Posted by: htguys | October 2, 2015

Podcast #707: United Object Smart Beam Laser Projector

Today’s Show:

United Object Smart Beam Laser Projector

You could probably start a pretty healthy debate if you asked a group of home theater enthusiasts what the single most important piece of gear is if you want to truly transform a home video system into a legitimate home theater. Surround sound is important. Without surround sound you’ll never feel like part of the action, and your home theater will never feel like a movie theater. The subwoofer provides the punch you need to really feel the action; the center channel provides all the on-screen action and the surround speakers put you right into the middle of that action.

Equally as vital, however, is the front projector. Sure TVs are getting bigger, and they’re really good – even at the really big sizes. To be honest, big TVs that are really good is a relatively new phenomenon. In the past the really big screens, the rear projection screens, were good, but they were really more about size than quality. But not true today; there are some killer home theaters built around large plasma and LED TVs. But for the authentic big screen experience, you really need that big screen. Something you can still only get from a front projector.

But if you turn that debate inside out a bit, if you ask about the single most important piece of equipment for a portable theater setup, the answers change. Surround sound isn’t as important, because who would travel with 7 speakers. Obviously you wouldn’t travel with a full television set, so you could say a really good, portable screen is key. But most people would tell you the projector is the most important. And small projectors, pico projectors, are starting to really develop into a strong category.

One such pico projector that’s getting a lot of attention is the United Object Smart Beam Laser pico projector. Not only is it tiny, small enough to fit in any travel bag, it has some unique features that make it quite compelling as the centerpiece to your portable home theater. We had the opportunity to play with one recently and it was a lot of fun. Granted it won’t ever be able to anchor your true home theater experience, it is cool enough to anchor your portable video needs and turn any portable electronic viewing device, like a laptop, tablet or phone,  into a portable home theater rig.


The United Object Smart Beam Laser Projector is square. It measures about 2.2 inches on a side and can fit in the palm of your hand. They bill it as the smallest HD laser projector in the world. It has a maximum brightness of 60 ANSI Lumens using, of course, a laser power source. The display itself uses LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) technology and is capable of 720p (1280×720) HD video resolution. It’ll go as small as 20” all the way up to a maximum 100” screen. You can buy it online direct from United Object for $419. Or from Amazon for the same price, but you do get Prime shipping.

Setup and Use

The projector needs power and a video source. It includes the power cord and an MHL cable, but you can also use micro HDMI, but you’ll need to provide your own cable for that. The unit is battery powered and the manual claims you can get up to 120 minutes of video from a full charge. We didn’t test that, but because it also supports a couple wireless video options, you don’t need to have it plugged in at all times to use it. You can connect to it using Miracast, mirroring from iOS, or using DLNA over WiFi.

Plugging into power is, of course, trivial. Once that’s done, plugging in a micro HDMI cable (you can get from Amazon for a couple bucks) and using the Smart Beam like a traditional projector is a snap, assuming you have a device that supports either HDMI or MHL. At that time, you have a 2-inch cube portable projector that fits in the palm of your hand. The Smart Beam includes an MHL adapter that is needed for some MHL devices, but we went with straight HDMI and it was ridiculously easy to setup and use. It took all of 30 seconds.

Going wireless really doesn’t take that much more work. When you turn it on without an HDMI/MHL input, the home screen shows you a Miracast Device name to connect to. We assume that is trivial, but didn’t have a Miracast device handy, so we didn’t try it. To use it with iOS or DLNA, you have to switch it to DLNA mode by tapping the power button twice quickly. Then it turns into its own WiFi hotspot and tells you how to connect to it. You join it as if it were a standard, open WiFi network and use AirPlay to mirror a device to it or DLNA to send content to it. This added an extra minute or two to the setup.


One really cool feature of the projector is that it will auto focus for any supported screen size. You can’t zoom, so you have to move it to the proper distance to get the right screen size, but once you have it at the right distance, it’ll automatically focus for you. We found the focus to be much sharper at larger screen sizes than smaller ones, but that could also be a function of how far we were from the screen, so the slight fuzziness of the picture diminished the further away from it we sat. The auto-focus feature makes it just that much easier to use.

For video, the LCoS laser display was surprisingly good. At 60 ANSI Lumens it is absolutely critical that you control ambient light, but in a sufficiently dark room, the projected image was quite good. It doesn’t have the resolution needed for crisp text display, especially at smaller font sizes, so it probably wouldn’t be an ideal projector for all business use cases. But if your business presentations tend to be more graphical in nature, it could work for you.

Using it as a portable video projector, however, is probably the manufacturer’s ideal use case. For video, we found the colors and contrast to be quite good – of course assuming you have a dark room and a good screen to project onto. The clarity of the picture was a bit softer, and perhaps slightly grainier than other 720p projectors we used, but certainly not to where it was terrible or distracting. The built-in audio is what you would expect from a package that size. It gets the job done, but at about the same quality as the speaker built into your laptop or phone.


All in all, we’re excited about where the pico projector technology is headed. You still have to deal with a good deal of trade-offs in brightness and picture quality, but they are improving. We can see a day in the future where you could have video screens all over your home, much like you have with whole-house audio, using pico projectors. Or where multiple pico projectors working together, like surround sound speakers in your home theater, could transform an entire room into a 360-degree panoramic viewing experience. Talk about being in the middle of the action. Add 3D to the mix there, and you’ve got yourself a holodeck. Sure, it might be a dream right now, but at the rate technology is moving these days, you really never know what tomorrow holds.

Download Episode #707

Posted by: htguys | September 24, 2015

Podcast #706: Ultimate DVR

Today’s Show:

Ultimate DVR

We have been using DVRs now for the past 10 years or so and they have come a long way since when they were first introduced. But with that said there are still a few features that could take the DVR to a whole new level. We have a few ideas for the Ultimate DVR and so do you.

Pause In One Room And Pick Up In Another

Most of our DVRs can already pick up recordings in different rooms at the last played spot but it’s a bit cumbersome. The way it works for most of us is to turn on the TV in the other room go to the recording list select the show and then hit resume. We would like to make it simpler. How about when you hit pause you are given an option to select another TV for continuation. Then you turn off the TV and go to the other room and turn on the TV. A dialog box will already be displayed on the screen asking you to hit play to resume. With a single click of the remote you are back in business!

User Profiles

User profiles would make life much easier for homes with multiple inhabitants. The interface should allow for quick filtering of the recorded programs based on users. That way we don’t see the shows that our children and/or spouses recorded. Anytime a new program is added to the season pass manager it will show up in everyone’s list until you accept or reject it. You can also show the full unfiltered list with a simple toggle.

But the real power will be in tracking where you were in a program. If someone in your household watches a show that you also have in your list it should not indicate that its been watched by you until you watch it. If someone else is 30 min into the show and you are 15 min into the show the DVR should keep track of that as well.

