Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

Amazon Launches Fire TV

Episode 1071

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon announced Fire TV this week, a device that is positioned to compete with AppleTV and Roku. Leo says it pretty much does the same things, but for an extra $40, you can get a wireless game controller to play games on it. Leo says it's essentially a computer running an Android OS; a smartphone minus the screen. It runs a quad core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, and will play Android games. Apple and Roku plan to implement this as well, but Amazon beat them to the punch.

Scott Wilkinson and HDMI 2

Episode 1069

Scott attended a webinar this week on HDMI 2.0, a new home video connection cable standard. He said it's a bit confusing. You can use the same cables you have now, which is a nice thing, and HDMI's category 2 cables have a bandwidth of 10.1 gigabits per second. Even though HDMI 2 is 18GBps, they can still work. It's not necessarily about the version number, it's the list of features it brings to the party. It depends on what the manufacturer decides to support, though.

Can I run both DirecTV and cable on the same TV?

Episode 1068

Jim from Cypress, CA
HDMI

Jim wants to run both DirecTV and Time Warner Cable off the same TV. Leo says he can do it via the HDMI ports on the back of the TV. Then he can just switch from one source to the other. But he'll need a separate cable for it. Can he do it wirelessly? Leo says that wireless HDTV is a difficult thing. It's always best to go wired through HDMI.

Have you heard about Bob Weir's Tamalpais Research Institute?

Episode 1067

Tom from San Jose, CA
mixer

Since Leo was talking about Neil Young's Pono player earlier in the show, Tom wanted to know if Leo had heard about Bob Weir's Tamalpais Research Institute, or "TRI." Bob Weir has built a beautiful state of the art streaming performance studio in Marin County in California. The Greatful Dead have always been huge supporters of high quality audio. They were notorious for having the best stage sound system anywhere. Bob is continuing the tradition by broadcasting live video and audio concerts in high quality. It's at tristudios.com.

Netflix Wants Stronger Net Neutrality Rules

Episode 1068

Explaining that he had no choice but to pay Comcast's "toll" to allow users to stream Netflix content, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings blasted the cable company for anti-competitive behavior. "The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make," wrote Hastings on the Netflix blog. "The traditional form of net neutrality which was recently overturned by a Verizon lawsuit is important, but insufficient."

Why am I having so much trouble with Netflix streaming?

Episode 1067

Steve from Los Angeles, CA
Netflix

Steve loves watching Netflix but he's not getting a consistent connection. Leo says that consistency is the key for Netflix streaming. Steve's provider may be artificially slowing down the service in order to make him want to buy their competing services. That's what Comcast did. He could try using a wired connection instead of than Wi-Fi. Steve can also try using AppleTV. The streaming is far better because Apple routes the streaming through their own data center.

Is the 80" Vizio TV a good product?

Episode 1067

Olivier from Newport Coast, CA
Vizio TV

Olivier is about to buy an 80" TV. He's trying to decide between two LED TVs, one is a Vizio. There's quite a price difference. Leo says that Vizio had made it's mark by offering high quality TVs for the money, and Leo says that it's good enough for the money. Leo says there is one flaw with any LED LCD: they're slow. Manufacturers have added frames to make up for this, which is why there are 120hz and 240hz options. The result is a plastic-like picture. So he should make sure to turn "interpolation" off in the settings.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1067

Scott Wilkinson joins us to talk about audio sampling. Leo became a Kickstarter backer for a company called Pono this week, which says that audio is way too compressed and oversampled, leaving the pure audio experience wanting. Neil Young's Pono seeks to change that. Leo says that he would like to hear music at the highest possible quality, as if you were hearing it while being in the same room. You don't get that with the current state of the art - mp3s.