Archive for June, 2008

Daily Blog – Ross Jones – June 12, 2008: KICKING BACK WITH VINYL.

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

If you’ve been following JJ’s vinyl vs. CD series, or read Piero’s new review of the Marantz turntable, then you know that vinyl is “in,” again. Putting aside the technical merits of the debate, I was fascinated by the discussion about the aesthetic pleasure of listening to an album all the way through.

We’ve become adjusted to listening in the digital world, which means shuffling through a songlist or creating our own track lists. Even if I’m listening to a CD, skipping a track involves nothing more than a light twitch of the finger on the remote.

But vinyl is a difference experience, isn’t it? You are basically committed to 20-some minutes of whatever the artist decided was going to fit on the side of that LP. I can remember listening to albums where I didn’t care for track 3 of a side, but sat through it anyway because it was too much hassle to get up, walk to the turntable, lift the tonearm, and (most importantly) gently lower the tonearm in the leader space between tracks. Instead, I ended up sitting through that track 3 and quite often, the track would grow on me.

So I think it’s great that vinyl is making a comeback, especially for the generations that were never exposed to the Zen of sitting through the entire side of an album. Now if only I can find that old lava lamp!

Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – June 11, 2008: WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND FILM BASICS WHEN COMPARING MOVIES.

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

If you read our Movie Renter’s Guide commenting section, you are aware of a discussion about the movie Patton, which was recently released on Blu-ray. There is a lot of discussion about how the high def version looks too “clean”, implying that it was “scrubbed” more than for other movies.

Patton was shot on 70mm film back in the days when 70mm was a buzzword instead of surround sound and computer graphics. Most movies are shot within a very small film space that fits on 35mm film when the film is run vertically. Because the film space is so small, film grain is really quite visible now that we can watch them in 1920×1080 resolution. 70mm films were also called “Roadshow Films”. They usually had seven channels recorded on a magnetic strip alongside the film frames.

There are some other classics that were shot in 70mm too, such as Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur. Although Ben-Hur was filmed with a slightly anamorphic lens, both Lawrence of Arabia and Patton were not, so the image is razor sharp. Also, since the 70mm film space has four times the area of the standard 35mm film space, film grain is barely evident, and in my opinion, probably not even resolvable at 1920×1080, depending on the type of film used.

Lastly, back in the old days, there were not many shadows in the movies (except for the film noir movies in the 1940′s). So, the image just leapt off the screen. Such was the case for Patton. Even when George C. Scott was standing out in the full sun, one can see the slight shadows on his face coming from another direction, indicative of the strong overhead lighting.

So, Patton, in my opinion, is not “scrubbed”. It is not “super clean” due to image processing. It is simply a superb film source from which to create an incredible high def movie disc. When 4k high def arrives, this movie will look even better, while regular 35mm movies (not including CGI-based movies that can be generated at any chosen resolution) will probably not look much different than they do now because I think the limits of picture sharpness extracted from the standard 35mm movie film space have just about maxed out at 1920×1080, and I am speaking of movies shot on film and then digitally extracted from that film for mastering to a Blu-ray disc.

Bottom line is that the film size of the master is very, very important to the final image quality. That is why Ansel Adams shot his pictures with a 4×5 film camera.

Marantz Announces Availability of AV8003 Preamplifier and MM8003 8 Channel Power Amp

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

MARANTZ MAKES STREAMING A/V AND SUPERB AUDIO PERFORMANCE MORE ACCESSIBLE WITH AVAILABILITY OF ITS NEW A/V PREAMPLIFIER AND POWER AMP
– THX-Certified AV8003 Networking A/V Pre Amp; MM8003 Power Amplifier –

MAHWAH, NJ, June 10, 2008 – Marantz America, a renowned manufacturer of advanced home entertainment solutions, today announced that its AV8003 Networking A/V Preamplifier (SRP: $2,599.99) and MM8003 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier (SRP: $2,399.99) are available to retailers, providing elegant solutions for streaming high-quality audio and video throughout the home and powering 7.1- or 5.1-channel home entertainment systems, respectively. Featuring brand new chassis designs and a host of advanced features and capabilities, both innovative products give discriminating consumers exciting new solutions for expanding and enhancing their enjoyment of home entertainment, including today’s advanced high-resolution audio and video formats. (more…)

Daily Blog – Adrian Wittenberg – June 10, 2008: DVD AND BLU-RAY EXTRAS CONTENT.

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Movies that are released onto DVD or Blu-Ray disc often vary in the amout of extra features they give the consumer and I don’t like it when I have bought a DVD or Blu-Ray disc for my collection and the amount of extra features on the disc is sub par.  This is especially true when I buy a Blu Ray disc and I’ve spent near thirty dollars.  I’m really expecting the whole kit and caboodle here.

I feel the solution is that every DVD or Blu-Ray disc should always include a standardized minimum level of content and of course, there still would be the option for the producer to include even more. 

Blu-Ray is still in its early stages of consumer adoption but this would benefit its growth immensely by giving the consumer a high level of content they can always come to expect with every disc.

Personally, I would always like to see director and lead actor’s commentary, outtakes, conceptual design, an about the cast section where I can find out other movies the cast has been involved with as well as previews of movies they will soon be in, and finally a featurette about the on the set work that included footage about locations and behind the scenes material of the movie making journey, including the trials and tribulations.

