Wednesday, June 28, 2006

InFocus Play Big IN72 Review

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InFocus Play Big IN72 is an entry level native 480p DLP projector with $999 street price that targets "first time owners". IN72 competes with likes of Sanyo PLV-Z3, and Panasonic PT-AE700 and according to the review can be worthy depending on viewers habits and environment. Namely, if you are a sports fan you should shoot for the DLP in general and IN72 is no exception. Also, IN72 sports more lumens than competitive LCD breeds: ProjectorCentral measured 625 ANSI lumens in high lamp mode vs 300-400 for PLVZ3. If you are a movie buff then Sanyo and Panasonic are better due to the higher resolution ( native 720p ) they offer.

IN72 has a generous list of inputs including DVI and HDMI along with proprietary digital M1 connector.


Read the review at ProjectorCentral.com ...
Infocus Play Big IN72 product page

Posted by Mike at 12:36 PM
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hitachi 55HDX62 Review

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PC Magazine thinks that Hitachi 55HDX62 is a last year winner but is not in par with what is being offered by today's competing products. Here are the highlights:
  • Stylish with black bezel.
  • So-so picture quality with common image artifacts.
  • USB port for picture viewing from an external storage.
  • Optional stand that can swivel horizontally and controlled by the remote control. Wow. I can get really lazy.
  • Includes 2 remotes ( simple and not-so-simple ), IR blasters to control other components.
  • Unimpressive blacks
  • Motion jaggies
I'll stop here. There are too many problems for an MSRP $6999 ( street starts at $4000 ) to justify a purchase.
Source: PCMag.com

Posted by Mike at 11:47 PM
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HD-DVD Blu-Ray Unification?

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Historically opposites in a war often come to a common table to discuss steps forward. Sometimes one of the sides is desperate to wrap the whole thing up and merge with the "enemy" to cut the losses. That is the case with Toshiba. According to recent reports, it is loosing $200 per HD-DVD player and yet to face more problems with the rival Blu-Ray in the upcoming stiff competition.
This could be the very reason the CEO of Toshiba himself came forward stating that the company is not against unification of formats and will work towards it. Does this mean they see a failure or they have a good heart and trying to make it easy on the consumer?
I can only agree with Gordon Kelly of TrustedReviews.com: " I don'’t give a monkey's whether HD-ray is a joyous". As he mentions, same war had happened with DVDs and it did not stop manufacturers to come up with universal players and that is what's going to happen this time.
Lets wait an see.

Read more at TrustedReviews.com ...

Posted by Mike at 11:04 PM
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DIY Home Theater

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DIYNet.com is running a "true" story with pictures on how to convert your basement into a home theater. That is if you got one. Check it out if you are in the planning stage. The article is not to deep but can inspire with ideas.

Posted by Mike at 10:59 PM
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Review

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AV Revolution is the first to thoroughly review Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-Ray player. Here is the scoop of things reviewers felt and discovered:
  • Faster than both Toshiba HD-DVD players but still is slow compared to all other DVD players.
  • 1080p output but reviewer brings up a good point that most people do not have displays that can handle it even if the native resolution is 1080p.
  • No RS232 port - this is a wonder to me as well. RS232 or serial port is defacto standard for controlling electronics equipment for which you have paid more than $500 dollars. From savings point of view there is not much to save in not having a RS-232 connector. I bet the controller inside the player does have a UART port ( that's the same as RS232 ). Matter of cents on this scale of production. As reviewer said - shame on Samsung.
  • Box feels flimsy - the millennium of cheap shiny plastic products. That's what I can say. Saving more money.
  • Not many video titles are released in comparison with HD-DVDs. I'd say give it some time and it will be there. Not a big deal. The big deal is that we will always have movies that are on one format but not the other.
  • Reviewer thinks that BD-P1000, while not perfect, is far better that both models of Toshiba HD-DVD in terms of video quality.
My conclusion - I am waiting for the next generation so all the problems are ironed out. In addition, there are not too many movies. Blockbuster and Netflix have yet to build libraries and I'll wait for them to do so. Then only I will pull my trigger.

Also, there is a comparative review of BD-p1000 with Toshiba HD-A1 at The Man Room site. Check that out as well.

