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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 18, 2016 7 comments
If you groan every time you pay your pay-TV bill, consider that the most expensive item bundled into it is Disney’s ESPN, which adds $8/month to the average bill. Can ESPN survive in the dawning age of skinnier cable bundles? Most pay-TV viewers would dump it like a sack of dirt, according to a study by marketing company Civic Service commissioned by financial services company BTIG.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 16, 2016 0 comments
Don’t you just hate it when Netflix freezes? Acutely aware of how Internet speeds affect perception of its service, Netflix regularly ranks ISPs. In the November 2015 ranking, Grande Communications was the winner at 3.90 Mbps. The small outfit outpaced a bunch of big guys including Verizon (3.86), Cox (3.76), Bright House/Cablevision (3.74), Comcast (3.69), and Time Warner (3.65). These numbers are for Netflix performance only, not overall data performance.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 11, 2016 0 comments
In case you missed it, the Dish Network has a channel devoted to dogs and the canine-inclined...
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 06, 2016 11 comments
Audio products bring us joy. They also get in the way. (That goes double for hard-copy software. And triple for LPs, much as we love them.) In fact, though the magazine's reviews discuss fidelity, features, and even ergonomics, they rarely discuss how a product might bulk large in your home. Reviewers simply assume that readers will consider the product category, look at the picture, maybe check the dimensions, and reach their own conclusions. But intrusion is a major way in which products relate, or fail to relate, to us.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 03, 2016 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
384/32 and DSD256
Eight-stage power supply
Doubles as stereo preamp
Minus
Black, boxy styling
Tricky sampling-rate LEDs

THE VERDICT
The Moon by Simaudio Neo 230HAD is a state-of-the-art headphone amplifier/DAC that has a healthy, and sometimes transformative, effect on whatever headphones you plug into it.

Like the rest of us, headphones have dreams and aspirations. They know they have to start out small with whatever phone, computer, or AVR comes to hand. But they dream of something better—of an amp and DAC tailored just for their needs. In short, they long for their dream home. If you’ve invested in a good pair of headphones, wouldn’t it be cruel to make your cans sleep on a sofabed in a basement when they deserve more headroom, more purity, the freedom to be the best they can be? The Moon by Simaudio Neo 230HAD just might be the dream home they’re hoping for.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 02, 2016 1 comments
Attention, cord cutters: Broadband isn’t the only alternative to cable and satellite operators.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 26, 2016 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Planar diaphragms
Smooth, sweet, high-res sound
Long and short cables supplied
Minus
Not as airy as some competitive ’phones

THE VERDICT
Planar headphones don’t come cheap, but the Oppo PM-2 is a relatively affordable specimen that sounds beautiful with a variety of content and signal sources.

Planar magnetic headphones have potential advantages over conventional dynamic headphones. Their flat diaphragms have magnets evenly spread across them, driving the entire surface, as opposed to a single coil driving the center of a diaphragm. The result can be greater resolution and phase coherence. But that potential performance edge comes at a price. So headphone fans rejoiced when Oppo—which won positive reviews for its $1,099 PM-1—introduced the PM-2, with some of the same features, at a more affordable price of $699, followed by the even more affordable PM-3 ($399). I’ve been spending much of the past year or so listening to the PM-2.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 26, 2016 3 comments
Seventy-nine percent of U.S. consumers still subscribe to pay TV, but that number is dwindling as cord-trimmers, cord-cutters, and cord-nevers cut into the base. That’s the news from PricewaterhouseCoopers in its report “Videoquake 3.0: The Evolution of TV’s Revolution.”
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 21, 2016 0 comments
Your PC isn’t the only connected device to be targeted by malware malefactors.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 20, 2016 1 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
Aventage step-up build quality
Multiroom MusicCast
Minus
So-so room correction

THE VERDICT
The Yamaha RX-A2050 gives Dolby Atmos and DTS:X the step-up Aventage advantage with nine amplifier channels supporting 5.1.4, and it adds the sweetener of way-cool multiroom MusicCast.

Is nine the new seven? I’m talking about amp channels. Not long ago, nine-channel receivers were rare and supported relatively exotic surround modes that few people used. But Dolby Atmos bids to change the status quo by adding two to four height channels. A seven-channel receiver can support two height channels. A nine-channel receiver can support four height channels, which opens up possibilities for elevated panning in the top of the surround bubble, front to back and diagonally as well as side to side. In addition to that distinction between 5.1.2 and 5.1.4, there are other variations, such as two front-heights with two back-surrounds (7.1.2).

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