Mike Wood

Mike Wood  |  Oct 01, 2003  |  0 comments
You don't need no flippin' mirrors.

If there's one thing that reviewing TVs as a profession has taught me, it's that there's a tremendous amount of really bad TV on during normal business hours (i.e., the middle of the day). It makes me glad that I have a job. At least I can argue that my job requires me to watch this crap while I critique new displays.

Mike Wood  |  Sep 09, 2003  |  Published: Aug 01, 2003  |  0 comments
Plasma gets good.

The only thing that's less likely to impress me than a plasma display from a mass-market manufacturer is a lower-priced plasma display from a mass-market manufacturer. Yet Sampo has done just that. At $6,999, the PME-50X6 isn't necessarily cheap, but it is one of (if not the) lowest-priced HD-capable plasma displays on the market, and its image has many impressive qualities. This price point also puts the plasma in the same market as the high-end rear-projection display. Should you extend your search to include this flat-panel model? Read on to find out.

Mike Wood  |  Sep 01, 2003  |  0 comments
LCD bulks up and stays thin at the same time.

Getting big is easy. Just lift weights and eat as much as you can. Losing weight is a little harder: less food, more exercise. The trick is adding muscle mass without adding excess fat. Serious fitness competitors endure grueling weight-lifting workouts and major cardio routines, and they eat frequent low-fat, low-calorie meals to bulk up and stay lean. Sharp has accomplished this same trick with their AQUOS LCD display line without the expensive gym membership.

Mike Wood  |  Jun 27, 2003  |  Published: Jun 28, 2003  |  0 comments
A light at the end of the connection tunnel.

The consumer electronics industry has a unique way of making a mess of things. Take HDTV, for example. Competing and completely different connection standards have made a mess of what should be a simple but substantial advancement in picture quality. Analog connections are fine, but they don't have the copy-protection capability to appease content providers. Then there's IEEE 1394, a copy-protected and network-enabled solution that only works with displays that have built-in HDTV decoders. Finally, you have the digital visual interface (DVI), a modified computer-display connection. DVI works well with satellite and cable systems that use interactive program guides, but it uses an expensive connection type that's difficult to run longer than 10 to 15 feet.

Mike Wood  |  Jun 27, 2003  |  Published: Jun 28, 2003  |  0 comments
Samsung SIR-TS160, Zenith HD-SAT520, and Sony SAT-HD200 HD DirecTV Tuners: Connect to the future of digital TV.

Whether we like it or not, digital video connections are the way of the future. Growing consensus from manufacturers suggests that consumers who have HD-capable displays that only have analog (Y/Pb/Pr or RGB) high-definition connections won't be left out in the cold, which is good news. However, while Hollywood may allow legacy equipment to remain in service, they prefer the potential copyright protection that's available through digital signals. We enthusiasts like the opportunity to pass digital signals directly to the display without stopping along the way for an unnecessary conversion back to an analog signal. Finally, several manufacturers have come out with new HD-capable DirecTV tuners to accommodate the growing number of displays with digital connections.

Mike Wood  |  May 12, 2003  |  Published: May 13, 2003  |  0 comments
Better sound without additional black boxes.

Have you considered room acoustics? That's my first question when people ask me for home theater advice. Your theater's acoustic environment is as important to your system's sound quality as any single component. Sure, you can improve the sound with a new amplifier, new speakers, or the latest and greatest EX/ES processor; however, if your room isn't acoustically optimized, you still won't get maximum performance from your system, no matter how much it costs. Adding acoustic treatment is probably the easiest and most effective thing you can do to improve your sonic environment. Granted, it can be daunting to calculate reverberation times so that you add the right amount of acoustic treatment. Fortunately, Performance Media Industries (PMI) has done the work for you with their CinePanel acoustic-treatment kits.

Mike Wood  |  Apr 09, 2003  |  Published: Apr 10, 2003  |  0 comments
Samsung's HLM617W HD monitor combines rear-projection and DLP technologies in one fine display.

There's something ironic about a rear-projection DLP display. A front or rear DLP projector utilizes millions of microscopic mirrors that reflect light toward or away from the screen for each of the image's pixels. A rear-projection display reflects this projected image off of a large mirror, which bends the image so that it will fit within a shallow, confined space. Samsung's HLM617W makes good use of all of these mirrors in their first 61-inch rear-projection DLP monitor.

Mike Wood  |  Mar 05, 2003  |  Published: Mar 06, 2003  |  0 comments
Eight plasma displays go head to head.,

Yes, you heard right, kiddies. The plasma antichrist (me) is performing a comparison of eight mostly industrial-strength plasma displays. Will I deride them all? Probably. Will their beauteous splendor turn me to the dark side? Possibly. Will I lose my mind in the process? Read on to find out.

Mike Wood  |  Feb 11, 2003  |  Published: Feb 12, 2003  |  0 comments
The upright gets upgraded to a grand.

You'd think there would've been a flood of entry-level DLP projectors since PLUS came out with their HE-3100 last year (see our review in the December 2001 issue). PLUS has even dropped the original Piano's price to $2,700. Usually, this would entice or force others to do likewise. There have been some new entries in the sub-$10,000 price range, but few projectors have reached below $5,000 (except for projectors aimed at the business market). This makes PLUS's step-up model, the $3,299 Piano Avanti HE-3200, even more interesting.

Mike Wood  |  Jan 01, 2003  |  Published: Jan 02, 2003  |  0 comments
Four manufacturers go head to head in our HDTV Demolition Derby.

What could be better than a head-to-head competition between four direct-view HDTVs and HD monitors? How about four direct-view HDTVs modified to function as robot-smashing dump trucks, then placed in a ring to beat each other's video-processing brains out! OK, so the Home Theater version of garage/robot wars didn't quite come to fruition. Budgets, deadlines, and wisdom greater than mine prevailed, and we stuck with our tried-and-true formula: several judges and several products, all in the same room at the same time. Still, the resulting upset was exciting.