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AIG EQUIPMENT REVIEWS

Watching A little TV: VIZIO VMB070 Portable 7″ LED/LCD NTSC/ATSC Widescreen Television

Vizio 7 Portable TV“And turning to that excellent tuner, it brought in more digital stations from my outdoor antenna (the switch to all digital had already happened here in Ontario, so no analog signals were available) than my Zenith off-air tuner, and the extra input also proved useful for monitoring off satellite when watching off air on the big screen, as well as for monitoring recordings to DVD or hard disc on my LG DVD video recorder. So checking out the VMB070 for analog reception will have to wait until next Summer.”

Sony BDP-SX1000 Portable Blu-ray Player - HD redux!

Sony BDP-SX1000 Portable Blu-ray Player

“This player was very impressive right out of the box, especially with Blu-ray music discs, with a truly photographic picture that is yards ahead of my Samsung 10″ DVD portable, which died on me a couple of years ago. The first generation Blu-ray portables proved to be very expensive, as were the early DVD ones (I paid $1500 for my first Panasonic), so I waited a bit on this one, finding the BDP-SX1000 on eBay at prices from $288.88USD (what I paid) to well over $500…”

Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver - An Anthem That Is More Than Patriotic!

Anthem MRX 700 A/V Receiver“Before I delve into the installation, a little more info about the MRX 700. It is the top-of-the-line A/V receiver from Anthem, and sports a polite and tidy front panel with a brushed black face. All the basic buttons are present to navigate, but, as with most A/V products you need your trusty flat screen TV to set everything up. A nifty thin sliding door reveals easy front access for a USB input, headphone jack, and RCA audio/video jacks…”

HD Projector Project Update - The Anthem LTX-500v

The Anthem LTX-500v (small)“One significant improvement is the reduction in fan noise to 19 dB. Though the previous model was also so rated, this new one is definitely quieter. With the projector just behind my right shoulder, this is a very good thing, and I don’t find it intrusive, even when listening at night with the volume quite low. Another is the improved remote control, which makes operation easier, especially in the dark. It has a centrally located Light button that saves battery wear from automatic backlighting, and the major improvement is a group of buttons at top for the 6 inputs; the previous remote required scrolling through repeated button presses to change inputs…”

OPPO BDP-80 Universal Blu-ray Player

OPPO BDP-80 Universal Blu-ray Player“I was interested in this player as much for its audio capabilities as its video quality. That said, I started my evaluation with our standard Blu-ray and DVD video test discs through the Anthem LTX-500 1080p projector onto our Vutec 92″ pull-up screen. The discs included Joe Kane’s Digital Video Essentials in both Blu-ray and DVD editions, and the FPD Benchmark Software disc. There are tests for colour, resolution, greyscale, geometric performance, and motion artifacts, to mention some of the main criteria…”

NAD/PSB Image Series Home Theater System

NAD T775 Receiver“At the suggestion of Lenbrook Industries Consumer Product Marketing Manager, Denise Babin, I agreed to do a complete review of this one-company/two-brand home theatre system. Maybe I should have thought about it a little longer; it was a pretty big project, as it turned out: an upper echelon NAD Blu-ray player, a powerful and very versatile HT receiver, and 6 channels of PSB Image reproduction. I brooded about this while I spent the better part of a day or two unboxing and measuring all the speakers…”

The Audio Ideas HD Projector Project #4 - Anthem LTX 500 LCOS Projector

Anthem LTX (Detail)“Projectors have been coming down in price lately, and most of these are full HD 1080p. But there are differences among them in picture quality, even at this high resolution. Other factors come into play, including contrast ratio, grey-scale reproduction, colour accuracy, and geometric precision. There is also that almost indefinable quality, the natural and lifelike quality of the picture. Not many projectors, especially budget-priced ones, deliver this kind of performance right out of the box, and some can never attain it, even if they are 1080p capable…”

Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray/DVD Player

Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player
“I haven’t seen a Blu-ray player for $49.95 at Costco yet, but prices are coming down, as this recent model from Samsung attests. The BD-P1500 is being sold for close to $200 in Canada, and for as low as $150 in the US. But it’s not a stripped down model by any means, with HDMI 1.3 output for full 1080p at 24 fps, and Samsung’s Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC) connectivity, “which allows you to operate compatible HDMI products with a single remote”, according to an online blurb…”

NAD VISO FIVE DVD Receiver

NAD Viso Five DVD Receiver“Here, NAD, in its new VISO series, has taken a somewhat reductionist approach, in the FIVE combining a full-featured DVD player and a full 5-channel receiver, eschewing all the gratuitous extra channels and fancy (and largely silly) Dolby-this and THX-that formats which clutter most receivers and confuse many consumers. Though it does offer Dolby Pro logic IIx and DTS Neo:6 Music modes, as well as Doby Digital and DTS movie play, it offers just its own EARS DSP matrix format in addition…”

The AIG HD Projector Project #3 - The SIM2 Domino 80E Evolution

SIM2 Domino 80E Evolution“We’ve reviewed several SIM2 projectors over the years, and they have always excelled in their optics, with better lenses than most, and a near-perfect picture right out of the box, the HT300 E-Link being a prime example, making the utmost of 720p. Here we have the company’s version of a near-budget 1080p model, the D30 being the real entry model in the Domino Series…”

