Home Theater Reviews

Vizio P42 HDe Plasma Screen Review

Vizio P42 HDe
Budget plasmas from Vizio have become rather popular lately, with decent to good performance for the money.

You can spend a bit more and get more features coupled with a better quality image, but this is a great way to get into plasma now.

“At just under $2,000, the Vizio P42 HDe is the least expensive 42-inch high-definition-ready plasma on the market today. It’s the perfect size for most living room situations and, with its above average brightness and viewing angle, you’re sure to get a picture the whole family can enjoy. The P42 has a wonderful way with high-definition sources and DVDs, but it trudges along when having to deal with standard-definition broadcasts. Obviously, you can spend more and get more in terms of image quality and size and you owe it to yourself to shop around to decide which screen is right for you. If you’re looking to get into the plasma arena without breaking the bank, the Vizio P42 is a very viable way to go.”

Vizio P42 HDe Plasma Screen Review

Yamaha YSP-800 Digital Sound Projector Review

yamaha ysp-800 review Here’s a quick and dirty look at Yamaha’s digital sound projection, in the new model YSP-800. This system uses one main speaker unit, which houses 21 microdrivers. The delays are timed on these drivers to trick your brain into hearing positional audio. Cool stuff.

A couple of problems exist with this model, but they aren’t necessarily deal-breakers.

1) You’ll need a subwoofer. But that’s ok, because with any decent sound system, you’re going to need a subwoofer. Just factor in the additional cost.

2) The room needs to be relatively symmetrical. This can be a problem, and could lead to sound quality tradeoff.

The good: Self-powered single-speaker virtual surround system; 2 4-inch woofers paired with 21 1.5-inch microdrivers; built-in Dolby/DTS surround processing and digital power amplifiers eliminate the need for an A/V receiver; autosetup capability.

The bad: Works best in barely furnished, symmetrically arranged rooms; needs to be paired with a subwoofer for optimal sound quality.

The bottom line: Yamaha’s second-generation single-speaker YSP-800 Digital Sound Projector is more affordable and easier to set up, and it sounds better than last year’s model.

If you don’t have a receiver, and have a symmetrical room, this could be a great choice for around 600-700 bucks.

Cnet Review

Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi THX Select2 AV Receiver Review

Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi ReceiverThis new receiver from Pioneer comes highly recommended from Ultimate AV mag, so take note.

A few notable features are dual HDMI inputs with switching, ipod connection/docking, built-in XM satellite radio tuner, and numerous THX functions.

Highs
Auto MCACC calibrates and equalizes the system with superb results
HDMI transcoding accommodates all component video signals, not just 480i
Bi-amp capable

Lows
Cluttered, unlighted remote

Conclusion
The Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi delivers seamless and powerful multichannel sound, accurate automatic setup/calibration, and connectivity options galore. It is also an excellent value at its $1500 list price. The closest competitor is the new Denon 4306, which lists for $500 more than the Pioneer.

This sleek and attractive component is a great choice for folks who insist on owning sophisticated, high-performance products, but who have no desire to deal with complex technology during day-to-day operation. At the same time, it has enough programmable parameters to please the tweakiest surround-sound geek. In a word, the Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi is a remarkable product, and I recommend it highly.


Ultimate AV: Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi THX Select2 AV Receiver

Philips 42PF9630A Plasma HDTV Review

philips 42pf9630a plasma hdtv Home Theater Mag has a new review of Philips’ 42-inch Plasma HDTV. And yes, with a native resolution of 1024×768, this baby is true HD.

This has the Philips bling feature of Ambilight, which is offered by no other HD set manufacturer.

This reviewer notes some black crush. Trying to compensate caused some digital noise, over which a weaker black-level was preferred.

Standard def upconversion could be better as well, other plasmas do a bit better job of it.

HDMI input was considerably better than over component.

This machine also has USV inputs – pop in your thumb drive and view photo slideshows or listen to playlists right away. That’s a great feature.

Even with all of its features, the 42PF9630A’s price is competitive with, if not better than, other 42-inch plasma HDTVs from the big-name manufacturers.

Overall
The 42PF9630A is a solid performer with appealing features, including a memory-card reader and USB ports that let you easily play music and view photos from your computer without setting up a network.


Full Review: Philips 42PF9630A Plasma HDTV

Review: Panasonic PT-AE900U LCD Projector

panasonic pt-ae900u lcd projector
Home Theater Mag sing their praises of the Panasonic PT-AE900U projector in this new review:
“Yep, there’s a lot to like about the PT-AE900U, but versatility is undoubtedly its greatest asset. We’ve looked at several HD LCD projectors over the past year, some of which carry lower MSRPs than this one. However, all of those projectors came with some caveats, while the PT-AE900U is wonderfully caveat free. It’s simply a great choice for someone looking for a well-rounded, midpriced projector.”

However, I’m concerned the reviewer only used a 60 inch screen to thoroughly test this model. It seems odd that size would be used to put a projector through its paces, when most people have a 100-inch screen or better. I know some use a 60″ job, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if any detail or other problems might not show up on smaller screen real estate.

Still, this unit has been praised by others as well, and this review does line up with them.

“The PT-AE900U offers great performance and versatility for a great price—perfect for the home theater fan who wants to enjoy the benefits of a projector in an everyday viewing environment.”


Full Review – Via HDBlog.net

Logitech Harmony 520 Remote Control Review

The HTGuys deliver a quick review of the Logitech’s new Harmony 520 Remote Control. This is a feature-slimmed version of their popular 880, but costs considerably less.

