Introduction to Video Accessory Reviews

Most home theater enthusiasts can enjoy their movies with a good display and an audio system anchored by an AV receiver or surround processor. But for those born with the tweaking gene, there are performance-enhancing products to get you that last one-percent towards perfection.

If you have a large DVD library, an advanced video processor can go a long way towards making standard-definition content look better. Even with the scaling solutions built into most players and displays, there are products that can take you further. Some come in the form of small boxes that connect between your source and display, and others demand space in your equipment rack and come at a premium price.

Another product near-and-dear to home theater buffs is a projection screen. Even the best display won’t show you what it can do if you throw the image on a wall. Screen materials come in a dizzying array of sizes and types so it’s important to know what will work best for your individual space. The newest models can even reject ambient light so you don’t have to watch movies in the dark. Our reviews cover screen material technology and we include contrast and color-shift testing so you can determine the best possible match for your projector.

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Video Accessory Reviews

ChromaPure 2.2 Video Calibration System and Lumagen Radiance Mini-3D Video Processor

If you've read the previous DIY calibration articles here at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, then you've seen us cover ChromaPure and CalMAN calibration systems, and the DVDO Duo video processor. This time we're going to look at the newest release of ChromaPure, version 2.2, as well as the Lumagen Radiance Mini-3D Video Processor, both individually and together.

Home Theater WallWizard XM37 Flat Panel HDTV Wall Mounting Bracket

One of the things I like about CEDIA is discovering something that I hadn't expected to impress me. Oh sure the dazzling larger than life flat panels, or bright projectors are always omnipresent. The beautiful glossy speakers and sometimes those overstuffed theater chairs are a welcomed relief. But this year walking by the WallWizard booth it was the motorized wall mounts caught my attention. When I was introduced to them I was shown some innovative ideas that seemed to solve issues we've all thought about but never seen addressed.

OmniMount LEDP75 Wall Mount Kit for Flat Panel HDTV’s

While at CEDIA last September, I witnessed a demonstration of the OmniMount LEDP75 wall mount kit and was fascinated with the ease of installation and the uniqueness of the design. From the initial cutting to mounting took the technician about 15 minutes. The fact that they were also giving away a free LCD flat panel from Samsung did not dissuade me from watching the demo either. (No…I did not win).

ClearStream Micron Over-the-Air Indoor DTV Antenna

A recent search on DTV stations in the San Francisco Bay Area listed all the channels within 100 miles of San Francisco. The list was long. Many transmitter locations were far away, so I was not going to receive all the channels. But still, the count was healthy. The site even listed several stations that are not broadcasting yet, but had either applied for or had received approval by the FCC. The ClearStream Micron Over-the-Air Indoor Antenna is designed to pull in those distant stations. Does it work?

Screen Innovations Black Diamond II HD Front Projection Screen

One of the major problems affecting those of us with projectors is the ambient room light that tends to desaturate colors of the images on the screen when we watch movies. Screen Innovations (SI) has designed a new material that helps solve this problem. It's called the Black Diamond II HD. The screen can be wall mounted, or ceiling mounted with or without motorized control.

The company also offers other types of screen material such as fabric that lets sound come through so you can place your speakers behind the screen.

JVC GZ-HM550 High Definition Video Camera

JVC's new GZ-HM550 has full 1920 x 1080 resolution, records up to 2 hours, 57 minutes in its highest quality mode, has a built-in 32 GB SD card, and is the smallest high definition video camera we have ever tested. At $799.95 MSRP, it will not only fit in your shirt pocket, but won't strain the wallet in your hip pocket.

Emotiva X-Series A/V Cables

Emotiva, which started out marketing amplifiers, expanded to include preamplifiers, SSPs, speakers, and now, to complete the line, a complete series of cables. These include coaxial analog RCA, coaxial digital RCA, digital Toslink, balanced XLR, HDMI, and speaker cables. They come in two models, one being the X-Series that we review here, and the Ultra-Series, which is the entry level. I found the cables to be extremely well constructed, with gold-plated contacts, and rugged enough to be man-handled through the typical maze of wires that we all have behind our equipment racks. The sound in my reference system using the Emotiva cables was excellent. The prices are very reasonable, and are a better value than what I see in blister packs at various mass market electronic stores.

JVC GZ-HM400U High Definition Video Camera

Up until the past year, the sensors in HD video cameras were just barely enough in pixel count (2,073,600) to get 1920 x 1080 video. That has changed now, and camera manufacturers are putting sensors in their HD video cameras that have a much higher pixel count. The main reason is so that consumers can take high resolution snapshots with their video cameras, similar to the high resolution photos they can get from dedicated digital snapshot cameras. The serendipity is that the high resolution image can be downsampled to 1920 x 1080 rather than there being only just over 2 megapixels to start with, and this gives a sharper video image. The JVC GZ-HM400U is just such a camera, with its 10.3 megapixel sensor. Have a look at our review to see how it performed.

Next Generation Home Products Remote Extender

I love products that solve irritating problems simply and inexpensively.  The Next Generation Home Products Remote Extender is one such product.  With a five-minute installation you can eliminate the need to point your remote control at your gear.  You can also control components in closets or even in other rooms.  The best part is any remote that accepts AA or AAA batteries can be converted in seconds.

CalMAN Video Display Analysis System

If you want to get the most accurate picture from your television or projector you need to calibrate it.  The question then becomes – do you hire a professional or do it yourself?  It is now quite feasible to do your own calibration with tools that don't cost much more than a pro calibrator's fee.  The product that is squarely at the forefront of this market is CalMAN from SpectraCal.  CalMAN is a package that can be used by anyone interested in display calibration from the hobbyist to the professional.

 

DVDO Edge Video Processor

Many years ago, CRT projector owners had an annoying problem, if they increased their projection area, scan lines would become visible. The idea of line doubling – duplicating the number of lines to avoid the empty spaces between the scan lines became the first consumer video processing technique available. Since all of our video sources at the time were video, but were originally film – Yvves Faroudja introduced the world to the concept of 3:2 pulldown de-interlacing. De-interlacers were able to double lines but effectively turned the image into a progressive one – a single image that contained data from both interlaced fields at once. Many video processors have come to market since that time to improve on this basic technology, adding many more features than simply de-interlacing. Anchor Bay Technologies has produced numerous processors over the years, and the DVDO Edge is their latest model. It is priced at only $799. Ofer LaOr dissects this new processor and gives us his views on its performance.