True iTunes/Netflix/Amazon/Youtube Integration

It would be great if you could log in via your DVR and then whatever subscriptions/TV/movies you have purchased would show up in the program list. Sure you can switch over to a Smart TV application or external set top box. It would be really cool if they just show up in the playlist.

Listeners Ideas

I would like to be able to record 4-6 shows simultaneously, watch DVR from my phone, set recordings more easily (too many steps), watch from any TV/device.

-Shawn in Stafford, VA via Facebook

Due to there being so much content out there to watch, some intelligence can be added to recommend shows that you would like based on what you record and shows that you watch via the “Catch Up” feature. I find that there is a lot of good stuff out there, but we just don’t seem to find it and if we do find it, the shows are a few episodes in already.

For shows that you generally record, highlight them within the “Catch-up” section. I prefer to watch via “Catch-up” then via the recorded shows since then I don’t have to skip commercials.

-Glenn in South Africa via Facebook

Cloud based dvr so that recordings are available to view on all devices. Could be practical now that dsl speeds are much higher these days.

Integration of catch – up and on demand within the EPG. This could allow for scrolling ‘back in time’ through the epg to launch a catch up show, straight from the epg itself.

-Duncan via Facebook

In today’s day and age, if a game runs late, the dvr should automatically adjust

-@409SWH via twitter

An interface that’s easy to use with less clicks. The @XFINITY X1 DVR is example of poor/stupid UI.

-@HiFiGuy528 (and many others!) via twitter

Honestly, way before any fancier feature, I’d just like the damn thing to work SMOOTHLY. My Comcast box is just slow enough responding to button presses that it drives me crazy. I spend an inordinate amount of time just trying to fast forward through commercials without overshooting the beginning of the next program segment. Then, rewinding… Then, oops, back forward… Then back… Then screw it, I’ll just watch this last commercial. At the end of a program I hit stop and WAIT for the option to delete, then hit OK and WAIT for it to delete, then WAIT for it to respond to the “exit” button for the DVR menu to go away. Then I’m about 10 seconds away from smashing the remote. Also, on the Comcast DVRs, you have to add about 3 minutes to every recording because the thing acts squirrelly near the end of any recording, in ways too specific and weird to explain here. Oh, AND, for no reason, they changed the play button’s function during playback from simply showing the play timeline to now pausing the program. GRRR…. So the feature I want the most? JUST WORK RIGHT.

The next complaint is simply the guide / schedule. Program reruns show up as new and either don’t get changed to a rerun listing until right before it airs, or never change and get recorded, filling up the drive. And our local PBS station CONSTANTLY has errors in listings. On other stations, series recordings just disappeared for the upcoming season, and we had to re-create them. Nuts.

So then after all the basic stuff, I’d like one DVR that remembered where you were in any recording, no matter how you were playing it back (recorded or on demand), and could play back to TINY little players around the house, or as DLNA to anything that uses that standard, or to mobile devices wherever I am. But mostly I don’t want big ol’ boxes with every TV simply to be able to see HD. That’s infuriating, and one of the reasons I was so excited to recently read about efforts to set a software standard by the FCC that could be licensed to whomever, so we don’t all have to rent so many infernal boxes! :-)

-Lee via Facebook

I would like DVR’s to go away. All shows should be available from any device at any time, including FF/RW capability. My cable company (Brighthouse) only has shows available from the current season and FF does not work. The capability to download a show to a mobile device so it can be played off-line should be available as well. So far, I have only seen this from Amazon.

-Andy via Facebook

  1. External HD with no size limit (user upgradable/replaceable)
  2. easy downloadable recordings (for archiving)
  3. easy way to backup all settings to an external computer

-Bob via email

Download Episode #706

Posted by: htguys | September 18, 2015

Podcast #705: Yonomi – The Automation Consolidation App

Today’s Show:

Yonomi – The Automation Consolidation App

Being able to control anything and everything in your home from your smartphone is pretty cool. Having to open multiple apps to do it is kinda lame. That’s what the developers behindYonomi are hoping to solve for you. Sure if you have a central server or hub, you can do it all there and control everything with one app, but is there really one server that can control any smart device? We haven’t seen it yet.

Of course, Yonomi can’t control any and every smart device you can imagine, but because their approach is different, they have support for more than you can imagine. And it feels like it will be easier for them to add support for more devices faster than a server or hub product could do.

About the App

From the Website: “Smart devices are here: Wireless thermostats, activity monitors, networked music systems and a whole host of devices in the home. Wouldn’t it be great if they all could communicate together? Wouldn’t it be even better if they worked in unison to make your daily routines easier and more enjoyable? Now there is an app that does all that and works in the background so you can get back to the things that really matter.”

 “Yonomi resides on your phone and in the Cloud. No need for a hub, controller box or other additional hardware. Yonomi magically finds and enhances your existing connected devices allowing them to interact with one another in ways never before possible.”

Supported Devices

  • August Smart Locks
  • Belkin WeMo Switches, Plug Modules, Motion Sensors, Bulbs and Netcams
  • Belkin Wemo enabled Crock-Pot
  • Belkin Wemo enabled Mr. Coffee
  • Cree LED Bulbs
  • Egg Minder
  • GE Link LED Bulbs
  • Jawbone UP
  • Mimo Baby Monitor
  • Nest Thermostat and Smoke Detector
  • Parrot Flower Power
  • Philips HUE Lights
  • Quirky Aros Air Conditioner, Door & Window Sensors, Water Sensors
  • Sonos Devices
  • Withings Pulse, Activite, Smart Body Analyzer, Wireless Scale

Using the App

First of all, the app is totally free. We aren’t sure how they plan to make money and stay around for the long run, but hopefully they have a plan. It is a bit scary to rely on it as your home automation server to only have it disappear out from underneath you. But then again, it’s free, so you’ve lost nothing but the time it took to get it up and running. Installing the app is as easy as any other app. Then you register by providing your name, email address and a password. Once done, it scours your WiFi for compatible devices and adds them.

Once you have some devices in the app, that’s when things get really fun. It starts by suggesting routines that match with the devices you have. Almost like a Harmony remote, when you add a TV and it tells you that you should really have a Watch TV activity, etc. But it goes way beyond just the devices it found. You can tell it where your home is located and it can use date and time, sunrise and/or sunset, the location of the phone (you leave home, you arrive home, etc) and a lot more to customize your routines.

Much like an automation hub or server, you can configure all kinds of routines to occur based on your life, and even things you didn’t know your devices could do. You can have your Sonos speakers talk to you, like saying ‘Don’t forget your lunch’ at 7:45 in the morning as your kids are headed out the door for school, then play Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) by Bananarama as they’re walking out. Or it can say, “Welcome home, Dave” when you get back from a long day at work, then start playing your favorite relaxing slow jam mix to help you de-stress. Even turn on some lights and start a pot of coffee.

