Home Theater Reviews

Sony Bravia KDL-V40XBR1 Review

Sony Bravia KDL-V40XBR1Cnet takes a look at Sony’s 40-inch LCD Bravia HDTV. This 1366 x 768 native resolution HDTV is capable of displaying true HD, includes 2 component and 1 HDMI input, and sells for under $3200.

The rating? 7.7 “Very Good”

The good: Deep blacks and detailed shadows for an LCD; three component-video inputs; slick styling.

The bad: Expensive; poor color decoding with heavy red push; only one HDMI input.

The bottom line: While not quite as good for home theater as the best plasmas, the expensive Sony Bravia KDL-V40XBR1 puts on a pretty face and delivers an impressive picture.

Sony Bravia KDL-V40XBR1 Full Review

Panasonic TH-42PX500U Plasma Review

Panasonic TH-42PX500U Plasma HDTV Here’s a review of Panasonic’s plasma beauty, the TH-42PX500U.

She comes with HDMI, VGA and 2 component in. At a native 1024 x 768 resolution, she is not true HD, but she’s pretty close.

Review ratings:

Build Quality: 89
• Feels sturdy
• Seems solidly put together

Value: 95
• Just about the same performance, but significantly cheaper than its predecessor
• A plasma HDTV with good image quality

Features: 92
• TV Guide On Screen works pretty well
• The tuner works fairly well

Performance: 92
• Scaling is much improved
• It has the same great black level

Ergonomics: 92
• Backlit remote still doesn’t have direct input buttons
• Menus aren’t as pretty as last years’ but are easy to read

Overall Rating: 92
Keep the performance about the same but drop the price? Thanks, can I have some more? Once again, Panasonic has a great product at a great price, and, again, it’s more expensive than the competition but is worth the extra money. Now, if they’ll just increase the performance while reducing the price…

Panasonic TH-42PX500U Plasma HDTV

Hitachi Ultravision HDPJ52 Projector Review

Hitachi HDPJ52 ProjectorHere’s a fresh review of Hitachi’s LCD 720p projector offering, the HDPJ52.

This is a native widescreen 1280 x 720 HD projector with component, VGA and HDMI inputs.

The lamp life is 2000 hours, and replacement lamps run 250 bucks.

A manual iris is included, and seemed to be a welcome addition for HD gaming, ad the extra brightness made a big difference.

In comparison to the BenQ PE7700, here is how the HDPJ52 fared:
“When viewed individually, both the PE7700 and the HDPJ52 have excellent contrast and black level, while shadow details are clearly visible. However, once seen head to head, the superior performance of the HDPJ52 becomes clear. While black levels are comparable, the HDPJ52 holds a clear edge in shadow separation and overall contrast performance.

With regards to color, the HDPJ52 clearly overtakes the PE7700. Color is rich and natural, with better saturation. Whether watching animated material or live actors, scenes seemed to pop off of the screen, and objects looked vibrant and life-like.”

And compared to the Epson PowerLite Cinema 550:
“The HDPJ52 and Cinema 550 are both impressive projectors at the leading edge in terms of price/performance. The Cinema 550 can put out more light at the sacrifice of some image quality, which makes it more suitable for multipurpose home entertainment. However, the HDPJ52 offers home theater performance that rivals the 550 and incorporates some features the 550 does not have. Depending upon your needs, either one of these projectors is capable of making you extremely happy with your selection.”

And there you have it, looks like Hitachi may have a winner on their hands.

Full Review at Projector Central
Via HDBlog

Philips 42PF9830A LCD Reviews

Philips 42PF9830A 42-inch LCD HDTV I just came across a couple of new reviews on Philips’ 42-inch LCD offering. Cnet and PCMag wrote these reviews within 2 days of each other, but offer different findings.

First up, CNET:

The good: Solid black-level performance for an LCD; video processing includes 2:3 pull-down; accurate primary colors; attractive styling; motorized swivel stand; built-in colored backlight.

The bad: No independent memory per input; color decoding accentuates red slightly; no dedicated PC input.

