Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

Should I get a home theater system or just a sound bar?

Episode 1204

Joshua from New Jersey
Onkyo HT-S3500 660 Watt 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker/Receiver Package

Josh is looking to get a new Home Theater system. Should he get a sound bar or a Home Theater in a Box? Leo says that the only reason to get a sound bar is because he doesn't want the complexity of a home theater system. A home theater system requires an AV Receiver, speakers, center channels, sub woofer and wire. But a sound bar can have the bar and a subwoofer for the better ones. Pioneer's Andrew Jones SB23 is the best according to Home Theater Guru Scott Wilkinson.

What's a good security camera I can access with my smartphone without Internet?

Episode 1204

Art from Kingston, RI

Art wants a security camera system that he can monitor from his phone, but he has no internet at his cabin. Leo says that Art's only option would be 4G. He can get a MiFi card that he can connect via Wi-Fi to the cameras, and then use the MiFi to access the 4G celluar network and transmit his security footage. That way he'll have only one bill and one SIM. It'll cost about $30 a month. DropCams are great because they record online and he can go back into time online.

How can I record HDTV on my laptop?

Episode 1203

Brian from Irvine, CA
ViewHD 2 Port 1x2 Powered HDMI Mini Splitter for 1080P & 3D | VHD-1X2MN3D

Brian wants to capture some of his cable TV signals in HD to his laptop. Leo says that High Definition content is copy protected via HDCP. He could do it via TIVO with a cable card and then use TIVO To Go. Or he can exploit the Analog hole. He can get a digitizing device that takes component or composite out and then use that to convert to bits and save it to his hard drive. The only issue is that he'll need FireWire to do it. USB 3 may do it, though. There could be a Thunderbolt video capture card and that would be a good idea.

What's a good 40" LCD TV?

Episode 1202

Brian from Irvine, CA
Vizio TV

Brian and other employees want to chip in and buy a 40" HDTV for their boss. Is Insignia a good option? Leo says that Insignia is Best Buy's house brand. He wouldn't choose that over Vizio. That's where Leo would go. They offer tremendous value for the money.

Should he go larger than 40? Leo says maybe, if he can afford it. Samsung? Leo says yes, Samsung is great, as is LG, Sharp, and Sony. But Vizio is the best bang for Brian's buck.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1201

Scott Wilkinson

Scott joins the show today to talk about the latest in high frame rate. For the last 100 years we've watched movies at 24fps because film was expensive and that was the slowest you can run a projector and maintain a fluid movement. But now, with digital, more directors are experimenting with higher frame rates for a more realistic depiction of the story. Leo says that some people think it looks better. But the argument is that there are people who really love HFR, and some who absolutely hate it. Like 3D.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1199

Scott Wilkinson

Scott keeps getting questions about when to buy a new Ultra High Definition TV, and he says it's all in the timing. Unless you're an early adopter that has money to burn on a new TV every year or two, the timing just isn't right to get a 4K TV. Sure, prices have dropped, but there isn't a standard that is wide spread just yet. Plus, with four times the resolution, you either have to get a screen that is over 70" or you have to sit up to half as close. Otherwise, you lose the benefit of the additional resolution and you may as well own an HDTV.

How can I watch two different programs on my Roku via Slingbox?

Episode 1197

Doug from Diamond Bar, CA
Slingbox 500

Doug wants to know if he can use an HDMI splitter to divide his Slingbox with his Roku Box and control both. Leo says no because he won't be able to control them. Older Slingboxes have up to five HDMI ports in the back (the Slingbox 500 only has one), so if he has an older Slingbox, he could daisy chain them and control them. But Doug should remember that only one person can control it.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1197

Scott Wilkinson

Scott really wants to see Inside Out because it's being shown in high dynamic range laser projection. But he's busy getting ready for CE Week, the midterm CES conference in New York. While there, he's also going to attend the Value Electronics TV Panel shootout between the best TVs from each of the manufacturers. Joe Kane is also doing a presentation on High Dynamic Range TV, which Scott says looks stunning, and that Samsung will be first out of the gate to offer an HDR TV.

How can I extend the range of my Wi-Fi to the second floor?

Matthew from Virginia

Episode 1196

Matthew is having issues with WiFi when he moves to the second floor. Leo says it's important to remember that WiFi is about 150' in distance. But things can get in the way and dilute the signal, especially metal. An extender will help but you want an extender that is made by the same as your router. Leo has three of them. ActionTec is what Matthew's router is and they do address extenders here. That's the most affordable option. Then there's powerline networking that uses the electrical cable in your walls as networking cables.