Events that occur on the phone can set off routines in the smart devices as well. Flash the lights in the whole house when you get a phone call. Mute the Sonos speakers, or pause the music, when you answer or make a call. Have the Sonos speakers announce the weather when you shake the phone. It’s fun, easy to use, and very easy to configure. Because the app works with the Sonos Playbar, there are a bunch of cool potential routines to tie into your home theater as well.

We didn’t get the chance to try it on multiple phones, to make sure they could set independent routines, like different slow jam mixes when different people arrive home, but since the phone was added as a supported device during setup, we assume it would be as simple as logging into the app with the same account and creating some new routines. We’ll try this later and report back.

Download Episode #705

Posted by: htguys | September 11, 2015

Podcast #704: Binge Watching TV

Today’s Show:

Binge Watching TV

We have talked about Binge watching on the show many times. It’s a relatively new phenomena where you watch multiple episodes of a TV program in rapid succession. In the early days that meant you would buy or rent seasons of the program you were interested in on DVD. Today it can be that or more likely you stream the program from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or the network’s website.

We have never in the history of television had more content available to watch than we do right now. From old series to new made for streaming series you no longer can say there is nothing to watch. But has Binge watching improved the experience? We’ll take a look.

Some Statistics

A recent Tivo study says a little more than 90% of you have binge watched television. Seventy percent of the respondents to the Tivo survey say there is nothing wrong with it. Some of the reasons for binge watching include, catching up on missed episodes, finding out about a series a season or two or five after it first aired, and some just want to power through a season without having to wait for the show each week. The undisputed champ of binge watching is Netflix with 66% of the Tivo respondents saying that’s how they binge watch.

It’s not all roses for those who binge watch either. Thirty One percent of the survey takers said they have lost sleep because of their binge and 37% say they have lost an entire weekend to the habit. There is another study that binge watching can lead to depression although it may be that those who suffer from depression like to binge watch. Remember the old adage, everything in moderation! It applies to binge watching as well.

Water Cooler Discussions Not What They Used To Be

Who remembers watching Lost and then going to the office the next day to talk with co-workers so that you could decipher the previous night’s episode? It was almost like a ritual that a small group of us would discuss nuances of the show. It made for a nice social interaction with friends and co-workers. Fast forward a few years and now with Twitter you can watch a TV show with hard core fans and get real time discussion or you can interact with the actors after the show with Twitter Q&A.

With binging these social elements of watching programs are no longer there. You may have spent the entire weekend watching Daredevil (Fantastic show by the way) on Netflix but your co-worker is only 5 episodes in. You have to hold back on your enthusiasm in your discussion for fear of a spoiler. Speaking of spoilers, now we have to speak in code to make sure that the person you are speaking with is caught up. We have all been upset with someone who says something like, “OMG, I can’t believe they killed Beth!!” (Spoiler alert, they killed off Beth in The Walking Dead). We have on this very show had to be careful in what we say for fear of spoiling an episode or series for our listeners. How long do we have to wait before we can freely talk about a show without fear of upsetting our friends? Here is a survey from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Content Creators Are Adapting

It not just the viewers who are changing, so are the producers of television. It’s not very long after a season wraps up that all episodes are available on Blu-ray and DVD ready to be shipped to your door so you can binge. So many of you would tell us that we should watch “Burn Notice” and “The Walking Dead” that we ended up getting the discs from Netflix and catching up in a few weeks. We remember how depressing it was when we ran out of old episodes and had to wait each week for the next one. Although the Monday Morning Debrief, as Ara’s daughter calls it, is also fun.

Creators understanding that we can watch more content at any time are giving us more things to watch. For streaming you don’t need an audience of ten million people to make the show viable. Networks have a finite amount of time to fill so they only want to fill it with shows that draw huge numbers. Streaming can get by on a lot less. Plus, since the show was meant to be streamed the producers don’t care when you watch. As a result more shows are getting green lit. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was passed on by NBC and then picked up by Netflix. It has been a huge success and is nominated for an Emmy.

Do you remember when mid-season finales were big? Well no reason to do that anymore. Also, what about seasonal episodes? Shows that are made available all at once no longer can do the obligatory Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas episode. But is does allow creators to be free from the limits. not having to “waste” episodes based on seasonal elements allows the creators to experiment.

Not fearing being canceled after two episodes allows the creators to develop the plot and characters at a slower pace. Binge watchers may have to wait four or five episodes to get the full picture, but who cares, that can be done before lunch. This way you don’t feel like you’ve invested an entire month on a show before deciding that you don’t want to watch anymore. But others may like the show and at a minimum they will have one season.

You Might Be A Binge Watcher If:

From the Telegraph in the UK

  • You utter the phrase “Just one more episode” more than anything else in the day.
  • You dream about the show you’re currently watching and become obsessed with its stars.
  • You forget the names of your friends/family members/other half but can reel off whole character histories.
  • Entire hours/days/weeks slip by without you noticing.
  • You lose sensation in your limbs after sitting still for inordinately long periods of time.
  • When the series ends, you feel completely bereft – for around three seconds until you start on the next one.
  • Your friends/family members/other half recommends a detox.
  • The idea of switching the TV/laptop off brings you out in a cold sweat.

Hulu Not So Convinced

Hulu wants you to watch its original programming the old fashion way… one week at a time. Hulu’s thinking is that they want you to talk about a show each week to generate “Watercooler Buzz”.  You can still binge watch older episodes of current shows and past shows. On the plus side, you won’t have to wait until the entire season is shot and edited before they dump it into your queue.

Has the TV Experience Improved?

Well some may say no but we say a resounding yes! There is so much more content on TV and being able to catch up over the summer is a very good thing! Imagine trying to jump into the middle of the series Lost… pardon the pun but you’d be lost. New viewers would be locked out. Bingeing allows new viewers access to great programming. This in turns allows producers the leighway to build complex plots that arc over seasons. It also give producers the ability to develop characters and plotlines that may appeal to a smaller audience than what’s is required for network TV but still viable in the new world of binge watchers.


Here are a couple of links that may help you select what to binge watch:

Determine the amount of time it will take if you binge watch the entire series ( For example, binge watching Magnum P.I. would take 6 Days and 18 Hours. If you want to start watching the Walking Dead you would need to invest 1 Day and 23 hours before the October premiere of season six.

Over at Wired They have a Binge Watching Guide that breaks down a show into who may be interested in it, where to get it, and which episodes you must watch vs the ones you can skip. The shows aren’t listed in an specific order and it’s not an exhaustive guide but the most popular shows are there. You can use the search feature with the show’s name to see if a guide exists for that show.

What Are You Binge Watching?

Got a show you are into right now? Share it with us!

Download Episode #704

Posted by: htguys | September 4, 2015

Podcast #703: New TV Shows for Fall 2015

Today’s Show:

New TV Shows for Fall 2015

Few things in life are as highly anticipated as television premier season every Fall. The Super Bowl maybe? A wedding or the birth of a child perhaps? But most of them pale in comparison to the awesomeness that is premier season. All of your favorite shows coming back for another year, and a ton of new shows to potentially add to the DVR. One of them might just become your new favorite show.