The bottom line: The Philips 42PF9830A is one of the best-performing LCDs we’ve reviewed, although it still doesn’t rival the better plasmas at this size.

Editors’ rating: 7.0 Very Good Cnet Review

And PCMag:

Impressive color accuracy with component video. Integrated bias lighting system (Ambilight 2). Tabletop stand with motorized swivel mechanism. Comprehensive scaling options.

Some A/V connections are difficult to access. Ineffective video processor. Noisy picture quality.

Bottom Line
The Philips 42PF9830A/37 is a 42-inch LCD HDTV that offers innovative features and an attractive design, but its picture quality suffers greatly from an ineffective video processor that has little effect on common image artifacts.

Editor Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Fair PCMag Review

“Our video processor tests with the challenging HQV Benchmark DVD earned the 42PF9830A/37 the dubious honor of being the worst-performing display to enter our labs. In particular, jagged-edge suppression and noise reduction with content containing motion were particularly ineffective, regardless of how we configured the image-processing features available in the setup menu. Our subjective evaluations, using DVD video and over-the-air HDTV, showed the above-mentioned artifacts, which significantly detracted from our viewing experience. The Philips FlatTV’s good color accuracy, image uniformity, and decent contrast ratio are meaningless if the viewer is constantly distracted by the flotsam of a subpar video processor.”

It sounds like this unit could use some work. If you’re interested in the ambilight feature and bling-0-matic motorized remote-controlled swivel, check this thing out in a store before buying.

Review: Sony VPL-VW100 Projector

Sony VPL-VW100 Ruby SXRD ProjectorSony’s flagship SXRD front projector is the bomb, the bling, and yes it’s all that. This baby is finally shipping in numbers, and here’s a new review from UltimateAV. (Here’s the first VPL-VW100 review I covered from HD Blog.

They were not able to fully calibrate their test unit, and have titled this review Part 1. A couple of problems were noted, which is not unusual for a new production unit, but high praises are still ringing out for this gem of a projector. They will continue to evaluate this unit and finish part 2 when full calibration is complete, so check back for the final results.


As good as the blacks are in the VPL-VW100, they could be even better. The problem is with the evenness of the black level. It’s a little lighter in the corners—twice as high in the upper right hand corner as in the center—though still as good or better than any other digital projector I’ve measured.

Our sample also produced a rare but odd glitch. Four times in the 60 hours or so I’ve put on the projector so far, the image turned to a bright, multi-level white, with details roughly outlined by fields of multi-colored dots of noise. I don’t know how else to describe it. I would have loved to get a picture of it—it was startling when it occurred just as a fake dinosaur was being brought down in King Kong–but it only lasted a couple of seconds each time and would never repeat on the same section of program material. I’m virtually certain that this was a pre-production sample flaw, and did not appear to affect any other aspect of the projector’s performance (I mention it only because its our policy never to ignore any operational problem we experience with a product). Sony indicated that this same sample was demonstrated at CEDIA and an engineer there experienced the same problem—a good indication that it was a pre-production glitch in this specific projector. This sample, by the way, did not look anywhere near as good at CEDIA as it does in my system).


My final conclusions will have to wait for the completion of Part II. How well does the projector calibrate? What affect does the Advanced Iris have on the gray scale and gamma tracking? And I’ll have a lot more to say about my on-going experiences in watching real images, both standard and high definition, on this projector. Our usual Highs and Lows section will wait until then, too.

But if you can’t wait, I see little downside in taking the plunge. Those yet to be completed measurements may reveal a flaw or two we haven’t discovered yet, but it will take an earthquake (just kidding, San Andreas), to shake my enthusiasm for the VPL-VW100 so far.

Full Review – found via HDBlog.net

Review: Panasonic PT-AE900U LCD Projector

Panasonic PT AE900U LCD ProjectoreCoustics have reviewed this popular Panasonic LCD projector, the PT-AE900U.

