I guess I should welcome you all to my blog. Does anyone actually read these things? I guess I’ll find out. Being the Video Editor, I’ll take this space to babble on about all things video. Certainly hardware will take up a big chunk of blog space, but I’ll also talk about HD program material, video games, and anything else you can put up on a big screen. I’ll try to make this space as informative and fun to read as possible, but seeing as I have a hard enough time being interesting once a month in the magazine, doing it once a week should be. . . well, we shall see.
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, we were introduced to HAL 9000—a plucky computer that likes long walks at night, organization, and things not named Dave. In 2010, we found out that we were going to need a bigger boat and that HAL had a sibling: Bob. Or it may have been Phil. It certainly wasn't Knight Industries Two Thousand. It turns out that four years after and five years before, a middle sibling has been discovered: PJ. (Lame, I know. I'm sorry.)
We frequently get e-mails from readers asking why they should spend big $s on a home theater product when they can get a similar product for much less. Good question! So, this is the first in a series of GearWorks in which we'll discuss that very topic. We'll start with perhaps the easiest component to track: projectors. Where does the money go?
Someone at Sharp noticed a gap. They make all sorts of flat-panel LCD units, from dinner-plate size to plasma size. Then they have two DLP projectors that handle the huge-screen market. (In fact, we gave the XV-Z12000 our Best Overall Projector RAVE Award for last year in our May 2005 issue.) But there's this gap, you see, above 45 inches for flat panels and below 80 or so inches for front projectors. What to do? How about rear projection?
More TV than you can shake a really, really big stick at.
You know what? This is a big TV—deceptively big. The cabinet that surrounds the screen is so thin that, at first glance, the display doesn't appear that large. In our studio, it's sitting next to a 55-inch display that I'm reviewing for an upcoming issue, and it is positively dwarfed by the 70-inch JVC. Compared with a 50-inch plasma, which would be a fair comparison from a price standpoint, the HD-70G886 has nearly twice the overall screen area, and it has almost three times the area of a 42-inch display. Kinda makes you want to second-guess that plasma purchase, doesn't it?
It's no secret that, if you have a new projection display (front or rear), you'll eventually need to replace its light source. Take one look at them, and you'll see that these aren't your ordinary 100-watt bulbs—that, and the fact that these light sources cost hundreds of dollars each.
The 42-inch display size has become a battleground of sorts between liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and plasma displays. Ironically, the older technology, LCD, is the relative newcomer here. Prices on both sides have dropped quickly. You can now buy an HDTV (qualified by both resolution and the integration of a tuner) for just a little more than the price of an EDTV just over a year ago. LG Electronics is one of the only companies with their feet on both sides of this issue (the other biggie being their across-the-Han rival, Samsung). LG also makes an LCD in a 42-inch size, which is rather rare. Most are either smaller or slightly larger. There are lots of questions and misinformation about these technologies, so hopefully we can clear a lot of that up. This isn't a true head-to-head Face Off; let me tell you why.
In my GearWorks column in our January 2005 issue, I talked about how, depending on your viewing distance, the resolution of your display may not matter. To sum up, your eye has a finite resolution (like a digital camera), and, as objects get smaller with distance, there is a point where your eye can no longer distinguish between bigger and smaller pixels. Over long distances, this is obvious, but it surprised a lot of people that it could be so noticeable in shorter (in-room) distances.
I am a big Get Shorty fan. The dialogue, the acting, and the plot all just exude a coolness that is never struggled for, just achieved. The thought of a sequel seemed a little odd, but knowing that it is based on the Elmore Leonard sequel novel, I had high hopes. The end result was admittedly funny but nowhere near the quality of the original. The story takes place a few years after Get Shorty, and Chili Palmer is deciding to get out of the movie business. After a friend gets murdered, he decides to get into the music business instead. Far too many jokes are rehashed, but that in itself isn't the problem. Whereas the original was an effortless cool, this movie tries too hard to be cool—and rarely succeeds. Far too much time is spent on the (admittedly excellent) secondary characters, with Chili himself just kind of showing up to drive the plot along. The effect, though, highlights two of the best aspects of this movie: the Rock and André 3000. These two absolutely steal the movie, and this disc is worth a rental just for them. There are many musician cameos, but, unlike in Get Shorty, where actor cameos are natural (as in, they can act), the musician cameos are often awkward and distracting.