Sunday, July 07, 2013

New Writing Gig!

A few months ago, I was approached by one of the biggest computer hardware review sites on the Internet, Tom's Hardware, to become their display reviewer.  Needless to say, I accepted and have now thrown myself into a whole new beat.  My work with projectors and TVs will continue at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity of course.

Building on Tom's excellent foundation of reviews, I added a few tests of my own.  You can check out all my coverage at Tom's Hardware US.  To date I've posted six reviews, four of them covering two displays each.  My articles publish monthly.  With the large amount of space available, I have expanded the testing to include brightness/contrast, gamma, grayscale, color gamut, and response metrics.  Tom's gave me a good deal of latitude in developing this benchmark suite and so far, it's received favorable responses from the readers.

In the upcoming weeks, I'll be publishing a series of articles on computer monitor calibration.  We'll begin with a how-to using an inexpensive Spyder4 colorimeter.  Future topics will include color science and calibration principles, as well as other tools one can use to optimize their displays.  I'm also working on a review of two new 21:9 monitors from NEC and AOC.  Stay tuned to see what's up with this super-wide aspect ratio!

I continue to stay busy at Secrets as well.  Prior to the Florida move, I completed three projector reviews (two Epsons and a Mitsubishi DLP) and a speaker review of Axiom's new LFR1100 towers.  Please visit Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity to check out all my coverage.  I had to take a break with the movie reviews but as soon as my new theater is complete, I'll resume that.  Also coming up is full coverage from the CEDIA Expo.  In September, Robert Kozel and myself will be traveling to Denver to cover the show for three days.  I expect 4K will be the hot topic so you can expect plenty of luscious screenshots from all the expensive TVs that are bound to be in attendence.

As always, thanks for reading.  Please refer to my Service Area Change post if you have any questions about my services.  You can contact me at (preferred), or call me at (914)850-0291.

Enjoy the View!

Announcing a Change of Service Area

As you can see from the sidebar, I have moved to Orlando, Florida.  I am now serving all locations in Central Florida within 100 miles of Orlando.  This includes Tampa, Daytona and cities as far north and south as Gainsville or St. Petersburg (yes I know that's a little over 100 miles!).  As always, I don't charge extra for travel.  If you can get a friend or two to sign up for my services, I offer a multiple-display discount.  I negotiate this on a case-by-case basis but you can expect to save at least $50 per screen; so tell your friends!

My service takes 2-3 hours to complete and includes a full-system calibration.  This means I'll set up all your HDMI inputs (analog inputs can be calibrated if you let me know in advance) for 2D and 3D where applicable.  I'll also optimize all your video sources to have them operating at peak performance.  For those with older equipment, I still have a reference analog pattern generator which I can use to calibrate component video inputs as well as RGBHV or even composite signal chains.

If you need help with your audio, I can provide that service at no extra charge.  I don't do an instrumented calibration but I can set up your receiver or prepro using an SPL meter.  I will also run any room EQ setups you may have such as Audyssey or Trinnov.

Whatever your AV and home theater needs are, it's likely I can help you get the most out of your investment.  If you'd like assistance choosing new gear, please email me your questions.  I have access to a lot of resources that can help you make the right choice no matter what your needs.

Thanks to the ISF main website, I've already heard from some of you here in Florida.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to make your display perform at its best.  I hope to hear from many of you; and as always - Enjoy the View!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New ControlCAL Display Profiles

I've added a bevy of new tools to my kit of late to include all the latest display profiles from ControlCAL.  This gives me ISF mode and service menu access to the following models:

Panasonic VT30, DT30, VT50, DT50 and WT50 (all sizes)
Sharp Elite TVs X5 60 & 70-inch
Sharp non-Elite models 847, 844, 845, 745 Series (including Costco equivalents)
and 844 80" and 745 90" models

I can still activate and calibrate ISF modes on all Elite Pioneers 7th, 8th and 9th generations plus non-Elite models 5010, 6010, 5020 and 6020.  And I still offer patching service for KRP monitors which has made many clients very happy!

