Having been generally unimpressed by home 3D TV products that have come and gone over the last dozen years, I was more than a little skeptical when the chatter from this year's Consumer Electronics Show was mainly about 3D TV. So, I wasn't expecting much when I visited the Samsung Experience at Columbus Circle in early April to check out a range of 3D TV products.
The most compelling technology story of 2009 was actually a marketing story. Samsung nearly single-handedly managed to re-label an emerging category of LCD TVs as LED TVs. The campaign was Initially received by tech-knowledgeable consumers and Samsung’s competitors as unorthodox at best, misleading at worst. After all, Samsung was still selling LCD TVs no matter whether florescent- or LED-backlit. But as the year unfolded the outrage subsided and competitors started adopting the same terminology as a brilliant marketing strategy.
At the heart of the receiver is the surround-sound processor. The most basic surround processors use a Dolby Pro Logic II decoder. Pro Logic II is a "matrix" system that takes an encoded two-channel stereo signal and converts it to a five-channel full bandwidth (range) playback (Left/Center/Right/Left Surround/Right Surround),resulting in a surround experience. Most TV shows are encoded in Dolby Pro Logic II, as are the majority of VHS videos. You can also play DVDs through a Pro Logic II only-receiver because DVD players can synthesize a Pro Logic II signal that mimics a surround soundtrack. The newer Dolby Pro Logic IIx adds the ability of converting stereo or 5.1-channel surround sound for seamless 6.1 or 7.1 playback.
Each year since 1976 new products in various categories of consumer electronics are selected as especially innovative. The products are judged by a panel of independent industrial designers, independent engineers, and members of the trade press. Categories include audio accessories, audio components, digital imaging, home networking, home theater accessories, personal electronics, video components, video accessories, and more.
February is the best time for families and friends to gather around the electronic hearth, and it's not just because it's cold outside. This is the month that the four big networks broadcast their top crowd pleasers starting with the Super Bowl and culminating with the Academy Awards. Viewers can enhance these spectacles with certain types of audio/video gear. So here, in chronological order, is our list of not-to-be-missed programs matched to the appropriate hardware that exploits each showstopper for all it's worth.
The "5.1" reference that appears at the start of many primetime shows is the networks' advisory to switch on your home theater's speaker system. When you do, you'll enjoy the program the way it was meant to be heard. A show broadcast in Dolby Digital 5.1 can deliver audio to five full-range speakers (front left, center, front right, surround left, and surround right) plus a low frequency effects channel (designated by the ".1") to the subwoofer.
To increase your awareness of what you're missing if you happen to be watching a TV that doesn't include an external sound system, we've listed some of the ways a program's sound director enhances the show by steering audio to discrete speakers in your home theater.
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