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Panasonic TC-L32U22 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV

After trying two other flat screen TVs and studying different models in showrooms and on the the web, my wife and I gave this model a try. My wife can be very sensitive to the intensity of an LCD TV picture and one thing she likes about this TV is that is has great adjustments for contrast, brightness, etc. In particular, the “Cinema” setting tones the brightness down and gives good picture clarity. She can also select a picture size or formatting that makes videos, widescreen or full screen DVDs, etc., all look good. Furthermore, there is no noticeable blurring. Overall the quality of the picture is superb, and it was worth paying a little more for the 1080p. Even TV programs not broadcast in high-def look great. In addition, unlike other TVs, the speakers provide sound of sufficient volume and excellent quality. I also like that it has plenty of inputs (including 3 HDMI, 1 component, and 2 composite inputs). Its ability to interface with SD cards and computers is also neat. And, in my limited experience, Panasonic has excellent customer service, with personnel who, in general, are more knowledgeable than most I have talked with at Samsung in regards to that company’s products. My only complaint is that the only audio output on this TV is digital/optical (for new “home entertainment” systems), which, apparently, is the direction newer LCD TVs this size and up are going. Sometimes I need to use headphones when I am playing something to which my wife does not want to listen. In order to do this I connect my Blu-Ray/VHS/or satellite box output to the input of a little 2 watt amplifier I have and run the headphones off of that, using the amplifier’s volume control, with the TV volume on “mute”. I would like for this TV to have a 1/8″ audio output. In spite of that, in my opinion it is worth 5 stars.

 

 

 

LG 42LD450 42-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LCD HDTV

It took me about three days to decide to pull the trigger on this TV after looking at written reviews on Amazon and even some video demos online. About four hours after receiving it and I haven’t left my room.

This TV is simply lovely so far. The setup was a bit confusing at first and the stand is not the best I’ve ever seen but the instructions for setting up the stand were adequate and I was able to get the TV up and running in about ten minutes (the first five of which I sat confused).

Really, the negatives on this purchase stopped after the setup and the stand. Besides the stand, this TV is just pretty. One of the first things that stood out to me was the fact that the screen is so sleek and does not reflect any glares at all. Also, I had read about a terrible viewing angle and I honestly watched this TV from the side with no difference in the picture at all. It’s so big that it’s practically impossible to have a bad seat in the room that you watch this TV.

If you plan on playing video games on this TV, you will not be disappointed in the least. The only issues I’ve had with the TV is getting my colors juuuust right, although the “Game” picture setting has sufficed very nicely.

The sound on the TV is great. It is centered and doesn’t feel empty in the least. It is a very full and rich sound that will work just fine if you don’t have an expensive surround sound system.

After paying [...] and receiving free two day shipping, I am literally ecstatic that I was able to nab such a nice TV. After spending the last three years with a 24″ Insignia LCD that was 720p, I am ready to lock myself in my room.

If you are like me and can’t shell out more than 500 dollars for an HD TV, this is the TV you want to pick up right away. I simply cannot find anything that I dislike beyond the stand itself that makes me rate this any less than 5 stars.

Don’t be alarmed by the 60hz refresh rate, I honestly can’t see how 60hz is so inferior to 120. Especially when 120hz is almost 500 dollars more expensive.

Trust me, if you are on the fence about this TV — take the leap. This coming from a 21 year old college student who is now going to be the most popular person on his floor.

 

 

 

Panasonic TC-L22X2 22-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with iPod Dock

This little LCD hasn’t got the credit it deserves, (3.5 stars ??). We got this LCD to replace a 15 year old 26 inch RCA tube TV in our bedroom. We were contemplating a 26 inch LCD, but decided to go with the 22 inch. We are very big fans of all TVs Panasonic; 1 plasma, 1 TAU and now 1 LCD. It has beautiful imagery and great sound. The menu is very intuitive with many options to fine tune the picture and audio. Speakers are just fine for a bedroom. The docking system is great. Our room is 12×12 and I can’t believe these reviewers that put a 42 inch TV in their 12×12 bedrooms. Way too big. With the lights on the TV appears small but the picture is so clear and crisp it makes up for it. All text is very easy to read from 10 feet away. With the lights off you would be hard pressed to guess it’s only a 22 inch. If you need to upgrade a TV for your bedroom, this TV is an excellent choice.

 

 

 

VIZIO E420VO 42-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV Black

My wife and I bought this TV at Walmart for $548. It is our first HDTV. We looked at a lot of them in various stores. I did a considerable amount of research and we finally decided on this one. Thought about a 120HZ model but didn’t want to spend the extra money. It fits our budget and we are very satisfied with the quality and functionality. Don’t have a blu-ray player yet but have watched standard DVDs with component video connection and picture quality is very very good. Streamed a Netflix movie or two in from our PC via HDMI cable and have viewed a considerable amount of satellite and over-the-air programming for the last month or so. Both standard def and HD picture quality, very nice. The volume leveling function is not perfect but it does help quite a bit. Sound with built-in speakers is good. Menus are user friendly and easy to navigate. Overall we are very pleased and would recommend this product to others.

 

 

 

Samsung LN46C630 46-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

The picture on this TV was stunning right out of the box. After a few minor adjustments it was as close to perfect as I could imagine. It came with the SQ01 panel and it would be hard to differentiate the color depth and quality from some of the plasma sets I looked at. The TV is in a very bright room and the matte screen cuts out glare with no picture degradation. The viewing angle is very good, though we are never more than 25 to 30 degrees off center. The picture is very stable from channel to channel with no change in the back lighting that I can see, and the standard definition picture is almost HD quality when using the 16:9 picture format. It has separate settings for processing speed and anti-judder for motion blur when using the Custom view mode, unlike the majority of sets that combine both settings into one. I watch a lot of sports and really don’t notice motion blur at 60hz so its certainly not an issue at 120hz. I’m not a gamer, so for my viewing habits I see no need to spend more for a 240hz option. The sound is very good for normal TV viewing. It can be connected to a home network and I have also hooked it up to my laptop using the VGA connection to watch Netflix and even that produces an acceptable SD picture. There are multiple picture settings you can use to suit just about any programming source, including watching at 120hz without the “soap opera” effect that some people find so annoying. There are 4 HDMI and 2 USB connections, plus one for headphones. There is no S video so you may need cables to hook up older external equipment. UVerse is the programming source.

One thing about settings. The first evening the picture suddenly got much darker and even though I would reset the brightness, it would get dark again once I left the menu. I spoke with Samsung and they had no idea why this was happening. It turns out this set automatically adjusts the picture to your room brightness in the Standard viewing mode, which is the factory default. You can change this in the Eco portion of the picture menu to never go below a certain brightness level or you can turn it off completely. This is not an issue when using any other viewing mode.

The last time I bought a LCD I continued to look around in case I found something better. That will not be the case this time as I am completely satisfied. Pilot shipping through Amazon was great. They delivered on time, set up the TV and swivel stand, and had everything working in 5-10 minutes.

Added note on Warranty: If you purchase an item with your Amazon Visa, or pretty much any credit card from a major bank, it extends the manufacturer’s warranty 100% over the original duration (one year to two, etc.) at no cost. Amazon verified this but check with your bank if you use a non-Amazon card.

 

 

 

Haier HLT71 7-Inch Handheld LCD TV

Great little TV. The item I received differed from the one pictured, it was rubberized black and had better controls. I comes with a removable battery pack, 12v and AC adapters and a stick antenna.

We use it for keeping up with college football games while watching our daughters travel softball team.

The TV decodes everything. ATSC (over the air digital TV), NTSC (analog TV), regular cable TV AND even non-encrypted QAM cable TV (that was a huge plus for me).

I tried a Radio Shack 7″ that looks a lot like the Amazon picture of the Haier above; but this TV is MUCH MUCH better. The antennas with these TV’s are crap, get the silver sensor sold on Amazon and you will be amazed the channels you can pull in with this TV.

Good Luck.

 

 

 

VIZIO E320VP 32-Inch LED LCD HDTV Black

Wow, LED LCD provides a fantastic picture. This set replaced a 26″ Vizio that I thought had a great picture. The LED picture is much better and brighter. One thing that is not readily apparent is the power supply.

Most televisions have a transformer on the inside that converts 115v or 220v to 12v, this TV uses an external 12v converter/power supply and the 12 v plugs into the back of the set. This might make it easier to install in an RV or other camping/water option. The power supply is about the same size as a laptop.

Sound is a bit of a problem. It is somewhere between as good to superior to many other televisions, but it is NOT real surround and does not have a sub woofer, so…

Set up: Opened the box, laud TV on bed, took down old TV, swapped out the mount, and had the new set operating within 20 min. Setup was also easy and fast. Weight does not seem that big a deal at first, but this set’s weight is slightly LESS than the 26″ we replaced, another plus for mobile mounting.

If you are wall mounting, be careful to follow the steps to remove the stand neck. Instructions say, “Remove the four (4) screws holding the stand neck, and then remove the neck and base.” Well, only two screws are readily visible. The step BEFORE this reads, “Remove the cover on the stand neck,” which exposes the other two screws. Removing this cover can be tricky so look first and then proceed with caution.

We use this TV as our second set and it is in the master bedroom. I am so impressed that I may replace the main TV before too much longer with the big brother of this set.

Overall this TV is well worth the price I paid and Amazon had the best price of any place I checked. I usually spend an inordinate time pricing things prior to purchase and Amazon was well below everyone this time.

 

 

 

Panasonic TC-L37U22 37-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV

Great 1080 TV. At 37″ you need a 1080, with 32″ or less 720 is fine unless you are sitting closer than 4 feet. So if you are wondering if you should save a few bucks and go with 720p instead, 37″ is the crossover point where 1080p is much better choice because you will see the difference at average viewing distances. Also, at 37″ or larger you really need to start investing in blu-ray DVD’s since at this size regular DVD’s don’t view sharply – blu-ray is a 1080 format, regular DVD’s are not.

Picture quality is excellent from my Comcast HD cablebox and I have not had any problems with ghosting because it is only 60Hz – my preference is to use the ‘Cinema’ setting with a few slight adjustments. Sound quality is acceptable but not special partly because the speakers are not in front and don’t point towards the viewer which is the case with most modern sets but some Samsungs TV’s do have speakers in front. This mean sound quality will never be great unless you hook it to receiver. I have a simple two speaker set up in my living room but there is only one audio output jack on the TV and it is for an optical cable. So my less than one year old receiver which only uses analog cables just became obsolete. The remote is good with useful `Format’ button. This button is important to quickly adjust the ratio as needed. I almost bought a less expensive Vizio from Walmart but learned that the `format’ option is buried in the Menu and requires 7 steps to get in and out – not worth the aggravation. Lastly, the set does take a full 4-5 seconds to turn On. I am not sure if that is typical of all these modern flat TV’s but it is with this one, not a big deal but worth mentioning.

FWIW, I bought this at Sears because my old set died and I needed something quick. At Sears I was trying to decide between this and a 37″ LG, both the same price. Anyway the senior sales guy said both were very good but he would give the edge to Panasonic.

I highly recommend this set and Amazon seems to have one of the best prices before taxes, which makes it even better if you are not in a rush and can order online to save another $40 or so on local sales tax.

Edited/Updated: I switched my comcast box from the five cables to HDMI and the sound/volume is almost 2x as loud. I used to need volume between 40 and 50 and now 20 is fine. Picture quality still gets very high marks

 

 

 

LG 32LD350 32-Inch 720p 60 Hz LCD HDTV

This is the first LCD TV I’ve bought so I did a tone of research before finally settling on this unit.

Things I love about this TV:

-The backlight on this thing turns way up so you don’t have to worry about having dark scenes like in Interview with the vampire you can’t see. The wide viewing angle is also great.

-On the quick menu you can easily change the sound between Music and Cinema and I can actually hear the difference. Yes they are tv speakers not surround sound but for my studio apartment it is more then adequate.

-I noticed I was getting a little noise on the sound when I had the Clear Voice on but totally fixed it when I put the Auto Volume option on in the audio main menu.

-I keep the tv on a lot for music during the day since I work from home and there is this great button on the remote labeled energy where you can quickly adjust from 100% which is the best for viewing to maximum energy saving. I like this not only for the energy savings but also to save the back light from 100% constant use.

-I noticed that one of my shows off of my Roku (digital box that streams netflix) wasn’t HD and the picture wasn’t looking to hot. I adjusted on the picture main menu the aspect ratio to Just Scan and it actually cleaned it up really nicely. This is important,several of my friends have really ritzy tv set ups but if it’s not HD the picture is almost unbearable. This one you can watch older movies/tv shows and HD without having to fiddle with everything to get a good picture.

-Overall picture quality can be adjusted by so many advanced options that if you play with it I’m sure you can get exactly what you want.

-I know it is 720 versus 1080 but at this price range when I looked at the specs if you go for 1080 it seems that you will get dark spots in dark scenes and it’s refresh rate will be so low that you will notice it in quick scenes plus the audio seemed unreliable. I think at this 32inch size 720 is really not that noticeable.

Very satisfied customer. Only complaint is you need 4 screws to attach the tv to it’s base and my baggy only came with 3 in it. Luckily the hardware store is right down the street so I was able to get something comparable instead of waiting for them to ship it.

Do your self a favor, get some good HDMI cables with noise reduction that can handle full HD (found some on amazon for like $7). I haven’t experienced any blurring at all on this tv while watching movies/shows like others have commented about. Regular cables don’t cut it and you won’t want to wait when your tv arrives.

Happy Viewing

 

 

 

 

LG 42LD520 42-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV

I spent close to an hour in the store comparing LCD TVs. This LG stood out with its sharp and bright colors. I used the store’s Internet connection to check out the reviews but since it is a new model there wasn’t many. The older model however was popular among gamers.

The speakers on this TV are hidden on the back and this gives it a neat look. The speakers also sound great. There are different sound options in the menu plus advanced picture controls. In “Intelligent Sensor” mode the TV adjust the brightness and color contrast according to the room lighting conditions. The picture quality is easy to setup using the picture wizard option.

This TV has three HDMI connections in the back to use with your laptop or desktop plus an RGB (VGA Cable). There is also a USB 2.0 port in the back. I connected a USB thumb drive and was able to listen to music and display my digital pictures on the screen.

Over all I am very pleased with quality of this LG model and recommend it to anyone who wants to buy a LCD TV for under $1k, and I mean not for picture quality but the size of the screen since this had as good, if not better, picture quality as other more expensive models in the store.

 

 

 

 

Toshiba 55WX800U 55-Inch 1080p 240 Hz Cinema Series 3D LED TV Black

i researched these types of sets for months for the family. surprisingly there were hardly any reviews on the 55wx800u – none on cnet or other major review sites. since my family loves toshiba products (3 generations of toshiba buying family members) we decided to take the plunge on this tv. reasonably priced with a whole host of settings to customize your tv’s picture, if you like to tweak. if not, you can choose from some nice presets. overall, the color is vibrant, the set is very attractive – elegant, professional but not overly done like some other sets. prior to this tv, we had the panasonic s2 42″ plasma tv (which replaced a 53″ toshiba projection television)in the family room,as i wanted to try a plasma set and toshiba doesn’t make plasmas. happy with the panay, we were torn to either get the panasonic 54vt 3dtv or this set. pricing was similar – but internet was not built into the panay. the plasma consumes much more power than this set. also, the 3d glasses that come with the toshiba are much more comfortable than the ones that came with the panay. so without reviews and based solely on my family’s experience with toshiba, we bought this tv. we are extremely happy and i believe all the talk about blooming, clouding, flashlighting that comes with an edge lit set like this one is either overdone or toshiba has done an excellent job overcoming these issues. some quick things to note, connection to the wireless internet went smoothly and the widgets are very cool. there is a system update that takes about 5 mins – so make sure you update your system. also, when attaching the standing to the tv, it states slide and lock…it’s a bit confusing and customer service wasn’t very helpful -
just slide flat so that the two tabs on the stand slide into the two openings on the back of the tv – so you don’t have to press down to lock in something the toshiba customer service (who apparently never put one of these things together) suggested. anyway, i wanted to put a real review up here since this is so lacking. if you have questions, ask. also, i will update in a couple months as to reliability. oh, lastly, don’t buy from JR.com – their policy states that they have to open the package and add some “protective materials”- well – that set arrived broken. i refused the package and reordered through amazon.com and they sent the package “factory sealed” and it was fine.

 

 

 

VIZIO XVT553SV 55-Inch Class Full Array TruLED

This TV is amazing. The only thing more incredible is the bargain. I have been shopping flat screens for about a year now. I almost pulled the trigger on a Samsung C8000 until I came across this TV. You get everything Samsung has to offer minus the 3D which, for me, is still too new to invest in. This model boasts a 10,000,000 to 1 Dynamic Contrast ratio compared to Samsung’s 8,000,0000. Blu-Ray (Sony BDP-570) looks and sounds spectacular. DirecTV HD shines as well. The set-up was a breeze. The only problem I encountered was the actual wait-time to get this thing. It took about three weeks since it was on pre-sell. However, once it was released, the shipper contacted me and I had this thing in my house three days later. If you want a TV packed full of features that you can actually enjoy but don’t want to drop $3,000….this is your set. Pair this thing up with a decent home theater (I have the Sony HTSS370-It blows us out of the living room.) and you will truly be able to enjoy movie night at the house! I can’t wait for College/NFL football to crank up! Vizio has stepped it up big time with the new XVT series!!!

 

 

 

LG 32LE5300 32-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED LCD HDTV Black

This is an excellent TV, especially for the price point – beautiful, sharp colors, great viewing angle, very thin LED design, and light weight as compared to traditional LCDs. While I would generally prefer a larger screen, the space I bought it for – Armoire in a bedroom, would only accommodate 32in. This is a perfect size for a bedroom or smaller living space. I compared this TV against a leading brand 32in LED at a local store and while this LED was slightly thicker and heavier, the colors on the screen were much brighter and facial features much more defined than the competition – and best of all its less expensive. The design is very modern – sharp lines, thin LED. It states Silver Grey in the description, but the bezel and stand are glossy black. I like it so well, I just ordered another one on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

VIZIO M160MV 16-Inch LED LCD HDTV with Razor LED Backlighting Black

I was looking for the smallest TV with the most connectivity options, This Vizio was the top contender. I like the set, but watch out if you intend to use the built-in ATSC TV tuner. The first thing I did was hook it up to an antenna and Whoa! worse picture I’ve ever seen (posterized and very poor color rendering). But when I tested it with various other sources including the built in QAM cable tuner, Windows Media Center, and DVDs, the picture was good and the viewing angle was generous. I’m giving it 4 stars only because the crappy ATSC tuner is only relevant to antenna users, which are far and few these days.

 

 

 

Panasonic TC-P65S2 65-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

We got the TV a week ago, did the 100 hour burn in using software available for free online. Then, a day spent calibrating it to our taste and when all that was done, we had a spectacular picture, especially sing our BR player. We have owned a Panasonic Plasma for four years now, no burned out pixels, no quality issues at all, hopefully this one will be equally as reliable.

For those that want to use this with your PC, understand that this is a next generation TV and isn’t going to interface to a normal video card. If your PC is current, it may well have an HDMI port on it and then this TV will work just fine. Or, if your Blu-Ray player is Internet ready, you will be able to download movies to it and watch them on the TV.

The sound quality from the TV is marginal at best, I’m not even sure why they put speakers in the set. I can’t imagine anyone buying a set this size and not using a home theater setup with it. When played through our Onkyo system, who cares about the TV speakers.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably researched LCD, LED, HDLP and Plasma and in sets this size, the transitional capability is much better than the other technologies in my opinion. No matter the level of the set, every LCD/LED set I previewed had momentary blurring in fast action scenes like sports. I get none of that on the plasma set. Although our media room allows for the proper viewing angle from every seat, you can get well outside the ideal range and the plasma picture is still accurate and bright.

There is some glare off the screen in bright light but again, in a dedicated media room application, it’s not an issue. The price of this set has been dropping pretty steadily so it’s quite a bargain at under $2K. Do check it very carefully when delivered, including using a flashlight at an oblique angle on the screen to detect any hairline cracks. It wasn’t a problem with mine but have heard of screen being broken in transit and hard to detect small cracks in normal light.

I think Panasonic owns the plasma field and this is a another step up in what they offer.

 

 

 

LG 47LD520 47-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV

Picture quality is good, although I had to mess with the color settings a lot (I’m still not sure I’ve got it 100% correct). There is some slight discoloration around the edges, but this is only noticeable when the TV is displaying one solid color.

I can’t stand to have the smoothing option (called TruMotion) turned on. It’s supposed to make TV look better, but I think it makes everything look like a soap opera. Luckily, it’s easy to turn off (Menu>Picture>TruMotion). Note: you’ll have to turn off TruMotion for each individual input. TV will look a little juddery without the smoothing, but it’s a limitation of all 120Hz TVs, and it’s a whole lot better than having TruMotion turned on (in my opinion).

That said, movies and video games look fantastic with the smoothing turned off. My Xbox 360 and PS3 games look great, as do Blu-ray movies.

I maxed out the 3 HDMI ports pretty quickly (Xbox 360, PS3, DVR), but I figure if I need another one, it’d probably be time to get a receiver anyway. It should be noted that there is only one set of component inputs.

Speakers are fine, nothing to write home about but they get the job done.

Remote requires you to point at a pretty specific spot (the lower-right corner of the TV). Kind of annoying, but I got used to it (I sit about 10 feet away).

The swiveling stand is nice (I turn it to face the kitchen when I’m making dinner), but it only turns about 20 degrees.

Overall, I’m very happy with what I got for the price I paid!

 

 

 

Toshiba 32CV100U 32-Inch 720p LCD/DVD Combo TV (Black Gloss)

It’s funny to see people give this product 4 stars and say its great but picture quality could be better. First and fore most, this is a 720p TV so if you’re used to 1080p then obviously the picture quality won’t be the same. I own a full HD TV and this TV is just right for my purpose, which was just to have something hanging in the work out room so I could watch TV or a movie as i worked out. Not to watch blu rays and to game on. With that said the TV does the job perfectly. Nice design, very sleek and attractive. The quality of the picture is very good though obviously it’s not the best out there. I own a 1080p full hd TV in the front room and this is not that far off IMO because as the TV screen gets smaller the need for high resolution becomes smaller and since this is 32 inches it’s not bad at all. The built in dvd is what sold me, wifey wanted it to put workout videos in. So for the price this TV is a great buy and handles the job nicely. Depends on your needs I suppose… Highly recommend as long as you don’t spend over $400 net on it.

Also, I purchased a Cheetah Articulating Arm Wall Mount for 23-37 tvs (here!CHEETAH MOUNTS LCD TV ARTICULATING ARM WALL MOUNT FOR 23-37″ DISPLAYS BLACK) off of amazon for like $20 and it worked perfectly… I didn’t even do research just saw it was a good deal and pulled the trigger like a month before i even purchased the TV and it fit perfectly to the 4 holes. So if you’re looking for a good mount to fit this there you go

 

 

 

LG 37LD450 37-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LCD HDTV

For the price, this LCD is phenomenal. I went to the local best buy looking for something to mount in the dining room so I can watch the news in the morning among other TV shows. After looking at all the 32s, 37s and 40s. This one stood above the rest. I have a Samsung LN46A650 and in my opinion, it was their best line of TVs and I’m glad I don’t have to pick from their subpar line of TVs now. I’ve seen clarity, rich colors 1080p etc etc etc. The LG is comparable to a TV that was 3 times its price.

Let me explain. You really have to literally take look all of the quailties of a TV in order to make an educated and smart purchase. Don’t buy a sony becuase it’s a sony. Don’t buy a TV of the same size that’s more expensive because somewhere in our upbringing we wer taught, expensive = better. Not the case. When looking for a TV, look at how choppy fast motion is. Do you see background pixelation around the central image? (like a fast moving car, a football player, etc.) Can you see inconsistencies in the back lighting? Are blacks rich while the rest of the picture is vibrant? (not bright, vibrant)Does the picture look grainy or are the textures smooth? Try not to get caught up in the technical aspects of the TV if you don’t know what they mean. They’ll just make you *think* one TV is better than the other. Look at the TV and let your eyes decide.

After comparing several models in a similar size range, and taking cost into account, this TV wins hands down. At the store, you have to try to remove the factor of the factory settings becuse stores don’t take the time to optimize *each and every* TV. Most TVs nowadays have more customization than you can shake a stick at. Gone are the basic color, tint, brightness settings. Now it’s gamma, RGB, temperature and so on. Most TVs have the ability to be tuned the way you want it and it’s because of this that it is so important to focus in on the mentioned above items. This LG shows a wonderful smooth picture that isn’t grainy, doesn’t show pixelation and colors are rich and lifelike, not plasticy and bright. Yes the Samsung of the same size is just as good, but the extra $200 it cost isn’t. Go and literally take a look at your local store and look for the things I mentioned above an you’ll see that this is a great Tv.

 

 

 

 

Panasonic TC-L42U25 42-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV

I got this to replace a similiar hitachi that I had for just a few days. The hitachi had backlighting issues where the top corners had the flashlight effect and it was very annoying during dark scenes. The hitachi did have a beautiful picture other than this one issue.

This Panny does not suffer from such problems. It has a great picture, same features and very nice sound for built in speakers.
The remote is very solid (compared to the Hitachi’s that felt very cheap). I am very pleased with this purchase. While it’s not an LED I was unable to see a difference at the stores when it was side by side, in fact, I was forcing myself to see a difference in the LED models but was unable too.

You can not go wrong with this TV. I am very picky about my electronics, especially video and this TV has a nice picture, no flaws, no bad pixels, no backlight bleeding etc. I was debating between this and the plasma’s but personally I do not like the picture quality on a plasma. I know they are supposed to be superior but I find the quality to be softer than LCD. Also, on the plasma’s, if you look closely you do see the screen door effect on the screen whereas the LCD’s have a smooth, clear screen. This is jut my opinion and personally prefer LCD vs Plasma but Plasma has it’s share of fans.

edit 7/30
I initially gave this 5 stars but after comparing it more and more to my other tv’s and the one it replaced (Hitachi that had banding issues) the picture is a bit softer than my other HDTV’s. Don’t get me wrong, its clear but not as sharp as the other tv’s no matter how much I played with the settings.

There is no reason not to give this U25 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

Toshiba 32C100U 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV (Black Gloss)

This has 2 HDMI inputs, not 3 as stated in the Technical Details section. I have been using this TV for just over 3 months (average 6 hours daily) and it has worked nicely. The picture quality is very good and the side viewing angle is very large. The input signals used for viewing DVD movies have been Standard Definition and High Definition, and both have been really satisfactory. The TV also performs well as a computer monitor, with absolutely no ‘ghosting’ of images when playing games, even without using the Gaming Mode function. The sound is adequate for a small room or a quiet environment. Out of the box, no adjustments to picture settings was needed for viewing DVD movies. There are presets available for Sports, Movies, PC etc. The TV has advanced features for picture adjustments which are really great, as they give the user lots of choices apart from the presets. All in all, this TV is worth the price.

 

 

 

Panasonic TC-L32X2 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with iPod Dock

I bought three new 32-inch LCD TVs in one week, and returned the first two because of faulty video inputs. The third TV I bought is this high-quality, Panasonic TC-L32X2 TV, which was just released in February 2010. My experience enabled me to compare three similar TVs, giving me good insight to write this review.

I initially bought two other 32-inch LCD TVs; a Vizio VO320E and a Sony BRAVIA BX 300 Series (model KDL-32BX300). I returned both of them because of identical video input problems. I connected two different brands of DVD players to each TV, and when I played DVDs, there were alternating horizontal stripes of discoloration on the screen, indicating a problem with the video inputs on the TVs. I returned both TVs to the retailer because both of these DVD players worked perfectly on two other TVs in my house, including a one-year-old Panasonic plasma.

Then I bought the Panasonic TC-L32X2 TV listed here. After the initial setup, the first thing I tested was the video output from a DVD player, and was relieved to find that the video was crisp and clear, with no stripes of discoloration like on the other two TVs. Then I flipped through the channels from a direct cable TV input (no cable box), and the TV output was excellent as well, and definitely better than the other two TVs that I had to return. Also, the build of the TV was noticeably of higher quality than the other two TVs. The remote has plenty of features, and is not cheap (like the ones that came with other two TVs).

This Panasonic TC-L32X2 TV comes with one cable TV input, one set of component video inputs (red/blue/green video and red/white audio), two sets of composite video inputs (red/white/yellow), three HDMI inputs, a PC input, an iPod dock with connector cable and rear input, an SD camera card input, and a Dolby digital audio output.

 

 

 

VIZIO E320VA 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV Black

I have this TV and enjoy the sound and picture quality. I’m a soundaholic. If you’ve never had a stereo or srs/home theater sound… it DOES take some time to adjust. The sound can be *VERY INTENSE*.

I suggest you adjust the sound; turn the TruSurround HD sound *TO OFF*, but do leave the TruVolumn *ON* (you can enter the graphic equalizer presets) use these to set the quality sound you enjoy most. When you do this it’s of course ‘best’ to be playing music, music dvd IS BEST.

If you SET the preset equalizer setting to *FLAT OR OFF*… you will be able to enter and customize the settings on your (*bass & treble*) levels.

Don’t hesitate to play around with the sound settings, one click will return it to the factory settings.

You will require a lower volumn level, significantly lower… the audio quality IS dynamic and intense for this TV.

 

 

 

LG 47LE5400 47-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV with Internet Applications

I’ve had the LG LE475400 set up in my living room for about a week now. I have a PS3, Xbox 360, surround sound receiver, and my HD cable box attached. With 4 HDMI slots, I was able to connect all of them with HDMI wires. Out of the box, the picture is pretty lame. Be prepared to spend roughly 10 – 15 minutes per input slot setting up your preferred options. Please note that for some reason the “Real Cinema” option is only available to me on certain HDMI slots – i wonder if it has anything to do with the connected equipment or not. Another interesting setting is the “Tru Motion” option – turn this to high if you like to have that “soap opera” feel to your video. I have to say, it looks very natural but i prefer to keep this option off as a matter of taste. I’m sure some people will love it. Besides those two options, you have the standard “Contrast”, “Sharpness”, etc,etc options as well. You could even control specific color settings – ie – Blue brightness, Red brightness, etc etc. Loads of tweaking options here. You could literally spend hours on each input if you’re obsessive enough.

After I completed all my tweaks for each input i have to say i’m very impressed with this TV. I probably sit a little too close to the TV than I should (I bought this TV for my next apt which will be bigger) and even with that being the case it looks great. As with all LCD’s you will see some motion distortion but I think LG has a done a great job limiting this (especially if you turn off Tru Motion).
Now granted the only movies I’ve watched on it so far are HD cable programs (like HD HBO) so I can’t comment on how Blu Ray movies would play (getting Avatar Blu Ray this coming Saturday to test it!!)

Where I see a huge improvement in this TV over my now defunct Samsung 40″ LCD (720p)is in video game graphics and visuals. I mean, this TV is perfect for gaming. It’s almost as if this TV has given some of my games a new lease on life. I can’t stress enough how amazing my games look and play on this TV. Again, I had to spend a bit of time tweaking the settings to my liking but I’m sure any die hard gamer or videophile would find settings that suit their taste. Just a phenomenal gaming TV.

From a physical design perspective you could probably find something more attractive. The bezel is as plain as it gets with a very “no frills” design. Also, before I wall mounted this TV I noticed it to be a bit wobbly on the stand. This could have been due to me not attaching the stand securely enough but I thought I did a solid job.
The best part of the design is how thin it is – I’m talking Kate Moss thin. I really love how thin it is. It’s just such a nice look.
Oh, and the power cord for some reason feels exceptionally short compared to other LCDs I’ve owned.

Compared to what I’ve paid in the past for LCDs, this TV is wonderful. If you’re in the market for a 47″ LCD definitely give this one a look.

 

 

 

Panasonic VIERA TC-P50G25 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

This pannasonic G25 is amazing. Clear, Crisp Picture. Colors are amazing, unlike an LCD. You never would know the difference unless you saw a plasma. Unfortunatly plasmas got a bad rap years ago and people shy away from them. This model (as do others including samsung) have built in image retention elimination devices. Follow the break in for the first 100 hours and you have nothing to worry about. The sound levels arent bad, you probably have a surround system anyways so it dont matter. This picture gets better and better as it breaks in. All store demos are pretty crappy and usually the plasmas are off to the side. If stores used a good setup and dialed in the sets its unbelievable how many they would sell, but most people drift to the big bright LCD or LED. This tv is bright and colors are unmatched. Hockey games and fast paced sports are crap on lcd, but on plasma when the hockey players stop, you can see every sliver of ice fly through the air. Plasmas are less money and better picture the an lcd, why buy an lcd? I looked at the samsung, however they have a realllly bad rep for buzzing. Get it, dial in your settings and you too will be blown away.

 

 

 

Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV Black

Was looking for a gift for Mom and Dad (a.k.a. me and my wife) and like to buy things we all can enjoy with the whole family. So being in the TV programming business I’ve been attending seminars on 3D and picking up very usual tips. Recently I learned from a vendor that Plasma is better than LED with 3D and that Panasonic and Samsung have already started exclusive 3D content wars with Panasonic holding “Avatar”. After reviewing prices and reviews I decided to go with Panasonic and couldn’t be happier. Amazingly this 50 inch TV weighs less than the 42 inch Sharp HD set it is replacing. Was able to mount on the wall and just blown away by the picture. And so far the sound has also been more than enough for the room although i’m looking into a surround sound system. The 3D is way cool (purchased A Christmas Carol with Jim Carey). Set up was a breeze and very pleased with the free shipping. Price dropped slightly after Thanksgiving and Amazon rocked with their matching guarantee. All in all a great experience and very pleased with this purchase.

 

 

 

Samsung LN32C450 32-Inch 720p 60 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

I think this is a great TV. I was torn between C350, C530 and this. I ultimately went for this because it was the sweetspot for me between price/performance.

Pros – The picture is excellent, my friends have Vizios from 2008 ranging between 26″ up to 46″ and in comparison, they look dim and unsaturated compared to this model from Samsung. 720p/1080i or downcoverted 1080p looks excellent, the picture quality at 1366×768 looks sharper, brighter and more colorful than other budget 32 inch 1080p models I seen. You can only notice stairstepping/pixels if you sit less than 2 feet away. Which with a TV this size would be way too close. I sit 6 feet away and edges are smooth (I have 20/20 vision.) OTA HD with bunny ears/loop antenna looks flawless. Upconverted 480p content looks great for it’s format. The amount of options to play with are great. But, even so, this TV looked excellent on it’s factory default settings. This TV also has multiple sound settings such as Movie and Clear voice modes. By the way, the speakers are hidden and loud, I have it set to 5-6 volume (out of 50) when using the PS3, 8-10 when watching TV, with very good sound quality for it’s wattage.

Cons- 8ms refresh rate, many might not notice but, going from a CRT (SD) to an LCD (HD), it was expected. In games it’s not really noticeable but, news tickers and other scrolling text it’s noticeable, but, this could be related to the TV being 60hz. Another thing is that it’s not true 1080p. 1080p content looks excellent however, it’s being displayed at 1366×768. This is a subjective thing, at 6 feet away, 1080p and 1080i/720p look the same on a 32″. But, if you want to future proof yourself, get the C530/C550. The stand is fine but, you may have to tighten the screws down until the they stop turning to make it stable. 480i non converted SD channels/inputs look so-so.

Synopsis – Besides 480i (SD), excellent picture quality for it’s class, even better than comparable 1080p sets from other brands. LCD refresh rate will take a few days to get used to if this is your first HDTV.

With Prime, this came the next day for a few bucks more, thanks Amazon.

 

 

 

Samsung UN55C8000 55-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LED HDTV

Let me start by saying that I do own this TV, and it is replacing the c7000 model. About a month ago I walked into a local retailer and asked when the 3D sets were coming out, to my surprise they had just received the first shipment of C7000 3D ready sets from Samsung. After spending about a half an hour checking out the TV, and asking a lot of questions I decided to take the plunge and purchase the TV, 3D Blu-Ray player, and starter kit. My intentions were not to buy a new set that day, but it was getting to be time to upgrade anyway so I wanted to have something with some “wow factor” for a while. A friend and I loaded up the set and got the connections made, cracked a couple of beers and checked out my new investment. There were mixed reactions to say the least. Once the novelty of the 3D wears off you can be really critical of that model. Huge amount of “crosstalk” on the picture, and cloudy bright spots with “flashlighting” in the bottom two corners. Very disappointing. I went back to the store to look at the display model again and did not see a fraction of the issues that my set was showing. The salesperson said that the Panasonic Plasma should be coming in any day and they expected it to be light years ahead of the Samsung in picture quality, black level, no crosstalk, etc.

After a week or so I went in to see the Panasonic that was now also on display only to see the same issues with crosstalk in 3D. The 2D experience on the Panasonic was quite good but at the time the only size available was 50″, and I was replacing a 62″ set and really didn’t want to make that drastic of a change. So on bright pictures the Samsung was absolutely stunning! In a dark room while watching a dark movie the picture was just unacceptable for a TV in this price range. At this point I figured that I would return the TV, and wait for one of the larger Panasonic’s to hit the stores.

Then I saw that the C8000 was being released earlier than expected, and had new technology called Pinpoint Dimming. After doing quite a bit of reading reviews, and others’ experience with the Samsung locally dimmed set’s I decided to give Samsung another chance before going to Plasma. Amazon had the TV for sale before my local retailer so I placed the order and crossed my fingers that I would not be returning two new TV’s instead of one. Well let me wrap this up by saying that I am sooooo glad that I made this choice! The C8000 is absolutely stunning in aesthetic quality, and is the best picture quality I have probably ever seen! Dare I say it is even better than the 8500 from last year that gets such great reviews. There is no flashlighting, the black levels are completely pitch black, and as another reviewer already stated, once you get the picture dialed in the way you like it there really is no comparison. Everyone that sees the TV in my house has to stop and watch for a while, in fact, the downside to owning it is that I can’t get people to go home!

Now with that being said, there are some minor observations that would be different in a perfect world. If you put this set in a large room and watch it from a large angle you will lose some of the black levels, and for the price it really should have wifi built in. Also, in the menu’s it seems that some settings should be grouped together under the headings, so you have to jump around in the menu’s a bit to get your set dialed in, but this is typically not something you will be doing all the time. Other than that I really can’t see a problem with it. When considering the C7000 or C8000 do yourself a favor and choose the latter. Even if this set was hundreds of dollars more it would be worth it. This one will be hard to beat.

UPDATE: After having the TV for about a week it started having some technical issues like switching sources randomly, and changing the picture settings for no reason. Samsung tech support was very good and we thought initially the problems were being caused by the Logitech remote I use, however after increased tech issues the TV had to be returned. Being that the picture quality is so exceptional on this set I have already replaced it with another one of the same model purchased at retail (for much less money actually) and am keeping my fingers crossed that this one does not have any technical issues. I am leaving my review at five stars simply because every so often you can get a bum product, or something could have happened during shipping, but have to say that Samsung, and Amazon have been really great about taking care of me on this, and the picture quality really is very good. Reading the other reviews I am surprised that anyone would not give this a five star rating. When replacing my C8000 I checked out one of the last B8500′s still available, and side by side I have to say that not only me, but most people in the store were more impressed with the C8000. By the way, I have owned several products that C-net gave very high ratings that I had no success with, and vice versa, so I really think it comes down to your own expectations on a purchase like this.

 

 

Samsung LN40C530 40-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

Did a lot of research on TVs before I decided to get this one. Was not excited about the 120hz TVs; do not like the soap opera/camcorder motion. I was debating if I should get the internet options with the apps on the other models, but I have a PS3 so it wasnt worth paying for the extra features. So I got this 60hz LCD and I have no regrets! The picture this TV produces are amazing, especially on Blu Ray. I watched my New Zealand vacation videos on it and it really brings out the colors and makes my video look even more movie like. Avatar looks amazing on it as well. I got it for $640 and worth every dime.

 

 

Toshiba 19CV100U 19-Inch 720p LCD/DVD Combo TV (Black Gloss)

I have an LV506 and a CV100, same size, 19.5″ diagonal. The earlier model, the LV506, has a larger screen by 3/4″ vertical measurement (same width). And the LV has a sharper picture. I have used both in the same location with the same hookup. The advantage on the newer CV is faster and easier channel changes with the remote: you don’t have to press an extra button to go to digital signal– it’s automatic. The base is much wider on the CV, so the set is more stable. The CV has a more complicated set up menu, but it’s usable. Toshiba customer service line is outstanding, so no problem setting up either one.

 

 

 

Samsung LN40C630 40-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

I have literally been following the prices of HDTV’s for about a year now, and there is no better time for an upgrade! Samsung just released their new “C” series, and somehow they are remarkably less expensive than their pre-existing models! The majority of the websites are selling this HDTV for $800+, Amazon’s lower-than-low price is less than the rest of the market. I purchased it here on Amazon, and received my HDTV in 5 days (could have been 4 days, but I had school all day). CEVA did the shipping for my HDTV, which I was wary at first because I have only dealt with UPS and Fedex. However, CEVA provided excellent customer service as they did contact me and I verbally specified a delivery time. Packaging was very efficient, and surprisingly light too!

For those who prefer using TV stands, you do have to assemble it on your own. Extremely easy to assemble though! All it took was 9 screws (already in the box) and I recommend using a power-screwdriver. Directions said it required two people, I did it solo! I was just eager to hook up my PS3 via HDMI cable and experience the wonderful world of 1080P.

Okay, now for the specifics and why this HDTV deserves a spot in your living room – As I mentioned before, right up to my purchase I extensively followed the quality and price of several HDTVs. The Samsungs 530, 550, 630, 650. The Samsung 630 is the best deal for your money, here’s why: The 5 series is less expensive, but only offers refresh times of 60Hz as compared to the 630 which is 120Hz. This is a big difference, and means that your HDTV with 120Hz displays at least twice as many frames-per-second which makes movies, not only sports, very fluid and more realistic. Another difference is the response time, where as the 5 series has a 6ms response time, the 6 series has a 4ms response time. And if you are a gamer, a difference of 2ms can make a big difference. So why the Samsung 630 and not the 650? The only difference now is the contrast ratio. The 630 comes with a 80,000:1 contrast ratio which in my opinion, still creates an extraordinary depth to the display. TV contrast ratio’s are starting to become stable around the 70,000 – 100,000 range (or much higher for LEDs). Whereas, 3 years ago the highest was around 10,000 but kept constantly rising. So this HDTV is very much future proof. Yes, the 650 has a higher contrast ratio, but is it worth the extra $200 something dollars?

All in all, if you’re not worried about price, go all out and purchase a LED HDTV. But if you want to shop smart, this HDTV is the way to go.

 

 

 

LG 26LE5300 26-Inch 720p 60Hz LED LCD HDTV

First and foremost – I’ve owned this tv for about two weeks now. Bought it with Amazon Prime to get free 2 day shipping (totally worth it) and my only qualm was it arrived at like 8pm the day it was supposed to come. Meh, two days is two days, no biggie.

This is a great tv, the colors are deep, the backlight is strong and the overall design is absolutely breathtaking, its barely thicker than my phone! The number of ports on the back is astonishing as well, although I have no intention of ever wall mounting it, having ports facing outward on the back may be a point of hesitation for anyone with that in mind. The size and relatively small bezel means it fits well in any medium sized room and in a small room like mine it looks perfect. I read the top negative feedback and I was quite apprehensive about buying this tv if the connection to a computer looked like crap but I am so happy to report that that’s not the case at all. If anything with a little fiddling in the settings (should be the first thing you do with any electronics purchase) the great sharpness and color quality of the tv when connected to my laptop blew me away. This tv is now my default monitor for my laptop, which, besides my PS3 (which looks brilliant on it btw, ridiculous black levels make this a dream to play on) is probably what the majority of its use will be as I watch a ton of movies on my computer. As a matter of fact I was so blown away by this tv I impulse bought a 2 tb harddrive to download new movies and shows onto just so I could watch them on this sexy beast of a mid-sized tv. Speaking of which, the USB function of this tv is pretty alright too if you don’t have a computer monitor cable to connect to it or any other mode of watching downloaded media. It doesn’t read every format but for the easy stuff and whatnot it picks them up and plays them quite painlessly and considering all the other ports there’s really no video file you can’t, with a little bit of thinking and proper cabling, figure out how to play on this tv, whether through its inbuilt usb, a flash drive on a ps3, a laptop with a monitor cable hooked up, as far as I’ve seen the sheer number of options you have means the possibilities are plentiful. Highly recommended for anything you don’t need a 42+ incher for.

Did I mention it was less than $400? Why haven’t you bought this yet?!

 

 

 

Haier HLT10 10-Inch Handheld TV Black

I already own an older analog Haier 7″ LCD TV that I have been using a a monitor. I feed the signal from a MallinCam astronomical video camera into it and observe live images in that manner. I wanted a larger viewing platform, so I ordered the Haier 10.2″ digital TV. I quickly learned that all LCD screens are not the same. The screen on the new 10.2″ is not capable of being adjusted as dark as that on the older Haier. For normal TV usage, that will not be a problem. But for those wanting to use this device as a monitor, it will. Also when in A/V mode (using the 10.2″ Haier as a monitor) the TINT function is disabled. It is available when viewing the TV. THis makes no sense, as one critical adjustment when using the TV as a monitor is the ability to adjust tint.

Regarding the TV reception, it was poor. I set up the unit in my office in New Orleans, and it tuned in over 12 digital stations. However, I could only watch one. the rest were either highly pixelated or not visible at all. At my home 40 miles north of New Orleans, no stations were detected, making this TV useless during a power outage.

 

 

 

LG INFINIA 47LE8500 47-Inch 1080p 240 Hz Full LED Slim LCD HDTV

I got mine from a local store on sale for a little under $1600. That was about three weeks ago. And since then my entire family just can’t get enough of it.

Picture quality is just great – and that’s expected. But what amazes me is all the extra functionality with what this TV is packed.

1. Video streaming with Netflix. (It also has VUDU, YouTube, Picasa – but I did not try VUDU yet, and YouTube and Picasa work just fine, but I do not need a huge display to view some low resolution videos from YouTube). So Netflix movies available to watch instantly look great. Even those that are not HD quality. I must say that I have FIOS internet connection, so that must be also a component for high quality videos, but as far as this set goes – it does a great job.

2. This TV has 2 hi-speed USB2.0 input jacks, and it recognizes not just flash drives, but also USB external hard drives – even with NTFS file format. I tried both – FAT32 and NTFS, and also external drives with additional power source and without it, – this TV recognizes them all. It can play your video files (and other media too) directly from external hard drive! And it supports multiple video formats, including Matroska H.264. It also supports external subtitles for AVI files. I did not test multiple subtitles formats, but SRT works great. It supports standard Latin letters languages and Korean. No other encodings though.

I want also to add a few words about design. I use a TV stand that it came with, and it allows TV to be turned both sides about 20 degree – just enough to get to the USB jacks or to additional audio or HDMI jacks that are placed on a left side. The main ones are located on the back panel – which is also pretty easy to reach thanks to that rotating feature of a stand. The rotation is very smooth and requires no force at all.

I can’t be more pleased with it.

 

 

 

LG 32LD450 32-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LCD HDTV

This is my first flat panel TV, and I shopped around alot before I purchased this set. It came promptly, was very well packed for shipment, and came out of the box in pristine condition. I mounted it in the bedroom, on the Cheetah brand wall mount, and used the screws supplied with the set that would normally have been used for the table mount. They fit the wall mount holes as well, which made it nice. The only problem there is that the wall mount bracket blocks one of the HDMI jacks.

The set works fine, and the picture quality is excellent, especially on Blue Ray DVD’s. I don’t have my HD satellite service hooked up yet, but I am very happy with the set, and I’m sure that my satellite HD reception will be as nice as the Blue Ray DVD’s.

All in all, a very positive ordering experience, and a very good TV.

 

 

 

VIZIO XVT473SV 47-inch Class Full Array TruLED LCD HDTV 240 Hz SPS

If you’re sitting within a -30 degree to +30 degree angle perpendicular to the TV, it is amazing. The picture is clear, the contrast is great, and this is where LED performs best. Even though the tech specs say this TV has a viewing angle of -178 to +178 degrees, it doesn’t say that the image would be consistent throughout. Straight on, it looks perfect; but from an angle, the blacks become brighter and turn grayish. At a wide angle, the color remains the same, but blacks do not. Also, straight on you have a matte screen; at an angle, it turns into a glossy screen. I find this very strange, and have not experienced this anywhere else. I’ve also noticed if you have white text on black background, viewing from a wide angle will create a “halo” effect around the text; of course, moving to the center will eliminate this halo. I don’t know if this is a side effect of LED backlit screens, but I just find these to be slightly annoying. It really doesn’t deter me much, and not noticeable to most viewers. I can live with it because it performs better in other areas. Avatar on Blu-ray looks incredible on this TV. 240hz make it looks more surreal than real-life, so I turn that down a bit.

