Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Battle of the FPTV's

"Oh thou knower of all things electronical, what tis better for me Plasma or LCD?"

Flat panel TV's have been dominating the market in the last couple of years and it's easy to see why. First of all, they look great. Not just resolution wise, but aestetically pleasing as well. Second, the price point allows all kinds of income levels to afford them. And lastly, it's actually difficult to walk into a retailer and find a lot of non-flat panels available.

Which leads to the question of what's best. My answer is always the one that looks best to you.

I was in Target yesterday and took a browse at their TV's. All of them were flat panels. All. And what to my wondering eyes did appear, but that a frickin' Westinghouse LCD dominated all comers with resolution aplomb. Yep, a Westinghouse looked best. Better than the Sony, better than the Phillips, better than the Toshiba. In fact I was so incredulous that I turned them all around to verify that they were all hooked up using the same kind of input. (Coaxials all.) They were. Westinghouse made bad toasters a few years ago. Wow!

Anyways, if you are in the market make sure that you get a good look at what's out there in your budget, and just look at it. You can tell what looks better. But as far as general rules, here are a few.

Excellent home theater image quality
Wide viewing angle
Outstanding picture in large sizes
Excel in black level reproduction
No motion blur
Sharp details with HD sources
Burn-in reduction features
Better viewed from afar
Colors can be cartoonish



Bright picture even with ambient light
Viewing right in front is best
Available in a range of sizes
Poor black level reproduction
Motion blur/decrease in resolution
Higher native resolutions
Less color saturation than plasma
Can sit closer because of higher resolutions
Colors are very natural

Plasma Facts: After the first 100 hours of use (potential for burn-in), plasmas should be as durable as any television technology. Plasma life span is about 60,000 hours or about 10 years or more.

LCD Facts: Response time for fast motion has been improved with the newer LCD’s. Some brightness and color shifts are visible from outside angles but for the most part, provide a great picture.

Here's a great link if you want a little more juice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday HT Recommendations

I am a self-professed expert in a couple of subjects. One is basketball--ok, the NBA really, and the other is home theater. The basketball thing is just an obsession of mine but the HT stuff is not only an obsession but also I used to manage a small home theater operation for a living. It seems especially at this time of year I receive numerous calls and e-mails regarding holiday electronic purchases. This doesn't bother me at all, however the purpose of this post is to lay some blanket rules in order to help you become a little more self sufficient.

Rule #1

HDTV'S are all good.

Seriously. It has been a while since I've seen an HDTV that really sucked. Even Target and Wal-mart are selling nice looking HDTV's.

That being said, this time of year is always the best time to buy. Best Buy is running a 42" Panasonic Plasma for $899. Ultimate has a 50" Samsung Plasma for $1399 and Costco has a JVC 65" 1080p HDILA Rear Projection with stand for $1399! If you can get one and are in the market GO FOR IT!

The only rule of thumb as far as quality is concerned is that you should have heard of the brand before you buy it.

Rule #2

You don't need 1080p.

For one, the human eye can't distinguish a 720p image from a 1080p image on screen sizes less that 42 inches.

Secondly the only native 1080p images come from some video games and some blu-ray discs.

Thirdly, by the time that 1080p becomes the standard HDTV format the TV you are buying today will be broken or totally obsolete.

However if you can get 1080p in a price range you can afford then go for it. I do recommend it if you are going for a screen size of over 60"

Rule #3

Home theater in a box is well worth it.

Although I am not a fan of the integrated dvd player HTIB systems, I have been astounded by the sound quality of the last few HTIB systems I have heard.

Companies like Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo, Sony and Pioneer are making HTIB systems that start around $300 that include a receiver with plenty of power, a good solid subwoofer, and decent satellite speakers. Some have seperate DVD players and some have HDMI inputs on the receiver. The only thing I would look in to would be the number and type of inputs/outputs on the receiver. Make sure there are sufficient for your DVD, Video Game Sys, Sat or Cable box etc.

