Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

Can I omit the center channel in my home theater?

Ignacio from San Diego, CA

Episode 1127

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 you could go with a wireless center channel. Or you could just do a two channel stereo configuration and do without the center channel. But that's where the vocal is going to be and you'll lose all the dialog. So you don't want to do that. The AV receiver may be able to route the center channel and mix it left and right. Most receivers will do that.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1127

Today's gadget is the new Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, which runs Android 4.4 KitKat. It has one the biggest screens available at 13.3” QHD (2560x1440) display. Powered by the newest Intel Atom Z3745 processor and has 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a microSD slot to add up to 64GB more. There are two cameras; a 1.6MP unit on the front and an 8MP unit on the rear. There’s a ‘tube’ along the bottom of the device that packs many new, unique features. First there’s a healthy 9,600-mAh battery that Lenovo says will run the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro for up to 15 hours.

Should I buy a sound bar?

Doug from Panama City, FL

Episode 1127

Doug hears that Sony's new Soundbar has separate Amps for every speaker. Is that THX? Leo says that having a separate amp doens't mean the speaker better, just 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 a surround sound quality. Scott Wilkinson recommends the Pioneer Andrew Jones Soundbar.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1127

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, but if it happens, that's a huge development. He also bets ISPs will start charging more for internet as a result.

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.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1123

Scott Wilkinson

Scott joins Leo to talk about the "dirty little secret" in video -- and that's the new HD Copy Protection that's coming. Scott says that 4K is really pushing to make people to believe that HD just isn't good enough, and 4K Blu-ray is coming. HDCP Copy Protection is also coming for 4K. Version 2.2 and every device in the signal chain has to be compliant or the video won't work on your TV. So you have to have a new TV, new Blu-ray player, new a/v receiver. All to watch a 4K Blu-way DVD. Leo says that's going to kill off optical media for sure.

Why can't I control my home theater PC with a remote?

Episode 1121

Steven from Los Angeles, CA
Streamzap

Steven wonders why there's no infrared remote capability for the motherboard of a home theater PC. Leo says that it's a home theater function and some do come with remotes. But often, the infrared port is overlooked. And that's a shame.

Many phones have IR ports now as well, meaning it would be possible to use the phone to control the TV. Leo also says that IR is an old technology now. It requires line of sight and that's not so great. But here's a remote for his PC if he wants one.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1121

Scott joins us this week to talk about the laser video projectors he saw this week at the CEDIA convention. Scott says there was a few different ones there this year including one by Epson that had one for under $8,000. Sony also had one, but that was $50,000, and Digital Projection had one for $120,000. They use a blue laser which is then divided up and one part is shined on a yellow phosphor which glows different colors. It then gets split into red and green, and you have RGB light from one laser.