OTHER SOURCE COMPONENT REVIEWS

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 |  May 19, 2007  |  0 comments

Although 1080p video has been encoded on every HD DVD disc released so far, the first generation HD DVD players have been "limited" to mere 1080i output. With the second generation this changed, first with the upscale $799 HD-XA2 and now with the HD-A20. At $499 the Toshiba HD-A20 is a mere $100 more than Toshiba's entry-level HD-A2, which maxes out at 1080i. So, the question we're here to answer, is this 1080p player worth that extra hundred bucks?

Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 23, 2007  |  First Published: Mar 23, 2007  |  0 comments
Together again for the first time.

As I unboxed this month's Spotlight System, I flashed on the innovative histories of Marantz and Snell Acoustics. Saul B. Marantz was a bona fide American audio pioneer in the 1950s and 1960s. His company's electronics not only sounded amazing, they were drop-dead gorgeous. Maybe that's why Marantz's early designs regularly sell on eBay for more than their original prices. Peter Snell was one of the brightest speaker designers to emerge in the mid-1970s. Back in the day, I owned a pair of his first speakers, the Type A, and had many conversations with Peter about music. In those simpler times, Saul Marantz and Peter Snell could launch their companies armed with not much more than a driving passion to produce great audio gear—and the inspired engineering to make the dream real. Best of all, both companies still adhere to their founders' perfectionistic traditions.

Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 22, 2007  |  First Published: Feb 22, 2007  |  0 comments
The universe is still expanding.

People seem to love bashing the last great format war—SACD versus DVD-Audio—in which, of course, there was no real winner. My personal opinion has always been a little different. I consider it a unique pleasure to bask in the warm embrace of 5.1 high-resolution channels of some of the best popular music ever. I continue to do this, as I always have, by way of an affordable universal disc player, as one could fairly call it in the days before HD DVD and Blu-ray. I'm glad to see that manufacturers are still supporting the high-resolution audio formats, helping the consumer take advantage of all the great software currently available, much of it heavily discounted in the aftermath of the conflict.

Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 22, 2007  |  First Published: Feb 22, 2007  |  0 comments
Games and movies collide, again, this time in high-def.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD player is targeted specifically at the owners of the Xbox 360 gaming console—or those on the fence about purchasing one. It's an affordable way to bring HD DVD into your existing multimedia system. This small disc spinner will not work by itself; rather, it will only operate in conjunction with one of the two available versions of the Xbox 360, or with a PC (sort of, as you'll see later). It's another box (which will of course take up more space), and it lacks the sleek approach of a single-chassis solution. But the easily replaceable USB cable that connects the HD DVD player to your Xbox does offer a bit of placement freedom. This in turn makes the drive's integrated USB hub potentially more versatile.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Mar 02, 2007  |  0 comments
Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box.

Well, no one saw this coming. We’re not that far into the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray, and LG has come out with the BH100, a player that plays both formats. So, is that it? Format war over? Hardly.

David Vaughn  |  Feb 25, 2007  |  0 comments

The first car I owned was a VW Bug that cost a whopping $500 in 1986. It wasn't the prettiest car on the block, but it got me from Point A to Point B. When Toshiba's first generation HD-A1 HD DVD player arrived on the scene it reminded me an awful lot of that trusty old bug: slow, ugly and clunky, but once the movie started to play, the picture was so outstanding that I could forget it's little quirks. Oh yeah, and it cost a cool $500 as well!

Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 14, 2007  |  0 comments
It’s curious timing for a new PS2 accessory, but this one is a dandy. For those of you who just couldn’t wait for the debut of the PS3, or, more to the point, couldn’t afford to buy one of the scarce wonder boxes off of eBay, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your favorite PlayStation titles in high definition right now, thanks to the Xploder HDTV Player for PlayStation 2 ($40).
 |  Feb 11, 2007  |  0 comments

There's probably a smug look on the face of the cynics among us right now. You know, the types who are so negative about the format war that they're willing to ignore the fact that we not only have high-def on a disc, but we have the best HD we've ever seen and heard, period. And Toshiba, which launched the HD DVD format with two players in Spring of 2006, released its second generation players in December and January, with not even a full year in between the two generations.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jan 26, 2007  |  0 comments
They want to take you higher.

