Let's talk value. Super-sizing may no longer be en vogue in the fast-food realm, but it's alive and well in the world of home theater. If you're trying to put together a dedicated theater on a budget, remember this simple formula: More screen size for less money means greater value.
The CEA recently conducted a study to figure out how many people will be affected when analog broadcasts are no more. (We're still taking bets as to whether or not that day will ever truly arrive.) Their research determined that about 12 percent of the 285 million TVs in the U.S. receive programming via an over-the-air signal, while 94.4 million TVs are connected to a cable box, satellite receiver, or both.
This is an interesting time for display manufacturers. On the one hand, the HD and flat-panel revolutions have energized the market. People are truly excited to buy TVs again. On the other hand, competition is fierce. It seems like a new TV manufacturer pops up every day to capitalize on the flat-panel frenzy.
Usually, shows that take place in a hospital fall into the hour-long drama category, with a few comedic moments thrown in to dilute the sad stuff. Scrubs has achieved something we haven't seen since M.A.S.H.—it's a hospital-based sitcom that is truly funny, with a few sad moments thrown in to dilute the happy stuff. OK, M.A.S.H. also dealt with war and managed to be funny, so it wins. But Scrubs' excellent melding of bizarre slapstick, wonderfully flawed but lovable characters, and genuine sentiment has made it one of the best sitcoms on TV right now.
Who says you have to sacrifice performance to create a small, affordable speaker system? Not Atlantic Technology. With the new $899–$999 System 920, they set out to prove that we can and should expect more than we're currently getting from most tiny sub/sat and HTIB speakers. I put their claim to the test for this Spotlight review by mating the speakers with Onkyo's brand-new $300 TX-SR503 A/V receiver. Add an inexpensive universal disc player to this combo, and you've got a complete home theater system for about $1,400.
By mere coincidence (or perhaps not), I sat down to review this new hybrid SACD on the rare rainy day in Los Angeles (although not quite as rare this winter). The two were a perfect fit. The Jazz Kamerata has a comfortable warmth about it, inviting you to wrap yourself in it and settle in for a lazy afternoon.
Let's see. The CP 35 features a DVD player, receiver, and 7.1-channel speaker system that arrives packaged in one box. Around these parts, we'd call that a home-theater-in-a-box, but Harman/Kardon has wisely chosen the descriptor "home theater system" instead. I say "wisely" because the HTIB moniker brings with it certain expectations (for better and for worse), and Harman/Kardon doesn't want to confuse us reviewer types by forcing us to realign our expectations when evaluating this system. How thoughtful.
I don't know if I hearted Huckabees, but I liked it an awful lot. It's an odd film (I expect nothing less from David O. Russell, the writer/director of Three Kings and Flirting with Disaster) about an environmental activist (Jason Schwartzman) who hires a pair of existential detectives to help him find meaning in a coincidence that he's experienced. With an incredibly strong cast at his disposal, Russell manages to explore weighty philosophical, political, and social subjects in a way that's both thoroughly relentless and charmingly playful.
Ah, it seems like only yesterday that we reviewed the first DVD player that upconverted the video signal to 720p or 1080i. It was the defining feature in last year's first-generation players. Now, as second-generation models are announced, manufacturers are already asking upconversion to share the spotlight with other features like DVD recording, DVD/VHS combo drives, and high-resolution audio playback. Sony's first entry into the upconverting category is the DVP-NS975V, which adds SACD playback without adding much to the bottom line.
The entrance of computer companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard into the HT space has raised a few eyebrows. Will the computer giants drive home theater prices down into the realm of computer componentry or, instead, drive themselves out of the HT arena?