I've also upgraded my Accupel pattern generator to the latest DVG-5000 model which supports 3D patterns.  Any TV that has separate modes for 3D content can be calibrated independently of the 2D modes for the highest accuracy in all content.

If you're looking for help with any of the above-mentioned displays, or any other display for that matter; please contact me via email or phone.

As always, enjoy the view!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Return To Posting, I'm Still Here!

First off, let me apologize to all regular visitors to this blog for my long absence from posting. I want to assure everyone I am still very much active as a calibrator. I have had steady business all this year. In fact, I’m doing about as much work as I’m able to. My reason for not posting is simply that I’ve been doing more reviews for Secrets than I ever thought I would. Starting in late October of 2009, I’ve had at least one product, and sometimes as many as four, in my theater under evaluation. Below I have listed all the reviews published since August of 2009:

Focal Dome Speaker System
Revel Performa Speaker System
NuVision 65-inch LCD TV
Optoma HD8200 DLP Projector
Optoma HD8600 DLP Projector
Optoma HD20 DLP Projector (benchmarks only)
Samsung SP-A900B DLP Projector
Runco LS-5 DLP Projector
Emotiva Factory Visit

During all that, I calibrated a number of Pioneer plasmas and a few Samsung DLPs as well. I’ve had particularly good results from the A650 series TVs. Calibration is done in the CCA menu, just like the older models. After selecting the correct gamma curve and tweaking the white balance, these displays look very good. They’re a bargain too and well worth the price of a pro calibration. Out of the box performance is not so great with poor gamma and crushed blacks and whites. Color is OK but adjusting the CCA menu really makes these sets pop. I also calibrated a JVC HD750, a Pioneer FPJ-1 (JVC RS2 clone) and very recently, an Epson Home Cinema 8100. The HD750 needed a firmware update to fix the CMS but after the upload, performance was stunning. Anyone out there with an HD750, RS20 or Anthem LTX-500 that needs the update, let me know and I will include it with my calibration service at no extra charge.

Despite the exit of Pioneer from the plasma market at the end of last year, there are still sets available. Some stores are gouging for them but if you dig around, you may find a deal. If you’re in the market for a new flat panel and you don’t need the extra light output of an LCD, I highly recommend looking for a Pioneer. I still believe Panasonic is at least two or three years away from equaling the contrast performance of the 9th generation Kuro TVs.

You’ll see by my above linked projector reviews, I have experienced quite a few DLP models. I got great results from all of them and I enjoyed watching movies very much. My pick for ultimate performance is still LCoS however. My Anthem LTX-500 sat in a box for almost three months and when it finally returned to the shelf, I felt like my old friend was back. Of all the DLPs I’ve tested, the Runco LS-5 showed the deepest blacks and highest contrast. It still didn’t match the Anthem. Unless you have a large room and screen, LCoS is my preference.

I don’t want to talk about specific gear for upcoming reviews but I’ll give a general preview. Right now I have a multi-channel processor, a two-channel integrated amp and an LCoS projector under review. I recently finished articles on two Blu-ray players and expect those to be published soon. Later this summer, I’m expecting a new surround speaker system to be delivered. This system will include the biggest center channel I’ve ever seen and a gargantuan sub as well.

Finally, I’ve added movie reviews to my plate at Secrets. You may have read the monthly Renter’s Guides in the past. Now they are much larger as we have a total of six writers contributing. I do about four movies a month. Most recently, I covered the new Blu-ray release of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Thanks again for reading and as always, if you have questions about my calibration services, please email me. Enjoy the view!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

KRP-500M and KRP-600M Patch and Calibration

As you all know by now, Pioneer will be done selling their amazing Kuro plasma displays by the end of 2009. The Elite models are becoming harder to find as dealers seek to trim their inventories. Now a model is emerging that wasn’t even on the radar six months ago, the KRP monitors. These were originally only sold in Europe but they became available in the US in early 2009. Even now there is no information on them on Pioneer’s US website.