Research compiled with the help of TV Guide.

Media Life Magazine has a great post with all the Fall Premiere Dates by date, time, and Network.


Blood & Oil

Premieres: Sunday, Sep. 27 at 9:00 PM

Don Johnson won’t be getting Blood & Oil all over his Miami Vice linen clothes in this dirty series about a modern-day oil boom in North Dakota. Johnson plays an oil tycoon who’s the antagonist to ambitious young couple Billy (Chace Crawford) and Cody (Rebecca Rittenhouse), who do everything they can to break off a little piece of that oil pie for themselves. Will everything of theirs — including their marriage — stand up to the challenge?

Dr. Ken

Premieres: Friday, Oct. 2 at 8:30 PM

Community’s Ken Jeong, who was once a real-life doctor, can now say he plays a doctor on TV. Jeong stars as the titular character, a great physician who lacks bedside manner and a husband and father of two who drives everyone up the wall. The multi-camera comedy should be a good fit on Friday nights, where it will be paired with Last Man Standing. Suzy Namamura, Tisha-Campbell Martin, Dave Foley, Jonathan Slavin and Albert Tsai also star.

The Muppets

Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 22 at 8:00 PM

Everyone’s favorite (or at least top 10) puppets are coming back to television, but this time, they have even more sass. This new version of The Muppets is presented as a modern-day documentary catching us up with Kermit, Miss Piggy and everyone else as they go on with their professional (running a late-night show) and personal (puppet romance!) lives. ABC is pitching this as a more adult version of The Muppets that’s still good for kids of all ages. The Big Bang Theory’s Bill Prady will run the show.


Premieres: Sunday, Sep. 27 at 10:00 PM

Let’s just call this one How to Get Away with Terrorism, because this twisty ensemble thriller has a lot in common with ABC’s big hit from last fall. A new incredibly attractive (obvs) class of FBI recruits at Quantico all joined the FBI for different reasons, which will be shown to the audience via flashbacks. But the real interesting part? One of the recruits — we don’t know who — is responsible for the biggest domestic terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Let the twists begin! Priyanka Chopra, Jake McLaughlin, Johanna Braddy and Graham Rogers star.

Wicked City

Premieres: Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 10:00 PM

Anthologies, period pieces and murder dramas are all the rage, and ABC smashed ’em all together in Wicked City. Set in 1980s Los Angeles, the first season is all about a detective (Jeremy Sisto) chasing down coupled-up serial killers (Ed Westwick, Erika Christensen) who prey on young women. Enjoyment tip: Try not to think about how half the cast wasn’t even born when the series takes place.


Angel From Hell

Premieres: Thursday, Nov. 5 at 9:30 PM

Jane Lynch stars as a guardian angel. Or does she star as a crazy person who thinks she’s a guardian angel? That’s what Maggie Lawson’s character — a straight-laced dermatologist — will have to figure out in this oddball buddy comedy. But you’ll have to figure out when to laugh — this is a rare single-camera comedy on CBS.

Code Black

Premieres: Wednesday, Sep. 30 at 10:00 PM

Marcia Gay Harden stars in this medical drama about an emergency room in Los Angeles that’s overcrowded, understaffed and under-equipped. But the doctors get it done, because this is a television show! Based on Ryan McGarry’s award-winning documentary of the same name, Code Black also stars Luis Guzman, Raza Jeffrey, Benjamin Hollingsworth and Bonnie Somerville.

Life in Pieces

Premieres: Monday, Sep. 21 at 8:30 PM

A fantastic cast highlights this multi-generational family comedy that’s told from the point of view of every family member. Babies will be born, kids will go to college and sitcom situations will go down at funerals. Dianne Wiest, James Brolin, Colin Hanks, Zoe Lister-Jones, Angelique Cabral, Thomas Sadoski, Betsy Brandt and Dan Bakkedahl star.


Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 22 at 10:00 PM

You thought the movie was OK, now see the television show based on the OK movie! This thriller stars Greek’s Jake McDorman as a man who takes a drug that gives him access to 100 percent of his brain, meaning he’s gifted physically and intellectually. Naturally, that makes him the perfect person to solve crime! Jennifer Carpenter, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Hill Harper co-star. Bradley Cooper, the star of the original 2011 film and executive producer of the series, will recur and reprise his character.


Premieres: Monday, Oct. 26 at 8:30 PM

Add CBS to the list of networks riding on the cape of the superhero phenomenon, as Melissa Benoist suits up as Superman’s cousin in this light hearted drama. Come for bubbly heroine Kara saving National City from disaster, stay for the Devil Wears Prada work environment with Kara’s nightmare boss Cat (Calista Flockhart) and wardrobe changes. Mehcad Brooks, David Harewood, and Chyler Leigh also star.



Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 29 at 8:00 PM

It’s time to finally take down your Teen Beat John Stamos poster from your bedroom wall because Stamos is a grandfather! At least he is in this new single-camera comedy, in which Stamos plays a playboy restaurateur who finds out that he not only has a son, but his son also has a daughter. Old-man-changing-diapers hilarity ensues! Rounding out the cast are Josh Peck, Paget Brewster and Christina Milian.

The Grinder

Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 29 at 8:30 PM

Rob Lowe can’t stay off TV for too long! He headlines this comedy about an actor on a popular legal TV drama who returns to his small-town home to work in his family’s real-life law practice with his brother (Fred Savage), despite only knowing law from the scripts of TV. What could go wrong? Umm, lots. But maybe that small town will teach him a thing about humility. Hey, this writes itself.

Minority Report

Premieres: Monday, Sep. 21 at 9:00 PM

Set 15 years after the Tom Cruise film of the same name, Minority Report follows a pre-cog — psychics who have the ability to predict the future — named Dash who uses his ability to stop crimes with the help of a detective. But Dash must do all he can to keep his abilities secret as there are people out there who want to detain pre-cogs and do all sorts of bad things to them, like poke their brain or open them up to see what makes them tick. Stark Sands stars as Dash, with Meagan Good on board to play his partner.


Premieres: Wednesday, Sep. 23 at 8:00 PM

The latest brilliant medical mind on television who has a problem is Morris Chestnut, who plays the titular Rosewood. And his problem? He’s endlessly optimistic and loves life. Annoying! But his real problem appears to be legitimate medical issues, which leads him to live every moment like it’s his last. (YOLO!) As Miami’s top pathologist, he’ll help a skeptical cop (Jaina Lee Ortiz) solve the murders that the Miami PD can’t.

