Category Archives: HomeTheater

3D TV is a Reality

3D Chuck GlassesI attended CES 2009 in Las Vegas at the beginning of January and reported that 3D TV was everywhere. Today’s Superbowl commercials for “Monsters and Aliens” illustrated my point. We were at a Superbowl party where we had the 3D glasses to watch the Superbowl commercials for the Disney/Dreamworks film and for Sobe drinks. Sitting close to the Sony 60 inch DLP HDTV, wearing our paper 3D glasses, objects popped out of the TV and came at us. The picture of the 3D glasses floated in mid air and the paddle ball came straight at us. Papers floated into the room from the screen. Yes, this was real 3D on our TV. We hooted and hollered. Some of the people at the back of the room sitting high up on director’s chairs did not get the same affect, but we in the front were hooked in.

Tomorrow night, on NBC, “Chuck” will show in 3D, and I’ll be there to see how the effects appear with live-action TV. I will be researching the number of technologies of 3D TVs and reporting on them in the future. WATCH 3D “CHUCK” PREVIEW

Here’s another viewpoint and the videos.

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Reduce Troubleshooting Home Theater & Electronics’ Problems

Have you ever noticed how–just when you go to hook up a new component, that’s the time when something arbitrary happens. Take today. I was re-connecting a friend’s home theater and the picture from Cable went bad. It appeared that I had touched a video cable or perhaps it was that I had unplugged the cable box from the wall and connected it into a surge protector . Actually, I had done nothing.

To be fair, we had noticed the night before that the picture wasn’t looking good. My friend lives in Lake Tahoe where cable outages are common. Still, while working on his home theater, to my friend, I had done something wrong. That’s common, isn’t it? We touch something, it stops working and we always assume that we caused it. Only to find out later that it was just a coincidence. (It seems to happen to me a lot. Though, for me, it’s a gift because it gives me the opportunity to help people solve the problems they have with technology…)

After my repeated insistence, my friend called the cable company. It turned out that there was a problem with the cable signal coming into his house and that the problem wasn’t shared with his neighbors. The cable company will be out to fix it next week…

I was able to be certain that I hadn’t caused the problem, because I only change one thing at a time. That is, I only re-connect one cable, then I check to see if it’s working. If something goes wrong, I return what I changed to the original way it was hooked up. I do this when I make changes in a TV or component menu. Before I change anything, I make note of any numbers under contrast, black level or other adjustments so if I don’t like the alteration, I can put it back the way it was.I think in science it has to do with a constant–when doing research you only change one variable.

Still, how many times do we rush when making changes? When it comes to our home theater, or even our computers, we’ll often add several components or peripherals at the same time. Then we turn it all back on. When it doesn’t work, we have to go through a long process of elimination.

Next time, take it one step at a time, then test before changing or adding the next thing, you’ll find you have more confidence that you didn’t mess anything up, and you’ll save hours of frustration troubleshooting a problem. A problem that you may not have even caused!

Great info on HDMI

I was at a client’s house the other day working with the local Dish Satellite installer. He was using component cables and I asked him why. He said that he knew that HDMI cables were better but they were so expensive. I mentioned what I always hear…there’s inexpensive cables that people say don’t make a difference (I was being the devil’s advocate here because I’m aware of the differences). He said, “Those cables are junk. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve failed after a couple of months and I’ve had to go out and replace them. It costs me money. The only way to do it right is to get a cable that costs well over $30, and I can’t afford that so I’ll just hook it up with component cable…at least they’ll get HD.” This is a busy installer…there is a difference.
If you want to know details of this difference, Clint DeBoer wrote an amazing informative blog that is very complete and one of the most thorough pieces I’ve EVER seen on HDMI.