The in-menu interface is not as pretty or fluid as other counterparts, but it works good enough. The remote with slide-out keyboard is pretty useful if you use a lot of internet apps. I use Netflix and Pandora the most, but Twitter and Facebook are also available, as well as many more in the future… I’m still waiting on Hulu to release an app. The remote also connects via Bluetooth, so it does not need a line of sight, and can be operated up to 30 feet away (very useful to changing to the next song on Netflix if listening from another room). I don’t use the built-in speakers; I connect to my audio system so I can’t comment on that. The tuner is a bit slow, but I use over-the-air antenna so that may be why.

It’s still a great buy compared to the higher end models. A few drawbacks doesn’t make me regret my purchase because of the other features that I take advantage of.

 

 

 

 

Sony BRAVIA KDL46EX710 46-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV Black

I have been looking for the better part of two months to replace my aging LG Plasma, which has served me well for 5 years. I think I read every possible review about the various Sony LCD and LED models, seems like professional and consumer reviews are inconsistent.
If you believe CNet, this TV, and other models such as the ex400 and ex700, suck. Nonsense ! I was originally planning on buying a
50in Samsung Plasma, until I found numerous complaints on line about them breaking down. So I decided to go with Sony, and I’m glad
I did. (BTW I also have a nice 42in Samsung Plasma with what I considered to be a pretty good picture)
This model has almost every conceivable feature you would want, a generous amount of inputs, extensive to the point of more than what the average person needs as far as picture options, a nicely designed remote control, and an absolutely stunning picture.
Yes, there are better sets out there, but for the money I spent, I think I made the right choice.
Since I’m not particularly interested in Internet content or Widgets playing on my TV, I can’t comment on that aspect.
Each and every input on this set can be memorized and contoured to your liking. Another great feature is the energy saving mode,
and an actual on/off switch, wherein no power is being consumed at all.
The only real criticism and negative comment to be made is….. the picture dims immediately on any type of off-angle. Common with
LCD and LED sets, this one in particular seems very prone to this effect. The brightness and contrast are like cut in half as soon
as you move away from the TV. I don’t have mine mounted on a wall, just a common TV stand, so the best viewing angle is directly
in front, which, compared to my Plasma sets, is an anomaly. Guess what ? I don’t care…..
One distinct plus is, the matte screen, which does a good job of negating ambient room light reflections. The LED screen is just
as bright and colorful during daylight hours as it is at night in a darkened room.
All these complaints I read about local dimming, motion flow, 120hz, blah blah blah, this set looked great right out of the box.
You really can’t ask for much more than that…..

 

 

 

Toshiba 46WX800 46-Inch 1080p 240 Hz Cinema Series 3D LED TV Black

i researched these types of sets for months for the family. surprisingly there were hardly any reviews on the 55wx800u – none on cnet or other major review sites. since my family loves toshiba products (3 generations of toshiba buying family members) we decided to take the plunge on this tv. reasonably priced with a whole host of settings to customize your tv’s picture, if you like to tweak. if not, you can choose from some nice presets. overall, the color is vibrant, the set is very attractive – elegant, professional but not overly done like some other sets. prior to this tv, we had the panasonic s2 42″ plasma tv (which replaced a 53″ toshiba projection television)in the family room,as i wanted to try a plasma set and toshiba doesn’t make plasmas. happy with the panay, we were torn to either get the panasonic 54vt 3dtv or this set. pricing was similar – but internet was not built into the panay. the plasma consumes much more power than this set. also, the 3d glasses that come with the toshiba are much more comfortable than the ones that came with the panay. so without reviews and based solely on my family’s experience with toshiba, we bought this tv. we are extremely happy and i believe all the talk about blooming, clouding, flashlighting that comes with an edge lit set like this one is either overdone or toshiba has done an excellent job overcoming these issues. some quick things to note, connection to the wireless internet went smoothly and the widgets are very cool. there is a system update that takes about 5 mins – so make sure you update your system. also, when attaching the standing to the tv, it states slide and lock…it’s a bit confusing and customer service wasn’t very helpful -
just slide flat so that the two tabs on the stand slide into the two openings on the back of the tv – so you don’t have to press down to lock in something the toshiba customer service (who apparently never put one of these things together) suggested. anyway, i wanted to put a real review up here since this is so lacking. if you have questions, ask. also, i will update in a couple months as to reliability. oh, lastly, don’t buy from JR.com – their policy states that they have to open the package and add some “protective materials”- well – that set arrived broken. i refused the package and reordered through amazon.com and they sent the package “factory sealed” and it was fine.

 

 

 

Toshiba 37E200U 37-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV (Black Gloss)

I just purchased this TV to replace my Samsung 27″ tube HDTV which was an absolute beast (147 lbs!). This TV is WONDERFUL! It’s the 3rd Toshiba LCD in my house (also have a 32″ in my bedroom and a 19″ in the home office). The picture is crystal clear with rich, bright, vibrant colors. I watch a lot of sports and play video games on this TV and it performs great for both. There aren’t noticeable tracers when watching fast action. I wish it had a regular a/v sound output (red & white), but it only offers a digital audio output which doesn’t work w/ my out-dated receiver (not the TV’s fault). I compared this side-by-side to LG’s similarly priced 37″ model and it blew the LG away. The picture was brighter, clearer, and lost less quality at an angle. I’ve noticed some reviews that are critical of the TV’s sound, but I’m not having any issues with it. I’m sure it doesn’t compare to the sound quality of a home theatre system, but it isn’t any worse than any other TV I’ve owned. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck on a moderately priced lcd TV, this is the one.

 

 

 

Panasonic TC-L37D2 37-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV

I’ve had this TV for two weeks so far.

I had ordered a 50″ plasma before I got this but returned the plasma because it was too big for my living room. The picture on this TV is comparable to that plasma which is saying a lot. Its black are very deep. Its the LED-LCD combo at its best. This is one of the best TVs in the 37″ category … perhaps THE best 37″ at the writing of this review.

It has a small iPod dock that comes with this TV. I never gave it much attention when buying the TV but have discovered it to be extremely useful. I find myself playing my iPod through the receivers now simply because it connects so easily to the TV.

I also have my PlayStation 3 connection to the TV via an HDMI cable and the games are great. The sound on the TV without the external speakers (such as a soundbar or a 5.1 speaker system) is not very good. But then that is the issue with ALL the thin TVs.

The TV is black however the base that it comes with is dark gray in color. Its got two HDMI inputs at the back and 1 HDMI on the side along with the SD card input incase you want to connect your camera to the TV easily. You can read the rest up in the product specs.

Remember that this is a 4th generation TV – the product and the technology that it is coming with is quite mature at this point. You can’t go wrong with this TV.

 

 

 

Toshiba 26CV100U 26-Inch 720p LCD/DVD Combo TV (Black Gloss)

 

I bought this LCD/DVD TV combo for my wife so she can watch her movies on DVD in the kitchen and she loves it. It’s just the right size and weight to be moved around to suit her viewing needs. The speaker are very loud for this unit and I sometimes have to tell her to turn it down a bit. The picture quality is good but not as good as my Sony Bravia unit. The colors don’t seems as rich to me but my wife said she doesn’t notice any difference. So given that, I gave it 5 stars. I don’t know about the longevity of Toshiba. I have mostly own Sony TVs. If there are any issues, I will keep you posted. BTW, there were NO dead pixels too which is great. Given the price, it’s a good bargain.

 

 

 

Samsung LN40C650 40-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

Got this, my first HDTV, for $749 total delivered. Seems like a great deal. Has the AA01 panel:

PROS: Very good HD picture, which becomes stunning with good source material (after calibrating the picture); excellent SD picture (better than the good CRT TV it replaced); tons of controls for picture calibration; streaming Netflix is great, the Pandora app has become my household’s new source for music of all types, either through the TV speakers or piped to the stereo; ethernet makes upgrading firmware and internet apps very easy; lots of connectivity; easy to set up; light; swivel stand works well; power efficient; doesn’t get hot; no noise or buzz; no dead or stuck pixels; has analog audio out jack (important for old A/V receivers); functions as an outstanding computer monitor (with DVI-to-HDMI cable); glossy screen helps picture and repels dust; can’t even notice the red “Touch of Color” design.

CONS: Though black levels are generally very good, when the screen and room are both dark you can see some flashlighting around the corners and some bleedthrough of the backlight; very fast motion on screen will cause brief pixelization and loss of picture clarity (has to be very fast motion — football and other sports look great); picture quality degrades quickly as you move off-center (though not as much as in some other LCD TVs); requires major picture calibration out of the box (I used settings found in reviews of this TV on the web, tweaked them a bit to preference, and the picture’s much better, though it’s hard to get it right); most of the current internet apps are useless; the factory preset modes are useless.

Overall it’s a very good TV, with a picture that can sometimes be mesmerizing. And I’m glad I paid a bit extra for the C650′s internet connectivity and glossy screen. But my main complaints – backlight bleedthrough, motion pixelization and off-center picture quality – lead me to believe that my next TV might be a plasma. Sound is adequate, neither a pro or con really. Four stars.

 

 

 

 

Panasonic VIERA TC-P42G25 42-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

Although I have been working in the AV industry for many years I have been holding back – seen a lot of feature hype and hoopla go by but this is the first flat screen plasma I liked with a price that was reasonable.
For a couple of years now I have been looking for an HDTV with wide viewing angels – worked well in dark or well lit room without too much reflection – rich accurate color reproduction – Works well with games or sports motion – works well with over the air/cable SD signals or SD DVD play back – ease of use – easy break in – Minimal chance of image retention – Multiple input/outputs – reasonable price.
We have had our 42G25 now for several weeks and have been very pleased with our choice – did have to buy the component cables for our Wii which improved the picture quality fairly well for an SD video game. We also purchased a Panasonic Bluray player with the TV it works nicely with SD or Bluray playback – The TV’s THX certified picture setting is very pleasing and color accurate for movies – I use the Custom setting for over the air and cable TV watching with a few minor adjustment tweaks I got excellent results. Both the TV and player have internet abilities – I have used utube so far works fine. Also I was easily able to updated the firmware for both TV and player. Bought a Mini DVI to HDMI adapter to use my 2 yr. old MacBook computer works fine @ 1920x1080p resolution streaming Hulu etc. There is an RGB port on the TV but only lower resolutions work – since RGB is limited anyway I would use the HDMI port if your computer is 1080p capable. The sound is a little on the tinny side for me but my wife doesn’t seem to mind it personally I usually use the AV amplifier when watching TV or Movies. The TV remote is easy to use and lights up. The BR player remote is also easy use but does not light up not sure I get that – it makes it very awkward to use in the dark. So I just put everything on our Sony universal 2100 remote and the wife was happy controlling all sources with one touch screen remote that lights up.
One last thing – I’m keeping an eye on the alleged “rising black levels” but I have not notice anything yet. I’ll repost if anything comes up. However I do recommend this TV to all it’s a good value, sharp accurate picture and a great product.

UPDATE 11/17/10 I promised to give an update if I noticed any alleged “rising black levels” Well I must have a couple of thousand hours on the set now and have not been able to detect anything significant. The black levels now look the same as the day I purchased the TV. I ran a few simple tests the day I bought the set and just the other day (won’t bore you with details) so far the black level tests when compared are the same. I do expect there will eventually be some minor rise in black levels but this is true of most plasma sets anyway because of phospher life and built in bios adjustments – yawn – yawn etc. etc. — but were talking thousands of hours here and years of viewing time. Yet at the same time if there are any changes I expect them to be very minor not so noticeable by the naked eye when viewing TV or Movie content.

 

 

 

Coby TFTV1525 15-Inch Widescreen TFT LCD 720p HDTV/Monitor

I bought this TV to use as a small TV that I could carry around and also to use as a computer monitor sometimes. I was not surprised to see it looked very similar to my Samsung TVs because I read from a few websites that it was built with Samsung OEM parts. Even the menu and the setup were very much the same as those on the Samsungs. OTA HDTV quality was decent for a 720p TV of this size. SDTV channels looked better than I could get from the VSonic LCD TVs I also own. Sound quality was excellent considering the small size of the TV and the speakers. The audio was clear and loud even on the default settings. Besides the VGA input, the HDMI input and coaxial digital audio output were the nice bonuses that I didn’t believe I could get with a 15”/15.6″ TV but this TV has them all. With a cheap antenna, I could get more than 50 DTV channels in the city. The TV looks very slick in glossy piano black. When used as a monitor, I was very pleased with the 1366×768 screen I got from my laptop via the VGA connector. I also tried the HDMI connection with my desktop and it looked excellent, too. Overall, I would highly recommend this TV to those who are shopping for a 15″ TV. Another plus is it has a 16:9 aspect ratio (which I prefer) and not the 16:10 that most other 13 to 19″ TVs have.

 

 

 

Samsung LN40C550 40-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

I got a great deal on this through Amazon, and am very pleased with this tv compared to the only other LCD I’ve owned, a smaller (26in) BB store brand. The Samsung HDTV is one of the most attractive flatscreens I’ve seen, with a sleek look and a useful swivel based. It’s the first tv I’ve ever owned where I don’t feel the need to keep it hidden away in a cabinet, it looks so good. I didn’t really notice the “touch of red” until I moved the tv to a brighter room (where I’ve had no problems with glare or light reflecting on the tv), and it’s a subtle touch that makes the tv stand out from others. Picture quality has been great for watching cable and dvds. I don’t game, so can’t comment on that. While I haven’t noticed the audio clipping from all sources that another reviewer mentioned, the sound is a bit tinny for music videos. However, I would imagine that someone really into music would want to hook this up to a sound bar at the least. I may look into one myself. Other than that, I am pleased and expect to enjoy the tv for many years to come. If I’d had more money, or hadn’t gotten the great deal on this model, I might have upgraded to the 120 Hz, but so far the 60 Hz has worked fine for me.

 

 

 

Panasonic VIERA TC-P42GT25 42-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV Black

I’ve had this TV just a little over a week, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m definitely not an expert, but the picture clarity/quality looks amazing to me. 3D works well. Like the other reviewer, I also love how many ports the TV has, and combined with the easy to use on-screen input menu, it’s the most convenient system I’ve had.

If you order this TV with the 3D package and Blu-ray Player, make sure to buy the HDMI cable at the same time. The 3D won’t work without it, and the Blu-ray player comes with the RCA cables only.

 

 

Samsung UN46C6300 46-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV (Black)

Amazing picture. Sound not so great as tiny speakers aim down from the bottom ridge of tv. I cant believe how thin the television is and how bright the picture is. It plays most everything I’ve thrown at it in perfect color and very little pixelation. No warm up time like Standard LED TVs and much easier to watch. I highly recommend this TV. If you’re going to buy an LCD television…make sure it is backlit with LEDs. Samsungs out-perform all the other brands.

 

 

Sony BRAVIA KDL55NX810 55-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D-Ready LED HDTV Black

Just received this new Sony and it is everything Sony claims it to be. Absolutely the best picture I have seen in a LCD TV and better than my 3 yr old 46XBR4 that had the fluorescent backlighting. This NX has a dynamic(local dimming) edge lit LED, and the contrast and blacks are excellent. The 3D is stunning with little ghosting, even with 3D set for max effect. I coupled this NX810 with Sony’s new Blu-RAy S770, and the picture is stunning, as good or better than any theater, and better than my previous LCD TV combo. I have noticed that the NX810 could be brighter. I find myself using the ‘vivid” picture setting during the day as the TV display was darker than desired when using standard or custom and lacked bright colors. As such, I can not use the cinema scene setting or theater mode during daylight and some DVDs with lots of ‘dark scenes’ do not show well with simulated 3D during daylight periods

My one complaint is that the sound is not what you would expect from a $3K new Sony. The sound is a cheap sound(tinny),and did not meet by expectations since it has 3 speakers built-in. I ended up adding on the $359 NX810 optional stand (Bushin)(SU-B550S) that includes a better 2.1 sound system to compensate. This one option proved to be worth every penny as the audio is now full and deep.

I am still playing with the video settings, but I have noticed that imperfections of the incoming signal are much easier to discern than my previous LCD. In fact on the same broadcast, a bad shimmer in the background, will go away and a brilliant fine detail picture comes on when they shift cameras like in a news broadcast

This NX has wired Ethernet and wireless connectivity, and the streamed HD video from Amazon is excellent. In order for you to stream Dolby 5.1 audio, you must select ‘audio system’ on speakers to output 5.1 to your surround sound amp or you will only get PCM. The NX has LED edge lighting but with local dimming and it results is great contrast. Not sure if the HX909 full LED array backlighting would result in a much better picture.

I also am very happy with the 3D effects. Playing a movie made for 3D, gives you great 3D depth effect, almost as good as the theater. Using simulated 3D on my Avatar Blu-Ray disk resulted in good 3D but the depth was not as good as the movie theater. Trying simulated 3D on sports also added depth to many scenes, especially the football if the camera angle was right.

You can buy this TV with a free bundle (various vendors offer the free bundle) that includes everything you need for 3D (transmitter + 2 glasses), plus the bundle gives you a 3D Alice + HDMI cable. So, with the bundle you get everything the LX900 has AND with better picture since the LX is only edge LED with no local dimming.

Overall very happy with this purchase. My only complaint is the “tinny” sound-probably because the speakers are on the backside of the TV and directed either backwards or down as compared to my old XBR4 which had great audio quality and had speakers on either side

 

 

 

Coby TFTV3225 32-Inch Widescreen TFT LCD 720p HDTV with HDMI Input (Black)

Bought this TV for $320 last week. The very next day after I purchased it the price went up to $350, but today the price is at $300. So I’m not sure why the price fluctuates so much but you may want to wait for the price to be at the lower end. Well anyways I received the TV yesterday so the delivery was a little over a week for a NY to CA shipment. So far I am very satisfied with the TV. It looks very nice and in my opinion is nice enough to be a Living Room TV. I use as a tv in my room mostly for movies and my Xbox 360. I must say the 720p is sharp and like the other reviewer said this tv can go up to 1080p. There are a ton of ports for everything HDMI, VGA, etc. Oh also the sound from just the TV itself is solid. One complaint I do have however is the power cable length as it is very short about 4 FT maybe. The question with these cheaper brand TV’s is always gonna be longevity and to that I can’t speak to yet. But as of right now I am very satisfied with the TV and highly recommmend it.

 

 

 

Samsung PN50C450 50-Inch 720p Plasma HDTV (Black)

I got this tv on sale the day after it arrived in stores for only $720 and I could not be happier with it. The picture is fantastic right out of the box. As with all plasmas, make sure you take the break in period seriously by turning down the contrast and brightness a bit for the first 100-200 hours. I’ve also been running the anti-burn in scrolling feature for about an hour a night when I go to bed and have yet to notice any sort of image retention although I haven’t played any video games on it yet.

There’s a lot of chatter about these Samsung plasmas having an annoying buzzing sound coming from them but I have yet to notice it. Maybe I just got lucky with mine but it runs very quietly.

 

 

 

Samsung UN40C6500 40-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV (Black)

This TV is great. No complaints with the product. I upgraded from a 1080i to this one and I can notice a big difference from the 1080i to the 1080p in the clarity and depth of color on the screen. I had a 1080i-32 inch Sharp and it was a nice flat screen TV but after doing research and reading reviews on the Samsung I chose to upgrade to this model. I am really glad I did because the picture, when watching high def shows, is much better than my old TV. I haven’t hooked my blu-ray player up yet and watched a blu-ray movie but I purchased an HDMI cable for it so I know it is going to be fantastic. My only problem was with the shippers Amazon used to deliver. (I chose the free shipping option). I won’t go into details since I have since returned to this product on their web page and they are no longer offering it until further notice (one of the reasons is their shipping method). Mine was delivered by CEVA (total nightmare). They don’t pinpoint the issue but my money is on the shippers and I feel good that they will take the effort to try and resolve the issue. Overall I really like my new TV and enjoy shopping at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Sony BRAVIA KDL40HX800 40-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D-Ready LED HDTV Black

I went with this to replace my old Samsung LCD. The picture quality is absolutely amazing. I tested it with 2 different movies, Avatar and Up. I was blown away. You know that feeling you get whenever you buy something new and it’s better than you even imagined? That’s what I feel about this TV. Even my wife who seems to be affected by the Amish gene (cares nothing about new technology) was awed by the quality. If you’re buying a new TV and trying to decide between the Bravia or Samsung take my advice and get the Sony Bravia. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

Toshiba 40UL605U 40-Inch 1080p 120 Hz Ultra Thin LED HDTV Black

I have owned 3 different HDTVs before this one (Toshiba 56″ 720p DLP, Viewsonic 37″ 60Hz 720p LCD, and Panasonic 42″ 720p Plasma). My living room, where this tv is used, is pretty dimly lit. We have our couch and recliner about 7-8′ away from the screen, which is about perfect for this size screen. I use this TV mainly for PS3 games and blu-ray movies.

Picture: This is by far the best picture quality in my house. The screen is much brighter and crisper than the other technologies. This being my first 1080p and my first LEDtv I was sort of put off by what Andrew Jing mentions in his review here:

By Andrew Jing: **Note on 120hz: don’t buy this or any other TV only for the ClearFrame, MotionFlow, etc. It makes filmed content (native 24p or 30p) look really weird. The classic example is the movie vs. daytime soap opera effect. It can make filmed content look like it was shot through a home camcorder. Obviously, if you watch live sports, etc. this is helpful, but just not for movies and filmed TV content. This model, like all others, allows you to switch off the 120hz feature.**

This is VERY noticeable and no, you do not get used to it like I’ve read in some reviews. This alone had me about to ship this TV back and invest in a Plasma. I read through the manual and found out how to turn the 120Hz down to 60Hz. Movies look much better now!

For PS3 games this TV is nothing short of amazing. I have a couple of “1080p” games (FFXIII and Dead Space) and they look 10x better on this TV than on my 56″ DLP. I’ve also been replaying Dragon Age recently and it’s like night and day between the two displays. If you are buying this set primarily for gaming you won’t be disappointed.

Sound: It’s okay. I tested it for a good 5 minutes before switching to my receiver. In my opinion if you’re putting down $700.00+ on a HDTV, you should really get equal HD sound quality. And you can’t realistically expect that from such a thin display.

Menus: The menus are pretty straight forward and easy to use. Setting up wirelessly to our network was very easy with the “assisted” option and the TV’s firmware updates automatically once you’re connected.

I’m very happy with this set overall and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a TV around this price range/size.

 

 

 

 

ViewSonic VT2430 24-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV

Why a ViewSonic VT2430 24-inch 1080p? The VT2430 24-inch was selected as the smallest set compatible with our dinette area. The decision was helped by my experience with another 1080p. Some highly reputable reviewers tend to dismiss 1080p in a set this small (disclosure: We have a nice 19″ Sharp 1080p, too).

One thing usually overlooked as regards sizing is how legible English subtitles appear at typical viewing distances. The 24-inch set gives ample legibility for the furthest viewer (11 feet) without sacrificing detail for the closest (7). Tech recommendations specify a minimum screen size of 40 inches for 10 feet viewing distance — much too large to keep in our dinette.

The range of available sound power available is stunning. Why have an energy-saving LCD HDTV, if you have to add a power-burning amplifier to get adequate sound? With our VT2430 a family member with some hearing difficulty has absolutely no auditory problem. Except to test, we have never used a sound level much over half what the VT2430 delivers. With my older Sharp however, the maximum sound level is inadequate whenever a window air conditioner runs in a 10′ x 16′ room.

We were concerned about our over-the-air reception due to the effect of a new metallic roof on our attic-mounted antenna. With just a cheap, indoor, amplified antenna we pick up more stations than with pre-roof, standard TVs, and indications are that an external antenna will eventually restore the PBS stations lost due to their reductions of transmitter height with transition to DTV.

Set-up and remote use are very easy. The best surprise was perhaps the on-screen DTV program “Guide” the VT2430 provides. The program listing was not expected and is sometimes very convenient, as our local newspaper does not carry DTV channel listings yet. Wish my old Sharp had that feature.

With its many positives and superior quality this set would rate 5 stars. Since we have not owned our VT2430 a year, it would be unfair to attest to its durability so soon, however.

 

 

 

Coby KTFDVD1093SVR 10-Inch Under-the-Cabinet DVD/CD Player

I ordered this TV for my newly renovated kitchen and have used it for a month. So far I love it — have not used the radio or DVD yet. The only thing I will say negative is that they did not supply any plastic mounting spacers that go between the TV and the underside of the cabinet to keep the TV mounted under the edge of the cabinet. I cut some 3/4″ thick wood pieces to take us this space and it worked fine. Picture qulaity is very good using Verizon Fios cable.

 

 

LG 37LE5300 37-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED LCD HDTV

I purchased this HDTV off Amazon about two weeks ago, and I am beyond pleased with it. I replaced a 26″ Vizio 720p LCD with this. The features that really drove me to this TV is the LED backlighting and the 120Hz processing. This TV has a stunning picture quality with some of the deepest blacks and great color. The 120Hz TruMotion has really gotten me though. It makes everything much more realistic, almost to a point to being scary sometimes. Watching Blu-rays with the TruMotion on the highest setting almost takes you out of the movie. It’s beyond cinematic, and it seems like I’m just looking out a window watching the actors in real life. It’s not bad by any means, and in fact, I can’t go back to not having it, but it may be too much for some people. You do have the option to adjust it, and you can even turn it off altogether.

I use this TV currently for the following devices: an Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Gateway PC, and Comcast Digital HD package. Gaming is great. I’ve noticed everything I’ve played so far has been super smooth and the response time is phenomenal. I’ve tried the following 360 games on it with great results: Halo 3, Need for Speed; Shift, Alan Wake, Modern Warfare 2, and Split/Second. The Wii looks a bit worse on this TV than on the small Vizio, but I imagine it’s the increased screen size. I have the Wii hooked up with component cables and set to 480p widescreen, but playing Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Conduit, No More Heroes 2 looked kind of bad. I know the Wii is not an HD console, but it’s a bit disheartening to see some of the better Wii’s graphics downgraded. Now, with the PS3, I don’t game to much, and I’ve yet to play a game on it with this TV, but as far as the Blu-ray goes, it’s been outstanding. This TV is enough to make me just skip the theater and wait for movies to release on BD. Blu-ray movies have such amazing clarity on this set, and the 3-dimensional feel is incredible. I played The Dark Knight, and the movie is so deep. With this kind of picture, I think I can wait a decade for 3D HDTVs to prove themselves more worth it to me. My Comcast HD looks nice, too. I know it’s not 1080p, but there’s no complaint. The TruMotion is great in the case of sports, and watching Braves baseball is more enjoyable due to it.

I’m loving my TV, and I’d say traditional LCDs should be no more. LED is so much better, and the LGs are priced very reasonably. I can’t believe I got this for $850.

 

 

Panasonic TC-P42S2 42-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

I’ve owned this for 3 days now, and wanted to wait until I fully tested it to write a review. After seeing how it performs with videogames, blu-ray movies and basic cable, I feel I know the television enough to offer my thoughts.

Picture quality: Incredible. Blacks are as deep as the bezel surrounding the TV. Colors are bold – everything you’d expect from a top of the line plasma. I own a 62″ DLP, a 26″ LCD, a 50″ panasonic 720p plasma and this plasma, and the plasmas are the only sets that really “pop.” This model is head and shoulders above even the 50″ 3-year-old model I own.

Video game play: There’s a game mode, which bumps up the brightness and sharpness. It’s great for PS3 games. I’ve played Demon’s Souls and Wolfenstein on it so far, and both look amazing. The system touts “1080 lines of moving picture resolution” to help with motion blur. Honestly, I never felt plasmas had an issue with motion blur to begin with, so I’m not sure how much of a difference this feature is making, but from what I understand in doing research it helps to have it.

Cable: HD looks good – even the reds aren’t blown out. Basic cable is standard definition – a thing on it’s way out anyway, lol.

Aesthetics/connections: The TV is very sharp looking, and the anti-glare feature on the S model (as opposed to the U model) actually makes a difference. I rolled my eyes when I read the feature, but I’m watching it in the daytime in a well-lit room and the glare is really minimal. The only minor dissapointment is no VGA connection, but I’ll figure out a way around that. Was going to use VGA to hook up my 360 (since I’m using computer speakers for audio at the moment), but will go the component route now. By the way, a TON of controls and an HDMI input are on the side of the tv, making it very easy to get to.

Burn-in/image retention/ghosting: Haven’t experienced any signs of even ghosting yet. Had my game on pause for a few minutes a couple times to test it.

Audio: Haven’t tested the TV’s speakers, just using an external set of logitech speakers with subwoofer at the moment.

Overall: For the price, I highly recommend the set. Like I said, I own 4 televisions of 3 different technologies and this one shows off the best picture. I have a collection of almost 800 blu-rays, and stay up to date on all the high-def news, etc… I do extensive research before purchasing a product, and actually went into this thinking I was going to give in and get an LED. I don’t want to get into an LED vs. Plasma thing here, but the LED’s are simply LCD with different lighting, and it brings all the inherent LCD problems with it. They make catch your eye in the store, but once you get home and get into your environment, it’s a different story. That said, this plasma in game mode gets the picture as close to LED as I’ve seen but with much better blacks.

Update 5/2/10: Just thought I’d add to this that I’ve had a videogame on pause for more than an hour a few times, and while I wouldn’t make a habit out of it, there hasn’t even been a hint of ghosting and certainly no issue with burn-in. Even so, the TV seems to have an auto shut-off function after 5 minutes or so of complete inactivity. There will be a message prompting you that it will shut off in 3 minutes and it counts down from there.

 

 

 

 

LG 32LD550 32-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV with Internet Applications

I bought a Samsung “Touch of Red” 46 inch LCD TV awhile back, intending for it to become my everything TV, for sports, XBOX and all around lounging. Having two kids though, quickly turned it into the Elmo’s World TV in the living room and I was left with an old, 19″ TV upstairs to play on. I bought this strictly for the man cave and think that it was a great buy. The size is perfect, Big enough to get full HD but not so large that it looks strange sitting on a desk. The picture quality is amazing, the colors are incredibly crisp and everything I have played on it looks exceptional. The 120 HZ, though not top of the line anymore, is still more than enough to make all but the most high speed games look great, with no blurring. It has 4 HDMI ports, so that I can hook both consoles up, along with a computer port, so I can have everything right at the desk.

Like the Samsung Series, LG planned ahead and made their TV internet capable. You have to buy the $80.00 wifi adapter, but once you do you have access to Netflix, youtube and a bunch of apps that can do many things. Great for me and wife trying to find something to watch on the weekend.

I looked around for a while before deciding on this TV. At Best Buy it was up against a Sony and a Samsung of similar price and size. The LG clearly had the better picture. I have no regrets about buying this and highly recommend it for anyone wanting a moderately sized, fully HD TV.

 

 

 

Samsung LN32C350 32-Inch 720p 60 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

It’s rare that i’m so pleased with a purchase so I just had to write a review. After a very… very extensive search and looking at a lot of TV me and my GF just got this TV, it was our first big purchase together after moving in together. Simply put this tv has amazing picture quality for the price we paid. Also alot of people are complaining about the amount of inputs this TV has… but it’s an HDTV, samsung isn’t expecting you to connect your stuff to it with composite cables… what a waste! I bought an HDMI cable for our cable box and one for our xbox360 and now we can hook up both and enjoying amazing HD quality picture.

The one weakness of this TV is the sound is so weak! But all the TVs we looked at in this size/price range had weak sound so i guess that’s just the way it is now as most manufactures expect it to be used with a home theater system. honestly tho, compared to the other TVs this sound quality sounds really good… it’s not at all loud, but at least it sounds good.

 

 

 

 

VIZIO M260MV 26-Inch 1080p LED LCD HDTV with Razor LED Backlighting Black

We have a 42″ VIZIO 1080p (not a razor) in our family room and have been happy with it, so we dicided to get the 26″ razor for our bedroom and couldn’t be more pleased the picture is so clear alot more so than our 42″ as well as the sound and the price was right… I would order this one again.

 

 

 

Samsung LN46C650 46-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

Purchased the LN46C650 model 3 weeks ago ($1167 thru Amazon) and absolutely love it. I was not sure how much added value the internet TV would provide, but after having it for a few weeks I am very glad I went with this model over the non-internet models. I haven’t tested every feature yet, so this review is based on taking the usual features for a spin.

Delivery: White-glove service was fantastic (on-time, no damage), but then again it would be pretty hard to mess up walking the set 15 feet inside the doorway. Nonetheless, they did great.

PROS:
- Pandora rocks. This is by far my favorite internet feature to stream music through the TV. I don’t have a big stereo system and FM reception is spotty, so this really was a welcome feature.
- The sound is just fine. I know some say the Samsung sound isn’t up to Sony, and that may be true, but how often are you blasting the volume past, say, 20? The room we have it set up in is relatively small (15×20), so it suits us just fine.
- YouTube, Vudo, Yahoo, Associated Press, Weather, and Flickr feeds are pretty cool. You can download movies from Netflix and Blockbuster, but i’m not sure this is any better (cheaper) than most cable services. I guess if you don’t have cable this would be great.
- I have AT&T U-Verse, and the SD picture is great when tuned to non-HD channels. The HD is amazing.
- The Automotion is great, but only for sports in my opinion. We turn it off for regular programming as with HD and Automotion on, the scenes look a little on the cheap side (maybe too real??). It is like you are in the room, which i don’t like. This is probably just a personal preference thing.
- The TV itself looks amazing and the lack of the red-touch-of-color I think is a good thing.
- Controls to tweak the picture seem more than adequate to suit anyone’s preferences, though I’m not a A/V guru.
- AllShare feature lets you access music, photos and videos contained on networked computers through your TV (after downloading/installing samsung software on your PC). This worked flawlessly and setup was intuitive.
- Plug-N-Play media contained on a thumb drive works great too.

CONS: I can’t think of any major ones, but I’ll list a few initial thoughts…
- AnyNet+ seems before its time (you have to have all Samsung devices to use as far as I can tell)

That’s about all I have. If anyone has any questions, I will try to answer. All in all, I have to give this TV a 5. The potential uses for the internet connectivity seems huge.

UPDATE: 4 months in and we still love this TV. No problems whatsoever. There are some new Samsung Apps i thought I’d mention…
- Google Maps App, can get live traffic just like the web version. Hard to get any accident data though.
- Other new apps (but haven’t tried): Napster, Hulu Plus, Facebook, CinemaNow?, DailyMotion?

 

 

 

Toshiba 40G300U 40-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV (Black Gloss)

I have nothing but good things to say about this TV, great purchase and I am loving it. I bought it for my bedromm and was limited by the size of my cabinet, it fits perfectly and the picture is wonderful. It was extremely easy to set up, just plug it in to my cable and the wall socket and we were off and running. Living in a single household, I need things that are easy to install and this fit the bill.

Thank you I only reget I did not buy it sooner.

 

 

 

Samsung LN26C350 26-Inch 720p 60 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

 

The picture quality is very good. I watch OTA channels only (no cable, fios, or satellite). The sound is typical of small tv’s. Out of the box, the audio lacks bass; however, there is an equalizer to make adjustments or just use one of the preset modes. The bezel is big which makes the viewable screen look small. The bezel is 1.75 inches around, plus another 1.5 inches on the bottom for the speaker. I dislike the glossy bezel because it reflects light, which can be a distraction.

I have another Samsung purchased in 2008. There does not seem to be improvements in how this new Samsung tv tuner handles OTA multi-path problems. I would say it handles the same. There are some improvements in user interface. On the older tv, when changing channels, it would display the channel number and station ID on the upper right corner and, for some reason, it would show the audio mode (mono, stereo, mute) on the upper left corner. On this new tv, it only shows the channel number and station ID on the upper left corner. The onscreen display is transparent, so you can still watch the current channel beneath the onscreen display.

There is a button on the remote that brings up a list of channels and lists what program is on each channel. This saves you from switching channels to find out what else is on. Another button, the “info” button, displays a synopsis of the show you are watching. It also has a progress bar to show how much time the show has until it ends. My 2008 Samsung does not have a progress bar.

I had no problems connecting my laptop to this tv via the hdmi port. Video and audio passes through the hdmi port, which is good.

 

 

 

Samsung UN55C6500 55-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV (Black)

First off, I have had an 40″ Samsung for 3 years and have been very pleased with it. It has a matte screen so that is what I was looking for. I really didn’t want any glare so I actually was looking at LG’s since they are one of few companies that make 50″+ lcds with matte screens. CNET reviewed the LG’s with high marks as well so I was pretty much dead set on an LG.

So I went to Fry’s, Bestbuy, HHgregg, and local TV shop just checking out the products. I definitely liked the pictures of the LG’s. The colors are on par with the Samsungs and the washout from off angles is also better. But I couldn’t get over the simple fact that the Samsungs just looked better. Every store I went to I was like yeah there’s glare, but when the screen is fully lit you don’t really see it, plus you know we all were used to CRT glass screens for years. The LG technically had deeper blacks, but in reality the matte refraction light made the screen seem more grayish and the glossy screens appeared to have deeper blacks due to clarity. Also, the clarity of the images in the Samsungs was noticeably better. Just one of those things you just see and say yeah that’s better. For a final look, I brought my wife for her opinion and she point right to the Samsung as the better picture.

So as a matte finish fan and all the technical abilities of the LG’s I had to go with the Samsung. Beyond the amazing picture the style is so much better. So thin, lighter, and the UN55c6500 has a great thin border, actually charcoal matte, with a nice clear trim. Looks so clean.

I’ve read where some people have said that the picture is so good that it almost looks 3d. I have to agree, playing some video games and bluray, the picture is so good it does almost look 3d.

I also got the wireless dongle (free with purchase) and it works quite easily. No issue thus far.

There definitely are reflections, but glare isn’t really too bad. I also did see the rainbow effect from my ceiling lights, but only if in direct view. The motion plus still makes everything look soap opera, but being able to turn it down helps a lot. Samsung has more settings for this than LG’s.

I am very pleased with this buy.

 

 

 

Samsung LN46C600 46-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

So far, this TV ROCKS! I bought from Amazon because the price was fantastic, shipping was free, no tax, and I used gift certificates from a certain grocery store, which gave me $ off at the gas pump. All of this was, of course, after selecting Samsung and this specific model, and then shopping around for price. I knew I wanted a 46″ LCD for my living room, so I started looking. At 1st, I was gonna get the Toshiba 46G300U for $650 during Black Friday at Shmears, but after visiting many stores, I was drawn to Samsung’s picture clarity. Just amazing! A store I liked a lot was HHShmeggs because they had so many to choose from and the store lighting in the TV section was closest to my actual living room.

So, I ordered from Amazon and a few days later, there were 2 delivery guys at my front door. The TV got to me before some things that I ordered days earlier! They brought Bessie in and were somewhat conscious of my carpet by asking if I had something to set the box on (never mind that they were wearing their shoes, but I digress). I grabbed an old blanket and they set her down. They asked if they can open it to check the screen and I said yes. They slid it out carefully and set it down. We all looked over the screen with a flashlight. Everything looked good. I had them place it back in the box to allow it to get to room temp before setting it up. They had me sign that it was in good physical shape, but they listed that I didn’t power up the TV because it was cold. They left and I smiled at my new television.

While waiting for Bessie to get to room temp, I assembled the stand with 4 provided screws and read over the manual. Turns out this TV has a LAN port, which I did not see in any spec listing for this TV. This is nice because you can check for firmware/software upgrades over the Internet. My new U-Verse cable receiver has a LAN jack, so I have an ethernet cable between it and the TV. I checked for upgrades, but did not find any. The TV has software from October, so I wasn’t surprised that no upgrades were available.

The TV’s Menu system is pretty good. I haven’t had much trouble finding any settings I was looking for. There’s also a button labeled Tools, which gives you quick access to a few settings you may use more frequently. The remote itself is nice. It has a backlight button to see better in low light, which is always a plus. I would like if I could label my inputs with custom labels. For instance, I have a media player and the closest label they have is PVR STB. If I could just label it Media Player, the Mrs and the kids would have an easier time selecting the correct input. I would also like to hide inputs that are not used. That would make flipping through them much quicker.

Some have said that they do not like Samsung’s Motion Plus feature because it makes movies look like fake soap operas. This is true for some of the Motion Plus modes, like Standard, but there’s one called Clear, which looked just fine. As far as the Standard mode, it does have it’s place. I found that it makes animated movies like Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Kung Fu Panda, etc look almost 3D. My toddler absolutely loves the effect! I set his animated movies to Dynamic color and Standard motion plus for an awesome looking picture. Samsung’s color is just amazing! Dynamic color mode is very bright, but for movies like The Matrix, I use Movie Mode to see more detail in darker scenes.

One catch is keeping the TV clean. This thing is a dust magnet in my house. They do provide a special cleaning cloth where you just use water, but I think I will be using it very often. I think I may pick up a swiffer duster for dusting the set and just use the cloth when there is more build up.

The TV did not come with a safety strap to tether it to my wooden stand, but since it sits so far back on my stand, I don’t think my toddler will try to reach it. I’ll have a close eye on him just in case. He knows that touching Bessie is off limits, but you know how toddlers can be…

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll update if I think of anything else…

 

 

 

Toshiba 22CV100U 22-Inch 720p LCD/DVD Combo TV (Black Gloss)

We have an older version of this TV in our kitchen which we were very happy with, and I wanted to replace an old television in my bedroom, so I looked first at Toshibas. The video quality is very good, and the sound issues that some people had with older models seem to have been resolved. The DVD player works great so far. My only (minor) complaints are that the screen can get a good amount of glare depending on how it is angled, and it also seems to attract a lot of dust, I feel like I am constantly cleaning it! I feel like this is a very good value for the money. I looked at similar TV/DVD combos and none had the picture quality or styling that this Toshiba has.

 

 

 

LG 42LE5400 42-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV with Internet Applications

This is a great TV: awesome picture and features.

- picture brightness is great: I’m using it in a bright living room (with windows on either side of TV), and the LED screen is bright enough to watch w/o problem.

- overall features great: Assume I’ve gushed on about the picture quality, the number of inputs (including several on the side for easy access), the neat ‘video mute’ feature (under energy saver) so I can play a music CD on my DVD player and not have to see the DVD’s stupid music screen, and so on. (Hmm, I guess I could play mp3s on a thumb drive directly from the tv itself; I haven’t tried that yet.)

- Audio sync problem fixed via firmware: As others have mentioned, after 45min-1hr, the audio became noticeably out of sync from the picture; this seemed to be equally true for all inputs. It wouldn’t get *worse* after more time, but it was bad enough that it looked dubbed. My initial hack was to switch to a different input then switch back to the program, and it would re-sync. However, after upgrading the firmware via the internet this problem disappeared. A few notes:
~ getting the internet connected took me a bit; even though DHCP should have happened at plug-in, I had to turn my wireless hub off/on in order to get the TV to get its IP address;
~ In order to trigger the firmware update, I had to press ‘netcast’ or ‘widgets’ on the remote; I think it was at that point that the TV automatically sought out the update.
~ it took two firmware updates in a row to reach the most recent version (6.0.something, I think).

- Noticeable delay lag for video games: about a tenth of a second or even a bit more (after some measurements and calculating). This is acceptable for many games, but for Wii Music every note I play is off beat, and for Dance Dance Revolution a perfect step scores between “great” and “good”. (This is a lag between when the signal is received and when it actually gets displayed — it doesn’t matter for normal TV since you’d never notice if your entire movie is shifted back 0.1s. N.B. “Delay lag” is *not* related to “pixel response time”.)
~ [Delay lag on other models: I dragged my Wii Music down to Best Buy and tried it on several similar models I was considering. The Samsung LEDs I tried also had ~0.10s lag; Sony Bravia LEDs had ~0.06s lag (still noticeable); no noticeable lag on LCD Viera or Sharp Aquos *LCD*, but (weirdest part) the Sharp Aquos *LED* did have lag (~0.10s). All the models I tried were 40-46"; most were 120Hz. I hope all the time I spent measuring helps out somebody else!]

This is for a 42″ LG5400; 2010.Jul.15.

 

 

 

Samsung UN55C6300 55-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV (Black)

In considering what TV to buy my parents, I had the apparent choice between buying an led LCD or a plasma. I opted to get the led, but you wouldn’t really be wrong to go the other route. My parents just wanted any TV that was bigger than 50 inches while I, being somewhat of a techy, needed to find the best TV over 50 inches. Well, here you have what I would call the third best TV over 50 inches (the 8500 and 8000 models being better) at the time of this review. This is the first of Samsung’s new line of lcds to come out this year, and it narrowly beats out last years 6 and 7 series TVs by offering a better contrast ratio (4,000,000-1 vs. 3,000,000-1) for virtually the same price point. Otherwise, it’s pretty much identical after reviewing the specs. Newer is better though in this case also because of the firmware upgrades and other fine improvements in engineering and technology.

The TV was delivered about 5 days after I purchased it through Amazon, and it took about 15 minutes to set up. Out of the box the thing looks incredible. It’s as thin as a blackberry! Some assembly was required with a phillips head and about 10 screws to attach the tv to the stand, but it was only 4 steps total and added to the suspense. After plugging in literally two cords (the hd component cables and the power cord) you are up and running. When the picture came on it was CRYSTAL clear. It puts every other TV I’ve seen to shame. You can go to Best Buy and do a side by side comparison and you won’t find anything better. Forget about the plasma, this is the way to go. I could describe in more detail how great the picture is, but suffice to say it’s flawless from movies to news to sports. Even if this is not your first HDTV, you will notice a big difference. I bought a 32″ 240 mhz set in Decemeber and this tv is in another league. The LED side panel illumination works well, and there is very little adjustment of the settings necessary to achieve true to life picture quality.

“True to life” will be understood in a new way when you buy this TV. The longer it has been since your last TV purchase, the more breathtaking this advancement in technology will be. Regardless, this will be a TV that will have a useful life for years (longer than a plasma) and will always look amazing. That being said, I would get the warranty (2 years) for an extra 170 or so.

Note: I chose lcd over plasma because lcds are noiseless and don’t have the risk of picture burn-in. The 58′ plasma I was looking at is the same price. This TV is better than plasmas priced less at the time of the review. If price is the main concern, I might do an in store side by side comparison with cheaper plasmas to see if the difference to you is worth the money.

 

 

 

TCL L32HDF11TA 32-Inch 720p 60 Hz LCD HDTV with 2-Year Warranty Black

First, let me clarify that the TV is, in fact, native 1080p. No question about it.

Second, the panel on this TV is made by Samsung, and the quality is excellent.

Third, TCL’s website has a find service center location search and it is quite extensive ..

Based on the two year warrantee, what I am seeing with my TV and Amazons excellent delivery, I’m giving this set a Best Buy rating ..

UPDATE 11/16/2010 .. this set is just plain excellent .. and Amazon service is top of the line .. my set developed a thin blue vertical line, I contacted Amazon, they picked up the set the next day and delivered a new set at the same time .. hard to beat that ..

Update 11/17/2010 .. it’s a bit tiresome getting messages from folks who 1) don’t have the TV and want to slam it in a public review 2)Know little to nothing about TV’s .. I had an electronic repair business for 10 years and I’ve worked on a lot of TV’s .. so I know what I’m talking about .. any TV by any maker is not 100% perfect 100% of the time .. I stand by the fact that this is a great set .. hey, if you don’t want to buy it, go get something from the local ‘Mart or what not .. or get nothing at all .. matters not to me .. I think you’ll be missing out on a great deal, however ..

UPDATE 12/08/2010 .. Thanks to Original Aspect Ratio …. you might try this on any remote and see if it works .. what have you got to lose .. ?? .. keep in mind that this TV has been branded as RCA in the past ..
I have a Logitech Harmony remote. When I select “RCA L32HD41″ the tv works 100% as far as I can tell.

 

 

 

Acer M200A 20-Inch LCD HDTV/Multifunction Monitor Black

It’s perfect!I purchased this tv as a replacement for my daughters aging 19″ tube tv. It has all the inputs she will ever need (3 HDMI, 2 Component, VGA, S-Video and RCA) and the picture is phenominal right out of the box! It would rival some of the higher name brand tvs on the market! Another nice feature is the autotune…picks up every possible channel. Fits perfectly in her bedroom and it would be well suited to a dormroom as well. The nice thing is it can double as a computer monitor to save even more space! Outstanding purchase!

