Friday, March 31, 2006

Toshiba HD-XA1 HD-DVD Player Is Up For Grabs

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Here we go. Today Toshiba marks it as the day first HD-DVD player ships. HD-XA1 HD-DVD player hits the shelves in Japan as you read and the early bird special, that consists of complementary "Resident Evil" and a Japanese film, "Moonlight Jellyfish" HD-DVDs, will last until April 27th.
The technical highlights of HD-XA1 are:
  • Support for Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD 5.1 Channel audio. Latter 2 are newest lossless additions for Dolby and DTS. Audio signal can be routed to the display via HDMI output.
  • Playback support for prerecorded DVDs, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM with the ability to upscale to 720p or 1080i on the HDMI output.
  • Picture in Picture that can display supplementary video over the main program, allowing viewers to watch bonus content, such as a superimposed director's commentary or a documentary about the making of the movie, while the movie plays.
Unfortunately, HD-XA1 does not support 1080p output which means 1080p native recordings will be downscaled. With Blu-Ray camp announcing delays in their product shippment, Toshiba can mark its HD-XA1 as the winner of the initial game.


Read the press release at Toshiba Japan

Posted by Mike at 12:42 AM
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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Canon's new LCoS Projector

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While there are no details on the name, price and availability of Canon SX50 successor, we do know that it still, as its predecessor, features 1400x1050 4:3 panels, boosts 3500 lumen and has a 2000:1 contrast ratio. Canon's SX50 was marketed as a multimedia projector, but the new one, according to Akihabara News, is for home theater use as well.
One feature that caught my attention is automatic color correction. This is a clear indication that Canon leverages its vast knowledge and technology of image acquisition [ aka digital cameras ] in front projection. This is something that I have never seen to be done by big names in video projection business. Of course, ISF will not be happy to see this feature on every display device, but it will sure be appreciated by the consumer who will save the time and money spent for calibration. Canon also utilizes its optics knowledge ( where most manufacturers simply do not have their own for understandable reasons) in so called AISYS system that increases the contrast ratio without dropping brightness without using a large lamp thus reducing the size of the projector. You can read about that at Canon's AISYS Optical System. All of the above does not mean that picture quality is going to be outstanding since that is where Canon does not have ( or does not want to have ) the experience.
I wish companies such as Canon, or Nikon, or Leica that have years of image acquisition and optics experience partner with companies that specialize in video processing to produce the ultimate display product.

Posted by Mike at 10:57 PM
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Sanyo PLV-Z4 and PLV-Z3 Prices Are Down

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I have covered both, Sanyo PLV-Z4 and PLV-Z3 pretty extensively, tracking all the reviews done by various magazines and individuals. I have decided to check the prices for both and, honestly, got shocked at how much they have dropped. Z4 goes for $1700 (MSRP is $2000) and Z3 is down to $1300 available at almost all respectable online retailers. With taking all of the downsides of both projectors, such as lack of good deinterlacing, it is still a great bargain to own one of these for the price.

Read:

Posted by Mike at 4:53 PM
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Niveus Media To Support HD-DVD

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Niveus Media announced today that they will support HD-DVD in their upcoming Intel Viiv Media Center. They have also hinted that there will be more press releases before the ship regarding Blu-Ray support. The technology will be demonstrated at Electronic House Expo Spring 2006 that will be held in Orlando from March 30 - April 1.

Read the press release at eHomeUpgrade.com

Posted by Mike at 11:58 AM
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WLANPlus: Multiple HDTV Streams Over WiFi

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Metalink Ltd, company from Israel, has been demonstrating transmission of not one, but multiple streams of HD signal over 802.11n. Metalink is a semiconductor company that's behind the WLANPlus system that is capable of delivering HD signals to displays in a 100 feet radius. It incorporates 2 chips: MtW8170 baseband device and the MtW8150 radio frequency integrated circuit (RFIC). According to the company, they have established partnership with Renesas Technology Corp that specializes in microcontrollers and will be jointly developing an integrated circuit that consist of both technologies. By having a all-in-one ( or System-On-a-Chip) IC, Metalink expects their chips to be used by manufacturers of residential gateways, DTV, HDTV, Set-Top Boxes, Media Adaptors, Digital Video Recorders (DVR), Portable Display Appliances and Game Consoles.

Explore Metalink Broadband

Here are other companies with taking a shot at the similar technology:

Posted by Mike at 11:29 AM
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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mitsubishi HD4000U Review

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Mitsubishi HD4000U DLP WXGA Projector
ProjectorCentral reviews latest Mitsubishi DLP projector, HD4000U. The unit features native WXGA (1280x768) DMD chip, puts out 2000 ANSI lumen with a contrast ratio of 2500:1. While it is not marketed as a home theater projector, reviewer states that its options make it quite viable for use in home theater setups. The factors that actually may present a problem in home theater setups, as reported, is the fan noise, 2x color wheel that is prone to more rainbows, and not so impressive contrast ratio vs high lumen output.
One of the features is TI's BrilliantColor, or I would say Mitsubishi's implementations of TI's feature, has caught the attention of the reviewer. There are 3 settings that for BrilliantColor - 0 to turn off, 1 to put in somewhat intermediate state, and 2 - full on. Long story short, while BrilliantColor full on setting increases the lumen output, it brings out dithering and ringing issues whereas turned off the video image is the sharpest and most film-like.
In conclusion:
Buyers of the HD4000 will be paying a premium for native WXGA resolution and high lumen output in a portable package. It is a unique solution on the market that will be perfect for those who want bright, widescreen data presentation use at the office, as well as portability for multiple commercial venues, and/or part time personal entertainment at home. If we were using it in this manner, we'd activate BrilliantColor to produce bright presentations in our commercial work, and turn off BrilliantColor when using it for video at home. We have given it a high rating for value because for the person who needs this particular type of projector, there is nothing else on the market quite like it.

Mitsubishi HD4000U is suggested at $3999.

Read the full review of HD4000U at ProjectorCentral.com

Related stories: Mitsubishi HD4000U WXGA DLP Projector

Posted by Mike at 1:58 PM
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Panasonic PX600 Series 58-INCH Plasma Displays

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Big day for Panasonic: launching 2 58-inch plasmas and announcing the ship date for DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray player.
The
TH-58PX600U and TH-58PX60U feature 1366x768 plasma panels. Both models sport dual HDMI inputs with EZ-Sync, proprietary control interface for communicating among Panasonic devices. According to Panasonic one press of a button will turn on all components assuming they are made by Panasonic.
Both models are equipped with NTSC/ATSC/QAM(2) tuners, SD Memory Card slot. TH-58PX600U also comes with a CableCard slot.
Now the best part that surprisingly not covered or mentioned by others is the ability of both panels to display 29 billion color. The previous generation  was able to display only about 16 billion colors which means that the color gradation is going to be significantly better. To experience the same you can switch your monitor color reproduction to 16-bit and see how bad it is compared to 24/32-bit. Another significant improvement that is actually the "sidefect" of increased color reproduction is the contrast ratio peaking at 10000:1 with the range start at 3000:1.
Panasonic proves yet another time that it leads the market not due to its marketing but the quality of the products it makes [plasma that is - I am not talking anything else].
Anyways, if you are not waiting for the 65" 1080p plasma, TH-58PX600U and TH-58PX60U are a must to consider. Suggested prices are moderate and think very well decided: $5999 for TH-58PX600U and $5499 for TH-58PX60U

Read: Panasonic Launches World's Most Advanced 58-Inch HD Plasma TV

Other blogs:

Posted by Mike at 11:00 AM
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Did You Know That George Clooney ...

