A/V VETERAN

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 07, 2017  |  5 comments
A recent survey in the AVS Forum about choosing between a flat screen TV and a projector rang a few bells for me. Having just acquired a 65-inch OLED as my reference display, and having recently completed reviews of three new projectors (with a fourth now underway), it’s not a decision I have to wrestle with. For what I do, I need both. But many of you, at one time or another, may have to choose. And with Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) barreling toward us you can use all the information you can get.

Most will choose the flat screen Ultra HDTV. And they’ll inevitably buy an Ultra HD set rather than 1080p HD because the time’s now long past when you can find a good 65-inch or larger set that isn’t Ultra HD. And for a home theater, where movies are king, a 65-incher is likely what you’re looking for...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 24, 2017  |  8 comments
Every time we get a new video format, studios seem to see it as an excuse to sell their movies all over again to enthusiasts. And we buy them. But is the transition to Ultra HD Blu-ray somehow different?
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 10, 2017  |  2 comments
An unexpected copy of the 4K Ultra HD release of Transformers: The Last Knight flew over my transom last week. This fifth entry may well set a new bar for mindless action punctuated by cringe-worthy humor but it's filled with exceptional eye candy...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 26, 2017  |  3 comments
Last month I blogged about the color gamuts used for Ultra HD. But there’s always more that needs to be said. So with a little repetition here where unavoidable, or as needed to set the stage, let’s dig a bit deeper.

There’s no such thing as a P3 color gamut in the UHD standards, only BT.2020 (also known as Rec.2020). But there is a DCI/P3 color gamut in the video universe (DCI stands for Digital Cinema Initiative), and it’s used in all digitally projected theatrical presentations (which today means virtually all films in theaters).

Because time is money, film studios use the P3 color gamut today on virtually all of their Ultra HD video releases, since video masters in that gamut already exist. And no consumer displays can do significantly better than P3. 

Manufacturers have made much noise about P3, as have we in some cases...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 12, 2017  |  0 comments
CEDIA 2017 was a great place to be if you have a penchant for video projection, especially short-throw projectors.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 22, 2017  |  3 comments
When it comes to Ultra HD, we’ve heard endlessly about three different color gamuts: Rec.709, DCI-P3, and Rec.2020 (also called BT.2020). But exactly what is a color gamut?
Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 08, 2017  |  0 comments
When it comes to shopping for a new television, manufacturers will flood you with a tsunami of glowing prose hyping all of the advantages their sets offer. But these claims can be a puzzle to potential buyers, who understandably haven’t made a study of TV technology. The latter is perhaps most confusing with regard to how a TV produces a visible image; that is, how it lights up the screen. Here are some of the key facts...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 25, 2017  |  9 comments
War is Hell, but it does offer endless opportunities for great (and often not so great) movies. That goes double for WWII. The recently released Dunkirk reminds us vividly of that fact. The reviews have been ecstatic and clearly make it the first film of the year likely to be nominated for Best Picture of 2017, not to mention leaving home theater fans salivating over the release, later this year, of the Blu-ray (and, presumably, the Ultra HD Blu-ray).

While I haven’t yet seen Dunkirk, its release sent me scurrying to my disc collection for other great titles. Some worthy entries aren’t...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 11, 2017  |  3 comments
All of us are familiar with LG’s successful use of OLED technology for flat screen UHDTVs. We also know that Sony is marketing its own OLED sets this year. But Sony buys its OLED panels from LG Display (an independent entity from LG itself, though connected to it in some inscrutable way). In fact, LG Display is currently the only company in the world that manufactures OLED panels for consumer televisions. LG’s arch-rival Samsung is a leader in producing OLEDs for cell phone displays, but a few years back decided against marketing OLED HDTVs, at least for now.

Other companies are also marketing OLED sets, but none of them are currently available in the US. And at present all TV OLED panels come from LG Display. But that doesn’t mean that these sets are identical. Each maker uses its own unique electronics and video processing.