Features:

* One button control of your home theater activities
* Easy to read interactive display
* Learning port for updating IR codes
* backlit keypad

What we liked:

* Low price
* Easy setup
* Help button
* Great customer support

What we disliked:

* Cheap contruction
* Some buttons hard to press

Conclusion
Overall we liked the 520. Although the construction seemed cheaper and the device seem more fragile than the 880 or 688. The 520 still performed its functions as advertised. The buttons on this remote are a bit bigger than previous Harmony remotes but they were difficult to press at times. The activity button required are very hard push to activate. Programming the 520. like all Harmony remotes, is a snap. But with all that said the only reason to buy this remote is the price.If you can afford another $100US get the 688 and the 880 is even better because its bright color screen and charging station. But that will set you back $250US.

I’ve seen this remote for under 100 clams:

Home Theater Guys

Review: BenQ PE8720 Home Theater Projector

benq pe 8720 projector for home theater
Next up, a fresh review of the BenQ PE-8720 projector. This is a mid-range priced projector (current street price is under six grand), with high-end performance. ProjectorCentral runs one of these through its paces:

“The BenQ PE8720 is a premium class projector that is available for less than a premium class price. Overall performance is excellent, and the feature set is nothing to sneeze at. With the iris set optimally, black level on the PE8720 is deep and inky, and the shadow detail makes for a very three-dimensional image that seems to pop from the screen. Deinterlacing and scaling quality is excellent, and the picture is smooth and pleasant to watch.”

Here is a great description of the price and quality range placement of Benq’s new bling:

“It is difficult to assign a 5-star “value” rating for this model, for it falls between two classes of 720p resolution products. Compared to the high end 720p models from the boutique brands that sell for $12,000 and up, the PE8720 is an absolute steal–virtually comparable picture quality for half the price or less.

If this was the only competition, the PE8720 would get 5 stars for value hands down. On the other hand, the PE8720’s street prices of around $6,000 make it substantially more expensive than the economy range 720p projectors selling for under $3,000.

Though the PE8720 will outperform them in contrast and image sharpness, the lower priced units have gotten really good lately, and some buyers may understandably think that the incremental image quality you get from the PE8720 is not worth double the price.”

So, if you are considering the high-end range, this machine should be in the running. However, if you’re looking at your total bang-for-your-buck, one of the under-$3k models would probably be most pleasing to your eye and wallet.


Review: BenQ PE8720 Home Theater Projector

JVC HD-70FH96 70-inch HDTV

JVC HD-70FH96 70 Wow, this JVC HD-ILA is one big, bad HDTV. A 70 inch rear projection set with 1920 x 1080p resolution (umm yeah that’s true HD), 2 HDMI inputs and great picture quality all for under $4400!

Pros
•Reproduces deep blacks.
•Fully resolves 1080i signals.
•Rich, accurate colors.

Cons
•Occasionally visible screen texture.
•Picture memories not fully independent.

The Bottom Line
It’s hard to sweat the small stuff when an HDTV performs as well as the JVC HD-70FH96. This giant HDTV manages to combine the high resolution of 1080p with most of the other characteristics that make a great-looking image. Its biggest shortcomings — a clunky user interface and the couple of missing features noted above — shouldn’t deter anybody who values picture quality above all else.

If you’re looking for big rear-projection bling, this JVC could be your ticket.

Sound and Vision – First Look Via – Gizmodo

NeuNeo 1080p DVD Player Review

NeoDigits NeuNeo hvd2085 Well, NeoDigits bragged to our Audio-imbibing friends over at Audioholics, and they decided to write a review of the NeuNeo 1080p upconverting DVD player.

I’ve already covered a NeuNeo review here and an avs review mention here. But, our thorough, HT-loving brothers at AA (hic) are a source of wisdom to count on.

Pros
– True 720p/1080i/1080p upconversion via component video outputs
– HVD support for true HD DVDs

Cons
– Poor deinterlacing capability
– No flag-less 2:3 error detection
– Fisher Price remote control
– Cheap aesthetics
– Soft Picture
– User manual missing key graphics in diagrams

Conclusion

We received an email from NeoDigits some time ago which prompted this review. In it they bragged a little bit about how this player didn’t have the ‘macroblocking bug’ because it didn’t use a Faroudja chip for video processing. While this is certainly true, the downside is that it also failed most of the video tests we ran it through. I think I’d prefer the macroblocking bug personally. Still, no Faroudja player I know of outputs 720p, 1080i, or 1080p from its component video outputs. Actually, I am not aware of any player that outputs 1080p at this point save Denon’s new $3,800 flagship DVD-5910Cxi with 1080p upgrade. The performance of the HVD2085 is akin to many HTPCs I’ve seen – great picture resolution, provided you don’t ask them to do anything fancy. If you’ve absolutely got to have a 1080p source or you have an older analogue projection system that can take HD over component but not HDMI, I suppose $249 isn’t too much to ask.

If you are interested in these types of features, I highly recommend you check out the Oppo OPDV971H:

NeuNeo 1080p DVD Player Review

Pioneer PDP-4360HD Review

Pioneer PDP-4360HD Plasma HDTV Here is one of the new Pioneer Plasma Displays I mentioned last summer.

This machine looks like a strong contender, but it seems Pioneer is still having a small bit of trouble will black level performance. That coupled with the additional price the Pioneer brand brings, you may be happier spending your cash (or debt) on a Panasonic.

C/net tell us what they think about the PDP-4360HD:

The good: Extremely accurate color; able to reproduce deep blacks; solid feature package; sleek, glossy-black finish; excellent connectivity, including two inputs for HDMI and three for component video.

The bad: Blacks still not quite reference quality; minor visible low-level noise in dark material; high-quality inputs share input slots.

The bottom line: Pioneer’s PDP-4360HD offers improved black-level performance and excellent overall picture quality, but it costs a bit more than the competition.

Pioneer PDP-4360HD Reviews