Here’s the spec rundown:

  • 50” and 60” screen sizes
  • 1080p
  • Pure Cinema Standard, Smooth and Advance modes
  • Pure Mode (like the Elites)
  • Blue-only Mode (to set color and tint)
  • 1 – DVI input, 2 – HDMI inputs, 1 each component, composite and S-video input, PC input, ATSC tuner

Hardware-wise, these panels are identical to any other Kuro – same glass, same electronics. The only difference is software and that is where things get interesting. Thanks to some very creative engineering from ControlCAL, it is now possible to replace the firmware of the KRP monitors to enable the ISF modes just like the Elite models. The user modes are still available and all other features too. As you’ve read in my previous posts, the ISF modes are a real jump in quality because of their greater light output and contrast. The dead-on accuracy of color, gamma and grayscale is there too. The patch turns your KRP into an Elite Signature Monitor. The only thing you won’t have are the two additional HDMI inputs. I will be up front about one thing – you will likely void your warranty by applying the patch. My recommendation is to purchase a KRP and run it for a few weeks before applying the patch. Go through the break-in process and watch it in the Pure mode for a while to be sure there are no manufacturing defects. This is standard procedure for any TV you plan to have professionally calibrated. You don’t want to pay for calibration before you’re sure the TV is solid.

I recently patched and calibrated a KRP-500M with the amazing results typical of all Kuro TVs. The patching process takes about 10 minutes with a laptop and serial connection. Then the calibration proceeds just like any other ControlCAL workup. The two links below will open the color and grayscale reports I generated.

If you are interested in the patch here’s the pertinent info. Go to the Patcher Info page at Purchase the patch for $100 with the Pro calibration option. Then choose a supporting calibrator you intend to hire. This calibrator will make an appointment with you to install the patch and calibrate your monitor. I don’t charge extra to install the patch. The fee to me is still $300. The bottom line now is that you’ve turned a $1900 monitor into a $4500 monitor for only $400.

If you’re considering an HDTV purchase I can’t stress enough how you need to move fast if you want a Kuro. In a few months they’ll be gone with prices being so low. 50” KRPs are going for under $2000 and 60” models for under $3500. This is an amazing deal.

Please email me if you have questions and thanks for reading.

Enjoy the view!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My Trip to CEDIA

I'm a little late with this report but I recently attended the CEDIA Expo in Atlanta. I was there to cover the show for Secrets. I focused primarily on new projector models and surround speaker systems.

The big news in projectors this Fall is LED light engines. Several manufacturers introduced LED models including SIM2, Projectiondesign, Digital Projection and Runco. The demos looked quite impressive. The main challenge with an LED light engine is achieving sufficient brightness. All the new units seemed to do just fine. I would have liked to see more varied scenes rather than the bright colorful content only. A best test of any display is how it renders darkness and shadow detail. I hope to get some of these new projectors in for review soon.

Here is a link to my reports on Secrets as well as those of the five other writers who were there:

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Anthem Statement D2v Processor and A5 Amplifier Review

My latest review has been published at Secrets. It's the second part of "Flagship Home Theater." I evaluated a system consisting of an LTX-500 LCoS Projector, SI Black Diamond 2 Screen and an Anthem Statement D2v Processor/A5 Amplifier combo. These are top of the line components with no flaws worth mentioning. The audio and video performance is simply wonderful. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Anthem LTX-500 LCoS Projector and Black Diamond II Screen Review

My latest review was posted yesterday at Secrets. I spent several weeks with Anthem's new LTX-500 LCoS projector. This has turned out to be the best and most accurate display I have ever worked with. The benchmark results are simply stupendous. I liked it so much I bought at the end of the review period! Check it out.

Next Generation Home Products Remote Extender Review

Please check out my new article on the Next Generation Home Products Remote Extender. This innovative product converts any infra-red remote that accepts AA or AAA batteries into an RF unit. What does this mean? Why no pointing of course!