Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 20, 2018  |  0 comments
I have little experience with Black Friday mania, having studiously avoided any contact with Best Buy, Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, or Targea on that frenzied day. Black Friday doesn’t mean a day of mourning, but is rather named for the day of the year when retailers anticipate their annual sales will finally go positive—out of the red and into the black.

And there’s no denying it to be an important day to people with plastic and a yearning for good stuff at fire-sale prices. For them it’s a Holy Day of Obligation. They line up outside at closing time on Thanksgiving (the day before the main event) to spend a cold night bundled up outside hoping to score that new flat screen TV (though Black Friday Vigil sales late on Turkey Day are now a thing)...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 06, 2018  |  7 comments
I don’t know if you’ve noticed (though how could you not) that a lot of the stuff we buy these days is made in China. It ranges from the remarkably cheap (like the lightweight, pleated jacket I bought last year in Walmart (for less than the price of a CD or Blu-ray) to the very expensive (such as Buick’s new Envision SUV—yes, that’s made in the PRC as well, the first U.S. car made there, by GM Shanghai). It’s difficult to buy anything today without encountering a product made in China as the only viable alternative. And even if it’s manufactured in the U.S., many of its individual pieces were likely sourced in China...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 31, 2018  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,100

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional Value
Effective full array local dimming
Brilliant HDR
Minus
Limited off-center viewing angle
So-so sound

THE VERDICT
Three years ago, Vizio’s flagship 65-inch Ultra HD set carried a $6,000 MSRP. Today’s P-Series Quantum, the most advanced and highest-performing model in the company’s lineup, retails for $2,100. That’s a boon for consumers—and a serious throwdown to the competition.

Founded in 2002, Vizio is an American company headquartered in California that aims to offer top-quality TVs at prices appealing to a wide range of consumers. Vizio came close to being bought out by Chinese company LeEco in 2017. But that purchase fell through for a number of reasons and the company remains American-owned. HDTVs and UHDTVs remain its primary focus, but Vizio also markets a competitively-priced lineup of soundbars.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 30, 2018  |  0 comments
IMAX and DTS stirred up a bit of a hurricane at September’s CEDIA Expo when they announced the launch of a new home theater certification program called “IMAX Enhanced.” Here’s what we know…
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 17, 2018  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive HDR brightness
Excellent black level and shadow detail
Superior off-center viewing angle for LCD
Minus
Some backlight blooming artifacts
Unimpressive built-in sound

THE VERDICT
Sony’s Master Series Z9F LCD makes a strong claim for top-dog status in today’s Ultra HDTV market. It produces superb images, with enhanced off-center viewing so all guests will be happy at your next Super Bowl party.

In mid-2016, Sony launched a new flagship LCD design, the XBR-Z9D. The series incorporated Backlight Master Drive, a local dimming technology that was a big step forward in realizing the peak brightness potential of high dynamic range (HDR). The Z9D series has remained at the top of Sony’s TV lineup for two years—an eternity for UHDTV technology. But it now shares space with the new XBR-Z9F Master Series LCD models, which are available in 65- and 75-inch sizes, along with the company’s new A9F Master Series OLED TVs.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 16, 2018  |  6 comments
A recent product announcement from Amazon touted the launch of a “subwoofer” to supplement the response of Amazon’s popular Echo vocal assistant. Presumably it will work with the even smaller Echo Dot as well. But for me it raised a couple of eyebrows.

Given that the low frequency response of an Echo alone probably doesn’t reproduce any useful output much lower than 100 Hz (admittedly an educated guess), the Echo Sub certainly can't hurt. But given its size and its 6-inch driver, there's no way that such a product it can be considered a subwoofer...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 02, 2018  |  1 comments
While the movers behind the Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek franchises aren’t at risk of losing sleep over dinosaurs just yet, the Jurassic worlds and parks do threaten to chomp on more than a few toes over the coming years.

When Jurassic Park debuted in 1993 it could have been a boom or a bust. Computer generated effects (CGI) were just coming into their own, but with a few exceptions (notably Terminator 2) they still hadn’t eaten the film business alive. Though keenly aware of his problems with the anamatronic shark in 1975’s Jaws, director Steven Spielberg was also aware that CGI, while still in its infancy, had significantly advanced the possibilities for special effects since the (on-set) practical effects of 1975.

So Spielberg went ahead. Using a brilliant combination of anamatronics and CGI he crafted a classic movie with effects that still hold up today. Four other Jurassic films have followed, three of them directed by others...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 11, 2018  |  0 comments
The 2018 edition of CEDIA Expo is now history and, although it may not be as grand as CES, it still left us with plenty to chew on.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 09, 2018  |  1 comments
The mini-wave that’s 8K video might well become a tsunami, so Samsung means to get out in front of it. At CEDIA Samsung demo’ed its new Q900FN series of 8K sets. They’re also said to be capable of 4000 nits of peak brightness, which if achievable after calibration could be more significant than the 8K pixel count. Today’s 4K UHD source material is mastered at either 1000 nits or 4000 nits, and a set capable of 4000 nits (a level OLED will likely never achieve) will not need tone mapping for those sources.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 09, 2018  |  0 comments
The demo in the Anthem-Paradigm sound room was impressive, using a pair of the new Paradigm Prelude 800F tower speakers (under $2,000/pair) for a two-channel demo and Paradigm’s upscale in-wall (on-wall in this demo) speakers for the AV presentation... So why the picture here of Panamorph anamorphic lenses?

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