Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 12, 2010  |  7 comments

With the analog audio section of this multi-part tome largely out of the way (though a listen to the audio from the Special Edition Oppo BDP-83 is still to come), I turned to video. All of the testing was done with duplicate copies of high quality Blu-ray discs. The players were compared directly, two at a time, with the disc in one of the players running roughly 12 seconds behind the other. Making allowances for a switching delay of about 5 seconds (which the players needed to re-sync with the display following the switch) this staggered cueing let me watch the same few seconds of program material first on one player and then on the other.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 08, 2010  |  0 comments
Price: $2,295 At A Glance: Excellent video processing • Stunning resolution • Poor shadow detail

While Mitsubishi might have a larger footprint in your memory with its big-screen TVs and flat panels, the company is focused on front projection. In fact, its Website shows 26 projector models, including four home theater designs.

Mitsubishi projectors are not your father’s Mitsubishi, and by that I mean video displays, not cars. Its projectors are marketed by the company’s Presentation Products division, which is separate from the division that sells flat-panel and rear-projection TVs.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 08, 2010  |  0 comments
Price: $3,000 At A Glance: Deep blacks • Accurate color • Superb image depth

Sony’s new BRAVIA VPL-HW15 is a reworking of last year’s VPL-HW10. At a modest $3,000 (modest as projectors go, that is), the VPL-HW15 offers a useful lineup of features and a picture that I didn’t expect at this price. With exceptional color, barely short of state-of-the-art blacks, and vivid, almost 3-D images on the best program material, it…. OK, I’m in danger of giving away the store up front. Read more to get the details.

Description
The VPL-HW15’s gently curved top echoes the look of Sony’s higher-end VPL-VW85, while the lens that recesses into a sculpted front panel does not. The controls and inputs are located on the side.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 01, 2010  |  0 comments
Price: $3,699 At A Glance: Excellent video processing • Superior adjustability • Blacks to die for

Epson’s broad lineup of PowerLite home theater projectors can be a bit confusing, but the important point is that it splits into two parallel lines. At the top are the Pro Cinema models, and just below them are the Home Cinema designs. They track each other closely in performance, but the Pro Cinema versions offer a few extra features. These include an aspect-ratio setting for anamorphic projection on a 2.35:1 screen (the anamorphic lens required to use this is not included, and I didn’t test this feature). They also include ISFccc Day and Night modes, a spare lamp, a longer warranty, and a black case (the Home Cinema versions are white). At the top of the line, and our subject here, is the Pro Cinema 9500 UB.

Description
In appearance, the PowerLite Pro Cinema 9500 UB—one of the few projectors that is currently THX certified—closely resembles last year’s Epson flagship, the Pro Cinema 7500 UB. Its Fujinon zoom lens has a throw-distance range of 9.8 to 20.9 feet for a 100-inch (diagonal) 16:9 screen. The horizontal and vertical lens-shift controls, located at the top front of the case, have convenient mid-setting detents that make it easy to find the neutral settings. Lens shift, zoom, and focus are all manual.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 01, 2010  |  0 comments
I vividly recall those freeway signs that once littered the sides of the clogged Los Angeles freeways. “If You Lived in Nutty Oaks, You Could Be Home by Now,” they trumpeted.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 26, 2010  |  0 comments
Panasonic's traveling road show for its new 2010 product line came to Los Angeles this week, and we were there. Most of the products shown or described at the event were first announced at last January's CES, where the featured attraction was 3D, with other new products taking second billing—if not in Panasonic's eyes, then in the eyes of most attendees. It was not that the new products were uninteresting; far from it. But 3D was king of the video mountain at CES 2010.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 02, 2010  |  11 comments

Finally we get to the meat of the subject. In this installment I'll give my impressions of the sound quality of the players under test, as heard from their analog outputs with 2-channel CDs.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 01, 2010  |  1 comments
Optimizing your sound, one step at a time.

Getting all the pieces for that new system into your room is just the first step to home theater bliss. You’ll need to set up the A/V receiver’s inputs, position the speakers, and configure the AVR’s speaker adjustments for balanced sound before you get to movie time. I’ll frequently refer to your AVR, but the steps will be identical for a separates system with a surround processor and power amp.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 11, 2010  |  0 comments
Price: $7,250 At A Glance: Clean highs, neutral mids • Mid- and upper-bass prominent • Small but potent subwoofer

Well Centered

These days, most major speaker manufacturers know how to produce a good speaker. But only a few manage to hit all the marks simultaneously: great engineering, great sound, and fair pricing. British speaker manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins has long been a leader in that hunt.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 04, 2010  |  3 comments

I could argue that the opening salvo of this report was delayed because I wanted the entire piece, which will appear in periodic postings over the next few weeks, to appear in 2010. Or that I figured no one would be watching during the holidays, tied up as they were with festooning the house with LEDs, pondering whether to send real cards or new e-cards (when you care enough to e-mail the very best), or spending hours lined up for <I>Avatar</I>.

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