 

 

 

Samsung PN50C8000 50-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV (Black)

I bought this exact model the PN50C8000. One might get the impression that it is silver. I’d call it a dark grey brushed metal look. Which is fine IMO.

One thing that is not often publicized for some reason is the fact that plasma’s are not even close to as bright as newer LCD models. This worried me a little.
But when I got it; it took some tweaking but I was able to get exactly the color/brightness I wanted for normal viewing and 3d viewing. All 3d glasses are tinted so it’s good to have a very bright setting for when you view 3d.

Electronics review websites always talk about how plasmas can do extreme blacks. I set it to where the blacks are on the darkest setting. Honestly I was surprised that the blacks are not all that dark (note this is my first plasma I’m not comparing it with other plasmas). The 8000 series LED LCD Samsungs seem about the same when it comes to blacks, of course I have not seen both inside my living room environment so I can’t make a perfect comparison. I don’t actually care; either tv would be dark enough for me. I just thought I’d point this fact out.

The primary reason I bought a plasma over a 8000 series LCD has nothing to do with price or darkness levels, it was for superior 3d viewing. 1.) Less eye strain. I have read on more than one electronics site and electronics magazines that the 600hz viewing of plasmas (and the way the image is drawn on the screen) has been proven to provide less eye strain for 3d viewing. 2.) Viewing angle is always better for plasma over LCD. (This is important for 3d because loss of lighting and clarity is a big deal when you are already limited by the glasses.) 3.) Clearly there is a issue with mixing LCD tech with 3d since if you tilt your head the image splits apart. (This DOES NOT happen with the plasma) and 4. All the reviews I’ve read say plasma’s have tested better for 3d viewing.

My complaints are minimal but I think they justify giving 4 stars instead of 5. One is that the TV decides to turn off 3d mode on it’s own if you for example exit a Playstation 3 game or change to another input. I understand their reason for doing this but I prefer to just have manual control of it on my own. Also I couldn’t get the red and white audio out ports to work, even when I selected to switch to alternate sound output. I suspect it was just something I was doing wrong but it shouldn’t be something that requires much effort. I gave up on that because I also had the choice of optical or using the headphones port for my audio so it wasn’t a big deal. Another minor complaint I have is the stand is particularly heavy. Obviously it’s good to have a sturdy stand but they could have made it strong and much lighter weight and I don’t think it would have made for any greater risk of the TV tipping over or something..

On a side note; when manufactures say that you should sit closer for optimal 3d viewing than normal viewing they mean it. I’m glad I didn’t get any smaller than 50 inches.
For optimal 3d immersion I found I like sitting just 5 feet from the screen. For normal viewing I sit at about 8-10 feet from the screen.

 

 

 

Samsung UN55C6800 55-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV (Black)

I have researched every brand of TV via internet and store visit in the last 6 months and narrowed it down to Samsung. After deciding I wasn’t interested in 3D, I looked for the best 2D TV with the best Picture. With out a question, this is the best 2D TV on the market today. First, the out of the box plug and play was super easy. I was expecting to calibrate the settings and had CNETs suggestions ready. To my amazement the factory picture settings were almost spot on. The main take away from this review is that the picture quality is really the best I’ve seen. If there is only one con to this unit, like other LEDs, the picture’s colors do get slightly washed out at very extreme angles. Other than that no other issues (no corner ghosting). Even the sound I really believe is better than average, but I will upgrade to a sound bar for that theater/sports volume needed. Again, picture picture picture quality is amazing and you should buy this TV.

 

 

 

LG 42LD550 42-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV with Internet Applications

TV is great for the type (LCD) and price. The picture is bright, good contrast, and very smooth. The menu/remote are very comfortable…overall the picture is very nice. Aesthetically, the TV looks great as well…no cheesy features or decorations. This is my first LG product and I’m very pleased with this set. Also added the wireless adapter ($70). The entire setup and interface are very intuitive. This is a kids TV and they had Netflix down in no time (even the 5 year old). My only wish would be a backlit remote control.

Only complaint at all is with shipping. It did not ship on time and there was no communication from the shipping company. Ultimately, I had to contact the shipper to make an appointment (was stated that they would contact me). Once I called them, they drove it over the next day (Saturday). All in all, still very pleased.

 

 

 

Samsung UN32C4000 32-Inch 720p 60 Hz LED HDTV (Black)

I got this TV for Christmas and it is just awesome. It’s so thin (1.2″) and has great picture quality and sound. The contrast ratio is brilliant (2,000,000!). In fact, the blacks are so deep that I sometimes can’t tell if the TV is on or off when theres nothing showing on the TV. It looks beautiful too! 720p is enough for a TV this size and 60HZ is good too. If you’re looking for a great LED-LCD TV look no further than this Samsung!!!

 

 

Sony BRAVIA KDL-46EX500 1080P 120Hz 46-Inch LCD HD TV

I did an extensive research for my new TV. I compared consumer reviews, professional reviews and checked couple TV’s picture my self.

My conclusions at the end of research:
1. 3D Samsung – I don’t see this technology is ready for home use. 3D picture cause headache for lots of viewers, 3D effect diminishes a lot if you are watching TV more then 4 feet away from the screen, and who wants to wear this glasses all the time? Another factor is cost. It is high for what you really get. This technology will be much more interesting once it gets mature, but not yet.
2. LED technology – I looked at edge led calibrated display by Samsung and I think it’s not bad, but I see hallow of light at the edge of tv which reduces perceptual contrast. Otherwise edge led looks very similar to regular LCD, such I can’t justify 30% more on average price increase.
3. Samsung reliability vs Sony. Lots of people believe that Samsung is more reliable, but checking forums I discovered that Samsung has number of hardware issues with their tv’s and reliability is not that great. Sony used to be great couple of years ago, then reliability went down and it appears that they are trying to recover their reputation back now. At the end, number of issues between Sony and Samsung is somewhere the same with Samsung having more hardware related issues and Sony has more software bugs. Software is easier to fix with new firmware release. This is based on their older models, since you need some time, year or longer of use to evaluate long term reliability.

I bought this Sony at BJ and calibrated using AVIA HD and Avia Standard definition DVD’s. I use it to play PS3 and my Home Theater PC.
1. Contrast – very good. In dark room I notice a little light leaking in the upper comers of the TV. The picture itself has very deep blacks and excellent whites. So far it’s one of the best results I’ve seen on any LCD.
2. Sharpness – perfect, but watch for setting in video mode. My TV went to overscan with HTPC connected over HDMI. It was easy to fix by changing settings to pixel mapping for HDMI port.
3. Brightness – it’s LCD so it can be very bright. I liked Sony implementation of automatic brightness. It changes brightness based on available light in the room. The result is picture looks more natural to watch when you turn off the lights, and still bright enough picture during sunny day. Note: I calibrated the screen with low lights in the room, it’s how I normally watch movies.
4. Colors – not too bad from manufacture, but definitely improved after calibration. Very lifelike at the end.

Conclusion:
I’m completely satisfied with picture quality of this display and I feel this TV gives you more per dollar then any other.

 

 

 

 

VIZIO M370NV 37-Inch 1080p LED LCD HDTV with Razor LED Backlighting Black

The Mrs. said I had to wait for my 32 inch Sony tube TV to finally croak before justifying a new TV, and I am so happy it did (I swear I wasn’t kicking the old TV honey!) I did a ton of research and found the Vizio Razor to be the best bet for the $$ (under $600 at the local wholesale warehouse), and I could not be happier. I also looked at the (non-LED) Vizio 37″ LCD TV (E370VA) for about $150 less, but I was really attracted to the LED backlight technology, and considering what all these HD flat screens cost a couple years ago, I figure the expense is worth it. My 32″ Sony was over $800 ten years ago!

Setup was easy, really the hardest thing is understanding the best way to hook up the TV to my Comcast DVR box and other components. Definetely use the digital connectens (HDMI to DVI on my older DVR Cable box), or you wont get the 1080p resolution!!! The on screen menu system and remote are easy to use, and the getting started guide (which I looked at after setting up the TV for giggles) was informative and covered the bases without being too confusing. I was amazed that the remote worked on my cable box with out having to input any codes, but I did have to set it up for my DVD, and that took a little research online at vizio.com.

The picture is so clear even on non-HD channels it is silly, but when you watch HD programs you really can appreciate the technology. The built in speakers are good, but I did connect the system to an old surround sound system I already owned so both the sound and picture are amazing. The system uses so much less power and space than my old TV, I wouldnt be surprised if my electric bill is lower! I just need a crane to get the old beast out of my house.

 

 

 

TCL L40FHDF11TA 40-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LCD HDTV with 2-Year Warranty Black

First, let me clarify that the TV is, in fact, native 1080p. No question about it.

Second, the panel on this TV is made by Samsung, and the quality is excellent.

Third, TCL’s website has a find service center location search and it is quite extensive ..

Based on the two year warrantee, what I am seeing with my TV and Amazons excellent delivery, I’m giving this set a Best Buy rating ..

UPDATE 11/16/2010 .. this set is just plain excellent .. and Amazon service is top of the line .. my set developed a thin blue vertical line, I contacted Amazon, they picked up the set the next day and delivered a new set at the same time .. hard to beat that ..

Update 11/17/2010 .. it’s a bit tiresome getting messages from folks who 1) don’t have the TV and want to slam it in a public review 2)Know little to nothing about TV’s .. I had an electronic repair business for 10 years and I’ve worked on a lot of TV’s .. so I know what I’m talking about .. any TV by any maker is not 100% perfect 100% of the time .. I stand by the fact that this is a great set .. hey, if you don’t want to buy it, go get something from the local ‘Mart or what not .. or get nothing at all .. matters not to me .. I think you’ll be missing out on a great deal, however ..

UPDATE 12/08/2010 .. Thanks to Original Aspect Ratio …. you might try this on any remote and see if it works .. what have you got to lose .. ?? .. keep in mind that this TV has been branded as RCA in the past ..
I have a Logitech Harmony remote. When I select “RCA L32HD41″ the tv works 100% as far as I can tell.

 

 

 

 

Samsung UN46C6500 46-Inch 120 Hz 1080p LED HDTV (Black)

My first impression of this set is that it has good picture quality but rather poor sound. I did not expect much from the set in terms of sound due to its thin design. It should be noted that the 6400 is the same TV but without the Samsung Apps/Internet@TV feature and a different stand. I will say that I could certainly live without the Apps feature but it is nice to be able to stream my photos from Flickr without having to hook up my laptop or other computer. Weather is nice too. I also am not real excited about the stand. The 6400 has a square flat stand that you could place on top of a set top box or a small stand. The 6500 has a 4 footed prong type stand.

As far as TV performance, I will say that it is quite good. Colors aren’t over saturated so as to look artificial. You may find that the box stores crank the brightness up in the store so the TV looks more appealing to shoppers. I found that many sets don’t look nearly as good as they did on the ultra bright mode. This set however performs just as well in my preferred dimmer setting as it does bright. There are some annoyances such as pixelization and blotches in the dark scenes where there is motion. However, its hard to tell whether this is a by-product of broadcast companies, cable companies, and satellite companies compressing the heck out of HD signals or the TV itself. The TV performs admirably as well in standard definition broadcasts. LED vs LCD: well, if we are comparing apples to apples (using the same class of TV and same broadcast) I can’t really tell that big of a difference. Longevity of the LED lighting technology is yet to be determined. I have no interest in a 3D set so I cannot compare this set to those as I never given them much more than a glance at the store. I will warn you, Samsung does have its customer service annoyances but hopefully you will never need them. I chose the 6500 with the Samsung Apps feature because I figured one day as more companies come on board with their apps there may be something useful. All in all it’s no Pioneer Elite Kuro but its a good set for the price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony BRAVIA KDL46NX810 46-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D-Ready LED HDTV Black

I have owned this tv for only about 1 week, but here are my early impressions:

I tried two different HDTVs before purchasing this one. Both were edge-lit LED and both exhibited some clouding and flashlighting (very bright screen in the corners). I took a chance on this Sony based on the quality of my past Sony products and comments/reviews from others. I have not been disappointed.
First off, I would like to praise Amazon for getting this TV to me quickly and in one piece. From the time I ordered it to plugging it in was less than 6 days! Pilot was the delivery company and I have nothing but nice things to say about them.

From the moment you take it out of the box you have to like the look of this tv. The front panel is all glass–no plastic bezel around the outside. It is a handsome tv. It is also quite heavy.
I installed it on the included base and it sits on a low bookcase. It does swivel and the base install instructions give some cryptic indication that it tilts 6 degrees. Not sure about that one and I didn’t try to force it.
Right out of the box the picture is very good. Setup is easy and with some very simple picture adjustments you will be enjoying your tv.
I have windows that are directly behind me as I view the tv, but I was amazed that the glare is not overly-distracting. Yes, there is glare, but it does not diminish the view or picture quality. Your tolerance for such things may vary. I have blinds and a curtain I can draw for daytime viewing, and there is no problem at all there.
As a 3D tv, the verdict is still out. The Alice in Wonderland movie I received in the bundle with the tv does not play in my PS3, so I cannot make an evaluation of 3D movies. A couple of 3D games are available for the Playstation, and they look pretty good, particularly Wipeout HD. A very good 3D experience. I don’t know much about 3D picture quality (cross-talk, ghosting, etc.), but it looks pretty cool to me.
You can simulate 3D, but it really is a poor substitute and doesn’t enhance the viewing much. This is the part of 3D that is pure novelty.
I honestly don’t care much about the 3D aspect, as this will take some time to develop. There is so little 3D content out there, it is not worth upgrading to 3D if you are happy with your current TV. I purchased this tv because it is probably the best 2D set at this price range.
The problem I had with other LEDs was the edge-lit technology. The brightness was inconsistent. This Sony uses a “Dynamic” edge LED backlight. This is Sony-speak indicating that it provides more precise control of the LED. There is no clouding or flashlighting or other inconsistent bright spots in the picture. The blacks are very dark and the bright scenes are vivid, but not overly bright or saturated in color.
The Motionflow 240Hz technology refers to the refresh rate of the screen. It is an improvement over 60Hz found on earlier LCDs, but most people probably could not tell the difference between 240Hz and 120Hz (found on most newer LED/LCD). I wouldn’t buy this tv just because of 240Hz, but it certainly enhances the total viewing experience.
Once you activate the tv via Sony, you can use the Internet video and audio functions. There are dozens of video applications from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon on Demand, and Hulu+, to epicurious.com, crackle.com, and other similarly obscure video sites. They are good time wasters and work very well. I stream Netflix and Pandora and have had no troubles at all. I have it hard-wired for internet (I have an unreliable router), but I tested the built-in wireless-N wifi, and there were no problems.
Additionally there are plenty of energy-saving features included (LED tvs are more energy-efficient anyway). Of course, the most energy-saving thing you can do is to unplug it and read a book.
The Bravia snyc is great. I have a Sony AV and one remote will operate them both. You can run all your peripherals to the Amp and need just one HDMI to the TV. Of course, your setup will be different. I have an older PS3 that the remote will not operate, but I have heard that the new PS3 slims can take advantage of the Bravia sync (as well as bluray, cd, etc.)
**EDIT** the new “slim” PS3 does use Bravia snyc, and you can use the TV remote to operate the bluray!**

Negatives:
The Internet widgets (not to be confused with the apps) are slow and pointless. Maybe the will improve on that in the future.
You have to buy the 3D transmitter separately. I don’t know why they couldn’t build it into the tv. Yes, the glasses are expensive, but to have to buy the transmitter too, is an insult. Just make sure you get a bundle deal to save some $$.
The only other negative–and what keeps this tv from getting a perfect 5 stars–is the horrible speakers. I have heard better sounding transistor radios. I have fiddled with the settings over and over, and I still cannot get a decent sound out of this tv. I have it connected to a Sony home theatre, but don’t like power it on just for tv (kind of an energy waste, I think), but sometimes it’s necessary.

A very long review, but to sum up:
Excellent (2D) picture, convenient Internet apps, included wireless-N wifi, and eye-catching styling. No early warning flags regarding 3D picture quality. Horrible audio. Overall I give it 9 out of 10.

**UPDATE**

I got the Alice movie to work in my PS3, so I had the opportunity to watch in 3D. The effect is very nice. With this particular movie 3D made it better. Any movie that uses a lot of CGI will benefit from 3D. When watching 3D, the screen gets a little darker, so you may have to adjust your picture options to compensate. I did not find it to be a problem as we watched in a dark room. The glasses are a little heavy and became a bit painful on my nose after about an hour. A small piece of foam (like a thick moleskin type product) on the nosepads will reduce the pain. Also, you cannot lie down or even lean slightly askew while watching, as this will negate most, if not all, of the 3D effect. Sit up straight young man! No slouching!
Make no mistake, the 3D is still a novelty at this stage, but having a quality 3D feature on one of the best-looking 2D tvs I have seen is an added bonus. I highly recommend this TV. I have bumped the star rating to 5 out of 5 (from 4/5) because the 3D element makes up for the poor sound.
9.5 out of 10!

 

 

LG 42PJ350 42-Inch 720p Plasma HDTV

Let me start by saying that I am not a videophile, but when it comes to purchasing a television I can be very picky. I went through the whole LCD vs. Plasma dilemma 3 years ago when I bought my Samsung 5084 (one of the best non-Pioneer plasmas at the time). That said, I was ready to supplement that unit this year with a ‘smaller’ LCD for the bedroom (didn’t want to sweat IR, horizontal line bleed, etc). Needless to say, LCD options in the ‘budget’ range lack features that alleviate some of their drawbacks, forcing you to suffer through motion blur, clouding, and terrible black levels if you choose a set for ~$800).

Enter the 42″ plasmas. For the sake of comparison, I decided to investigate the plasma alternative once again. This essentially brought me to the Samsung C450 due to my positive experience with the 5084 and glowing reviews for the C450. Unfortunately, users reported an audible buzzing noise from the Samsung (a noise I know full well from the 5084 and did not want to deal with on a bedroom set).

Enter the PJ350. I only became aware of this set after seeing it next to the Samsung at the store. From a design perspective, it tops the Samsung with an ultra thin bezel, very thin chassis, and no ‘touch of red’. Furthermore, I heard no buzzing from the LG floor model, while the Samsung sounded like someone was digging honey out of a beehive. Since it is a brand new model I had no reviews to rely on, but I took the plunge.

Picture quality from this unit is superb for any sub-$1k TV, much less one at this price point. This 720p set rivals my 1080p plasma in most respects, most notably black levels. I have only had it for a few days now, but setting the TV on ‘cinema’ mode at 70 contrast and 50 brightness is really impressive (I recommend switching those two numbers for several weeks to break in the unit). If you place your head behind the unit, you can hear the typical plasma ‘buzz’, but this is completely inaudible at any reasonable viewing distance. While this goes without saying, all the benefits of plasma are apparent with this TV: cinematic quality motion (none of that chincy 120hz movement), 24p bluray playback, consistent backlighting, etc. I have noticed a tiny amount of false contouring, but less than my Samsung – hardly an annoyance. OTA video quality is, of course, superb. The reviewer who stated that colors are not as vivid clearly didn’t recognize that picture settings are independently adjustable for each input. This TV does offer a settings wizard to help set the picture based on your unit and environment, but I prefer manual adjustment to suit my personal tastes.

If you’re worried about not having 1080p, don’t be. At this size, you will not detect a difference anywhere outside 4′ from the unit. The screen is quite reflective, but if glare is your primary concern then you surely can settle for the inferior picture quality of a cheap LCD. While I have limited experience with my LG, I can honestly say that I am very pleased thus far.

 

 

 

 

iSymphony LCD26iH56 26-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with Built-In DVD Player Black

I needed a DVD/TV combo for a bedroom, and could only find the iSymphony and Toshiba. The Toshiba reviews were wicked bad regarding sound quality, glare, and contrast. I watched the video for this TV and was impressed, and I looked up the company, which yes, I agree w/ the person who gave it one star, seems like a corporate snarl, but they do manufacture 3-4 brands of televisions, and recently did or are going to, purchase Pioneer. That said, I ordered the product which arrived in perfect condition in its original iSymphony carton, well secured inside with styrofoam. No problem what so ever with it, just remove from box, plug in wall, attach existing cable cord, turn on w/ remote control.

The remote comes taped in the side of one of the styrofoam cushions, so don’t toss them til you locate it. Three instruction manuals are enclosed, in English, French, and Spanish. The instructions were minimal at best, not indicating at all how to “start channel scan” which is the first thing that appears on the screen when you power up. Channel scan. Staring at remote. No clue. After some geeking w/ the remote, I stumbled on this protocal: hit the teeny MENU button on the left face of the remote near the top. Arrow down to CABLE, arrow right to SCAN, and it proceeds to load your available channels. It holds from 1-135 only. The DVD is initiated by punching the teeny SOURCE button directly right of the MENU button, and arrow down to DVD. Pop that puppy in and all good. There is no eject on the remote for the DVD, probably because as it is a side-load, this prevents the disc from ejecting onto the floor. You have to WALK to the set to eject a disc :) To resume TV, go back to SOURCE and arrow to TV and you’re good.

The sound is incredibly vibrant and clear, the picture is the best I have seen on any sized LCD TV, no glare no problems, it is a true find at this price. I could kick them for not including instructions for the remote, or detailed instructions for set-up, both of which would have knocked an hour off my installation time. Can’t say enough good about this combo, it’s truly as good as they get and the price is remarkably low. That it is sold by Amazon, and carries their TV quarantee, and ships free, is a deal maker.

*Last thing, the base arrives already attached to the set by 4 deeply recessed phillips head screws, so if you want to hang the set, just power the screws out.* SEE UPDATE

Very impressive unit. Very satisfied. Wish I had gotten a large one and might do so for another room.

*[UPDATE day 2 of ownership] First day of use the MUTE button on the remote ceased to work, except about 1of 15 tries, but the volume control is fast and an OK substitute. I found a Q&A TV site that said a ONE-FOR-All Universal could replace the remote that came w/ this set. May consider that as they are <$10. And I read somewhere else, that the terrific sound is because the speakers are contained IN THE ATTACHED BASE– so removing the base to hang the set may not be an option. As much as I was annoyed by the One Star rater, who obviously did his homework, but did not purchase the unit, I have to agree that there is no way I have found to initiate a warranty, talk to anyone from the company about the problem with the Remote, or anything else. I have no intention of ever getting this set *fixed* if it crumps, not at this price, so am not concerned about finding a repair outlet for it, but it would be nice to know how to contact them. I will try the toll free number in Maryland on Monday, located by Mr One Star, as they are only open 8-8 EST. Still LUV the quality, price and ease of use.

 

 

Samsung PN58C550 58-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV (Black)

Set up my unit on 5/21 which I bought from a brick/mortar store (sorry Amazon!), after researching the hell out of it. My equipment includes a WDTV Media Player (HDMI w/optical out), Nintendo Wii (analog), HD HTPC on the make, and Denon AVR-590(two optical audio inputs and three HDMI inputs).

PROS:
- NO BUZZING! YEAH!!
- Great picture out of the box – will be fine-tuning things later, but early indications are very positive. Several units had more features but PQ suffered. With so many blu-ray players and HTPCs that stream Netflix/Pandora, don’t get lured in by feature-laden units that fail to deliver great PQ.
- Media Play – plug in any USB or HD into the unit to watch video, listen to music, and view pictures.
- Input panel is easy to access – swivel base is a real plus.
- The manual states that it can connect to a home network and “can access the Internet through your LAN connection” – this one might be interesting if I could get a third party wireless USB stick to work. So far, no success – I’ll report back on this one.

CONS
- No memory card access – will attempt access with a card reader.
- Cannot tell unit to show subtitles only when muted – 7 different versions available, but none of them allow you to read subtitles when it’s muted.
- Lack of widgets – I really wanted the web widgets, but wouldn’t sacrifice PQ. With the new HD HPTC almost finished and running WMC 7, it will interesting to see if WMC will be enough.
- Sound effects and music sound great through Denon, yet dialogue is sometimes difficult to understand – I suspect that is due to my inability to read the language known as Denon and to configure it accordingly. Audio is being passed through the Denon with a single HMDI connection to the back of the Samsung.

Manufacturers like Sony and Samsung make way too many units. Once you choose a manufacturer or a set of features you cannot live without, eliminate as many inferior units as possible. Then, find where your top 3 prospects are sold and get full demos on each including use of the remote. This was the only way I was able to determine that the 550 would work.

 

 

 

 

LG 50PK950 50-inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

Thanks to the fellow Amazonian who posted about the Panasonic G25. I had been back and forth for months whether I wanted a 50″ Plasma or 50″ LED/LCD. I did my homework, I went and saw all of the models I had to choose from in store, and did the research online. I have a 42″ Samsung 120Hz LCD in my bedroom, and it took some getting used to how the picture is “Too Real”. I was literally in the process of buying the Panasonic G25, because they have the best plasmas, Pioneer’s parts, blah blah blah…and I did one last look around at 50 inch plasmas and came across the review about how he chose the PK950 over the G25, and I ended up buying the PK950 without even going to see what it looked like and couldn’t be happier. This TV will BLOW you away.

Here’s what sold me:

The Panasonic Plasma, while it does have the best of the best..BUT..it hasn’t developed aesthetically. This TV is 2″ thick and puts out a decent sound. When people saw it, they asked if it was an LED because it is so thin. The G25, is still that big chunky plasma with the heavy border. This TV is perfect for an articulating wall mount, and doesn’t weigh 70 lbs. Picture-Flawless, Buzzing-None whatsoever, Set up-Quick and painless (8 Screws and a Phillips if you want the stand). The stand is sleek the finish is Great. No glare (But I also do not have any sunlight coming on it past 10 A.M. It does not glare with the light in the living room either. There was just one concern..

Packing/Shipping
My box was a little on the rough side, and had been opened before..Looked like it was an old box (So immediately I think…Used/Refurbished TV). I made the gentleman who delivered the TV stay until I had everything out and opened. The TV was brand new but a way to check to see if it had been rebuilt…check the stand and the holes the screws go. It was easy to tell then, for some reason they had used an old box with a new TV?! Why…I don’t really care to know.

One last thing, IT DOES COME WITH A WIRELESS ADAPTER, so no need to purchase one. Set up is quick and easy, also comes with a CD with Nero Media Home 4, so you can open a server on your wireless network and share movies, pics, and videos through the wireless router!

 

 

 

LG 22LE5300 22-Inch 720p 60 Hz LED LCD HDTV

TV has very adjustable picture which should leave anyone able to find the characteristics they like. Adjustments are laid out well. LED quality and low power consumption are important pluses for me. Desing is simple and elegant. Be aware that table mount has NO angle adjustment so you must place it at the height you want to view it unless you wall mount it- a small flaw. Table mount is large so you could place something under front or rear feet to partially compensate for this. Several sound choices. Thin TV with thin frame means speakers do not project sound forward but I like the dispersion this creates and sound is adequate if you just turn it up a few notches. Good value for the price.

 

 

 

 

Sony BRAVIA EX 500 Series 40-Inch LCD TV Black

After pretty much researching TVs to death, we purchased the Sony Bravia EX 500 and couldn’t be happier. We wanted a 40″ TV because it would fit nicely in our TV Armoire cabinet. I throw value into the equation, so I don’t hesitate to give this 5 stars.

Highlights:
1) Crystal clear 1080p HDTV broadcast and BluRay performance.
2) The voice clarity comes through incredibly clear. I used to have to crank up the volume much higher to understand conversations on movies and TV shows.
3) The standard definition comes in much better than our old 720p HDTV, but we spend most of our time on the HDTV channels.
4) You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between this TV and those costing twice as much for the same size.

Lowlights:
1) This is minor, but I’ll keep it honest. Jutter is noticeable in faster moving camera pans and action, but hardly on BluRay which has me wondering how much has to do with the frequency of the broadcast vs. the TV. We watched “Iron Man” on the BluRay and it looked great.
2) It’s rated at 150k:1 contrast ratio which pales in comparison to the 2MM:1 and higher on LEDs and Plasmas.

In summary, we’re very happy with the performance of the Sony Bravia EX 500. At present, I don’t know if there’s a better combination of price and performance. We’re value conscious, so we’re extremely satisfied with this purchase.

 

 

VIZIO SV470M 47-inch 1080p LCD HDTV with 120 Hz Smooth Motion

I was able to purchase this LCD from Amazon for the price of $599.99 on Cyber Monday, I think that’s a great price, I saw several at my local Costco selling for $649.99 before $80 instant rebate, with tax and green fee pushing it to $826.16, I would say Amazon is the best deal with no tax and free shipping. anyway, when I was at several Costco stores around the San Fernando valley, and compared all the available Vizio, I have to say the picture is very high def, and very sharp when watching it from 2 feet away. the further I move back, the sharper the screen looks, but comparing next to the LED or a LG LCD, it’s not as bright, and the contrast is not as dark, but then Costco has very bright ambience light in their warehouse, I usually watch TV in a lower light room. at another store, Avatar was shown, and the picture is just incredible, even sharper than the brocasted HD program. of course, the blue ray helped too. overall, I think it’s a great TV for the price, if it’s on sale again, don’t hesitate.

 

VIZIO E550VL 55-inch Full HD 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV

We purchased this from a different retailer for 1399 around Jan 2010. It looks amazing in hi def with broadcasts like Glee, Marriage Ref, or regular DVDs.
Counter to the other reviews, The playstation looks awesome too, Full 1080P. I haven’t noticed unplayable issues of lag, & I game online all the time. There was lag when I went through my receiver first via HDMI enough to notice in guitar hero or rock band, so I plug in directly ps3 to TV now for video because of that. I can’t help but wonder if that kid knew how to hook up his game console. Hint: if it isn’t with an HDMI cable, then you aren’t seeing HiDef 1080 correctly. We’ve had nothing but jaw dropping fan reviews from our picture, people always want to come back and play/watch some more.
Vizios also have ability to turn off speakers and have more adjustments to audio, this is good, as I rarely use the TVs speakers. Had a friend tell me his new Sony wouldn’t let him do that.

Cons: this TV can see through green screens… making fake shots look even more fake. I’ve tried to adjust it myself, but came back to default settings which looked better than mine. It brightens movies, losing that film effect, making movies look more like soap operas or camcorder shots. I suspect ‘backlight’ to be the cause of this, but again, I was never happy with my adjustments to make it better. another thing, when the screen is really bright, and I can see a fault in the ‘plastic film’ near part of the screen, a fold. I’d have to point it out to you it’s so minor and you wouldn’t see it 99 percent of the time, but it was a fault in my particular tv.

My panasonic Viera picture is slightly better & less bright, but I would make this purchase again over & over.(especially at the new price!)

 

 

 

Panasonic TC-P54G25 54-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

I purchased this TV on July 2 and it was delivered on time with no hassle on July 12 as requested.

I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable tech guy, as I have an extensive home theater set-up (Onkyo AVR, Polk Audio 5.1 surround, Blu Ray, XBOX 360, Audioquest cables, cheap HDMI cables, etc…) No, I do not have a $10,000 system, but it is a quality system that performs great. Research returns results!

Before my purchase, I researched this model and the Panasonic 3D VT25 for about 3 months on AVSForum, Home Theater mag, CNET, and other sites for price and reviews. The reviews overall were pretty good for this TV and the picture quality is unmatched by any 2010 model HDTV at this price point, PERIOD.

This is my first plasma, as my previous TV was a 5 yr old 46in Toshiba DLP, so I am not new to HD. Out of the box, the highly recommended THX mode is near perfect. If you are extra picky, you can check AVS Forum for the calibration settings for this model by doing a search for D-Nice (licensed pro calibrator), and his break in slides and settings. If you do not wish to pro calibrate this TV through the Service Menu (risky), don’t worry about running the slides.

For best results out of this TV and to prevent Temporary Image Retention (IR), just keep it on THX (the best setting), and keep the brightness and contrast around 50 for the first 100 hrs of watching. Keeping these settings down while watching TV with static images like ESPNHD bottom ticker or playing games will help you out a great deal.

As for performance, my G25 is a May 2010 build (kinks worked out at the factory by this time) and the Picture was better than I’d even thought it would be. Blu Rays looked great and the black level is dark as ink. I am still “breaking in” the set of course, but I don’t seem to have any of the issues from early builds like buzzing during bright lighted scenes. I tested Dark Knight, Book of Eli, and HD broadcasts during the 1st night without any issues.

Again, for this price point, there is no better value or quality 2010 HDTV to be had. LCD and LED black levels don’t come close to this Panny plasma. Only the Panny 3D VT25 has better PQ, but only by a small margin.

If you are in the market for a new HDTV, look no further than the G25, and Amazon again has the best service, easy returns, and lowest prices you will find. I say go for it!

 

 

Samsung LN55C650 55-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV (Black)

About me: First HDTV, but I am an Electrical/Software Engineer so I have a high level of technical ability, with a low expectations. I have been micro analysing which TV to buy for far to long. I attended CES in 2009 and 2010, and have seen all of the new TV that are coming out (probably why I kept waiting so long). This is the perception from which this review was written.

I received this TV yesterday and watched it for most of the evening. Very good picture! I was considering the LG55lh40 but after viewing the Samsung LN55B650 side by side with the LG at Best Buy my wife and I realized there was little competition. We had the tech at best buy let us mess with the settings for around half an hour (starting with the auto-calibration from LG) but just couldn’t get it to look right compared with the Samsung. I was rather upset, as I have read numerous great reviews about the LG and it was a considerably cheaper price. Logging into Amazon I noticed the LN55C650 was on sale for $1620 (even cheaper than last years B series) but had no reviews, so I was a little nervous to order it. Hindsight is 20/20 and I definitely made the right choice. The picture is very clear and has that crisp look that Samsung is famous for.

My surround sound system will not be delivered until today, so I was stuck using the built in speakers last night. I was very impressed with the sound this thing could pump out. I varied the sound between 25 and 50 (out of 100) and it was more than loud enough and filled the room nicely. This is by no means comparable to a nice sound system, but compared to any other TV I have heard, it is definitely up there in sound capabilities.

Looks wise, I think this is much better looking than last years B650. I didn’t care for the red touch of color that surrounded the whole TV. This model only seems to have the red at the bottom center, and it adds a really nice accent without being overpowering like I felt last years were. This is just a personal opinion.

Cons:
The 120HZ feature, which was heavily complained about in the LN55B650 still has problems. The first thing I did when I got the TV was watch The Dark Knight BD (1080P) on my PS3 using a V1.3 Cat2 HDMI cable. I thought something was wrong with the TV as it was doing very strange things with background motion, but after turning the 120HZ feature off the picture cleaned up perfectly and I no longer notice any problems while watching it. I tried all of the different 120HZ modes, and they all had the same problem. That said, I turned it back on while watching HDTV (720p obviously) and it seems very clean with the 120HZ.

It is 2010 and they still can’t put a wireless radio built into the television? I find this to be ridiculous that you have to purchase a separate module in order to get wireless. My router is very far away from my TV and it will be expensive to have network cables added.

I will update this if I notice any other issues.

 

 

 

LG 46LD550 46-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LCD HDTV with Internet Applications

This TV is great! The picture is very clear. To prove it, just play Avatar in Blu-Ray and you’ll see what I mean. What makes a difference in this TV compared to the old 60Hz TVs, is the 120Hz refresh rate on this LG model. The 120Hz refresh rate makes a big difference when watching TV. Motion is very smooth and characters and objects in the picture are very crisp and clear. The TV has a couple of good brightness levels to choose from. The nice matted screen also prevents screen glare. There are other TVs that put on that shiny surface which could take away the nice viewing experience but who wants screen glare while watching a nice movie or show? Should you consider an LCD screen over an LED screen? With this LG model, LCD looks just as good as an LED set. You won’t get the deep blacks and energy savings that LED TVs can provide, but the dark colors are already excellent and LCD TVs have been developed over the years to be more energy efficient. Plus, you’ll spend more on an LED TV if you get one. I would say wait on buying an LED TV if you don’t want to spend an extra couple of hundred dollars, and if you don’t mind not having the high contrast ratios. Plus the prices of LED TVs will go down in the future. The sound is decent. The sound scale goes from 0 to 100. 25 will give you a decent sound from about 10 feet away. It’s loud enough to hear what is being said but could be loud to possibly wake a baby in the adjacent room. Depending on what’s showing on the screen, you might have to go to 50 to go louder (though you might want to respect your surroundings because this level can be loud for your next door neighbors). This TV set has different audio options to choose from. You don’t really need to connect to a home theater unless your an audio enthusiast and want better sound. But for the daily and casual viewing this TV is great for viewing and good for sound! Again, put in a Avatar (Blu-Ray) movie and you’ll realize the differences! For the price of this TV set, it was great! I got it from Amazon for about $400 less than the suggested retail list price. The delivery service was also good. They called me letting me know that they were on their way.

Here are some of the things I have used this TV for:
1. Watching Netflix movies (PROS: nice title selector using netcast, CONS: The netflix Instant Queue category is only available)
2. Play XBOX 360 games (PROS: clear game picture and good contrast levels; HDMI and COMPONENT connections provided nice video quality CONS: )
3. Play PS3 games (PROS: same as xbox 360; COMPONENT is great (didn’t have HDMI to test), CONS: )
4. Software upgrades (software update speed seem to be average in terms of how long it takes for the TV to completely upgrade; a few minutes)
5. HDTV (PROS: It has it’s own HDTV receiver; seems like I can get more channels using this TV than using my other 3rd party HDTV receiver; TV also has a favorite channel list that you can customize CONS: some channels don’t have the best reception (due to area/location of TV signal stations) )
6. Wired Internet connection (PROS: connectivity is very straightforward if you know what you are doing, CONS: TV doesn’t have wireless but there is an add-on for wireless though)
7. Remote control (PROS: decent remote control with the usual/common buttons; fairly easy to get used to; soft buttons; CONS: sometimes you’ll need to point directly to the TV to make it respond. Objects in front of the TV control receiver can block the controller requests)

I’ve had this LG model for about a month now and so far it has been great!

[update 10/12/10]
Just a few days after I posted my review, there was a new software update which improved the netflix experience. Originally, the instant queue category was only available. Now there is that and the new additional categories of search, browse, genres, suggestions, and new arrivals.

 

 

 

 

Sony BRAVIA EX 400 Series 40-Inch LCD TV Black

I have to say, I really like this TV. My previous LCD was a Samsung 32″ 720p – and this set blows it away in almost every aspect. I think I paid around $550 for the Samsung a little over a year ago, so I jumped at the chance to upgrade to the EX400.

Pros: The ambient light sensor works terrific.
- 4 HDMI inputs! Plug away my friends.
- Bravia Sync feature works great with my Sony home theater system.
- PS3 games have never looked better. I played Killzone 2 right after I setup the TV and my jaw was open for about 10 minutes straight.
- It only has a 60Hz refresh rate, but I’ve yet to see any blur while watching sports.
- DVD’s look fairly crisp as well, considering I have a cheap DVD up-converter.
- It’s a Sony! I’m sure some ppl have had bad experiences with Sony, but I’ve had nothing but luck. To each his own I guess.

Cons: The remote is junk. It looks cheap and it isn’t very functional.
- The grey panel on the front. I had a bigger problem with the online picture of the set than I do in person. It doesn’t look THAT bad – but it still throws off the continuity of the black perimeter. Strange call by Sony.
- Calibration is frustrating. There are so many different picture settings you’ll probably struggle to find the perfect setup. I used the DVD THX Optimizer (found it on one of my Star Wars movies) and it helped a lot. (I posted them on [...])
- If you’re using an antenna instead of cable/satellite you’ll find that channel surfing is a bit slow. This is kind of a nitpick, but the channels take a little longer to load on this set.
- No swivel? I knew this set didn’t have it before I bought it – but it would still be nice.

For around $600 you can have full 1080p AND a 40″ screen. Great TV – great deal.

 

 

 

Samsung UN46C7000 46-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LED HDTV (Black)

Fantastic picture quality! Easy to set up and use. Shippers were great, unpacked the TV and made sure it worked before they left. The only complaint is I spent my 1st whole night wondering why all my shows looked the Soap Operas. Turns out this is caused by Samsung “Auto Motion Plus” feature that adds extra calculated frames to the video stream. Turning this off made the picture look as I expected (i.e. Law and Order’s proper gritty/jerky camera motion when the detectives are on the street). When this mode is off the tv is still running at 240Hz, but shows the same frames unaltered over and over just like the movie theater does rather than trying to “make stuff up” in between frames. I now only turn on the “Auto Motion Plus” when watching hockey.

 

 

Panasonic VIERA TC-P54VT25 54-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV Black

First of all, I’m not a technical expert on any of LCD/LED/Plasma TVs. I’m planning to buy a LED 3D TV/Plasma 3D TV on the Black Friday. I read very good reviews on Panasonic Plasma 3D TV than an equivalent LED 3D TV. I’ve not seen a 3D TV yet myself, so myself and my wife decided to go to BestBuy(BB) to check out practically. Even before we went ot BB, I checked couple of my friends and they said I should go for LED and that is the only way and that Plasma is dead and gone soon. We reached BB and went into the 3D center and saw a Sony 60-inch 3D LED TV(don’t remember the model # but the cost is close to 4 grand) and Panasonic 54-inch 3d Plasma TV(model # TC-P54VT25 54″ 1080p Plasma 3D TV). I told the technician that I wanted to see a 3D demo of the Panasonic Plasma 3D TV. He said the fixed mount 3d glasses are already attached in front of the Panasonic 3d Plasma TV and that I can go and watch the Avatar movie. I watched the movie in 3D and it’s exactly like what we watched in the movie theaters and the colors are crisp and the picture quality is superb. My wife then watched it from the fixed mount and she said the 3D quality is superb. I then asked the technician to put the same Avatar 3D movie in the Sony 3D Bluray player attached to the 60-inch Sony 3D TV and asked for 2 pairs of Sony 3D glasses for the Sony 60-inch tv as there was no fixed mount 3D glass in front of the Sony TV. I watched by sitting in the front couch of the Sony TV and found the 3D tv reasonable. The tech asked me to stand up and move sidewards(any side) couple of feet and then there is the ghost image and the loss of the color and 3D effect. I did the same thing on the other side and the same problem existed. Then the tech asked to sit in the middle of the couch(my initial position). He asked me to bend my head any side, again there is the ghost image and the loss of the color and 3D effect. I bent my head the other side and the same problem persisted. Also the 3D quality of Sony is not as good as the Panasonic Plasma TV.
At this point I realized that the Pansonic 3D tv has a fixed mount 3D eye glasses in front of it and we are not moving any side and that probably might be the reason for the Pansonic’s better 3D picture quality. I immediately asked the tech to bring a pair of Panasonic 3D glasses. He brought them and I wore it now in front of the Panasonic 3D TV with the same Avatar movie playing again. I moved sidewards either side and bent my head either side. The picture was perfect, no ghosting and no change in colors and absolutely the same picture quality as it was when I was standing in front of the fixed mount eye glasess. My wife did exactly what I did and she said she saw the 3D picture without any negative effects. Also the 3D depth in Plasma TV is very natural and the colors are very crisp and this is not the case with Sony LED TV and 3D in Sony looked somewhat artificial.
As a last thing, I asked the tech to remove the 3D features and saw the Avatar in 2D mode and it has still superb picture quality with crisp colors.
Coming to the price, Plasma 3D TVs are relatively inexpensive compared to comparable LED 3D TVs. The only reason most people are interested in LED TV is it is new technoogy, LED TV is sleek looking whereas Plasma TVs are little bulkier and that’s my guess. As I’ve not seen all the features of this TV, I would give atleast 4 stars to this TV
So, my advice to you guys, first go to a store like BestBuy and do some research before deciding which TV is good for you and just do not strike off Plasma in the first place.

 

 

 

Axion AXN-8701 7-Inch Widescreen Handheld LCD TV with Built-In Tuner Black

If, like me, you live in a medium-fringe TV area, and you are going to be using the supplied (or other external) antenna, one of the first things to do when you receive this cute little TV is to connect it to the best antenna available to do your auto-scan. That’s easy because it has a standard antenna connector, and necessary because this TV will_not_tune to any channel not previously found by auto-scan. Manual tuning just selects a channel previously auto-scanned. At my location, the attached rabbit-ear antenna is virtually useless. But with my large, amplified home antenna connected, I easily picked up all the digital stations I usually get, plus one more, and with no problems from the many big trees around my home. So the tuner is very sensitive and not very subject to multipath interference. With the supplied external antenna connected, I eventually managed to get all the stations received using the big antenna, which was a nice surprise, although it took some fiddling with antenna position (Two inches can make all the difference). The digital TV picture provided is very good, with very nice color, resolution and contrast.

I didn’t expect great sound, since the speakers are tiny (about 1 inch diameter, on the front). It’s certainly not high fidelity, but it is intelligible at least. The sound from earphones is somewhat better.

Other surprises include no volume and no power on/off switch on the credit-card sized remote (No big deal. Gotta be almost within reach to see the picture details anyway). And the internal battery cannot be charged on the car adapter — It’s charged only when the TV is connected to AC power.

The Axion web site is listed in the manual as [...]

Follow-up 2/4/09: Still like this TV, but I’m now on the second one — The first stopped responding to the remote control after about two weeks, and was quickly replaced for free by Amazon. The second one performs at least as well as the first. Further thoughts: This TV is intended to be placed on a table top, like a picture frame, but if you must mount it elsewhere, well, there is a threaded hole like a tripod socket on the bottom. It doesn’t look very strong, and appears to be just molded into the plastic. The manual says nothing about it. Also, the AC adapter does generate some electrical noise (so does the TV), so AM radio reception may be affected, especially if the radio is close by.

 

 

 

Vizio 19 Class 720p 60Hz LED LCD HDTV (M190VA)

This is my first Vizio, after watching them for a couple of years. I bought it to replace an early 13 inch early AQUOS LCD. Over the last five years, I own/have owned Sony, Sylvania, two AQUOS and a Samsung LCDs from 13 to 36 inch.

IMO, this is a great little TV. It is very attractive, has an excellent picture, and is easy to set up. (Other than recording the model and serial numbers, I have yet to open the manual (real men don’t need no stinking instructions! ;) ), and have been able to do all I want so far using the menu system…)

I am sensitive to good sound quality, and was concerned about some of the reviews complaining about the sound. Am unsure what the folks who panned the speakers expect from a 19 inch TV, and “out of the box” the sound is a bit thin and tinny, but getting into the setup menu and playing around with the sound settings, from automatic to “roll your own” in the equalizer mode provides completely acceptable sound quality (for me) with adequate volume for a small room (this tiny TV has tiny speakers. It is NOT a Klipsch or Bose 7.1 THX speaker set).

The only thing I am not wild about is the glossy “cabinet”… I prefer a matte/semi gloss finish, but realize I’m swimming upstream on that one, so with all the pluses for this unit, I can live with the shiny case.

I am pleased with this set, and if its longevity lives up to its initial perception, Vizio has a winner in the mini TV market. If you are looking for a small HD TV, the M190VA is an excellent choice for value, features and quality.

 

 

 

Panasonic TC-L37X2 37-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with iPod Dock

I just received this television and am very happy with it for multiple reasons:
1. It’s the perfect size for our guest bedroom (approx. 10×12). We tried a 42″ plasma but it seemed to take up too much space on the dresser and dominated the room.
2. In my opinion, the picture is better than the plasma we tried (42″ Samsung). Plasmas have darker blacks, but the colors just don’t pop like they do on the LCD televisions we have (we also have a 52″ Samsung LCD in the family room). FYI, we have a 42″ Panasonic plasma in our bedroom which I like, so maybe Panasonic just makes a better TV in this price range. Who knows?
3. Set-up was incredibly easy. 8 screws to attach the base to the TV and you’re done with that part. The TV leads you through a set-up procedure when you turn it on the first time: setting the language, date/time, selecting/naming input sources, etc.
4. The iPod/iPhone plug-in is a nice add-on. Basically, it’s a free throw in and if nothing else, you can use it as a charger for your iPod/iPhone even if you don’t want to play music with it.

I would go so far as to recommend this TV for a main television given the overall picture quality and ease of use. For the price, this one is going to be tough to beat.

