Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 05, 2017  |  4 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  |  Dec 04, 2017  |  3 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Friendly ergonomics
Slick remote control
Attractive price
Minus
Poor HDR peak luminance
Weak black level and contrast

THE VERDICT
Hisense’s premier 65-inch TV offers a respectable visual experience, solid ergonomics, and surprisingly good sound, but it has a few nagging video shortcomings.

Chinese TV maker Hisense has chosen the designation ULED for their 2017 Ultra HDTVs. Like most other modern sets, however (apart from OLED TVs), these are still LCD sets; the LEDs merely provide the necessary backlighting. While Hisense’s larger TVs (the 75H9D Plus and the flagship 70- and 75-inch H10D models) offer full-array local dimming (FALD), the 65-inch 65H9D Plus reviewed here is LED edge-lit. While for some consumers its $1,599 MSRP makes it look a little expensive, its discounted street price with major online retailers (as of late October) puts it well under $1,500 and makes it price-friendly—especially when compared with the flagship TVs I’ve reviewed recently.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 01, 2017  |  0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
When a new baby arrives at the Templeton house, seven-year-old Tim has his world turned upside down. He’s even more flummoxed when he sees that the baby is wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase, and is here on a mission from BabyCorp, where babies come from. Puppy Co., the company that Tim’s parents work for, is threatening BabyCorp’s only market by producing cute, cuddly, “forever puppies” that threaten to eliminate the human passion for babies.
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 15, 2017  |  1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb resolution in HD and UHD
Effective HDR for a projector
Affordable price
Minus
Poor contrast and black level
HDR color banding

THE VERDICT
If pure picture quality with 1080p standard dynamic range will dominate your viewing there are better options out there at this price and lower. But none of them will do what the Optoma can: accept a 4K input, provide a reasonable facsimile of high dynamic range, and offer picture detail challenged only by native 4K projectors costing many times its price.

Optoma has been in the projector business for years. Go to the company’s website, and you’ll see a bewildering array of models. But the UHD65 is one of the first models to make use of a new 4K DMD (Digital Micromirror Device), the core of Texas Instruments’ Digital Light Processing technology. And along with its sister model, the UHD60, it’s one of the cheapest.

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 13, 2017  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent contrast
Superb color and resolution
Looks good from every angle
Unique panel-based sound system
Minus
No color management system
Some white clipping

THE VERDICT
While it might appear that OLED UHDTVs are popping up everywhere, the most visible supplier to date has been LG. But Sony, by acquiring OLED panels from LG and adding its own electronics, processing, styling, and unique features, has jumped into the fray, landing firmly on both feet with a solid performer.

Sony’s new OLEDs (the 65-incher reviewed here has a 55-inch sibling, and a 77-incher will be available by press time) haven’t yet taken pride of place at the top of Sony’s TV lineup. That honor belongs to the Z9D (Sound & Vision, January 2017 and soundandvision.com), now spruced up with the imminent addition (as I write) of Dolby Vision for 2017. But you might think of the OLEDs as stepping stones to Sony’s future in self-emissive displays—the spectacular, commercially oriented, and wall-sized CLEDIS LED display Sony demonstrated at the 2017 CES comes to mind. But that’s the future. Sony’s OLEDs are now. As of today, Sony’s OLED implementation uses a panel supplied by LG (but with Sony’s own secret processing sauce). At its press-time street price of about $4,000 in the 65-inch version, it was roughly comparable, if not a touch less expensive, than LG’s own like-sized C7P model.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 13, 2017  |  2 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
It’s 1973, and a U.S. survey and mapping expedition, supported by an Army helicopter unit recently released from the wind-down of the Vietnam War, heads toward the previously unexplored Skull Island.

If they’d brushed up on their old movies, they wouldn’t have been gobsmacked, and soon simply smacked, when they spot and engage with a really big ape. Big enough to squish all previous versions of the character under his big toe. Big enough to easily challenge the helicopters and crews. I mean really, really big.

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...

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