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Recent Home Theater Editorials

Home Health & Audio Unite at CEDIA 2011

Home Health & Audio Unite at CEDIA 2011

The health and CE markets appear to be merging from what we observed at CEDIA 2011. New sorts of products were born. Future Automation, for example, is the market leader in flat screen mounting solutions and high-tech automation devices. They devised a way for people that are bed-bound to still enjoy their TV without having to travel to their family room or reach for their TV remote at their desk. A company called Presto aims at convenience and ease of use to assist the disabled in staying in touch via wireless email and printing, all without the need of a computer. Take into consideration that a lot of these systems do require a monthly service fee, but that’s a small price to pay for its service and maintenance and enhancement of our lives and security.

The health and CE markets appear to be merging. From under the bed TV mounts with automation, to computerless & wireless email and printing, disabled consumers are covered.

— October 14, 2011 21:45 in Editorials

AV Rant Podcast #251: Umbrage

AV Rant Podcast #251: Umbrage

Liz names her first podcast... and we note the deplorable lack of innuendo. Oh well, she's still learning. If you haven't already, please check out Tom's Master of Macabre story entitled "Fresh Air" and vote here. This week, Tom and Liz are still in need of a Netflix segment song but that doesn’t mean they don't talk about Netflix and their new Dreamworks Animation deal. Clint has an experience on a plane that leads Liz to ask a question about SPL and hearing damage. Liz's Koss Pro4AA Headphones are back (link to the new model, Liz's are vintage) which leads to a discussion of listening tests. Tom tackles a few listener questions, rants a bit on Bose and Atlantic Technology, and Liz sends out an Amazon warning that is completely lost on Tom. Will people cutting the cable finally bring about TV a la carte? Tom doesn't think so. This week's Soup to Nuts is on how to get the Internet into your home theater.

Liz names her first podcast... and we note the deplorable lack of innuendo. Oh well, she's still learning. If you haven't already, please check out Tom's Master of Macabre story entitled "Fresh Air".

— September 30, 2011 10:05 in Editorials

Steve Wilson "Grace for Drowning" Blu-ray 5.1 Music Release

Steve Wilson "Grace for Drowning" Blu-ray 5.1 Music Release

Steve Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) is set to release ‘Grace For Drowning’ on September 27th, 2011. This album represents a milestone in audio fidelity as the first-ever new rock album released primarily as a Blu-Ray video disc, with high definition music in 5.1 surround sound and accompanying video content for every song. The video content includes music videos starring Wilson (he’s only appeared in two previous music videos) as well as excerpts from the recording, mixing, and mastering sessions, presented in interactive formats that bring fans closer than ever to the production process. If you are a fan of progressive rock or genuinely good music in general, you owe it to yourself to pick up "Grace for Drowning" in any of the formats it will be offered in.

Steve Wilson releases "Grace for Drowning" on Blu-ray in 5.1 HD surround sound with video content for every song. If you are a fan of progressive rock or great music in general, check it out!

— September 22, 2011 15:50 in Editorials

Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray Review

Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray Review

When the release of Star Wars was finally announced as heading to the Blu-ray format, it was met with much trepidation from fans. Fear and rumor spread across the Internet as to what new and dire bastardizations Lucas would perpetrate upon our beloved childhood memories. But having spent a weekend watching Star Wars on Blu-ray along with loads of special features, I am happy to report that the film has never looked or sounded so good – of course there are a few new edits, but fortunately for us they’re subtle and minimal. Give George Lucas credit... what frustrates us about what he’s done to Star Wars is exactly what makes the series’ arrival to the pinnacle of home video technology something truly special.

When the release of Star Wars was finally announced as heading to the Blu-ray format, it was met with much trepidation from fans. Fear and rumor spread across the Internet

— September 21, 2011 05:15 in Editorials

CEDIA & Consumer A/V: The Minority Report

CEDIA & Consumer A/V: The Minority Report

This year, like many others, the Audioholics Team embarked on its trail to CEDIA at Indianapolis. The focus of my CE research and technology would make a drift towards usefulness and practicality, but never excluding the high fidelity arena. Not many women could say this, or so the populous says. According to research, 50-63% of women have the final say and power for purchase, but for some reason they are not engaged like men in consumer electronics. The A/V market is like a rough diamond” that needs to be properly “cut” and “packaged” and “presented” to the buyer in a more emotional fashion that makes it hard to walk away. Check out my take on the CEDIA show which includes some of the highlighted products that really stood out and connected with me.

According to research, up to 63% of women have the final say so in A/V related product purchases. The industry needs to address this and better market its need in our daily lifestyles.

— September 19, 2011 14:08 in Editorials

CEDIA Expo 2011: Energetic and Hopeful

CEDIA Expo 2011: Energetic and Hopeful

I can't explain why, but this year's CEDIA could be best described as energetic and hopeful. While the economy hasn't fully recovered, and this wasn't the busiest CEDIA in recent years, there was something in the floor that could almost be felt. People were generally happy to be there and were really enjoying each other. Maybe it was the shared camaraderie of having survived the bulk of the recession. I mean, everyone who was there was limping along - at least - or excelling despite the downturn - at best. And some companies were not there. While this didn't necessarily place them in the "we closed our doors" category, there was a definite feel of shared accomplishment by those who attended. And as for attendance, there were over 17,500 dealers, manufacturers and other professionals at the show, not counting 444 exhibitors from over 70 different countries.

I can't explain why, but this year's 2011 CEDIA could be best described as energetic and hopeful. While the economy hasn't fully recovered, there was a sense that "we are all in this together".

— September 14, 2011 09:25 in Editorials

Indianapolis Meets CEDIA 2011 and Goes Green

Indianapolis Meets CEDIA 2011 and Goes Green

CEDIA is a show that encompasses not only the mere commercial territories of AV, but also the newest technologies in the fields of health and home integration. CEDIA takes on leaps and challenges to be the number one force to stand behind it all. This year is not an exception and barriers will be broken, not only in the AV arena but in the hosting city itself. See how Indianapolis and CEDIA "Green Up" and find out what new technologies are available right now. Get to see firsthand what the human engineering can do in solving relevant issues in our everyday life. Let’s bring viable home technology to our homes today.

See how Indianapolis and CEDIA "Green up" and find out what new technologies are available in health and home for A/V and beyond.

— August 26, 2011 15:59 in Editorials

Best Buy Sells Its Soul with Rent-A-Center Kiosks?

Best Buy Sells Its Soul with Rent-A-Center Kiosks?

I've been a big proponent of budgeting for years - and that includes spending within your means. If only the federal government were so restrained. In any case, there are natural resistors in place that hold back people from doing things they really shouldn't be doing - like getting that additional credit card when their credit score is already in the hole - or buying a house that's too much mortgage for them. When you take away those natural constraints built into the financial system you end up with a real mess - like the one we're in now with housing. I guess that single mom, or waiter, or married couple earning $50,000 per year really couldn't afford that $350,000 house after all... but the 5-year ballooning no interest loan looked so good on paper! It's not that these people were evil - they just had banks telling them "yes" when they should have said "no way!". So what on earth does this have to do with home theater? Normally nothing... except for the fact that Rent-A-Center (RAC) is lining up to do the same thing with home theater electronics shoppers. And they are teaming up with Best Buy.

Rent-A-Center (RAC) is lining up a new program to offer electronics to people who, frankly, cannot afford them. And they are teaming up with Best Buy via in-house kiosks and a no-credit-check process.

— August 25, 2011 04:30 in Editorials

Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree on the Degradation of Audio Quality & the Music Industry

Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree on the Degradation of Audio Quality & the Music Industry

As I sit here listening to Porcupine Tree's "Fear of a Blank Planet" on DVD-A, I wonder to myself why this band has not caught on into the USA music mainstream. Wanting to find out a little more about what makes Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree tick, I went to Youtube and searched out some interviews. I was pleasantly surprised to discover he shares many of the views I have about the constant degradation of audio quality and musical substance happening in the music industry these days. In an age of convenience winning out over quality, more and more people are settling for poorer and poorer audio quality. This is leading to generation of youngsters never being exposed to anything better and accepting highly distorted and compressed music as the norm. We now live in an era of people totally content with the sound quality of XM radio and steaming music via Bluetooth from their iPods to their car or home stereos.

This article shares lead singer of Pprcupine Tree Steve Wilson's views on compressed audio and the state of the music industry today. Support high res audio and educate the masses to preserve the art.

— August 11, 2011 17:05 in Editorials

A Dialogue with HDMI Licensing about DisplayPort Cables

A Dialogue with HDMI Licensing about DisplayPort Cables

All joking in our title aside, HDMI Licensing has made some pretty questionable decisions in the past. The first that comes to mind is the declaration that everyone should stop using version numbers in favor of simply listing the various features implemented in the latest HDMI version. That went over like a pile of bricks and most of us, and many manufacturers for that matter, completely disregarded the "order" and carried on with business as usual. The latest "snafu" had to do with HDMI Licensing declaring HDMI to Mini DisplayPort cables persona non grata and (more or less) telling HDMI Licensees not to sell them.

HDMI Licensing's latest "snafu" had to do with HDMI Licensing declaring HDMI to Mini DisplayPort cables persona non grata and (more or less) telling HDMI Licensees not to sell them.

— August 07, 2011 20:25 in Editorials

CEA Study Finds Consumers Enjoy High Quality Audio

CEA Study Finds Consumers Enjoy High Quality Audio

So this week the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ventured into the realm of user listening preferences and released the results of a new study. The study explored the demand for high-quality audio electronics - and it included surveys and findings from all walks of life, from die-hard two-channel listeners, to more casual users. Apparently, 4 out of 10 consumers (around 39%) who demonstrated a "moderate" interest in audio claimed they are willing to pay more money in order to have high-quality audio electronics equipment. While all that's well and good, it struck us funny for two reasons: 1) it's incredibly vague - I mean, how much money? 2) It's sort of an obtuse question. Of course you would be willing to pay more for high quality electronics. That doesn't mean you actually have the money, or you're actually going to do it. With that said, the study didn't disclose everything in the brief, so perhaps some of these items will be cleared up upon further investigation.

So this week the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ventured into the realm of user listening preferences and released the results of a new study. The study explored the demand for HQ audio.

— August 07, 2011 15:00 in Editorials

AV Rant #243: Stuck on Stuff

AV Rant #243: Stuck on Stuff

Part two of Liz's Soup to Nuts on streaming this week is about storage. More than you ever wanted to know about servers, clouds, and NAS (links at AV Rant). Tom has a few things to say about the entire "modular design" idea. Velodyne starts selling subs - directly. AppleTV allows ownership (again). Logitech throws a Hail Mary for the Revue. AT&T drops ESPN3D. Receives nearly 15 complaints.

Part two of Liz's Soup to Nuts on streaming this week is about storage. More than you ever wanted to know about servers, clouds, and NAS. Plus ESPN3D and AT&T, modular design, Velodyne, and more.

— August 05, 2011 02:00 in Editorials

Active vs Passive 3DTV Polarizes Industry, Experts and Consumers Alike

Active vs Passive 3DTV Polarizes Industry, Experts and Consumers Alike

3D HDTV technology has polarized the TV industry! Two opposing camps have emerged with different methods of achieving 3D effects for home televisions, and each side is claiming superiority. In one corner we have active 3D, supported by most of the top manufacturers and video expert Joe Kane. In the other corner is passive 3D, the upstart contender in 3DTV that’s being evangelized by LG and film director James Cameron. So, before glasses-free 3D renders moot this dispute - let’s delve into the differences between the two and learn how many years it will be before we can ditch the glasses permanently.

3D HDTV technology has polarized the TV industry! Two opposing camps have emerged with different methods of achieving 3D effects for home televisions, and each side is claiming superiority.

— August 01, 2011 08:15 in Editorials

AV Rant #242: Swearing

AV Rant #242: Swearing

Tom couldn't be more excited about this week's podcast. For the first time in the four years of this podcast, Tom's cohost is tackling a Soup to Nuts topic. That's right, hear Liz's first in a three part series on streaming content. This week it is on where to get it. Also on the table, Tom talks about his $2k receiver comparison article, Liz hates on George Lucas, and Tom and Liz both ogle some cool installs. Plus, they announce that they are going to be holding periodic Google+ hangouts with fans.

Hear Liz's first in a three part series on streaming content. This week - where to get it. Also, Tom talks about his $2k receiver comparison article, Star Wars Blu-ray money grab, and cool installs.

— July 28, 2011 05:00 in Editorials