Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 16, 2016  |  0 comments
In-wall, on-wall, and other such custom installation products are a staple at CEDIA. Free-standing speakers? Not so much. Though there’s an ample supply of those (some of which we’ve written up in other show blogs), CES in January is where new box speakers go to be launched.

TruAudio’s BD-8 WT/BK encloses its 2-way speaker in a pendant designed to be hung from the ceiling...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 07, 2016  |  9 comments

PRICE $4,500

Excellent blacks and shadow detail
First-rate resolution
Compelling high dynamic range
HDR limited to HDR10
No 3D

In some important respects, Samsung’s new top-of-the-line TV improves upon the company’s previous flagship, and at a lower price.

When we last reviewed one of Samsung’s so-called SUHD sets, Ultra HD with high dynamic range (HDR) was not yet available on Blu-ray. But the arrival of such discs—together with UHD Bluray players like Samsung’s own UBD-K8500—has changed the game.

The 4K resolution of Ultra HD sets is all well and good, but HDR is the most eye-popping feature of UHD. Not all 4K sets, however, incorporate HDR, and those that do don’t necessarily perform at the same level. HDR still can’t be done well cheaply; at present, the displays that do it best are their respective makers’ premier offerings. The Samsung KS9800 series definitely belongs in that company—and among the three models within that family, the 65-incher we’re discussing here is the smallest.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 06, 2016  |  0 comments
We tend to forget that not all readers have been around the block when it comes to the language of video. Those that have know the tricks of the trade, and what all of the terminology means. True, even they’re sometimes mistaken, and we ourselves can get caught out from time to time with what’s being offered this year (or this week!) in the ever changing high definition (HD) and ultra high definition (UHD) world.

But manufacturers seldom offer much help in this, or even do their best to obfuscate. In their specs, descriptions, and promotional copy, one thing you won’t find clearly stated is what their products won’t do...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 30, 2016  |  1 comments
I like to think that have a broad taste in movie and television entertainment. I don’t much care for crime dramas, horror, gross-out comedies, or westerns (having lived through the era where westerns dominated evening television). I like historical films (either epics or straight dramas), science fiction, contemporary drama, and animation.

And there can be little doubt that the latter is on fire and in the midst of a new golden age. The first such era was centered almost exclusively on the early work of Walt Disney. It survived for about 25 years, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to The Jungle Book (1967). I’d argue, however, that there were only six true classics from that period...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 19, 2016  |  0 comments
Judy Hopps is an ambitious little bunny. Stuck in a zillion-rabbit town, she longs to join the police force. Topping her class at the police academy, and despite the misgivings of her conventional, veggie-farmer parents, she heads off to Zootopia, the Big Carrot in the film’s all-animal universe, to forge a career in the ZPD.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 16, 2016  |  1 comments
Ever had the experience of surfing the web and finding a link to a site that you never knew existed? OK, there are a lot of sites most of us never knew existed. But if that site is endlessly fascinating and useful to you, that’s a different story. I can’t recall how I first came across, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it before...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 05, 2016  |  1 comments
I’ve always wondered about Charlie Brown’s crush on the Little Red-Haired Girl. He’s of an age where girls are little more than a nuisance. But no matter: The Peanuts Movie’s plot centers on Charlie Brown’s stumbling attempts to convince her, and himself, that he’s something and not nothing.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 03, 2016  |  2 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
PRICE $3,000

Impressive edge-lit local dimming
Respectable off-axis viewing
Bright, punchy HDR
Often redundant menus
Tight remote control layout

Full-array local dimming remains the gold standard for LCD Ultra HDTVs, but Sony has now upped the ante with the best edge-lit set we’ve seen.

The last time I reviewed one of Sony’s 4K sets, it had large speaker enclosures attached permanently to the sides of the screen, with a separate “subwoofer” firing out the back. This made for an inconveniently wide design, and with the introduction of Sony’s new 2016 models, those audio “wings” are now history.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 02, 2016  |  3 comments
With a near constant steam of new Ultra HD sets cycling in and out of my system, I’ve been slow in mounting my two projection screens, a 96-inch-wide wide, Stewart Filmscren StudioTek 130 (gain 1.3) and an 87-inch-wide, 16:9, Elite Primevision PowerMaxTension (gain 1.1). Both are retractable, which serves several purposes...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 18, 2016  |  2 comments
It’s been no secret up to now that calibrating a display for high dynamic range (HDR) is a work in progress. But the recent release of an HDR10 workflow for CalMAN 2016 (the newest software from SpectraCal) promises to change that. CalMAN is widely used by calibrators and reviewers to optimize display setup.

HDR10 is one of the two most prominent HDR formats (though there are others lurking around looking for a niche). Both of these formats require specialized, and different, calibration techniques. A CalMAN workflow for the other format, Dolby Vision, has been around for several months.

But most UHD/HDR sets offer HDR10, as do all UHD Blu-rays to date, making an HDR10 calibration perhaps even more significant...