In May of 2009, Home Theater ran an article titled “BD-Live in Action” with an overview of the Internet features available on Blu-ray. Even though that piece was written a good three years into the high-def format’s life, the BD-Live aspect was still very much in its formative stages. Many of the Internet features available at that time were gimmicks or filler material. Few could be classified as essential to the experience of owning a Blu-ray Disc. The article concluded with the statement, “We’ve only started to see the building blocks of BD-Live’s potential. Now is the time for a true innovator to step in and show us what it can do.”
The big news in 2006 has been the emergence of two new high-def DVD formats—Blu-ray and HD DVD. With greater storage capacity than a traditional DVD, we can now get higher-quality audio and video on the small screen. Depending on the compression used, each release can contain a whole slew of extras—or you can fit entire seasons of television shows, in SD, on one disc. Now, with the introduction of some internal drives for the home computer, you can back up vast amounts of information with a single disc. My personal iTunes music library, which contains the majority of my CDs, encoded as AAC files at 192 kilobits per second (stereo), could almost all fit on one Blu-ray disc. That's three-and-a-half months of continuous music. Add the ability to play Blu-ray titles, and it's the perfect time to move that home computer into the home theater for some high-def goodness. Before you get too excited and run out to buy a new drive, there are a few things that you need to consider first.
Wireless transmission of data may look like the wave of the future, but it's a lot further along in the computer world than in the traditional AV environment. Yes, manufacturers are undoubtedly burning the midnight oil in hopes of becoming the first to develop a wireless standard for high quality transmission of audio and video programming inside the home. But for now, good old hard wiring is the only way to go.
There’s more that goes into making a good display than accurate color, but it’s certainly one of the biggies. Color in a video display may seem like a relatively simple subject, but it’s not. In this Gear Works, I’ll outline the two most important factors in assessing and measuring the color accuracy of the HDTVs we review—color tracking and color gamut. I’ll also show you how we present this in the HT Labs Measures graphics that accompany our reviews. This article will shed some light on what these important measurements tell us about the color accuracy of the displays we test here at Home Theater.
DVD-Audio: The long and winding road to the future of music?
DVD is a hit. Lauded as the most successful format launch since—well, I guess nothing has had this overwhelming level of acceptance in a long, long time. I wish I could say the same about DVD's younger sibling, DVD-Audio. Introduced three years ago, it's just now starting to gather some momentum. On the hardware side, DVD-Audio offerings run the gamut from saucy little $200 players to budget-busting state-of-the-art machines. New DVD-Audio titles are still just trickling out, but even a cursory glance at a typical disc's fairly lengthy production credits might explain the relative paucity of releases. I counted 13 DVD-Audio-related producers, engineers, and mixers on R.E.M.'s Reveal disc and a crew of 21 on Queen's epic A Night at the Opera. Releasing a DVD-Audio reissue or brand-new title is a labor-intensive effort.
If it gets your signal in or out, it's probably here.
Talking about connections isn't very exciting. Cables themselves are about as sexy as hair clippings. Both are crucial, though, in getting the best-quality signal from your source components to your playback components. (This doesn't include hair clippings). So, here is a list of all the connections you're likely to come across and how they do what they do. They're also arranged in order from worst to best. Keep in mind that, in some cases, the connector and the signal share the same name; in others, the connector isn't exclusively associated with a particular type of signal.
Now that you've bought an HDTV, make sure you hook it up correctly.
Ah, the golden age of television. The only thing I loved more than Lucy was the solitary input on the back of my TV. It was a simpler time. Now we must choose between 300 channels and only slightly fewer inputs. Add HDTV to the mix, with all of its inherent confusion, and it's a recipe for connection disaster.
You're a newbie to this audio game, and are just putting together your first home theater. Or perhaps you're making your first major upgrade. You're pouring over the spec sheets, looking for the best AV receiver for the cheapest price.
Digital media streaming has exploded in recent years. It’s everywhere—from sharing digital photos (does anyone print photos anymore?), to streaming a missed TV show on Hulu Plus, to watching high-definition movies on Vudu. Internet and router speeds have increased to accommodate streaming high-quality audio and video. Find out what DLNA certification means and why it's important.
The struggle continues: single versus dual speakers; dipoles versus monopoles.
Lightsabers swirl all around, machines explode to the side, and lasers come from directly behind you. If you saw The Phantom Menace in a Dolby Digital Surround EX-equipped theater, you heard one of the more spatially realistic soundtracks recorded to date. Now, that same technology has entered the home market under the moniker THX Surround EX (non-THX-certified products might refer to a similar process as 6.1), and a familiar question returns to haunt us: Should you use dipole or monopole (also known as direct-radiating) loudspeakers for the back channel? This time around, the question comes with a new twist: Should you use one or two speakers for this channel? Willing to conquer any challenge and answer any question, we at Home Theater took it upon ourselves to test various speaker configurations. After describing the process itself and the advantages and disadvantages of dipole and monopole speakers, we'll let you know what our panel of judges thought of the various options.
Nestled deep within the corridors of the sprawling NIST (the National Institute of Standards) campus lives the Flat Panel Display Lab. This special facility is dedicated to the development and implementation of metrology, or the measuring methodology, for flat-panel displays. Founded in 1992 and located in Boulder, Colorado, the lab's scientists have created a comprehensive and robust set of measurement methods for accurately evaluating the quality and accuracy of displays.
An important feature of HDMI is its ability to carry both video and audio. If it passes this information in bitstream form, the receiver or pre-pro, rather than the player, decodes the various versions of Dolby Digital and DTS.
Two (And A Half) Basic Flavors
I'd love to regale you all with stories of the CRT front projectors of yesteryear. These beasts were bigger than a VW, but cost a lot more. But that's not why I'm here. Thanks to the digital revolution, high quality front projection is now as affordable as premium rear projection TV in many cases, and less expensive than many premium flat screens.
In a grand-scale, universal sort of way, January 1st means nothing. We ugly bags of mostly water view the start of each year as a new beginning. To some, it's in a Neil Finn "I'm not the old girl, I'm someone new" kind of way. To others, it's the first day of many where we promise we'll start that diet tomorrow. To most people, it's a day to nurse hangovers and the start of a month-long repetition of curses as we keep writing 2006 on checks. Let's concentrate on somewhere between the extremes and look at new technology that's coming...someday.