When an older and quite esteemed film expert asked me not long ago what my favorite genre was, I was honestly flummoxed. Pixar isn’t a genre, and I’ve just seen too many lame science-fiction flicks. Looking back over a life of film fandom and the past decade in particular, I finally came up with an eyebrow-raising response: comic book movies.
Someday I'll write a blog headlined Why Surround Receivers Are Cooler Than Ever. But before I get to that one, I'd probably better write one called Getting to Know Your Surround Receiver. Lots of folks dread the whole idea of buying an audio/video receiver because they fear that the getting-to-know-you phase will scar them for life. So here's what to do when you take your new receiver out of the box. This is not a detailed step-by-step guide. You'll have to infer the smaller steps yourself, refer to the manual, or buy a book on the subject (hint hint). But the following may make it a little easier to get started.
FS-7.1 Soundbar Performance Features Ergonomics Value
SB-900-BLK Subwoofer Performance Features Build Quality Value
Price: $1,300 At a Glance: Multichannel speaker reproduces all seven channels • No onboard amplification or processing • Optional subwoofer
Writing about consumer electronics for the past two decades has taught me a few things: Always take good notes, don’t believe everything you read in press releases, and at least try to keep an open mind. Case in point, the soundbar. The very idea of a single box containing the amplification, processing, and all of the loudspeakers necessary to adequately present home theater audio was met with early disdain. But hearing was believing, and now it’s a viable (and thriving) product category.
Then a crate recently arrived containing the Atlantic Technology FS-7.1, a redesigned, upgraded version of the company’s well-regarded FS-7.0 seven-channel home theater soundbar.
NuVo Technologies, a company with roots in the music business that date back to 1924, was onto something when it introduced its first multi-zone home audio system back in 2002. A decade later, the company offers a lineup of wholehouse audio systems designed for professional installation and recently introduced the NuVo Wireless Audio System, its first DIY consumer product.
Just dipping your toes into the home theater waters? Home Theater editor-in-chief Rob Sabin lays out the basics of home theater in plain English in a recent interview on Real Estate Today Radio, the syndicated radio show of the National Association of Realtors. Listen to the segment here.
2D Performance 3D Performance Features Ergonomics Value
Price: $3,000 At A Glance: Superior 2D color and adjustability • Crisp resolution • Outstanding value
Epson is one of the world’s most prolific projector manufacturers, serving both the business and home markets. The company’s current flagship home theater model, the PowerLite Pro Cinema 6020UB, sells for $4,000. But for $2,700, you can buy the PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UB. The latter omits the spare lamp, ceiling mount, additional warranty year, and all-black case that come standard with the 6020UB.
One of silent film’s biggest stars, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), enlists the talents of a down-on-his-luck Hollywood screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) to help edit a screenplay she wrote in hopes of launching her big comeback. Little does Gillis know, the poor lady is off her rocker. But when you’re broke, you have to take work when you can get it. The pair watch her old movies with her trusty butler—who hides his own dirty secret—at the helm of the camera, but the more time Gillis spends with the ex-starlet, the more he becomes accustomed to the lavish lifestyle she provides him.
Moonrise Kingdom is another witty charmer from writer/director Wes Anderson, this time with a bittersweet tinge of youth’s passing in 1965 New England. The protagonists are two troubled 12-year-olds who run away to marry in the wilderness of insular New Penzance Island. Suzy’s parents are miserable, insufferable lawyers (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray). Suzy sees a lot (often through binoculars) and has discovered her mother is having an affair with the island policeman, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis). Sam is an orphan with outstanding wilderness skills, who resigns from his Khaki Scout troop (in writing!) and is not invited back to his foster family if found. His only family is the troop of Khaki Scouts led by the well-meaning but overmatched Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton).