It's easy to go over the top when it comes to outfitting your dream home theater system. One minute you're checking out HD projectors, and the next minute you're trying to figure out how to convert your entire basement into a giant subwoofer.
But it never hurts to start with the basics. In this CNET Top 5, I asked CNET Associate Editor Matthew Moskovciak for the essential ingredients in today's modern home theater system.
Sony has unveiled two of its biggest TV innovations of the year, and they're both inside the new XBR-84X900: it's the company's largest screen to date, and it's one of the first to feature 4K resolution.
The XBR-84X900 is the company's first 4K screen, and comes in the single 84-inch size. It's an edge-lit LED-based LCD TV that features passive 3D (another first for Sony) and comes with a 10-driver stereo speaker system.
Sony plans to introduce a super-sized 84-inch LCD television during IFA 2012, Europe's major consumer electronics show, a source told CNET.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CNET that the upcoming 84-inch TV can display a massive 3,840x2,160 resolution (four times the number of pixels in a conventional 1080p set), also known in the industry as 4K. We learned that the 84-inch Sony TV features a side-lit LCD panel (think thin) and removable speakers. In terms of design, our source describes the aesthetics as a reimagined retro-style appearance with a modern twist. … Read more
This year the gap between the picture quality of the best LED/LCD TVs and the best plasma TVs has grown wider than ever. Unless you're interested in overspending for buying a Sharp Elite, there's no 2012 LED TV that can come close to the picture quality of even midlevel plasmas like the Panasonic TC-PST50 and Samsung PNE6500.
But maybe you're simply not interested in plasma. If that's the case, then check out the following list of 2012 TVs that (A) employ an LCD panel illuminated by LEDs and (B) perform better than most such TVs. The list doesn't include the Elite and the Sony XBR-HX929 simply because they debuted in 2011; both are excellent performers, still current and exceedingly expensive. It also considers picture quality only, so if you're interested in seeing the best LED TVs overall, including some that scored well according to our other TV reviews criteria, here ya go.
The list appears in descending order of picture quality.… Read more
If you're in the market for a streaming box, the choice usually comes down to two options: Apple TV or Roku.
There are other boxes on the market, but the Apple TV and Roku 3 remain the most recommendable mainstream devices for adding streaming content to your TV. They're both highly polished products that offer a ton of functionality for just $100, plus they both receive regular software updates, so the box you buy today is likely to be even better a year from now.
Before we get deep into the details, our overall advice for most buyers is pretty straightforward:
If you're heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, go with the Apple TV. It's the best way to watch iTunes content on the big screen and Apple has slowly added the most important apps (most recently, HBO Go and WatchESPN), so its relatively limited selection of services isn't the hindrance it used to be. AirPlay remains the killer feature for the Apple faithful, letting you wirelessly stream music, photos and videos straight from an iOS device (or iTunes) to your TV. AirPlay even works from the vast majority of third-party apps, such as Spotify or Pandora.
If you're not all-in with Apple, the Roku 3 is the way to go. Historically, Roku gets new apps and services much faster than Apple TV, amassing over 750 channels to date. That admittedly includes a lot of filler content, but there's also some important services the Apple TV doesn't have, most notably Amazon Instant. Roku's new interface is a huge improvement and blazing fast on the Roku 3 hardware. And the remote with the built-in headphone jack is a truly great feature for those times when you want to stream without disturbing anyone else.
Still undecided? Let's take a closer look at both boxes.… Read more
Hello! I was watching a movie on Blu-ray the other day filmed in the 21:9 aspect ratio and I realized that it technically wasn't "1080p" since about 1/4 of the screen was taken up by the horizontal black bars (called "letter boxing," correct?). Anyway, I was just wondering how many pixels were being used on the TV. Thank you!
Ah, letterboxing, how I love you.
To understand letterboxing, we have to talk about aspect ratio. HDTVs are 16x9, or 1.78:1. Slightly wider than they are tall, they're pleasantly rectangular. Old-fashioned tube TVs were 4x3, or 1.33:1, so closer to square. … Read more
A lot of people have noted that best thing about Blu-ray is seeing "new" versions of old films in the format.
"Jaws" doesn't qualify as a really old film, but it did first hit theaters in 1975, so it's certainly an older film, and it looks truly impressive on Blu-ray. This is one of the films that Universal has chosen to restore for its 100 anniversary (of Universal, not the film), and some of its earlier restoration efforts have been lauded while others have been criticized for introducing too much digital noise reduction and … Read more
The PS3 has a solid collection of streaming-video apps, but the lack of a dedicated YouTube app has always been a conspicuous omission.
That ends today, with Sony and Google rolling out a new YouTube app for the PlayStation 3. The new app features a big-screen-friendly layout with controls optimized for the PS3's controller. You'll be able to log in to your YouTube account, giving you access to your subscribed channels and other YouTube community features.
There's also an option to use your smartphone as as a controller for the app, letting you take a video you'… Read more