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Robert Silva

Robert's Home Theater Blog


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Sony Announces 2014 Home Theater Product Line with Hi-Res Audio Support

Thursday April 24, 2014
Sony Home Theater Products with Hi-Res Audio Compatibility
On April 16-18, 2014, I was able to attend a presentation of new home theater audio products at Sony's U.S. headquarters in San Diego. There were many products shown, but of particular interest to my coverage were two home theater receivers (STR-DN1050 and STR-DN850) and a Blu-ray home theater-in-a-box system (BDV-N7200W) that incorporate Hi-Res audio compatibility. For more details on why these products are significant for the home theater environment, read my Photo Illustrated Report. Photo Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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What Are All Those Connections and What Do They Do?

Thursday April 24, 2014
Cables that connect to HDTV
Having trouble trying to figure out how to connect your new HDTV, Blu-ray Disc player, home theater receiver, and other components? If so, check out my comprehensive Home Theater Connection Gallery that features photos and explanations of all the connections you might encounter in your home theater setup. Photo Robert Silva

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Contrast Ratio - Home Theater Term of the Week

Wednesday April 23, 2014
Contrast ratio is the difference between the brightest whites and the blackest blacks that a TV or video projector can display. High contrast ratios deliver whiter whites and blacker blacks and a greater degree of gray values in between. If the contrast ratio is low, even if the image is bright, your image will look washed out. However, beware of outrageous contrast ratio numbers...Read more

For additional terms and definitions, check out my Home Theater Glossary

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Aereo Gets Its Day Before The U.S. Supreme Court

Tuesday April 22, 2014
After a year of arguments and conflicting lower court rulings, the American Broadcast Companies, Inc vs Aereo case was argued in front the U.S. Supreme Court on April 22nd, 2014 as part of its Spring session.

At the core of the case is whether Aereo, a service that provides users with access (via paid subscription) to an individual, but centrally-located TV antenna via the internet, that allows living viewing and DVR-like recording of over-the-TV broadcasts using laptops, PCs, and mobile divices, constitutes a public or private performance. A decision by the Court has the potential of redefining portions of U.S. Copyright Law.

If the U.S. Supreme Court rules that such as service a public performance (like a cable or satellite service), Aereo may be in violation of U.S. Copyryight Law. If considered a private performance (like putting up your own individual TV antenna), then the TV broadcasters may have to rethink their business model in relation to the advancement of the Internet and Cloud Services. However, regardless of the Court's decision, the future of how consumers can legally access and store copyrighted home entertainment will definitely be impacted.

For more details on the arguments of the case, listen to an Argument Summary Report and read the Full Written Transcript of the Hearing as well as a comprehensive Argument Analysis.

It is expected that U.S. Supreme Court will announce its decision later this Spring (2014).

Disclaimer: Aereo is backed, in part, by IAC, which is the Parent Company of About.com. However, IAC had no editorial input into the content contained in this article.

Past coverage of Aereo on About.com

5/13/13: ABC Challenges Aereo with New Online Streaming Strategy.

6/27/13: Aereo Announces Expansion into Chicago Market Beginning September 13, 2013 (Broadcasting and Cable)

10/12/13: TV Broadcasters Want Supreme Court to Stop Aereo

2/11/14: U.S. Supreme Court to Officially Hear Case Against Aereo

2/19/14: Ahead of Supreme Court Hearing, Aereo's Expansion Into Salt Lake City and Denver Halted by Federal District Court Injunction (Report by CNET)

2/25/14: Despite Being Shut Out of Denver and Salt Lake City By Court Injunction, Aereo Proceeds with Move Into Austin, Texas (Aereo).

3/5/14: Case Mounts Against Aereo Ahead of Supreme Court Hearing

3/29/14: Aereo Submits 100-Page Brief in Advance of Supreme Court Hearing

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Watch Out Google and Roku, AWOX Announces The StriimSTICK

Tuesday April 22, 2014

The Google Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick Streaming Stick have both created quite stir as alternatives to typical external streaming media players that can turn most TVs into a Smart TV, opening up a whole new world of accessible audio and video content.

Now, AWOX, makers wireless-connectable devices for the home, have decided to join in the fun with the announcent of their latest product, StriimSTICK.

The StriimSTICK is similar in concept to both the Google Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick in that it is flash-drive sized device that connects to the HDMI input of a TV, with power supplied either via USB or AC adapter power source (power cable and adapter for either option is included). Once plugged in all of these devices connect, via Wifi, to your home network.

The StriimSTICK provides access to content stored on DLNA compatible network-connected devices, such a PC or laptop (including MACs), and also enables you to stream audio, video, and still image content (including internet streaming apps) that you normally access on a compatible iOS or Android smartphone/tablet to your TV.

The StriimSTICK runs on the Android 4.0 operating system, provides 4GB of on board memory, and a MicroSD expansion slot for additional memory capacity. Also, even though you can control the StriimSTICK via a compatible smartphone, tablet, or PC/MAC, an innovative thumb-sized "Gyro fly-mouse" Remote Control is provided.

For more details, including ordering/purchase information, check out the Official Product Page, Quick Start Guide, and Compare Prices.