SDE (screen door effect), again is reportedly “under control” on this machine. A notorious problem for older LCD projectors, the new tech is finally here that puts LCD on a level playing field with their DLP brethren.

Rather than focusing on viewing of movies and HD material, this is a more technical review, with graphs for colors, gamma, luminance, etc.

Their conclusion?
“The Panasonic PT-AE900U is a terrific little projector. It has a good image quality, reasonable brightness and contrast, and all the preferred features, including Dynamic Iris and lens shift.

At the $2,000 price point, this Pannie is one of the projectors to beat.”

Yep, I’ve had it on the most popular list (top of the page) for a while now. Definitely a contender in the projector arms race.

Full Review

Via HDBlog.net

Polk Audio SurroundBar Review

Polk Audio Surround Bar
Here’s another great surround-sound solution for small rooms and wives who don’t like extra wires.

Similar to the Yamaha YSP-800, this is an all-in-one speaker unit that throws sound with delay timings that trick your ear into hearing surround sound from the sides and rear. Just like the Yamaha however, you’ll need to add a subwoofer to be bass-happy.

At 42″ wide, and offered in black or titanium (fancy name for silver, eh?) this piece is a great additon to flat panel HDTVs.

The Polk SurroundBar doesn’t bounce sound off walls like the Yamaha model, so it is great for odd-shaped rooms, or rooms with other acoustical problems.

The good: Sleek single-speaker surround system; five speakers in one; extruded-aluminum cabinet; flexible setup options; nonreflective virtual-surround effect works regardless of room design and layout; wall-mount bracket and table stand included.

The bad: Somewhat expensive; hardly an ideal choice for music lovers; you still need to invest in a subwoofer.

The bottom line: A single-speaker surround system, the Polk Audio SurroundBar works best as a home-theater solution for small rooms.

CNET Review

DViCO FusionHDTV5 USB Gold Hands-On Review

DViCO Fusion HDTV5 USB Gold

Got an HTPC? Have a PC but no OTA HD tuner? This gem is your answer. It plugs in via USB and and tunes your local HD stations for viewing through your PC.

The review wrap-up:

“The bottom line is this: if you have an HDTV set and a XP or Media Center PC attached to it, you owe it to yourself to get the FusionHDTV5 USB Gold. The signal strength was impressive, the setup was mostly painless and the device is compact and easily transportable. And for only $149, it is one of the least expensive external HDTV options currently available.”

eHomeUpgrade Review – Via engadget

Hitachi 42HDT52 Plasma Review

Hitachi 42HDT52 Plasma Display
We took a look at this Hitachi plasma with eCoustics a few weeks back, which was not a favorable one.

The guys over at Ultimate AV give this plasma a bit more credibility:

Stable, detailed, richly colored picture
Full feature set
Excellent remote

Mediocre black level
Inordinately high red push

There’s a lot to admire on this plasma. The feature set is complete, the price is good. The black level is not among the best I have seen, which is the only thing that keeps me from offering a high recommendation.

I still think you’ll get more bang for your buck with a Panasonic. But that’s just me.
Ultimate AV: Hitachi 42HDT52 Plasma Television – via HD Blog

Dell W3201C Review

Dell W3201CHere’s a review of Dell’s 32-inch LCD panel HDTV from Cnet.

This 1366 x 768 resolution piece can accept 1080p signals via HDMI, and displays HDTV proper at 720p.

The good: Accurate color; excellent selection of inputs; detachable speakers; slick external styling and menu system.

The bad: Relatively expensive; nondefeatable edge enhancement.

The bottom line: While we’d like to see its price drop a bit, the Dell W3201C’s impressive feature set and solid image quality definitely set it apart from the budget pack.

Overall, the Dell W3201C makes a compelling case for spending a few hundred dollars more than on no-name models, such as the Syntax Olevia LT32HV or the Maxent MX-32X3. The Dell’s copious selection of inputs, including two HDMI jacks, will definitely appeal to people with lots of gear, but people looking for the best bargain will probably still opt for one of the less-expensive no-name panels.

Dell W3201C Review