Sound & Vision February/March 2020

Sound & Vision is at the forefront of the ever-changing, always dynamic world of electronic entertainment. Authoritative and accessible, written with insight and humor, Sound & Vision is the preeminent source for consumers of home theater, audio, video, and multimedia products.

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AVTech Media Americas, Inc.
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the big picture

LOOKING OVER the list of products that earned a Sound & Vision Top Pick award in 2019, one entry towered over the others: JVC’s DLA-NX9 D-ILA projector. Congratulations to JVC for a job well done in being selected as S&V’s overall Top Pick for 2019! The reason why the NX9 was chosen is that it notably pushed the high dynamic range performance envelope. JVC’s flagship did a good job displaying HDR right out of the gate, but a firmware update issued a few months after we reviewed it delivered a significant improvement on that front. While the NX9 garnered S&V’s overall Top Pick for 2019, the year in general wasn’t so hot for projectors. No new D-ILA models were announced by JVC at the 2019 CEDIA Expo, and the same situation…

mobile marvels

On a recent visit to Samsung’s corporate headquarters near Seoul, South Korea, myself and group of reviewers and editors from the U.S. and Europe had the opportunity to visit the Samsung Innovation museum. Along with artifacts such as Leyden jars, Edison filament lamps, and a few early TV prototypes, the museum featured an extensive collection of early mobile phones like the Integrated Systems Technology TEL-COM 150A shown above. More than anything else, seeing these bulky, Bond-like contraptions made me appreciate just how far technology has advanced over the past few decades. Back in the early 1970s, a TEL-COM 150A in its leather attaché case would have set you back $3,500 (about twenty grand in today’s dollars) and all you could do with it was make calls. My iPhone Xs cost…


The Legend Lives On As a long-time fan of Polk Audio products, I was pleased to see the company re-enter the mid-high-end speaker market with its Legend L800 SDA Pro-equipped loudspeaker and read Al Griffin’s review in Sound & Vision’s December 2019/January 2020 issue with enthusiasm. It made me reflect on my own journey with Polk Audio that started in 1985 with the Monitor 10B at a now-defunct Denver chain store named Soundtrack. When the store’s salesman removed the grille covers on the speakers and cranked up a song on CD from a new supergroup called the Power Station featuring Robert Palmer, I saw the dual 6.5-inch mid-bass drivers and the 10-inch passive radiator thump away and light up the room with music. Even as a semi-broke 23-year-old, I couldn’t write…

another brick in the wall

After carefully weighing the complex moral and ethical issues involved here, I have determined the answer to the question of the manufacturer’s liability. Hell to the yes! Interestingly, this moral dilemma is no theoretical exercise. This exact kind of software malfeasance is what happened to some customers who bought Google Home and Mini speakers. What we are dealing with here is something called “bricking.” That’s when an electronic device becomes unable to function, usually on a permanent basis. The culprit could be physical damage, a fried component, or other catastrophic hardware failure. But the cruelest kind of bricking is when a flash or firmware update goes bad, and the software crashes into an unrecoverable state. Has this ever happened to you? Voila! Your new phone is now a brick! In olden times,…

vizio 36-inch 2.1-channel soundbar system

The SB3621n-G8 replaces Vizio’s equally awkwardly named SB3621n-E8. A big change the new soundbar system brings is a slim subwoofer that can be positioned horizontally, in which case it can easily be slipped under a sofa. While the G8 lacks streaming features such as Chromecast built-in, it does have Bluetooth. The G8 soundbar is 36 inches wide and features two 1.9 × 3.5-inch drivers. With a black fabric wrap and aluminum endcaps, it has a subtle look that lets it disappear nicely below a TV screen, though its fabric material is a dust magnet. There are recessed control buttons on top for power, input, Bluetooth, and volume up/down. Inputs include optical and coaxial digital, analog stereo minijack, and a USB port for playback of WAV and MP3 files. I found the…

opening pandora’s premium box

It ain’t easy being an internet pioneer. Sure, you get kudos for being the one to break new ground on the web, but once you plant your forerunner flag, everyone comes gunning for you. Sometimes you’re able to swat down all comers (all hail King Amazon!), sometimes you fade despite your best efforts (we hardly knew ye, Bing!), and sometimes, you just have to suck it up, regroup, reassess, retool, and re-emerge. And with that, I re-give you … Pandora. After being acquired by SiriusXM in February 2019, Pandora, long anointed as the premier “automated music recommendation internet radio service,” has been on a yearlong rebranding mission (one that’s still in full swing, if their recent TV commercial campaign is any indication). If you already have a Pandora account and/or a SiriusXM…