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... signed up for Ocean's 13 - the third in a series of heist franchise. Unfortunately, neither Julia Roberts nor Catherine Zeta-Jones will be in the movie due to the lack of significant roles for stars of their caliber. However all, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Andy Garcia will be in for the ride. Film will start shooting in July and be directed by returning Steven Soderbergh under Section Eight production company co-owned by Steven and George.
A trivia fact: Ocean's sequels have earned more than $800 million worldwide.

Read BBC's report ...

Posted by Mike at 3:39 PM
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Epson PowerLite Cinema 550 LCD Projector Review

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Home Theater Magazine reviews Epson PowerLite Cinema 550 720p LCD Projector. It is impressive to note outstanding black levels of this projector and smoth gradation of quantization ramp that reflects in very good reproduction of HD and DVD sources. Due to auto iris feature, contrast ratio in Theater mode was measured at whopping 3,927:1 which is better than what Epson claims in the spec.
Here is a list of other features that make this projector stand out in the crowd:
  • Vertical and horizontal lens-shift options
  • Average 3:2 pulldown ( compared to almost none for Sanyo PLV-Z4 and Panasonic PT-AE900 )
  • Accepts 1080p signal - something most high-enders lack as of today, making this projector future-proof
  • Loads of picture adjustments. If you are a tweaker - PowerLite 550 is for you.
  • Inexpensive - MSRP $2500 with even less street price
Source: Home Theater Magazine

Posted by Mike at 2:51 PM
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Toshiba 32HLX95 LCD HDTV Review

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Home Theater Magazine reviews Toshiba 32HLX95 LCD TV. The 32HLX95 32" is equipped with built-in DVD player, an ATSC and NTSC tuner, and CableCard slot which combined with aesthetic design make the $2500 not too much. The TV features handful of analog and digital inputs including HDMI. Interestingly, review notes that HDMI and Component produced the same quality.
A feature of 32HLX95 that is quite notable for an LCD is adjustable backlight that makes it possible to tweak the black levels. Here is an excerpt:

It also has an adjustable backlight that allows you to raise or lower the black level in increments from 0 to 100 for each input. At the default, 100, which provides the best overall contrast ratio, the black level is just an average 0.160. Lowering the setting to 0 yielded a much more respectable number of 0.064. Both of these numbers go up quite a bit when you move off axis, though, so you should be mindful of where you place the TV.

Color reproduction is said to be rich and natural for both DVD and HD sources, however gray scale testing revealed a digital noise that might not be present always but when it is - it will be emphasized.
Overall, 32HLX95 does not stand up as a great display but is a perfect solution as a all-in-one device that will not need external sources.

Source: HomeTheaterMag.com

Posted by Mike at 2:34 PM
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JBL L8400P Subwoofer

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Harman International, parent company for JBL is announcing new JBL L8400P subwoofer. The sub comes in 2 variations - cherry (L8400PCH) and black (L8400PBK). Spec dirt is as folows:
  • Driver: 300mm
  • Frequency Response down to 22Hz.
  • Built-in 600Watt switching amplifier with peak at 1200Watt
  • Crossover Frequency: variable from 50Hz to 150Hz
Source: Watch Impress
Product Page: Harman

Posted by Mike at 12:44 PM
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Atlantic Technology Corner-Mounted 10 CSB Subwoofer

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What a great idea to design a subwoofer around the fact that it will be located in the corner so it might as well fit the corner. That is what Atlantic Technology has done with its corner-mounted 10 CSB sub. Besides being an aesthetically pleasing box, specifications and the price are amazing as well:
The 180 Watt amplifier module is a high-current design that delivers exceptional driver control and cool operation. It is precision matched and equalized to the driver, and includes a phase inversion switch and adjustable (40 Hz to 140 Hz) 18 dB/octave crossover for proper integration with a range of satellite speakers. It also features both low-level and high-level inputs for use with nearly any amplification and satellite speaker combination.
The suggested price of 10 CSB is just $899 and it is available now.

Source: Atlantic Technology via press agency GSPR

Posted by Mike at 12:35 PM
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Panasonic TZ-DCH2000 Digital Set-Top Box

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Panasonic Japan announced TZ-DCH2000 digital set top box which sports a DVD burner, 250GB HDD, two digital tuners and electronic program guide for scheduled recordings, SD card slot for image playback, FireWire connector ( i.Link ) for easy connectivity with camcorders, and an Internet browser. TZ-DCH2000 is equipped with 4 HDMI inputs and an HDMI output.
Hits the stores in Japan in May of 2006 with yet unspecifed price.
Source: Panasonic Japan

Posted by Mike at 12:27 PM
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Koss PLUG Earbuds

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Koss claims the new PLUG earbuds, while being priced at only $15, delivers same isolation found in more expensive competing products. Made of soft hydrophillic, formed urethane foam cushion that expands to custom fit the ear which improves isolation. Besides one-size-fits-all design, The Plug has an impressive frequency coverage ranging from 10Hz to 20kHz with sensitivity at 112dB SPL/1mW. I would not expect heaven from a $15 earphone, but it seems that Koss is trying to deliver a product that might just stand out. For the sake of it, I am placing an order to see if said 10Hz - 20000Hz is for real.

Sources:
Product Page: Koss

Posted by Mike at 11:54 AM
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Sony VPL-VW100 Review by CNET

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CNET score for highly regarded Sony VPL-VW100 SXRD ( or LCoS ) 1080p front projector is 8.3 out 10 which tagged as excellent. Usually, whoever reviews this projector is amazed and CNET's complaint is the light output being at low 800 : 1 ANSI lumens. I think, being a high-end home theater projector that most people will install in a dedicated light controlled room does not make the low lumen an issue at all.

Review outlines are ease of installation with mentioning of motorized focus, zoom and vertical lens shift functions. However, with above features reviewer notes that horizontal lens shift, while available, needs a screwdriver to work with. I do understand that Sony does not think horizontal shift is going to be used as frequently [ or not at all ] as the vertical thus is the design. I do not blame them.
The reviewer also mentions the advance iris functionality that automatically optimizes the picture for better blacks.
Inputs on Ruby are layed out in a simple line - one per each type - composite, s-video, component, RGB, HDMI and DVI. So, in case you have 2 component sources, you better get a switcher.
Reviewer notes image quality is amazing producing sharp images with barely visible screen-door effect. They have even tried a Blu-Ray test disk and obviously are shocked about quality.

Source: CNET

Related stories:

Posted by Mike at 10:51 AM
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Monday, March 27, 2006

Runco Goes Collector's Edition

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When a display company offers a collector's edition of the product you would naturally think the things are not as well. Here is what Sam Runco says:
This is the first time we've ever offered a Collector'’s edition of one of our projectors". It's an honor and a pleasure to see the excitement this project has generated. This limited edition package bundles a number of perks to commemorate our longest running projector.
To make things even worse they offer an 26" LCD display with the purchase of $15,000. You better do cause 720p projectors, even the best ones, are cheap these days - around $5000, $6000 for a two box solutions. This is an indication that home theater market is becoming more consumer oriented rather than being driven by dealers. People start to understand theverythingyrthing that shines is gold in this industry. If someone can pay $10,000 and buy a Sony VPL-VW100 ( Ruby ) or pay $7000 and buy Dwin Transvision 4 with DarkChip3 how is it expected that $15000 will buy a single chip DLP?
Did I mention that Runco has millions of trademarks and no patents whatsoever?
What a bunch, eh?
Sorry Sam - that's how I feel.

