Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

Does the Roku Streaming Stick work well?

Episode 1131

Don from Mojave, CA
Roku Streaming Stick

Don wants to know how the Roku Stick works. Leo says they crash periodically, but they work great and save a ton of space. It's powered by the TV. It does require an MHL HDMI port to use it, though, which is not a standard port on most TVs. If he doesn't have that, then the Google Chromecast is another option. But if space isn't an issue, Leo recommends getting the external box.

There is a good wireless HDMI option.

Episode 1131

George from Toronto, Canada
HDMI

George is a system integrator and he knows about wireless HDMI. George says that video scalers like DVDo.com have wireless HDMI 60Hz solutions that work really well because it handles spectrum that isn't used much. It works great -- up to 50 feet. And the walls aren't really an issue. George says that doing it through Cat5 or Cat 6 and baluns work as the best option in that case.

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.