Crystal Cable New Standard Certified 1.3B HDMI Cable

Crystal HDMI Cable - detailCrystal Cable was founded in 2004 with the aim of building audio cables from a special balanced formula of gold-infused silver that increases conductivity because of its extraordinary purity, 99.9999999% conductive metal. The driving force behind Crystal Cable is Gabi van der Kleij, a trained concert pianist, who has assembled some very innovative engineers to develop and manufacture the cable materials and do final construction. All their cables are wound using special techniques that employ, as well as the proprietary gold/silver alloy, such materials as Kapton and Teflon for insulation purposes…”

KURO Plasmas & Blu-ray from Pioneer

Pioneer Elite Blu-RayLate last year, I spent an afternoon in the Pioneer Canadian showroom watching and testing these Elite products with a variety of Blu-Ray discs and DVD test material, including Digital Video Essentials, and a new Blu-ray disc that’s very revealing of such things as motion artifacts, called FPD Benchmark Software, which comes from Japan. With both TV/monitors hooked up via HDMI to another Elite product, the SC-09TX receiver, I was able to get a good look at just about the finest plasma performance I’ve ever seen. More on that below, but first a brief description of the two HTDVs and the Blu-ray player…”

The AIG HD Projector Project #2 - The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 LCD

Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Front Projector“Can a projector that costs about the same price as a large-screen plasma or LCD set deliver a superior, as well as, larger picture? I suppose that’s the first of quite a few questions posed in this review, and possibly answered. I guess I was spoiled somewhat by the Knoll DLP, which worked almost to optimum right out of the box, but this was not the case with the Sanyo…”

OPPO DV-980H Universal DVD/SACD Player - Price/Performance PLUS!

Oppo 980 HD“I should point out off the top that this is an audio review, though I may add a sidebar later about its video performance with one of our projectors. But it’s so hard to even countenance its removal from my audio system that I can’t even predict when it might happen, though when that time comes I’ll probably also compare it with the 970HD predecessor model…”

The AIG HD Projector Project #1 - The Knoll HDP460 1080p DarkChip4

Knoll HDP-450-F Projector“We’ve profiled several projectors over the years, but have yet to make a major project of it, so here we go! With picture quality going up exponentially, and prices coming down the same way, it’s time to find that perfect meeting point of both. There was a time, and not too long ago either, when a really good projector had a name like Vidikron or Runco, and cost about $40,000. Faroudja was a big name in video processing, and now they’re just a small adjunct to Meridian…”

Harman/Kardon DPR 1005 Home Theater Receiver [AIG Archives]

Harman/Kardon DPR 1005 Home Theater Receiver

“Harman-Kardon is a longtime audio brand, largely associated with higher end products, and, like everybody else in the audio/video business, has ventured into home theatre. This receiver, in their Digital Path group, is an elegant device with lots of inputs, and component, SVideo, and composite RCA outputs. Its analog audio inputs include CD, DVD, Video 1, 2, 3, and 4, with a Tape output in addition to the main output pair. These are mirrored on the video side with 3 sets of component inputs, and S and composite inputs to match every audio input…”

NAD L53 DVD/CD Receiver [AIG Archives]

NAD L53 Small

“This DVD/CD receiver feeds only two speakers with its 50 watts rms, but adds SRS TrueSurround two-speaker enhancement for quasi-surround sound, something I’ll comment on below. It plays DVDs, of course, and, naturally CDs (it also plays CD-Rs and variants, MP-3, JPEG, and WMA discs), and can be the centrepiece of a reasonably priced home theatre system…”

NAD Masters Series M55 Digital Disc Player and M3 Dual Mono Integrated Amplfier

NAD M3 Integrated Amplifier

“There is no question that they do look quite classic (more so than the previous Classic series they replace), and somewhat permanent, in a rather bank-like manner. Here’s how the elaborate brochure goes on to describe their build quality: “Mechanical construction is to a very high standard to assure a lifetime of trouble free use. With 2mm thick steel panels, combined with extruded aluminum and die cast zinc parts, the chassis forms an incredibly solid foundation to reduce air and structure born [sic] vibration from reaching any sensitive electronic components within. Specialized vibration damping feet employ silicon rubber to further isolate the chassis from vibration…”

Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1 Blu-Ray & DVD Player

Pioneer Elite Blu-Ray“It seems Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are fighting their marginal little format war in a dusty corner of some video arcade, Blu-Ray quite literally, as its main growth is in game consoles. Pioneer’s Elite division, arguably designer and manufacturer of the most consistently outstanding players of video discs in general, and DVDs specifically in recent history, has embraced the Blu-Ray format with this machine…”

Pioneer Elite System: PRO-1140 HD Plasma, VSX-84TX Receiver, DV-46AV Universal DVD Player

Pioneer Pro 1140 HD Plasma

“A company that still beats the drum for plasma while others cut and run, as our temporary prime minster would say, Pioneer has certainly made its statement in the quality of picture offered, and the progressive improvement since the introduction of these big screen flat panels. Price points have dropped at retail, though not quite so quickly as those of the competing technologies, for example, LCD, which has made a big charge in its various iterations by the different manufacturers, most recently Sharp, with its Aquos series. The Pioneer Elite PRO-1140HD TV/monitor is therefore a statement product in quality, if not in price, from Pioneer Elite…”


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