 

 

Panasonic VIERA TC-P46G25 46-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

I’m 70 years old and haven’t been so excited about anything in a long time. I’m also a shopper and very picky, I’ve been looking at flat screens for the last 3 years. First I loved the Pioneer elite plasma, but at about $4000 was kind of crazy – then looked at Samsung LCD which had a good review, then saw they were coming out with the LED last year, so waited for that, but was disappointed with the reviews – I always did like the plasma better than the LCD, so last year read and re-read about the Panasonic G10, then the G15 reviews, kept wondering and waiting, then to my great delight heard about the 2010 model G25 – this is it! I had a new entertainment center built to fit a 46 inch, then ordered the 46G25 – the entertainment center arrived on Tuesday and on Wednesday I got all my stuff in it and got it ready for the TV, the TV was delivered on Thursday, the Amazon delivery service took the TV out of the box and plugged it in and connected to cable – my niece picked up my old entertainment center right after the TV was delivered and I sat back and had to pinch myself that there it was, the new entertainment center with a beautiful new flat screen – I have basic cable through Time Warner, don’t even have the extra box – the TV auto programmed all kinds of channels that I hadn’t had before – all the TV channels that are broadcast in HD, like the network channels were set to two channels, for instance I have a 2 and 2-1, 4 and 4-1, 7 and 7-1, etc – the -1 channels are the HD channels, the channels that are not broadcast in HD still look good, but the HD channels are absolutely beautiful – you can set the format – so the channels that are not broadcast in HD I leave at the 4:3 format, otherwise it kind of stretches it out – there are several format and picture mode settings. I also connected to internet and watched UTube videos – but best of all the picture is beautiful – I’m glad I waited – it is perfect and I love it.

 

 

 

 

Proscan 32LB30QD 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with built-in DVD Player Silver/Black

This TV is a good TV for a bedroom. The built in DVD player really saves space. Plus the price is right for an extra TV.I now own both a 26 and 32 inch proscan tvs, My research showed that proscan is made by RCA and RCA has been around for a long time. I would buy another as I did. Also I had a minor problem with the first one amazon sent me and within 3 days of reporting the problem Amazon had fedex picking up the old one and I had the new one in the bedroom within the same 3 day period. That was great service by Amazon. I would definitely buy another proscan and would definitely not be afraid of buying it through amazon.

 

 

Proscan 19LB30QD 19-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with built-in DVD Player Silver/Black

This TV is a good TV for a bedroom. The built in DVD player really saves space. Plus the price is right for an extra TV.I now own both a 26 and 32 inch proscan tvs, My research showed that proscan is made by RCA and RCA has been around for a long time. I would buy another as I did. Also I had a minor problem with the first one amazon sent me and within 3 days of reporting the problem Amazon had fedex picking up the old one and I had the new one in the bedroom within the same 3 day period. That was great service by Amazon. I would definitely buy another proscan and would definitely not be afraid of buying it through amazon.

 

 

 

Magnavox 32MD359B/F7 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with Built In DVD Player

I purchased this TV for our houseboat. I am very pleased with its performance. The only thing that I didn’t like about is that I purchased the wall mount as a frequently bought together deal and the mount does not work on this tv without an adapter that I couldn’t find in any store. I ended up at the dreaded Walmart to buy one that would work. Other than that, I love it.

 

 

 

Sony BRAVIA KDL40EX40B 40-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV with Built-In Blu-ray Disc Player

I couldn’t be happier. Everything has worked as advertised and the quality of the unit is above average for all the junk I see these days. I wanted it for my master bedroom to mount on the wall and have as few wires and devices hanging off of it as possible. The Bluray/Dvd player works well and connecting to a network was a snap. I even streamed a video from one of my computers to it, but the streaming quality leaves a little bit to be desired. I believe that is mostly due to the infancy of the technology. The internet functions work great for what I want Youtube and netflix operate just fine.

 

 

 

Haier HLC19SL2 Black 19-Inch Ultra Slim LED LCD HDTV DVD Combo

I love this TV. The DVD is what I use it for primarily. It seems to work just fine. Picture is great, sound is very good and the controller seems easy enough to use. It also had a headphone jack for speakers or headphones which is also nice. It has an input to let you plug in HD components like satellite or even a blu ray player. I actually have my PS3 player hooked to it so I’m getting full high definiton for my movies. If you’re going to use the DVD player on the TV itself, be careful not to move the TV while the DVD is running. I did this and it scratched the DVD, but that’s pretty much common sense not to move this thing when it’s in motion.

My only problem I had with this thing is when I had a DVD that had multiple angles on it. The angle change works fine enough, but for the entire DVD, an “angle” icon stays on the TV. I was unable to find a way to remove it at all. It’s very annoying. It only pops up for DVD’s that “support multiple” angles which these DVD’s are not very common. I was watching a 3 Stooges DVD that one angle was black and white, and the other was color. I’m sure there is a way to remove it, but I could not figure it out. All in all though, great TV. Perhaps a little pricey, but you’re getting a good TV, and that’s what’s important.

 

 

 

Magnavox 37MD350B/F7 37-Inch 720p LCD HDTV with Built-In DVD Player Black

Technical Details

  • Built-in DVD player (plays DVD- DV-R/RW- CD- CD-RW)
  • 37 in. high-definition LCD WXGA display
  • 720p resolution; ATSC / NTSC
  • Adaptive 3D Y/C comb filter
  • Clear Pix Engine Plus; 20W total power

Product Description

With a built-in capable DVD player. integrated digital tuner. the 37MD350B enriches the total viewing experience with ultra sharp widescreen HD picture. HD media connectivity. Dolby Digital sound and SPDIF audio output.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharp AQUOS LC26DV28UT 26-Inch LCD TV/DVD Combo Black

Technical Details

  • 26-inch TFT LCD HDTV supports 720p and 1080i sources
  • 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio with 160 degree viewing angle
  • Dual HDMI inputs, PC input for use as computer monitor
  • Built-in ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners for analog/digital programming
  • Built-in, side-loading, progressive scan DVD player

Amazon.com Product Description

Sharp’s 26-inch LC-26DV28UT LCD TV offers DVD entertainment with a small footprint. It features a side-loading progressive scan DVD player, a brilliant LCD panel, high contrast ratio, low-reflection glare protection, and generous viewing angles. ATSC/NTSC tuners set you up for broadcast programming and digital cable programming, and a PC input lets you use it as a computer monitor.

 

 

 

Sharp AQUOS LC19DV28UT 19-Inch LCD TV/ DVD Combo Unit Black

Technical Details

  • 19-inch TFT LCD HDTV supports 720p and 1080i sources
  • Built-in, side-loading, progressive scan DVD player
  • 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio with 170 degree viewing angle
  • HDMI input, PC input for use as computer monitor
  • Built-in ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners for analog/digital programming

Amazon.com Product Description

Sharp’s 19-inch LC-19DV28UT LCD TV offers DVD entertainment with a small footprint. It features a side-loading progressive scan DVD player, a brilliant LCD panel, high contrast ratio, low-reflection glare protection, and generous viewing angles. ATSC/NTSC tuners set you up for broadcast programming and digital cable programming, and a PC input lets you use it as a computer monitor.

 

 

 

 

Sharper Image TSI-LCD22DVDi 21.6-inch 720P Widescreen LCD TV with Built-In DVD Player and iPod Dock

Product Description

The Sharper Image TSI-LCD22DVDi LCD high definition television combines stylish design with full featured functionality. Includes a built in progressive scan DVD player, USB and SD card reader and an integrated iPod docking station. This compact and attractive high definition television set blends the benefits of modern digital media with traditional television for a complete home entertainment experience. Other features include built in sleep timer and V chip parental control, variable picture and sound modes, remote control, stand. It has the following inputs 1xHDMI, 1x PC Audio, 1xVGA, 1x component, 1x S-Video, 1xRCA, 1xRF.

 

 

 

Magnavox 19MD358B/37 19-Inch LCD HDTV with Built-In DVD Player

Very good picture quality, specially on HD programms. Wide viewing angle. DVD player read almost any video format including some divx and xvid movies.

 

 

 

Haier HLC24XSL2 Black 24-Inch Ultra Slim 1080p LED LCD HDTV DVD Combo

Took months to get due to Haier product introduction delay and then 3 errors either by Ebay or Haier regarding shipping non DVD version instead of DVD version. Once I got the right version with DVD I have been very pleased. Quality of product, both picture and sound exceeded my expectations. These small LED LCD TV’s are very thin and that impacts the sound volume as speakers are not as big as LCD only TVs. Very good sound quality. Easy to set up with DirecTV. Nice feature with audio out plug so you can pipe out the audio through external cable into amplified speakers if you want to rattle the rafters. Look out Sharp and Sony. Haier is definitely a top contender.

 

 

 

Zinwell ZAT-970A Digital to Analog TV Converter Box

I only have an outdoor TV antenna. No cable or satellite. I too bought this converter for the built in timer. You can record different channels at different times while you’re away from home with your VCR and TV antenna (However, you can not record one station and watch another station “at the same time”). You have to set your TV and VCR to channel 3 (always) and the timer in this converter is what you set for the time and channel to record. Make sure the clock time on the converter box matches the clock time on your VCR. Or you may miss part of your show. There is one problem that I haven’t figured out yet. I hooked this converter to the TV in my living room. My outdoor antenna cable line continues on and goes to the bedroom and the TV in the bedroom only plays the channel that the converter box is on in the living room. I have 2 of these converter boxes and so I hooked the second one up in the bedroom. It receives no channel signals. Well, that didn’t last long since I received my DVD recorder in the mail (Toshiba DR560 1080p Upconverting DVD Recorder with Built-in Tuner, bought on Amazon) and this DVD recorder has a built-in ATSC/NTSC/QAM digital/analog tuner. Meaning, I don’t need a converter box in my living room now. This DVD recorder allows me to record one station and watch another station at the same time from my over the air, outdoor antenna. Just like a VCR. Awesome! Now the converter box works on the bedroom TV. Since the DVD recorder is allowing the signal to continue on through to the bedroom. I am a happy camper. I now have an extra converter box. Maybe I’ll sell it on Amazon.

Over 3 years ago, I got rid of my cable (yes, the first 3 months was very difficult). I bought an outdoor TV antenna and lived with that for about a year. The reception wasn’t good, lots of white specs or lines. Then I bought a “booster” for the antenna. A big improvement almost like receiving paid cable. This converter box allows me to receive more TV stations then the outdoor TV antenna alone. I haven’t figured out yet what these stations are. I think they’re cable or satellite channels. This converter box also improved the reception of all the TV stations. My new DVD recorder, as I mentioned above, also improved the reception even better then this converter box.

By the way, so far I’ve saved over 2 thousand dollars by getting rid of my paid cable and going to an outdoor antenna. Add up your monthly cable bill and times it by 12. That’s what you’re paying a year for paid cable.

 

 

 

Panasonic SC-HTB500 2.1-Channel SoundBar Speaker System with Wireless Kelton Subwoofer (Black)

I recently took advantage of the Amazon Gold Box Deal and bought the Panasonic TCP42G25 and got this sound bar for free. This was exactly what I needed to replace a poor quality Olevia LCD TV in my bedroom. I have a fully decked out audio/video room already so all I wanted was something decent for the bedroom. After some tweaking and rewiring, I was able to integrate this with the new Panasonic Plasma, an old Panasonic Blu-Ray DMP-BD35, and a low end Dish Network VIP211. The big puzzle was a bug in the Dish receiver that caused it to fail to deliver Dolby 5.1 over the HDMI cable. I took advantage of the second HDMI input on the soundbar with an optical input to solve this problem. Bottom line, no new wires, no new A/V receiver and fantastic sound from a very simple setup. It is very easy to do a “side-by-side” comparison because Panasonic’s VieraLink will return the sound back to the TV if you turn the soundbar off. What a difference! I am only giving the unit 4 stars because of the lack of some, in my opinion, basic functions being absent. Why would Panasonic not put simple bass and treble controls on a unit that retails for $349? Other than that, I am really enjoying the new setup.

 

 

 

Logitech Squeezebox Boom All-in-One Network Music Player / Wi-Fi Internet Radio

I am a radio nut (going back to the tube days)and the Squeezebox Boom is my third internet radio. I have a Roku Soundbridge R1000 and Sangean WFR-20 as well. All have their strengths, but the Squeezebox Boom is without a doubt a significant step up; it sets a new high standard in performance, capabilities, and ease of operation.

For wireless streaming of your music collection from a PC or Mac, the Boom is best. It can handle more formats (nearly anything except DRM protected iTunes files) and works well without crashes or delays. In this the Roku is #2, and the Sangean ranks 3rd(crashes and stutters a lot).

For internet radio, they all work well. The Sangean is the only one that natively handles RealAudio Streams (like BBC) but has problems with clear channel stations. All of them pick up the stations I want without problems, so I rate this a tie.

If you want to interface with online music services like Rhapsody/Pandora/ MP3Locker etc, the Boom works great, with far more capacity than the other two. The Slimdevices/Squeezebox folks also update and improve their software far more frequently than the other two, so I expect it to remain in the lead in features and available services.

In sound quality, the Roku and Boom are both outstanding, with the Sangean good, but clearly a step lower. The Roku’s subwoofer seems to go a bit deeper in my room, but the Boom is perhaps a bit more smooth and musical. The Boom uses the same woofers and tweeters as the highly rated Logitech Z-10, but with better bass (because of a larger cabinet and new amp/equalizer circuitry). They both sound absolutely great and play quite loud.

Ease of initial setup: If you are starting from scratch, I think the Sangean is the easiest to set up, if you do NOT want to stream audio from your PC…that is a real hassle. Both the Boom and Roku require a bit more work.

Ease of Use AFTER set up: Boom is best BY FAR. Not only do the menus make real sense, but the illuminated controls make it the only radio you can use easily without turning on the lights. The big control knob and back lit function buttons get you through all of the functions fast.

As a Clock Radio, the Boom has more options than the others, and the display has a huge adjustment range so it will not disturb light sleepers.

All of these radios are a lot of fun. The Boom does most, and does it best.

 

 

 

Logitech Squeezebox Radio Music Player with Color Screen (Black)

When the Boom came out, I wanted to purchase it right away, but the $300 price tag and the inability to truely make it wireless detered me. Now that the Radio is out with a lower price tag, battery capability and a color LCD, I was totally sold. I’ve had the Radio for about a week now, and I simply love it. Even the wife was jamming to it when I got home from work the day after I bought it.

So far I have only had one issue with it…I can not find a setting to set the Album Art size to full screen on the Now Playing screen. It says in the manual that it is under the Screensaver settings, but when I go there it doesn’t exist. I sent an email to Logitech support, but have not heard back from them yet. [Updated] Logitech just released a new software version that will correct this issue.

Another cool feature that I didn’t realize existed, was the ability to control the Radio from the web.

As far as sound quality goes, it is far better than expected. There is virtually no distortion even at maximum volume. I even plugged a set of Computer Speakers into the Headphone Jack and it didn’t make that much of a difference. The Base levels aren’t that deep, but they are there. I can put it in my livingroom and pump it up near max volume and hear it clearly throughout the house.

I haven’t tested the Wireless strength extensively yet, but I was able to hook it up in the garage (1 Floor below and 50 feet from the router) and the signal strength was near full.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my purchase and can’t wait to get the battery pack so I can just carry this thing around anywhere.

 

 

 

Logitech Squeezebox Duet Wi-Fi Internet Radio

By William Higgins, Editor-in-Chief at http://www.5dollarmusic.com

The iPod revolutionized the personal music experience, but the Squeezebox Duet will revolutionize how you listen to music in your home!!!

I am really blown away by this product. With springtime upon us I used this the time this past week to wire my den and back porch with in-ceiling speakers. I had an old Onkyo A/V receiver that I installed in a closet to power the 2 rooms. My grand plan was to get this all setup for the Logitech Squeezebox Duet. I looked at the Sonos Music system but it was way out of my budget. The Logitech Squeezebox Duet was more than worth the money.

The install was a snap. It really only took a few minutes to setup. I did a little homework before I got the device and went ahead and installed the SqueezeCenter software on my computer first. So when I plugged in the hardware everything worked right away. No issues.

The interface is so slick and intuitive. Simple, efficient, and familiar to anyone that has used an iPod or any other portable MP3 player. I was amazed at how responsive the system is to the controls on the WiFi remote. Going from track to track, or album to album was instant, no lag. Really, I have used other music streaming systems before and some of them had a distinct lag in the controls. I am very happy to report that Slim Devices and Logitech got this right with the Duet. This is one of the few products that exceeded my expectations.

 

 

 

Grace Digital Wireless Internet Radio featuring Pandora and NPR (GDI-IR2000)

This review is for the Grace GDI-IR1000 or GDI-IR2000 internet radio. This product is an updated version of the ITC-IR1000. The only difference between toe 1000 and 2000 is that the 2000 has a remote control.

Network setup was relatively straightforward. I don’t normally broadcast my SSID, and I use MAC address filtering, so before scanning for my network I turned SSID broadcast on and disabled MAC filtering. Once I acquired the network I found the radio’s MAC address and added it to my allowed devices and turned off SSID broadcast again.

The manual has you connect to[...] where you can register your radio, add stations to your list or set up Pandora. Once you’ve registered you’ll have access to your stations and Pandora directly from the radio. It usually takes about 15 minutes for your radio to be recognized and access your lists. You can also directly access all 15,000 plus radio stations directly from the radio.

Pandora is the icing on the cake for this radio. Once you’re registered you can add artists or songs and get customized playlists of similar material. You can select an individual artist to create a playlist from or you can choose QuickMix, which will play selections from everything you choose from your list.

The radio now has 10 presets, using 5 preset buttons plus a shift button for the second 5. This is enough for my needs, but you can always access your favorite stations from the <My Stuff> <My Stations> menu if you need more presets.

One surprise I got early on is that if the Reciva website is down, you won’t receive any radio broadcasts. The clock also won’t function. The upside is that once you configure your time zone the radio clock will synchronize with a network time server.

Audio quality is very good for a tabletop radio. It’s certainly not hi fi quality, but nice for what the product is.

Labels on this radio are no longer a problem. They peel off easily in one piece.

Clock size, as mentioned by others is very small. It would be nice if there was a way to make the clock display larger when the radio isn’t playing.

When I received my radio, as configured it took about a minute to connect to my network every time I turned it on, plus several seconds to acquire a station after one was selected. It also didn’t remember the last station selected. I never found it in the manual, but under <Settings> <Network Config> <Wireless Standby Power Mode>, Stay connected to wireless in standby needs to be set to yes. Now the radio only takes a couple seconds to acquire a station and it remembers the last station selected.

I’m very happy with this purchase.

 

 

 

Logitech Squeezebox Touch

This is an amazing product. It is my first Squeezebox product – really my first attempt at home to do computer based audio outside of just using iTunes and plugging my computer headphone jack into a stereo, which is great fun and sounds just OK – no where as much fun or as great sounding as the Touch.

I have been waiting for a product that I could use in my audiophile home stereo. Logitech SB Transporter seemed like a good bet but it was a bit expensive ($2000) and reviews described a quality of sound (lean, detailed) that is not my cup of tea. I’m a tube guy. Love LP’s, love tube amps. Sweet lifelike sound.

If you are at all curious about computer based audio to feed your home stereo, you can stop reading here. Just buy this thing. It is amazing. It is not perfect. Some aspects of it are easier to configure than others. But for me, and I know for a lot of other people, it is a life changing experience as regards my use of music in my home.

I “rip” cds into iTunes using Apple lossless for computer playback and at a 256 bit rate for small capacity iPods. They both sound excellent when played by the Touch, either via analog out or via digital into a third party DAC.

This product is MOSTLY very easy to set up and use. It found my wifi network quickly, and it found the iTunes library on my Mac quickly. I am getting internet radio stations from all over the world. The sound from the analog outputs is now – with this new generation Squeezebox – EXTREMELY good. It has great tonality and is very lifelike. I’m comparing my superb Cary cd player (the 308T with tube output stage) to the the analog outs of the Touch and also to the digital out of the Touch into a Bryston BDA-1 DAC. The Bryston is winning awards, and it sounds incredible, (over $2k new, around $1400 used). I use the digital out of the Touch to feed the Bryston and it sounds fantastic. It is very close to my awesome Cary cd player ($2500 new plus upgraded tubes).

But the analog out of the Touch also sounds excellent. The Bryston and my Cary CD player both have a bit more detail and place the instruments and singers more distinctly in a sound-stage, and they have a little bit tighter bass, BUT BUT BUT the Touch analog output stage – for just $300 – has excellent tonality, excellent detail, deep and well controlled bass….. It is shockingly good. I may or may not get a 3rd party DAC for my home stereo (the Bryston is borrowed from a friend) but I don’t feel that I NEED to.

I bought a second Touch to use in my bedroom stereo. I am keeping the first one in my main high end audio system. As I say, I may or may not end up adding a third party DAC in the latter system, not sure, but certainly not for the bedroom system.

Caution: I am having some trouble configuring some aspects of this device, such as controlling it from my computer. The basic functionality is working great. The Touch is taking music off the server on my Mac, no problem. And also I’m playing music off an SDHC card in the Touch (the first Squeezebox to offer this functionality, as I understand). Feeding the Touch directly with an external hard drive is working hit or miss. Trying to use the computer based “player” for the Touch is mostly miss.

The remote is great. When you start to use the remote the characters on the screen get bigger – it’s perfect.

There is apparently a community of programmers that build third party apps for this thing. I’ve not yet begun to explore that. Some are free and some have nominal charge.

I am giving this 5 stars because it is a fantastic device; mostly easy to configure, sounds great, sounds even better when feeding an external DAC, and downright life-changing when it comes to home entertainment. I am tempted to deduct a star because of some aspects that appear buggy or hard to configure but I just can’t do it.

The Touch ain’t perfect, but it is fantastic.

 

 

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Wireless Audio Transmitter and Receiver Bundle

Everything works and sounds great once I figured it out. The instructions that came with it made it sound simple, plug this here, plug that there and (viola!) you’re up and running. Don’t believe it. After checking the Creative website for troubleshooting tips (again, no help), I stumbled upon the answer on my own. Using Windows 7, I went into the Control Panel, then Hardware & Sound, then the Sound option, where I had to select the Sound Blaster Wireless card as the default sound option. That redirected the sound from my computer speakers to the Blaster transmitter. I had to then reposition my computer in my home office so that my kitchen (with its big appliances) weren’t directly between the transmitter and the receiver in my family room before the reception improved. But it does now work as expected. The lesson here is that, if it is made to sound simple, you can bet it is anything but. But if you know about changing the default playback device to the Blaster USB card, then make sure your transmitter won’t have big obstacles (like metal appliances) between it and the receiver(s), you’ll be fine.

 

 

 

Bose Wave Music System – Graphite Gray

I have mixed feelings about the newly designed Wave System. {Only the design, NOT the sound quality, which I’m sure is still excellent.}
I have the older model {Thank God} because after just 2 yrs, and that’s not very long when you consider the price. The CD player on my model with the old design started doing weird things.. It played when it felt like it. That’s the only way I can describe it. So I cannot imagine how angry I would be if I owned this new style & could not get my CD out of this thing if it malfunctioned!
Now, when I had my “issue”, Bose offered to “Re-manufacture” it for $125. At first I was insulted, but then I thought, “Wait a minute, for $125 they are not only going to fix the problem but they are also going to check and replace/repair anything else that may be going wrong with it so it “meets the quality standards of the Bose Corporation” & re-set the warranty.” I essentially received a “new” unit for $125.00 Oh, and they also sent me a postage paid shipping box to send it to them.
This happened 3 years ago and I’ve had no further problems with it. So 5/5 for customer service.
As for sound, I have owned many, many audio systems in my life, large and small. NOTHING compares to this system. Well, except for attending a live performance. You will put a CD in this “Little Plastic Box” and simply be amazed at the sound that comes out!
I recently bought the larger system. Strange as it may seem, The small system actually sounds clearer to me than the large {$1,200} system.
As for this new design. I have a piece of advice. Order a replacement remote along WITH your system. Always have a back up because you will not want to wait for a new one to arrive in order to use your expensive stereo system.
Personally, I think Bose has a lot of nerve removing the manual play buttons and forcing their customers to rely on their remote.
That’s why I rated it 4/5
5/5 for sound 3/5 for design {it is pretty, but it IS useless without the remote}

 

 

 

 

 

Bose Wave Music System – Titanium Silver

I have enjoyed my Bose Wave music system for just over a month and I am very pleased with its performance. This is the second or third generation of the iconic Bose one-piece tabletop sound system that is intended to make you think you are listening to a much more complicated and professional component system. And, to a great extent, it does just that–or at least, it is closer to a stereo component sound than to a stand-alone run-of-the-mill radio sound. It certainly features a deeper range of bass sounds than any other one-piece radio I have ever encountered.

Bose has pioneered its spectacular sound machines which seem highly defined by their innovative speaker systems which they refer to as “waveguide speaker technology”. This one-piece system produces a clear, natural, room-filling sound without the need of external speakers. It has a very innovative physical design with a small unintrusive footprint that sits well on a night stand or in the kitchen. I particulrly appreciate the Titanium Silver color which seems appropriate for any area of the home. It is simple to install right out of the box and has the FM/AM radio, CD player, and clock/alarm built in. There is an auxiliary input for an MP3 player or other alternate sound source.

I especially appreciate the alarm system that opens softly and gently rises in volume as you awake. It comes with a credit card size remote control; however, I purchased the larger backlit remote with a dedicated cradle that I use instead. All in all, this is an effective and very impressive one-piece tabletop sound system that I enjoy daily. It is a bit pricy, but ultimately, you get what you pay for.

 

 

 

 

Sonos S5 Zone Player and BR100 ZoneBridge Bundle (Black)

I just purchased the s5 with a zone bridge and the CR200. The combination is absolutely amazing. Installation was easy and operation is intuitive. There is plenty out there on how these things work, so I won’t go into details on that. But I do have two observations to share:

1) In addition to the s5, I also picked up a NAS drive so that I could stream my 5000+ track mp3 library. After all, streaming my collection with a touch screen remote was one of the main reason I looked at Sonos in the first place. But, after setting Sonos up I decided to give Napster a try. The Napster/Sonos combination gives you access to 8 million tracks on demand. For example, Napster has over 60 Bob Dylan albums, which is pretty much his whole discography. If you want to sample the latest (obscure) music, Napster also has most of the albums Pitchfork reviewed this week–pretty neat.

So, despite my deep investment in my personal mp3 collection, it only took me a couple of minutes to realize that it was completely obsolete. Deciding between $5/month for a 8 million track library vs. a $200 NAS for my 5000 track library was a no-brainier. The NAS got packed up and sent back; my mp3s are now strictly for iPod use.

2) As an NPR fan, the other great feature I didn’t realize Sonos included is the ability to search and play archived NPR shows. From the Splendid Table to Fresh Air, it is all there on demand–awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

Sonos ZoneBridge BR100 Instant wireless setup for a Sonos system

I initially bought this because my router and my stereo were on opposite sides of my living room. It worked great and didn’t take up much room at all. After I moved, I was able to attach one of the ZonePlayers directly to the stereo, and I discovered I could use the ZoneBridge as an access point to provide wired ethernet ports at the other end of my house from my wireless router. I have a wired network printer that I can now put anywhere I want and use over the wireless network. Considering the price of other products designed specifically for this purpose, it’s actually a pretty good deal for that as well! Since other reviews make it clear that it works well for its intended function, I thought I would mention this unexpected bonus feature.

 

 

 

 

Sonos S5 Wireless Internet Music Player (Black)

Just got the S5 about an hour ago. Setup couldn’t be easier. Step 1 – connect the power cord to an power outlet. Step 2 – hit the Mute and + button to get the S5 added as a new zone, Step 3 – hmmm….I don’t think there is one. Just hit play and enjoy pure bliss.

This is my 4th Zone player (see my other gushing review of the Sonos system on the Sonos bundle page), and anytime my wife asks, “how many of these white boxes you really need?”, the answer is always “one more”.

Portability is the key feature of S5. Moving it from Kitchen to backdeck is just a matter of unplugging the power cord and replugging at the new location. It’s all in one box. And the sound quality is not bad either. With all 4 zone players on party mode – some connected to very expensive Klipsch towers – I have ran around to compare the sound quality at various locations. The verdict – this little guy stacks up nicely against the big boys.

And the iPhone controller is not too shabby either. Don’t see the need to buy the new touch controller (CR200).

 

 

 

Logitech Squeezebox Radio Music Player with Color Screen (Red)

When the Boom came out, I wanted to purchase it right away, but the $300 price tag and the inability to truely make it wireless detered me. Now that the Radio is out with a lower price tag, battery capability and a color LCD, I was totally sold. I’ve had the Radio for about a week now, and I simply love it. Even the wife was jamming to it when I got home from work the day after I bought it.

So far I have only had one issue with it…I can not find a setting to set the Album Art size to full screen on the Now Playing screen. It says in the manual that it is under the Screensaver settings, but when I go there it doesn’t exist. I sent an email to Logitech support, but have not heard back from them yet. [Updated] Logitech just released a new software version that will correct this issue.

Another cool feature that I didn’t realize existed, was the ability to control the Radio from the web.

As far as sound quality goes, it is far better than expected. There is virtually no distortion even at maximum volume. I even plugged a set of Computer Speakers into the Headphone Jack and it didn’t make that much of a difference. The Base levels aren’t that deep, but they are there. I can put it in my livingroom and pump it up near max volume and hear it clearly throughout the house.

I haven’t tested the Wireless strength extensively yet, but I was able to hook it up in the garage (1 Floor below and 50 feet from the router) and the signal strength was near full.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my purchase and can’t wait to get the battery pack so I can just carry this thing around anywhere.

 

 

 

ZVOX Mini Ultra-Compact Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System

While there are some excellent deals on HDTVs right now, the speakers on any tv smaller than 50 inch are dismal. If you care at all about sound, the additional expense of a home theater system is a necessity.

We tried a number of different speakers, all priced about the same as the ZVOX mini. One kept going in and out; another could not handle the sounds of our video games; and some were just plain poor quality. I can’t tell you how frustrated we were getting, taking back one type of speaker and trying out another.

The ZVOX mini blew them ALL away.

The speaker is smaller than most, but it has depth and clarity unmatched by anything else I’ve seen in the same price range. So if you buy a new tv, this is the complementary sound system you are looking for.

 

 

 

Sonos S5 Wireless Internet Music Player (White)

I just purchased the s5 with a zone bridge and the CR200. The combination is absolutely amazing. Installation was easy and operation is intuitive. There is plenty out there on how these things work, so I won’t go into details on that. But I do have two observations to share:

1) In addition to the s5, I also picked up a NAS drive so that I could stream my 5000+ track mp3 library. After all, streaming my collection with a touch screen remote was one of the main reason I looked at Sonos in the first place. But, after setting Sonos up I decided to give Napster a try. The Napster/Sonos combination gives you access to 8 million tracks on demand. For example, Napster has over 60 Bob Dylan albums, which is pretty much his whole discography. If you want to sample the latest (obscure) music, Napster also has most of the albums Pitchfork reviewed this week–pretty neat.

So, despite my deep investment in my personal mp3 collection, it only took me a couple of minutes to realize that it was completely obsolete. Deciding between $5/month for a 8 million track library vs. a $200 NAS for my 5000 track library was a no-brainier. The NAS got packed up and sent back; my mp3s are now strictly for iPod use.

2) As an NPR fan, the other great feature I didn’t realize Sonos included is the ability to search and play archived NPR shows. From the Splendid Table to Fresh Air, it is all there on demand–awesome.

 

 

 

Sonos ZonePlayer 90 Wireless Multi-Room Music System for Home Theater or Stereo

Seeking to upgrade my home audio setup, I picked up some ZP90s along with a Logitech Squeezebox boom and duet, figuring I’d play around with them and then sell what I didn’t like.

Overall, I did feel the Sonos setup offered the best usability. The setup was a breeze, the software very use-friendly and easy to quickly find what you want and play it on the appropriate player(s). Another real treat was the iPhone application, which lets me use my phone as the remote and eliminates the need for the costly and bulky controller. Rhapsody, Pandora, and Last.fm are the 3 major music services offered, and all work very well. There’s also the bonus of listening to local radio stations without the static, although I was disappointed to find you could only configure it for one location at a time (listening to KEXP in Seattle would have been great).

However, there were two shortcomings when compared to the Squeezebox. The first is the requirement that at least one of the Sonos players be hard-wired in to the network. This wasn’t a problem for me since the Sonos is just 20 feet away from my router, however I’m sure there are users out there that won’t be as fortunate. The Squeezebox was completely wireless and could go anywhere in the house, so it has a clear advantage there. The Second was not having support for the Slacker music service. I slightly prefer this service over Pandora, and find myself turing on the Squeezebox more due to that reason.

Summary – If you have the money and want something easy to use, and are OK with having at least one Sonos device hard-wired to the network, then this is for you. But if you love Slacker, need something 100% Wireless, or just don’t quite have the budget, go with the Squeezebox.

 

 

 

 

Sonos CZ090 Single Room Promo Bundle (1 x ZP90 and 1 x CR200)

This purchase was actually an add on to our existing music distribution system for our house. If I had known what I know now about the Sonos system, I would not have spent the money to hard wire the Russound system into our house. Sonos is so solid, great quality and flexibility that I prefer it over the hard wired system (although I can use them together). If you are retrofitting your house with a whole house music distribution system, save yourself money and have more flexibility with Sonos, it is awesome!! Works great with Rhapsody too!

 

 

 

Panasonic SC-HTB10 120W 2.1-Channel Slim Sound Bar System with 3D Pass Through (Black)

I recently upgraded my TV setup to a Panasonic HDTV & Blu-Ray player. I noticed the sound on the TV was of very low quality compared to my old CRT TV. It just sounded kind of “empty” so I decided to get the sound bar to fill out the sound better. It took a bit of dinking to get it set up right, and I don’t think the instructions were as clear as they needed to be. Basically had to run the HDMI cable from the DVD player to the sound bar, then from the sound bar to the TV, then run a toslink cable from the TV to the soundbar. However, once I figured that out, the Vera-Link software took over and it works great. Thanks to the Vera-Link, I don’t need to use the individual remote for the sound bar, the remote for the Panasonic TV works just fine. Once you turn on the TV, it takes a few seconds for the sound bar to kick in, and because the “TV Volume” and the “Sound bar volume” are 2 different things, you can end up with the TV turning on really loud or really quiet(until the sound bar kicks in). I have to say that the sound quality is very good, for movies. It’s OK for TV, better then the built in TV speakers, but not as good for TV as the old CRT TV was (but it sounds better with movies then the old CRT TV did).
I’ve found on some of the TV channels that broadcast very quietly, such as ABC Family (in my area), sometimes you have to jack up the sound real high to hear things ok, which brings up ambient “static” noise, but the CRT TV had that issue too.
All in all, I’m happy with it, especially with it being one of the lower price sound bars on the market.

 

 

 

Bose Wave Music System – Platinum White

I bought one Bose Wave Music System to compare it with my Henry Kloss 88cd and Cambridge Soundworks radios. It is better, period. I bought the Bose for use at work at Eagle Laundry, Horn Lake, MS where I have a Cambridge Soundworks radio playing all day. When I did the first comparison at home I could no longer enjoy the Henry Kloss at my bedside so I had to order another Bose for work. I could not part with the new Bose. Yes it’s that good. The clarity and definition of voices and music is open and undestorted. It’s as if the radio itself dissappears and presents only the wonderful sound of the music. Great features like auto dimming display which is fully adjustable continue to entertain even when the unit is off. No battery needed 48 hour memory in event of power failure saves money. Those 9v duracells are getting pricy. I was afraid I would not like to use only the remote for snooze control, but it has not been a problem. The ramp up wake-up alarm volume is also pleasing. This is a very refined, high quality, compact (it was smaller than I expected) multifuntion radio/cd/mp3 player. Very intelligent. The radio reception was fine with some adjusting of the power cord to get the stongest FM signal. My old radio required an external antenna. AM reception was great. My biggest problem was that one Bose Wave System was not enough. Also, Bose is a top drawer, first rate company. Just look at http://www.bose.com and you can see for yourself. Forget about the price for once and treat yourself to something special.

 

 

 

 

Grace Digital GDI-IRA500 Wireless Internet Radio Adapter Featuring Pandora NPR and SIRIUS

The Grace Solo internet radio does a great job connecting the world of internet radio to my home stereo.

The Solo is good looking and connects simply out of the box. Plug in the power, connect the standard rca cable to your stereo, turn it on, choose your home network and within 5 minutes you are listening to Pandora or one of the 17,000 radio stations. While Grace has many models of standalone table top radios, I like the Solo because it connects directly to my home stereo (or even powered speakers). The solo even has a headset jack.

When you first take the Solo out of the box, you see the Solo internet radio tuner, a power cable, manual, remote and rca cable to connect to your stereo. It uses WiFi to access the internet. Make sure you have Wi-Fi in your home, and that it is strong in the area you put the solo. The Solo does have a built in Wi-Fi signal meter to see how strong your Wi-Fi is. So if you put it on the bottom shelf of your stereo system and notice a weak signal you may want to put it on a middle or top shelf. The Solo works with any 802.11b,g or n router and has a built in 802.11g receiver.

After you connect to your wireless network (you will need your wireless WEP or WPA password to do this) and set the time zone on the clock, the Solo remembers everything (including station presets) when you unplug it. That is nice because no one wants to type their wireless password in more than once.

Once you are set up you can start searching for stations by genre or location or type the call sign of the station directly into the radio. You can do this via the remote control or directly on the unit itself. I like Pandora. In order to listen to Pandora you have to register your radio at Grace’s web site [...] . After you create a Grace account you enter in your Pandora user name and password on the Grace site and the radio is linked to your Pandora stations. Within a minute your Pandora stations are on the Grace radio in the `personal radio’ folder. Pretty cool. You can create stations on the Grace Solo, although I prefer to do that on the Pandora web site. Grace plays SIRIUS and Live365 as well but I do not have SIRIUS or Live365 VIP accounts so I can’t comment on that.

I really love the Grace unit. I get all my local radio stations #my FM reception is bad at my house but my favorite FM stations – most do these days – broadcast over the internet .. so I get those, Pandora, NPR and I even started listening to the BBC 4 which is kind of cool#.

Obviously I give this a 5 star. The only negative I would say is that on a few random stations they do not show the song metadata (they all show the station metadata). I’m not sure if that is because the station is not sending it or what. You get the station and song metadata for Pandora which is the most important for me. Oh – you can even thumbs up or down Pandora songs .. very of cool.

 

 

 

ZVOX 550 Low-Profile Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System

Having recently purchased the Samsung LN-46A650 I was blown away with the picture quality but not the sound. Two tiny speakers in the back that fire toward the rear wall. This is not a criticism of the Samsung. All of the new flat screens suffer from this. You can’t have a 3 inch thick T.V. with massive speakers built in. To get really great sound you have to go the 5.1 route with a highend receiver or a seperate power amp & sound processor. This could easily cost 5 to 10 times the cost of the T.V. Then you have to have the right room to put it all in. This creates another problem, the W.A.F. (Wife Acceptance Factor) You spent how much!!! Any type of soundbar or 2.1 system is a compromise. This can still be some what costly. Yamaha sells a soundbar that costs $1800 with no subwoofer. Bose has several systems available. In my opinion the sound is average but highly overpriced. You are paying for the massive advertising they do. This brings us to ZVOX. (I finally got to the point) A small company that does direct internet sales with a 30 day refund, no questions asked. They even pay the return shipping. The 550 was delivered by U.P.S. well packaged and no damage. Installation was a no brainer. Up and running in 15 minutes. All of the sound adjustments are made through the small cheap remote provided. This is something that you have to experiment with by ear. The blue light just flashes when you make an adjustment. I noticed a big improvement in the sound quality. The most notible is when you are watching a movie. The sound expands about 8 feet on either side. You hear much more detail. If you really turn the volume up (not a normal listening level) there is no distortion. Good for music videos. Watching a news program with just dialogue you won’t notice much difference. Bottom line is this. For $500 it’s worth the price. A well made product that won’t break the bank and a big improvement over the crappy speakers in your present T.V. If you hate it sent it back and you lost nothing.

 

 

 

Sharp HTSB200 2.1 Sound Bar Audio System

I looked at many sound bar systems in the sub $200 price range before I landed on this one. This works great. I use it for music or movies off my computer, but I also use it for my 3 video game systems and DVD’s. This system simulates 5.1 pretty well. Of course it’s not perfect, but what this system lacks in perfect surround sound, it gains in other areas. For one it is much cheaper than any good 5.1 system that I have seen. Second, it is much more portable and easier to set up. Because it is simply a bar that you put in front of you, all you need to do is add power and some inputs and your solid. This contrasts the tedious work of placing and hanging all those little speakers with those ugly wires all over the place. Point is that this works for me. If you’re looking for a perfect 5.1, don’t get this item. But if you’re looking for a good system that will give you good, clean sound, good bass, has some swell settings and can roughly simulate surround sound, then this should be for you.

 

 

 

Sonos ZonePlayer 120 Amplified Wireless Multi-Room Music System

Recently Sonos announced a FREE iPod Touch/iPhone application which allows your iPod Touch or iPhone to become a Zone Controller for the Sonos system. I’ve been looking at the Sonos system for a while and the ability to now use an iPod Touch as a Zone Controller was what did it for me. You now no longer need to spend $399 on a Zone Controller to be able to control your music wirelessly.

Overall the system was simple to set up and performed flawlessly. I give it 5 stars and won’t elaborate further as this sort of thing is covered in many online reviews. What I will cover in a little more detail is the use of the iPod Touch as a controller.

I purchased a ZoneBridge to plug directly into my router and one ZonePlayer 120 to receive music wirelessly in my family room. I used an existing set of Bose bookshelf speakers. I downloaded the Sonos application to my 2G iPod Touch.

Here’s the brilliance of the system…you don’t actually need a PC/desktop/laptop computer on to listen to music. A PC is needed to initially set up and configure the system. And if you are using an iPod Touch /iPhone as a controller, there are some obscure set up /adjustment features that are only available from the PC (or a Zone Controller). However for day to day use, the iPod Touch is all you need – your PC is not needed – ASSUMING you set it up right.

In order not to need a PC to use the system, you need to have your music library saved in a shared folder on a Network Attached Storage device hooked up to your wireless network. I use a Buffalo LinkStation NAS. It works beautifully. I can access my complete music library using my iPod Touch and stream music from my NAS. Wonderful.

Note: Even though the Sonos Application is running on the iPod Touch, it does NOT use your iPod Touch as a source/input for the music. Music comes from the music library on your NAS.

A PC is also not needed to listen to Internet Radio. I listen to Pandora. Once you point your Sonos system to your Pandora account (or other internet radio or even Sirius subscription), everything can be controlled from you iPod Touch without the need for a PC.

By allowing consumers to use an iPod Touch / iPhone as a Zone Controller using a FREE application, Sonos has really made a huge step forward. I look forward to buying a few more Zone Players to distribute music to other rooms in my house.

Hey Sonos….how about a wireless boombox I can carry out to my deck?

 

 

Logitech Squeezebox Wi-Fi Internet Radio and Wireless Music Player

The Squeezebox is a terrific device! The Squeezebox itself stores no music, you have to have another computer act as a “server” to contain the music files. This server runs software called “Slimserver” and it will run on any Linux, and it also works from Mac OS X and Windows (including Vista.) I have over 400 CDs converted to FLAC (lossless) and they stream perfectly from my server, even streaming the average 30mb FLAC files via 802.11g – no problems whatsoever. You use a remote control to work the Squeezebox, there are no buttons or anything on the device itself. You can also use a web browser to connect to the Slimserver software and perform all the same functions as the remote and more.

One drawback I found was when I tried running the Slimserver on Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit on my AMD Athlon 64 X2 (dual-core) system with 2gb RAM. The web interface was pretty pokey and would become unresponsive at times, even while the Windows machine was doing nothing else. I moved the Slimserver and music to my Linux server, again an AMD Athlon 64 X2 system running Debian 4.0 and that improved it 1000%. The other drawback I have noticed is that file format is important. The Squeezebox hardware itself can decode MP3 and FLAC formats in hardware, right on the Squeezebox. But Apple formats (MP4, Apple Lossless, etc.) and others such as Ogg Vorbis must be decoded on the *server* using supplemental software. The two biggest problems with that is, increased load on the server and lack of ability to fast-forward and rewind within a track.

Regardless, I like this device so much, I’m planning on getting another one that I can move around where I like, while leaving the first one permanently at the main stereo.

 

 

 

 

Sharp HTSB300 2.1 Sound Bar Audio System with Digital Decoding

Inexpensive soundbar best suited for a medium size Aquos LCD TV. Crisp high’s and solid mid range characteristics, seamless operation with Aquos TV. Sound is improved tremendously with the addition of a small subwoofer such as a Polk Audio PSW111 or similar using the subwoofer output on the bar which can be controlled using the included remote. Dimensions are thin and long and well suited to 32, 37 and 40″ TV’s (the bar is 31.5 inches long). Well suited for smaller rooms or apartments, however surround sound effects are subtle. This unit will not fool you into believing sound is coming from behind you, however it does create an immersive sound field that fills the listening area and is a dramatic improvement over built in TV speakers. Great for someone who is avoiding complex audio systems and seeking a minimalist, but satisfying audio experience. If you have no intention of adding a subwoofer, get the less expensive HT-SB200, the difference between the digital and analog inputs is insignificant.

 

 

 

Myine Electronics IR001 WiFi Internet Radio Adaptor

This little internet radio device is jumping-up-and-down cool! Five minutes after opening the box I was listening to a newscast from France (in French, course) then jazz from Australia, rock from Iceland and later opera and classical music from Italy. How cool is that?

The device doesn’t have any speakers of it’s own, but comes with and RCA jack that you connect to your receiver, TV, boom box or even a little clock radio. There’s an adapter included with a smaller plug for the later. There’s a little LCD screen that you operate with a small remote control that’s also included. The first thing I did after I connected it to my receiver was to turn it on and go through the menu and set the date and time and hook up to my home WiFi network. It came with a manual which is very well written and understandable, but I didn’t even need it. When I clicked on “Network” the name of my WiFi network popped up, I selected it in the menu, entered the password, and it connected in about 15 seconds and it was ready to go. It was super easy. And since it uses Wi-Fi to connect, you don’t need a computer. This goes directly to your receiver.

The IRA is classy looking, even though it’s made of plastic. I posted some photos of it. I set mine of top of the Blu-ray player in my stereo cabinet. The display screen is easy to read and the menus easy to navigate. You can search by country, genre of music, stations, or new or popular stations. There is an automatic software update feature through the Wi-Fi network or you can check yourself to see if there are any updates available. It also has volume control on the remote.

The sound is crystal clear and since I connected it to our home theater system, I could hear the bass booming out through the subwoofer and music through all the speakers. I also tried it with the adapter, plugged into a little clock radio and that worked fine too. Connected to the receiver the stations I’ve listened to so far were CD quality. I could imagine this at a Caribbean themed party, playing reggae music directly from that part of the world, or a romantic French dinner with music from France. No matter what your taste in music, there is something here for everyone. And if you’re learning a foreign language, what better way than to listen to a newscast from that country?

I love this thing! It’s a great addition to our home entertainment system.

 

 

 

Grace Digital Wireless Hi-fi Internet Radio Tuner featuring Pandora and NPR (GDI-IRDT200)

Wow! What a sweet device this is for the even the not so techo-inclined. Installation was a breeze as there were only 2 cables to hook-up: power, and RCA jacks. I piped it into my receiver and hit the power button and bingo! it found my network over it’s installed handy dandy wireless network adapter (G). It prompted me for my password, which I entered (by turning the knob, which was kind of a pain) and it connected no problem. You can also wire your connection through the network cable slot in the back, however, no network cable was included.

After that, I chose internet radio and I had choices galore. The real beauty of this device is how you can personalize it. Got a Pandora account? Pipe it through this baby with ease. How about Live365? You can do that too. Want to search the internet radio via genre? No sweat. Absolutely amazing I tell you.

I created my Grace account, added stations online and podcasts and after unplugging the device and plugging back in (yah, they tell you to do that so it updates the streams), my customization was found on the device and away I went.

Here is the absolute frosting on the cake…I’m now streaming all of my music from my laptop and external hard drive to this device! Sort by genre, album, album artist, create a queue, you name it, this thing can do it. This kills the Windows Media Center that never worked right with my 360.

Who knew you could have so much fun with a radio??

 

 

 

ZVOX 325 High-Performance Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System

This is by far the best sounding, easiest to set up all in one theater system I have owned or heard, bar none. I have owned many 5.1 systems, and also two different soundbar systems (the highly rated Sony HT CT-100 being one of them), and the zvox 325 is the best bang for the buck.