Scream Queens

Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 22 at 8:00 PM

The latest idea to crawl out of Ryan Murphy’s brain is an anthology comedy-horror series that’s one of the hottest tickets of the year. Season 1 will be set in the ripest of horror settings — a snooty sorority — when the school’s new dean demands that all potential sisters must be accepted in the pledging process. Oh, and a serial killer is on the loose murdering at least one character in each episode. Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lea Michele, Nasim Pedrad, Oliver Hudson, Keke Palmer and Ariana Grande highlight the impressive cast.


Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris

Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 15 at 10:00 PM

If there was ever a person suited to bring back the variety show, it’s Neil Patrick Harris. The Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor is a singer, dancer, magician and just generally a doer of funny things. Based on the popular British series Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Best Time Ever features appearances by stars, stunts, comedy skits, incredible performances, mini game shows, audience giveaways and hidden camera pranks. If you can think of it, it’ll probably pop up on this hour-long series.


Premieres: Monday, Sep. 21 at 10:00 PM

You know that recurring dream where you wake up naked in Times Square? Well, that really happens to Thor’s Jaimie Alexander in this new drama from Arrow and The Flash executive producer Greg Berlanti. Alexander’s character takes the nightmare to a whole new level, though, when she discovers her body is covered in intricate tattoos and she has no memory of how she got there or who inked her up like a gas station bathroom. Strike Back’s Sullivan Stapleton appears as the FBI agent who follows the clues from her tattoos to reveal a larger conspiracy, the truth about her identity and hopefully, if he’s lucky, who to call for a good time.

Chicago Med

Premieres: Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 10:00 PM

The newest spin-off in Dick Wolf’s popular Chicago franchise, Chicago Med stars Oliver Platt, S. Epatha Merkerson, Laurie Holden, Nick Gehlfuss and Yaya Dacosta. It follows the day-to-day activities of one of Chicago’s busiest and probably most dramatic hospitals, if we’ve learned anything from medical dramas. The series will draw inspiration from topical events as the doctors, nurses and cafeteria staff forge relationships in, out and probably around the emergency room. And yes, you can expect to see Chicago’s hunkiest firefighters and top-notch lawmen swing through its doors on a semi-regular basis.

Heroes Reborn

Premieres: Thursday, Sep. 24 at 8:00 PM

A reboot of NBC’s Heroes, this new series is exactly like the old one only with less Milo Ventimiglia and more Zachary Levi. And although Peter Petrelli won’t be back, some other familiar faces will make appearances, including Jack Coleman as H.R.G., Greg Grunberg as Matt Parkman and Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, among others. But what is this new chapter in the Heroes story about? Following a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, that left the city decimated, those ordinary folks with extraordinary abilities are blamed. Most have gone into hiding or are on the run, but something tells us they won’t stay hidden for for long, because otherwise WTF is the point of this show?

The Player

Premieres: Thursday, Sep. 24 at 10:00 PM

Philip Winchester stars opposite Wesley freakin’ Snipes in this new Las Vegas-set action series about a former military operative and current security expert who’s drawn into a high-stakes game in which a bunch of wealthy jerks bet on his ability to stop crimes before they happen. You can probably think of it as Strike Back: Las Vegas but with fewer explosions, more Snipes and some truly ridiculous, convoluted scenarios.

Truth Be Told

Premieres: Friday, Oct. 16 at 8:30 PM

Formerly known as People Are Talking, this new hangout comedy is about two couples who over-analyze and obsess about everything as if they’re the heir apparent to Dawson Leery. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash) stars as Mitch, a college professor (LOL) who’s married to Vanessa Lachey’s (Dads) Tracy. Meanwhile, Tone Bell (Bad Judge) and Bresha Webb (Hung) portray their BFFs and neighbors, Russell and Angie. You can probably expect a lot of talking that doesn’t really say much.


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Premieres: Monday, Oct. 19 at 8:00 PM

The CW’s only new series this fall, this new comedy with musical elements hails from Rebecca Bloom who stars in the hour-long series as Rebecca Bunch, a determined (and possibly crazy) young woman who gives up her partnership at a law firm in Manhattan to move to West Covina, Calif., in a desperate attempt to find love and happiness with an ex-boyfriend. Remember when we said she might be crazy?


Fear the Walking Dead

Premieres: Sunday, Aug. 23 at 9:00 PM

Don’t call it a prequel! It’s a companion series. Set during the time Rick Grimes was in a coma, the L.A.-set Fear the Walking Dead will show what happened when the zombie outbreak first began. But don’t expect the same harrowing tales of survival from its wildly successful cousin; this drama will focus on a family unit and the problems it has with an outbreak backdrop. Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, and Frank Dillane star.

A look back at the new TV shows for Fall 2014

How many survived? Of the shows we looked at for Fall premieres last year, not that many. This doesn’t include shows we didn’t talk about, or other late premiere shows like mid-season or summer replacement series.

ABC (2/6)

  • Black-ish – renewed
  • Cristela – canceled
  • Forever – canceled
  • How to Get Away With Murder – renewed
  • Manhattan Love Story – canceled
  • Selfie – canceled

CBS (3/5)

  • Madam Secretary – renewed
  • The McCarthys – canceled
  • NCIS: New Orleans – renewed
  • Scorpion – renewed
  • Stalker – canceled

NBC (1/6)

  • A to Z – canceled
  • Bad Judge – canceled
  • Constantine – canceled
  • Marry Me – canceled
  • The Mysteries of Laura – renewed
  • State of Affairs – canceled

FOX (1/5)

  • Gotham – renewed
  • Gracepoint – canceled
  • Mulaney – canceled
  • Red Band Society – canceled
  • Utopia – canceled

CW (2/2)

  • The Flash – renewed
  • Jane The Virgin – renewed

Download Episode #703

Posted by: htguys | August 27, 2015

Podcast #702: Pinch Hitter

Today’s Show:

Pinch Hitter

Today we go through emails and news and a discuss a post by Scott Wilkinson at AVS Forum that provides 12 Tips to Tune up your HDTV with guest host Stephanie Derderian. Don’t worry, Braden will be back next week!

Download Episode #702

Posted by: htguys | August 21, 2015

Podcast #701: DIY Automation Controls

Today’s Show:

DIY Automation Controls using Amazon’s Dash Buttons

Amazon released a new little product a couple months ago, to very little fanfare. The Dash Button is a tiny device that allows you to instantly order a specific product for Amazon Prime delivery. We thought it was a bit of a novelty and didn’t see much use for it, but as with just about anything in technology these days, give it time and someone will find a way to repurpose it and put it to better use.

About the Dash Button

Each button is about the size of a portable USB drive and, in Amazon’s own words, it “…comes with a reusable adhesive and a hook so you can hang, stick, or place it right where you need it. Keep Dash Button handy in the kitchen, bath, laundry, or anywhere you store your favorite products. When you’re running low, simply press Dash Button, and Amazon quickly delivers household favorites so you can skip the last-minute trip to the store.” They are currently available in limited quantities to Prime members only.