Read the press release at HomeToys

Posted by Mike at 11:11 AM
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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sony Blu-Ray BDP-S1 Player

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All is great when Sony's VP confirms in CNET video shippment BDP-S1 in July. Except that the sign on the player says
FULL 1080P HIGH DEFINITION OUTPUT
What the hell is going on with this marketing people? What is "Full 1080p"? I heard Full HD, 1080p High-Def. But to use all buzz words in one sentence. Please.
Video at CNET

Posted by Mike at 11:29 AM
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Friday, March 24, 2006

Sanyo Y:TV

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The latest Sanyo has to offer is not just beautiful, but is HD Ready, ( no big deal ) and has a built-in 160GB hard disk, and a digital Freeview tuner. That's quite a package. The Y:TV has a electronic program guide for scheduling recordings for up to 7 days in advance. No Tivo here as you can see with a SeasonPass but can be very useful not to have another PVR sitting on the shelf.
Sanyo Y:TV is expected to ship in Europe in May but no price is announced.

Via: Techeblog.com
Source: T3 UK

Posted by Mike at 1:24 PM
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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Philips Wi-Fi LCD TV

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There is nothing special about 23" Philips 23iF9946 LCD TV except of one simple and great- a 802.11g that allows to stream audio and video from internet and a connected computer. The software, or I should say the firmware is such that you can browse acceptable files stored on a remote machine. The list of formats understood by 23iF9946 is very extensive: MP3, MP3 Pro, PCM, Wave, MPEG1, 2 + 4, DivX, XviD, JPEG, GIF, BMP and PNG. And to top this off, there is a FM tuner in case you miss your local stations. The resolution of the panel is WXGA ( 1280x768 ), with 400:1 contrast ratio and 450cd/m2 peak brightness.
Being an all-in-one device, I would think of it as a student's HDTV (although it does not come cheap at £1499.95 or $2600). Be it a $1000 less, there would be no substitute for a crammed dorm room.

Source: TechDigest.tv
Product Page: Philips Streamium TV

Posted by Mike at 10:55 PM
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Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection: CozmoTV: Welcome to Television 2.0, Time to Supercharge the TiVo Part of Your Digital Lifestyle

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Thomas Hawk interviews founders of CozmoTV - an Internet service that allows schedule Tivo programming from their web site that is full of recommendations, ratings, today suggestions, etc. CozmoTV is currently being developed to allow Tivo owners to record internet TV broadcasting to your PVR and download and show Flickr photos.

Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection: CozmoTV: Welcome to Television 2.0, Time to Supercharge the TiVo Part of Your Digital Lifestyle

Posted by Mike at 8:54 PM
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Movie Theaters Start Thinking

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Movie theaters started to think about making more revenues by providing services rather then blaming studios for bad movies and jamming cell phones in the theaters. By 2007, movie theaters want to provide sports and a relaxed environment with hot dogs and beer thus creating the environment that stadiums provide.
Here is a quote:
"We want to transition our theaters from being traditional movie theaters to being community entertainment destinations, and what better way to do this than sports?" said Shari Redstone, president of the National Amusements Inc. Theater chain.
and
"We are not just putting the game up on the big screen but making the experience like being in fen Park," Redstone, a Red Sox fan, said. "The experience is more important, really, than what you are showing."
Very nice. Finally!

Source: Reuters

Posted by Mike at 5:04 PM
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Home Entertainment Show 2006

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Home Entertainment Show 2006 is scheduled for June 1–4 in Los Angeles at the Sheraton Gateway Hilton. All the familiar faces are going to be there. If you are in Southern California - do not miss it. It is open to the public in contrast to CES.

Posted by Mike at 2:43 PM
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Did You Know That DVR Usage ...

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... is expected to skyrocket. According to Strategy Analytics predictions by 2010 number of DVR owners, or families, will reach 130.2 million. Compare it to 17.3 millions for 2005 and 7.9 million for 2004. Pretty steep.

Read the press release at Ecoustics ...

Posted by Mike at 2:39 PM
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Via EN-Series Mini-ITX to Support HDTV

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Via announces that the new EN-Series mini-itx board based on C7 and Eden processors will also incorporate hardware HDTV encoder to support 720p and 1080i resolutions in addition to hardware MPEG-2 acceleration that was present in previous motherboards as well. Since Epia boards do not have enough processing power for HDTV playback, it was critical for Via to add HD hardware support since their main target for mini-itx boards are entertainment devices.
HD support will allow set-top box, htpc manufacturers to deliver cheaper products due to Epia's relatively low pricing.

Source: Via Taiwan

Posted by Mike at 2:03 PM
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Micronas Introduces truDHD for HDTV

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Micronas is the company behind video decoders that might be in your TV today. Following their expertise and the money, Micronas introduces FRC 94xyH video processing or frame rate converter IC that will compete with Silicon Optix, Genesis Microchip, Pixelworks, i-Chips, Gennum and such. In the press release Micronas emphasizes the ability of this IC to remove judder in SD and HD motion or in more common terminology - deinterlace with proprietary truDHD motion compensation technology. 94xyH can handle video signals up to full HD ( 1920x1080 ).

Read Micronas press release ...

Posted by Mike at 1:45 PM
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NEC 42X4 Plasma Review

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PCMag reviews NEC 42X4 plasma display with 4 out 5 and an Editors Choice award. The review is pretty extensive and cover lots of details including intuitiveness of menus. They also have measured the contrast ratio after calibrating the unit and came up with ANSI 1001:1 which for PCMag is the best to date for all displays that have been tested and it truly is. Note that it is ANSI ratio. HQV test DVD has been used to check 480i processing and here is what reviewer says:
I use the HQV Benchmark DVD to evaluate a display's video-processing performance when displaying standard definition (480i) content—similar to traditional broadcast television. The 42XR4 managed a good HQV result by providing excellent noise-reduction abilities without softening image detail. Deinterlacing was also impressive, with no noted jagged edges in the synthetic portions of the test or in the video clip of the waving flag. The classic racetrack scene that uses film-based video (24 frames per second) revealed that 3:2 pulldown engaged quickly, preventing distracting moire artifacts from appearing in the grandstands. This indicates that the video processor is throwing away half of the visual information. The beginning of chapter 12 of the DVD movie Gladiator is a great check for 3:2 pulldown problems, as the slow panning shot of the bird statue with its horizontal lines can turn into a jagged, blurry mess if not properly processed. The 42XR4 handled this challenging scene perfectly.
The 42XR4 is suggested at $3999, a little higher then the average 42 inch plasma.

Via: Engadget
Source: PCMag

Posted by Mike at 12:46 PM
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Big Flat Panels in Pictures

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CNET has a collection of photos taken at DisplaySearch 2006 in San Diego. Among those are 65" plasma from Panasonic with 1080p native resolution, Sharp's 65" 1920x1080 LCD display, and more.
Check out photos at ecoustics-cnet

Posted by Mike at 11:22 AM
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Linspire Mini with DVI out

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eHomeUpgrade has a little story on Linspire Mini: a nice project PC for tweakers or a nice looking PC for everyone else. Comes for $399 or $260 in a barebone no-CPU form.
Here is an excerpt from Alexander Grundner's post
The 2.8 pound PC features a front panel backlit power button, a slot loading combo DVD drive, two rear USB ports, one Firewire connector, S-Video/DVI video outputs, 10/100 Ethernet port, speaker/mic jacks, Pentium M 740 processor, a single slot for DDR2 memory, and a choice of a 40 or 80GB hard drive.
There are 2 versions - MP915-C with Celeron M 360 processor clocked at 1.4GHz and MP915-P will be powered by an Intel Pentium M 740 (Dothan) processor clocked at 1.73.
I am buying one of the latter.

Posted by Mike at 10:01 AM
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Yamaha YSP-1000 Review

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One of I4U editors reviews Yamaha YSP-1000 digital sound projector concluding that it is "an amazing piece of consumer electronics" and "delivers superior home theater sound from just one box". Obvioulsy, YSP series cannot match a 5.1 they do perform very well as a one box solution and is recommended for people that do not have much space or do not want to deal with cables.

