Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

How can I connect my tablet to my TV?

Episode 1130

George from Houston, TX
Google Chromecast

George wants to know if he can connect his tablet or laptop to his HDTV. Leo says maybe. If the laptop has HDMI, then sure. But if it only has USB, then it's unlikely. Both would require using DNLA. Leo advises buying Google's Chromecast. Then using Wi-Fi, he can download and install Google's Chromecast app, connect to it and it'll find the Chromecast and log into it. Then he can use it with his TV. AllCast works great too. Android 4.4 can do it through Chromecast directly.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1129

Scott Wilkinson

Scott was at the SMPTE Tech Conference this week and saw the new high dynamic range video displays. HDR video is the latest hot thing, and it creates some incredible high dynamic range of the image. Leo says our brains do HDR really well, but it's a challenge in video. Scott says that high dynamic range cameras are going to be needed and the latest generations of digital cinema cameras have over 14 stops of dynamic range. So they can do it. It requires 12 bit color, but the current video systems are only 8 bit.

Can I omit the center channel in my home theater?

Episode 1127

Ignacio from San Diego, CA
Home Theater

Ignacio had his living room prewired with HDMI and Cat 6 Ethernet. But he forgot speaker wires for the center channel speaker of his home theater. What can he do? Leo says he could go with a wireless center channel. Or he could just do a two channel stereo configuration and do without the center channel. But that's where the vocals are going to be and he'll lose all the dialog. So he really won't want to do that.

Should I buy Sony's new HT-ST5 sound bar?

Episode 1127

Doug from Panama City, FL
Sony HT-ST5 Sound bar

Doug hears that Sony's new HT-ST5 sound bar has separate amps for every speaker. Is that THX? Leo says that having a separate amp doesn't mean the speaker is better, just that it gives it more juice. And THX is a certification, not really a technology. Leo likes Sony because they add a subwoofer to it and it doesn't have wires everywhere. But it will never be the same as actual surround sound quality. Scott Wilkinson recommends the Pioneer Andrew Jones Sound bar.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1127

Scott Wilkinson

This week marked the huge news that both CBS and HBO have announced stand alone streaming services without the need of a companion cable subscription. CBS's All Access starts now, while HBO's service will come out in 2015. Leo says cord cutters just want to watch Game of Thrones without having to have a cable subscription. But Leo also says he'll believe it when he sees it. If it happens, though, that will be a huge development.

What's the best sound bar under $500?

Episode 1125

Pete from Detroit, MI
Pioneer SP-SB23W

Pete wants to get a sound bar to replace his aging home theater system. Leo says you can do it, it's a good option especially for a smaller room. But he won't get the separation and quality of home theater. Sound bars are popular and do a great job, though. Pioneer makes one that Scott Wilkinson likes called the SP-SB23W. It's designed by Andrew Jones and is very affordable at around $400. Scott says it sounds really good.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1125

Scott attended the Audio Engineering Society show this week (AES). Scott says that high resolution audio was the chief topic at this year's show and that Neil Young is really driving the conversation thanks to the development of his PONO player, which plays uncompressed high resolution audio. And when you compare HRA to MP3s, you can really hear the difference since MP3s are heavily compressed. Leo says that in 1996, we were lucky to have MP3, but 20 years in, and with more bandwidth and memory, it's high time we left mp3 with cassettes and 8 Tracks and embraced high resolution audio.