Posted by Mike at 5:01 PM
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Denon S-81 Personal Audio System

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Denon's success with its S line of HTIBs is continued with an addition of S-81 personal audio system. While S-81 shares the familiar design with other S-series, it only supports audio playback. This little system sports MP3s and WMA decoders and can display tags on its display. As with all recent Denon products, S-81 is native with iPod with optional dock. Denon also threw in an AM/FM tuner in case you run out of fresh music.

S-81 comes with two 2-way bass reflex type speakers enclosed in metal powder mix cabinet that has low vibration characteristics. Midrange driver is built on new Denon Dual Layer technology that guarantees precise sound from a driver as little as 12 cm ( 4.73 "). Speakers connect to the main unit with a proprietary jack which means no other speakers will work out of the box with the system. Some hacking will be required if you want to use built-in amplifier with your own set of speakers in case the original pair blows.

Besides speaker outputs, S-81 has 2 stereo inputs, 1 stereo output, an antenna jack, proprietary iPod jack, and digital optical out.

S-81 will be available in Japan at the end of July 2006 for unspecified price.

Press Release - Denon Japan

Posted by Mike at 12:17 PM
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Onkyo TX-SA604 7.1-Channel AV Receiver

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Every month we get a good amount of new AV Receivers. And Onkyo's TX-SA604 7.1 receiver is no surprise. It replaces TX-SA603, a successful prior art that according to Onkyo's word received lots of accolades. Besides the regular AV Receiver stuff, TX-SA604 adds an HDMI output that can fo up to 1080p. It also accepts 1080p on the component input.
The notable highlights of this particular model are:
  • Ability to create surround sound impression with only front speakers with Onkyo's Theater-Dimensional technology.
  • Audyssey2EQ automatic room correction that had received good feedback from the reviews.
  • 7.1 audio inputs for accepting DVD Audio. Reason is DVD Audio is not allowed to be delivered in digital form thus the input. [RIAA crap].
  • Native iPod connectivity with optional DS-A1 dock
Price: 84,000 Yen ( about $731). Available July 29 in Japan.
Source: AkihabaraNews.com
Press release ...

Posted by Mike at 12:00 PM
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Monday, June 19, 2006

Anthem AVM-50 Audio Video Processor

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Anthem released 3 new preamp/processors in their AVM series ( 30/40/50 ). But only AVM-50 (shown) includes a true video processor built on top of Gennum GF9350 VXP Digital Image Processor. While not the best, Gennum is quite a good competitor to the other brands and recently I have seen more companies use it.

All processors support multiple zones at least for audio. AVM40 and AVM50 can also send video to the next room, while AVM50 is claimed to transfer 1080p/60Hz over component.
The AVM40 and AVM50 have 4 HDMI inputs and can convert S-Video and Component to be output on HDMI.

Audio specs are obviously impressive with very low distortions and wide frequency response.

Price is $4699 for AVM50, $3699 for AVM40, and $2999 for AVM30.

Here is a nice comparison chart of all the features of all processors from Anthem [PDF]

Product Page

Posted by Mike at 7:33 PM
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Onkyo HT-S990THX THX Home Theater System

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Onkyo today announced first home theater system that received a THX certification, HT-S990THX. The system consist is 7.1 speakers + the receiver. The formats it understands are Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, and DTS 96/24, Dolby Digital ProLogic IIx, DTS Neo:6, THX Cinema2, THX Music, and THX Games. The system integrates XM Connect and Play port, AM/FM radio, and is compatible with company's DS-A1 iPod dock. System's Neural Surround processing allows it to be compatible with XM's HD 5.1 Surround programming.
Priced at $1099.

Press release ...

Posted by Mike at 2:29 PM
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Meridian's copy of JVC-HD10K

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Just in time for the press release from JVC, Meridian was ready to announce its rebranded copy of the HD-10K D-ILA projectors, D-ILA1080MF1 (flagship) and D-ILA1080MF2 (non-flagship). All of the specs match and there is obviously no price:

Source: HiddenWires UK

Posted by Mike at 2:10 PM
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JVC DLA HD-10K Native 1080p D-ILA Projector

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JVC Japan announced an addition to their D-ILA ( aka LCOS ) line, DLA HD-10K 1080p projector. This is to complement the HD-11K and HD-12K and compete with Sony's VPL-VW100 ( Ruby ). The price is still not determined but it will be in par with Ruby somewhere at $10,000. The older models where priced in the higher range starting at $15,000.

