Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 15, 2016  |  6 comments

2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent HDR in both Dolby Vision and HDR10
Blacks to die for
Solid off-center viewing
Minus
Expensive
Careful setup critical for best results
Menus tedious to navigate

THE VERDICT
Our brief time with LG’s flagship OLED for 2016 suggested it’s not perfect (what is?), but apart from the fact that LCD sets still go brighter than OLEDs, it’s unlikely that any other new HDR-equipped Ultra HDTV will be able to match or exceed the performance of this one.

While this article is structured as a Test Report, in fact it’s a good bit short of a full-fledged evaluation. The combination of the cost of LG’s flagship OLED and the limited supply of review samples in early April prompted the company to set up a couple of displays at a venue in New York City, then shuttle in groups of A/V journalists to lay hands on the set—so to speak.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 07, 2016  |  5 comments
We’ve been fortunate in the 1080p world in having a variety of test discs available. While a full calibration requires special test tools, such discs can tell you a lot about how your set performs and help get the basic picture settings right. One of the most popular of such discs, and one of the first, is Digital Video Essentials, shown in the photo here.

But while 4K with high dynamic range (HDR) is now here, there’s still a lack of test materials for this format, particularly the high dynamic range end of the equation...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 02, 2016  |  0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
In June 1957, Soviet spy Rudolf Abel is captured in New York City. Insurance attorney James B. Donovan is appointed to handle the defense, based on his experience at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Reluctant to take the case at first, Donovan ultimately accepts, passionate in his belief that everyone deserves a fair trial.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 17, 2016  |  1 comments
It hasn’t been that long ago that when I arrived back from the annual January CES, my desk looked something like the photo here, staring back at me with a “pick me, pick me” plea. But with all of the brochures and press releases and miscellaneous literature first transferred to CD-ROM, now to flash drives, and (in some cases) merely a cryptic card directing you to the manufacturer’s website, the reading material can now fit in a tiny corner of my suitcase.

Owners’ manuals were once like that, but with a fundamental difference. They were slender things that could be read and understood in an hour or two. But as products, particularly HDTVs and AVRs, became more complicated, their manuals grew larger, not to mention the need to produce them in 15 languages...

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 12, 2016  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
World’s first UHD Blu-ray player
Outstanding overall performance
Reasonable price (for a “first”)
Minus
No auto picture adjustments for HDR, non-HDR, and 1080p discs with current UHDTVs
Small, frustrating remote

THE VERDICT
As the first Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Samsung UBD-K8500 provides exceptional performance with the right display and disc. But as with any new format, there are growing pains to be sorted out before we can toast to its complete success.

The video world, or at least the segment that still values packaged media, has been waiting impatiently for Ultra HD discs. Many of us still prefer to pay for our movies once and have them on the shelf. More important, we want their video and audio quality uncompromised by Internet bandwidth limitations. Editor's note: For our reviewers' impressions of some the first UHD Blu-ray movie titles, see "Eye on UHD: 14 Ultra HD Blu-ray Movies Reviewed."

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 03, 2016  |  8 comments
If you’ve been following my writing (I know there’s at least one of you out there somewhere!) you know that I’m a major fan of packaged media. With a Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc I only have to buy it once and it’s always there, on the shelf, ready to access whenever I want it and offering the best of the best in both picture and sound quality. And it won’t vaporize if I want to see it again but the streaming service decides to no longer offer it...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 19, 2016  |  1 comments
What’s a “nit” and what’s it have to do with what you see on your TV screen as we enter the Age of High Dynamic Range (aka HDR) video.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 15, 2016  |  0 comments
Picture
3D-Ness
Sound
Extras
Ant-Man begins in 1989 as genius inventor and industrialist Hank Pym achieves a major success in a revolutionary shrinking technology that can reduce a man to the size of an ant while increasing his strength a hundredfold or more. But he hides his accomplishment and resigns from his company to keep the development from falling into the wrong hands. As we jump to the present, his protégé, Darren Cross, is now the head of the company and close to the success that Pym secretly achieved in 1989.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 05, 2016  |  1 comments
Yes, I do have an odd taste in movies. But there must be others who can equally enjoy science fiction and action films, animated features, and well-done historical dramas. Only recently I revisited the DVDs of Zulu (the 1964 film with a very young Michael Caine in his first major role), and the first episodes of Shaka Zulu (a late ‘80s mini-series with a riveting performance by Henry Cele as Shaka). The technical quality on Zulu was very good for a DVD (there is a Blu-ray release that has received mixed reports, but I haven’t seen it). The picture quality on Shaka Zulu (1.33:1) is poor, but watchable. Both have mediocre audio at best, but despite their technical limitations are superb.

Anonymous is a much more recent effort (2011)...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 01, 2016  |  0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Damian Hale, an extremely wealthy and self-centered businessman (is there any other kind in the movies?), is in his late sixties and dying of cancer. But he’s found an escape in a secretive company that has developed a way to transfer the contents of someone’s brain into a younger, healthy human body. They call the process shedding. It succeeds on Damian, but with complications he didn’t anticipate.

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