If you're willing to step up around $1,100, your LCD options increase dramatically, with plenty of choices from the big names in the TV business. One such option is Toshiba's $2,600 42LX196. The most obvious feature upgrade is the move from 768p to 1080p, but that's not all this TV brings to the table. It boasts a well-rounded features list to suit a wide variety of setup needs.
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when a 46-inch LCD was a rarity, and a $3,800 asking price a bargain. As prices continue to plunge in this category, a $3,800 46-inch LCD finds itself occupying high-end territory. If a manufacturer wants to compete in this space, they had better be prepared to meet high-end expectations in features, performance, and style. The question before us now is, does Sony's KDL-46XBR2 do just that?
HDMI is a wonderful invention filled with promise. When utilized to its fullest, it can offer the best of both worlds: uncompressed audio and video signals and intelligent, two-way communication over a single cable. Manufacturers have long teased us with talk of complete home theater systems that you can set up using just two or three cables, but the reality has fallen far short of the promise. Most designers have used HDMI only as a top-grade video connector, paying little attention to its audio and communication abilities. Armed with the new HDMI 1.2a spec (the products here were designed and released before 1.3 was finalized), Panasonic is aiming for the ultimate in connection and control with their new EZ Sync HDAVI Control products.
Everyone likes the idea of wholehouse audio. Who doesn't want the ability to access their music library in any room of their home? It's in the implementation that things get tricky. Do you invest a couple of grand in a dedicated audio server for your gear rack, plus amplification and speakers for each room and all that wire you'll have to run through the walls to connect everything? Or do you opt instead for the $150 digital media player that taps into your PC's music library? Of course, you'd need one for each room. . .and several audio systems, too. Oh, and knowledge of home networking is kind of important. For many, neither path is a realistic or desirable option.
As we round the corner toward 2007, the big names in LCD are bringing their next-generation models to market. While some models experiment with new technologies designed to improve LCD performance, all seem to have one thing in common: They cost a lot less than their 2005 predecessors. It's hard to believe that, this time last year, I was reviewing 32-inch HDTVs and HD monitors priced at around $3,500. As I examined the new Samsung 32-inch LN-S3251D, which has a wee-little asking price of $1,800, I couldn't help but wonder which, if any, corners Samsung cut to help that price fall so far and so fast.
Hmm, a medical show featuring a lot of hot, young people...and that guy who played the geek in all of those '80s teen movies like Can't Buy Me Love and Loverboy as the heartthrob surgeon. Count me out. On the surface, Grey's Anatomy didn't seem to bring anything new to the already crowded table of TV medical dramedies. But the show's prime spot after Desperate Housewives on Sunday nights allowed it to occasionally make its presence known on my TV, and I found myself being reluctantly drawn in. The characters are engaging, the cast is talented, and the writing is surprisingly sap free. Now I'm hooked.
With prices falling and interest rising, it must be time to do a Face Off.
LCD is coming into its own as a home theater technology, priming itself to challenge plasma and DLP in the larger screen sizes. Until recently, technology and size limitations have caused us to approach LCD as a second-room technology, but you can't ignore the roar of the masses, who are buying more LCD TVs than ever before, especially in the 32- to 42-inch screen sizes.
Some of you may think that I call the LVM-42w2 a "true HD monitor" because I've finally acquiesced to the HDTV conspiracy theorists who insist that only 1,920-by-1,080 displays like this one should be labeled HDTVs. Don't worry—I plan to support 1080i and 720p a bit longer.
This DVD-Audio has been a long time coming. Many a planned release date came and went before this one finally hit the shelves back in November, but I assure you that it was worth the wait. The high-resolution, multichannel audio soundtrack allows an already great album to realize its full potential.
My love affair with front projection began one fateful day in 2002. My safe, usually reliable RPTV was away at the repair shop, so a coworker innocently introduced me to the PowerLite TW100 from Epson. It didn't take long for this fling to evolve into a full-blown romance. The TW100 fit so easily into my lifestyle. And that picture—it was so detailed, so noise free, and so. . .big.