DLA HD-10K outputs mere 600 Lumen with its 200W lamp. However the contrast ratio is at 2500:1. This is to compare with Ruby's 800 Lumen and 15,000:1.

10K comes in two variations, 10KS for standard throw lense ( 100 inch from 3.29~4.64 meters ) and and 10K with long throw ( 100 inch from 4.34~8.30 meters ).

Read the press release at JVC Japan ...

Posted by Mike at 1:54 PM
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Denon DVD-3930 and DVD-2930 Universal Players

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Denon has launched 2 new DVD players - DVD-3930 and DVD-2930 Universal players. Combination of Denon sound quality and HQV powered video ( Realta on 3930 and Reon on 2930 ) promises best-in-class. Both support 1080p output over HDMI which also supports multi-channel audio. Chassis are made of 3 parts to separate circuitry for audio, video and power.
The devices support DVD Audio and Video, MP3, WMA, DivX, SACD. Pretty much universal since these days Universal is something that supports HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. So just lets call it semi-universal. Both will be available in Japan in late July. $1800 for DVD3930 and $1100 for DVD2930.

Read the press release at Denon Japan ...

Posted by Mike at 1:30 PM
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Granite Audio - Literally

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Granite coutertops, granite floors, granite this, and granite that. Has anyone ever thought of making an electronics component made of granite? Sho'nuff - GraniteAudio.com has a full line of pre-amps, amps, and CD players with granite crust. The line is closed with highly polished non-resonant acrylic-granite speakers.
While specifications of the components look just audiophile-right, the only thing that comes to mind "as a buyer" is the look. Basically, they are shooting for not only sonic perfection but for Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF, WAF, ...). Oh, not to forget their cables - they have a bunch for cable-freaks, and no, they aren't covered with granite though it would not be such bad idea. Just kidding.

Posted by Mike at 1:26 PM
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Evergreen Vacuum Tube Speakers

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Want that chocolatey sound with your PC? Evergreen Vacuum Tube M-30(49,800 Yen or $450) and M-20MKIII(39,800 or $360) speakers will do that. As you have guessed, these are active speakers and no amplification is necessary. We cannot barge for the quality but do not let the price fool you - this is made in China [where stuff is cheaper by a magnitude].

Posted by Mike at 12:23 PM
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Toshiba HD-A1 Review Roundup

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Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD playerIt has been less than a month that Toshiba HD-A1, the first HD-DVD player was out. There were reviews posted on some web sites the first day it got on sale. So it is time for us to create a collection of all those reviews and draw our conclusions.
Ben is the the first in the bunch to pull the trigger and buy the HD-A1 but I am not particularly fond of the review he has done. First of all he has not tested it with a front projection system since, in my opinion, most early adopters will be owners of front projectors. Overall, Ben does like the video reproduction of the device on his Mitsubishi WS55813 rear projection but says the difference between HBO-HD and HD-DVD will not be noticeable and can the quality be achieved by any upscaling DVD player. I strongly disagree with his opinion only because of the fact that upscaling cannot ever compare to the native image resolution regardless how bad is the transport.

John gives it 6.7 out of 10 blaming it on lack of 1080p (total agreement), slow start up and loading times. On the good side reviewer mentions the firmware is upgradable which makes me believe that all of the slow start up and load times will be fixed.
Covers deinterlacing capabilites of HD-A1 on component and HDMI set to output 480p. While it was very interesting for me to see the data, most people will be utilizing 1080i and depend on their display device for 1080i to XXX transfer. Reviewer plans a full review in next few weeks which I look forward to read.
Both are very good reviews and cover all the good and bad. I highly recommend taking the time and reading somewhat lengthy articles.

The system is not yet ready for the everyday use due to the delays in start up and loading ( unless you are very calm person, do yoga daily and can contain yourself in any situation). As a source device it is unbeatable by picture quality and this can serve as justification for someone to buy it. I will wait until Blu-Ray is out and compared and first wave of glitches is cleaned up.

UPDATE: Kris Deereing of HomeTheaterHiFi.com has an extensive review of the HD-A1 and some available titles.

Posted by Mike at 2:22 PM
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