Related stories: Yamaha YSP-1 Review Roundup

Posted by Mike at 9:56 AM
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LG XH-A7500 Home Theater In a Big Box

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Akihabara News reports that LG Korea takes Home Theater in a Box concept even further by releasing a package of 5.1 Kevlar Fiber Cone speakers, a DVD player with HDMI input and output, and a separate amplifier.

Posted by Mike at 9:43 AM
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Sharp Aquos LC-37P70E / LC-32P70E / LC-26P70E LCD TV for Europe

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Sharp Europe announces three new models in their famous Aquos line that follow ever successful P50 series: P70. The P in my understanding stands for power - meaning less power. And indeed, this new breeds power consumption ranges from 110W for the smalles model to 168 Watt for the 32-incher. Obviously, being inferior to plasma in picture quality - there are 2 features that LCDs beat the plasma - power consumption and no retention on the screen ( a.k.a burn-in ).
All LCD models feature DVB-T tuner for receiving Freeview and HDMI for your digital sources. Resolution is 960x540 - exactly twice less then 1080p ( 1920x1080 ) meaning you will get your 1080i and 720p shrinked, and 1080p rejected for no support. Contrast ratio of panels is 800:1 with brightness of 450cd/m2 - a little above average for a modern LCD. P70 series is specifically designed for Europe with power supply of 220Volts and PAL decoder.
All thre models - LC-37P70E, LC-32P70E, and LC-26P70E will be available in April with

Via AVReview UK
Source: Sharp UK

Posted by Mike at 9:21 AM
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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Shure E4 and E5 Review

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Jason Victor Serinusfrom HomeTheaterHiFi reviews Shure E4 and E5 earphones. He notes that E5 has a separate bass module which in fact does not affect the weight of the
The E4s, which do a fine job of shutting out noise, offer detailed reproduction of higher frequency information. Their tonal balance, however, is neither midrange rich nor deeply extended. The sound is very much what one would expect from mp3s reproduced through an iPod or similar portable device.

The E5s, at least the equal of the E4s when it comes to noise reduction, beautifully integrate a pleasing, well-extended top with a warm midrange and extended bass. Their sound is quite seductive; music seems all of one piece, possessing a satisfying, non-fatiguing warmth. In case you're wondering, I intend to purchase the review sample and use them to review music with my Powerbook when my home computer is not available.
As you can see, Shure E5 is good enough for the audiophile reviewer to announce that he is going to purchase one.

Read the review at HomeTheaterHiFi.com
Related stories: Shure E4 Review

Posted by Mike at 7:57 PM
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Guess What Is In The Picture ...

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What do you think this is ?

Posted by Mike at 9:39 AM
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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Personal Movie Theater

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What you think this is? Right, a movie theater. No lets call it a personal movie theater because it is located underneath the front loan of AVSForum member who apparently has loads of cash and a perfect dream. The guy runs his movie theater with JVC QX-1 projector that puts out 7000 lumens on a 2048x1536 resolution D-ILA panels. Just this beast costs about $200,000 so imagine how much green matter the whole thing has consumed. Even JVC has put the pictures of the this home theater on their web site as a showcase. I do not even want to go into other equipment since the projector and the looks are enough for me to drool non-stop for the next week. The owner, Phil Trubey, has posted on the forum about his intention to have a meetup for the members to "check out" his San Diego based home theater.

[UPDATE] : HTGuys have visited Phil at his house and have more pictures to show.

Via Techeblog.com

Source: AVSForum

Posted by Mike at 9:23 PM
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MartinLogan Vista Floorstanding Loudspeaker

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MartinLogan today announced a new breed of their electrostatic loudspeakers named Vista. According to the company, the years of research made it possible to dramatically reduce the cabinet size without loss of sound quality.
Vista's™ Features Include:

* XStat™ Electrostatic Transducer featuring:
* Ultra-Rigid AirFrame™ Technology
* Advanced Vacuum Bonding
* MicroPerf Stators
* ClearSpar™ technology
* CLS™ (Curvilinear Line Source)
* High-Resolution 8-inch Aluminum Cone Woofer
* Precision Performance Crossover Engineering
Frequency response is from 43Hz to 23Khz at 3dB, sensitivity is 90dB at 2.83 volts/meter, crossover frequency is at 450Hz, woofer is an 8" high excursion, aluminum cone with extended throw driver assembly in a bass reflex design. MartinLogan Vista can handle 200Watts per channel. Size of the cabinet is 57" height , 10.7" width, 16.8" depth.

Read the press release ...

Posted by Mike at 10:36 AM
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Monday, March 20, 2006

Another Sanyo PLV-Z4 Review

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Audioholics puts up a review of popular Sanyo PLV-Z4 LCD projector. Below I have the updated collection of links to all reviews for PLV-Z4 and other competitive projectors such as Panasonic PT-AE900u and Hitachi PJ-TX200. This review does not say much new about PLVZ4 but has a nice chart from HQV video tests. Other than that, nothing is new and as with the other reviews, projector is highly recommended for the price.
Older reviews:
Same class projectors:

Posted by Mike at 1:10 PM
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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pioneer Elite PRO-1130HD Review Roundup

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Tom Norton of GuideToHomeTheater.com reviews Pioneer Elite PRO-1130HD plasma display system. As usual with big magazines, whatever they review is just worth the price. Be it $1 or $100,000. First, what I do not agree is that $5500( street price is even less ) is a premium price for the system. Yes, it is a system consisting of an external processor/receiver and a display, similar to DWIN PlasmaImage HD-250. I think the price is just right considering that the same type of display can be bought for about $4000-$4500 so an extra grand for the receiver with an ATSC tuner and loads of inputs is not much.

Here are the reviews of Pioneer Elite PRO-1130HD from few different source for comparison:

Posted by Mike at 10:53 PM
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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sony Announces Three New A/V Receivers

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It was announced a month ago that Sony is leading the LCD TV market with its BRAVIA line. Naturally, we are starting to hear in more about products that complement the BRAVIA line. Here is the press release on 3 new AV Receivers:

Whether it's simplifying set-up of a surround sound system and automatically adjusting performance, maximizing the performance of a portable audio device, or expanding the appeal of XM® radio and bringing it home, Sony's three new A/V receivers optimize the home theater experience.

There's also a new flat-panel speaker system that complements Sony's line of BRAVIA™ and Grand WEGA™ high-definition televisions.

The new line of A/V receivers have several features to maximize the listening experience featuring Digital Cinema Auto Calibration, which simplifies multi-channel surround sound setup for a perfectly balanced home theater experience.

Two of the receivers have XM Connect and Play™ capabilities and one offers HDMI connectivity, providing an all digital path from source to display. All of these features help to achieve an optimized home theater and audio experience -- realized in an easy-to-use A/V receiver.

"People have certain expectations for their home theater experience and these new receivers will certainly help exceed those expectations," said Philip Abram, vice president of marketing for Sony Electronics' Home Products Division

The power packed, line of A/V receivers features Digital Cinema Auto Calibration (DCAC), which helps set-up and customize the receivers' audio performance based on its room environment. Simply plug-in the included microphone and the DCAC adjusts for speaker placement, distance and delay based on information collected by the microphone and processed in the receiver.

Cutting-Edge Receiver

The STR-DG800 7.1 channel audio/video receiver has 110 watts of power per channel. The receiver supports HDMI pass-through, providing a simple and robust all-digital one cable interface, designed to connect to the wide array of HDMI equipped sources and televisions.

The model requires only the purchase of an XM Connect and Play antenna for listening to satellite radio in the home. Once you connect the antenna and subscribe to the service, you can navigate XM stations displayed on the front panel of the receiver.

