Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 11, 2017  |  3 comments
All of us are familiar with LG’s successful use of OLED technology for flat screen UHDTVs. We also know that Sony is marketing its own OLED sets this year. But Sony buys its OLED panels from LG Display (an independent entity from LG itself, though connected to it in some inscrutable way). In fact, LG Display is currently the only company in the world that manufactures OLED panels for consumer televisions. LG’s arch-rival Samsung is a leader in producing OLEDs for cell phone displays, but a few years back decided against marketing OLED HDTVs, at least for now.

Other companies are also marketing OLED sets, but none of them are currently available in the US. And at present all TV OLED panels come from LG Display. But that doesn’t mean that these sets are identical. Each maker uses its own unique electronics and video processing.

While you can’t yet purchase an OLED display here in the US apart from an LG or Sony, it’s useful to know a little about others offering this technology. The more OLEDs sold worldwide, the more viable the technology will remain and, ultimately, the faster its currently high prices will drop...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 30, 2017  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
It’s all about the black
Wide viewing angle
Supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Last year’s OLED sets from LG were so impressive that, apart from their peak white capabilities (an ongoing shortcoming relative to LCD designs), it was hard to see a road ahead for improvements. But LG has found that road, and while the upgrades might prove subtle to most viewers, videophiles will welcome them.

LG’s 2017 OLED offerings fall into five model groups, with the OLED65E7P positioned roughly in the middle. At $5,000, it’s hardly a Black Friday special, but it’s significantly cheaper than the near-paper-thin 65-inch flagship OLED65W7P (reviewed in our June issue), which commands $8,000.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 20, 2017  |  1 comments
I haven’t seen the latest Tom Cruise iteration of The Mummy. And with its crushing reviews I doubt that I’ll even invest in the inevitable UHD Blu-ray version that, judging from the current domestic box office returns for the film, should show up on Amazon in about two weeks.

The subject isn’t exactly a treasure trove of classic tropes, but has its fans. The original was, of course, the 1932 Boris Karloff classic (in Hollywood, anything that old is deemed a classic). Three other entries turned up in the ‘40s, followed by 1955’s Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy (the latter is definitely on my Bucket List). There was also a quadrilogy (did I just coin a word?) of Mummy movies in the ‘50s from Britain’s Hammer Films, and several animated versions...

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 17, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Jaw-dropping black level and contrast
Wide viewing angle
Thin, thin, thin. And light
Minus
Expensive
Must be wall-mounted

THE VERDICT
We could argue with the mandatory inclusion of an outboard soundbar, the lack of a stand-mount option, and a lower (but still perfectly satisfactory) peak brightness for HDR than the best of the LCD competition provides. But it’s hard to imagine that any other 65-inch Ultra HDTV in 2017 will offer overall superior performance, or a more impressive aesthetic, than the best LCD competition.

Dateline: March 2017. Along with several other bit-drenched members of the audio/video press, we’ve been brought to San Francisco for a day with LG. The events will include a briefing on the company’s Ultra HDTV lineup for 2017, a visit to Dolby headquarters for the latest pitch on Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), and several hours of hands-on experience with the 65-inch OLED65W7P, the smaller of the two new 2017 OLED models in LG’s flagship Signature series. (A 77-inch version should be available later this year; no price had been announced as we went to press, but if that’s your ticket, bring money.)

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 16, 2017  |  0 comments
To make sense of some of the complexities of the new Ultra High Definition (UHD—4K or 2160p) high dynamic range (HDR) sets, you have to appreciate some of the simplifications that have long been a part of standard dynamic range (SDR) high definition television.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 02, 2017  |  1 comments
We all have our favorite reference discs—the ones we pull out to show off our system to friends. UHD has now given us a lot to choose from, whether your preference is for action spectaculars or more subtle, thoughtful fare. But there’s now a new king of the home theater hill.

In 2007 the multi-part BBC nature documentary Planet Earth first appeared on broadcast television, and later came out on DVD and Blu-ray. Directed and narrated by British naturalist David Attenborough, it was widely praised (though as I recall the commentary on the US broadcasts substituted actress Sigourney Weaver for Attenborough—a not entirely effective move).

But now we have its 2016 follow-up, Planet Earth II...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 28, 2017  |  0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Max is living a great dog’s life. But one day his owner brings home Duke, a huge, stray shaggy-dog from the pound. Duke makes himself at home, much to Max’s chagrin. But one day, when the apartment house’s loopy dog walker is distracted, both Max and Duke get into a tussle, break free, and end up lost in New York.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 18, 2017  |  3 comments
In two-channel stereo playback, you invariably get the best results with the speakers set up properly—in the same plane and generally between 6- and 10-feet apart. The listening seat is normally at least as far back as the speakers are apart, or somewhat more. They’re set up to fire either straight ahead or toed in—sometimes just a little, sometimes more.

These flexible parameters allow for a wide variation in setups, depending on the speakers themselves, their radiation patterns, the room, the positions of the speakers and the listening seat in the room and, of course, the listener’s preferences. But for a solitary listener there is one fixed goal: the seating position should be dead center between the left and right speakers. This is often referred to as the “money seat,” (ostensibly in honor of the assumed founder of the audio feast). That seat invariably offers the best stereo perspective.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 14, 2017  |  12 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $549

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding overall performance
Detailed info screen
Plays virtually everything
Minus
No headphone output
No support for HDCD

THE VERDICT
Oppo’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player has been eagerly anticipated by UHD enthusiasts everywhere. The wait was worth it.

We’re now into the second year of the Ultra HD Blu-ray era, but up to this past January, Samsung, Philips, and Panasonic pretty much had the UHD player market all to themselves. That month’s Consumer Electronics Show, however, saw the introduction of models from LG and Sony, together with new ones from Samsung and Panasonic.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 06, 2017  |  1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stunning resolution
Excellent blacks and shadow detail
Compatible with 4K content
Minus
Some clipping in HDR

THE VERDICT
If you want a projector illuminated by laser light, this Epson is the only game in town for less than five figures. But there’s a lot more here to rave about than just the lasers.

If video projectors have one serious limitation as display devices, at least for the home, it’s lamp life. Manufacturers make glowing claims for this, sometimes as high as 6,000 hours; that’s to half brightness. However, the video perfectionist is unlikely to get to half that figure, or even a third of it, before he or she senses that the picture is growing dim. It’s not unheard of for critical users to replace the lamp at 1,000 hours to maintain the projector’s youthful good looks. But projection lamps aren’t cheap.

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