The component that put NAD on the map in the mid 1970s—the 3020 integrated stereo amplifier—didn't look like a giant killer. Finished in an indeterminate shade of grayish-brown and devoid of gee-whiz features, the 3020 nevertheless became one of the best-selling audiophile amplifiers of all time—and not just because it sounded better than anything going for two or three times its humble MSRP. The 3020 had that special something that made it, well, lovable. Over the decades, the engineers squeezed a bit of the 3020's magic into every NAD product, but they've pulled out all the stops with the new Masters Series components. They had to, as the ultimate NADs are competing with the likes of Anthem, Arcam, B&K, and Rotel. They're playing with the big boys now.

 |  Jan 18, 2007  |  First Published: Jan 19, 2007  |  0 comments

  • $1,199
  • Digital Video Output: HDMI
  • Video Upconversion: 720p, 1080i
  • Audio Decoding: DD, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Ins and Outs: HDMI, others TBD
  • Feature Highlights: The world's first Blu-ray/HD DVD combi player, upconverting outputs for standard-def DVDs
Ultimate AV Staff  |  Jan 18, 2007  |  First Published: Jan 19, 2007  |  0 comments

  • $599
  • Digital Video Output: HDMI
  • Video Upconversion: 720p, 1080i
  • Audio Decoding: DD, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, DTS
  • Ins and Outs: HDMI, others TBD
  • Feature Highlights: 2nd gen HD DVD player with 1080p output, full Dolby TrueHD decoding, upconverting HDMI and component outputs for standard-def DVDs
Adrienne Maxwell  |  Nov 21, 2006  |  First Published: Nov 22, 2006  |  0 comments
HDMI: It's not just for video anymore.

HDMI is a wonderful invention filled with promise. When utilized to its fullest, it can offer the best of both worlds: uncompressed audio and video signals and intelligent, two-way communication over a single cable. Manufacturers have long teased us with talk of complete home theater systems that you can set up using just two or three cables, but the reality has fallen far short of the promise. Most designers have used HDMI only as a top-grade video connector, paying little attention to its audio and communication abilities. Armed with the new HDMI 1.2a spec (the products here were designed and released before 1.3 was finalized), Panasonic is aiming for the ultimate in connection and control with their new EZ Sync HDAVI Control products.

Ultimate AV Staff  |  Nov 01, 2006  |  First Published: Nov 02, 2006  |  0 comments


  • $499

  • Digital Video Output: HDMI

  • Video Upconversion: 720p, 1080i

  • Audio Decoding: DD, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, DTS

  • Ins and Outs: HDMI, others TBD

  • Feature Highlights: 2nd gen HD DVD player with full Dolby TrueHD decoding, upconverting HDMI and component outputs for standard-def DVDs


Ultimate AV Staff  |  Nov 01, 2006  |  First Published: Nov 02, 2006  |  0 comments


  • $999

  • Digital Video Output: HDMI (ver. 1.3)

  • Video Upconversion: 720p, 1080i/p

  • Audio Decoding: DD, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, DTS

  • Ins and Outs: HDMI 1.3, others TBD

  • Feature Highlights: HDMI 1.3, 1080p output, full Dolby TrueHD decoding, upconverting HDMI and component outputs for standard-def DVDs


Chris Chiarella  |  Oct 15, 2006  |  0 comments
A set-top convergence device for the common man.

When you're in the market for a convergence product, an important part of the decision-making process is compiling a list of exactly what you want it to do for you. Some of the most popular entertainment applications include DVD/CD playback, TV recording/time-shifting, and an MP3 jukebox. A DVD burner and a video jukebox typically add a level of complexity—and cost. But, if you're looking for an easy-to-use device that won't break the bank, check out LiteOn's latest round of DVD recorders with built-in hard drives.

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