I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I would say I am fairly knowledgeable in the workings of consumer electronics gear and computers. I took several film and video classes in college, and even interned at a video production house. I would consider myself qualified to work a video camera, and a computer. Then why in all things holy CAN'T I GET THIS THING TO WORK?
Tips and tricks for making your system tweakin’ awesome.
Unless you have really expensive tastes, it’s easy to see how spending several thousand dollars on your home theater system can make some very noticeable improvements. That kind of cash could buy a bigger TV, a larger projection screen, a brighter projector, a beefier amp, or a stouter subwoofer. Any of these would put some extra kick in an already kick-butt system. But maybe—like me—you don’t have piles of cash sitting around begging to be stuffed into a store’s cash register. Perhaps you just bought your first HTIB, recently added to your existing system, or (again, like me) you’re simply a classic cheapskate. Whichever it is, let’s say you’ve maxed out your A/V budget for the year. Now what?
General and Practical Rules Of Screen Size
The original rules of thumb on screen size were concocted during the era of CRTs and scan lines and have been massaged somewhat since, and will be massaged further in this era of 1080p.
You want the big-screen experience. You want to be immersed in the image. Ten feet wide at least, maybe 12. You've chosen the projector—a home model that's been getting great reviews. Obviously, you need a screen.
This year's TVs are incorporating ease-of-use features.
While I love the amazing picture on my flat-screen HDTV, there are times when I find myself nostalgic for the days when all you had to do to watch TV was pull on a power button, turn the channel dial, and adjust the rabbit ears. It's bad enough that we home theater enthusiasts struggle to decipher menus and muck about a 75-button remote control, but it's our loved ones who curse us when they can't figure out how to use the TV. Manufacturers and retailers have been talking about simplicity in home theater for the past few years. Well, 2007 is the year that easier menus, setup, and remotes have been incorporated into some HDTVs. Some companies have been quietly working toward ease of use; others, like Philips, have made the pursuit a brand tag line: "sense and simplicity." Perhaps you can finally relinquish your remote to your nervous spouse.
As I'm sure you've noticed by now, nearly every piece of electronic equipment you own creates heat. Some, like projectors, create a lot. Others, like DVD players, don't create very much at all. Depending on how you have your gear set up, though, any heat can create a problem. What's worse, you may not even know there's a problem until it's too late. There are solutions, though, and they vary depending on how you store your gear.
I think it’s safe to say that Blu-ray’s early adopter period is finally over. The high-def video disc will celebrate its fourth anniversary on the market in June. Although it hasn’t caught up to DVD yet, the format has grown tremendously. It’s now firmly entrenched in the mainstream. Like many others, you may have waited for the product to work out its kinks before you joined the Blu-ray revolution. Now is a great time to hop aboard. Aside from the obvious benefits of high-definition video and lossless audio, Blu-ray also offers a host of interactive features that distinguish it from DVD and (hopefully) improve the user experience. The following primer will provide an overview of these features and how they work.
Several years ago, I set up my current home theater room. While it wasn’t scheduled to be equipped with multitiered stadium seating, faux Art Deco design, or a popcorn machine, I did have the luxury of setting it up strictly for movie and music listening. It didn’t need to be compromised to serve any other purpose.
Several years ago I was just setting up my current home theater room. While it was not scheduled to be equipped with multi-tiered stadium seating, faux art deco design, and a popcorn machine, I did have the luxury of setting it up strictly for movie and music listening. It didn't need to be compromised to serve any other purpose.
Streaming video has gone mainstream. Are you ready?
Once upon a time, outside factors controlled when and where you could watch a TV show or feature film. Over the past 35 years, that’s evolved dramatically. The revolution began with the introduction of the VCR in 1976. Its ability to record and archive broadcast TV shows and movies on magnetic tape burst open the floodgates for entertainment in the home. Other formats followed, all the way up to our present-day high-density Blu-ray Discs. One thing they’ve all had in common, though, is their physical nature. That’s all changing now. Like it or not, we’re entering a transition phase from physical media to streaming and the cloud. Looks like a revolution all over again.
To test your display's performance, you'll need not only specialized test generators and measurement devices, but also actual video material. After all, just because a display measures well doesn't mean it's anything you want to look at. For that matter, there are no objective measurements for things like scaling and deinterlacing. For consistency, we try to use the same or similar test DVDs (and now HD DVDs) for our testing in each display review and in our video Face Offs. If you want to see how your TV stacks up—or you wonder what we're talking about every month—here are most of the test discs we use and why we use them.