Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi THX Select2 AV Receiver Review

Filed Under: Audio, Home Theater Reviews

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.

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

Cluttered, unlighted remote

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

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MPAA Admits to Unauthorized Movie Copying

Filed Under: Home Theater News

mpaa admits to dvd copying
The MPAA, staunchest opponent to DVD pirat…I mean backup, has been caught doing just that – illegally copying the documentary film, This Film Is Not Yet Rated.

“This Film Is Not Yet Rated looks at the motion picture ratings system created and run by the MPAA. Director Kirby Dick submitted the film for rating in November. After receiving the movie, the MPAA subsequently made copies without Dick’s permission. Dick had specifically requested in an e-mail that the MPAA not make copies of the movie. The MPAA responded by saying that “the confidentiality of your film is our first priority.” ”

“Dick later learned that the MPAA made copies of the film to distribute them to its employees, despite the MPAA’s stance on unauthorized copying. Ah, there’s nothing like the smell of hypocrisy in the morning-apparently the prohibition against copying films without the copyright owner’s consent doesn’t apply to the MPAA. A lawyer for the MPAA justified the organization’s apparent hypocrisy by saying that Dick had invaded the privacy of some MPAA staffers, which justified the MPAA’s actions.”

Bwahahaha – that’s great! Dick’s prior privacy invasion is a blank check for them to retaliate! Ok, I just love this logic.

I guess if we pay for crap movies, we get the justification for illegaly obtaining copies of other movies?

Parallel logic, no?


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Aquavision – Bathroom Theater

Filed Under: Home Theater News, Plasma and LCD Displays

bathroom tv Home Theater Room display – check
Den/Living Room TV – check
Bedroom TV – check
Kitchen – check
Guest room(s) – check

… just when you thought your household TV installs were complete, along comes Aquavision, giving you a new vision for complete TV coverage in your home.

Waterproof flatscreens!

No more excuses for being late, not cleaning your personal crevices or missing the last 5 minutes of the latest game.

Widescreen versions are available in 17 & 23 inch sizes with heated screens that won’t fog.

Floating remote included!

Ok, now what? Waterproof DVD players? This opens up an entirely new market…

Shower in Style – Gizmodo

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Philips 42PF9630A Plasma HDTV Review

Filed Under: Home Theater Reviews, Plasma and LCD Displays

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.

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

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How-To: Build a Practical HTPC

Filed Under: HTPCs (Computers)

htpc how to build tutorial The Engadget guys have a quick tutorial for building an HTPC for under a grand.

Though I would have chosen a few different parts (such as HD tuners and gaming graphics card(s)), this is a great read. (My choices would have also boosted the price way over $1k.)

We wanted to build a machine that had:

* Good desktop performance
* Long life through upgradability
* Cost close to $1,000

Tutorial: Build a practical HTPC

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Review: Panasonic PT-AE900U LCD Projector

Filed Under: Front Projectors, Home Theater Reviews

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

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Netflix to Offer HD DVD Rentals

Filed Under: Home Theater News, Media - Movies - Games

netflix hd dvd rentals
Netflix announced today that it will support HD DVD when the format launches in late March.

“With Toshiba’s new high-def DVD player now available to be ordered for March delivery at several leading online and big-box retailers, a number of Hollywood studios have announced plans to launch both new and catalog titles on HD DVD beginning late that month. Warner Home Video said at the recent Consumer Electronics Show that it will introduce 24 titles in HD DVD on March 28. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment and The Weinstein Company made similar announcements. ”

Good deal! Netflix is jumping on the next-gen bandwagon, as it sounds like they are open to supporting BD (Blu-Ray Discs) when that format launches as well. Hmm, I might need to up my subscription soon…

Press Release

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Logitech Harmony 520 Remote Control Review

Filed Under: Home Theater Reviews, Misc - Other

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.


* 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

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

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Review: BenQ PE8720 Home Theater Projector

Filed Under: Front Projectors, Home Theater Reviews

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

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HD DVD Titles Announced

Filed Under: Media - Movies - Games

hd dvd titles available Audioholics came up with an abbreviated list of HD-DVD titles due for release.

Expect most or all of these to be available when you can purchase your shiny, new HD-DVD player:


  • Van Helsing
  • The Bourne Supremacy
  • The Chronicles of Riddick
  • Apollo 13
  • U-571
  • 12 Monkeys
  • Dune
  • The Thing
  • End of Days
  • Backdraft
  • Waterworld
  • The Bone Collector
  • Spy Game
  • Pitch Black
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Dantes Peak

Warner Brothers

  • Batman Begins
  • Constantine
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Ocean’s Twelve
  • The Polar Express
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Matrix (Trilogy)
  • Harry Potter series


  • Braveheart
  • Forest Gump
  • The Manchurian Candidate
  • Elizabethtown
  • Spongebob Squarepants
  • Italian Job
  • School of Rock
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  • Ghost
  • Grease


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