Crystal Clear vocals, smooth bass, and the phase cue option is great for action movies (Wanted and Matrix Blu-ray sounded amazing, although music sounds much better with the phase cue turned almost all the way off.)

While the CT-100 worked great in my bedroom, vocals were still a problem, and the bass was way too punchy even at lower levels. Since I had just ditched and sold all my 5.1 equipment (yamaha 1000 watt receiver, boston acoustics bookshelves, and some older bose fronts) the last thing I wanted to do was run wires all over my condo, as well as have my fiance complain about space issues and how confusing it was for her to just watch tv through the internal speakers. I also did not want to drop thousands of dollars on other sound bar systems just because they had digital audio and hdmi switching capabilities.
My hdtv has 4 hdmi inputs, which is more than enough for me. I have my blu ray, wii, and hd cable all run through hdmi into the tv (except for wii, component), and the analog audio out to the zvox 325. I still do not buy the digital audio is always better bs, as this sounds 10x clearer than my ct-100, and can go twice as loud through a stereo mini jack! No, it is not true 5.1, but during movies I can hear background effects side to side, and most importantly, I can actually HEAR the dialogue. If there is one con, its the flimsy remote, but I can deal with it. I think zvox now has a customer for life, and for $299, I dare you to do better.

 

Bose Wave Radio II – Platinum White

The Bose Wave Radio II is easy to use, has top-of-the-line speakers and has a high-quality build. I use mine as a TV stereo speaker. The auxiliary input works for that function and what I like is that it doesn’t take up a lot of space next to the TV. Indeed, incredible sound for the size of the speakers. So why only four stars, not five? Because the Bose, for all the money it costs, is not a top radio performer. It has only average AM reception with its internal ferrite antenna and worse its FM relies on the power cord for what is truly a lame “antenna.” So as a speaker, the Bose is great but as a radio it is well below par. For hooking up to your TV, the Bose is outstanding. But as a bedside radio? No way. You would be better off buying a 120-dollar Sangean WR-2, a 100-dollar Boston Acoustics Horizon Solo, or a 100-dollar Tivoli Songbook for your bedside. But if you’re integrating the Bose into your TV home entertainment system and you don’t mind spending the money and you’re not fastidious about your FM reception, then you will enjoy the Bose.

 

 

 

Philips NP2500/37 WiFi Internet Radio Network Music Player with Rhapsody (Black)

The entire problem with this player is that it does one thing really well, but has a couple of other features thrown in addition that don’t work as advertised.

As a player for Rhapsody, this really rocks. The songs come up quickly, the interface is easy to navigate, and all the songs feature artwork that looks great on the small but crisp LCD. The only downside is that it requires a paid Rhapsody account, although the free month is a nice introduction.

When it comes to internet radio and streaming music as an UPnP device, this player really falls apart. The internet radio functions work well, but the connectivity is very slow compared to the Rhapsody service, and it is unable to display song information from every station. Some stations work, some don’t. Also, to find radio stations you are limited to either browsing the menus, or using the number pad to enter the station’s name or a serach keyword. The number pad works about as well as using a cell phone without T9, so it is functional but very, very slow.

The UPnP service for streaming music from your home computer never worked for me. I installed the bundled software, updated it from the company’s website, but the music never started. I was able to find my music library, even my iTunes playlists, but when I hit “Play,” the player just hung forever and never started the music. FYI, I’m running a Macbook Pro with iTunes, and I keep my music on an external network hard drive, so that may have been the issue. A search through the forums of the Twonky Media Player(used for streaming) revealed nothing helpful, and I was unable to resolve it in the time I had to review the item.

As far as the player itself, the design is attractive and should fit well with most home electronics. The screen is bright and clear, and the remote works as well as can be expected. There are no on device controls, so the remote is essential to any use of the player, but I had no problems. It was also easy to connect to the internet, although entering a wireless network password using the number pad was time-consuming.

Bottom line, don’t expect it to work seamlessly as a streaming media center from your PC or Mac’s music collection. If you want it mainly for internet radio, it works, but is a bit hard to use. Rhapsody works great, but again, it requires a subscription.

 

 

 

Grace Digital GDI-IR2500 Wi-Fi Internet radio Featuring Pandora NPR On-Demand Sirius and iheartradio

This is my first experience with an Internet radio, so I cannot compare it to anything else except regular radio and the Sirius radio that is in my car. I was around before TV, the technology today never ceases to amaze me. I just remember when I was a kid listening to Superman on a small radio by my bed—that was a good as radio was.

I had very little problem setting this with my wireless router, I have a secure network and it took me several attempts to get the WEP key entered correctly as I was using the entire key-phrase on my Actiontec PK5000. I since changed it to something more simple on the ISP website—instead of 25 characters I now have 8. That was the only hiccup!

The radio scanned for available Internet connections and found several then found and recognized mine. I am now getting radio! I was overwhelmed by the number of stations available. You can select the genre; sports, talk radio, news, music type etc. and then check out the stations that are available in that category (more than I would want to count). After you find a station that you like you can enter it into memory, so that you can instantly go to that station, there are ten presets available. It will display the song title and performer or artist. The display is easy to read, the brightness is adjustable and it displays the time when the unit is off. This will also function as an alarm clock. The remote control is rather small and very easy to use, very helpful if you listen to the radio while in bed.

I am still exploring stations to find the ones that I like the most, just too many to chose from. I will not be using Sirius as I get that on Directv, but it is available. Pandora and Live 365 are also available, I have not been there yet as I have spent most of my time exploring stations that are already available. I live in the Phoenix area and I find the local radio stations on the dial too. I’m having a lot of fun with this radio checking out all that is available—-do I have too much time on my hands? I am retired and am finding this a great source of entertainment.

I would like to mention the sound. The speaker is adequate, certainly a lot better than what I listened to when I was a kid. It is ported through the back with the 5″ speaker facing the front. I hooked up a pair of my wife’s ear-buds—now I get the full stereo and a much richer and full sound. I intend to next attach it to our home sound system—I am just thinking that will be some kick-butt audio.

I would recommend this unit to anyone who really is into a music library and wants unlimited choices in radio and does not want to be concerned about reception problems.

Hope this will be some help to those who hesitate getting more involved in the Internet related field. It was really easy to set up and is providing much enjoyment–I have very limited computer/Internet experience compared to my grand-kids.

 

 

 

Sonos BU250 Multiroom Music System

I have owned the Sonos 250 bundle for a week now and it works like a charm!
It comes with an extensive owners manual,easy setup and most importantly it simply works.
I returned a Squeezebox Duet for a refund after 25 days it was a too problematic (constantly on the phone with tech support),the controler had too much lag time booting up from sleep mode.

The CR200 remote controler is an awesome piece of work it is robust (as is the entire Sonos system),fast and has a very sturdy rubberized build with a big bright full color screen,very nice.
The build quality for all the componets is top notch and I mean TOP NOTCH quality.

One thing to note…the 120 zoneplayer will not connect to a receiver only speakers as it has its own built in amp I made that assumption,not a problem my mini Onkyo receiver will find other duty around the house.All this is to say if you intend to connect to 2 receivers STOP and buy two Sonos 90 zoneplayers and CR 200 separately.
The sound from the built in amp is equal to if not better my my mini 60 amp Onkyo system.
The Sonos 90 zoneplayer in the bundle connects to my big Onkyo receiver in the family room again the sound is awesome and of course it syncs with the other room or plays seperate selections in each room if you desire.
There is another Sonos 90 in my future for my mini Onkyo.

All in all you cannot go wrong here Sonos cost more then its competition but is a better value and worth every penny.
I went the low road (Squeezebox) and it was full of bumps and headaches, dig a little deeper and save yourself some time and headaches Sonos is the way to go.

 

 

 

 

Grace Digital GDI-IR1000 Wi-Fi Internet Radio Featuring Pandora and NPR On-Demand

I just bought this radio several days ago and absolutely love it! Very, very simple to operate, and took literally 15 minutes to set up (and I employ both 128 bit WEP and MAC filtering). In addition to the myriad stations available, I’ve linked my Internet Radio to my Pandora account; this allows the unit to play music directly from my Pandora radio stations. I can even create new Pandora radio stations directly from the Grace IR (although it is quicker and easier to do this from a computer). The sound quality from the onboard speakers is excellent. I have my unit connected to my home stereo system via the Grace IR’s Headphone output into L-R inputs on my receiver. This is an excellent, excellent buy! I am considering purchasing a second unit for my bedroom. I highly recommend this unit.

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Labs Xmod Wireless Music System with X-Fi Technology

The Xmod Wireless comes in 2 parts, a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter connects very simply to your PC via USB and it functions as a USB soundcard, applying X-Fi sound enhancement to any sound or music that is passed through it. Compressed audio like AAC, WMA and MP3 files are upscaled to 24 bit quality and surround sound effects can be added.

You have to experience this to appreciate it. It really does make your music sound better. Sometimes the improvement is more subtle than at other times, but the quality X-Fi provides really shines when you connect the receiver end of the Xmod Wireless to a good set of speakers that you might have in your theater or family room.

So, on to part 2 of the package. The wireless receiver. This enables you to control and listen to your music anywhere you place the receiver in your house. Your PC music collection is streamed around the house with top notch quality and fidelity. I have my receiver connected to my theater setup and the sound is fantastic. You can purchase additional receivers if you’d like to play your music in multiple rooms.

Cool things about the package overall. The range is great and there is no lag. Plus, it just works. You don’t need to have your own network or anything running already. Just turn on the receiver and transmitter and away you go, nothing to fuss with. If you do have a network running, this won’t interfere with it at all. I think both units are stylish as well. They fit right in with high end equipment and they are pretty small.

You also get a remote for each side and there are inputs so that you can connect an MP3 player. With the remotes, you can skip tracks, pause tracks, turn on and off the X-Fi features, etc.

I don’t really have any negatives other than the price, but I still think it’s worth it. Sonos has products with similar features that cost up to $1000. Xmod Wireless gives you what you need with better audio technology for a lot less. It would also be nice to have a small display on the receiver unit so you can see what you are browsing.

Overall, Xmod Wireless is highly recommended. The unique combination of a driverless and simple to use USB soundcard with a high quality streaming device is an excellent way to introduce your PC to your home theater setup or to any room of your house.

 

 

 

 

Grace Digital GDI-IRD4400m Wireless Internet Radio Featuring Pandora NPR On-Demand and SIRIUS

This radio is an excellent product. It set up in a couple of minutes and has proven to be reliable and very easy to use. My single complaint is the headset and stereo jacks on the device. There is an AM-like static present when I plug in headphones or connect in my stereo. The noise on the headphones is ‘tolerable’, but the stereo connection was terrible. I e-mailed Grace Digital Radio Technical support with my problem. They replied and stated that I shouldn’t be having static on the audio output (I figured that out all by myself). They then suggested that I try alternative radio stations (AM and FM) and advise if I had a similar issue. I explained that the radio was not an AM/FM radio but internet and that all types of stations on the internet exhibited the same problem. They never replied back to me. I’ve attempted a couple of times to get a response from them to no avail. In one attempt, I suggested that, perhaps I should return the radio and obtain one from another manufacturer. Still no reply. In a word, customer support for this product – stinks.

 

 

 

Yamaha YMC-S21BL NeoHD Home Theater Media Control System (Black)

I first heard of Yamaha’s NeoHD when cruising the web looking for a receiver that my family would enjoy with my new Sony Bravia 46 inch flat panel and Sony Blu Ray player. I wanted better surround sound to go with our new Hi-Def Blu Ray movies, but I needed an easy to use system that everyone in my family could utilize. My wife (and youngest son at 6 years of age) could NOT work our `three remote’ system, and changing inputs from 1 source component to another was a nightmare for her and the family. From what I could tell from the Yamaha website, neoHD solves this problem which makes it the perfect product for me and my `remote challenged’ family.
I purchased the Yamaha neoHD, model YMC-S21, and once it arrived, I jumped on it quickly to get it set up. My teenage son helped me with the Yamaha setup guide – which although initially intimidating looking, was actually pretty easy to use. Within 45 minutes, I had connected my flat panel, Blu Ray player, Time Warner DVR (Motorola), and the 2 Yamaha speakers and subwoofer with color coded speaker cable that came with the package. Once connected, everything was operational with the one simple neoHD remote control in the neoHD box!
The setup was actually pretty fun. But, I had to connect 3 IR flashers that came in the Yamaha box. I had never connected IR flashers before, but it wasn’t too hard. The trick was finding the IR sensor on each component, but I had the users manuals and found the IR sensor quickly on the two Sony’s. The neoHD menu walked me through setting up my system by answering a few simple questions, and then I calibrated my room w/Yamaha’s YPAO microphone. Cool!
The neo had the remote codes already built in for the Sony’s, but I had to teach neo the remote codes for my DVR. I called Yamaha service for some help, and they suggested I utilize the Motorola Set Top Box code set first (right off of the on-screen menu), then learn the rest of the codes simply using the neoHD onscreen menu. Actually kind of fun – I liked the way neoHD walked me through the system setup! Not intimidating at all.
Now that neoHD is set up and working, my family really loves it – the surround sound while playing Blu Ray movies or watching sporting events is fantastic, but I am really happy with the simple onscreen menu for operating our entire system. My wife and all of my sons can select ‘Watch, Listen, or Play’, and using the simple up and down arrow keys, make their selections without my help. No more `Input’ selections, no more complicated remote controls that my family can’t use, and no more frustration!
Finally, my kids showed the neighbor kids how the system works, and now my neighbors told me they may get a neoHD also for their new flat panel! Yamaha has made something that solves a real need!

 

 

 

ZVOX 525 Low-Profile Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System

I have a 46 inch samsung (lna650), which in its self is a good tv with a great picture, but like most televisions is lacking in sound. The Zbox fills the room with much fuller deeper sound. If you are looking for better sound quality and do not what to spend big bucks for full surround sound, then I would say give the ZVOX a try. The only negative I have is the same as other reviewers. That being there is no display for as to where the treble/bass is set at or what the volume setting is. That is a bit at times annoying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bose Acoustic Wave Music System II – Graphite Gray

I have read online from websites like Cnet some reviews of the Bose Acoustic Wave II music system and it is clear to me that many of the reviews are made by people who are not audio-aficionados. The point is that this acoustic wave music guide accurately reproduces life like sound. In short, when I read a criticism like, “there are no bass are treble controls”, then it is clear that some people do not understand this audio technology. On the other hand, other manufactures utilize technologies that bolster unnaturally the bass, treble and mid range settings. Furthermore, if one would acquire a CD from say Pat Metheny or the Pat Metheny Group (it should be noted that Pat and his team are most likely at the top the music industry in terms of Audio Producing as the sound quality of all his is work is outstanding) and play it in a Bose Acoustic Wave II Music Guide system, in a large room with reasonable to good acoustics and at a high volume, then I am very confident that many people would be incredibly impressed.

 

 

 

 

Onkyo HT-S7200 (B) 7.1-Channel Home Entertainment Receiver/Speaker Package with Dock for the iPod

This htib is incredible. For a long time I wanted surround sound but I didn’t want to go with a crappy htib that only has 1 hdmi input. Finally I found this Onkyo model. So far the sound is great on games, movies, tv, and music. The video upconverting works decently, although I wouldn’t call it stellar.

My favorite things about this product are:
1) Ipod dock: It isn’t perfect, and you can’t see your playlists on the tv, but it’s great if you make a playlist or want to watch a video downloaded from itunes.
2) Sound quality is amazing
3) It’s fairly easy to set up. I had to snake a few cables through the ceiling, but it works great. It took maybe 2 hours to get everything hooked up plus do the calibration. All the speakers and wires are color-coded to streamline the process.
4) The calibration optimizes the system for your listening needs, depending on where you sit in the room, how far the speakers are from one another, and the height of the speakers.
5) 5 hdmi inputs: I can plug my PS3, 360, and cable box in, and I still have 2 more slots for future devices.
6) Upconverts video from composite or component cables to 1080i, 720p, or 480p depending on your preference. This is great for Wii owners, or anyone with a DVD player. The quality isn’t superb, but I see a noticeable difference from before I had the receiver.
7) HDMI carries both sound and picture, and you only need one cable to go from the receiver to the TV. This means that if you have component or composite cables hooked up to the receiver, you don’t need another set of the same cable plugged into the TV; it all goes through the one hdmi cable.

The one downside: The cables it comes with are fairly thin. I bought 100 feet of 16 gauge wire to hook up the surround sound and surround back speakers that are further away; I would recommend this. But for the front and center speakers, I just used the supplied wires. The distance from these speakers to the receiver is fairly short, so I wasn’t too worried about losing sound quality. The sound has been amazing.

If you’re looking for a home theater in a box, and you can afford to spend the extra 200 dollars to get this model over a Sony or a Samsung htib, I highly recommend this. It has everything you need and the value is amazing considering the price. All of the parts are sold separately as well, so they aren’t cheap parts designed just for this set. This is the best value htib out there, and the quality is top-notch.

 

 

 

 

ZVOX 425xs High-Performance Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System

I have had two different Zvox models at home for the last couple of months, but this commentary could apply to either the 425 or 525 models.

Prior to ordering my first Zvox, I went the more common digital route of a separate Onkyo receiver/amplifier, a speaker bar by Definitive Technologies and some high-end cables. I am not an audiophile, but not averse to a challenge. Setting it all up was a nightmare. I couldn’t get a reliable on-screen menu either through the HDMI connection, or through the analog inputs, regardless of how I configured the connections. Additionally, since I needed to hide the receiver, I needed an infrared repeater to turn it on, and it never worked reliably, regardless of where I positioned it.

In summary, I had a system that could not be reliably turned on with my remote, did not reliably give me an on-screen menu for most of the receiver functions, and increased the ambient temperature in the living room by about 4 degrees if it was left on all day (I was rather amused by thinking that at least I had a back-up heating system should the furnace ever fail). I put the better part of 15 hours in to set this up, and reconfigured it again and again. I also probably spent nearly another two hours speaking to people at Onkyo, Definitive Technologies, and the folks who manufactured the IR repeater. And watching something on TV could take minutes of “prep.”

Finally, the irritation overwhelmed me, and I boxed everything up (including my 100 page Onkyo receiver owner’s manual) and sent it back. At the same time I was doing a bit more research, and discovered the AVS forum thread covering the Zvox models, and it seemed to provide the best discussions and summaries of the different units (from an ordinary user’s point of view). I decided to try one.

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! This is exactly what the Zvox provides! My television, with its clean, easily visible, intuitive on-screen menu is a great switching station for inputs. And the units turn themselves on or off automatically when it senses a signal (or lack thereof) from the TV. Set up is basically five steps: (1) Run analog RCA cables (supplied) from TV’s analog audio output jacks to the Zvox, (2) plug in the Zvox, (3) turn the “ON” switch at the back of the Zvox on; (4) go into the TV’s menu screen and shut off (once and forever) the TV’s cheap, tinny-sounding, cheesy little speakers; and (5) watch TV or a movie. That’s basically it!

It does a very good job of filling the room with sound. It feels like the sound is emanating from an area about eight or ten feet wide in front of the TV, bass is quite intense (especially with the 425 model), and dialog is very clear. No need to bring up subtitles or closed captioning when listening at low volume levels. It doesn’t make you feel that you are surrounded by sound, but the effect is rather more like you are watching a play or musical performance in a theater. There is a sense of directionality, but it is pretty much from in front of you. I have never quite understood why people like sound that is coming from behind them, when the action is taking place in front of them (?!), but, as I mentioned above, I am not an audiophile, so perhaps I just do not understand why such things are important. Music, in particular, seems much more crisp, clean, and natural than it did with my previous “all digital” system. I have my unit set with bass, treble and phase cue (the simulated surround sound) at about level 5, and haven’t found a need to change anything. Set it, forget it! I can’t express how much I appreciate it that someone has put together a speaker system with such wonderful quality, and which is brain-dead simple to set up and manage.

As far as shortcomings are concerned, in my view, there are only a couple: (1) as mentioned in another review here, sometimes higher notes lack a bit of clarity or lightness, but to me this seems only to be the case when the volume and/or phase cue is set very high; (2) TV programs or DVDs with garbage audio quality will be played back the same way (what you give this Zvox is exactly what it will give back to you). If you play a garbage sound recording, you will get back garbage. Moreover, it will be full-bodied, wide soundstage, room-filling garbage. I guess this is what “fidelity” means in the term “high fidelity”). You don’t seem to be able to do much about this, but if you are listening to decent recordings, it is a very, very good thing.

I think anyone who wants a quality sound system and who wants to eliminate (or prevent the occurrence of) another level of complexity in life (which, I am convinced, is slowly killing us all), this system will be an excellent choice. The surround-sound, five, seven, or nine channel enthusiasts will not be impressed, of course. Fine. Leave them be. I live in a house anyway, not a concert amphitheater. The Zvox is just fine for the rest of us.

 

 

Logitech Squeezebox Wi-Fi Internet Radio Receiver

I’ve been wanting a Squeezebox for some time but didn’t want to pay for the controller. The Logitech Squeezebox software has long been open source and has a large and very active online community that is supported by the company. I looked through their forum (http://forums.slimdevices.com/) and found that one of their senior members wrote software allowing the Squeezebox Receiver to be configured WITHOUT the remote control. A link directly to the software, as reported in a comment to a previous post, can be found at http://robinbowes.com/projects/Net-UDAP. It’s not officially supported by the Logitech, but I was able to get my receiver configured with it in less than an hour.

One caveat though; you should be a bit tech savy if you are going to go this route. The software is still in beta, has not been *offically* released (by reading through the thread on this topic (http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=43722&highlight=network+configuration), mostly because the guy who wrote it hasn’t had time to package it up). So, currently the software is only available through an online subversion repository, which if you haven’t worked with before, could take an hour or two of fiddling around to get repository software and check out the code. The configuration itself is done via a perl command line, so windows users will need ActivePerl. Check out the documentation, it’s pretty straightforward.

So if none of that scares you, this is an incredible solution for wireless streaming music from a computer to a stereo for 150 bucks.

 

 

 

Logitech Wireless DJ Music System

I have been waiting for a reasonably priced alternative to allow me to play my music collection from my computer on my home stereo system. Up to this point I had been plugging my iPod directly into the system, but the solution was less than ideal.
The Wireless DJ is perfect. It was unbelievably easy to set up. I assumed I would go through the typical process when I add a new gadget to the PC – plug it in, get frustrated that it doesn’t work, play around with things, still doesn’t work, finally stumble upon the right setting or call tech support hold-o-rama.

Instead, I loaded the software, plugged in the output device, connected the input device to my stereo, and that was it. I swear I did the whole thing in 10 minutes.

The remote is excellent. I love that the remote includes a mute button and volume control, so I essentially can use the remote as my only control of the stereo now.

It is great that it works with iTunes and the sound quality is very good. Only down side is that my PC is fairly far away from my computer and as such I occassionally get a hiccup in the bluetooth signal that causes a burp in the music. But it is minor enough to not bother me, and well off set by the positives of this great new gadget.

 

Logitech Squeezebox Wi-Fi Internet Radio Remote Controller

I’ve owned the Duet (part of which is the controller I’m reviewing here) for about 2 years. Though I’ve always thought it was very cool and useful, it was difficult to set up in the beginning and has suffered from the scroll wheel being imprecise. Because the device was so useful, I overlooked the flaws. Others, as you can see from the reviews, couldn’t overlook these flaws.

However, recent software updates have taken care of this. With the 7.4.0 release of software, the UI on the controller was changed. The current version as I write this is 7.5.0. This is the version that I’m running after upgrading from 7.3.3.

The screen has changed and doesn’t look like what is pictured here. Better use is made of the screen real estate resulting in easier to read text and a much larger artwork display. The scroll wheel is very precise now – no overshooting your selection. The controller is overall very responsive now.

I recommend this product, escpecially with the recent performance and usability improvements introduced through software updates.

 

 

 

Sonos ZonePlayer ZP80 Add-On Player

I have been using the Sonos system for about six months and think it is outstanding. Before using the Sonos I tried to use a low cost Linksys system and had a horrible experience. If you have more than a hundred or so tracks, these other systems are completely impractical. I use the Sonos with both my own MP3′s that I keep on a NAS device, and with the Rhapsody service. Both work great. The only significant issue that I have is that it can be hard to find a particular track when you have thousands of tracks. Rhapsody has tens or hundreds of thousands of tracks. You have to guess the Genre right, and you have to scroll through a lot of artists. Sonos really needs to add a Search by name capability.

 

 

 

 

Klipsch CS-500 2.1 Home Theater System with DVD Player

Klipsch is a recognized high quality name in home theater audio equipment, so I was very excited to receive this package. While, yes, you are not getting a blu-ray player with this system, you could expect to actually spend that $1000 retail price if you decided to purchase a system equal to this with a blu-ray player. As a secondary bedroom or even primary sound system, I found the quality to be superb for the price.

For a sub-$300 2.1 system this little guy really did well competing with our larger more expensive 5.1 Yamaha system. While the Yamaha will beat this system just because 5.1 will always sound better than 2.1, the sound from the speakers were crisper, clearer, and the subwoofer could nearly rattle the walls using it at full power. You still got the feeling of surround sound from this system.

For those who are not technologically inclined, this was not difficult at all to set up. I have had no problems with the DVD player thus far, and Klipsch has noted that they have fixed problems with a previous model.

If you’re budget is under $300 and this is a second system for a smaller room or bedroom, I say go for it. If you have more to spend and this is going to be your main theater or living room sound system, I would look for a 5.1 or 7.1 system that you can hook a stand alone blu-ray player into.

 

 

 

 

Panasonic SC-BT230 5.1 Surround Sound System

I received this item about 4 days ago. I absolutely love the sound. Watched some of Star Wars Episode III and the sound is incredible. Just like being in the theater. However, one of the reasons I purchased this item is that Panasonic’s website lists it as having Pandora. This is not true as of the time I am writing this review. I wrote Panasonic about this and was told that there is no exact date yet when Pandora will be online. Also, for those of you interested in the twitter that it supposedly comes with. No twitter either. As for the youtube, that’s pretty cool. Netflix is sort of lame, as you only get access to the instant queue and no recommendations. We have a PS3 with Netflix and the Netflix service on that seems to be more advanced.

Also, on Panasonic’s website, it lists this model as having a 3.5 mm jack so you can use your MP3 player. Not true. The back of the unit has a composite audio in. Which I wasn’t that upset about since I have a converter but still…

As for the ARC, you need an ARC supported TV for it to actually carry sound from the TV to the unit via an HDMI cable (this is listed on Panasonic’s website). I didn’t realize that when I bought it so now I have to get an optical cable. Not a huge loss.

I did consider returning the unit based on the above but am so pleased with the sound, however, that I am keeping it.

UPDATE

Not sure why I didn’t notice this before but there is no dedicated button for subtitles on the remote. Also, there’s no headphone jack. To listen to a blue ray through headphones, we have to mute the system and listen through our tv.

UPDATE 6/09/10

Pandora is here now with full functionality – ability to add stations right from your TV- and Twitter soon to follow. For sports fans, Fox Sports is coming soon and there’s also tagesschau german news channel–in german.

 

 

 

 

Polk Audio RM705 5.1 Home Theater System (Set of Six Black)

I looked at buying the RM6750 for a long time but eventually decided on this system. It was a little more expensive but the look and smaller sized speakers made it well worth it. The RM6750 has a fairly bulky center speaker and larger satellite speakers. The RM705 is sleek and modern looking. The sound is awesome, crystal clear and beautiful. I have a fairly large room. I had read some complaints that the subwoofer is not loud enough. Well, how loud do you need it. The bass booms and I ony have it turned up half way. I have nothing but good things to say about this system. Great system for the price. Go out and buy it, you’ll be happy.

 

 

 

Sony HT-CT150 3D Sound Bar System

I was skeptical I admit

I moved out of my house into a much smaller townhouse and I had to give up my Klipsche 2 series 5.1 system…..I HATED giving up surround sound. I have been bouncing back forth between this one and the CT350 model. I was scared that this wouldn’t be as loud as I would like it……..wow was I wrong. The room I have it in is only 11 X 15 (system on short side) and this thing is fantastic. It has a max volume of 50 and I find 24 to be more than enough. Is it true 5.1….no… but it has great surround effects and very full sound…..you will feel like the action is going around you which is what we all want anyway isn’t it?

I tested it with Avatar Blu Ray….. Lord of the Rings ROTK Disc 2 DVD……Invictus ON Demand (for the accents…..hard on TV speakers)…..was blown away each time

I turned up the center to +5 to bring out the dialog a little more and set the sub at +2

I also mounted the speaker ABOVE the TV which I feel really helps to bring out the surround effects because they don’t get lost down near the ground around the furniture

It is a little slow switching inputs but that is to be expected……the remote will only control Sony products….so if you have non Sony stuff invest in a Harmony remote

If you are planning this for a really large room and you are going to be sitting 17 or more feet away maybe you should consider the 400W 350 model….. but for a normal room you will be thrilled by this unit.

I couldnt be more happy with this purchase

 

 

 

 

Onkyo HT-S3300 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver and Speaker Package (Black)

This is my first ever online review on anything I’ve bought so far but I had to do it as it really deserves it and I find online reviews extremely valuable. I bought my Onkyo HT-S3300 about 2 weeks ago from Newegg rather than Amazon as it said “this item is not yet released” on the latter. I’ve done a lot of research before buying this unit and read a lot of reviews on a lot of other systems. I’ve also bought a Harman Kardon AVR 254 from Ebay along with Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker Package from Amazon for the basement 1 week earlier and I will make a comparison as well. Other reviewers have done a great job regarding technical details so I won’t go into a lot of details with those.

Onkyo looks really nice and the piano black speakers were a great addition to our living room. I hooked up the Comcast HD DVR, Sony bdp-s360 blueray player and a Philips dvp3982 multi-region dvd player to the receiver through HDMI cables and connected it to my Sony Bravia kdl-52w5100. On screen menu is very helpful and I’ve done the setup fairly quickly with level calibration and speaker distances. I have Audyssey and Dynamic EQ turned on and I’m using the Dynamic volume on Light setting. There are a bunch of different surround settings you can use and since personal preferences change, I won’t list them. Sound is incredible! We have a medium sized living room and, in my opinion, the passive subwoofer is doing a much better job than the active woofer of the Yamaha I mentioned above. I watched Hulk on blue ray and couldn’t turn on the volume above 40 as the windows were rattling.
You can also turn on the Audio TV Out option on and only use your TV’s speakers if you don’t want to use the receiver’s speakers for some reason.

Now, a bit on the comparison:

- Harman Kardon AVR 254 supports 7.1 vs Onkyo with 5.1. I personally prefer 5.1 so, this really is not a selling point for me on HK.
- HK looks REALLY nice if you’re into aesthetics.
- HK can convert PAL to NTSC. This was the biggest positive for me as my PS3 is from Europe. I also have a European DVD player. I hooked these to HK 254 using HDMI cables and connected it to my NTSC TV and those 2 units work perfectly.
- HK comes with a microphone and has automatic setup feature which is pretty cool.
- Here comes the biggest downfall of HK vs Onkyo. Sound level. Unless I’m doing something terribly wrong, the sound I get from HK vs Onkyo is much less. I have to crank the volume all the way up to -15 from -91 (highest is +8) to get some decent sound. I called the customer service regarding this and they said this was the regular case for HK units. For reference, default sound is set to -24dB. This was a big dissapointment for me on HK. I commented on Onkyo above can’t really go above 40 which is around half way – phenomenal…
- Overall, I would recommend Onkyo HT-S3300 over the HK AVR 254 by a mile based on my personal experience with the components I’m using. However, the fact that HK does system conversion saved me over $180 on a digital PAL / NTSC converter which is the main reason I’m keeping it.

I hope this was helpful. If you’re thinking about buying a top of the line entry/medium system, don’t hesitate to buy this unit. Contact me in case you have any questions and I’d be happy to help out as much as I can…

 

 

 

Sony BRAVIA DAV-DZ170 Home Theater System

Sony’s Bravia line has yet to disappoint me. This home theater in a box is a really nice setup. It doesn’t have the flexibility of a high-end receiver like a Denon or Onkyo, but that’s not really what a home theater in a box setup is supposed to do. It has one HDMI output, but no HDMI inputs, and only one optical input. If you’ve got a newer model tv, that’s all you need most of the time. If you can run all of your HDMI sources into your tv, you can just run the one optical cable to this receiver and you’re ready to go. It’s plenty powerful for most living rooms and gets loud without losing much resolution. The subwoofer the weakest aspect of this set, but it’s not that bad. You can turn it up in the settings if you want a little more bottom end. I take it back, the weakest aspect of this set is the proprietary input system for the speaker wires. Sony isn’t the only company to do this, so it’s hard to single them out here, but it’s still annoying. I prefer to use lower gauge speaker wires, but the proprietary speaker plugs make that almost impossible.
Overall, I prefer this setup to most component systems because A) it doesn’t take up much space B) it reproduces sounds evenly and accurately C) the DVD upconversion is pretty good and D) the price is very nice. I down-sized from a 7.1 component setup and don’t regret it for a second.

 

 

 

Sony BDV-E370 Sony 5.1 Blu-ray Disc System [3D Compatible]

Just got this all-in-one Bluray theater today. In general it’s a nice bargain (especially at the GoldBox deal from Thanksgiving). I use it in our Living Room to replace the TV speakers, so the sound is definitely an improvement. I probably wouldn’t use this in a true “home theater” since the subwoofer isn’t powered. But for general Bluray listening in the Living Room and for Netflix streaming, it sounds just fine. It does what it claims and has a lot of good streaming options (Netflix, Pandora, etc). Picture quality is excellent. Bluray player is similar to Sony’s BDP-S370 player.

However, unlike all of the reviews (on the Internet) of this unit that I read before purchasing, this unit does NOT have DLNA support for streaming music from your local network servers. In fact on page 35 of the included manual in the section “Playing files stores on a DLNA server” it specifically says: “Except for BDV-E370 U.S. models”.

This is extremely annoying. It’s obvious to me that this device *used* to have this feature, which is why all of the older reviews mention it. My guess is that it was removed in a software update. Yes, I did the network update and now it says that no other update is available. I didn’t check to see if DLNA was available before the update. The related setup page for DLNA called “Connection Server Settings” in the “Network Settings” screen is also missing.

Unless you get a really good price deal on this, I’d recommend the BDV-E570 instead which has the DLNA support and also includes the WiFi adapter. I had a wired Ethernet, so the adapter wasn’t a big deal. But if I had known that this unit really didn’t support DLNA, I probably would not have bought it. Now that it’s already installed and working, I’ll probably keep it.

Maybe we can convince Sony to put DLNA support back into this device. It’s obviously just a software issue and I’m annoyed at Sony for not including this and am annoyed at the reviews that all say it has it when it doesn’t. But that’s why I’m giving only 4 stars.

Update #1: Since there is no HDMI input, to hook up your cable box you need to connect the digital audio output of the cable box to the input on the E370. You use your TV to switch the video and use the E370 to switch the audio. The only problem with this is that the Sony E370 does not support discrete remote codes for the different audio inputs. It only has a “NextInput” command. So you’ll need a smart remote (like a Harmony) that can remember what input is currently selected so that it knows how many “NextInputs” to send to the E370 to get it to the correct channel.

Update #2: (12/17/2010) Just installed the latest v735 firmware and still no DLNA support :(

 

 

 

 

Bose VCS-30 Center/Surround – Speaker Package home theater sound for component systems – Black

For several years now I’ve enjoyed the use of these speakers, especially the VCS-10 center channel speaker which works wonderfully in conjunction with the receiver’s settings to bring voices out and I’ve used the Model 100′s as the front B speakers just to bring in some additional sound. The advertising here suggests using the Model 100′s as rear/surround speakers, either way, these speakers are very good speakers and will work very well in whatever capacity you place them.

I’ve recently replaced all of the speakers on my primary system with the Bose Acoustimass 10 Series III Home Theater Speaker System and have moved these speakers to the secondary system in conjunction with a pair of Model 301 Series III speakers and another pair of Model 100′s as the rear/surround speakers and have found this to be an enjoyable combination for this system.

All three of these speakers are magnetically shielded so you can go right ahead and put that VCS-10 right on top of your television set and it won’t affect it any way. The Model 100′s can be placed anywhere you desire to put them and Bose also manufactures wall/ceiling mounts for them which are very affordable and simple to install.

The VCS-10 Center Channel Speaker can also be purchased independently and is a highly recommended item for those, like myself, whose hearing just isn’t what it used to be. This model definitely brings those voices out during those “low” moments in movies.

Overall, I’d highly recommend the VCS-30 II Home Theater Surround Set as it is an affordable solution to a desire for a quality set of surround sound speakers and serves as just another testament to the long history Bose and the quality that goes with that name! {ssintrepid}

 

 

 

Vizio VHT210 2.1 Home Theater Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer (Black)

Product Description

VIZIO’s 2.1 Home Theater Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer delivers home theater audio in a sleek soundbar design perfect for 32″ HDTVs and larger. With a wireless subwoofer that fits anywhere in your home theater. This advanced surround sound system completes the Home Theater experience, including Dolby Digital, SRS StudioSound HD and SRS TruVolume.

 

 

 

 

Samsung HT-C6900W Blu-Ray Home Theater System

We got the system a week earlier than initially projected – nice gift for Christmas to replace the underwhelming sound of the Sony DAV-IS50 system. Purchase decision was based on integrated feature set, Blue-Ray DVD, iPod docking, wireless speakers, InternetTV ready with wireless LAN. The initial installation took little more than 1/2h. The lack of at least one HDMI cable in the package was just an annoyance, since we had already the needed set of cables. This system has 2 HDMI inputs which turned out to be necessary when I realized that the Netflix function provided via the InternetTV mode does not include browsing the full Netflix Instant offerings but showed only my own Instant Queue. I still prefer the full search functionality of the ROKU box for streaming Netflix movies and gave up the built-in streaming feature. The provided iPod docking integration was another disappointment. I am used to hear music from my iPod library of >6K songs all the time and expected a simple enablement to get this going. What is provided however is a relatively cumbersome interface requiring multiple menu’s to go through and have the TV on to set things up while I normally run my full library in shuffle mode. I ended up dusting off my old DLO HomeDock and connecting it to the AUX port. After updating my Harmony One universal handset I am back in business. The sound quality of this system is great and meets all expectations.

 

 

 

Samsung HT-C6600 Blu-Ray Home Theater System

I recently purchased the Samsung HT-C6600 from Sam’s Club. I really like this product. Hook-up is easy, the sound is great. The Blu-Ray player plays Blu-ray discs, regular dvd’s, DIVX discs, MP4 discs, mp3 cd’s and dvd’s, and audio CD’s. The USB front input allows the playing of mp3 files and mp4 or divx movies on thumb drives or memory cards in a usb card reader.

I have not used the LAN or wireless features.

The two HDMI inputs are great for my satellite receiver input and a DVD recorder.

I highly recommend this product.

 

 

 

Sony HT-SF470 – Home theater system – 5.1 channel

Great sound.

Great 5.1 functionality.

Great value.

I have mine teamed with a 46″ Samsung C6300 LED LCD and a Sony Playstation 3. I love the fact that I’m down to one HDMI input feeding my new TV for all input sources. . .they all go through the Sony HT-SF470.

Complaints: When I bought the product, I assumed that the rear speakers would work wirelessly without an additional purpose. Note, that to use the S-AIR functionality with this product, one needs to buy a transmitter to plug into the HT-SF470 receiver and a receiver for your powered speakers that get served. I also agree with the previous reviewer about how the system lacks a graphical menu. Finally, and perhaps most needlessly frustrating, I hate that Sony doesn’t leave you enough wire for their rear speakers. There’s nothing worse that to give up on an optimal setup because you don’t have enough wire. Also, Sony uses speaker wire with proprietary connectors(more costly and hard to find upgrades).

Still a good value for the price. . .beware that they attempt to suck you in to future purchases by giving you a nearly complete system.

 

 

 

 

 

Sony HTSS360 5.1 channel Home Theater System (Black)

I own a new 40″ Sony Bravia LCD that I hooked this system up to. I was very impressed with its sound and its wide range of features for the price! However, there were a couple areas that I feel need to be addressed.

PROS:
- Excellent sound, especially the Movie DCS mode which adds a ton of depth to any movie
- Easy setup
- Excellent integration with a Sony TV. I can fully control my LCD from the receiver remote after hooking up the HDMI cables.
- Full HDMI switching makes initial connection and switching between sources a snap. I can switch between cable and my PS3 with 1 button.
- Wide range of format handling, including Linear PCM.
- Wide range of sound modes.
- No color distortion issues when switching between HDMI sources. This seemed to be a problem in older models.

CONS:
- I found the bass to be a little lacking due to the fact that the subwoofer is passive. I swapped the included one out with this: Yamaha YST-SW216BL Advanced YST II Front-Firing Active Subwoofer and it brought the sound to a whole new level!
- Uses proprietary speaker wire connections. Sony makes it very hard to swap the subwoofer like I described previously because the receiver uses proprietary plugs for the speakers instead of generic speaker wire attachments. The system comes with 4 thin speaker wires with plugs to the receiver on one end, and bare wire on the other to hook up to the satellite speakers. However, the subwoofer’s is HARD WIRED, so it can’t be detached at all. What’s worse is that Sony only sells their speaker wires in packs of 5, for a whopping $55.
To use my new subwoofer, I simply found an aftermarket plug with a small length of wire on eBay, spliced it with some standard 18 gauge wire of my own and hooked it up to my new sub. Voila, it worked like a charm.

OVERALL:
Out of the box, the system is a solid 4/5. With a powered subwoofer and a little bit of handiwork to get around Sony’s greed, it can be improved to 5/5.

 

 

 

Mirage MX 5.1-Channel Miniature Home Theater Speaker System (Set of Six Black)

These speakers are AWESOME. Very loud and superb for surround sound and fills a large room with sound. The only negative is that the Subwoofer is pretty weak. It does not fill the room, and I have the volume all the way up and even turned volume up on my receiver. As I mentioned before, I did put this in a “large room”, so I think that is the problem. In a smaller room this sub would be great. However, the spearkers can go in any room as they provide awesome sound and clarity. Therefore, I would rate the Speakers, sound and appearance a 5+, but subwoofer a 2 or 3, but again its probably due to my room size. If you have a small room or don’t like a lot of bass this is fine, but for explosions and bass in a “large room” you need to add a bigger sub, then you will be ECSTATIC with these little speakers.

 

 

 

Bose 161 Speaker System (White) – ideal for stereo or home theater use

We bought several pairs of these 161 speakers when they were first introduced a little over a year ago. We use one pair for the surround speakers in our theater system, and a pair in each of the other rooms of our home.

Although we are longtime Bose fans, we decided to audition these in an audio store as we had been disappointed in a Bose center channel speaker we had purchased previously, (based on reputation, we didn’t listen first!). We were favorbly impressed in the store and have been very pleased with them in our home. Regardless of room decor, the speakers produce clean, stereo sound. (Its possible to identify orchestral instruments and their location!)

These speakers are very linear above 80-90Hz, to the audible limits. They drop off rapidly below about 80Hz. Bass frequencies are adequately reproduced for orchestral music but will need to be augmented for heavy bass or special cinematic effects. (sub-woofer)

These speakers are intended to be wall mounted and are easily installed with the included brackets. They do not sit well on a shelf!

 

 

 

 

RCA RTD316Wi DVD Home Theater System with Dock for iPod

Good system for a first time user of surround sound. Not as loud as most surround
systems,but pretty good if you don’t want anything too loud. Good for games.

 

 

Samsung HW-C770BS Home Theater System

Sound quality is where you get what you pay for. If your trying to fill a large room, 20×30 or larger, this is not the system, but for smaller rooms it’s perfect. Your not paying for Hi End Speakers or a lot of power, but what you get is an excellent level of power and sound. Ease of operation is somewhat excellent once you learn the sequence to make the changes. Other than switching from Dolby Pro IIz and x should be about the only changes you may need to do. Some tone adjustments if using the tuner. The only weakness I ran into is the mounting key for each of the speaker. Plastic is thin and weak. When mounting using brackets, do not force or the key will stretch and break. Too bad they didn’t use a threaded mount that was strongly secured to the speaker cabinet. You also may want to double check the automated sound control setup, check distance and speaker size especially, may take a couple of tries.

 

 

Sony BDVE300 5.1-Channel High-Definition Blu-ray Disc Player/DVD Disc Home theater System (Black)

Here is my honest review about this product….I got it free with my Sony 52″ W5100 TV purchase from Amazon.

Pros:
–>It is a complete package….it has a blu ray player, Ipod docking station, and the regular 5.1 channel sound system.
–> It comes with a sound calibration unit. What this basically does is you set all your speakers around you where you want them installed and then set the calibration unit at the place where you sit to watch your TV, like your couch….and then the calibration unit will tell you if your speakers are optimally arranged and will help you finalize the exact position of your speakers around you to give you optimal effect. This feature was really helpful…
–> It upscales image to 1080p
–> It has the same XMB system that sony features. This makes life very easy…trust me…also it syncs with your Sony TV and you can use 1 remote for both systems
–> It has internet capability….and very easy to use as well…just connect a Ethernet cable to it and you can browse HD content over the web using your remote as a keypad.
–> Ipod docking station is very helpful since we have 2 ipods, 2 iphones…all our music is on them, so you can connect them directly to your HT system and listen to music.
–> 1000 W of total power output gives you really good sound…unless you plan to start a recording studio or something….this system will be perfect for good sound

Cons:
–> Most irritable is the speaker cable length…..my rear speakers barely reach behind my sofa if i run the wires around the walls….in other systems, even though the cables may be short, you can still buy a longer 16gauge cable and run it around. In this system, the ends that go into the blu ray player are soldered into a plastic connector. So unless i am willing to mess around with re-soldering which is a pain…..i have to extend my existing speaker wires by crimping extensions to the other end that goes into the speaker…instead of replacing the entire speaker wire…..that is most irritating
–> It only has a HDMI in port….so you cannot use it as a receiver and it will not decode the audio for you….you have to either use optical/digital cable or component cable for audio….
–> The first product i got turned out defective…it just stopped working the next day and my rented blu ray DVD from block buster got stuck inside…..but Amazon just replaced the whole system and even re-reimbursed me for the DVD cost that i have to pay block buster….Amazon is the best…..

–>

 

 

 

 

Klipsch HD 500 Compact 5.1 Home Theater System (Set of Six Black)

I have owned this 5.1 speaker system for 2 weeks. I have them connected to a Denon AVR-790 receiver. I am thrilled with the results – even though I have an unconventional setup. The living room and kitchen are conected as one 10 x 20 foot room – with a cathedral ceiling. Yikes!

This is my first surround sound system, and suffice to say, I was overwhelmed with the many 5.1 choices between the HTIB (Home theater in a box) and all the individual receivers with separate speaker systems. However, I’m not a newbie to great sound. I could join the AARP if I wanted to!
Anyways, I finally pulled the trigger and purchased the Klipsch 500 after many months of research online and hearing them at my local electronics warehouse store. The store gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

My requirements were that I needed smaller speakers for the decor and the lack of space. The Klipsch 500 fit the bill. Moreover, the 8 inch powered subwoofer is more than enough ooomph for TV, music, and movies. A nice thunder!

My center speaker rests on the TV stand in front of the LCD TV on the Klipsch supplied rubber mat to hold it in place. It’s inconspicuous and does the job of keeping the center speaker stationary. I purchased a couple of inexpensive speaker stands for the 2 front speakers.
I mounted the 2 rear speakers “in the “kitchen” on the opposite wall that the TV is on. I appreciate that the satellite speakers all come with plastic adjustable wall mounts that you can position toward your ears. I needed the mounts to position the rears horizontally at 8 feet above the floor pointing toward the chairs. I ran my rear speaker wires under the floor in the crawl space to hide them. That helps!

The only negative comment I have on the Klipsch 500 is the plastic spring-clip connectors on the back of the speakers. It does seem cheap – and not in a good way. I took off a star on my rating for the features because of that. But they do hold my 18 guage wire just fine. Conversely, I bought and used banana plugs to connect the other end of the speakers to my Denon receiver. That is a more secure connection. Nevertheless it’s the sound I was after and the connections just needed to connect. All of them do.

I used the easy-to-use Audyssey auto-setup that came with my Denon receiver to balance the sound and voila! Instant home theater! Okay, so it took a little longer than an instant, but the results are just amazing.

Consequently, after 2 weeks of listening to the sweet sounds of 5.1 I would not hesitate to recommend the Klipsch 500 to anyone who wants crisp, clear, and big sound! I love em! I really love them!