Additionally, the STR-DG800 features the Portable Audio Enhancer so you can plug any portable audio player into the receiver. The receiver will then apply its proprietary digital signal processing on the compressed audio, improving its clarity and depth by adding information to the audio signal that had been removed during compression.

The receiver also offers assignable component video inputs and a remote control that can operate a second zone. The A/V receiver also is equipped with a second zone passive RCA output and comes with five inputs and two outputs for A/V and three inputs and one output for audio.

The STR-DG800 will be available in April for about $400.

Easy to Use Performance Powerhouses

The new STR-DG500 6.1 channel A/V receiver and STR-DG600 7.1 channel receiver offer 110 watts of power per channel, Sony's Digital Cinema Auto Calibration (DCAC) technology, Digital Cinema Sound processing for studio quality reproduction, two optical inputs, one assignable coaxial input and component video switching capable of high-definition pass through.

In addition, the STR-DG600 model is XM Connect and Play ready, offers an adjustable advanced A/V sync matching audio with video, two additional optical inputs, two assignable coax inputs and assignable component video inputs for switching between HD sources as well.

The STR-DG500 and STR-DG600 receivers will both be available in March for approximately $200 and $300, respectively.

Bring to Life HDTV with Sleek Speaker System

Sony is also debuting its SA-FT1 5.1 channel flat-panel speaker system, which is designed to match Sony's industry BRAVIA™ leading flat-panel LCD and Grand WEGA SXRD™ micro-display televisions. This speaker system offers a slim stick center channel speaker that is one-fourth the size of a normal center channel speaker.

A mica-reinforced woofer driver supports the hearty 120-watt amplifier that can be controlled by an auto on/off function. The system includes table-top stands for front and rear speaker placements, along with keyhole mounts for the satellite speakers.

The SA-FT1 speaker system will be available in June for approximately $400.

The A/V receivers and the speaker system will be available through SonyStyle.com at SonyStyle retail stores and at authorized dealers nationwide.

Posted by Mike at 10:41 PM
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PRESS RELEASE: SONY UNVEILS COMPLETE SXRD 4K DIGITAL CINEMA SYSTEM AT SHOWEST 2006

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DCI-Compliant Solution Features Sony Media Block and Screen Management System

LAS VEGAS, Mar. 14, 2006 - Sony is showcasing a complete digital cinema solution here at ShoWest, including a newly developed media block and the Sony Screen Management System.

These new technologies, when combined with Sony's Silicon X-tal Reflective Display (SXRD™) 4K projector and packaged in a FIPS 140 enclosure, will provide exhibitors with an "all-in-one" package for displaying both 2K and 4K content at the highest high-definition video resolution levels commercially available. The Sony system is also compliant with all of the specifications of Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) for digital motion picture projection.

"As exhibitors continue to realize the benefits of digital cinema, it's critical that all the necessary security and content management tools be readily available in one easy-to-install package," said John Kaloukian, director of marketing for display systems at Sony Electronics. "This new system can provide that user-friendliness and peace-of-mind, while enabling a smooth transition from current projection technologies."

The new media block, model LMT-100, is a combined server and decoder that contains all the components required to ingest, decode and play digital content. Specific functions include: JPEG2000 decoding, security key management, extraction of audio and visual images from MXF files, alpha channel insertion for sub-titles, and audio and image watermarking.

The media block also features 16 audio channels. It can be connected to generic Redundant Array of Independent Disk (RAID) storage units.

The device can be controlled through either a local computer program using Sony's Media Terminal Control (MTC), or through the Sony Screen Management System. Files can be loaded through an Ethernet® or i.LINK® IEEE 1394 connection. A 25-pin connector on the media block's front panel allows for direct connection to digital theater sound systems.

Kaloukian said the company is supporting its digital cinema systems with flexible maintenance service plans designed with exhibitors' needs in mind. These programs, including Sony's CineWatch remote monitoring and diagnostics service, offer comprehensive customer support to maximize operational "uptime."

At ShoWest, Sony is also presenting designs for its 18,000 ANSI lumen version of the SXRD 4K projector, intended for screen sizes of 50 feet or more. This new model was designed specifically with the needs of exhibitors in mind for installation in commercial movie theaters.

The LMT-100 media block and Screen Management System are expected to be available in May and June, respectively, with pricing for each still to be determined. SXRD 4K projectors are currently on the market at suggested list prices of $98,550 for a 10,000 ANSI lumen model and $66,750 for a 5,000 ANSI lumen model.

Posted by Mike at 9:25 PM
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PRESS RELEASE: SONY OUTLINES NEW "FULL HD" PLANS FEATURING BRAVIA AND SXRD HDTV

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LAS VEGAS, March 16, 2006 - Sony Electronics today outlined its plans for new BRAVIA™ flat-panel LCD and Silicon X-tal (Crystal) Reflective Display (SXRD™) Grand WEGA™ micro-display televisions with 1080p (progressive) full high-definition capabilities.

Due to ship in the second half of 2006, there will be various models with 1920 x 1080 display resolution and some products capable of 1080p input. They are expected to complement the upcoming launch of 1080p Blu-ray products, including Sony's recently announced BDP-S1 Blu-ray Disc™ player and the VAIO® RC Desktop PC with a Blu-ray ROM disc drive.

"We plan to bring the best possible visual experience to consumers and 1080p full HD is the holy grail of picture quality," said Randy Waynick, senior vice president of the Home Products Division for Sony Electronics. "Whether it's a Blu-ray movie or another HD source, our BRAVIA and Grand WEGA SXRD televisions deliver higher definition than all the rest."

Sony's newly designed SXRD line will offer screen sizes from 50 to 70 inches. The new BRAVIA models will complete Sony's flat-panel LCD line with various screen sizes and enhanced features.

Posted by Mike at 9:20 PM
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Anthony Gallo Nucleus Reference AV Loudspeakers

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Anthony Gallo Acoustics released Nucleus Reference AV loudspeakers. The company targets flat panel home theaters with the release of the product and the head honcho himself says:
“These are the perfect speakers to add to any high-end home theater setup,” states Anthony Gallo, founder of AGA. “Sports junkies and movie enthusiasts alike will see – and hear – their favorite television programs and films come to life. Anytime you can’t get to the game or the movie theater, the Reference AV coupled with the Reference Center will bring the action right into your living room.”
The speakers can handle 150 Watts RMS with peak at 300 Watts, sensitivity is 88dB and frequency coverage is from 55Hz to 35Khz. Loudspeaker's guts consist of four carbon fiber with neodymium magnets 4" drivers. The tweeter is CDTII™ piezo film with 300° horizontal dispersion. The crossover cuts at 100Hz and 3Khz. Nucleus Reference AV comes in matte black,matte white, silver-grey, black over stainless spheres. As a bonus, speakers packed with matching color wall mounts but can optionally be ordered with adjustable cast aluminum table stands.
Nucleus Reference AV loudspeakers are available now.
Read the press release at eCoustics.com
Product page: Anthony Gallo Acoustics

Posted by Mike at 10:06 AM
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Monday, March 13, 2006

Video Via Powerline

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AverLogic Technologies Ltd showed a device capable of transmitting MPEG-4 video and audio via power lines. While current trend is to go wireless, power lines do not present limitations on distance and interference as much as wireless does. And, of course power lines are just simply there so no install per say. However currently there is one limitation - transmission rate is up to 200 MBps which is not enough for uncompressed HDTV.

Source: EETAsia.com

Posted by Mike at 2:07 PM
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Did You Know That EvokeTV ...

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... offers an RSS feeds for the programming schedule and show-sharing feature for bloggers. I think it is a matter of time someone integrates it into HTPC front end. If not already.

