The BD-P3600 Blu-ray player includes much of the same basic feature list as the Samsung BD-P2550 released last fall: Profile 2.0 (BD-Live), built-in Netflix and Pandora streaming, and 1GB onboard memory. But the 2009 model includes a few niceties missing from the 2550: an included USB dongle adds 802.11n Wi-Fi (in addition to Ethernet) and the 3600 should support DTS-HD Master Audio decoding out of the box (no need to wait for a future firmware update, as with early purchasers of the 2550). On the design front, the BD-P3600 will also sport unusual topside button placement and Samsung'… Read more
The prices for 1080p front-projectors have gradually been coming down, and Sharp thinks it has a nice proposition for consumers in its new $3,000 XV-Z15000 projector that arrives in March.
This is a DLP projector that features a single 1080p DLP 0.65" DMD chip from Texas Instruments and what Sharp is calling "an unprecedented 30,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and high brightness in a price-competitive model."
The XV-Z15000 offers a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, a 24 Hz film mode, and a six-segment, six-speed color wheel. The press release adds that, &… Read more
Nestled squarely between the LHB954 and LHB979 in LG's 2009 home theater system line-up is the LHB977. While the midrange package lacks the bundled wireless rear-speaker option and champagne-glass design of the 979, it's still loaded with features: 5.1 speaker array with funky front tallboy speakers; built-in Blu-ray player with Profile 2.0/BD-Live capability and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio decoding; support for streaming online Netflix, CinemaNow, and YouTube video; and two extra HDMI inputs, useful for connecting game consoles and DVRs. Look for the LHB977 in the spring of 2009 (price TBD).
Don't want the champagne-glass tallboy speakers of the LG LHB979 home-theater system? Step on down to the LHB954. You'll lose a few of the 979's value-added features (wireless rear speakers, HDMI inputs), but you'll still get a 1,000-watt Blu-ray home theater system that offers access to Netflix, CinemaNow, and YouTube streaming and an integrated iPod dock. The LHB979 also sports unique-looking spherical speakers. The built-in Blu-ray player is fully BD-Live compliant, and includes full Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. Look for the LHB954 in May 2009 (price TBD).
Unlike Panasonic and Samsung, LG didn't offer any home theater systems with built-in Blu-ray players in 2008. No problem: the company gets to hit the ground running in 2009 with fully loaded Blu-ray models like its flagship home theater system, the LHB979. The 5.1-channel system takes its design cues from last year's DVD-only LHT888, with champagne-glass front-tower speakers and smaller rears that can be connected wirelessly (obviating the need for front-to-back speaker wires in the room). LG boasts that the LHB979 is "tuned by renowned audio expert Mr. Mark Levinson," but we'll have to … Read more
I've written many times about my love of Logitech Harmony remotes. And here's one of the best deals I've seen yet: CompUSA has the Harmony 520 (refurbished) for $39.99.
Ground shipping will run you about $8 (unless you spend another $60, in which case you qualify for $1.99 shipping on your entire order).
The Harmony remotes are renowned for offering (relatively) easy programming via desktop software, which is available for both Windows and Mac systems.
Just choose your home-theater hardware from an extensive (and frequently updated) database, then set up your desired activities ("Watch … Read more
The 2009 Consumer Electronics Show will be the sixth consecutive CES event I've attended. And for most of those, we've had to write up previews of what we're expecting or anticipating at the show as a whole, or in one category. Looking back at those pieces, you can see how far a lot of the technology has come in just half a decade (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008). Indeed, plenty of features, options, and product categories we take for granted today didn't really exist just five years ago. But you can also note how some predictions … Read more
Let's face it, setting up a home theater with five speakers and a subwoofer is a hassle.
Home-theater-in-a-box systems ease the pain somewhat, but you still have to run wires to five speakers and a subwoofer. Single-speaker sound bar systems? Sure, they eliminate the tangle of wires, but they're just glorified stereo bars and never really sound all that good. You can get much better sound from a decent set of stereo speakers.
You could put together a much better sounding system with Integra's DSR-4.8 DVD/AV receiver ($600) and a nice pair of speakers and possibly a subwoofer. It's a stereo receiver with 50 watts per channel with a built-in DVD/DVD-Audio/SACD player; video connectivity includes a 1080p HDMI output, one HDMI input, and two composite inputs. (You can multiply the usefulness of that single HDMI input by adding an inexpensive HDMI switcher that multiplies the number of available outputs.)
Let's compare and contrast an Integra DSR-4.8 based system with Yamaha's YSP-4000 single-speaker surround system ($1,800). The Yamaha is self-powered so it doesn't need an AV receiver, but it doesn't make much bass. So, you'll need to add a subwoofer, like Yamaha's YST-FSW150 ($280) and a DVD or Blu-ray player.
Fifty watts may not seem like much, but Integra components sound pretty good; pair the DSR-4.8 with efficient speakers you'd get a big sound. Klipsch's RB-61 bookshelf speakers ($499/pair) would be ideal and make better and more powerful bass than the YSP-4000, so some of you won't have to get a sub. But if you're thinking about going whole hog, I like Klipsch's Sub-12 subwoofer ($500). That's all together a $1,600 MSRP system, so it's at least $500 less expensive than the Yamaha system.
The Integra/Klipsch system would be way, way more dynamic, with vastly greater clarity for movies and music (single-speaker systems never quite sound right for music). To be fair, the Yamaha big claim to fame is its ability to produce a facsimile of surround sound from the single speaker, and it's the best of its type (I've reviewed a ton of single-speaker surround systems for CNET--both units with built-in video connectivity and those without--so I should know). The Integra/Klipsch is strictly stereo, but it'll be really good stereo. Big and wide, with a great sense of depth and spatiality.… Read more
This heavily redacted version of Movies, one of the first movie apps available for iPhone and iPod Touch, displays titles, tickets, and showtimes for current and upcoming movies and DVDs, populated by Flixster. A much improved interface and better media integration lets you tap any entry to view a host of information and listings times. Tapping the publicist photo next to the entry launches a video preview. Video quality is fair-to-decent (you cna improve it in the Settings,) but attempting to download the preview without 3G or Wi-Fi coverage is pure futility.
The easily navigable app drastically improves on the … Read more
Update (February 12, 2009): Check out our follow-up story, with full reviews of all the products mentioned here.
I receive a lot of e-mail asking why we haven't reviewed many AV receivers in recent months. First off, let me say: mea culpa. Reviews coverage of this category has suffered, mostly because AV receivers are among the most time-consuming products to analyze (because they now need to be examined in detail for their audio and video performance). But enough of the excuses; here's what we're doing to remedy the situation. … Read more