 

 

 

Coby DVD968 5.1-Channel DVD Home Theater System with 1080p Upconversion DivX Playback and AM/FM Tuner (Black)

Chose this product because of the value (price vs features). Overall I got what I wanted /expected.

Features I was looking for:
-ability to play DivX movies
-HDMI connection
-Surround sound

Bonus features:
-USB Connection

Annoyances:
-vast sound difference between radio and other sources – need dvd player approx level 30, radio level 2. The default setting seems to be level 35, so switching between sources when you turn it on is a pain if you don’t turn down the volume
-volume knob on the unit is erratic
-no random selection when playing music (off USB drive)

Installation was easy, works OK with my TV, plays DVD’s and videos well, good radio reception.

 

 

 

Technical Pro HT-S12 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System with 12-Inch Powered Subwoofer (Set of Six Black)

i like how this is a all in 1 5.1 system. It has very strong Bass sound and beautiful highs
i hook this package up to my onkyo and it just sang all night long.

I am very happy with the price and especially with the sound

good deal grab it fast!

 

 

 

Onkyo CS-325 CD Receiver System

In the price versus performance competitions, I always think Onkyo gives you the biggest bang for the bucks. I have a full size Onkyo 5.1. It sounds great and has been very reliable. Lately I have been looking for a mini system for my mom’s apartment. After listening to Bose and other brands, I think the CS-325 gives the best value for the same money. I am an electrical engineer and had opened countless electronic equipment packagings. Let me tell you, I’ve never seen any packaging as neat and impecable as this one. The set up was simple and straight forward. The speaker feels very substantial, a sign of quality. Overall, the system looks very nice. Once set up, the controls are very user friendly. It is an excellent choice for a smaller space such as a city apartment. I am happy with its high to mid frequency range. I could ask for better bass perhaps due to its smaller woofer. Some may complain that the Ipod docking is optional. Still, it beats many systems that cost twice as much. At $200, it is a great buy. Onkyo CS-325 CD Receiver System

 

 

 

JVC TH-G31 DVD Digital Theater System

I absolutely love this theater system. I bought since I have a JVC 42in LCD and wanted to keep the same theme. Well I have absolutely no con’s except for the function and source inputs. I have a logitech remote and I always have problems with the stupid functions input. Example: I’m watching a DVD and want to switch to playing the xbox 360, the sound will not switch automatically AUX OPT which is the optical cable input, i will instead cycle from AUDIO IN which is the first auxiliary input, then AUX, then finally to AUX OPT. I wish JVC would have made individual IR codes for each instead of having to cycle through every single input. Other than that I have no complaints. Everything works flawlessly and the Matrix was incredible on it.

 

 

 

 

Samsung HT-C6500 Blu-ray Home Theater System

Some HTiB (home theater in a box) systems are inflexible, hard to use and offer questionable performance with cheap, flimsy construction. One might even call them “cheesy.” The Samsung HT-C6500 Blu-ray/DVD Home Theater System is not one of these systems. It offers solid audio and video performance, a wealth of online streaming features, including Netflix, Pandora and VUDU, built in Blu-ray, CD and DVD playback with pretty nice upconversion, WiFi networking and ample power to drive the 5.1 channel speaker system in a decent-sized room, and all for a reasonable price. Also, unlike many HTiB systems, the unit features two HDMI inputs, so you can add on a cable or satellite set-top box and/or a gaming system with single wire audio/video simplicity.

The system includes on-board decoding of the latest surround sound codecs, including DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD so it can take full advantage of the sonic capabilities of Blu-ray Disc. It also features snappy load times, loading a DVD in about 9 seconds, a simple Blu-ray disc in 11 seconds and a BD-Java Blu-ray Disc (the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” film) in about 25 seconds. These times compete with the fastest standalone players currently on the market. The initial boot up is a little slow at 22 seconds, but the player is doing a lot of stuff at start-up, including searching DLNA devices for compatible networked media files, as well as loading the code for streaming providers such as Netflix, VUDU and Samsung’s own Internet@TV service.

During the review we did notice one disc compatibility issue (the unit can’t get past the trailers on “The Incredible Hulk” Blu-ray Disc), but this can be worked around by disabling the BD-Live feature on the player (not ideal, but hopefully Samsung will fix this in a future firmware upgrade). Also, while the audio portion of the iPod dock worked flawlessly for us, if you want to also play video or photos on your iPod or iPhone through the system, you will need to connect an additional composite video cable between the HT-C6500 and your TV or projector (a basic video cable comes in the box). And don’t look for anything fancy like album art in the iPod interface, because it just isn’t there. However, controlling iPod song access from the unit’s remote was very handy.

Speaking of the remote, this is probably the weakest link here. The navigational buttons are a little too low and transport buttons are a little too high to comfortably navigate through set-up and disc menus or to easily control playback. We were happy to see an auto-calibration system on-board (with included microphone) which can get the basics of speaker level and distance calibration accomplished without having to revert to test discs and SPL meters.

Performance tip for owners: if you feel that the bass lacks some definition or sounds a little “thumpy,” try inserting a piece of foam or cloth (or some old socks) into the subwoofer port. This will actually tame the boom without losing a significant amount of sonic heft from the mix.

Overall, we were impressed with the HT-C6500 and would recommend it to anyone in the market for a mid-range HTiB system. It’s long on features and performance but relatively short on price: a good combination.

 

 

 

Bose CineMate Digital Home Theater Speaker System

I am very pleased with the sound quality of the Bose Cinemate 2.1 system. The key to gettting the best sound quality is to follow the instructions and disable you TV’s speakers, and set the audio output to ‘fixed.’ Prior to doing that the bass seemed very low. As soon as I made that change, WOW! what a system. I suspect others who have given the system a low rating may have not had the system set up properly. While you can set it up easily with just a few connections, it it important to adjust your TV’s audio to ensure you are hearing that unparalled Bose sound.

 

 

 

Samsung HT-C6730W Blu-ray Home Theater System

We got this system a week ago…. connected to a Sharp LED. The set up is very, very simple. Despite the proprietary connectors on the system side, was able to extend the speakers with simple butt connectors and placed under the carpet. The quality (mindful for the $600 range) is fabulous! My partner is a classical musician and non techno person and she loved how it sounds. It takes little bit of of fumbling with PL and DLP buttons to get the right source, (not Samsung’s issue) but it is wonderful. We have a 12×18 + dinning room area so it is very, very good clear to hear. I have not been able to set up the wireless yet, was not auto found but I am sure will be able to do it. The CD makes a little bit of noise (we have everything else hidden but placed it on top of the cabinet for easy of access and looks very nice) but I think that is normal for DVD system. Blue ray is very nice and not sure the other comment on Samsung vs. Sony holds merit. We chose to spent the extra $80 for the system with the taller speakers and the 7.1 combo and 1300 Watts but I think it was the right decision. I will get an update on Netflix and wireless as I have not been able to use it yet…. Again, I think this is an amazing systems, price, design, features and design level…

 

 

 

Polk Audio RM6750 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System (Set of Six Black)

I do consider myself to be picky when it comes to electronics. And I am absolutely floored that speakers this good can be had for a price this low. If you are reading this review, you are probably asking yourself the same question I was this time last week. That being: Are these speakers too good to be true?

During my buying process, I read about these Polks and consequently made a trip to a dumpy Circuit City with a poorly set-up sound room. Before the speakers were played, I picked up one of the sats. and was extremely impressed with its build quality… nice materials, very attractive… and the speakers have a solidness/weight to them that let you know these are not those cheap pressed-wood speakers you’ll find in most HTIB systems. Secondly, I was impressed with the sound even though the rears weren’t hooked-up and the sub-woofer was poorly placed.

After my trip to CC, I called J&R Music World and had a set of RM6750s shipped to me (J&R is a great store, by the way).

Yesterday I finished installing the speakers… largely using the rich amount of educational information available on the polk audio website that helped me with speaker placement and hook-up. Note: I did NOT use the sub jack on the sub woofer.

The sound is phenominal… especially considering I paid $245. There is no doubt, that if told that these speakers only were sold for their MSRP of $599… that I would still buy them. These speakers meet so many of my requirements:

(1) Great Sound
(2) Attractive
(3) Blend into the environment (i.e., they are small)
(4) Great price
(5) Quality Name

The sound image created by the front 3 is amazing and the rears are perfect.

I am not one to crank my system (I have young kids)… but the sub puts out a great bassy sound that is not too over-powering (note, when I heard these speakers at Circuit City their sub was poorly placed and hooked-up with a sub jack… and it sounded very boomy and over powering).

I am driving the system with Pioneer’s top of the line VSX-1016TXV… which is another item, like these Polks, that I probably wouldn’t have purchased (I was ready to go the Onkyo/Dennon route with my amp purchase) if someone walked-up to me on the street and recommended it. But after careful research… it, like these Polks, offers an astounding value for the money.

So… long story short… I thought I was going to have to spend $1,800 on my home theater system. I was convinced that a bottom line price for speakers would be roughly $1,100… and the receiver would hit me for another $700.

But, this long story has a really great ending… thanks Polk for a really great product… and for all of the knowledge information you have on your site.

PERFECT!

 

 

 

 

Samsung HT-Z320 Home Theater System

I wanted a cheap system so I purchased this one from my local store. It’s fairly easy to set up and use. When I plugged my iphone in, I’m used to things working instantly but with this system, you need to wait about 10 seconds for it to recognize the iphone and then play music.

Sound quality if good. Remote is easy to use.

All in all, happy with my purchase. I’d recommend it for someone who wants a cheap system. Keep in mind…for $200 you are getting a dvd player, receiver, 5 speakers, 1 sub-woofer. It’s inexpensive and you get a lot for the low price point. But cheaper things do tend to break more

 

 

Vizio VHT510 5.1 Surround Sound Home Theater with Wireless Subwoofer (Black)

I purchased the Vizio VHT510 from Costco about 2 weeks ago. I set it up right away, however I haven’t mounted the rear surrounds yet. It works great and the sound quality is better than you could reasonably expect for a sound system at this price point. It is great not to have to run wires and still get 5.1 surround. It looks neat and clean and not at all cheap or shoddy like one might expect with a sound system just barely over $300.00.

I have just a couple of concerns. As per the previous review, there is only a single optical output. I currently have it connected to my 50 inch Samsung plasma; it would be really nice to have a couple more optical outs even if the price went up a notch. My more serious concern is with the LED lights on the sound bar; they are supposed to light up when changing the volume up or down indicating the sound level. Unfortunately it doesn’t work at least half the time. The volume still changes, but it is concerning when something is not working as it is supposed to on a brand new electronic device. I have seen other complaints about this very same issue on message boards such as AVS forum. My heart dropped when my brand new sound system started doing that very same thing a few days ago. Some have returned/replaced the sound bar only to have this feature be as unreliable with the second unit. I can’t deal with reboxing and returning it so I just hope that it continues to work as it has and that this issue does not turn into something else that effects the actual function of the sound system. It would be great if Vizio could address this problem since it is not an isolated incidence.

Addendum:

I finally returned the Vizio 510 to Costco today. The LED volume indicator completely stopped working. The volume still changes as it should and the system still sounds great, but I am not comfortable keeping a device that doesn’t work correctly from the very beginning. While waiting in line at Costco returns, someone came up to me and asked if I had a problem with the LED indicators. He said he had the same problem and returned it as well. This seems to be a real issue with this product.

Addendum 1/8/2011:

I am giving the Vizio 510 one more chance. The sound quality was just so good that I am going to risk it. I am trying to convince myself that LED volume indicators are not that important if it works well otherwise. If everything else is good, I will ignore that part if, or should I just say, “when” it happens. If there are any other issues, at least Amazon has an easy return policy. It is a super good sounding system for <$300 and with free shipping and no tax! I feel a little guilty for giving Vizio the business when they have been less than honest with the issue with this product and the fact that they did not post my “mostly good” review on the Vizio website. I think their review section is limited to only 100% positive with nothing critical at all. Not good business Vizio and not very honest!!

 

Bose Lifestyle V30 Home Theater System – Black

I am amazed at the ease of installation. I had the whole system up and running in less than 1/2 an hour- granted that I used the speaker wires and wall/ceiling mounts from my old BOSE AM 15′s. The only added step was installing an adapter on the speaker wires from my Bose AM 15 so I could connect the Jewel cube arrays. (I had to use the old speaker wires because they where already installed in the walls.) The Adapt IQ is really what sets this system apart. We have a really wide living room in which the TV is off center. Balancing my old Bose AM 15 Direct Reflective speaker arrays with the old receiver was a nightmare. AdaptIQ did all the work in minutes. Every speaker is now perfectly balanced. We where a little concerned about spending an extra $1,000 for the V30 opposed to the V20, but the Jewel Cube Speakers are so crisp and clear. Music never sounded better. The surround sound fill the room evenly at all volumes. It’s powerful when it’s suppose to be, yet the dialogue is clear and coherent. The only adjustment I made was to increase the bass to +2 and Treble to +4. I left everything else on automatic. My old receiver was overbearingly powerful in which the details would get lost. The minimalist design of the Lifestyle systems is superb. The system blends in the room’s decor perfectly. One note of caution, IF YOU SEE “PCM 2.0″ ON YOUR BOSE DISPLAY-MAKE SURE YOUR DVD SOURCE IS ON THE RIGHT SETTING. Contrary to what the Bose saleman said to me, PCM 2.0 is not the same as Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1. I was getting PCM 2.0 on movies and Dolby Digital 5.1 on cable tv and video games. I have a PS3 in which I had to change the HDMI setting from ‘linear’ 2.0 to ‘bitstream’- Problem solved – I now get 5.1 on all forms of media. In conclusion- If you have the means, I highly recommend this top end Lifestyle system. You will save in the long run. I spent $2,300 in 1999 when I mixed Bose speakers with a Yamaha receiver and was never 100 percent satisfied. I would have been much better off shelling out a few hundred more and getting a Lifestyle system back then.

 

 

 

Yamaha YHT-S400BL Front Surround Unique Home Theater Package (Black)

Just received from Amazon today… My primary requirements were a low profile, black unobtrusive sound bar to go in the 3 inches of space I have under my wall mounted Panasonic TCP-65S1. Other options from Samsung and other manufacturers that fit my space requirement had fewer features, only 2.1 channels, and reviews indicating sound quality not quite up to snuff. It is replacing a Yamaha YSP-800 that works fine but simply takes up too much space.

I understand there is some doubt out there about the sub combined with the receiver but so far it sounds fine.

In fact the whole setup sounds better than good… very crisp clean surround 7.1ch emulation, louder and better quality/separation than the 5ch YSP-800 it is replacing.

Time (and a bunch of Blu Ray movies) will tell, and I will update this review with further observations as I further evaluate the unit.

Very easy to install and setup, the setup menus are easy to use. I am not a huge picky audiophile so the minimal setup options are plenty for me… and if I were an audiophile I probably wouldn’t be getting a soundbar.

I was curious to see how the HDMI-CEC would work with my VieraLink panny, and this was the one area I was disappointed… First off it loses the VieraLink “HD Theater sound control” setting when the TV turns off and back on. Secondly while the input button works to change inputs on the receiver, it doesn’t change it to the right HDMI input to match the panny onscreen display. Not sure how much these are the panny’s fault and how much the receiver.

On the plus side for controls, since my DVR control can turn the TV power off and on, using the HDMI inputs on the receiver instead of the TV does the trick… I control inputs and volume with the receiver control and am able to eliminate one control (the TV remote) from my coffee table. I know, I know, I should just get a universal/programmable remote but I haven’t had good experiences with them, and two remotes is fine for me.

Since the HDMI-CEC wasn’t a requirement for me and the HDMI input handling solves my needs, and everything else is great, I’ll tip over the edge from four stars and make it five… since this is a subjective review and I am not rating it against higher end solutions, just $500 or lower sound bars.

Anyways, I hope this account helps anyone with similar needs considering this product.

UPDATE 2.11.2010
Still love it, happy with the sound quality but I really like the little remote… just enough buttons not too many, HDMI passthrough works well and let me ditch my TV remote. So the HDMI-CEC complaint is less now, the only reason I cared about that was to ditch a remote… mission accomplished.

 

 

 

Home Theater System with 1000W Audio Receiver

I see a lot of people bashing this system, but for the price tag – well, you cannot do better! The receiver is pretty decent actually, and has features few would expect in a low cost model. The speakers are OK, but not spectacular. The subwoofer does a decent job. The reviews I read with complaints about distortion, well they might want to be realistic and not be cranking the system up to the max – after all you did already complain about the speakers not being high quality.

I am pretty satisfied with the quality for the price and may eventually get some better speakers for it. Look at it this way – not a bad price for a receiver these days, and some speakers to get you going; not a bad start if you ask me. Before insulting a product, consider what you are paying before expecting ludacrus results.

Marantz NR1501 Slim Line Home Theater Receiver

The Marantz NR1501 slim line model is only about 4″ tall and really an excellent overall receiver. I bought this to replace a Sony STRG810. It was a toss up between a Denon, Yamaha or Marantz. The Sony STRG810 was a great receiver for movies but it was lacking sound quality in the music department (too much reverb). When comparing similar models, Yamaha was brighter then Denon, and Marantz was warmer then Denon, so I went with Marantz. I compared the Marantz NR1501 model to a Marantz SR6004 ($1300) side by side, and the audio quality was almost the same except the SR6004 was a bit more full at 110 watts per channel. I also compared the Marantz NR1501 to a Harmon Kardon AVR254 and the Marantz NR1501 sounded much better. The Harmon Kardon sounded too digital and tinny where the Marantz sounded true to its source. I am very pleased with how warm and clear the sound quality is while listening to music or watching movies.

The 50 watt NR1501 is more then enough wattage to power my reference series Klipsch speakers in a 13′ x 17′ living room. You may think that 50 watts is too low, but Marantz rates their receivers lower then what they are capable of. For example, Sony rates their receivers by putting a meter in the center of a testing room and increasing the volume as loud as it can go – distortion and all; they mark down what the wattage output is. Marantz does the same procedure except once they get to distortion, they back the knob off a little and mark down the wattage rating. That is why you will notice a lot of Marantz receivers are rated at 50,70, or 90 watts which is a lot lower then some of the 100,110 watt competition.

I usually set all the parameters (crossover frequency, speaker distance, db level etc.) by ear as I have with every receiver I purchase. I wanted to see how well this receiver would do with auto calibration, so I ran it. The receiver comes with a microphone so I put it on a camera tripod, set it to the listening position, and ran the auto cal procedure. Auto cal lasted about 3 minutes and played a series of test tones. When it was done, all of the levels were adjusted to the listening position. I manually went through these levels to see how well it did and I would not change a thing. This is an excellent receiver.

 

 

Sony BRAVIA DAV-HDX285 5.1-Channel Theater System (Black)

I’m not a professional, but I almost didn’t purchase this unit due to conflicting reviews about what the unit is or isn’t capable of doing. Having had similar experiences with other products advertised on Amazon, it was usually (always, actually) a negative review from a customer who hadn’t read or didn’t follow the manual. So with the attractive price, I went ahead and gave it a try. The manual clearly states that you can use additional devices, so I began the set up, and every device I had can be used through this system (TiVo, a second Blu-Ray DVD, my iPhone). I can watch TV in surround sound; the manual gives clear instructions on how to do this. The quality is good. This replaces an older Cambridge Soundworks 5.1 system, and the quality is comparible. The set-up was easy. I live in a small apartment in a large metropolitan area, and I’ve learned these systems give clarity without volume, and my neighbors never complain and remark they never know when I’m home. It’s a 5 disc DVD player, so you’ll need counter/shelf space to accomodate. The AM/FM receiver is a great plus. This is attached to a first generation Samsung HDTV 1080i, and I’m very pleased…with the price and performance. I used HDMI and optical cable hook-up, which are not included in the purchase.

 

 

 

 

Acoustimass 3 Series IV speaker system – Black

I am always amazing at the amount of flaming that Bose products seem to instigate on message boards. Clearly, people buy the stuff and so perhaps it is just that web noise.

I have had a set of AM-3s for 11 years. I originally bought them for a rehearsal area where space was tight and I wanted something I could put on the wall, but I got more than I bargained for. As you might guess, I am a musician.

I have been using these in my main parlor/music room area now for 6 years and I am always pleased. They produce a remarkably full sound that is clear and emotional, and they occupy virtually no space. Instruments and voices are rendered with admirable neutrality, and music of all types and time periods sounds just plain good. They can play at surprisingly high volumes without complaint connected to my 150 watt Pioneer receiver.

My only beefs: The single cubes are a bit directional at high frequencies, but not overly so (the bigger double-cube AM-5s solve that). Bass is full down to about 60hz and falls off sharply below that. However, I cannot think of another $200 set of speakers that is so musically satisfying overall. I recommended them to my friends who almost always turn their heads and say, “That sounds great. Where are the speakers?”

11 years and no problems. That speaks for itself. For $200 the AM-3 just can’t be beat.

 

 

 

Panasonic SC-BTT750 5.1 Channel 3D Blu-Ray Cinema Surround Home Entertainment System (Black)

3D Blu-Ray player & a sound system..what more could you ask for..price is not bad with the 3D support & wired or wireless link..even comes with a wireless adapter(kinda of cheaply made however) I checked out the only other reviews I could find for this item which was at Panasonic’s website..some good..a few bad. Some complained that it was complicated to set-up and the directions were confusing. Well, I’m here to say that no..it was not that hard..I could not see myself placing a critique about setup..so what if it takes you a few minutes or an hour to set it up..does it work..yes..that’s all that matters. Anyways, the speakers sound very nice..load times are not bad in my opinion..I could use a few more network options..it seems like there might be more options in the future..maybe with another firmware update. The best part is the 3D option(I haven’t tried out yet) & the sub sounds awesome..really loud at times..the main speakers are slightly soft at times..however..I probably just have to tweak around options. Well, this was a great upgrade..now just how long will this last?..we will see.

 

 

 

Samsung HT-BD8200 Blu-Ray Sound Bar Home Theater System (Black)

I used to have a DirecTV DVR (stopped the service, but still had lots recorded on it), a (sucky) DVD player (do not buy cheap GE products), a VHS player (also sucky, but indestructible), a great bookshelf stereo, a video game console, a TV and an input selector to switch between all of them. Connecting all these devices was a fishing net of cables that could drown a dolphin educated in basket weaving. Just disconnecting and reconnecting all those cables to move stuff around easily took 45 to 60 minutes. (I like them to be tidy, but I don’t take the time to label them. Go figure.) Also, the whole setup was contained in an Ikea entertainment center that was 3 feet tall, 2 feet deep and just over 4 feet long.

Enter the HT-BD8200.

I knew I wanted this thing when I heard it’s announcement last January. The more I read about it, the more I liked it. It seemed to have every feature I was looking for: compact size, wireless networking, connects to network accessible hard drives to show audio and video and images, streams Netflix and Pandora Internet radio, Blu-Ray (so I can be like the hip kids). Wall mountable, too! This thing was finally released in August, and I scooped 1 up. But, at $800 I started to worry that my expectations were a little high, and that I would be sorely disappointed.

Streaming Netflix directly to the TV is pretty cool. You cannot search for movies to watch through this system, but after you add them to your Watch Instantly queue on the Netflix website, the movie is immediately available to watch through the HT-BD8200. Similarly, the streaming Pandora music is cool, but also has limitations.

My HT-BD8200 is connected to my TV (also Samsung) by HDMI, both of which have the AnyConnect+ feature, which allows the 2 devices to adjust each other depending on what I am trying to watch. One thing I dislike about the streaming music feature; if I switch the TVs input source to the video game input, the music is turned off so that the HT-BD8200 can play the sound from the video game. What I wanted to do, though, was surf the web with the video game console while listening to Pandora’s music. This could be a configuration problem, and there’s probably a way around it, but for now, it’s only slightly annoying.

The 2.1 virtual surround sound is really good. It can definitely put out more noise than I care to find out. With the volume at 20 (I think it goes to 100), I can easily feel the hardwood floor vibrate from the bass. I’m no audiophile, but I appreciate quality sound. The HT-BD8200 produces crisp, rich and clean sound. The virtual surround sound does work provided the sound being played was recorded with surround sound.

I feel like I have only dabbled in its many features. For example, I have not been able to get it to see a hard drive on my computer running Ubuntu/Linux, but a stand-alone networked hard drive should work well.

Yes, it’s expensive, but it seems to have just about everything I can ask a small, wall mountable, attractive system to be capable of.

 

 

 

JBL CS480BG High Performance complete 6-Piece Home Theater Speaker System with Brackets (Black Gloss)

Let me start by saying that I couldn’t be happier with these speakers. I did my homework when it was time to take my 6 year old HK SAT-TS2 5.1 system off the wall and make the next step toward turning my living room into a true cinema. Although I have the 6.1 capable Sony receiver and Blueray player (AKA PS3), I decided to stick with a 5.1 system due to the size limitation of my living room (13×16). My room was already wired, but the system does come with speaker wires and subwoofer cable. Another bonus are the two sets of speaker brackets. This system includes fixed (uni-directional swivel) and pivoting brackets for all the speakers. I also liked the departure from the spring clip connectors. These speakers have quality screw terminals that can handle a 10 gauge wire. The only issue I discovered was that the fixed bracket for the center speaker may create a short between the speaker wire terminals. A little electrical tape solved the problem and I was finally off to the races. HD TV, Dolby Digital 5.1 movies, and PS3 games have been raised to a new level with this system. Zero buyer’s remorse!

 

 

 

Bose Acoustimass 6 Home Entertainment Speaker System – Black

I had a passive subwoofer previously on a patched together system. I was surprised how dramatic an improvement an actively powered subwoofer (at least one this big) can make. When the Rohan horses go thundering through in Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t believe the difference. The satellites provide really crisp sound and are quite unobtrusive (makes the wife happy). I think you have to be more careful about placing the speakers, though, to make a seamless sound field since they are so small.

Hook up was the easiest I’ve ever had, with all speaker cables factory labeled. One big cord runs to the amp outputs from the bass module, and simple plugs run from the bass module to your speakers.

One caution- you’ll need Bose wall brackets to hang these from your walls since the back of the satellites are threaded for a screw. I used to hang my previous speakers from heavy-duty picture hangers!

 

 

 

Klipsch Synergy Quintet III Home Theater Speaker System (Set of Five Black)

Recently was over a friend’s house and noticed that he had a Bose system and was impressed with the sound. I had a Sony HTIB set up that I was not too crazy about but had to compromise because my wife is particular on how things look and will compromise perfomance. I decided to upgrade my system, but I wanted to do this without spending Bose money. I went with a Yamaha RX-V663 receiver and paired it with the Klipsch speakers. The results were beyond my expectations. The clarity of the sound was outstanding. The lows really come thru these speakers well. My wife’s jaw dropped when she heard the results. I recommend people to do the research and check out these speakers. Most people see the name “Bose” and buy into the name because of there exposure on TV and magazine adds. I believe I have better sound than a bose system for a fraction of the cost.

 

 

 

Pioneer PD-F407 25-Disc CD-File Changer

For the money this has proved to be a very nice CD Player, certainly better than the 5 disc changer it replaced. A few moire features would be nice, like reading the CD names into the display. With 25 CD’s it’s hard to keep track of what is where, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money so really can’t complain. If you want lots of features this probably isn’t for you, but if like me you just want more music variety without constantly changing CD’s this is well worth the money.

 

 

Yamaha CDC-697BL 5-Disc Carousel-Type CD Changer

Before buying the Yamaha 5-disc CD player, I did a comprehensive analysis of all currently available products. It included the players made by Denon, Onkyo, Teac and Sony among others, as well as DVD players that can also play CD’s. I wanted a high quality player to work well with a stereo system including large JBL studio monitor speakers, a high-power integrated amplifier, and a direct drive Technics turntable. I had no interest in playing DVD’s, only in good quality audio CD’s, so I eliminated from consideration many products which are basically DVD players. I found out that most multi-disc CD players compromise their technical specifications compared with the audiophile-quality single-disc CD players, with Yamaha CDC-697 looking better than the others, possibly because it is optimized for playing CD’s only, while the Denons and Onkyos also play compressed audio files like MP3 and WMA.
Any product that attempts to do too many things at once, usually does not do anything well!

Investigations of Yamaha’s repair record compared with competitive products also appear favorable. Finally, I found out that CDC-697 can be operated both by the pushbuttons on the front panel or by the remote control. All competing carousel CD changers are not fully operational without using the remote. We are sick of having everything requiring a remote to operate. It is just a fake “convenience feature for the user”, whose real purpose is to cut the equipment manufacturing costs by eliminating the old-style manual controls from the front panel!

We had the Yamaha CDC-697 for two months now and everything is fine so far. It was easy to set up without the remote control. We have not even inserted the batteries into the remote, the unit operates just fine without it, although there are some functions that are available only through the remote. We had to read only the first 10 pages of the 24-page owner’s instruction manual to use the unit, for which my wife is very pleased. The competing carousel CD changers have 60 to 90 page manuals which take many hours to study before you can use the unit!

Let’s hope that Yamaha does not make any silly engineering changes in the CDC-697 to make it more alike the Denon, Onkyo or Sony. We do not own an i-pod and will never buy it in the future, we will also never need to play any compressed audio files, we just want high fidelity music.

The fidelity of music from the Yamaha player through our system is just as good as from the Technics direct drive turntable with an elliptical Shure cartridge and new 33 RPM vinyl records, and we do not miss the occasional clicks usually present in vinyl records.
Amazon did a very good job in packing our Yamaha player. It arrived on time through a UPS two-day delivery.

 

 

Sony CDPCX355 300-Disc MegaStorage CD Changer

I’ve had this unit for about a year now without any problems. It was originally on a shelf with my 40lb amplifier sitting on top of it. Once I removed the 40lb amplifier away, the CDs start skipping. So I put in this tweak which I learned from an audio forum. Put 4 round glass marbles under the cd player using a small bottle cap or something to under the marbles to keep it from rolling away. This stopped the skipping.

Conlusion: The skipping is due to the vibration of the unit when the CD player is spinning and the problem is amplified by unit being so lightweight. By either adding more mass to the unit like putting something heavy on top of it or isolation using the marble trick or buy one of those audiophiles component spikes or damping feet.

Update: 9/24/2009.
After 5 years, this CD player still works beautifully. I’m not a fan of Sony products but this player has been with me for a long time and will still be my primary CD player. I do not notice scratches on CDs like others have mentioned. If you have skipping problems please try the suggestion I mentioned above. If you have CD loading problems, make sure the CD player is leveled as this is a vertical loader not the horizontal tray type typical found in smaller players.

 

 

 

TEAC PD-D2610 5-CD Carousel Changer with MP3 CD Playback

Excellent sound, little if any digital to analog distortion. Mechanism works well as expected. A friend said he didn’t know they still sell these old CD plalyers as he uses an Ipod dock. I find the sound quality slightly better than an Ipod dock. This CD player will handle MP3 music computer recorded in the data mode, which means that an ordinary CD can handle about 3 to 4 hours of songs. The shuffle mode works on data MP3 CDs. My only complaint, is that the CD player only shuffles one CD at a time. I would prefer to have it shuffle several times and then rotate to another CD. Also be careful when inserting the CD, as sloppy quick insertion can cause a jam up.

 

 

 

Pioneer PD-M426 6-Disc Magazine CD Player

This Pioneer magazine cd changer is the last of great home electronics products. The design is sleek and the sound is amazing. They focus on the fact that this is a cd changer and tried not to do more than what they should have. The fact that it is a magazine and not a carousel keeps my cd’s from being scrached or spinning freely making that horrible griding sound like in other cd changers. I would recommend this to anybody that wants a great and fun design, with great quality sound!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onkyo DXC390 6 Disc CD Player

This 6-disc CD changer from the audio experts at Onkyo is most definitely an unbeatable value. It’s sound quality clearly rivals that of other high-end players costing up to three times as much! The construction is very, very sturdy and the remote control is very easy to use. The sound quality is all-around-excellent with smooth and deep bass, an almost-crystal-clear midrange and a well-defined treble (highs). If you’re looking for a good CD changer priced at under $300.00 this is the one to get.

 

 

 

 

Sherwood CDC5090R Front Loading Carousel Multi-Disc Player (Black)

I bought this CD player to replace a Harman/Kardon FL 8400. I was extremely happy with the HK unit and was planning on just buying another
until I read the many reviews of discontented owners who purchased the FL 8385. I spent days searching the internet for other 5 disc CD players, only to discover that in the sub $200 category there was no consensus best buy. That could very well change as more and more people discover the Sherwood 5090. It’s a very nice CD player . The sound quality is excellent. Sherwood has an audiophile reputation and it shows. Particularly noticable is how much better burned CD’s sound compared to my HK FL 8400. Random one disc works great with very little delay between tracks. Random all disc is a tad slow however and is a bit noisy. The remote control works great and is well laid out. Great fidelity out of the headphone jack but it lacks a volume control. Changing discs while one plays is very smooth and efficient, allowing access to two discs at a time with each push of the skip disc button .The tray slides smoothly as well.
The combination of features, performance, fidelity and price makes this unit hard to beat. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

Yamaha CD-C600BL 5-Disc CD Changer (Black)

The only reasons I wanted and bought the Yamaha CD-C600BL 5-Disc CD Changer was for its 24-bit digital/analog conversion rate and the 5-disc capacity. I never had better than 16-bit D/A cd or dvd players; I read reviews here that convinced me to get a 24-bit D/A player. I have two new Denon AV receivers and older NAD stereo equipment, plus high-quality loudspeakers; so I was eligible to notice very superior sound.

I can’t compare the Yamaha CD-C600BL 5-Disc CD Changer to any other 24-bit cd player because I haven’t listened to others with my systems.

The package includes a stereo RCA phono cable, a remote w/batteries, and a bare-bones user manual that covers everything in direct and simple language. The connections include one left/right RCA phono plug output, one optical (Toslink) digital output, and a RS-232C terminal. However, the optical cable isn’t included with the package (nor is a serial cable for the RS-232C connection).

I’ve connected the player via the (‘analog’) RCA cables and also using the optical Toslink cable. I notice no audible difference between the connections. Why should there be any difference, anyhow? The digital information on the cd has been converted to analog by the player so that the preamplifier and amplifier can process it, and then send it in analog form to the ‘analog’ speakers.

If the cd’s digital signal is destined to be input to another digital processor or device, the optical digital cable would be the best way to make that connection (well, there’s also a RS-232C terminal, but it’s not as pure as the optical handshake).

In essence, connecting with the RCA plugs makes a perfect connection, just as perfect as the ‘digital’ optical cable makes.

The sound is obviously superior to 16-bit D/A players. Some meaningful sounds that weren’t audible are now audible; previously audible sounds no longer have any masking.

There must be one of those laws that applies here, but I don’t know of it: For each improvement in quality – more watts in a high-end amplifier, minimal harmonic distortion, full frequency response, precise loudspeakers, 24-bit digital-to-analog conversion rate – you can listen to the full sound at a lower volume. It saves your hearing in the long run.

Sure, the changer makes its mechanical noise when it rotates each disc into the laser reader. Vinyl record changers made more noise than that when the needle reached the label and jerked off the record (haha), when the tone arm swung out of the way and the next record plopped down – hey, if you couldn’t hear anything mechanical, your heart would be in your throat hoping nothing is broken. As I write this, the Yamaha cd changer is only some two feet from my ears, and I happen to like the sound of its carousel.

Be careful, though, when the tray is open as you’re adding or removing discs – the tray could close from your inadvertent pressure; it spins and closes fast; you could break a valuable fingernail on a guitar-playing finger.

Being an old hand with home audio gear, I can’t say if there’s anything difficult about the Yamaha’s set-up and use. I’d say it’s designed and made to be as plug-and-play as possible. For anyone who has passed the Audio 101 course, the Yamaha CD-C600BL 5-Disc CD Changer is super-intuitive. You know, buttons with arrows this way, arrows that way, and so on (or off). The product’s name speaks for itself: Yamaha Natural Sound Compact Disc Changer.

 

 

 

 

Onkyo C-S5VL C-S5VL Super Audio CD/CD Player

I listen to classical music and have almost a thousand CD collections. I own a number of CD players as well as dedicated DACs. To my ears Onkyo C-S5VL is the first CD player that is able to reproduce the violins in orchestra as “violins”. You could almost hear them being played individually as a group without sounding harsh nor bright. My Spendor BC1 now sounds almost up to its full potential. Many believe Wolfson WM8742 DAC is the best there is in terms of digital to analog conversion. Oh did I say C-S5VL also plays SACD. IMO a good recording of SACD disc with Onkyo C-S5VL is hard to beat. Heads off to Onkyo for the making of a good sounding affordable CD/SACD player.

**update**
I have this player for about 4 months. The strength of this player is its ability to select and use one of five different advanced digital filters that come with WM8742 (applicable to CD only, SACD uses different filters). Out of the five filters, the most notable one is Minimum Phase Anti-Alias Apodising filter (FIL 4). Minimum Phase Anti-Alias Apodising filter is regarded by many as a major break through in improving digital media play back quality in recent years (a filter of a similiar kind is implemented in Meridian 808.2 by a 150 MIPS processor and expensive customary circuitry). This particular filter not only removes the pre-echo artifact that is commonly associated with conventional CD players but also sweep away the digital “glare” that we have almost come to accept as inevitable when listening to music of digital media. To my ears when FIL 4 is employed musical instruments exhibit consistent and substantial improvement in timber, clarity, definition, and tonality. The resulting sound signature is close being analogue. Onkyo C-S5VL enables me to enjoy the music even after hours of listening.

 

 

Crosley CR247-PA Composer CD Recorder (Paprika)

The Crosley Composer is bit pricey, but it is possible to find a decent deal online. I bought this rather than the Songwriter because it has a few more bells and whistles for the same price.

Who will like the Composer: If you are MP3-literate, or you have a decent stereo and your computer is up to date, chances are you will not need the Composer as you can just get the software to run on your PC. If you are an audiophile interested in cleaning up and restoring/recording your LP’s to perfection, this probably isn’t for you either, as the “cleanup” is limited to a pre-set equalizer with five options (flat, classical, pop, jazz, rock). BUT – if you are, like me, someone who doesn’t want to shell out for a whole new computer and/or needed a new turntable anyway, I can’t recommend the Composer highly enough. It is easy to use, and in my opinion the results are extremely satisfying.

Aside from the PC/turntable issues, my LP collection is extensive and eclectic enough that it would have cost a fortune to replace it on CD’s and 75% of the stuff is not, and probably never will be, available on CD; hence the Composer came out as the most practical & affordable option. A friend has this unit so I was able to hear a sample before buying. I’m not a high-end audiophile but I wanted proper stereo recording, good clean sound quality & easy operation. The turntable accommodates 33, 45 ad 78 speeds.

The sound quality of the CDR’s is as good as, if not slightly better, than that of the albums. Let me be clear: if you treated your LP’s badly or your cassettes are starting to sound muddy, their faults will not be erased, but they won’t sound any worse, and the results may pleasantly surprise you. The pre-set equalizer settings do a nice job of adjusting the sound for the requirements of each style. There is a “track skip” button to make the machine recognize the breaks between songs so you can have a separate track for each one, or you can just let the whole album side record as one track. If you use the skip feature, you will definitely need to practice with it to get the hang of the timing and when to push the button so you don’t cut off the end or beginning of a song. When recording LPs I found that the “track skip” delay matched the gap on the album 8 times out of 10, so I usually stay nearby and lift the tone arm just a little and just for a second, to give the CDR recorder time to adjust. If you have two songs that blend together with no break, it’s best to let them record as one track. You can also stop the unit to turn over an album or cassette and resume recording in a new track. Lastly, there is a simple “Finalize” button which completes the writing of the file to the CDR (don’t forget this step!).

The Composer model also records from cassettes via a built-in unit. Some reviews warn that this component “breaks after a few uses”; I have done about 40 cassettes so far with no problem. My experience is that the open/close mechanism is a mediocre plastic door and it does stick a little sometimes (no worse than other cassette players I’ve had), but with a minimal amount of patience and finesse rather than force, you can resolve this problem when it happens. Even so, since the unit has an AUX input, you can probably plug in an external tape deck so it really isn’t an issue.

As with LP’s, if you are transferring a commercially pre-recorded cassette, there may be ample time between tracks for the “track skip” to register. If not you can either stop the tape for a second or just let Side 1 be Track 1 and Side 2 be Track 2. If you made a few favorite old “road mix” tapes and crammed every available mm of tape with sound, chances are you did not leave enough time for “track skip” to work, so let the side run.

I strongly urge you to get a few cheap CDR’s with which to practice using the unit and its features – at least practice two or three times with the timing on the “track skip” with both an LP and a cassette before you attempt a recording on an archive-quality CDR. It will take about four minutes to read the user’s manual. Replacement parts are also available from Crosley. Once you get the hang of using this unit, you will have an absolute blast getting reacquainted with your LP’s. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Marantz CD5004 CD Player (Black)

Let me start by saying that I am more of an analogue fan (I like the warm natural sound of lps). I also play bass so I like systems which can reproduce this instrument well.
I needed to replace a Carver 490t which after 20 years of use was starting to fail. I wanted something that sounded pretty good and that the kids could abuse.
This unit fits the bill. The Marantz CD5004 does not quite compare with my previous CD which has tubes and which was an exceptional unit for it era. I must say it however comes pretty close. The Carver was $1,200 when I bought it so I did not expect the Marantz could match it and it does not. Doing a side by side test reveals that the Carver is more musical and that it offers a larger sound stage. Its highs are also more natural and less sizzling. The bass is richer and more profound. The overall tone is warmer and more musical. All this is easy to notice with jazz or classical music. When it comes to rock and dance music, the Marantz does quite well because it actually beats the Carver for dynamics. The CD5004 is a hard hitting unit without being fatiguing to the ear. Doing a blind listening test, I could easily sort the Marantz from the Carver with jazz but not with rock.
I guess it speaks volume for Marantz that a $350 unit would come close to a $1,200 unit that was well rated for its era. Note also that the differences I describe can be heard if you pay attention and if you listen to this CD player on a good system. I tend to believe that anybody short of an audiophile would be quite satisfied with this CD player. It offers an amazing value for its price.
I added this review because there is very little written on this CD player.

 

 

 

Marantz CC4003 5 Disc CD Changer (Black)

I’ve always had mass-market cd players before, figured digital is digital, and never realized the difference that a higher quality player can make. This Marantz is a revelation. It brings my cds alive with a depth, vibrance, and clarity that I’ve never heard before. It’s also quite stylish, with the trademark Marantz curved edges. The buttons on the front of the unit are a bit small and obscure, but I like the remote. It’s got excellent functionality and the buttons are nicely sized. So far, my only quibble is that when you stop a cd in the middle it does not start back up at the same place, but goes all the way back to the beginning. And the changer tray seems potentially delicate. I’ll keep my fingers crossed on that one. Overall, I am very happy with this purchase.

 

 

Sony RCDW500C Compact Disc Player / Recorder

When it works it’s an awesome piece of Sony engineered home audio recording equipment…When it doesn’t it’s scrap pile. I can sympathize why some reviewers might have chucked theirs in the dumpster…

The first one I bought had some serious locking up issues;It just malfunctioned on the same day I purchased it.It even trapped one of my cd’s inside;to retrieve the cd back was no small feat without almost busting a knuckle.As I found out after removing the cover that space for the elevator/built in cartridge exchange mechanism is pretty tight. If you ever get a cd stuck in there, good luck!I immediately exchanged it for one that worked properly at my local electronics dealer.

This one has worked flawlesly for me for the past two years without failure ! I have not encountered any finalizing issues. Sony has crammed the RCDW500C with loads of features and then some. The only minor complaints I have is that you have to really read the manual from top to bottom,left to right, then try to memorize what some of it’s hidden functions are to get the most from this unit. The flourescent digital readout display is not user friendly. Also, the internal cd exchanging mechanism is very noisy and clunky for being a Sony.Previously, I owned a Philips carousel model that was extremely quiet and smooth in it’s mechanical operations and playback/recording functions.The downside of the Philips model was that it lacked the 4 times recording speed and the six cd holding capacity that I’m thrilled about with the Sony! Yet, it’s(Philips) flourescent display readout was extremely user friendly and easy to read.It literally would tell you in text exactly what you needed to know and what function it was performing or instruct you what you needed to do to achieve optimum recording results.It would guide you practically step by step in words on the display and not numbers or codes. The Sony doesn’t—it’s all just digital display numbers and codes(save that Sony instruction manual and guard it with your life!!). However, it gets the job done and then some with flying colors…I use mine mainly for vinyl to cd-r transfers and the results are awesome! Sonically, the music sounds much more crisp, clear and sharp than the original analog source.I don’t even use the SuperBit Mapping feature to enhance the sound;doesn’t need it.Also, the fact it can hold 6 cds for playback is incredible and versatile. Some of the functions, whether necessary or mere bells and whistles, are a pleasure to have and use.

If the readout display was easier to read,certain “hidden” button/rotary knob functions better laid out on the unit’s fascia and the exchange mechanism quieter, this would definitely qualify as Sony’s flagship CD-R machine and get a 5 star vote from me…

 

 

 

Crosley CR248-CH Songwriter CD Recorder (Cherry)

We bought this because we wanted to be able to put our old records onto discs. It does this very well. It also will put cassettes onto discs, but we haven’t tried that yet. It plays records, cassettes, discs, and radio also. It’s a good machine with one exception: the sound quality of its speakers is quite poor. However, by turning off its sound and routing it through our own speakers, it sounds fine. Only other quibble is that the remote isn’t so easy or intuitive to use, takes some learning to figure out. Overall, we are really glad we bought this item and it is doing just what we needed.

 

 

 

Crosley CR248 Songwriter CD Recorder – Paprika

We bought this because we wanted to be able to put our old records onto discs. It does this very well. It also will put cassettes onto discs, but we haven’t tried that yet. It plays records, cassettes, discs, and radio also. It’s a good machine with one exception: the sound quality of its speakers is quite poor. However, by turning off its sound and routing it through our own speakers, it sounds fine. Only other quibble is that the remote isn’t so easy or intuitive to use, takes some learning to figure out. Overall, we are really glad we bought this item and it is doing just what we needed.

 

 

 

Sony SCD-CE595 5-Disc CD/Super Audio CD Player

Sony hit a home run with this, the best SACD player on the market for the average guy making the switch to super audio. When I changed from stereo to SACD I first bought one of those player that does both SACD and DVD. Nyet!

I don’t care much about DVD and music is a large part of my life. I have collected classical recordings for 35 years and wanted to hear what those hybrid SACDs had to offer in SACD. My first experience was a nightmare; then I bought this machine.

Today I’ve listened to the Bach “St. Matthew Passion” highlights, Berlioz’ “Symphonie Fantastique” and, now, Bach’s “Two and Three Part Inventions” by Glenn Gould. Each of these SACDs delivers something a little different — the Bach was made last year and is true surround sound; the Berlioz was recorded in 1959 and is three channel without surround sound; the Bach, recorded in 1964, is SACD in stereo only.

But each of these recordings, when played on this machine, sounds like they were made yesterday. This machine is easy to set up, easy to use, delivers great sound and has five disk trays so you can load it and play it all day long.

This is an excellent machine for people that want to hear SACD disks and doesn’t cost much at most places. You’ll like it and you’ll really like the sound it produces for you.

 

 

 

 

Panasonic SC-HC40 Compact Stereo System

 

So maybe the packing box is still in my office and I still listening the the first couple of albums, but I’m quite happy so far. The system required a minimum of setup and all of it was intuitive. Ok, maybe I had to skim over the directions for linking and paring it to my Droid, but everything else was a breeze.

The sound is pretty good. I can adjust the simpistic EQ along with the bass and treble to compensate for my upper frequency hearing loss. The volume is enough to rattle the windows and I’ll be adding “Inna Gadda Da Vida” to my Droid as an “acid test.”

I like this little stereo. I takes very little room, looks clean, and is jammed with feaures–plays CDs, AM/FM, connects to a variety of sources with Bluetooh, and has an I-anything (almost) dock.

Unless it shuts down or blows up within the next couple of years or so, it’s a keeper.

 

 

 

Sony CMTBX20i Micro Hi-Fi Shelf System (Black)

I purchased this model at Best Buy for $109 after trying and returning an all-in-one Memorex shelf unit that was more expensive. I should remember that for the future, “Sony no baloney.” I have a larger Sony component system for the past 16 years which never gave me any trouble. I like this model for the following reasons:

1. Good sound. 50w total power makes a big difference compared with lower rated shelf systems. It will definitely fill a room without putting it on maximum volume.
2. Elegant design and white display. Shows clock when unit is powered off on standby.
3. Controls are easy to figure out on unit and on remote control.
4. CD is sliding tray type on the front. Not the top loading type with a button in the center. I hate those.
5. Headphones jack is in the front where I want it.