  

Daily Blog – Sumit Chawla – June 6, 2008: HTPC BEGINNINGS.

Friday, June 6th, 2008

I have been listening to music on my computer at work for some time.  The music is easily accessible and playlists are easily created.  Storage is cheap these days, so I have opted to compress everything using a lossless codec.

 

At home, however, I was still flipping through physical discs.  Often times the discs were in their respective cases, but there were times where the case was in one place and the disc was someplace else!  [I wish that there was RFID or some other means to track missing things around the house, but that is another story].  I wanted to have the convenience of sifting through my music collection from the comfort of my couch.  Additionally, I wanted to be able to access the music in other rooms in the house.  Having the ability to play home videos and view photos would also be a nice bonus.

Several months ago I came across the Media Center Extender offerings from several companies.  These devices provide access to media stored on a Vista Media Center PC over a wired or wireless connection.  This just seemed like the right recipe, and this was the starting point for my HTPC.  I exchanged some emails with Sandy, our resident HTPC expert, and he made some component recommendations.  The HTPC is now functional, and in the weeks ahead I will talk about several interesting aspects of this endeavor.

Salamander Designs Launches New Models for Flagship Chameleon Collection

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

New Configurations in Geneva, Sonoma, Berlin and Hampton Styles Add Choices and Versatility for Customers and Installers

BLOOMFIELD, CT, June 5, 2008 — Salamander Designs, Ltd., a leading designer and manufacturer of modern furniture, seating and mounting products for Home Theater and A/V entertainment systems, has announced three new Models in each of four basic styles for its flagship Chameleon Collection of audio/video entertainment cabinets. (more…)

Daily Blog – Ross Jones – June 5, 2008: THE NEW iPHONE?

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

I am not what you would call an Apple fanatic. My computers are all Wintel-based machines. My only Apple product is an an old iPod mini with a battery that is slowly dying. But I have to admit that the iPhone craze is starting to infect me. A bunch of my friends already have one, and (with one exception) they all rave about the product. Plus, I really hate my current cell phone/PDA, produced by a company that shall remain nameless. So I’m in the market for a new phone anyway.

Rumors are flying that the new iPhone is going to be introduced by Steve Jobs next week at an Apple conference. If the rumors are true, it will have 3G capabilities and built-in GPS, the two things my friends say they wish existed in the current iPhone. I like to think of myself as being anti-trendy, but somehow I have a feeling I’ll be waiting in line with the rest of the world next week (or by the end of the month, depending on which rumor you choose to believe), hoping to get one myself. If the product lives up to anything near its hype, maybe I’ll be a convert?

Liberty Wire & Cable Introduces Revolutionary HDMI Over COAX Transmitter/Receiver Sys

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Easy to Install and Use, Compact New DigitaLinx Device Extends HDMI’s Reach Using Analog Cabling; Ideal for A/V Retrofits and Upgrades

INFOCOMM ’08, LAS VEGAS, June 4,, 2008 — Liberty Wire & Cable, worldwide supplier of a broad range of wire and cable products for the audio/video trade, including custom installers and systems integrators, introduces a revolutionary new HDMI over COAX Transmitter/Receiver System at INFOCOMM International 2008, the annual convention of the International Communications Industries Association, beginning here later this month. (more…)

Daily Blog – Adrian Wittenberg – June 3, 2008: REALITY TV, ARE YOU FOR REAL?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

While watching television the other night, I flipped the channel onto a program that seemed to be a reality show about an aspriing rock band touring across the country.  After a few minutes of watching the arguments gone wild, I decided that the dramatics were far too contrived and they must be using actors performing scripted events. 

I suppose this means that if a group of people don’t get in heated arguments and yell in each other’s faces than capturing their journey is not reality tv worthy even if it did happen to be about a good band that was pleasant to be around.  Imagine that.

I know that if I want to get my blood pumping, I’d rather go to the gym and hop on the treadmill for a half hour than watch a couple of strangers get into a screaming argument. I wonder what’s next. Maybe there will be a reality tv show that combines ultimate fighting and a group of people living together.  Wait a second, too late, I just saw a commercial for that kind of show at the dentist’s office today. 

I hope the networks put a little bit more thought into producing these reality tv shows.  Perhaps, if the networks are hellbent on focusing on conflict than they can show positive ways of resolving conflict as well.  Otherwise, it’s really a waste of time.

McIntosh Laboratory Announces Availability of Five New Home Entertainment Products

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
Sara Trujillo
DBA Public Relations
strujillo@dba-pr.com
212.388.1400

Sally Goff
Marketing & PR Manager
McIntosh Laboratory, Inc.
607-723-3512/800-538-6576 ext 344 sgoff@mcintoshlabs.com
www.mcintoshlabs.com

McIntosh Laboratory Announces Availability of
Five New Home Entertainment Products

Binghamton, NY June 2, 2008 – McIntosh Laboratory, a world leader in high-quality home entertainment systems for nearly 60 years, recently announced that five of its state-of-the-art components, including three powerful amplifiers, a leading-edge center-channel loudspeaker and an SACD/CD player, are all now available at McIntosh® authorized dealers. (more…)

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