Each Dash Button costs $4.99. Not bad for the convenience factor. When we first heard about them, we thought it could be pretty neat. Buy a button, tell it what product you want it to order for you, and place it in a convenient location. Do you use a lot of AA batteries for remote controls, kids toys, etc? Place the Dash Button by where you store your batteries and when you’re running low, click it and you’ll have more on your doorstep in two days. But that’s not exactly how it works.

The idea is the same, but the Buttons aren’t nearly that configurable. Each Button corresponds to a predetermined product, and includes that product’s logo on it. If you find yourself constantly ordering and reordering one of the available products, it could be great for you. If not, the Dash Button may seem useless. That is, unless you find your own unique way to hack the Dash Button to get it to do something else that makes sense for you.

Right now there are 18 Dash Buttons available: Tide Detergent, Bounty Paper Towels, Cottonelle Toilet Paper, Glad Trash Bags, Gillette Razor Blade Refills, SmartWater Water Bottles, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Gatorade Sports Drinks, Huggies Diapers, Larabar Nutrition Bars, Izze Sparkling Juices, Wellness Natural Pet Food, Amazon Elements Baby Wipes, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Maxwell House Coffee, Olay Skin Care, Gerber Baby Formula, and L’Oreal Youth Skin Care.

Repurposing the Dash Button

The whole idea comes from a post at by Ted Benson called How I Hacked Amazon’s $5 WiFi Button to track Baby Data. Which, we’ll admit, sounds a bit creepy, but it isn’t. It was a dad’s quest to track when and how often his baby woke up at night. You can get the full details if you read the post, but he had tried baby tracker apps, but wasn’t satisfied, so he decided to put the Amazon Dash Button to use for just that purpose.

Those familiar with networking know that any devices you connect to your home network must have a unique identifier so your router can tell it apart from all the other devices on your network. This identifier is called a MAC address. The Dash Button is no different. Each one has a Mac address so it can connect to your home Wifi, then connect to Amazon over the Internet to make your product order. That MAC address, and the Dash Button’s ability to connect to your home Wifi are the secret to unlocking the device’s full potential.

To save battery life, the Dash Button completely shuts off when not in use. This means that when you click the button it has to wake up, connect to your Wifi network, then place the order. So if you can track when it connects to your network, you can get an alert every time the button is pressed. The author decided to monitor his network with a simple python script running on his computer. The source code is available at the post if you want it. But if you’re inventive, there are multiple ways to detect a new device joining your network.

Since each Dash button has to have a unique MAC address, you can have as many as you want and detect each one independently when they’re pressed. The author went on to enhance his python script to add a line to a google spreadsheet. He was able to use two different Dash Buttons to track two different baby activities at night, without having to turn his phone on, launch the app, track the activity, etc. Just click a Dash Button and you’re set. Of course, as he points out, you want to make sure the Dash Button isn’t actually associated with an item at Amazon so you don’t end up ordering something every time you click it.

But instead of writing a line to a Google spreadsheet, this is where the world becomes your oyster. Yours can do anything you can script to occur from the computer tracking the network for Dash Button activity. If that computer happens to be your automation server, imagine the possibilities. Do you have an automation activity you perform constantly that a single button press would make so much easier when a light switch isn’t within reach? Lights on or off from the bedside table. Air Conditioning on or off from the couch? Lights on or off from the car? Music on or off from the patio. Unlimited possibilities.

By now, if you’re a DIY automation enthusiast, you’ve probably come up with at least one or two ideas for the Dash Button. Sure, they’re all things you can do from your phone if you wake it up, open the right app, click the right action. Or from a wall switch if you get off your lazy butt and walk over to click it. Or from any of a plethora of other automation interfaces. The point isn’t that this a new or novel concept, it’s a new or novel way to put a $5 device from Amazon to work for you in creative and unique ways.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, there are options for tabletop controllers so you can get the simplicity of single click without having to repurpose a Dash Button. For example, if you’ve got an Insteon based system, you can pick up the 6-button scene control keypad in black or whitefor around $100. Not a bad deal. You get 6 buttons instead of having the keep track of 6 different Dash Buttons, but you pay quite a bit more as well. But, on the upside, it’ll be an instant addition to your automation system, so there’s still programming work to get it to do what you want, but less DIY work to get it into your ecosystem.

If you end up hacking up a Dash Button, we’d love to hear your story. If you’ve done something similar, hacked a device to automate your home or otherwise enhance your life, we’d love to hear about that too. Our listeners are quite sophisticated and inventive, we’d love to share your successful automation or home theater life hacks with the rest of the listeners.

Download Episode #701

Posted by: htguys | August 14, 2015

Podcast #700: Mobile HDTV

Today’s Show:

Mobile HDTV

Motorola Mobility, one time subsidiary of Google, now a part of Lenovo, just released a new app in the Google Play Store called, yep, you guessed it, Mobile HDTV.  The app enables select phones and portable devices, with the proper hardware, to watch live, over-the-air HDTV right on your Android device. The concept is pretty simple, and you’d think very compelling, but it turns out most people can’t use it. The question is, why not?

According to the description of the app, “Digital HDTV brings the broadcast TV experience to mobile devices with HD quality, making the experience more personal and more universally available.” The app is both a tuner and a DVR, so it allows you to…

  • “Watch TV while away from home: Digital HDTV brings the HD broadcast TV experience to the mobile device, with the additional support of the EPG (Electronic Program Guide) and Ginga, for user interactivity.”
  • “Record the TV program that you like: You may record the program you are watching, so that you can see it again later, or share something you liked with others.”
  • “Choose when to watch your favorite program: You may love a TV program but you may not necessarily be available to watch it when it plays. This feature gives you the ability to schedule it to be recorded, so that you can watch it later, when you like it.”

However, “This application has been designed to work on the Motorola models that support Mobile HDTV.” That’s the catch. So how many Motorola devices support Mobile HDTV? Turns out we weren’t able to find any for the US market that include the necessary hardware. Google and Amazon searches for devices with built-in DTV tuners came up empty. There are a handful of external DTV tuner/antennas at Amazon, but they’re based on the now defunct Dyle TV platform. So what gives?

TV on your Phone

According to the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), “The process of integrating mobile TV transmission with an existing ATSC broadcast TV plant is not difficult. These are the basic devices required for local origination and network services:

  • A video (AVC) and audio (HE AAC v2) encoder for each added program stream
  • An IP path into the facility (for remote component ingest)
  • An IP encapsulator to encapsulate all program streams and non-real-time files into the appropriate transport protocol
  • A service multiplexer to multiplex the conventional ATSC stream with mobile TV data
  • A mobile TV enabled exciter to replace the existing exciter in the ATSC transmitter
  • The Mobile TV architecture provides full compatibility with all industry-standard ATSC equipment. Additionally, the system is compatible with all current microwave and fiber STL systems.

