Thomas J. Norton

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 14, 2020  |  0 comments
CES 2020 is history. It might seem odd for me to comment here on an event I didn’t attend. But Sound & Vision editor Al Griffin, along with free-lancers, went and got the job done. Upwards of 185,000 dedicated souls registered for the event, including over 30,000 from points outside of North America. As far as I know it’s the biggest consumer technology show on the planet...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 23, 2019  |  0 comments
For those pining for Part 2 of my latest tome on projectors and screens, it will come soon enough. But posting it on Christmas Eve seemed like an invitation for me to plunge into the reindeer-and-chestnuts memory hole. With the biggest holiday of the year fast approaching as I write this (not counting Super Sunday), you'll likely be looking for relief from Uncle Harry's annual Christmas dinner ramblings: "when I was your age..." So fire up the old home theater and settle in for a movie or two — a movie about the holiday, on the holiday.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 20, 2019  |  0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
On her first day at pre-school, Bonnie, the kid who received Andy's toys at the end of Toy Story 3, makes (literally) a new friend out of a discarded spork. She calls him Forky and he soon becomes her favorite toy. But that's just the first act. On a road-trip with Bonnie's family, cowboy-toy Woody reunites with his old flame Bo Peep. Bo, now a "lost toy," has acquired the skills of an action hero—a sort of RamBoPeep.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 10, 2019  |  1 comments
Ready to create a WOW! big-screen experience at home but not sure where to start? No worries, I’ll guide you through the process.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 27, 2019  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Super-punchy HDR performance
Class-leading local dimming
App-based picture calibration
Minus
Typical limited off-center viewing window
No VRR or FreeSync for gaming

THE VERDICT
The Chinese TV maker TCL has been rattling the budget sector for several years. But with its new 8-Series, the company has boldly entered the rarified high-end Ultra HDTV realm.

TCL made its mark worldwide over the last few years largely by selling budget sets with built-in Roku streaming. But with its new 8-Series, available in 65- and 75-inch screen sizes ($2,000 and $3,000, respectively), the company has elbowed its way into the high end and managed to do so at a highly competitive price point.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 26, 2019  |  15 comments
It's hard to say whether my interest in music and audio started with my first experiences with multichannel sound in the movie theater or whether my interest in movies in theaters, and later in home theater, started with my interest in music. But the fact remains that the film score, mainly of the orchestral variety but sometimes of other sorts (looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.1 and Vol.2), remains one of my favorite forms of music.

Film music doesn't have an enviable reputation among classical music connoisseurs. But I see no reason to disparage it because it was written for a more popular type of entertainment...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 12, 2019  |  0 comments
Just in time for Veterans' Day (November 11) comes a movie about the WWII battle of Midway. In June 1942, six months after Pearl Harbor, this unlikely American victory over Japan's attempt to occupy a seemingly insignificant American outpost on a tiny Pacific atoll was, if not the turning point in a war that would rage for another 3+ years, at a minimum a major blow to Japan's then formidable naval strength.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 30, 2019  |  1 comments
Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,100

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Open, detailed sound
Excellent dialogue intelligibility
Flex can be configured as wireless surround speaker
Minus
Some ergonomics issues
Inconsistent system stability

THE VERDICT
The B&W Formation system performs admirably in a number of respects. But unreliable stability, limited processing features, and no HDMI input make it a less-than-ideal option for 5.1 surround sound.

Blame it on Sonos. In the early 2000s, at what was then the Los Angeles headquarters of the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, we were visited by a gentleman from that then largely unknown company who had a product he was eager to promote: a wireless speaker in a single, relatively compact box. I politely declined. It wasn't a good fit for our publication at the time, but I should have at least asked him about stock options!

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 22, 2019  |  4 comments
I've said it before, but it's still true, that whenever we have a new video format the movie studios eagerly line up to sell us our favorites all over again—from VHS tape to Laserdisc to DVD to Blu-ray. But today, with movie streaming swamping video discs sales, the line of consumers eager to replace their existing discs is now shorter than ever.

Ultra HD's, however, appear to be fighting the trend. UHD re-releases of popular films are showing up like flies to a picnic.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 16, 2019  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High brightness
Good off-center picture uniformity
Vivid HDR
Minus
No Dolby Vision support
Remote control ergonomics

THE VERDICT
There's little to criticize, and much to like, about Samsung's new flagship LCD UHDTV.

TVs are cheaper than ever. Really. When you see a set priced at $3,500 and your first reaction is a gag reflex, ponder this: a CRT color TV in 1970 might well have cost you $350. That would be a simple tabletop model offering glorious 480i standard definition on a 19-inch screen, and it would cost $2,400 in today's money. Current-day premium sets do command similarly high prices, but they now offer more features and better performance than ever before. The 65-inch Samsung Q90R reviewed here has a suggested retail price of $3,500, though it can be found online for significantly less. There are also 75- and 82-inch Q90R series models, the latter retailing for $6,500. One couldn't even dream of a 65-inch set in 1970, much less an 82-incher.

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