More on Why to Use Quality HDMI Cables

I keep harping on why to use quality HDMI cables. It’s because there is so much information on the web to the contrary and very little of it talks about real life experience. Working on consumer education with Monster Cable, and watching the testing, I am never disappointed at the verified quality of the cables. And quality is important to me. Again, if I’m spending money for better quality in a TV, I want it to perform at its best.
Cheap HDMI cable FailingHDMI cable failed one day!
So, the HDTV LCD in my bedroom didn’t have near the quality of the other HDTVs in my house (yes, I have a few…I need them for testing). Then one day I turned it on and there was this weird solarizing effect. I didn’t touch it and it just appeared one day. A friend of mine had pictures like these too and I wondered if they were real. Well, they are. The cable just failed. Now I had to crawl around and replace it, and luckily I had a Monster cable to hook up. Night and day difference. So, that’s what the HD picture is supposed to look like! Using the cheap cable, I hadn’t even noticed that the TV could look better. Test all you want, it’s how the cable performs over time in my home that counts! And this is the second time that I’ve had a cheap cable fail (the other was installed by the Satellite company and it stopped working completely after less than a year).

Monster HDMI –all betterMuch better with a Monster HDMI
Lately I’ve been thinking about cables like car tires. When I go to buy new tires, the salesperson goes on about radials and tread patterns and lots of stuff that I don’t care much about. It’s when I hear the word “performance” that I listen. I have a decent car and live in the mountains so I want good handling. I’m not going to buy the cheapest tires, I want ones that will last, be backed by a reputable manufacturer and allow my car to handle to the best of its ability. And I know I wouldn’t buy the cheapest tires if I were to have a high performance car. The difference between cables and tires is that the price difference on quality tires is several HUNDRED dollars. The price difference for quality cables is at most a hundred dollars, and more likely only $50.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to rip my system apart to replace a cable that has stopped working, or worse, not realize that the quality has diminished and just complain that my TV isn’t looking so good.

I’m going to get it right the first time. And Monster has the Cable For Life, HDMI cable where I know I’ll never have to spend another dime for an HDMI cable if I get new equipment. Learn more about HDMI at the Monster HDMI learning Center .

Quality Cables Make a Difference-Why I believe Monster HDMI is worth it

Having worked first in film production, and spending 10 years in selling, training, reviewing, and consumer education in home theater, I am what most would call somewhat of a videophile. I love a good picture, that is crisp, detailed, and has realistic color. And I have grown to love audio that brings the musicians or the action into my room. Once high definition TV came on the scene, the picture and today’s higher definition TVs thrilled me and high def disc players are even more true-to-life, more detailed.

In the years on the sales floor selling home theater, I learned about Monster Cable and did my own blind tests (and continue to do so today). Often, I could see actual differences—better contrast, richer color, more details, less interference and artifacts—when I upgraded my cables and even when I couldn’t pinpoint it, I noticed a “feel” of more realism.

I have heard that digital cables are all the same, but have seen for myself and since learned by interviewing the engineers and inventors of HDMI, this is not at all true, particularly with advanced high definition TVs and sources. There is a lot of information being transferred over cables with higher definition video and uncompressed audio. Steps must be taken to ensure that all of the signal arrives at the right time without digital packets of information being dropped, or interference altering the packets and creating artifacts, digital snow, or other picture degradations. This is much more apparent on today’s big screen TVs.

A quality cable that has been tested to be sure that all of the signal arrives at the right time is essential to get all of the performance possible from the components and TV. First, being sure that signal is not lost via poor soldering of the connectors to the wires. And being sure that the cable does not lose signal or gain interference by having a well-insulated cable. And finally, choosing the cable that is speed tested to get me the best performance for the gear that I am connecting. If I am connecting a satellite or cable box with 1080i, compressed video, it’s appropriate that I buy a less expensive standard speed, quality HDMI cable. If, however, I want the best from my Blu-ray Disc player (that I may have spent $1000 for plus $30 per movie) I am going to want to get an ultimate high-speed, quality HDMI cable. And I’m even happier if I buy a “Cable for Life” so I don’t have to purchase another cable in a couple of years because technology has advanced. These are the quality features available on Monster Cables speed rated HDMI cables.

If I’ve spent thousands of dollars on a high definition TV and high def player, and I’m spending money each month for high definition programming, I don’t think skimping on cables for a one time, extra $50 to $100 is a wise decision. I bought a 1080p, FULL HD TV because I want that improved picture quality. A few more dollars to make sure that I get all that I paid for is worth it to me.