Source: PVRBlog.com
Check eVokeTV website

Posted by Mike at 1:57 PM
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Axiom M80v2 Loudspeakers and EP600 Subwoofer Review

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6moons' John Potis reviews Axiom M80v2 loudspeakers and Epicenter EP600 subwoofer. I am going to spoil it right away - they both get a Blue Moon award. Why? For the price there is no match because Axiom does not go after expensive finishes and sells direct without the middleman. That's why. It can be easily knock down $3000-range speakers by the sound reproduction quality. Here is what John says:
But the M80s easily meet the expectations of these buyers[ed.non-audiophiles] plus bring to the table all the other goodies as well - goodies which only the experienced audiophile knows to expect. And that's rare in this price range, let's face it. What I'm trying to say is that when all is factored in, the M80s are more speaker than most of these buyers can even imagine. They by far surpass expectations of the inexperienced buyer. Audiophiles are a different breed, however. They are much more finicky with much higher and often unrealistic expectations. They all want something for nothing. The question is, will the M80s appeal to these neurotics as well? You can bet on it. They offer a level of performance that I couldn't have anticipated at this price.
And for the EP600, first reviewer was surprised that he even got the super subwoofer at all since full-range M80 has enough bass. But who can resist one especially if it is rated at in-room usable bass response to 15Hz. And as all of you know, subs are at their best test when watching U-571. That is what John does.
M80v2 priced at $1300 and EP600 at $1780 and available direct from manufacturer.

Via : SonicFlare.com
Read the review at 6moons.com
Product Page: AxiomAudio.com

Posted by Mike at 12:55 PM
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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bang&Olufsen BeoLab 4

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Bang&Olufsen's BeoLab 4 loudspeakers have been introduced few months ago for discreet audio systems, or as rear speakers in a home cinema setup. Latest incarnation of BeoLab 4 is its compatibility with a computer. Since BeoLab4 is self-amplified using ICEpower modules, it may produce adequate quality sound from the computers audio mini-jack. Of course, the quality cannot be matched to an external DAC, but hey, if you are buying B&O, you must care about looks. In fact, it is the industrial design factor of Bang&Olufsen that seems to win hearts of many. I have personally not seen or heard these little cones but according to specifications, they are pretty decent covering from 50Hz to 20KHz with 2 drivers: 4" concave diaphragm woofer and 3/4" fabric dome tweeter.
A pair for your PC is available now for $1200 or $1270 with included A8 Earphones. Yeah, I know, it's a bit steep.

Source: Bang&Olufsen

Posted by Mike at 5:50 PM
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Music Server With Hard Disk Question.

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I have never understood the reason behind an audio device that has an integrated hard disk of a huge size and still has an ability to stream the music from a computer. Why would someone want, say, 400GB full of music and still stream from a remote device? Can it just be a feature that allows one to copy music from that remote device and that's it. If the question is limited space, most of such components are equipped with USB ports and are capable of recognizing external hard disks so you can add another terabyte to be happy.
What you think?

Posted by Mike at 1:43 PM
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Yamaha MusicCAST MCX-2000 Review

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Audioholics reviews Yamaha's MusicCAST MCX-2000 digital music server. The features of this 2,000 dollar component are built-in 160GB hard drive, Wireless LAN connectivity (WiFi 802.11 b/g) hence has an ability to stream internet radio and music from the PC. Also, it can tune to XM, FM radio stations. That's pretty much it. Controlling the device is via remote control using front panel LCD screen or a TV screen. That's where you guess it connects to the TV using component or s-video connectors. Audio is output via RCA or digital optical. The unit can be extended using MCX-A10 Wireless Client or MCX-C15 Wired Client. Among other optional components are MCX-CA15 Inwall Amplifier and MCX-SP10 aesthetically matching to MCX-A10 speakers.

As far as the review goes, I think it is exaggerated. Gene gives this component 5 out 5 on audio performance and the total score is at 4.5 out of 5. Here are the pros and cons:
Pros:

* Unlimited configurability
* Endless entertainment
* Easy to setup and operate
* Unobtrusive
* Excellent sound quality
* Integrated XM/FM capability

Cons:

* doesn't prevent or warn of double CD copy
* Limited Internet radio functionality
* High dependency on using OSD to operate


I may be mistaken but I will put some question marks in the pros area, specifically on lines that have to deal with emotions, such as "Endless entertainment".
All due respect, Gene is bringing in too many emotions into this review. Here is another one:
My whole experience with this system has been one of delight. It brought me in touch with the music I grew up with and often forgotten widened my listening palette. Most importantly, it made me a superstar to my guests at a recent party we threw that went on until the early hours of the morning because of all of the dancing and non stop great music it served up. Now if only it could brew a pot of coffee….
It seems that the previous generation of audio reviewers is not ready for the digital age. There is no mention of what types of audio formats MCX-2000 can recognize. Are those unknown formats compressed? Can they be stored in lossless format? It also seems to me that Gene has never had a music player with hard disk. All of a sudden, instant availability of all music from 20 years ago is overwhelming enough to forget such basics as sound quality and why it is good.
Sorry, I had to say all of the above regardless of Yamaha MCX-2000 being good or not. The only thing I see is that Sonos can save you money with their system and satisfy the urge to be a star among your friends and on top of it, give you a PDA-like remote control to cherish and brag about. So, go read the review and tell me what you think.

Source: Audioholics Yamaha MCX-2000 Review
Product Page: Yamaha MusicCAST

Posted by Mike at 1:01 PM
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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Did You Know That ABC ...

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... is in process of replacing their 1998 HD broadcast equipment, reported to be mostly prototype 720p gear, with, uhh, more mature gadgets. The bummer - no single mention of 1080p.

Read ...

Posted by Mike at 12:53 PM
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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Toshiba et20 All-in-one DLP Projector

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Toshiba, following Optoma, Epson, and Cinego, has announced at CeBIT a DLP Projector that has a built-in DVD player and 5.1 surround sound. et20, while being inexpensive at $1900, runs on Realta HQV, one of the best video processor chips on the market. Realta HQV has a very good performance on 3:2 pull down, deinterlacing standard and high-definition signals ( 1080i ). Although, the price is a little higher than its competitors, the premium is worth paying just for the HQV chip.
The optics is designed for people with small rooms so they can still take advantage of the projector. Very short throw lens that can do 84 inch in diagonal just from 3 feet. That is pretty impressive and convenient at the same time. You would not want to hear the noise and feel the heat of this projector sitting on your coffee table.
Unfortunately the press release does not mention what kind of DMD chip is used in the projector. I can assume an 858x480, at the same time I will not remove the possibility of an XGA chip.
et20 will be available in Europe in April.

Source: TMCNet

Posted by Mike at 3:09 PM
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HD IPTV Doomed?

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BellSouth's Chief Architect Henry Kafka said at Optical Fiber Communication/National Fiber Optics Engineers Conference that regular IPTV on demand video services bandwidth will cost $112 versus $1 for regular internet usage. Running the numbers, average bandwidth stands at 2 GB for internet usage, and 224 GB for IPTV usage. That's for standard definition video service. To make it even worse, he says it will cost about $560 if the video is in high-definition with bandwidth usage of about 1 TB. So Mr Kafka is asking for help and suggesting a solution where interested parties would take different approach by implementing content caching, new network management controls, and new business models in order to reduce the cost per byte. In his words:
“"It'’s going to take us a while to get the massive amounts of cheaper bandwidth that we need",” he said. “The performance of the Internet is basically going to be a mess.
Read ...

Posted by Mike at 1:46 PM
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Splash: Did You Know That Netflix

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... is "pressing" DVDs. Or to be correct is behind some titles that otherwise would not make it to the DVD. Still made by the recording authority but with Netflix brand on the disk.
Click for a photo ...