It will be interesting to see if the AWOX StriimSTICK can hold its own against Google's Chromecast and Roku's Streaming Stick. Image provided by AWOX

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Home Theater Gifts For Mom

Monday April 21, 2014
Mother's Day will be here before you know it. This year (2014) Mom's special day is on Sunday, May 11th. Give Mom a gift that she will enjoy all year. Check out some great home theater gift ideas for Mom in several categories, including TVs, audio systems, Blu-ray and streaming media players, and more, across all price ranges. Home Theater isn't just for the guys!

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What Are Blu-ray Disc Player Profiles? - Question of the Week

Sunday April 20, 2014
Part of the Blu-ray Disc Format and Player specifications, is a "Profile" structure that can make things confusing for consumers. These profiles involve the capabilities of Blu-ray Disc players, and have been implemented by the Blu-ray Disc Association. However, what are these Profiles and what do they do? For the answer, check out this week's FAQ: What Are Blu-ray Disc Player Profiles? Also, be sure to check out my complete Blu-ray FAQs as well as my current suggestions for Best Blu-ray Disc Players.

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All About Crackle TV

Saturday April 19, 2014
Crackle TV is a free service, owned by Sony, that lets you stream full-length uncut movies and TV shows from the internet. The catch is that the movies and TV shows are interrupted by commercials. For all the details on Crackle's free movies and TV shows and whether you want to quit your Netflix and Hulu Plus subscriptions read the report: All About Crackle TV.

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Yamaha YHT-799U Home Theater-in-Box System - Product of the Week

Friday April 18, 2014

If you are looking for a home theater audio system that provides more than a sound bar, but is not going to empty your wallet, check out the Yamaha YHT-799U.

This system combines Yamaha's RX-V475 5.1 channel home theater receiver, with a 10-inch 100-watt Subwoofer, and five space-saving bookshelf speakers.

On the video side, the system features both 3D and 4K resolution pass-through (no upscaling).

Additional features include the incorporation of Apple AirPlay, Pandora Internet Radio, and DLNA (which provides access to compatible devices connected on a home network).

Also, one of the HDMI inputs is MHL-compatible allowing direct physical connection for compatible smartphones and tablets.

The system can also be upgraded to provide both Wifi and Bluetooth functionality with the addition of Yamaha's YWA-10 and YBA-11 USB plug-in adapters.

For control, you can use the included remote, or Yamaha's free smartphone AV controller app (iOS version - Android version). If you are looking for audio system that provides more that what you can get from a sound bar, check out the Yamaha YHT-799U. Image Provided by Yamaha Corporation.

For additional suggestions, check out my list of Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems.

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Onkyo Reveals "Emotion Delivered" THX-Certified TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 Home Theater Receivers

Thursday April 17, 2014

Onkyo has just announced two new upper mid-range "Emotion Delivered" home theater receivers for 2014, the TX-NR737 and TX-NR838. To start with, both receivers are THX-Select 2 Plus Certified, and come equipped with a host of features and connectivity, starting with a built-in 7.2 channel configuration. The TX-NR737 is rated at 110 wpc, and the TX-NR838 is rated to deliver 130 wpc (measured with 8 ohms loads, from 20Hz to 20kHz, 0.08% THD with 2 channels driven).

In addition, just as just with their recently announced TR-NR636 home theater receiver, this new batch incorporates HDMI 2.0 (which enables the passing of 60fps 4K input signals), as well as HDCP 2.2 (which provides added copy-protection for not only current streaming content from both internet and content accessed through the receiver's MHL/HDMI port, but also for 4K streaming, broadcasts, or movie releases - when such sources become available).

Also, on all of Onkyo's 2014 receivers released so far, they have replaced the Audyssey MultEQ speaker setup system it has been using for several years, with a new home-grown "AccuEQ" system.

Both receivers feature 3D-pass through, Audio Return Channel, InstaPrevue HDMI switching, an easy-to-use Onscreen Menu, and Dolby TrueHD/DTS-Master Audio decoding.

For connectivity, the TX-NR737 and 838 provide seven HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs.

Media player and networking functions are provided on both receivers, including iPod/iPhone and Airplay compatibility (via optional DS-A5 docking station), DLNA certification, and internet access to a host of online content from services, such as Aupeo!, Pandora, Spotify, and more. On either receiver, network and internet connection access can be done via standard ethernet or WiFi, and also incorporate built-in wireless Bluetooth capability, making it easy to stream audio content from compatible portable devices.

For video support, both receivers are 3D compatible and incorporate analog-to-HDMI video conversion, as well as 1080p and 4K upscaling for all video input sources using Marvel QDEO video processing.

However, there are some things neither receiver includes. There are no S-Video, 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio, or phono input options, which is becoming more of a trend in newer home theater receivers. On the other hand, 5.2/7.2 channel preamp outputs are provided on the TX-NR838.

The Onkyo TX-NR737 and 838 are both expected to be available in May, and a priced at $899 and $1,199 respectively.

There is a lot more to both of these receivers than I touched on in this short blog, such as their multi-zone capability, so for more details, Read the Official Onkyo Announcement, as well as the TX-NR737 and TX-NR838 Product Pages. Image of Onkyo TX-NR737 provided by Onkyo USA.

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