Barb Gonzalez
The Simple Tech Guru

Note: Because of my passion for home theater quality, I have decided to work with Monster Cable on consumer education. We are working together to simplify buying, hooking up and setting up home theaters through a book, Home Theater Made Simple, web education and the monstercommunity forum. Look for my blog and tips at http://www.monstercommunity.com.

The Future of Plasma TV–Project Kuro– Video as Poetry

Project Kuro was my pick for the most awe-inspiring video innovation at this year’s CES. Pioneer came out with their new line of plasma TVs that were completely re-engineered this past year called “Kuro.” At CES 2008, they unveiled their future concept plasma in a screening room. (Showing off what their technology can do, sort of like a concept car.) It’s so flat (thinner than an iPhone) Project Kuro Side Viewthat it practically disappears when you try to take a picture from the side. Still it’s style is commonplace among the LCDs that were shown and it’s form is the least of its impressive traits.

Pioneer demo’d the new prototype called “Project Kuro” in a small black screening room. In pitch-black darkness, they pulled back the curtains, and showed scenes on 3 screens. One on the left wall, one on the right and another in front of us, but to the left. I thought it odd that it wasn’t centered in front of us. They showed us beautiful video of cinematographers and other filmmakers talking about the importance of picture quality. Then it faded out. A white ring on a black background appeared on the screens. Then I noticed that there was another twirling ring to the right of the front TV. But it was just a twisting, twirling ring. It seemed to float in space. As the two rings danced in front of me, the one on the TV to the left and the one in space, my brain made the connection… There was another TV to the right of the one we had been watching. You could hear everyone in the room GASP!

NO WAY! Wait a minute. This floating ring was the demonstration of the new Project Kuro TV. The black in the picture that surrounded the object disappeared into the darkness. The TV emitted NO LIGHT from the black pixels so only the colors appeared before our eyes, making the object appear to float in space. Next came a floating, velvet red rose, fish swimming in the blackness in front of me, and other flowers. Try as I might, though I couldn’t have been more than 8 feet from this TV, I could not see the bezel (frame) of the TV nor any of the black screen. And the Blu Ray Disc footage was just as stunning–3 dimensional.

This black was like velvet, smooth, seamless. Watching the Project Kuro, I got tears in my eyes–as I do when looking at any thing of beauty. Other reporters described the hair standing up on their neck. This was not just a good picture…it was poetry.

In case you wonder how this is possible…it is all about self-emitting plasma cells. That is, rather than a cell creating the color “black,” when the cell gets the information to be black, it lets out no light at all. And in total darkness, those black plasma cells slip into the background. “>Here are the best pictures I could find that illustrates the difference between the current Kuro and Project Kuro.

I can’t stop reliving the awe of the Project Kuro and can’t wait until it is available. Another thought strikes me however. I think of people who discuss using inexpensive HDMI cables to save money. When I get a TV like this, I can’t imagine trying to save $50 or so and risk not getting all of that amazing picture (after all the picture has to come from a source). And it’ll be good to pair it up with the best Blu-ray Disc player I’ll be able to find at the time!

Luckily as time passes, I am able to go back to watching my Panasonic Plasma and enjoying its beauty for now.

150 Inch Plasma – Now that’s bigger! News from CES Keynote

Just got out of the the CES 2008 keynote address where Panasonic chairman Toshishiro
Sakamo talked about their newest and future technologies. I was so awestruck by the 150 inch plasma flat panel that I had to upload a picture. Pansonic sold 3,000 103 inch TVs in 2007. More than anyone expected.

While this 150 inch plasma will begin as a commercial panel. With 2k by 4k resolution (that’s 2,000 by 4,000 pixels or 4 times the resolution of current high definition– this is a common digital cinema format). So basically, it’s a huge tv that looks beyone amazing. Mind blowing.
Check out the 150 inch plasma picture
Would you ever want this in your home…well, I’m sure there are those who will. True home cinema that is 11 feet wide. (or like nine 50 inch plasmas side-by-side). The technology that makes quality big screen plasmas available are only certain to trickle down to better technology in smaller screens.

Ah, the search for bigger is better. I’m pretty sure that it’s a bit too big for my 14 x 20 living room!

Will write later with more innovations from CES 2008. And on wednesday jan 10, I’ll write about the simple technologies I’m seeing. Lots of people call things simple but are they?