Be aware though, that the “EQ” is really just treble and bass controls from -4 to +4. There is no balance control. This was not really a disappointment. The sound is great.

What I didn’t like was minor:
1, The rear of the particle board speakers is not painted like the black enclosure. Depending on where you place the system it might not look as nice. You could always paint them yourself. I put mine where you won’t see this. If you put these speakers on a shelf, you won’t notice.

2. The supplied AM antennae is ok, but the FM antenna is just a single wire that attaches to a coax terminal. I could not get much reception where I put the unit. But that’s much better than systems that just have a single non-detachable wire coming out. Because, with the coax terminal I attached a $10 RCA FM/VHF/UHF antennae which works fine.

All in all I still give it 5 stars because it does the job for me with no headache.

 

 

 

 

Sony CMT-LX20i 10W RMS Total Power Output Micro Hi-Fi Shelf System

I was not certain of the value for money when I purchased the Sony CMT Hi Fi but from the reviews on Amazon I thought it was a safe purchase. I must say it more then met my expectations, the unit is compact but well designed and took up 1/3 less space than the unit it replaced (a “boombox” with two separate speakers) and weighed 2/3rds less. The sound quality is equal if not better and the iPod docking unit is seamless to use. I was impressed with the digital radio and the CD player is probably the least of the package but still works well. Overall I am very satisfied with the product.

 

 

 

 

Panasonic SC-HC20 Compact Stereo System

I was looking for an IPOD dock and found so much more in this little stereo system. I couldn’t find any reviews on this but I own other Panasonic products and thought I’d give it a try and am glad I did. It has a recharging dock/player for an IPOD or IPhone, a CD player, a radio and a clock! Its sleek and good-lookin’, small enough to fit on my dresser but has the power to send music throughout my second floor. I’m very picky when it comes to sound and was kind of worried that since I didn’t spend over $100 that I wasn’t going to be able to find something with great sound but this doesn’t disappoint! Clear and crisp – I’ve heard layers of music on this that I don’t hear from my bigger, much more expensive stereo system. This is a great little multi-tasker!

 

 

 

 

Sony MHC-EC709iP Mini Hi-Fi Shelf System

I brought a Thievery Corporation CD to Frye’s and tested every system in there. This had the best sound for the money BY FAR. I like my music to have powerful base and thought about getting the same system with the sub woofer, but the highs and mids were not clear on that one. This unit had great comprehensive sound–clear mids and highs with great base. All of the other systems in this price range couldn’t handle high volume and had around 150-170W, but this one maintained good sound as loud as I could turn it because of the 360W. The only drawback is that it’s a little bigger than I wanted for a shelf system.

 

 

 

JVC UX-PL5 CD Micro Component System

I’m what one might call an audiophile. I used to own a set of the renowned crystaline ESS speakers, $400.00 a piece list price. The Audio Technica phono cartridge on our direct-drive turntable alone was $250.00 retail. Our first receiver driving the wall-rattling pair was a 60-watts per channel JvC with 5-band graphic equalizer, also $600.00 list. It finally burnt out after 16 years, and the speakers and new Pioneer entertainment receiver got stolen during a move, but we always remember the quality sound and features, hence the decision to go with a JVC mini stereo. Though the UX-LP5 can’t be expected to compare to its predecessor, it’s about all our 12- by 14-feet studio apartment can handle. 70 watts maximum, relatively powerful for systems this size, is certainly loud enough. I don’t notice any distortion at high volume. The small black laminate on particle board bass reflex speakers are a testimony to recent advances in electronic technology, being no longer the tinny, staticy things you would expect, but decent, filling the room well acoustically with their upthrusted design. Maybe the lower frequencies are a tad muffy and fall more in the class of bass “impression” rather than bass boom, but you can’t get any better for the incredibly low price of this system. The Turbo Sound and Hyper Bass–akin to “loudness” on older sets–enhance them well enough. If you want better, you could probably upgrade to a pair of quality bookshelf speakers for an extra hundred. 35 watts per channel should be enough to obtain the full volume and frequency range in most makes of roughly equal size, but be sure to check the manual for the minimum power requirements. Optimum wattage should fall at least halfway between the minimum and maximum specifications, but don’t quote me on that. As for the UX-LP5′s other features, pretty good. Unlike some of the other new models on the market, it still has AM radio, a must in emergency broadcast situations. There are both AM and FM wired antennas you can place in different locations for the best reception. The CD/MP3 player sounds fine. We don’t have an I-Pod to test the handy drop-down dock. The mini Headphone and Audio In (aka AUX) jacks are conveniently located on the front panel. Our small HDTV has only perfunctory internal speakers, and we were pleased to harness the micro stereo ones for some semblance of a cinema effect via a 2-way male mini headphone jack connected from the TV’s headphone jack to Audio In. There is also a Video Out receptor in back of the unit to view I-Pod music videos on an external monitor. We hate the tiny, primitive, hard-to-operate remote. Headphone sound quality and separation are disappointing, and the blue “Demo” light display only dims temporarily, but you can’t have it all!!!

 

GPX HM3817DTBLK Vertical Home Music System with CD Player (Black)

This stereo is a good size for thr desk or any small place. Be aware that the speakers do not attach and there is no bal control for the speakers. Sound is not very bassy but the speakers are small…4″ dia. but otherwise they sound good. Nice features , remote is small and handy.
I still recommend this stereo for the Money.

 

 

 

Panasonic SC-HC30 Compact Stereo System

I bought this to replace a JBL OnStage iPod dock speaker that was malfunctioning. Today’s bookshelf stereos like this one, that include iPod docks, make it totally unnecessary to buy a unit that can *only* function as a speaker for your iPod. This unit is quite thin–thin enough that it can be mounted on a wall and not look weird. It does include wall mounting hardware. In spite of this, it produces satisfactory sound; output is around 30w per channel. The sleek design is nice, and I especially like the motorized sliding front panel. It slides one way to allow you to insert a cd, and the other way to allow you to plug in your iPod. iPod controls from the remote are intuitive and straightforward. Minus one star for the quirks with the clock and alarm as another reviewer had mentioned. Don’t buy this unit to replace your alarm clock.

 

 

 

 

Sony MHC-EC909iP Mini hi-fi music system

I have to give this system a beaming review. I have listened and used Denons, Teacs, and other audiophile equipment in the past and Sony once again delivers the goods here with this system. I bought this system to connect to my PC through the PC line-in on the front of the main unit/amp/cd player/ipod dock/radio and also to double an radio. I must say I am impressed by this system. The sound quality is clear without any distortion at normal levels. The dedicated sub-woofer does a good job at bass reproduction and is interestingly more responsive in its range then most sub-woofers playing notes all the way up to about the 3-4khz range. The loudness of these speakers is not to be messed with, these speakers can be quite loud if you ask them to be, to the point your hearing is definitely in danger if you are nearby the speakers, but can also be quite enough for listening to music or watching a movie late at night without disturbing anyone, and you can also turn off the sub-woofer so that low frequencies don’t travel through the waves and turn into vibrations that will disturb your neighbors. I can’t really comment on the Ipod dock, I use a Sansa Fuze instead so I never use the dock. I don’t mind the CD player having just one disc capacity as most on my music is on the computer and when I do use the CD player I only need one CD in when I use the music alarm feature on the stereo which will play your cd when you set the alarm to go off. Even if I did use the CD player more often, I wouldn’t mind especially since the digital-to-analog converter for the CD player is a nice one that delivers great response. Also as a added bonus it supports not only MP3 CDs but also CD-RWs as well, which was an advantage for me. To top it all off the aesthetics of the stereo are also very nice, and is a handsome piece of audio equipment. My advice, get this system its a great system for a great price that can live up to both general use as well as discerned ears. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

Sony LBT-ZX66i iPod Ready Mini Shelf System

I just got this system yesterday, but not on Amazon, and I definitely regret it. (I originally ordered directly from the [...] website…and it was a HUGE mistake. An absolute nightmare, more like it…I strongly suggest to anyone considering it NOT to buy from SonyStyle. It is extremely disorganized and second-or-third-rate – or worse – service) To make a long story short, the order ended up being cancelled, so I bought it directly from Best Buy (no complaints there however).
Now to the system – it is amazing. The sales rep at Best Buy tried to talk me into building my own system with speakers, a receiver, etc., but I was really just looking for the simplicity and convenience of an all-in-one system. And I got it. It sounds just amazing; the x-groove shakes the walls with bass, but turn it off and the clarity really comes through with still more-than-adequate bass. Lots of settings and effects to choose from, still haven’t used the iPod dock but looking forward to it once I get my new iPod Touch.
The system is pretty beefy and large, more so than any system I have ever owned, but really beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. The other lesser models of shelf systems in the store (Sony and other brands) just didn’t even come close to this one. They had a couple in the MHC-xxxx line and they sounded horribly muffled and inferior in my opinion.
I will be using this almost solely for music, and it seems to be everything I could want and much more. The price tag is pretty steep, and could probably come down a little bit, but I am satisfied that I got a really nice quality system for my money that will (hopefully) last a long time.
If I have any problems, I will update here, but so far I am throroughly impressed with this system.

 

 

 

Audiovox XMAS100 XM Compact Sound System

OK, so this is not a BOSE unit. You can tell because it says Audiovox on it. So don’t expect a BOSE sound system. That said, this is a nice little system. I even bought two. We have one in our office and one in our kitchen. They provide nice background music, and if we need to party down a little, they sound good turned up as well. If you want something to push your wineglass off the table as you sit there, better go with something else, but if you just want a portable sound system for your XM radio, this is a great option.

 

 

 

 

Bose Wave Radio II – Graphite Gray

The Bose Wave Radio II is easy to use, has top-of-the-line speakers and has a high-quality build. I use mine as a TV stereo speaker. The auxiliary input works for that function and what I like is that it doesn’t take up a lot of space next to the TV. Indeed, incredible sound for the size of the speakers. So why only four stars, not five? Because the Bose, for all the money it costs, is not a top radio performer. It has only average AM reception with its internal ferrite antenna and worse its FM relies on the power cord for what is truly a lame “antenna.” So as a speaker, the Bose is great but as a radio it is well below par. For hooking up to your TV, the Bose is outstanding. But as a bedside radio? No way. You would be better off buying a 159-dollar Sangean WR-2, a 259-dollar Sangean HDR-1, a 159-dollar Eton Sound 100 (my favorite for its retro look) or a 159-dollar Tivoli Songbook for your bedside. But if you’re integrating the Bose into your TV home entertainment system and you don’t mind spending the money and you’re not fastidious about your FM reception, then you will enjoy the Bose.

 

 

 

Sony MHC-EC69i Mini Hi-Fi Shelf System with Integrated iPod Dock 100W

I purchased this system for my home art studio. The size is great, fits on a small shelf. I like that it has a remote. The iPod dock is easy to use and conveniently folds up when not in use.
The sound is adequate for my purposes. And the price was exactly right. I am very pleased with this purchase and would recommend this system.

 

 

 

 

 

Audiovox XMBB1 XM Compact Sound System

Ordered this earlier this week, at first I received an XMAS100 boombox. Amazon was quick to overnight me the correct XMBB1 though once I reported the error. This gave me the opportunity to check out both the XMAS100 and the XMBB1.

I have the Delphi XpressRC headunit to be using with this boombox.

The quick and the short is I prefer the XMBB1, here’s why. It’s antenna has a neat little setup so it can be sleekly mounted on the rear of the unit flush with the surface, or you can extend it the full 21 feet to put it near a window etc. The XMAS100 only has the plug and no sleek interface to store it inside/on the unit, so the XMAS100 in my mind is for more of a permanent setup location. Also the XMBB1 runs off 8 C batteries, or the plug, whereas the XMAS100 only runs off the plug. These two features make the XMBB1 very portable, can take it to the beach, park etc and its all compact with its antenna and running off batteries. The XMAS100 does have a remote, but many of the XM headunits you’ll be attaching to this come with their own remotes anyways. The XMAS100 does look more sophisticated with its brushed aluminum finish, but the XMBB1 isn’t too bad either. Also the price of the XMBB1 is 33% cheaper than the XMAS100 right now. They both have AUX in for connecting another audio source if you wish. The sound on the XMBB1 is great, as is the XMAS100, can hear the base and its very clear. Hope this helps you decide.

 

 

 

RCA RS2768I 5-CD System with iPod Dock

Sound is okay. My complaint is, I chose this unit to be able to load 5 disks and shuffle amongst all 5. Nowhere on the box, or in the instructions, does it tell you that the unit will only shuffle play one disk at a time. To me this is misleading, as I have never owned a multi-disk unit for the car or the house, that didn’t shuffle play among all disks that were loaded. If this isn’t important to you, then this is a decent unit.

 

 

 

Yamaha MCR-040DG Micro Component System (Dark Gray)

I originally chose this product for someone else, who tasked me to find a great bookcase stereo to give as a gift. I ordered it and received it within two days via Amazon Prime. I installed and tested it on Christmas Day. It truly exceeded my expectations in every way. Very attractive layout and veneer, intuitive controls, solid feel, great sound quality. I tested the radio first, then the CD player, then the iPod dock. In all three cases, the performance was very impressive for such a small system. I would compare this very favorably to the Bose system that gets so much advertising. I’ve listened to that system in several peoples’ homes and although it’s a good system, I feel the sound quality and appearance of this Yamaha system is superior.

I liked it so much that I immediately ordered a system for our home. I ordered the green color for my friend, but I went with red for our home. It’s beautiful and looks very sharp. My wife and I both have iPhones, and we use this system to play our music libraries. It comes with a remote control, which is in itself a very nice little unit. Flawless performance and function. I really have nothing negative to say about this system. It is priced very fairly for its performance, build quality, and appearance. I see another reviewer commented that the speakers cannot be placed adjacent to the unit due to heat buildup. I don’t get this at all. The unit never gets hot, and the speakers are placed exactly as shown in the product photographs, that is to say “attached” to the main unit. There are zero issues with heat. I love this little system and I’m sure anyone who takes the chance on one without physically seeing one in the store will be delighted. Anyone have any comments on their experiences or questions, feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Home Theater Receiver

I picked up a 1020 over the weekend. I have been building custom cabinetry and needed a slimmer (and cooler) receiver for our secondary viewing room and the 1020 seemed to fit the bill in large part based upon a pleasant experience with the 919/1019 and the elite 21.

For reference, the 1020 is replacing an Onkyo 1007, which I really enjoyed, but was a bit big for the cabinet and largely unused with a baby’s bedroom nearly adjacent to the area. Keep in mind, the Onkyo weighs 52 lbs and draws nearly 11 amps – not a fair fight between the two.

In comparison to the 1019/919 (which powers my second and third zones), the 1020 looks very similar, but Pioneer removed the blue led power button (they did the same with the bdp-320 from the 51fd last year as well). The front panel buttons have been reconfigured slightly, but overall the two look very similar.

I have the 1020 configured as 5.1 plus wides. The speaker setup was pretty easy, but it appears that setting it up as normal plus wides would prevent you from operating Zone 2 despite the manual saying the contrary.

In terms of audio quality, the receiver sounds very good and similar to the 1019/919. That said, when turned louder (say -5db), it appears to lose its legs a bit sooner than the 1019. I heard a bit more distortion in playing music loudly (i was alternating the same speakers and source via speaker switch before I had the two connected). That said, I would think most folks would not be able to tell a difference at normal volume levels, but the power draw cut from last year does seem to manifest itself at loud levels in my amateurish testing. Please do not try to pull every thread in my comparison – just an average guy comparing the two side by side.

Running MCACC was as simple as other pioneer models, but the system did seem to be a bit too generous as to the speaker size of the speakers in my setup (audyssey classified them as small and set the individual speaker crossovers at 100hz). I have been using the wide listening mode and have found it reasonably effective in providing a broader sound array for the wide room. I will need more critical listening time to compare it to Audyssey DSX’s wide presence processing mode. Overall, I am pleased with the sound quality of the 1020, but it could benefit by a bit more power. I would caution about tying to drive large or inefficient speakers with this receiver if your listening preferences are very loud.

The remote is an improvement in that it is learning, but a step back in dark room navigation. Yes the keys glow in the dark, but labels are small and difficult to quickly identify. It is miles ahead of Denon’s odd remotes, but lacks some of the simple and easy to identify buttons of Onkyo.

The receiver has run cooly, which is an improvement from the space-heater my Onkyo could be.

The receiver does offer a really good listening experience for a very light (and presumably efficient) unit. That said, I do lament a few things: onscreen osd – at least volume/source/audio codec; a slightly ergonomic remote; and assignable speakers to let you customize presence and zone 2.

Overall, I am happy with the unit and pleasantly surprise how cooly it runs.

 

 

 

 

Pioneer VSX-820-K 5.1 Home Theater Receiver

After trying a Denon, and two Yamaha’s, I finally hit gold with the Pioneer VSX-820.
This is a superb receiver in all regards. It produces clear crisp sound in all modes.
There are no lip synch issues at all when linked to my HDTV. I had terrible lip synch problems with the Denon. It has all the features I need and more and has an excellent remote that is both intuitive and comprehensive. I use my receiver for CD’s, FM radio and my Samsung HDTV. I use DishNetwork for my TV programming.

The VSX series is Pioneer’s newest and includes several models all the way up to the 1120.
However, when you read the specs, all these receivers have the same tuner and power plant. The higher the model number, the more numerous the features. But no increase in output.
That makes for an easier buying decision. You don’t compromise power for features if you chose a mid range model like the 820 or 920. I noticed that the Denon and Yamaha receivers I tried were made in China. The Pioneers are made in Japan. I’ll go with Japan for high quality electronics every time. Pioneer has hit a homerun with this new series of receivers.

Update January 20,2011

My accolades now need to be tempered back. As with all ‘features’, they are only good
as long as they last. The IPOD interface on my VSX 820 died today in mid-song. I reviewed the manual and took the steps recommended, including resetting my IPOD with
no results. The IPOD works just fine. So I will no longer be able to hear my songs
thru my system but will instead have to be satisfied with just using the headphones.
Very disappointed with the lack of durability of this Pioneer receiver.

 

 

 

Onkyo TX-SR608 7.2-Channel Home Theater Receiver (Black)

As others have said, the two 1 star reviews do not review this new Onkyo 608 (makes no sense to me).

Anyway, I absolutely love my new Onkyo 608. I never review stuff, but I wanted to give props to this receiver. I was debating between this one and the new Pioneer 1020. However, I’ve heard that the amps in the Pioneers don’t compare to the amps in the Onkyos. Though I cannot verify the truth of this, I do believe that the amp in the Onkyo is of a very high quality. I have already noticed a tremendous amount of power increase over my previous Yamaha receiver (the model that was included with the Yamaha 390 HTIB). This puts out a lot more sound, and I absolutely love the ability to take advantage of HD audio. I noticed a huge fidelity difference in the compressed Dolby Digital track for Dark Knight and the Dolby True HD. The track was intended to include a lot of bass, and the HD includes all of it. The regular Dolby did not compare. Thus, HD audio is definitely worth having if you own a blu-ray player. Just like video quality (some transfers are better than others; aka reference quality), not all sound tracks will have a huge difference, but to me, it’s still worth it. Back to the Onkyo: I love it. There are so many settings that you can tweak. If you like the ability to configure your equipment, you will love this receiver! You can also bi-amp with this receiver, which is nice if you don’t have 7 speakers.

 

 

 

Onkyo TX-SR308 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver (Black)

Was looking to upgrade my onkyo 6.1 receiver that I purchased 7 years ago. I came across this model at a local electronic store and was blown away by the sound and price.

It will decode DTS-HD Master audio and Dolby True HD. Which is important to me, because I just moved over to blu-ray and wanted the best sound possible for play back. I hooked up my new sony BDP-S570 blu-ray player and put in Avatar as a test movie. I running a HDMI cable to the Onkyo and a HDMI out to the TV. When the movie finally started, I couldn’t get DTS-HD Master audio to come on the receiver. After some research you need to make sure your DVD player is not decoding the audio and sending it to your reciver to decode. Once I got this fixed and saw the DTS-HD master audio I was very impressed. My kids stopped what they were doing and came over to HEAR the movie and not just watch like last time.

Again, This Onkyo rec is a Great buy for under $300 and is also future proof for when 3D TV goes main stream in the next year of so.

P.S. Currently run my Cable box, PS3 and Blu-ray player via HDMI and all work very well with sound and picture.

 

 

 

Yamaha RX-V667 7.2-Channel Home Theater Receiver (Black)

I’ve always been impressed by Yamaha products and this receiver is no exception. It’s a 7.2 channel receiver that packs an insane amount of features into a modest price.

Before I made the purchase, I called Yamaha’s customer service guys and asked them a few questions and they were able to answer everything for me. I got right to a person who spoke English and they knew their products (and actually said they had a full lab for testing stuff).

So I bought the receiver and hooked it up to my 3D TV setup, along with my Wii (component), X-box 360 (HDMI), DirecTV DVR (HDMI), Yamaha YDS-12 iPod dock and 3D Blu-ray player (HDMI). It was easy to install and I still have plenty of HDMI inputs left for future expansion. I ran the YPAO auto setup and it was over before I came back from getting a snack in the kitchen. It properly detected all of my 7.2 speakers and everything appears to be working as intended.

I must say that I really love the onscreen GUI menu. It’s an animated display that overlays on top of whatever I’m watching, including the 3D content from DirecTV and my BD player.

I wanted a receiver with a powered Zone 2 so I could run a pair of speakers on my porch and this receiver handles that task no problem. Setup was easy, I just followed the PDF owner’s manual that came in the box.

I haven’t tried the HDMI Audio Return Channel yet, but I do plan on using it in the future.

 

 

 

Sony STR-DH510 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver [3D Compatible]

After much research, this is one of the only economically priced surround-sound amps that decodes the surround-sound information in the amp itself before passing video on up to the TV. Many of the HDMI switching amps out there only switch the video, and do NOT decode surround (due to the DRM encryption on some HDMI signals) only 2ch PCM.

Look over Sony’s site, they have alot of good info for this unit. For the price it would be really hard to beat.

Nice Stuff:
-Surround decode from the HDMI sources
-The remote also controls my Sony Blu-ray player
-The Main L-R speaker outs are selectable to use either full range speakers, or small surround speakers
-You can Name all the inputs whatever you want
-For a small home theater, sound quality is good
-auto shut off after 30mins of inactivity

Not so nice stuff
-Only three (3) HDMI inputs, i could have used more for later, but for now all I needed was my DishNetwork box, Xbox and blu-ray
-Only one of the three digital audio inputs (2 optical, 1 coax) is programmable to any input. This would have been nice to be able to assign any of them to the remaining analog video inputs
-Analog video inputs (Wii in my case) do not go out the HDMI output. While I didn’t expect this, it would have been a nice touch. As it is I have to change my TV’s input to play Wii. This is no biggie, but it would have been nice!

In summary, this is a great replacement amp if you already had an older surround unit, or if you want to pick and chose your speakers. Like I said, it’s nice that it has a built in selectable crossover for the main L-R speakers.

My last Sony amplifier has lasted nearly 8 years. The only reason for me to replace it was to make switching video sources easier.
There, this is my 2ยข on the matter

 

 

 

 

 

Onkyo TX-SR508 7.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver (Black)

I bought this to replace my Sony receiver I purchased from Amazon 3 years ago (almost to the day). While there was nothing “wrong” with my Sony receiver, I quickly realized once I plugged the Onkyo in, that my surround speakers were not being utilized as they should be.

While I am not an audiophile, I do have some quality speakers, and I do like having a quaility sound while watching movies (and playing Xbox). The sound is so clear and crisp with this receiver. Further, the set up with the 4 HDMI inputs made my stereo cabinet so much cleaner, and I got rid of all of my YRW and RBG wires. I am sure I could have invested another $300 and really got some really high end equipment, but honestly, the Onkyo is worth it. The funny thing is, I spent the same amount on the new Onkyo as I did on the old Sony, and the difference is just amazing.

The on-screen set up is great. It makes customizing the inputs and the equilizer so easy. And the speaker test really lets you know what where you need to place you speakers. What else can I say about this product? Honestly, this is the best purchase I have made in a long time. I think the 4 HDMI inputs alone make this a must-have over any other receiver similarly priced. I almost bought another Sony instead of the Onkyo (mostly because I have never purchased anything other than Sony receivers), but I am glad I made the switch. Now that I have experienced Onkyo, I think I have made a life long switch.

If you have any hesitations about buying this product, please feel free to send me a message, and I will try to answer your question before you buy. And if you have never bought an Onkyo before, try it first, and I am pretty sure you will like it (I would almost guarantee it). If not, return it to Amazon. They are really good with returns. But I doubt you will even want to return it once you get it set up.

 

 

 

Sony STR-DH810 7.1-channel A/V Receiver with 7 HD Inputs [3D Compatible]

I purchased this receiver a few days ago and waited until I ran it through as many set-ups and combinations as I could in order to be as thorough in my review as possible. The STR-DH810 has been able to easily handle everything I’ve thrown at it through every type of cable imaginable and has only had one flaw that I’ve noticed: upscaling a composite video signal to 1080p (from a Nintendo 64 in this instance) seems to come with some flicker to the upscaled image, but flicker was solved by changing the resolution to 480p or 1080i. My only fault with the input set-up in the back is that there are no audio inputs that correlate directly with the component video inputs, so when I want to hook up a Wii or Xbox with component cables I have to hook the audio cables up to different inputs. Therefore, I have to have the L/R audio cables plugged into the BD composite audio input and reprogram where the video signal comes from in order to have the video and audio programmed to the same input selection. Because of this I had to do some unconventional reassigning of inputs, but since each input can be named by the user it is simple enough to keep track of.

Programming the remote to work with all of my components was very simple. Everything is working smoothly together, especially by utilizing Bravia Sync with a PS3.

5.1 and 7.1 DTS-MA and Dolby TrueHD have been handled perfectly and the 7.1 set-up has given my living room a sound field that I wouldn’t have believed. I prefer to calibrate my speakers by my own ear, but using the Auto Cal option to see how well it works was a very pleasant surprise, and trying to fool the mic by placing it in tough spots was harder to do than one would imagine. As long as the environment is quiet during the Auto Cal, then the calibration will do a fantastic job. I preferred to do a few tweaks of my own after the Auto Cal, but for the most part I felt that it was spot on.

This seems to be a fantastic starting receiver for the price, and the only reason I could see to upgrade to the STR-DH1010 would be for HDMI 1.4 support for 3D. If 3D isn’t your concern then this receiver is the way to go.

 

 

Samsung SWA-5000 Wireless Receiver

Purchased for my Samsung home theatre system because I didn’t want to wire my rear speakers. This wireless transmitter has worked perfectly and makes the home theatre system look awesome. Sounds incredible! Makes watching movies a totally different experience and has transformed our room into a home theatre! Setup took less than 5 minutes. Highly recommend! Excellent price!

 

 

 

AudioSource AMP-100 2-Channel Bridgeable Stereo Power Amplifier

My stereo configuration is four KLH outdoor “rock” (they look like pieces of granite) speakers, an IPOD, and a ten-inch deep book shelf that I wanted to use as the location for the amplifier. I looked at Fry’s, Best Buy, and Circuit City and couldn’t find anything that was compact enough to fit on the bookshelf unless I went really high-end with a Bose setup. I had a spare Sony surround receiver that worked fine, except that it didn’t fit the shelf, plus I wasn’t really looking for all the bells and whistles of the receiver because I won’t be using this setup to watch TV, my CD’s are all on iTunes now, and I get crummy radio reception at my house. So, the technical requirements were to be able to drive the four speakers using a line-in level input coming from the IPOD. Pretty simple.

Anyhow, I purchased the Audiosource AMP100 amplifier on Amazon (to my consternation they dropped the price 3 bucks between the time I placed the order and when I received it) and it arrived in about a week using the free shipping option. It came well packed and sealed, and was as simple to set up as you’d expect of a unit like this. So far, I have tested it once and it worked fine, in fact it sounded a little better than the Sony. All four speakers were being driven normally in A+B mode. I haven’t tested the auto-on feature, but it allows the box to power up automatically when it senses a signal on one of two audio inputs. The power plug on the back of the unit is unswitched (always powered). If I have any problems with the unit I’ll update this post, but so far, so good.

 

 

 

Sony STR-DH100 2-Channel Audio Receiver (Black)

I have to say up front that I’ve only spent a week with my new Sony and my opinion may change but due to the lack of reviews here are my first impressions: This is a very capable receiver, nicely built with a useful and easy to understand remote. I, like most people reading this, was looking for a second receiver to put in my den to listen to cd’s, mp3, and internet radio. My main Home Theater Receiver is a Denon. The Sony has a nice full sound and is easy to adjust to your liking. There are bass and treble controls on the remote, a plus for me. So far I am happy with the sound but I can tell something is lacking, a depth or warmth, whatever you want to call it, I imagine the Onkyo 8255 has what I really want but at 50 less watts per channel and $50.00 more in price. To be honest I don’t know if the trade off is worth it but for those of you who have been trying to decide which one to buy I made my decision to try the less expensive new model from Sony first, then after a week or two if I am not sold, I’ll probably return it and buy the Onkyo. I will say that the 96db s/n ratio is better than some alternatives like the Teac and Sherwood. If you’ve been looking for receivers in this price range you know there isn’t a huge variety so with that in mind I would recommend this receiver over any other similar priced model with the Onkyo being the exception. The Sony has a nice full sound, the tuner works great, it has a sleep timer and a nice quality feel, that counts for something. Sound being subjective, I think I am a little spoiled by my Denon but this Sony does sound better then the Yamaha it replaced. REVIEW UPDATE:
Now that I have gotten to know this receiver inside and out and have spent over a month listening to various kinds of music through my polk Monitor 30 speakers, I can say that this Sony receiver is very well built and has a good clean sound, it was a bit harsh at first but now that it is being used daily I really enjoy the sound coming through the speakers. The remote is very nice and the buttons are laid out in a way that I can easily use the remote without looking at it. Music is very clear, full of bass and treble and a bit of the warmth of my Denon, something that I was hoping would happen as I first wrote that it lacked “warmth”. For the money you can’t go wrong, everything I play sounds very good and there is no distortion even when turningthe volume up considerably loud. If you are on the fence about this, do what i did, buy it and try it out and if you don’t think it is worth the price you can always return it, that’s the great thing about Amazon, no hassles!! Anyway, I highly recommend the Sony STR-DH100.

 

 

 

Polk Audio RC85i 2-Way In-Wall Speakers (Pair White)

The livingroom in our new home just doesn’t have a place for free-standing speakers due to the floorplan (very open to the rest of the house, with a fireplace in the front corner). This ruled out using my existing (high-end) theater speakers (large towers).

I went to the local big-box store, and the only set of in-wall speakers they had that I thought were worth buying were a set of Klipsch that came in at $600 per set. I almost went for them, but after measuring I found they were about 2″ too wide for where I needed to install one of them. The $300 Infinity set sounded horrible. They didn’t sell Polk Audio or Boston Acoustic, which was actually what I wanted to look at.

So … I figured at $140 from Amazon, the RC65i’s were worth a shot. I’m glad I did – price vs. performance these are an excellent set of speakers. Decent dynamic range, and actually a surprising amount of bass if you don’t have a subwoofer (though I recommend having one – you can only get so much out of a 6″ speaker).

Now … are these “amazing” speakers? Well … no. They do not compare to my aforementioned towers. Those towers were also $900 a piece. They also are not nearly as good as the $600 Klipsch in-walls I looked at. If you think you’re going to get amazing clarity and dynamic range for $70 a speaker … you’re going to be disappointed.

What these are is a great everyday speaker that will sound decent to most people under most conditions. They are a *slight* bit muddy, but not for the price range. That’s the thing you really have to do is compare them to other speakers you could buy for so little money. And even some that cost a little more – the Infinity set I listened to at the big-box store was twice the price and didn’t sound any better.

It also helps if you have a good receiver that lets you control the dynamic range being sent to your speakers. I have a high-end Yamaha that allows me to cut the low frequencies out of the main channel and only send them to the sub (12″ powered down-fire). Doing this, you get rid of most of the “muddy” issues.

Summary: Can’t beat them if this is how much money you want to spend. Period. I liked them so much for my application that I ordered a set of rc55i (the smaller ones) and installed them for the back surround channel. When I finish the basement I’m thinking of getting some of these (rc65i) to use for the back-channel.

 

 

 

 

 

Sony SS-CN5000 Dual 5.25 Center Channel Speaker (each black)

I own a Htib with tiny satalite speakers and a big subwoofer. I really liked the features and looks of my home theater system but I must admit that it was a bit of a strain listening to conversations on broadcasts and dvds. Rather than start from scratch I replaced my center speaker with this and the left and right speakers with the sony ssf-5000 floor speakers.

Now its amazing the how great movies and broadcast are with this speaker especially since I paired it with the floor speakers!

I was afraid it wouldn’t be good quality or poor audio since I didn’t audition it before buying, but I am very pleased and since owning I’ve compared center speakers at best buy and circuit city and see how this stacks up well in size and craftmenship to speakers that cost alot more money.

 

 

 

Polk Audio Monitor 30 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers (Pair Black)

First, don’t be mislead by the price. The Polk Monitor 30 has great potenial and a huge bargain at its close out price (replaced by TSi series which is nearly identical). A bookshelf with depth, both in that it protrudes twelve inches from front to rear when placed on a wall, and, also, provides ample bass for its stature. It matches well with Polk’s CS1 or CS10 center channel speaker for surround systems as a front and surround channel, or can be paired with the larger M40 bookshelf, or M50 and M60 towers as a surround speaker. It should be able to outperform most satellite speaker systems, but will stand out prominently from the wall when hung from it’s bracket. On opposite end of the hanging bracket, short legs keep the speaker evenly spaced from the wall and allow the rear port to breathe.

Since both Polk’s Monitor/TSi bookshelf and center channel speakers provide ample levels of bass (55Hz), it offers more flexibility when used with a subwoofer than small satellite speakers. Subwoofer crossover can be set lower allowing the sub to handle the lower frequencies with more detail. While crossover with a satellite speaker generally should be set no lower than the 120-150Hz area, which is at the uppermost range of most subwoofers, the M30 can easily be adjusted down to the 60-80Hz area. Of course the extra speaker size can take more power and produce more volume than satellites, as well.

However, for front channel use the Monitor has limitations. For mid size rooms the Monitor 30 is a bit small as a front channel and noticeably lacking in bass detail no matter what the room dimension. There are bookshelfs that use larger mid/woofer drivers or at least two 5 inch drivers (and one tweeter) that can produce quite a bit more detail and volume in the lower frequencies. However, you’ll have to spend at least $300 for such a pair that match the clarity and quality design of the Monitor 30. The other option is to purchase the Monitors for $100 and spend an additional $100-200 on a subwoofer to have even greater range than the larger bookshelfs.

I use four Monitor 30′s as surround and rear channels in a fairly spacious room (16×24 & vaulted ceiling) with Polk Monitor 60 towers and CS1 in the front. Though the 30′s are much closer to the listener than the fronts, the levels must be adjusted a couple of decibels higher to make surround effects really come out. In fairness, the front channels employ eight 5.25″ drivers versus only two to four drivers depending on 5.1 or 7.1 soundtrack. While listening to music, I prefer using Dolby ProLogicIIx (7.1 surround), rather than two channel stereo. Since the Monitor 30′s match so seamlessly with the other speakers, the soundstage is opened up and less volume is needed.

Again, don’t let the price fool you. There are many steeply priced speakers using same size drivers that will only marginally outperform and sometimes underperform the Monitor 30. The Dynaudio 52SE for example, costing around $1,000, when tested by Audioholics produced great lower bass until it bottomed out due to lack of internal bracing and overall driver design. When given time to break-in, matched appropriately with other speakers, and tuned with the latest A/V Receivers, the 30 can be a very solid performer.

 

 

 

X-Mini MAX II Capsule Speakers Color BLACK

I saw the C-Net review, and yup, these live up to it. I use these with my little tiny re-furbed 8gb fuze. The sound is broad, deep and very full. Lots of bass, treble and mid-tones. The sound fills the room. If you have concrete walls it will rock your space from end to end. Panel covered walls, about 3/4 the distance. Outside, these things are just amazing. They look cool, charge up quickly and use a standard mini-usb. You don’t have to use both at once, but you will want to because they are ‘real’ stereo as opposed to two speakers that just repeat the same sound. And they are very, very clear and sweet.

They weigh almost nothing and tuck up into an egg shape. The magnets that hold them together are very strong. I haul these around in my purse all day and they do not come apart. There is no storage compartment for the little charging cord (which also connects the speakers). The cord is about the size of a standard set of ear buds and wraps up nicely around the speakers if you want to do that. Keep it where you keep your ear buds.

There just is nothing else like these. The iHomes are clones of this design, more expensive, and they don’t have the bass these do. These are made in Singapore by Xmi Pte Ltd and assembled in China. The x-mini is their original design. I have seen these cloned a lot, but nothing sounds like these.

So for a small amount of money you can get a seriously cool set of speakers to carry around in your bag! I got rid of a logitech blade to get these. These are not quite as loud as the blade but it’s OK.

Special bonus – these come with an additional cord you can use to attach other X-minis to! You can make your own x-mini parade of dancing little egg things and put them anywhere. I am not sure if you improve the sound by doing that, but you certainly spread it around more. Plus it looks goofy. You can attach another set of these or up to (I think) 16 of the single x2s. They are the kind of thing you want to collect – they work, are really small, and are rechargeable so I can see this catching on.

The egg shaped ones are getting harder to find. I probably paid less for these than you will here on Amazon. When I shopped for prices I just went with an Amazon prime shipper because it worked out to be less. I did notice other places had sold out or were waiting on replenishment. So if you see them, grab them. If you don’t like it you can probably resell these for what you paid for them or possibly a little more if they stay popular. I think they will.

 

 

 

Yamaha NS-AW150W 2-Way Outdoor Speakers (Pair White)

I read the excellent reviews for these speakers and was skeptical. However, the price was right so there wasn’t much risk. So . . . I bought a pair. The reviews were spot on. They sound is terrific, the price was unbeatable, and look is very acceptable (even to my Interior Designer wife). Unless you are an audio perfectionist, you’ll never get a better price/performance value.

 

 

 

Bose 161 Bookshelf Speaker System (Black)

Admittedly I’m a music lover, not a technophile. I’m more interested in Charlie Watts than I am in watts per channel. But my ear is well tuned and I know what sounds good. It would seem that there is some Bose backlash out there; perhaps in response to the Rolls Royce reputation it’s carried through the years. I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care.

I will tell you that I bought my pair not as part of a surround system but as bookshelf speakers for my small home office and I couldn’t be happier. They’re attractive, have a low profile, and provide total range at all volumes. I tested them in the store with CDs that had lots of challenging highs, sizzling cymbals, that sort of thing. The definition was clear as can be. When you crank them up the sound holds together beautifully, no mud, no distortion. I find that solo piano is another good way to test speaker clarity, I went with The Koln Concert by Keith Jarrett and the results were mesmerizing.

As far as bass response is concerned, good grief, what’s the fuss? Even at low volumes I can hear Mingus plucking the strings, when I listen carefully I can even hear him dropping ironic hints. As to the higher register, that’s where the clarity of these speakers really shines, Stephanie Mills soars and swoops like an angel.

Then of course there are those irresponsible moments when I simply must blow off a little steam. Out comes the Coltrane, Ayler, Dolphy, Hendrix, Winter, Tower Of Power and up goes the volume. The desk toys start dancing because everything in the room is vibrating. Even then, these unassuming monsters deliver like tomorrow might never come. I’ve held minority opinions in the past and I’ll hold another here, as far as I’m concerned these speakers are fantastic and actually under-priced.

 

 

 

Polk Audio PSW10 10-Inch Monitor Series Powered Subwoofer (Single Black)

While I was looking for sub-woofer I was comparing PSW10 and PSW404. PSW404 sounds better but for the price $110 vs. $250 at J&R I opted for PSW10. The sale representative dropped the price for me even though they still selling PSW10 for $200 here. Those of you who worry about no LFE input, that shouldn’t be a problem. All you have to do is connect the sub-woofer output of the receiver to either the right or left input on the sub-woofer. And then set the variable low pass filter on the sub-woofer to the highest setting. This will set the internal low pass filter above the low pass filter frequency given by your receiver and create an LFE input. Or you may use a RCA cable to provide a connection to both inputs on the sub-woofer from the LR pre-out from the receiver. Then adjust the cross over frequency from the woofer as desired. It sounds a little louder and better for me. I bought Monster sub-woofer cable and it sounds no better than RCA cable. Try not to waste your money on this. It has 7.4 out of 10 in CNet rating and it is #6 in editor’s top list for sub-woofers. I matched PSW10 with R300, RTi4, R150, CSi3 and Denon 1906 receiver. Mainly used for HDTV over the air, DVD movies and some FM. It sounds a lot better than the sub-woofer from RM6750. It carries 5 years warranty but make sure you buy from Authorize dealer. For the price I paid I am more than happy with it. I hope this helps to your decision.

 

 

 

 

Polk Audio PSW505 12-Inch Powered Subwoofer (Single Black)

Polk Audio is still making great speakers. I bought my first pair almost 30 years ago in 1978, had them for almost 25 years till I replaced them with smaller ones with a Velodyne sub. When my overpriced Velodyne sub went out on me last month, I decided to give Polk Audio a try since my first experience with Polk was so good. All I can say is that I’m glad I went with the 12″ and for the approx $300 price tag, it sounds as good if not better than my high end $800 Velodyne sounded. For the extra $75 or so, get the 12″ as opposed to the 10″, you’ll be glad you did.

 

Sony SA-W2500 Performance Line 100 Watt Subwoofer

If you’re thinking about buying a subwoofer, it is unlikely that you are a garden variety movie fan or lover of music. People looking for subwoofers usually already have a decent system, but know that there is something lacking.

When it came for me to buy one, three factors weighed in my decision: power, brand, and (of course) price. I’ve grown up with what I have always believed to be a ‘healthy skepticism’ when it comes to Sony products. My father had an early generation (1990ish) 5.0 Sony 250 Watt surround amp that performed extremely poorly in just about every function. The only advantage it had over his earlier (1978) Rotel non-tube amp is that it had multiple component inputs. The sound quality of the 50 Watt rated Rotel amp blew the Sony out of the water.

In my search for a subwoofer, I was surprised to find so many good reviews of the Sony line. I was looking for a better name than Sony, but when I compared prices, I was compelled to give the Sony at least a listen. Comparable subs by Velodyne and others were far more expensive (double the cost of the Sony or more). Listening to the Sony at the stereo shop, I must say that I was extremely impressed.

Is the Sony sound as good as the Velodyne or other high end subwoofers that cost 2-3 times as much as the Sony? Of course not, but I quickly discovered that difference in sound quality was not at all closely related to the difference in price.

Keep in mind that this is one of Sony’s smallest and lightest subs (only 25 lbs), but once I brought it home and hooked it up to my 6.1 surround system and configured the frequency and volume on the back of the sub, it seamlessly expanded the low end range of my system for music and movie playback. Before I learned (by experimenting with them) how to adjust the levels on the back of the sub, it was quite boomy and there was a bit of a gap between the low end on the six surround speakers and where the sub picked up. When I made the appropriate adjustments, by trial and error, I found that this sub is an extremely versatile fit for my home. My family room is 17′x14′, and the back opens into a 10′x15′ living room, and the sub easily fills the room. When I crank the system for rock and roll music and movies, the sub has no problem keeping up and is easily capable of playing more loudly than is safe or enjoyable.

Would I have liked a bigger sub made by a better brand? Sure, but this one does the job (and then some) admirably, and for less than half the cost. This sub gets 4 stars as a product, but I gave it 5 because of the extremely good value. If you have a big budget and can afford to spend what it would take to buy a speaker that actually sounds better than one of these Sony subs, go for it, you will not be disappointed. On the other hand, if you would rather spend less on a sub and still get excellent power and sound quality, this is as good as it gets without spending several hundred dollars.

 

 

 

Mirage MM-6 miniature High-Performance Subwoofer (Black)

Until recently the speakers on our Pioneer Elite plasma were rarely used since all the audio is sourced through a Bose Lifestyle receiver. However, we recently added a new Home Threatre PC to the mix – mainly to get access to the many internet streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu etc and to play foreign region DVDs and Blu Rays. The PC is connected via HDMI and hence both video and audio are sent to the TV (we could have configured the audio to be routed through the Bose system as well but it would have required an extra cable and we were maxed out with the number of components that are attached to the Bose (so we would have to disconnect one in any case). Also, there was the hassle of turning on another device – our Sony HTPC turns on and controls the Pioneer TV just like it was a monitor. The inbuilt HDMI control turns on the TV automatically and turns it to the correct input when the PC is turned on and when the TV is turned off the PC also goes into hibernation. Everything worked perfectly except the audio from the TV’s attacked speakers lacked substantial bass.

Another problem we had was that we live in a high rise condo and space is a premium so we didn’t want a large sub. The Mirage MM6 was the best fit in terms of aesthetics and performance that we could find. The finish of the MM6 matches the TV perfectly. Also, the Pioneer Elite TVs already include a subwoofer connection that is active so all we needed to do was to plug in a cable from the sub out from the TV to the MM6.

The sound of the MM6 is very detailed and balanced and does not sound muddled or booming like a lot of cheaper subs. The difference to the overall audio quality is quite substantial to say the least. One way to tell is how the THX audio demo sounds (some Disney movies have them at the start).

Great aesthetics and performance. Set up was really easy and you can pretty much put these anywhere and still the sound is excellent.

 

 

 

Infinity Classia PSW310CH 10 Powered Subwoofer with Dual 10 Passive Radiators (Single Cherry)

I have been using this subwoofer for a few months now. It replaced Yamaha YST-SW315 10-Inch Digital Pro Series Subwoofer. I saw this one on sale and figured since it has a stiffer cone, with that ceramic/aluminum material, it might sound snappier.

I am not disappointed, it does not sound as muddy as the yamaha did. (not that the yamaha was horrible) (plus the yamaha was downward firing and I have wooden floors, this fires to the sides, I think it has one live and 2 passive perpendicular to the active one)

Both were automatically configured by audyssey on denon avr-2809ci. It seems to have more punch as well, because visitors started complaining once I hooked it out instead of the yamaha.

But, I do not use the wireless method of connection (but it came with everything needed and for the 5 minutes I tested it, it seemed fine). I have it connected directly to the receiver.

It was also easier to set level of for the audyssey auto calibration, but I am not sue if that was because I already did it before, or because it is sending out the sound better).

I also do not play anything really loud, but at low and medium volumes, I am quite happy with this. Even then it makes everything shake :)

 

 

 

Onkyo SKW204 Bass Reflex Powered Subwoofer (Black)

Believe it or not, I had never owned a powered subwoofer until I purchased the “Onkyo SWK204″ after researching what I might need to complete my sound system after adding a new Panasonic Plasma HDTV, a Sony Blu-Ray DVD, and a new Sony receiver. After a week of listening to the SW in my home, I am thrilled with the purchase.

The “Onkyo SWK204″ Bass Reflex powered subwoofer has a built in 230 watt amp which is more than adequate for the home theatre system I have installed in my large living/family room. It is a 10″ cone subwoofer that is attractive yet non intrusive in a basic black with silver cone and sturdy enough weighing in at 26 pounds.

I am NOT a techie so I will only say that with so many of the new movie sound tracks reflecting low frequency effect (LFE), I was astounded at the difference this SW made in my home entertainment enjoyment. It has a frequency response of 25 Hz to 150 Hz and a continuously variable crossover (50Hz-200Hz) controlled by a cross over frequency control along with the customary volume control and a lighted standy mode.

There are certainly better and more powerful subwoofers out there and you will, of course, pay for the advanced power or features. As a home audio/visual amateur, I found this unit to be an acceptable and efficacious choice based on performance and price.

 

 

 

Polk Audio PSW111 Compact Powered 8-Inch Subwoofer (Single Black)

I would have given this 4.5 stars. The deduction is because it is extremely affected by placement, though to be fair that’s true of any subwoofer. I’m a little surprised that this one has lost almost all its punch now that I’ve moved it out of the corner, though. I would recommend a bigger sub if you need to place it along a wall in anything bigger than a 12×12 room. My living room is a little cavernous and I probably should have bought a bigger sub myself.