While you can’t yet purchase an OLED display here in the US apart from an LG or Sony, it’s useful to know a little about others offering this technology. The more OLEDs sold worldwide, the more viable the technology will remain and, ultimately, the faster its currently high prices will drop...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 20, 2017  |  1 comments
I haven’t seen the latest Tom Cruise iteration of The Mummy. And with its crushing reviews I doubt that I’ll even invest in the inevitable UHD Blu-ray version that, judging from the current domestic box office returns for the film, should show up on Amazon in about two weeks.

The subject isn’t exactly a treasure trove of classic tropes, but has its fans. The original was, of course, the 1932 Boris Karloff classic (in Hollywood, anything that old is deemed a classic). Three other entries turned up in the ‘40s, followed by 1955’s Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy (the latter is definitely on my Bucket List). There was also a quadrilogy (did I just coin a word?) of Mummy movies in the ‘50s from Britain’s Hammer Films, and several animated versions...

Tom Norton  |  Jun 06, 2017  |  0 comments
Live (well, almost) from the Los Angeles Audio Show
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 16, 2017  |  0 comments
To make sense of some of the complexities of the new Ultra High Definition (UHD—4K or 2160p) high dynamic range (HDR) sets, you have to appreciate some of the simplifications that have long been a part of standard dynamic range (SDR) high definition television.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 02, 2017  |  1 comments
We all have our favorite reference discs—the ones we pull out to show off our system to friends. UHD has now given us a lot to choose from, whether your preference is for action spectaculars or more subtle, thoughtful fare. But there’s now a new king of the home theater hill.

In 2007 the multi-part BBC nature documentary Planet Earth first appeared on broadcast television, and later came out on DVD and Blu-ray. Directed and narrated by British naturalist David Attenborough, it was widely praised (though as I recall the commentary on the US broadcasts substituted actress Sigourney Weaver for Attenborough—a not entirely effective move).

But now we have its 2016 follow-up, Planet Earth II...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 18, 2017  |  3 comments
In two-channel stereo playback, you invariably get the best results with the speakers set up properly—in the same plane and generally between 6- and 10-feet apart. The listening seat is normally at least as far back as the speakers are apart, or somewhat more. They’re set up to fire either straight ahead or toed in—sometimes just a little, sometimes more.

These flexible parameters allow for a wide variation in setups, depending on the speakers themselves, their radiation patterns, the room, the positions of the speakers and the listening seat in the room and, of course, the listener’s preferences. But for a solitary listener there is one fixed goal: the seating position should be dead center between the left and right speakers. This is often referred to as the “money seat,” (ostensibly in honor of the assumed founder of the audio feast). That seat invariably offers the best stereo perspective.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 04, 2017  |  0 comments
In olden times, folks dressed up when they went to the movies. They often did so twice a week since there were no screens in their houses (television or computer) to keep them home. Radio was ubiquitous, but its pictures were hard to see. Those movie visits were almost invariably double features—two for the price of one. Usually, of course, it was a pairing such as an “A” picture like The Fountainhead and a throw-away “B” movie like Ma and Pa Kettle on the Farm.

Ma and Pa Kettle are now on the farm’s back 40, and few B pictures are made today (though some might argue that superhero films are B pictures with A budgets). Today, a visit to the multiplex is a one-shot affair. If two movies are playing that you want to see on the same day, you have to plan carefully to fit them in (and, of course, pay double). You also have to decide which to see first. That’s not a trivial consideration. Recently I was unable combine, on the same day, two movies I wanted to see. But perhaps that was for the best. For those like me, with a wide taste in movies, would you want to view Life (an obvious Alien knock off) before or after Beauty and the Beast?!

But with our home theaters and the selection of discs available we can now create our own double features. They can be related in some way, as in the photo—sometimes they’re sequels, or perhaps they have a common theme, like sports. But it’s more fun to link them up in less obvious or even bizarre ways…

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