A/V VETERAN

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 12, 2018  |  2 comments
I covered the pros and cons of choosing a projector or a flat screen set in a blog late last year. But a new candidate makes it worth a second look. That technology is the short throw projector, currently being heavily promoted by several manufacturers. Many of these devices are still pricey, but a few models that are at least competitive with premium flat screen sets are now available, with more sure to come...
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 29, 2018  |  7 comments
Ah, summer movies. The summer blockbuster tradition is relatively new, but summer moviegoing likely became a big thing when air conditioning was new and “Air Conditioning” on a theater marque guaranteed an audience.

But as I sat in a nearly empty local theater last week watching Avengers: Infinity War (it was a weekday afternoon and the movie had been out for 2 weeks), I wondered if the now ubiquitous Marvel Universe has painted itself into a corner. There are now too many characters to squeeze into a single film, even if some of the lesser lights were sidelined in this one (on holiday, perhaps—after all, only the future of the universe was at stake). So you have a gaggle of actors, each one of which is expecting significant screen time by getting his or her own little slice of the pie. That means a few meaty and/or witty lines for each of them and then off to the next battle. And if there’s one thing this movie isn’t lacking, it’s a next battle. And the next. And the next...

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 15, 2018  |  8 comments
Every year there’s a major high-end audio show in Munich, Germany, held in a large convention-center type facility. By all reports it’s the biggest such event in the world, though it began as a modest hotel show in Frankfurt (also Germany, not Kentucky). I actually attended two of those 80s shows when I was stationed in Germany in the Air Force, an hour’s drive from Frankfurt.

But this isn’t about audio shows, though from what I’ve heard about the Munich event it’s more about viewing than serious auditioning. And since home theater isn’t nearly as significant in Europe as it is in the U.S., Munich is mainly about 2-channel audio. I have no issue with that; I’m a fan myself. But the high-end 2-channel market isn’t doing itself any favors with the current trend toward crazy pricing. While a new, $250,000 pair of monoblock amplifiers from an industry icon may be an outlier, it’s symptomatic...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 24, 2018  |  2 comments
Back in the Jurassic age movie theaters routinely offered double features. That practice has long since disappeared, but you can recreate it by seeing two movies on the same day. It takes some doing to get the schedule right, with perhaps a half hour between the end of the first film and the beginning of the second—just enough time to see a man about a dog. Of course it will cost you for separate tickets, and you’ll want to be sure you can get good seats for both films.

Then there’s the challenge of making a good pairing...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 10, 2018  |  26 comments
The recent departure of Oppo from the new disc player landscape* has produced a flurry of “packaged media is dead” vs. “I want my video discs” chatter on the Web. It has also prompted me to ponder once again both sides of the question.

I don’t believe that Oppo’s decision has much to do with any sign that packaged media is likely to imminently disappear. Check the release schedules shown on a number of disc review sites (such as thedigitalbits.com) and you’ll see that dozens of titles are released each week. Some are new, some are re-releases, and many are unreleased movie titles dumped directly to video...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 27, 2018  |  10 comments
Elsewhere on this site I discuss my experiences at the press events I attended in Los Angeles (LG) and New York (Sony). Between these two events I elected to spend a few extra days in Los Angeles to pay informal visits to two manufacturers and also to check out the latest movies in good movie theaters—including one of the best in the country.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 13, 2018  |  14 comments
Any flat screen TV advertised as 4K will actually display the full 8 million pixels in a 4K (3840 x 2160) source. You can't be certain about how well it will do a wider color gamut or high dynamic range—the other keystones of Ultra HD—but it will put 8 million discrete pixels on the screen. Whether or not the 4K source material is actually true 4K from the camera to your Ultra HD disc is a different issue for another discussion.

But with projectors there are two versions of 4K resolution...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 27, 2018  |  0 comments
No, this not a list of Sci-Fi Movies about Winston Churchill, or Churchill movies with a Sci-Fi twist. I admit that these might make for a high concept movie or two. I'm not attempting to give Hollywood ideas here, but I'm open to a big payday for story credit. After all, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, not to mention Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter were huge hits! We might also enjoy Churchill and His Time Machine, perhaps, or has that already been done—though I don't recall Bill and Ted picking up Churchill along with Lincoln, Socrates (pronounced So-crates for you Philistines) Napoleon, Freud, and others in their time-travelling phone booth.

But enough of that. The first two of my Hidden Treasures are serious films about Winston Churchill, and the other two are light science fiction...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 13, 2018  |  0 comments
At CES 2018 Philips demonstrated its ColorSpark HLD LED (High Lumen Density) technology, which appeared to have the potential to considerably enhance the light output of projectors, among other applications. While we didn't attend their demonstration, several business and research-related companies did, including Insight Media and Display Daily. A link to the latter's article may be found here.

One significant issue is that this lighting technology isn't new...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 30, 2018  |  2 comments
We lost two greats in the field of high-end audio this past year: Arnie Nudell (co-founder of both Infinity Systems and Genesis Advanced Technologies), and Charley Hanson (co-founder of Avalon Acoustics and more recently of Ayre Acoustics). While neither will be as widely known as those whose name is attached to the companies they helped found (Bose, Marantz, Polk, and others) both left a lasting impact on the audio landscape.

But as the old-wives-tale suggests about things hitting in threes, we also lost a third...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 16, 2018  |  1 comments
My trip to CES this year didn’t begin or end well, but was fun in between. On arrival, my bag didn’t make it with me and didn’t show up for 18 hours. My return the flight from Las Vegas was late arriving in Dallas and I missed my connecting flight, resulting in a night layover in Big D, courtesy of American Airlines.

But despite a rainy first two days in Las Vegas, there was much to see...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 19, 2017  |  1 comments
My first color TV, a Zenith (remember them?) was a 19-inch CRT that cost me somewhere around $350 and weighed a ton (or seemed to). Today, the only display devices you’ll find at that size are computer monitors; they’ll cost you considerably less and can be carried around under one arm.

I was reminded of that as I recently visited the TV department in my local Best Buy. Even with Black Friday firmly in the rear-view mirror, there were, quite literally, stacks of boxed TVs filling the aisles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many crowded into one space, perhaps not even at CES. And in an area with a population of roughly 100,000, that’s a lot of TVs to sell. Most of them, even the larger models, were well under $1000, reflecting the modest incomes of a primarily middle-class region.

But new TVs are always a hot item, and this is a prime time of year for TV sales...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 05, 2017  |  5 comments
High Dynamic range, or HDR, is perhaps the most exciting of the trio of improvements that Ultra HD brings to the table, the others being a wider color gamut and higher resolution. The images from a flat screen set pop off the screen in a way that the dimensional but often too dim 3D never could. And you don’t need special glasses to see it.

A flat screen set, capable of peak brightness levels of over 1000 nits (just under 300 foot-lamberts) can make the most of an HDR source. HDR program material is mastered for a peak output of either 1000 nits or 4000 nits, with most of that luminance reserved for bright highlights.

But not all displays can hit 1000 nits...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 21, 2017  |  0 comments
New proposed Energy Star requirements for TVs are designed to insure viewers are aware of which picture modes/settings meet the Energy Star certification. But that's not all...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 07, 2017  |  6 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...

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