Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 03, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $1,800 At A Glance: Superb color and resolution • First-rate standard-def video processing • Mediocre blacks and shadow detail

From Sharp Minds

Sharp is a prime mover and shaker in the flat-panel business. The company has been dedicated to LCD technology from the beginning of the beginning—all the way back to the earliest LCD pocket calculators.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 02, 2009  |  0 comments
Price: $2,600 At A Glance: Outstanding audio and video performance • All the latest Audyssey and THX Ultra2 Plus features • Uniquely flexible video calibration controls

Covering All the Bases

If you sometimes get nostalgic for the days of two-channel audio, you’re not alone. Life was simple then. You plugged in your CD player here, your turntable over there, hooked up the preamp to the power amp (unless you were a hair-shirt audiophile with an all-in-one, integrated amp), and you were done. Then you would select the source, adjust the volume, sit back, and listen.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 23, 2009  |  0 comments

If you sometimes get nostalgic for the days of 2-channel audio, you're not alone. Life was simple then. You plugged your CD player in here, your turntable in there, hooked up the preamp to the power amp (unless you were a hair-shirt audiophile with an all-in-one integrated amp) and you were done. Select the source, adjust the volume, sit back, and listen.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 17, 2009  |  0 comments
This review is part of a four-way Face Off. Read the introduction and conclusions of the Face Off here.

Two of the LCD sets in this Face Off, including the Samsung, produce black levels that were unheard of in LCD flat panels until recently. Like the Sony in this group, the Samsung LN55A950 uses clusters of multicolored LEDs as a backlight, together with local dimming of the individual clusters as required by the program material. The LN55A950 is the larger of Samsung’s second generation of LED local-dimming sets.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 17, 2009  |  0 comments
This review is part of a four-way Face Off. Read the introduction and conclusions of the Face Off here.

Despite the market penetration of LCD flat panels—they significantly outsell plasmas—LCD technology has two serious shortcomings. Off-axis viewing is one—we’ll get to that a bit later. The other is how they handle blacks and deep shadow detail. But a new design technique, LED backlighting with local dimming, promises to change all that. (See sidebar on page 37.) Both the Sony and the Samsung use it.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 17, 2009  |  0 comments
This review is part of a four-way Face Off. Read the introduction and conclusions of the Face Off here.

The Panasonic TH-50PZ800U is one of the first HDTVs to earn THX certification. But you might ask, “Isn’t THX mainly into audio?” I can see where you’re coming from, but THX isn’t exactly new to the home video business. It has certified video software for years and has begun to do the same for projectors and flat-panel displays.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 17, 2009  |  0 comments
This review is part of a four-way Face Off. Read the introduction and conclusions of the Face Off here.

Manufacturers of flat-panel plasma televisions have been refining the technology for years. But Pioneer has been particularly successful at it. In the past, the company made some of the world’s best rear-projection CRT sets, and it knew that great black levels are the foundation of a great picture. That philosophy has paid off over the years, particularly in recent-generation KURO sets.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 12, 2009  |  3 comments

The video world woke up last Friday to the news reports that Pioneer Electronics, long a leader in consumer video display technology, was getting out of the video display business. At first, the reports did not come from Pioneer itself, but rather from news agencies (first in Japan, later overseas) that put two and two together and concluded that they really did equal four.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 09, 2009  |  0 comments
Founded in 1972, UK-based Monitor Audio has long produced speakers that offered good value, from its low-end Bronze line, starting at around $325 for a pair of two-way bookshelf models and extending up to $4500/pair for the company's priciest Gold Signature model. Even that is not an outrageous price for an upscale design in today's speaker market. The number of current speaker lines topping out at over $20k/pair, however, would be alarming if it weren't counterbalanced by excellent speakers selling for a fraction of that price.

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