUND You'd better be damn comfortable in your manliness before you hand your credit card over to buy a pair of FM-45s. The tower speakers from RBH stand almost 4 feet tall, and each has a pair of 8-inch woofers for intimidatingly deep bass. You may need to get the optional silver grilles ($70) just to make them look a bit more dainty.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 06, 2007  |  0 comments

FLAT CAT Other subwoofers may laugh at the SC-IW's unconventional design, but installers will love it, since the slim sub (3.4 inches thick) is made to fit perfectly inside a 2 x 4-foot studded wall. The driver module (that's the small part) can fire up or down, with a scoop aiming the bass into the room.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 06, 2007  |  0 comments

SCALE IT UP After laying down some serious coin for a 1080p HDTV, you're going to want to make sure you feed that puppy nothing but the good stuff. That means con-verting all your video signals to that grandest of HD formats, which just happens to be the solitary mission of Gefen's Home Theater Scaler.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 06, 2007  |  0 comments

GET YOUR TWEAK ON A first-ever for the high-end company, McIntosh's VP1000 video processor (top) has the goods to deliver two separate 1080p signals via HDMI. Control freaks will delight at the multitude of adjustments: Each input can store different picture settings for both output zones.

 |  Feb 06, 2007  |  0 comments
Doug Newcomb  |  Feb 07, 2007  |  0 comments

MAKE MUSIC NOT WAR The car-stereo aftermarket has been engaged in guerrilla warfare with superpower automakers ever since the first Bose system salvo crossed the industry's bow.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 07, 2007  |  0 comments

TOUCHES OF CLASS If you suspect those cheapie plasmas at Costco must be missing something, you're right . . . and it's all found in Pioneer's PRO-940HD set. An arsenal of technologies - including a crystal emissive layer, glare-reducing filter, and improved phosphors - gives you the deepest contrast possible.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 07, 2007  |  0 comments

PIXEL FACTORY DVD isn't as exciting as it used to be, but Oppo's DV-981HD player still manages to impress. After all, you don't find a Faroudja video processor for upconverting video to 1080p format in any old bargain-basement machine. And with the HDMI output, hookup to your cutting-edge flat-panel TV is seamless.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 07, 2007  |  0 comments

BIT PIPELINE One thing about HDMI - the supposed be-all and end-all of HDTV connectors - is that it's one of the most rapidly changing standards in A/V history.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 07, 2007  |  0 comments

THE RIGHT PROTOCOL Vibe has its own take on whole-house audio: The system uses IP (Internet Protocol) to communicate between components. Music on the Vibe AS1-1250/6 server, which stores as many as 1,250 uncompressed CDs, streams digitally over your network to up to six rooms.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 07, 2007  |  0 comments

LEAN AND SO MEAN The leading 58-inch plasma panel costs 5 grand and can't even display a 1080p signal without downconverting it to 720p. Seems like JVC's got it all figured out with its new slim HD-ILA LCoS HDTV. For $3,300, you get a crisp 58-inch 1080p screen in a cabinet just 10.8 inches deep that goes flush against a wall and can even be wall-mounted.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 07, 2007  |  0 comments

HARBORING MUSIC These days, an iPod dock and $3.98 might get you a grande latte at Starbucks, but Escient has a dock model that qualifies as a premium blend. The FP-1 doesn't just stream your iPod music - it completely integrates it into the company's FireBall Music Manager, combining those songs with any tunes you have on servers or PCs.

Peter Pachal  |  Feb 07, 2007  |  0 comments

HIGH-DEF CRED A nice side effect of everyone going gaga over 1080p displays is that 720p gear is more affordable than ever. Case in point: Sanyo's PLV-Z5 projector, which will fill your wall or screen with 100-inch HD images for less than 2 Gs.

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