I know what you’re thinking. Is that glass half empty or half full? Is it water or whiskey? Ok, that’s a trick question- the answer is obviously dependent on the answer to the first question. And what has the proverbial glass on my mind is CES 2009. I’m here in Vegas and the mood is indeed as subdued as many expected. So far it’s like low season at the hotels here. So, is our perspective on this glass half full? Or is it now a question empty or emptier? Where’s the news?
Month in and month out I receive letters from readers about pricing on Blu-ray, and noting that the public won’t buy in until Blu-ray is cheaper. What the public at large will or won’t buy into isn’t quite the same thing as what Home Theater readers will buy and for how much. For you, as a Home Theater reader, how cheap is cheap enough? Cheaper than an iPhone or an iPod? Walking through Costco the other day I saw every day pricing on players that was well below $299, and I’m sure we’ll see cheaper prices around the holidays. But realistically, is Blu-ray cheap enough to make it down your chimney this year? Was there ever a case to make that Blu-ray was genuinely “expensive” to begin with?
After many months and much gnashing of teeth online and print, Home Theater's ratings are in fact returning starting to product reviews with the January issue being assembled now. The ratings are not only coming back, we think the more streamlined version we've come up with is actually better than what we had before.
When we first reviewed Anthem’s Statement D2 in the December 2006 issue, HDMI switching was just emerging. But it wasn’t as crucial as it is today, now that next-gen audio and video applications are firmly established. There’s a story to be told in how the Statement D2 increased its utility in the connectivity tumult of these last two years. And there’s another story in its ability to stand tall even now, as onboard decoding of the advanced audio formats is now emerging in AVRs and pre/pros. The Statement D2 has adapted to the evolving standards and features that HDMI carries. Now at $7,499, the Statement D2 offers an advanced auto-setup and room-calibration system that furthers its value. It’s worth a fresh look.
I admit I’m surprised by the controversy caused by removing the product review ratings. Most who’ve written want the ratings back and accuse HT of running scared from advertisers/manufacturers. I want to set the record straight, elaborate on the reasons we eliminated the ratings, and engage in some meaningful debate about them. I also want to note that while the ratings in their original format will never return, I’m not totally opposed to a revamped system if you readers still think it’s necessary. There are some features coming up that I think will make you miss the ratings less, and I’ll explain those below.
Last Friday Senior Editor Tom Norton and I were treated to an up close look at Panasonic's new DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Disc player at Panasonic's Hollywood Lab facility. And I'm thrilled to report, at long last, that there's a standalone player that can be recommended without any significant functional caveats.
I was strolling through Costco the other day, looking to buy 55 gallons of something I don't need but can't resist at the price, when I saw this flier attached to all the store's HDTVs (forgive on the photo quality- I was shopping and had to use my iPhone's camera).
Sony’s gaming console still the Blu-ray player to beat.
[Update: The best just keeps getting better. Sony has announced at long last that a firmware update available April 15th will allow the mighty PS3 to decode lossless DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-HD High Resolution, a lossy, higher bitrate version of its codec. This was the last technological hurdle for Sony's mighty gaming console. For those with HDMI switching and an AVR or pre-pro that can process multichannel PCM the PS3 is unequivocally the Blu-ray player to beat. It's not only the fastest and most reliable BD player, it's the cheapest and most advanced. Look to this space for an update to this review once I've had a chance to experience DTS-HD MA and BD-Live. -SCB]
In the quest for deeper blacks and ever better contrast-ratio specs, dynamic irises that close down and open up the projector's light output automatically depending on the program material are all the rage. But there's no free lunch here. While the best auto-iris designs deepen blacks and increase contrast and are invisible in operation, there are inevitable issues with the varying black levels and brightness compression involved in this sleight of hand.