Chris Eberle

Media Servers – Where Are We Now, Where Are We Going?

The term media server often conjures images of expensive and difficult-to-use products. In reality, the opposite is true. Today we'll talk about a few choice products, what the difference between a streamer and a server is, and how you can build your own solution from off-the-shelf parts.

BenQ GP20 Ultra-Lite LED-lit-DLP Projector Review

The BenQ GP20 LED projector houses a single DLP chip in a small lightweight chassis barely larger than a hardcover book. Its light engine is rated for 20,000 hours and will never change in brightness or color. It comes with a WiFi dongle to stream content wirelessly and a convenient carry bag so you can quickly set it up for an impromptu movie night. A complete set of inputs are provided including HDMI with MHL for easy connection to smart phones or tablets. It's compatible with a wide variety of still image and video formats so content can come from a laptop as easily as it does from a Blu-ray player. Today I installed it in my reference theater and put it through my benchmark suite as I have done for our prior BenQ projector reviews.

Epson Home Cinema 2030 LCD 3D Projector Review

Here's what you get with the Cinema 2030: 2,000 lumens of brightness, 3D, HDMI with MHL, USB with networking capability, and a built-in speaker. Here's what you'll have to move up in price for: lens shift, higher quality optics, lower black levels, THX certification, and wireless HDMI. If you're looking for a portable projector that works in a variety of environments, and can connect to any conceivable video source, I don't believe you'll have to look any further! Let's check it out.

BenQ W7500 Single-Chip DLP Projector

Looking over Secrets' last few years of projector reviews, it quickly becomes evident that the pricing sweet spot has settled around the $3000 mark. This makes sense since it's only a little more or less than you'd pay for a top-quality 65-inch flat panel. A few years ago, any TV over 50 inches carried a big price premium. When I bought my Pioneer Kuro in 2009 for example, I paid $2,900 for a 50-inch screen. I really wanted the 60-inch model but it was almost double the price at $5,600!

The REALLY BIG screen experience is still only available from front projection. Last year, I got to check out Mitsubishi's DLP, the HC8000D. This time, BenQ sent me their new W7500. For $2,799, it offers some great features and very high performance coupled with tremendous light output. Let's take a look.

Black and White Movies: How to Calibrate

I have a KURO display that has the ISF-Night mode calibrated to 30 foot-Lamberts with a 6500 K white point. I also had the Pure mode calibrated with a 5400 K white point for black and white movies. Should I use the 5400 K calibrated Pure mode with black and white movies on Blu-ray? I have always wondered which is the most accurate white point for black and white movies. Do they always correct the white point of black and white movies so that it looks correct on displays calibrated with a 6500 K white point?

- David A.
Dublin, Ohio

NAD D 3020 Hybrid Digital Stereo Amplifier

When I left home for college in 1984, I brought my stereo system along. It consisted of a Kenwood receiver, Technics turntable, and a pair of Fisher 3-way speakers. After discovering a few high-end stereo shops in Boston, and having my turntable set up properly; I started shopping for a better amp. My meager funding ruled out separates but the proprietor of a small hi-fi shop pointed me to that now-familiar brown box. I returned to my dorm room clutching a brand-new NAD 3020, for which I believe I paid around $220. My reward was the cleanest sound I'd ever heard, bar none. I used that amp all through college and probably for another 10 years after. Today, NAD has recreated this amazing product for the digital age. Where we once relied on vinyl and ferrous tape, now it's all about bits and bytes. The timeless philosophy of clean high-quality sound, versatile operation, and a low price has now given birth to the all-new D 3020 Hybrid Digital Amplifier.

Projectors: Buying higher-end used or reconditioned models, considerations?

I will have a spot in the basement of my new home for a small home theater. My budget is limited for what I can spend on a projector and screen, however. Rather than buy an entry-level 1080p projector, I am considering buying a higher end model from the used or reconditioned market. Is the risk worth the reward? For example, I can buy a Sony VPLHW30ES for about $2K or a JVC DLAX3 for around $1,500. I have a Pioneer plasma, so I know that black levels are important. What do you think?

- S Knapp
Georgia

NAD VISO 1 AP AirPlay Music System

NAD introduced its own iPod dock, the VISO, last year at CEDIA. As one would expect from this high-end company, little expense was spared in its design as it sought to bridge the iPod, and other digital music players, with quality amplification and speakers while keeping it all in a compact package. With the proliferation of AirPlay streaming, it made sense that the second generation product should include this super-convenient feature. Hence, we have the VISO 1 AP, the subject of today's review. Where last year's VISO required you to chain your iPod to the unit, the AP lets you keep your iPod in your pocket so you can control your music from anywhere within reach of your WiFi network.

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UBE 3D LCD Projector

Recently I reviewed Epson's new Home Cinema 3020e projector and found it to be a tremendous value in the under $2000 class. It offers killer 3D, wireless HDMI, and superb image for less than the price of a 60-inch TV. It was only natural that I should also check out its big brother, the Home Cinema 5020UBE.