Posted by Mike at 1:42 PM
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Panasonic Announces PX600 Viera Series Plasmas

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Panasonic Viera px600 plasma display Panasonic announced next generation of their plasma TV lineup - PX600. Notable new feature of the new line is the upgraded Real Black Drive System. Plasma pixels are driven with a pulse width modulated signal and lack the blacks. If you look closely black pixels have a green noise. Panasonic is addressing this issue with Real Black Drive System along with new Deep Black Filter. Overall performance shading performance is reported to be improved by 50% in contrast with PX500 series plasmas.
Panasonic plasma panels are the best in the market in terms of picture quality and retention (or burn-in). They dominate the market yet do not stop improving. 50% improvement in gradation is a huge number for such a feature. I am looking forward in seeing this in action whenver Best Buy gets it.
Available in Japan April 15th. No word on US or Europe export dates.

Source: HDBeat.com

Posted by Mike at 1:14 PM
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Toshiba, Canon delay SED TV Launch

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Toshiba and Canon SED venture is slipping the launch date due to steep falling prices of flat panel displays. While being superior to LCD as well as Plasma display technologies in picture quality, power consumption, and thinner width, there is no opportunity for SED to acquire a market share without competitive pricing. For that particular reason Toshiba and Canon decided to delay the launch until Q4 of 2007 in order to rationalize the production and cut costs.
I hope that both of those companies can overcome faced problems and bring the product to the masses. I am waiting with a heartbeat.

Source: Toshiba Japan

Press Release: Reuters

Posted by Mike at 6:54 PM
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Splash: Did You Know That ...

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academy awards stewart screen... Stewart Screen was the provider for 7 projection screens for 78th Academy Awards. The main screen was model ATM3M with an image size of 21 feet 4 inches by 38 feet and a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and used UltraMatte 200 material which is twice brighter than regular matter material.

Read ...

Posted by Mike at 4:13 PM
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Splash: V. Inc Drops Prices on Plasmas and LCDs

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V.Inc dropped prices on their already inexpensive plasma displays to a ridicule. 50-inch Vizio P50HDM is $2,299 down $200, Vizio P42HDTV $1,499.99 with $300 instant rebate.
These plasmas have received wide popularity due to its quality in the price range. Also V intros a new Vizio L32HDTV LCD TV for only $1000. Get them at your local Costco.

Read the press release ...

Related story: Vizio P50HD Review Roundup

Posted by Mike at 2:30 PM
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Panasonic Introduces 5 New Displays, 6 HDD Recorders

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Big day for Panasonic. It added 4 new plasmas, 1 LCD display, and 6 DVD/HDD recorders to the lineup. Plasmas are 37, 42, 50, 58 inch (shown above) in diagonal [ 58??? new unheard diagonal size ] and a 32-inch LCD. None of the displays feature a 1080p panel ( 1920x1080 ) but they do accept 1080p signal via HDMI input. TH-50PX600 50" and TH-58PX600 58 plasmas and TH-32LX600 32 inch LCD have resolution 1366x768 , TH-42PX600 42-incher is 1024x768 (16x9), and TH-37PX600 37" has a weird resolution of 1024x720. Prices are from $2500 going up to $6600 for the 58 inch plasma. For the time being, all models are for Japanese market and will hit their stores in mid-April except for the TH-58PX600 58" plasma on May 1st.


Recorder lineup and spec dirt is as follows:
  • DMR-EX550 - 500GB, digital tuner, HDMI output, 1080p output
  • DMR-EX350 - 400GB, digital tuner, HDMI,
  • DMR-EX250V - 250GB, digital tuner, HDMI
  • DMR-EX150 - 200GB, digital tuner, HDMI
  • DMR-EH55 - 200GB , analog tuner
  • DMR-EH75V - 200GB, analog tuner
Ship date for all Diga HDD DVD recorders is set for mid-April to mid May.

Source: Engadget and Watch.Impress Japan

Posted by Mike at 12:46 PM
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Denon ASD-1R iPod Dock

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Denon released ASD-1R iPod dock that is targeting the product range that were not designed for iPod connectivity. It appears from pictures that there is an RCA connectivity as well as digital connection ( looks like an S-Video connector ) for various devices that can connect natively or via line level stereo RCA jacks. The dock is compatible with all 3G and later iPods including Nano with the exception of Shuffle and when docked - iPod will get charged. Cost - €€120 ( $142 ).

Posted by Mike at 1:14 PM
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Splash: Samsung BD-P1000 In May

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Samsung BD-P1000 Blue-Ray Burner
Samsung announced that BD-P1000 Blu-Ray /DVD burner will be hit US stores in mid-May of this year. No price information.

Posted by Mike at 12:55 PM
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Intel Universal Display Interface

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TrustedReviews reports from San Francisco about new display interface ( UDI )that supposedly will replace D-Sub ( the good ol' VGA connector). According to TrustedReviews and my own knowledge, DVI was and probably is the connector/interface that is in the process of replacing D-Sub. Intel's argument is that only 30% of the market use DVI. I think this is normal considering the lifespan of a monitor. It will take another 2-3 years for majority of those to "break" and people will get DVI or might even HDMI monitors. As we see on the picture UDI is bas same HDMI with a different connector and manufacturer will not pay $15000 licensing fee. On the other hand, VESA is onto developing DisplayPort - interface technology based on LVDS instead of TMDS ( DVI/ HDMI). The advantage of LVDS is that 4 wires will be used to transmit the signal from the source to the monitor.
So which one is it - UDI or DisplayPort that will power next generation displays? I bet there is a technology war coming up similar to HD-DVD - Blu-Ray.

Source: TrustedReviews

Posted by Mike at 12:58 AM
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Monday, March 06, 2006

What is High Definition?

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HD blogs ( HDBeat.com, HDBlog,net, HighDefinitionBlog.com ) and a thread at HighDefForum are in yet another discussion on what is considered high definition. Everyone referring to the document from CEA that says:

High-Definition Television (HDTV): The best quality digital picture, widescreen (16 x 9) display with at least 720 progressively scanned lines (720p) or 1080 interlaced lines (1080i) and Dolby digital surround sound.

The CEA write up is indeed confusing because it says 720 scan lines and 720p in parenthesis. Wha it mentions 1280x720 video standard. 720p is merely a name for 1280x720 resolution. There is no other resolution that has 720 vertical lines. The description should have been written more accurately so guys like Henning from HDBlog and Richard from HighDefinitionBlog.com do not get confused. As far as 1080i goes, “progressively” speaking it is 540p or 1920x540 which is in controversy with the first statement of having at least 720 progressive lines.

One thing that was also missed by the crowd is that the CE document speaks about HD Television and not the HD format. Television can have native resolution less than that of the signal type but still be able to display said resolution by scaling the image down and be called an HDTV and not be punished by class actions. When a format is defined by an authority, there is no mention of it being a high definition or not. In fact high definition is not a technical term – it is for marketing only. Same is with so called Full HD, a marketing name for 1080p video format (1920x1080) that is getting wider popularity as 1080p sets hit the market.


Posted by Mike at 1:29 PM
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Sunday, March 05, 2006

byd:sign 1080p 42 inch LCD TV

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byd:sign is known for delivering products much cheaper than the market. So it is no surprise to see a 42 inch 1080p LCD set for just €€1840 - thats about freakin' $2,220. According to Diamou of AkihabaraNews.com it is less than its competitor from Sharp Aquos line by €290 ( thats $350 ). And now lets get down to specs: 1000:1 contrast ratio, brightness - 600cd/m2, 8ms response time, tuner. Inputs include composite, s-video, component, D4, and HDMI/HDCP and with capability of displaying signals up to 1080p on HDMI and component inputs. Power consumption is 300W, a bit more that from a 42-incher, but since it power more pixels, it is expected. And yes, do not expect one of these at BestBuy - this is for Japanese folks only.