And they list a ton of benefits for the broadcaster, “When a mobile TV system is implemented, broadcasters can expect the following operational and financial benefits:

  • Leveraged investment in ATSC transmission
  • Delivery of robust digital TV signals to mobile TV receiving devices
  • Extension of local branding to mobile users
  • The ability to redirect local news, weather, sports and traffic information to “consumers on the go”
  • The addition of up to eight program (streams) of mobile content per station
  • New revenue opportunities based on subscription, advertising and sell-through transactions”

We (The HT Guys) started talking seriously about Mobile HDTV back in 2010 when a group called Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a joint venture of 12 major broadcasters, announced a commitment to upgrade TV stations in 20 markets in order to deliver live video to portable devices. Their goal was to deliver mobile video service in markets representing more than 40% of the US population by late 2011. That group eventually released a platform of hardware and applications called Dyle TV. But as of May 22, 2015, Dyle mobile TV is no longer in service, and Dyle-enabled devices and their apps will no longer be supported.

Some may remember that Qualcomm tried and failed as well. They developed a technology called MediaFLO for transmitting audio, video and data to portable devices for mobile television and branded it in the US as FLO TV. But in October 2010, they announced they were suspending all new sales of the service to consumers and in December 2010, AT&T acquired Qualcomm’s broadcast spectrum licenses in the 700 MHz band. FLO TV was officially shut down as a service in March of 2011.

What gives?

Many of us remember how many portable TVs were sold in the 1980’s. How many Watchman TVs Sony was flooding the market with. And back then you had to carry a separate device with you just to watch TV. Often they were only black and white screens, and sure they were “portable,” but not nearly as portable as today’s cell phones. How is it that free, over-the-air television, with no cost to consumers – no data charges, no minutes used – isn’t a feature on every cell phone and tablet in America?

This is very different than the Aereo situation. With Mobile HDTV the same broadcaster is airing the same content in the same market. They’re just broadcasting it to an entirely new set of screens. We don’t know for sure, but it’s entirely possible that the number of cell phones and tablets exceeds the number of TV screens in a lot of urban markets. Why wouldn’t broadcasters want their content on those screens? Why wouldn’t users want the ability to tune into live TV when they’re stuck shopping at the mall all day on a Saturday? Or every tablet made, for any kid in a carset or at a restaurant. There’s no cost to watch it. You don’t even need a data connection.

There has to be some technical challenges with the technology that we weren’t able to uncover, and we’re hoping some of our listeners can shed some light on it. Because, as of right now, an app like Mobile HDTV from Motorola Mobility seems like a pretty big no-brainer. We just don’t know why nobody has been able to get it to catch on.

Download Episode #700

Today’s Show:

Sorting Through Atmos and DTS:X Receivers and Pre-Pros by Rob H.

A Couple of Thoughts on Immersive Audio Setups

There are differing opinions on which additional speakers beyond the standard 5.1 layout deliver the most immersive experience:

– Mark Henninger, Senior Writer at AVS Forum, stated during an episode of the Home Theater Geeks Podcast that he feels that four overhead speakers are necessary in order to get a good sense of panning and movement of the audio objects. If he were limited to 9 speakers, he would favor 5.1.4 over 7.1.2:

– Representatives from THX, Matt Severaid and Craig Buckley, stated on an episode of the AV Forums Podcast that they feel the Surround Back speakers actually play a critical role. They also feel that the Surround and Surround Back speakers should still be elevated as opposed to being at seated ear level, which is the new recommendation from Dolby. With elevated Surround and Surround Back speakers, they would opt for 7.1.2 with Surround Back and Top Middle speakers if limited to 9 speakers total.

General statements that might help you to quickly narrow down the field:

1) There are quite a few models that can decode Dolby Atmos but are unable to decode DTS:X (and will never get an update to do so). This is the case with ALL models that were released in 2014 – except for the flagship Denon AVR-X7200W Receiver and Marantz AV8802 Pre-Pro; those are the only two models that were released in 2014 that can be updated to decode DTS:X. There are also some 2015 models that decode Dolby Atmos but do not decode DTS:X.

This list from High Def Digest has done an excellent job of separating the DTS:X + Dolby Atmos models from the Dolby Atmos-only models:


2) There were no models released in 2014 that included HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2. While several 2014 Onkyo & Integra models touted HDCP 2.2 support, those ports were limited to 10.2 Gbps, which is insufficient for High Dynamic Range video signals that require the full 18 Gbps bandwidth of HDMI 2.0a. Once again, the only exceptions were the Denon AVR-X7200W and Marantz AV8802, which can have a hardware upgrade performed. No other 2014 models can be upgraded. Since the bandwidth (10.2 Gbps or 18 Gbps) is rarely listed on any spec sheets, the key features to look for are support for UltraHD/4K at 60 fps along with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling. Those features are the “code” that lets you know if a model has the full 18 Gbps bandwidth.

3) So far, in 2015, Pioneer & Pioneer Elite have not announced any models that can decode DTS:X or are able to receive an update to do so. This could change if they announce new models.

4) So far, in 2015, Onkyo & Integra have not announced any models capable of using more than 7 speakers simultaneously (5.2.2). This could change with the announcement of new models.

5) Denon & Marantz are the only mass market brands offering any models capable of decoding the Auro-3D immersive audio format. It is a $200 optional upgrade. It is only available on all models capable of using 9 or 11 speakers simultaneously.

6) In 2015, Denon & Marantz are the only mass market brands offering any models capable of using Front Wide speakers.

Getting into some of the finer details:

7) Denon & Marantz have announced several models that are not yet listed in the High Def Digest article linked above. That is because the official announcements were made in Europe, but they have not yet been officially announced in North America. The official North American announcements are expected soon – certainly during or before CEDIA Expo 2015. You can view an English language translation of the European announcements below:


8) The additional Denon & Marantz models listed in a similar fashion as the High Def Digest article:

DTS:X & Dolby Atmos Receivers


AVR-X6200W – ($2299, October) 9.2 Channel A/V Receiver, Supports Additional Amp for 11.2 Channels, 4K HDCP 2.2 Compliant, Auro-3D ($200 option)


SR6010 – ($1199, September) 7.2 Channel A/V Receiver, Supports Additional Amp for 9.2 Channels, 4K HDCP 2.2 Compliant, Auro-3D ($200 option)

SR7010 – ($1699, September) 9.2 Channel A/V Receiver, Supports Additional Amp for 11.2 Channels, 4K HDCP 2.2 Compliant, Auro-3D ($200 option)

AV7702 Mk. II – ($1999, October) 11.2 Channel A/V Pre-Amp/Processor, 4K HDCP 2.2 Compliant, Auro-3D ($200 option)

9) If you would like to be able to use 11 speakers simultaneously, the number of mass market DTS:X options is limited:


AVR-X7200WA AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $2999, available now, the ‘A’ on the end of the model number is important and indicates HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 and DTS:X.