If you’ve got a corner for this, though, the sound is tight, the connections are good, and I think it’s a very attractive piece of audio equipment. I’ve got it hooked up to a Polk SurroundBar 50 and the overall effect is very nice for not much more than $1000 total.

 

 

 

Klipsch Synergy Sub-10 – Subwoofer – 200 Watt – black

This sub is awesome. Replaced it with an Onkeyo that was making a clicking/rattle noise when the bass would get heavy. This sub is loud…I only have it on 40 % and it is plenty. No complaints….would recommend to anyone

 

 

 

Sony SA-W3000 Performance Line 12 180-Watt Subwoofer (each black)

For the past 10 years I have owned a Sony Home Theater in a Box kind of setup sufficing to say I’m not much hard to please for home entertainment (had a quick review bout here too @ Epinions). Three years ago I paired the same Sony HTIB with a 37″ LG LCD TV and it was good. Can see the movie, “hear” the movie and go watch the next movie.

Guess now things have changed, a lot. Electronics are much more affordable with a considerable amount of difference. Like this Sony SA-W3000 for example. As a regular Joe Shmoe audiophile wannabe dude, I did my only way of randomly testing this sub, of course, at your local electronics depot (blue shirt, khaki pants guys). It wasn’t even very accurate the fact that I tested it’s lower model sibling, the SA-W2500 which is rated 100 with 60 watts RMS.

Most of us are familiar with their setup with all the buttons you push pairing different speakers and subs trying to win your heart on what they can do. So push I did and I got me a show from all them big ballers like Polk, Mirage, Definitive Techs, Klipsch to a Martin Logan, and the little dude on the corner, with the lowest price tag, being scorned upon, even lucky to be on such a line up actually held its own. Not as tight, not as solid, but enough oomph and rumble. Maybe its the rumble, maybe it’s my untrained ears but for the value price point of this sub, it feels like I would not go wrong a step up difference of $50.00 to it’s bigger brother, the Sony SA-W3000 which is rated 180 watts.

And wow was I impressed! Let me reiterate the Joe Shmoe wannabe part once again! I like what I hear though and for the most part, I really believe a lot of people might agree. Took me a good day or two to fine tune to my liking for music and movie alike. To appreciate the bass, I had to torture test it from Bad English to Bob Marley with even some Beyonce’ (hehe). Musicality is not it’s greatest strength as it would have variations of bass output on different genres of music but totally acceptable for the most part. I sometimes have to turn the gain switch a bit lower from music to movies. For Home Theater applications, I finally get to “feel” the movie, not just hear it. I would play back certain movies over and over on certain parts just to appreciate the bass, like the movie’s Heat, Matrix, Jurassic Park and the all classic Top Gun to few of my own personal favorites.

Aesthically nice with a very imposing 12″ subwoofer with thick, hefty rubber surround on the edges giving it a solid look. A nice black wood grain/veneer finish on the cabinet, which also is constructed pretty good. Got a couple of adjustments for volume and cutoff for the personal choice of your low end and even a phase reverse switch to configure with how your sub reacts with your front speakers. I find the “normal” position having a tighter bass response with my SS-F7000′s and the SS-CN5000. There is also a switchable power save mode which wasn’t really too “click” happy as others have noted for it to be bothersome. For me anyway.

Couple of gripes I have is the plastic part where the built in amplifier is hidden. Looks flimsy but tougher than it looks. The rubber pads that came with it is a joke. You would look at the size of this 12″ sub with the rubber pad being about the size of a Micro SD card. It’s almost like it was some sort of an after thought to include them. This is where Sony went cheap. Good thing I have saved some screw in type legs that belongs to the TV stand. Little drilling in under corner of the sub, a bit of super glue and voila! Form, fit and function.

This Sony SA-W3000 floats my boat and fills the bill for an awesome budget sub for your system. You’ll actually get a chance to enjoy the difference of having a dedicated subwoofer even just on an entry level system with a not so entry level bass box thanks to Sony. It does give sound more depth and an impression that will change how you listen and feel about your movies and music. And as Thomas Paine might have quoted, “that which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly”, but this my friends, in my own humble opinion, is an exception.

 

 

Polk Audio PSWi225 Wireless Subwoofer

I was looking for a wireless sub to complement a 32″ Sony XBR LCD TV that has 5.1 surround bar and a small built-in subwoofer at the back on the LCD panel. Since this TV is in a bedroom I don’t have enough space to add external speakers or any other audio components, which is why I paid a premium to get the built-in 5.1.

When I saw this wireless sub at $208 on Amazon, it was worth trying so I ordered it and received it in less than a week. Took me 5 mins to plug in and VOW, what a difference it made! The wireless transmitter has Audio-L & R ports that are connected to the Audio out of my TV. It also has a LFE input to connect directly to the sub woofer output of an amp. I’m blown away by the quality of this product and the ease of use. Now I’m so used to this thing that if I turn it off, the built-in 5.1 TV speakers that used to sound pretty good, feel like tin-can speakers. I am extremely happy with this product (at this price point) and am thinking of adding another one to complement two 8″ ceiling speakers in my family room. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to add that extra touch of bass to an existing TV or iPod dock or any speakers that lack the bass. I hope the $208 price stays the same for a while or even drops further.

 

 

 

Pinnacle Speakers SUB-SONIX 10-200 10-Inch 200 Watt Front Firing Powered Subwoofer (Black)

I’ve recently purchased the Pinnacle 10″ sub to replace the existing 7″ Aiwa sub that I had for dozen plus years. It’s not fair to compare the two units, but the 10″ just blows it away. Even with the volume at mid setting, it’s plenty loud for the home theater system in my family room (approx 15×25 ft). 200W is plenty plenty! Sound is very very full, without any distortions. Overall workmanship is very good, brass feet is a nice touch (for obvious audio purposes). On the back of the sub, there’s only frequency control, level control, and phase switch. Please note that there’s only the RCA plug for Subwoofer (LFE) connection. It won’t work out of the box, unless your audio system has direct subwoofer connection. As for me, I’ve upgraded my stereo with AV Receiver (Onkyo TX-SR508) as my stereo did not have LFE output.

I’ve also contacted Pinnacle and rec’d immediate response. If there’s any issues in the future, I would expect very good service from the manufacturer.

I would recommend this sub to anyone looking for a great subwoofer!

 

 

 

 

Polk Audio Monitor Series PSW10 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer (Single Cherry)

While I was looking for sub-woofer I was comparing PSW10 and PSW404. PSW404 sounds better but for the price $110 vs. $250 at J&R I opted for PSW10. The sale representative dropped the price for me even though they still selling PSW10 for $200 here. Those of you who worry about no LFE input, that shouldn’t be a problem. All you have to do is connect the sub-woofer output of the receiver to either the right or left input on the sub-woofer. And then set the variable low pass filter on the sub-woofer to the highest setting. This will set the internal low pass filter above the low pass filter frequency given by your receiver and create an LFE input. Or you may use a RCA cable to provide a connection to both inputs on the sub-woofer from the LR pre-out from the receiver. Then adjust the cross over frequency from the woofer as desired. It sounds a little louder and better for me. I bought Monster sub-woofer cable and it sounds no better than RCA cable. Try not to waste your money on this. It has 7.4 out of 10 in CNet rating and it is #6 in editor’s top list for sub-woofers. I matched PSW10 with R300, RTi4, R150, CSi3 and Denon 1906 receiver. Mainly used for HDTV over the air, DVD movies and some FM. It sounds a lot better than the sub-woofer from RM6750. It carries 5 years warranty but make sure you buy from Authorize dealer. For the price I paid I am more than happy with it. I hope this helps to your decision.

 

 

 

Yamaha YST-SW216BL Advanced YST II Front-Firing Active Subwoofer

This subwoofer puts out plenty of deep tight natural sounding bass, not “boomy” bass. It sounds great! I am using a Harmon Kardon 3380 receiver and 2 Klipsch SB-1 bookshelf speakers, and this sub in a 12×20 room and it fills the room with sound.I listen to mostly jazz and classical, with some new-age thrown in. On ocassion though I pop in Sound Garden or Metallica too. I find that I have to adjust the bass output down quite abit when rockin’ out, or the bass is overwhelming.There is no auto on feature on this sub, but I have it plugged into a switched outlet on the receiver, so it goes off and on with it.Overall, I recommend it highly.

 

 

 

Yamaha YST-FSW150BL Advanced YST II Down-Firing Active Subwoofer

Am not an “audio nut”….I just like good sound out of our system…. so pleae take these words with an appropriate “grain of salt”. This Yamaha sub woofer was a snap even for a novice like me to install…and it just fit into the space alloted to it.
The sound it puts out is as promised…very nice bass ….
On the other hand, this unit would not win a “Miss AMerica” contest when it comes to looks and there are many more attractive sub woofers out there to choose from.
However, I didn’t buy this one for it’s sleek and suave appearance…just for the sound it puts out and the price point to achieve that sound. On that counts, this ugly duckling “quacks” just right.

 

 

 

JBL Balboa SUB 10 – 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer

I purchased this subwoofer to replace an old subwoofer from a HTIB (Home Theater In a Box) system. I chose this particular subwoofer first because of the brand and second because of the price. I have used JBL products for years (Home, Car, and Professional) and have always been very pleased with their performance. This one is no different.

When it arrived, I was quite surprised at it’s size. It is much bigger than I expected for a single 10″ subwoofer but still comfortably fits in next to my entertainment center.

As for the sound, I would consider this subwoofer very good but not great. It has much better low end extension than your typical HTIB subwoofer but it’s not going to shake the ground. I have never been fond of 10″ low frequency drivers and this one isn’t going to change my view of them. For some reason, I always find 10″ drivers to be more “muddy” sounding than a 12″ or even an 8″ driver. However, when the next step up (12″) costs three times what this one does, I can certainly make an exception. That said, this subwoofer does sound good and has no trouble filling my entire living room with good solid bass.

The features on this subwoofer are also very good. It has speaker level and line level stereo inputs as well as a separate line level LFE input for feeding from a Home Theater receiver. One thing to note, the manual says that the LFE input will bypass the crossover setting. This is actually preferable since the crossover function should be handled by your receiver so that the sub picks up where the main speakers drop off and there is no or very little frequency overlap.

One thing to be cautious of is the power that this thing has. 100w RMS/225w Peak may not sound like much but it is more than enough to fill your average living room/den or to upset your neighbors if you live in an apartment.

All in all, this is an excellent choice for the price and I am very pleased with it.

 

 

 

Energy ESW-M6 800 Watt Mini Subwoofer (Black)

I took delivery of this subwoofer yesterday and hooked it up immediately to my “second” system, which consists of an Oppo BDP-80 universal player, Onkyo TX-NR807 receiver, and a pair of Dynaudio Focus 110 monitors. The Dynaudios are small but capable of room-filling sound with decent bass extension; I had been running this setup without a sub, and it was more than adequate for casual listening and video viewing.

When you take the ESW-M6 out of the box, its size is disconcerting — it’s just 8″ on a side, with three sides totally consumed by the 6″ woofers (one active front-firing, two passive side radiators). You’re thinking, “this might work for desktop audio, but it will never make enough sound to fill my living room, and no way will it match my Dynaudios for musicality.”

Wrong and wrong again. After I set a couple of knobs and switches on the back and connected it to the receiver, I ran Audyssey MultEQ with the new speaker in the mix. Had to go back and set crossover manually, however, because Audyssey had set it at 40 Hz, way too low to give this little cube any work to do (it bottoms out at 42 Hz, according to the manual). So I tried a crossover at 80 Hz, quite nice, and at 100 Hz, even better.

Bottom line, this sub really delivers. I used two jazz CDs with good clean acoustic bass lines to listen carefully before-and-after for pitch (i.e., can you hear the note and not just a thump?) and lower distortion. The Energy sub scored high on both counts. This was not subtle! The bass line was consistently easier to follow; adding in the sub took some pressure off the Dynaudios, so they produced cleaner sound above 100 Hz, and the Energy ESW-M6 easily handled the material below the crossover point.

A bonus was that the bass now sounded more substantial. There was a very pleasant, appropriate sense of fullness to the bass sound that had been missing before. I’m not saying that those 6″ speakers managed to fully pressurize my semi-large, high-ceiling living room. But they delivered a realistic, musical, “woody” bass-fiddle sound that the Dynaudios had not pulled off. And they didn’t strain and distort anything in the process.

When the M6 is broken in, I’ll try out more demanding material — symphonic music and movie special effects — and return to this review with the results. But for now, I’m really pleased. The 200-watts-RMS amp (ignore the 800 or 1200 watts “dynamic” rating) is obviously effective in powering this well-designed unit. Apparently size no longer matters! The performance of the Energy ESW-M6 far exceeded my expectations.

(OK, back with an update. Ran the lobby shootout sequence and a few other moments from “The Matrix.” Sub performed very well. Did NOT best the $15K multichannel setup in my 15x19x8 home theatre, which still sounds more spacious and impactful. No surprise there. It was very interesting to note, however, that the electric bass line in the shootout often sounded cleaner and more rhythmic on the little Energy sub! Less thump, more music. I also had a wonderful time with Bach: Violin Concertos — the cellos and basses sounding astonishingly big.)

Strongly recommended, especially for those who don’t want to see a big ugly sub in a living area (the piano black finish is quite elegant, although it shows fingerprints easily). Incidentally, the backside controls include a variable low-pass filter, a zero-to-360-degree phase control, a selectable auto-on feature, and two line inputs. This is what you would expect for a sub in this price range, and it’s another sign that this is no toy. It is NOT to be confused with Energy’s home-theater-in-a-box products, or with computer add-ons. Rather, it’s competitive with Velodyne or REL products in this price range.

 

 

VIZIO VSB210WS Universal HD Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer

I’ve tested sound bars from Sony, Yamaha, Philips, Samsung and Polk Audio. Was not able to find the Marantz and Denon models. These products encompass a wide range of price points. The one I bought was the Vizio: great sound and convenience at a price near the bottom of the range.

The wireless subwoofer is an amazing convenience. Its range is at least 20 feet, and it sounds terrific in a variety of placements.

I connected the soundbar to my HDTV console with an optical cable, which works extremely well with one caveat–to activate the audio, the TV must be set on a digital channel. After that, analog audio (including from a DVD player) comes through as normal. If you use the included conventional cable, no issues.

You have limited control options to tailor the sound, but that’s to be expected at the price. Vizio uses SRS Labs’ surround virtualization chip and also throws in its volume stabilizer to knock down loud commercial breaks. This is a cost sacrifice, as the Dolby and DTS HD audio codecs are much more expensive. No problem; the others sound thin, while the Vizio washes you with clear, powerful sound.

It’s not true surround sound, but unlike some rivals, the audio experience isn’t overly directional (sounds good throughout the room) and is much better than basic stereo. If you can’t run wire through your walls to deploy full surround, this is a fine compromise.

 

 

 

JBL ES250PBK 400-Watt High-Powered 12-Inch Subwoofer – Black

I originally was going to order the ES150PBk 200watt sub-woofer, but it was not going to be shipped until mid April. So I went with JBL’s 300watt RMS (500Watt Peak) model. I paid $353.00 with a $30.00 off (for applying for an Amazon credit card) and this brought the price down to $323.00 with “free” super saver delivery. This unit will shake your living room during explosions in action movies (check out Pearl Harbor and Live Free, Die Young) and provides a nice, tight bass in music. I only have it turned up to just passed the mid-point & that is very loud. It is well designed, attractive, and you get more than your money’s worth. You can not go wrong for this price! By the way, it does come with a removable black grill that is not pictured. I researched several other sub-woofers and none came close to providing the specs that this one does at this price and from such a well-established company. Last, but not least, JBL has been making speakers since the 1930′s and is at the forefront of loudspeakers for the music industry. Because I am a tech savvy musician, I am well aware of JBL’s reputation. So, in closing, rest assured that you are getting an outstanding product, through a trusted, reliable and reputable company at an outstanding price!!!

 

 

 

 

Sony SSF-5000 Floor Standing 3-way Speaker (Pair)

I agree with previous favorable reviews. These speakers may not equal the sound quality of much more expensive models, but they come close enough to make the price difference to step up unreasonable for most people. The following review is intended for those trying to select between Sony models. In January 2008 I bought a pair of Sony SS-B3000 speakers from Amazon and was pleasantly surprised with their sound quality when use with a subwoofer and center channel speaker. I used them as floor standing speakers with homemade stands. Today I received a new pair of SSF-5000 speakers and I’ve spent over 4 hours doing A/B comparisons with the SS-B3000 units. My conclusion: the SSF-5000 wins out narrowly by placing the tweeters higher (closer to ear level). Otherwise, both excellent pairs of speakers produce similar sound: clear, crisp and with more volume capacity than my 18×30 ft. family room requires. I am particularly impressed with the tweeter quality during classical (Beethoven and Tchaikovsky) instrumentals and folk vocals (The Irish Tenors, Nana Mouskouri). You won’t go wrong with either the SS-B3000 or SS-F5000. Choose according to your spacial preferences. The SS-F5000 is about a foot taller with virtually identical sound, width and depth. Either pair is an excellent buy.

 

 

 

 

Polk Audio Atrium 45 All-Weather Speakers (Pair White)

I bought these after listening to a neighbors pair that he had out around his unenclosed pool deck. They had been there for a year and looked brand new. He had another pair on his porch that were three years old and looked almost as good.
The bass response on these babies, despite their size, has to be heard to be believed. The outside enviroment is murder on bass, but these speakers sound great! For the price and size, you can’t beat them.

 

 

 

Bose Acoustimass 5 – Speaker System ideal for stereo or home theater use – Black

Pros: High and mid-range sounds from the cubes are very crisp, especially during gaming. System has a good all-round sound for the xbox 360, dvds and for music but fall short of excellent. The cubes deliver an amazing sound volume for their size and look great on the top of the piano.

Cons: Bose should make it clear that the bass module is not a powered sub-woofer. It does not deliver any where near the lows of a powered sub. This did not matter to me because I planned to add a sub anyway. Bass module is not all that easy to hide.

Other Thoughts: I’ve read many negative reviews about these (positive as well). I would rate them an 8.5 to 9 on a scale of 10. I played with these quite a while during set-up. Wiring, placement and amp quality are huge variables with this system. If the buyer expects subwoofer lows from the bass module, it won’t happen. The bass module is not easily driven, a weak, low current amp won’t adequately drive it. I replaced inferior speaker wire with high quality Monster Cable and it made a significant improvement. Lastly, the bass module provides PLENTY of (non-sub) bass when wired and placed correctly.

 

 

 

BIC America DV62si Bookshelf Speakers (Pair Black)

I just wrote a review of the the Dv-62CLRS speaker, which is a top of the line center speaker. When I bought the DV-62CLRS I also got a pair of the DV-62si’s. I paired them together with the DV-62CLRS speaker as my front speakers for my sourond sound system matched to a Rotel Processor and Parasound Amp. After close to a 100 hour burn in these speaker started to come to life. All I can say is that for the price they just can not be beaten. It is a shame that most stereo stores do not stock these so as to compare them to their high dollar speakers. Could be there is some logic to this as they would have a hard time selling those other brand name speakers(at two to three times the cost). when compaired to the B.I.C.s

 

 

 

Bose VCS-10 Center Channel – Speaker home theater sound for component systems – Black

I almost didn’t order this based on the poor reviews and Consumers Reports findings. I needed a thin center speaker to go with the acoustimass cubes – this was the logical choice. After researching it at length there were mixed reviews with many negative comments. I called Cruthfield and the Bose Outlet to get their opinions. They were surprised to hear that there were negative comments. The Bose outlet advised theirs sounded great and noted it must be hooked directly to the receiver – not the module like the cubes. I have had the speaker for a couple weeks and it sounds great. I have two other surround systems, one high end and a lower end system and the Bose performs admirably for such a compact system. The articulation of words coming from the center speaker sounds like a real person. I don’t understand the bad reviews – unless it’s not being connected properly. Worked for me – and as most retailers note you can always send it back.

 

 

 

Polk Audio PSW110 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer (Single Black)

I had $300 in gift certificates from Best Buy and my Mission ASI 700 sub had died. My home theatre is relatively small so I don’t need a 300+ watt monster. I auditioned the Klipsch and it was just too boomy for my tastes, I love tight well defined bass and boomy only when it is suppose to be. I was impressed with the Definitive PSB1000 it was tight and punchy, but I did not want to spend $499.00+. The Polk PSW110 was 249.99 and it gave tight bass, but definitely seemed a little thin at the store. It has a 30 day money back from Best Buy, so I gave it a shot. When I got it home, I fired it up with my Outlaw 950 and the sound was tight, but still seemed to be a little thin and muddy sounding. Knowing that out of the box is not a speakers true sound, I loaded up the CD carousel and let it go at moderate volume. About 4 hours in, “The sub came to life!!!!” It put out extremely tight, strong and well defined bass, beyond its $249 price tag. The only thing that separated its sound quality from a $500+ sub is that, it’s low end could be a hair lower. I put in X2 (X-Men United)on the DVD player and this sub did a fantastic job!!!! The definitive does go a little bit lower, but this is every bit as tight, defined and musical, extremely impressive for a $249.00 sub. YOU MUST GIVE IT AT LEAST 4 HOURS OF BREAK IN BEFORE MAKING A SERIOUS DECISION. CHANCES ARE THAT THE DISPLAY AT BEST BUY HAS NOT BEEN BROKEN IN.

 

 

 

Uniden BC72XLT Handheld Scanner (Black)

As they say, “a little bit of knowledge goes a long way…” If you live in or near a big city, this scanner will do absolutely no good because large metropolitan police forces use a trunk communication system due to the large number of units at work at one time. These systems aren’t actually scrambled, but due to high volume of calls, it would be hard of a single scanner unit to keep track of them so while you might be able to hear one end of the converstaion, you won’t necessarily be able to hear the other.

This unit is perfect for smaller cities which use frequencies betweem 153.0000 and 169.0000 for their police communications. The unit is also good for tracking airport traffic and, as you know by now, NASCAR events. The best thing to do when scanning for new frequencies is to have access to a code book for your area so you’ll know what you’re listening to at the time.

If you’re technologically-challenged in any way, you’re better off letting someone who knows what they’re doing program the basic channels for you. I like the fact that’s it’s a lot smaller and not as heavy as its predecesors. It’s a conspicuous as a mobile phone and a lot easier to carry on your belt without it getting in the way.

 

 

 

Uniden 100-Channel Clock Radio Scanner

This is a very good scanner. The instructions are not exactly “clear as a bell”, but if you’ve ever had a scanner before you should be able to get the gist of the operation. {To program, press PGM, enter the frequency and the memory location you want, then press PGM again.} When it is in the search mode, you can press the “bank number” (1-10) and enable/disable that bank. You can enter 10 frequencies per bank, you can set one frequency per bank as a priority channel. The weather band and tv/fm radio bands work ok. I love the fact that it runs on the batteries when unplugged, and then when you plug it in it switches over to ac power – although you’re not quite sure which it’s running from since there’s no indication. The alarm is a bit on the weak side, but then you’re probably not buying it to be an alarm clock.

 

 

 

Uniden Bearcat BCT8 BearTracker Warning System with 800 MHz TrunkTracker III

Having logged over two million miles as an over-the-road truck driver and a radio junky I love all kinds of radios… I got out of listening to scanners when they went to trunking calls… Listening to one side of a radio call gets real old real fast.. The cost of radios that would track trunking radios was expensive and limited… While recovering from getting hit by a truck traveling 70mph while making a left hand turn on my Harley. I turned my love of raidos to keep entertained during the many hours of recovery… Short wave is great… My longing for a scanner that will track trunking was a must… After reading many reviews and doing research I knew that one scanner needed to cover all bases was the Uniden BCT8 fit what I wanted… I find the Bear Tracking feature is great I had know idea that it would work so great… It works much better than radar dectors by the time they alert you it is too late… Where the Bear Tracker works great… I think it will be on a lot of future scanners… I only own one scanner with it’s Trunking Tracker III it is the only one I need… I live right under the flight path of the flight for life helicopters I can scan for them as well as Police and Fire calls… The Ambulance services control towers and much more… The instruction manual leaves a little to be desired but if you have any experience in radio’s it isn’t a problem… While it takes a little effort to figure out listening groups it is not rocket science… If you are like me and want only one scanner this is it… I put together a battery pack for it in case of power outages it comes with everything you need for using it in your car… I think it is the most bang for the buck in scanners… Buy it… My son also thinks it is extra cool because it has a NASCAR logo on the front…

 

 

 

 

Nascar Bearcat Portable Scanner

This is a fine searching/scanning radio (with scanning defined as finding stations within the frequencies that have been stored by the user in banks of 10 with 20 banks available). It is very well made and should last a long time. Many of the numerous keys perform two functions, one as labeled and a second one using the FN key when pressed first. It is a fairly heavy hand-held unit with back-lighting supplied automatically only when needed or separately when desired by the user. This unit the new bc95xlt (or the newer designation bc95xltb) is an update of the earlier Uniden model that had railroad band searching (by individual channels) for example directly within the six pre-programmed service search bands, but now to do railroad listening you can simply specify one of the 10 unspecified frequency search bands instead. Other reviewers have found this change to be totally adequate even if you are a railroad enthusiast just like I am.
I am also into aircraft band listening and this is still designated within the 6 pre-programmed service band search sequence. Also, the weather bands which don’t search automatically (since there are only 7 USA channels) are extremely clear with no static at all. I am extremely pleased with this unit and I am very glad that I was able to get it at this very low price (compared to the bc72xlt which is still just like the old version of the bc95xlt as can readily be confirmed on Uniden’s own website).

The unit also has a nice built-in speaker that is surprisingly adequate for everyday listening, but also comes with a mini-plug jack for a monaural earphone (but not supplied surprisingly!). It also has a separate BNC antenna jack (and it does come with the antenna!) as well as analog controls for both squelch and separately for the speaker volume. The LCD display is very nice and easy to read and indicates a multitude of the numerous possible options such as: 1) Low battery indicator (for either regular Alkaline AA cells or Ni-Metal hydride rechargeable batteries with a switch internal to the battery compartment for setting which type is being used), 2) Searching the specific service band search types- Weather (WX), Police (POL), Fire, Aircraft (AIR), Marine (MRN by channel), HAM, etc., 3) Bank Scanning (for user or computer-stored frequencies), 4) Close Call-Capture listening for very nearby sources of unknown origin, 5) DELAY allowances for time departures between outgoing and incoming radio signals, etc.

CON: The unit’s belt clip can only be removed by unscrewing the two screws directly from the back of the unit, but on the plus side, it will certainly stay on very snugly and securely when it is needed. Also the serial or USB cable as well as the software needed for using a PC to store frequencies automatically must be purchased separately directly from Uniden.
The unit also comes with an AC adaptor which is probably because the batteries don’t last a super long time. Another reviewer estimated a battery lifetime of 5 days for heavy usage.
This is also not the unit to buy if you live in a BIG city where far more expensive trunk-tracking technology is needed to adequately track Police conversations on multiple frequencies for example.

 

 

 

 

Uniden Solara DSC VHF Waterproof Marine Radio (White)

I picked up this radio “rebranded” by a marine retailer.
I’ve found it works very well. I was also able to connect a handheld GPS to it with very little effort.
The power selection feature is nice for not blowing away anyone near you. The DSC feature is nice for getting the location of family members in others boats.
I really like the one touch “distress” feature, although I’ve never used it. When connected to a GPS, it will send your location to the Coast Guard. Good for me since my wife doesn’t speak english.
I have nothing negative to report other than the mic cannot be removed. However, there is a remote mic available separately.

I would like to include instructions for connecting a serial connector to the included accesory cable (for the GPS) but amazon doesn’t allow this. Maybe you can “search” for it.

 

 

 

 

Uniden DSC-BK VHF Waterproof Marine Radio (Black)

What can I say, the Uniden DSC-BK Marine Radio is affordable and offers everything a boat owner looks for in a marine radio. We installed it to our 21 foot bass boat, which of course matches perfectly since the boat and interior are black. I highly recommend to invest in an antenna to get better reception and have “piece of mind” that your call will be heard. We went with the TRAM 1610-HC 5-Ft VHF Marine Antenna. Installation was simple and the cables were long enough to reach the antenna and battery. The unit also comes with microphone hanger.

Has a very large well lit display, it can even be seen in direct sunlight. Volume can be really cranked up. We live in New York and are very close to the Canadian border. Every time we are on Lake Erie we are able to hear both the US and Canadian frequencies. I giggle every time I see the distress button since it reminds me of a school fire alarm. You have to flip up the plastic tap to reveal the distress button. According to the instructions, the distress signal can be heard from 20 nautical miles away, or as my husband puts it “20-25 miles as the bird flies”.

Now we can feel safe when boating on the Great Lakes. Uniden is know for their reputable products and are built to last.

 

 

 

 

Uniden BC346XT Handheld TrunkTracker III Analog Police Scanner
I was given this model as a free upgrade due to the one I ordered being out of stock. At first it is a little hard to program since I didnt buy the software, but I read some help forums I got from google searching the model and it was a breeze. Now that I have all my locals programmed I love it. I pick up police units that are 40 miles or more away from me at times. It is kind of funny though when the close call feature pick up drive thru windows and you can hear what everyone around you is ordering. I gave it four stars because the manual is only on disk and is very confusing. Google search for help and your set. Also I use this site to get all the freqs I could ever need and they are very accurate [..]

 

 

 

Uniden BCD396XT Handheld TrunkTracker IV Digital Police Scanner

I bought the analog version last year this time, and enjoyed it for a month before I returned it. It was too much money for what it did. This year, I tried again, but stepped up to the digital version. This scanner picks up everything in my area (except my encrypted county). Once I added an external antenna, things came in loud and clear. It takes a LOT of practice. it is very complicated and your knowledge of radios will have to increase. After over a month, I am still practicing daily.

Anyway, its very well organized, picks up the signals well, and is easy on the batteries. Does exactly what its supposed to. Haven’t found any bugs either. Finally, this year they have an actual manual. The website that tried to be a manual is horrible.

This scanner has helped me navigate traffic on the interstates many times. I won’t send this one back. Eventhough I think its overpriced, I’ll be keeping it.

 

 

 

Uniden SC230 Scanner featuring Pre-Programmed NASCAR / Busch Frequencies

I bought this as a gift for my husband and he loved it. He doessn’t care for Nascar so he deleted those preset channels. He has enjoyed listening in to police, airplanes, you name it. It’s small, very portable and lightweight. The only thing I was disappointed in was the computer connector. It uses an older connection instead of a USB port so we can only plug it into our older laptop and not our new Dell Desktop.

 

 

Yamaha YST-SW315 10-Inch Digital Pro Series Subwoofer (Black)

I picked up the Sony 8″ (SA-WM250 100-Watt) Active Subwoofer recently, and it’s quite nice (especially the price at under $100.00). But this smaller system can’t hold a candle to the Yahama. This 10″ system pumps out clean, crisp base and its cut-off option allows the user to limit the higher frequency response of the sub-woofer (and let your mid-range speakers do the job). The result – a pretty massive, well defined bottom that can be as subtle or as “in your face” as you like it and which will nicely compliment just about any existing audio/visual system.

Because I use a pair of smaller AAD speakers, I keep the volume level for the subwoofer at below 50%, but the frequency cut-off a bit higher (110 hz out of max 140hz) for a nicely balanced, very full sound. Another nice feature is a bass button selection for either (i) music, or (ii) movies. The latter provides maximum bass response – suitable for achieving something similar to what you get in movie theatres – the rumbling bass that lodges in your stomach. The former, music option, is ideal and very complimentary to my existing stereo arrangement.

If you’re unhappy with the response of your shelf speakers (want more oomph?), you’ll love this Yamaha subwoofer. It’ll add depth to your existing system, and add real luster to your audio-video setup. I recently re-watched “The Two Towers” on DVD using the Yahama – the experience was truly like a return to the theatre.

 

 

 

 

Polk Audio DSW PRO 600 12-Inch Powered Subwoofer (Single Black)

Way back in the day my dad bought his first sub when we went to Circuit City. The salesman played the first five minutes of Terminator 2 with and without a sub. We were hooked, but when we got home the sub we bought made only a fraction of the difference that it did in the store. I’ve had a few lower end subs, but this sub is the first time I really felt like I was getting that experience. As soon as you set this thing up you will know what you have been missing all these years.

I will say that you can get this sub for a lot less than $620. Value wise I’m sure it’s worth that, but it’s pretty easy to find it in the $350-$400 range. You can also buy the cover for this now if you need it. I think it’s around $55.

 

 

 

 

Velodyne Impact-10 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer (Black)

I’m actually surprised at the lack of reviews on these units, but as they are relatively new, I guess that’s to be expected. I recently had a Klipsch sub’s amp burn out on me and decided to replace it with something a little beefier (It gave me 7 years of love). But as the outage was unplanned, I didn’t want to spend a large sum on the replacement. I was looking at the Velondyne vx-10 which has had a lot of nice reviews and could be picked up online for as low as $140 or so, though all brick and mortars I have contacted sell them for ~$249. I would have picked one up even despite the odd color scheme, but found that Velondyne had released the Impact series recently, and what reviews I could find suggested that they had significantly greater output with the kind of sound quality you would expect from Velondyne. They looked much nicer too.
The connections are nice, I would have preferred the crossover frequency knob was a little more clearly labeled, but since there’s a gradual roll off, it shouldn’t have any significant effect if you’re a notch off.
The bass is easy and smooth, and if you set things up correctly, I found it a tad boomy at first, but spend a little time adjusting things and found that it had a very pleasantly flat (in a good way) deep output. I don’t have the kind of location where I can turn it up too much, and I think, perhaps, for my apartment complex, this woofer is ridiculously overpowered. But you can leave the volume down and still enjoy a nice pleasant “punch” even when it’s hardly audible. I’ll be moving soon, and I have a feeling even with a moderately large living room and some yard space, I’ll always risk angering the neighbors if I ever leave the volume up to high.
Really enjoying the kind of bass I never knew existed in some of the music I had. And from what I hear, it does an even nicer job with cranking out the special effects in movies. I’m sure you can spend $1000 more and get something that sounds better, but for the price, I can’t imagine there is much out there that rivals this…

 

 

 

BIC America F12 12-Inch 475-Watt Front Firing Powered Subwoofer

As an audiophile who has had numerous very high end (Meridian, Cello, McIntosh, B&W, Proceed…) components in and out of my systems over the years, I can say wholeheartedly that the F-12 is an outstanding value for the $170-$200 retail price. I bought it for my 13x20x9 budget media room which is currently under construction but have been using it in my 2 channel system for kicks over the last two weeks. The low frequency extension is excellent(down 4db at 25Hz in my room) and I would consider it pleasantly musical with speakers capable of flat response at or below 80Hz (which isn’t asking much). It is when this sub is paired with very small speakers that it begins to tarnish; typical of many ported subwoofers, it just doesn’t play well above the 80Hz range. For example, Paired with NHT Superzeros, which fall off a cliff at about 85-90Hz, some of the “punchiness” is lost. This frequency response trough is most likely the reason why some reviewers claim that the F-12 sounds “muddy”.

With the right speakers and set up correctly (with a decibel meter), the F-12 is an outstanding sub for the asking price. Truly a great bargain and one heck of a warranty.

 

 

 

 

Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR High Definition Personal Video Recorder

Here’s the summary:

- Not a DVR. This is a pass-thru from audio/video source to PC.

- Generates H.264 at Baseline Profile 1.0 only — not the High Profile 4.1 that x264.exe-based programs generate. The Baseline H.264 quality is not as good as the High Profile quality using the same bit rate.

- Generates default .M2TS files which are difficult to edit — use the .TS file output instead for easier editing.

- Arcsoft software is good for capturing and that’s it. The software for creating a disk always seems to re-encode — a process that takes my PC days or makes my PC hang.

- After capture, I have to use third-party software to finish production.

The product is not an easy out-of-the box solution. Hookup is easy, and the Arcsoft software installation is easy, capturing is easy, but it gets tricky after that.

When you capture, you can set bitrates. I set my 720x480i broadcast to 4.1 MB/s thinking it would be fine. When I made a disk and played it on the Blu Ray player, the video had a horribly compressed look. That was a straight H.264 file from the HD-PVR 1212 unit to disk without transcoding. But when I transcode some other high-quality 480i video using an x264.exe-based application with 4.1 MB/s the video quality is fine.

Now I made the mistake of capturing my first video in .M2TS. Tried to edit it. Lots of software doesn’t like .M2TS. I didn’t know that then, but I know now. Fortunately I was able to use the freeware TSRemux to convert the .M2TS file to a .TS file. Now apps like H264TS_Cutter and multiAVCHD are happier. Lots of crashes and failures with .M2TS.

Editing. I use H264TS_Cutter to cut out commercials. This app is handy — you take clips you want to save and create a cut without transcoding. This is important in the H.264 video world because transcoding takes days on my PCs, but the H264TS_Cutter makes a cut in minutes. You can also join two files in this manner. H264TS_Cutter has never crashed on me with .TS files. I tried using a little more complicated app for cutting — TS Packet Editor — but I had to reboot my PC after each file edit.

Creating a video disk. I use multiAVCHD. It lets me make a simple menu for the multiple titles. To get this to generate a Blu-Ray format file structure, I had to (after clicking Start) select the button [AVCHD compatible players] — the button [For all Blu-ray players] wouldn’t work in my Blu-Ray player.

The size of the output files determines what size disk I can use. I use Imgburn to burn to DVD-5, DVD-9, or BD-25 — this plays in my Blu-Ray player as long as I choose the UDF physical format and UDF 2.50.

That’s the quick way of taking the output from the HD-PVR 1212 and placing it on Blu-Ray compatible disk. If all this that I’ve described sounds like Greek, be wary of this purchase. You’ll need to do your homework on using these 3rd-party apps (though fortunately the ones I’ve described are free) to keep the production time to a minimum and spare yourself days of needless suffering. Had these tools been included and described in the bundled software for this purchase, it would have saved me about two weeks of trial, research, and error.

 

 

 

TiVo TCD746320 Premiere DVR (Black)

The new Tivo Premiere is a great overall DVR experience. Setup was easy, and the directions were concise. We had some issues with our CableCARD that we were able to resolve by some simple troubleshooting, and weren’t related to the Tivo performance. The integration with NetFlix, Amazon and YouTube are so simple and easy to use – its a great extension of our current tv offerings. One thing to note — the new software provided is a little slower than you would expect. But you are able to revert to the ‘old’ software look and then the speed of your menu selections, etc are as fast as they have always been. Hopefully, Tivo will fix the slow menu soon and we can turn them back on because they do have a lot of nice new features.

 

 

 

TiVo AN0100 Wireless N Network Adapter (Gray)

TiVo’s new wireless N adapter is an interesting concept. It is a wireless adapter, however, it appears on your network as a wired adapter. Setting up the device is also unusual. You have 2 options. If your router supports it, you can connect via single push of a button, otherwise, you need to connect the adapter to a PC via the LAN port and access the set up through the 192.168.10.1 address we are all familiar with. Using option 2 is not difficult, and once in the browser you have 2 options, automatically scan for a network or manual setup. Because I do not broadcastt SSID, I utilized manual setup. It supports WPA2 security as well so no issues there. Now, where the issues come in. If, for whatever reason, the adapter loses connectivity with your router, and you live in an area, where others are broadcasting their SSIDs, the adapter wll try to connect to one of those instead of te network selected as part of the original setup. This is also the case for the TiVo G Adapters. Unfortunately unlike the Old TiVo adapters, you cannot simply go into settings and re-attach to your network. With this device (N Adapter) you need to unplug it from your TiVo box, back into your PC and run setup again to register it on your network. This is a pain, from a convnience perspective, and could pose challenging to those not technically inclined. The performance of the adapter is excellent when working as designed. I am still tinkering to determine how to prevent the above events described from occurring.

 

 

 

 

TiVo TCD748000 Premiere XL DVR (Black)

This is finally a worthy successor to the Tivo Series 2. While there have been 2 previous HD Tivos before, their relative cost and the lack of available options for lifetime subscription made them unattractive financially compared with the cable company DVR. If you purchase directly from Tivo, there is a (…) lifetime subscription option to those with a previous lifetime subscription. That makes this a worthwhile deal, even if it takes about 30+ months to break even.

If you’ve not used a Tivo before, I would say it is head and shoulders above Comcast’s ugly, ill-conceived interface. If you’ve used Verizon, it will be a step up, but not nearly so dramatic. If you’ve used Tivo before, you’ll feel right at home. It’s basically the 8 year old Tivo interface that’s been spiced up here and there, with supporting links to Netflix & Blockbuster for streaming movies.

This Tivo requires an M-Series cable card if you’re not recording from an antenna. If you’re not sure, call your cable company to see if they support it. Verizon did struggle with this question, although eventually I found someone to confirm the Verizon cable card supports multi-stream. However, the Verizon tech they sent was helpful and had the job complete in about 15 minutes.

Although the Tivo supports resolutions up to 1080P, it is only available at 1080p/24, so if you have a slightly older set that only supports 1080p/60, you’ll have to drop back to 1080i. That isn’t spelled out anywhere on Tivo’s site, although it probably doesn’t make much of a difference.

This Tivo networks nicely with older Tivo’s allowing you to transfer video between them, although it’s not possible to transfer from an HD Tivo to a SD Tivo, although the reverse works nicely. You can also use the Tivo Desktop (a free download) to transfer to your PC. You can even save it to watch later or on your portable (Google “kmttg tivo”).

I won’t write a review of the Tivo interface. More people have done it better than I could, so Google for reviews. You should know, although the new menus are in high definition, once you get away from the primary menus, it drops back to the old 480/SD menus. The only reason I can tell is the screen on the TV flips a bit until it resyncs with the lower resolution.

This version of the Tivo has a backlit remote, although by default that isn’t turned on. It also supports separate volume and muting with an A/V receiver, although it doesn’t give you the ability to turn it on with your remote. My A/V receiver did not work with the codes provided, but a chat with Tivo pointed me to a page on their support site where you’ll find the new Tivo has a “learning” remote. That did the trick.

If you use Tivo’s Chat support, the agents are well-informed and patient.

I’ve had one brief incident as I messed around with various menus where the HDMI lost sound sync with the TV. A quick resync through the A/V receiver got me back and running in a few seconds. Time will tell if that was a one-time glitch or a problem.

Previous Tivos have worked with Amazon video on demand (which works reasonably well). Now there are additional options to select high-def material, and you also have options to download from Blockbuster and Netflix. Keep in mind there is a charge for this type of on-demand movie, similar to what you’d expect from your cable company. However, this function is integrated beautifully into the overall search function. As an example, let’s say you’re interested in a program such as “Chuck”. As you search for the program, not only will it find the upcoming episodes on TV, but will also present you with the complete episode guide, giving you the options to either record from cable/antenna, or for shows that aren’t available you can download them to your Tivo to watch. That’s very clever and convenient.

Overall, it’s an expensive purchase, but Tivo does their best not to make you feel stupid for buying it.

 

 

 

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV STAJ100

I agree with the comments in the previous reviews. One quick heads-up for anyone looking to bundle this with the recommended items (hard drive and cable)…. The 1TB “go flex” drive has a larger footprint and does not fit into the drive slot on the front of the box. It can be connected via the USB port on the back but if you were hoping for the ability to slide the drive into the front slot use must order a “go flex” drive sized lower than 1TB with the 14mm profile. Not a big deal just a heads up.

 

ASUS O Play – TV HD Media Player (Black)

Speaking as someone who really does own this device – this thing rules. It streams easily and quickly from my xp box in my basement over cat5 cable. (or the technologically inept may just hook a USB or esata hard drive direct)

It plays everything so far including ISO (dvd image) files, video_ts rips from dvds (I know someone will ask these questions) but I did it already and it works great.

Other files, MKV, xvid, divx, whatever. PERFECT. 1080P, blue ray quality files look perfect. No blockiness, no hesitation, no problems. And they start IMMEDIATELY.

All you need do is create a share on the server pc, then create a shortcut to it on the asus. (EASY) And off you go. Some files will not easily fastforward/rewind, and that mostly relates to how well the original creator encoded the file. In other words, if they used lousy/cheap software to rip a file, it may not fastforward smoothly, but it will still play.

The other con is no wireless networking. Now, I personally don’t care about this because I have cat5 cable already and real wired networking is far more reliable. Also, it probably makes the product cheaper.

If you have a habit of playing huge 1080p files and want to go wireless, you may have to go with 802.11N hardware if you encounter stuttering. If it stutters it’s probably not the Asus’s fault.

As a sidenote, I have tried other methods of showing movies and such on TV’s. Xbox360, PS3, PC. They all have huge disadvantages, mostly relating to codecs and incompatabilities and transcoding and such for the Xbox and PS3. It’s just too much trouble. Seriously. I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the subject and I got really sick of saying “I downloaded this sick video, lets watch it” and then some error message comes on because of some obscure encoding quirk like wmv 8.2jafjSOB352. I wouldn’t have bought either game console had I known what a pain it was. Especially the media sharing and transcoding, don’t get me started. (I don’t play games)

The PC, well, still too darn much trouble – I have to give tech support to every tom, frank, and larry who just want to watch a movie. Log into the computer, start media center, navigate, navigate, navigate. Ugh. Have done XP media center, vista media center, windows 7 ultimate media center. Holy moley, just forget it – I don’t want to train people. This Asus thing? Connect and go. No joke. I will not mention macs, because you know what? No matter which way you go with Apple, it’s more than $99. (and I don’t own one because I don’t think different)
I don’t work for any of these companies, I’m just happy I can watch a movie. That’s all I ever wanted.

Oh, and full subtitles and multiple audiotracks, no problems at all.

Oh, and I own a WD Media TV thing as well. No networking and audio troubles to boot. Blech.

 

Iomega ScreenPlay Plus HD Multimedia Player 1 TB

I know that I shouldn’t be disappointed by a unit that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, but I can’t help feeling that this player is just too limited to deserve a recommendation. It’s a little slow, which is not a huge problem, and the interface is very simple, which is both good and bad in that it’s easy to use but feels archaic. The real issue is that it doesn’t support very many video file formats. (It plays audio files and displays images just fine.) It supports MPEG-1, 2, and 4, and some DivX and Xvid formats, but the specific codecs supported are a bit of a mystery. I downloaded a movie trailer — that worked. I downloaded a .m4v (MPEG-4) episode of a web series — “Invalid file.” I tried an .AVI of a video I took with my camcorder about 4 years ago — “invalid file.” I have over 30 years of computer experience and some good video-editing software, so I could probably work around this by re-encoding the videos, but that’s a lot to ask of the average consumer, which is the likely target market for this sort of product.

Again, it’s extremely easy to use, and it handles all standard audio and image file types. You plug the USB cord into your PC, and the computer sees a new hard drive. Copy over the files, stop the device, and plug it into your home theater or TV. Fire it up, and select what you want with the remote. Then hope that you don’t get that dreaded “Invalid file” message. If you want to use it as a music or picture server for your home theater, it’ll work fine. But for video it can be a hassle. Including a wider range of video decoders would have made this a very nice product. Maybe it’s best to wait for the next generation of ScreenPlay and hope that it’s more versatile.

 

 

 

Seagate FreeAgent Theater 1080P HD Media Player STCEA201-RK

For my purposes this unit offers advantages over the Western Digital player.

- It plays DVD’s ripped to the hard drive (menus work !)

- Fast Forward and Rewind does not cause the unit to hang up as with the WD player

- The remote control is sized for an adults hands unlike the very small WD remote

- The remote has a volume control and mute button (missing on the WD remote)

- Component output as well as HDMI and composite

- Plays the new format Microsoft Windows 7 media center files

Things that could be improved

- The remote control is a wimp – must be pointed exactly at player

- Fast forward on Media Center files is limited to 2X which is not fast enough for commerical skipping.

 

 

 

Logitech HDTV Widescreen Video Cam

The HDTV Cam is a great accessory for the Revue.

- The picture/video quality is very good. The lighting in my room is mediocre, and yet the picture still comes out looking significantly better than with the web cams built into the MacBook and ThinkPad which I use in the same room.

- Build quality is excellent. This is something apparent from when you take the camera out of the box. The casing feels solid, and there is a steady hinge on the back of the camera that you can use to prop it onto your flat screen. There is just enough tension for the camera to feel secure on the TV set.

If only Logitech can update the Revue software to support video conferencing with users on Skype, Google Talk, or even FaceTime, rather than requiring Logitech Vid HD accounts, I can bump this review up to be 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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