Source: AkihabaraNews.com
Product Page: d:4242GJ [Google translated from Japanese]

Posted by Mike at 10:09 PM
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

DWIN TransVision 4 Review

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Here comes a review from a big house. DWIN is my favorite display company and I do not hide it. And there is a reason for that. In my opinion, DWIN's video processing surpasses anything else in the market. I would not trade any incarnation of DWIN video processors with Faroudja, DVDO or Silicon Optix. Reasons are simple - perfect picture quality, easy of installation due to the separation of the processor and the projector ( or plasma display if you wish ), easy of use as far as controls are concerned. I have seen few versions of TransVision during last 5 years and have had a chance to set it on a bench with other projectors from Sharp, InFocus, Yamaha. My only reason was to see the same paused video frame on all of them at the same time and compare. While other projectors are very good, there are so many little points that DWIN takes the winning position. For example colors. In Fred Manteghian's review of TV4 he mentions that colors are just perfect out of the box even without 6500K calibration. I am in total agreement with it. My own experience is that DWIN's colors are more natural than other projectors on the bench. The colors usually compared are red, black, and white. So I have chosen a frame from Austin Powers movie where Mike Myers had a red jacket on and, as you know there is a rainbow of colors everywhere in the movie including whites and blacks. All projectors except DWIN had moire showing on his red jacket and red was a more or less on a pale blackish side ( note that all projectors except TV4 were color corrected ).
I can go on and on about TV4, TV3 but that's for another time. I will be getting one of these sometimes soon and will do a down to earth review with pictures.
For now, let Fred from Guide to Home Theater show you the beauty of DWIN TransVision 4 projector. According to him DWIN's CarlZeiss lens is one of the best outputting the sharpest image he has seen in his house but is not excited about the lack of vertical or horizontal shift. I agree with him. TV3 had a very wide vertical shift giving the installer a lot of flexibility, whereas TV4 is missing it. Fred also mentions how bright is TV4. Sometimes it is too bright and needs adjustment for football watching since white scenes lose detail. But there is a solution for that: DWIN TransVision 4 sports separate memory for each input and video signal ( something Fred have missed to notice ) for all adjustments, including contrast, brightness, picture size and position, custom ratios. Speaking of custom ratios: I have never seen any other projector to feature similar option. Custom ratio basically will shrink or zoom the picture horizontally or vertically to match any inconsistencies in the source. You know, those DVD players that sometimes are off the standard and leave thick lines on the edges. You can adjust those with custom ratio and image size/position settings. And all those settings will be saved in memory for each video signal and input separately. That means if, say, 480p signal will have its own settings on DVI 1 input and 1080i will have its own memory share on the same DVI 1. Very handy especially with some satellite receiver models that automatically switch from 480p to 1080i and back. Imagine how the colors, brightness, and contrast would suffer when you have the same adjustment for all video types.
So, in conclusion, Fred calls it a DWINNER! and says:

But I live in the present and the DWIN joins some of the best looking DLP front projectors out there today, but with the added convenience of a powerful external video processor. The day after I watched the SuperBowl on the DWIN I had to box it up for the return trip to California. Will I miss it? Like a favorite arm. Highly recommended.

Very highly recommended, if you ask me.

Product Page: DWIN TransVision4
Related Stories: DWIN DuoVision System
Source: GuideToHomeTheater.com

Posted by Mike at 12:29 PM
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Grado RS-1 Headphones Review

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Funny, but Stereophile republished 1996 review of Grado RS-1 headphones. It is even funnier that the review is still valid. Could you do that with a PC? So is it sad that what was great in 1996 is still one of the greatest 10 years later? Or it is that Grado RS-1 headphones are just timeless masterpieces?

Read and decide for yourself ...

Posted by Mike at 11:31 PM
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Denon AVR-4306 A/V Receiver Review

This site has moved to AVReport.com

CNET reviews Denon AVR-4306 A/V receiver with a score 9 out of 10. This proves another time that at $1999 AVR4306 is one of the best av receivers. However, I have one thing to gripe about - CNET says that it's cons is unsupported HD-DVD or Blu-Ray formats. Come on guys, this receiver was introduced last summer when HD-DVD and Blu-Ray were in the midst of the hot war. If not the hype, I bet this receiver would get full 10 points.
[Update]. There is a review from a user on the CNET web site that points out that iPod control is sluggish. I hope it is not true.

Read the full review

Posted by Mike at 11:10 PM
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Olive Opus Music Server

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Olive Opus sports lossless audio playback, 400GB hard disk ( stores about 500 CDs in lossless format), wireless and wired connectivity for streaming, and can transfer tunes to an iPod of yours. Besides, it features Burr-Brown 24-bit/192Khz dual for each channel DACs and is claimed to upsample all of the music to 352.8 kHz to produce true losseless audio with no noise. Everything, except the last statement is impressive. The last statement is not really clear: if I have a some low quality samples - will your upsampling make me hear more. The answer is no. I'll leave it to your judgemenet to decide what it means to upsample to 352.8. Opus features a CD burner and can play back following formats: MP3 AIFF, PCM, WAV, OGG/Vorbis, FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), AAC (MPEG4). All this goodness is priced at $3000 and Olive will put a lots of public domain classical music on it and even will rip your CD's for you.

Source: Engadget

Posted by Mike at 10:39 PM
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Philips Blu-Ray - BD9000 and TripleWriter

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Philips announces its "plans intro of Blu-ray Disc products and media the ultimate consumer storage platform for high definition entertainment". Among announced products are BDP9000 home entertainment player and TripleWriter SPD7000 - all-in-one PC writer for burning CD's DVD's and BD's. The company also will manufacture single (25GB) and double(50GB) layer BD-R and BD-RE Blu-Ray discs. Both Blu-Ray devices will be available in US in the second half of 2006. No pricing at the moment.

Source: Philips

Posted by Mike at 10:24 PM
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REGZA - New Brand for Toshiba Flat Panels

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Regza is the new branding that supposedly will reinforce Toshiba's global presence in flat panel TV market. The first REGZA species will hit the market on March 1st in Japan and will be followed up in North America, Europe, China and other Asian countries.
Here is how Toshiba explains the word REGZA:
"REGZA" was coined from the literary German word "regsam" and connotes vibrant, dynamic qualities; it also captures Toshiba's intent of "Real Expression Guaranteed by amaZing Architecture," the superlative picture quality Toshiba achieves with its advanced expertise. Until now, Toshiba has used different brand names in marketing TVs in different regions, and "REGZA" is the first unified global brand for Toshiba's TVs.
New TVs will feature minimal clean design in black colors.

Posted by Mike at 10:11 PM
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Denon AVC-2920 7-channel AV Receiver

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Denon AVC-2920 is a new midrange AV receiver that sports 1080p pass-through via HDMI v1.1 interface. It also features acclaimed Audyssey EQ XT for automatic room correction with included microphone. All 7 channels boast 110 W into 8 Ohm with THD of 0.05%. Analog video over component inputs can be converted to 480p on HDMI output. Audio encodings AVC2920 supports are DTS-ES - DTS96/24 - DTS Neo:6 - DTS - Dolby Digital EX - Dolby Digital - Dolby Pro Logic IIx - AAC.
In short, AVC2920 is not very impressive with an €800 ( about$950 ) price tag. Just the fact that it features HDMI and 1080p pass-through is not enough to convince me to shell out $950. However, room correction is a worthy feature.

Source: Denon Japan

Posted by Mike at 9:42 PM
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