AVR-X7200W AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $2999, available now. These do NOT have HDCP 2.2 nor DTS:X, but Denon will upgrade these units to AVR-X7200WA for free, although you have to pay to ship it to New York for the HDMI hardware upgrade.

AVR-X6200W AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $2299, October.


AV8802A Pre-amp/Processor with 13.2 XLR & 13.2 RCA – $3999, available now, the ‘A’ on the end of the model number is important and indicates HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 and DTS:X.

AV8802 Pre-amp/Processor with 13.2 XLR & 13.2 RCA – $3999, available now. These do NOT have HDCP 2.2 nor DTS:X, but Marantz will upgrade these units to AV8802A for free, although you have to pay to ship it to New York for the HDMI hardware upgrade.

AV7702 Mk. II Pre-amp/Processor with 11.2 XLR & 13.2 RCA – $1999, October. The “Mk. II” on the end of the model number is extremely important and indicates HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 and DTS:X. In 2014, there was an AV7702 model; it did NOT have HDCP 2.2 nor DTS:X, and it could NOT be upgraded. So be cautious about the “Mk. II” model number.

SR7010 AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $1699, September.


RX-A3050 AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $2199, September.

10) If you’re ok with “only” using 9 speakers simultaneously, the number of mass market DTS:X options is even smaller:


AVR-X4200W AV Receiver with 7 internal amps – $1499, August.


SR6010 AV Receiver with 7 internal amps – $1199, September.


RX-A2050 AV Receiver with 9 internal amps – $1699, available now.

11) Since Denon & Marantz, and Yamaha are the only mass market options right now for 9 or 11 speaker models that support DTS:X, what are some of the differences that might help you decide on a brand?

  1. a) If you want Auro-3D and/or Front Wide speakers, only Denon & Marantz offer those features.
  2. b) Room correction / auto-setup:

– Denon & Marantz use Audyssey MultEQ XT32 with SubEQ HT and LFC (Low Frequency Containment) in all of their 9 and 11 speaker models.

– Yamaha uses YPAO with RSC (Reflected Sound Control) and multi-point measurement. The RX-A3050 adds 3D angle measurement, but the speaker azimuth and elevation angles are only used by Yamaha’s own proprietary Cinema DSP 3D Listening Mode.

  1. c) Since Denon & Marantz use Audyssey, they also offer the Audyssey DSX Listening Mode, which expands 2-channel, 5.1, and 7.1 content to make use of Front Height and Front Wide speakers.
  2. d) Denon & Marantz include ISFccc video calibration controls.
  3. e) Denon & Marantz offer a greater number of potential speaker configurations for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

– In addition to the 7 main speakers (Front L/R, Center, Surround L/R, Surround Back L/R), Yamaha allows you to connect “Front Presence L/R”, and “Rear Presence L/R” speakers. The Front Presence L/R speakers can be identified as Front Height, Top Front, or FRONT Dolby speakers. The Rear Presence L/R speakers can be identified as Rear Height, Top Rear, or REAR Dolby.

– In addition to the 7 main speakers and the optional Front Wide speakers, Denon & Marantz allow you to connect “Height 1” and “Height 2” speakers. The Height 1 speakers can be identified as Front Height, Top Front, Top Middle, FRONT Dolby, or SURROUND Dolby speakers. The Height 2 speakers can be identified as Top Middle, Top Rear, Rear Height, SURROUND Dolby, or REAR Dolby speakers.

Having the additional speaker position options allows you to better match the name of the speakers with their physical location in your room. This allows the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Renderers to position audio objects more precisely.

Download Episode #699

Posted by: htguys | July 31, 2015

Podcast #698: 2015 HDTV Shootout

Today’s Show:

2015 HDTV Shootout

Each year Value Electronics, an audio/video integrator with a showroom in Scarsdale New York, pits the top TVs from big name manufacturers against each other to determine the  King of HDTV. This year there were four contenders, one each from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and LG.

Panasonic 65” Pro 4K Ultra HD Smart TV 240hz- CX850 Series- TC-65CX850U ($3,200)

  • Studio Master Drive- Helps 4K TV’s reproduce more detail and richer, more natural colors during dark scenes
  • An advanced LED Backlight Design, DCI 90-98% Color Space, which produces a wider color range
  • Firefox© OS to ensure ease for you to access smart apps and content
  • Voice Assistant Pro allowing to operate your TV just by talking to it with a remote control
  • Netflix© Recommended TV

Sony XBR75X940C 75-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV  ($8,000)

  • HD is upscaled to impressive 4K Ultra HD
  • Our best contrast ever with up to 3x brightness range
  • Brilliant, expanded color with TRILUMINOS™ display
  • Streaming 4K Ultra HD is enhanced for improved clarity
  • Android TV with Google Cast, voice search & Play Store apps
  • Powerful front-facing speakers and built-in subwoofers
  • Precise motion clarity with Motionflow™ XR 1440
  • Stream PS3® games directly to your TV
  • Black levels of plasma, brightness of LED

Samsung UN78JS9500 Curved 78-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV ($10,000)

  • Experience our Most Superior Level of Color, Contrast, and Brightness
  • Enjoy a Brighter, More True-to-Life Picture with a Wider Range of Colors
  • Experience the Full Vibrancy of your Favorite Media and Entertainment
  • Experience a Greater Sense of Depth with Optimized Contrast

LG Electronics 65EG9600 65-inch 4K Ultra HD 3D Curved Smart OLED ($7,000)

  • Curved 4K OLED TV
  • webOS 2.0 SMART TV
  • Magic Remote
  • Harmon/Kardon Sound
  • Netflix Recommended TV

The competition was conducted over two days with both professional and consumer evaluators. All in all just over 80 judges rated the TVs for Black Level, Contrast, Color, Off Angle Viewing, Screen Uniformity, Motion Clarity, and Day Mode viewing on professionally calibrated sets. Each category carries equal weight. The average scores for each category and overall average is listed at


  • Consumers were tougher than the experts in their ratings except for when it came to off angle viewing. This translated to lower overall and average scores when rated by consumers. However the difference was small, less than percent or two.
  • The difference between the best TV and the worst TV was 1.51 | 1.38
  • The price difference between the number one and two TVs are $3,000. With the number two Samsung costing more! The lowest scoring TV and highest scoring TV’s price difference is $3,800. You can decide if the curved OLED is worth it based on the scores.
  • LED technology has come a long way in off axis viewing but apparently it still has a ways to go. OLED beat the other TVs by a wide margin.
  • As far as color accuracy goes, OLED was tied for last with the SONY when viewed by experts but it won the category when viewed by consumers.
  • If you do a lot of daylight viewing of TV you may want to go with the Samsung although the other TVs are only about a point lower in rating.
  • OLED had the worst screen uniformity.
  • OLED really won this competition based on three categories, Black Levels, Contrast, and Off Angle viewing.

Download Episode #698

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