A couple of years ago I would have advised against the HTIB's and recommended a piece meal system...well times have changed.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Turn off your DSP's

If you own a home theater receiver chances are that you have several DSP's (Digital Sound Processing)to choose from. Titles of these various soundwreckers include Concert, Jazz, Rock, Classical, Hall, Videogame, etc...
Although I prescribe to the theory that you should do whatever sounds best to you, I am giving a strong advisement to turn them OFF.
When a movie is digitized to DVD, the folks at Dolby Labs and DTS are saddled with the responsibility of preserving the sound of the original theatrical release, and making sure that you the end consumer have an experience closest to sitting at the AMC. (Popcorn and 84 oz. Coke in tote.) This must be done because your surround sound system doesn't have 22 speakers and 4 subwoofers like your nearest IMAX. Your system has between 5-7 speakers and 1 subwoofer. The technicians at Dolby and DTS analyze the sound data and assign each squeak, rattle, whisper, hum, explosion, and breath to a particular speaker at a specific time, all for your listening enjoyment.
When you select a DSP you are raping the integrity of the soundtrack. Circuits onboard your receiver employ a basic algorithm to the original data and the amplifiers spit out filth in return. The original data is not only lost, but even deflowered and impurified. I find it hard to believe that your budget $300 receiver will improve the quality of a soundtrack that took months and sometimes millions of dollars to produce. I realize that most of your are doing this unknowingly and may not have it set up properly in the first place, but can't you tell that it sucks?
Many receivers have a few buttons that give our little problem a quick fix. Look for buttons that say something like "direct", "pure direct" or "DSP OFF". These buttons allow only the original data from your dvd to be amplified and thrust into your earlobes as candy is so frequently thrust down my esophagus. And sweet it will be.
Sweet indeed.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Nuggets Shooting Woe's to Continue.

The Denver Nuggets have sucked for so long that their most recent successes have been like sweet nectar to the soul.

So much for that.

With Carmelo Anthony came trips to the playoffs, followed by first round exits. In '03-04 the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs knocked off the nugs in 5. '04-05 brought the hottest team in the league, Minnesota to the Pepsi Center and we went down like a sack of potatoes. '05-06 the ever lowly Clippers embarrassed the sweet and creamy's by dominating the glass and out everything else-ing us. Finally, we met San Antonio just a few months back. Well, you probably remember that debacle.

So what's the theme? Why out in 5? Bad luck in the seedings?

The answer---Shooting. Specifically 3 Point Shooting. Here are some stats.

This year 3pt% in playoffs
Denver 32% vs. San Antonio 38%. (Includes an 0-12 performance from our best shooter JR Smith.)

05-06 3pt%.
Ranked dead last in NBA. .325 (ooouch)

04-05 3pt%.
26th of 30 teams. .340

03-04 3pt%.
21st in NBA. .336

That my friends is tossin' up some bricks.

So here is the list of band-aid 2 guards since Bzdelik walked the sidelines.
Voshon Lenard, Jon Barry, DerMarr Johnson, Rodney White, Greg Buckner, Wes Person, Julius Hodge, Linas Kleiza, Earl Boykins, Bryon Russell, Ruben Patterson, Howard Eisley, JR Smith, Yakhouba Diawara, Anthony Carter, Allen Iverson and the recently signed Chucky Atkins.

That's one frickin pathetic list. Outside of Person, Lenard and Barry, I can't see any actual shooters on this roll call of 30% bombers.

Now I realize that the likes of Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Redd, Gilbert Arenas, Peja Stojakovic etc come at a great price, and that there are only so many of them out there. But our team is one of 6 over the cap teams this year. So it's not for lack of spending by the ownership.

So we might have the mid-level exception at best. The following players made over 75 3's last year and shot at over 40%.
Raja Bell, Mike Miller, Leandro Barbosa, Luther Head, Shane Battier, Kyle Korver, Brent Barry, Anthony Parker, Bostjan Nachbar, Matt Carroll, Jason Kapono, Cuttino Mobley, Ime Udoka, and Eddie House.

(I know for a fact that Udoka is available right now. This guy did the best job of gettin' in Melo's head all year on the defensive end, and he can stroke it from outside.)

You're telling me that none of these guys are available at the mid level or less? You're telling me that the answer is Chucky frickin'Atkins? I thought we traded away Earl Boykins because there weren't enough basketballs around for AI, Melo and Boykins. Now you get ballhog Chucky Atkins? I'm sorry--do you think you'll turn him into a distributer and spot up shooter?

So right now I'm waiting. Waiting to see if the nuggets brass will pull their heads out.

It looks like a mess right now.

Let's hope for a .500 record and .35 from the arc.