Hardware Features

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Steve May  |  Jul 21, 2014  |  0 comments

It’s a curious fact that even the smartest TVs can seem inscrutably dumb. So much so that many buyers fail to even get them online. Even if you’re tech savvy, Smart TVs often seem little more than utilitarian devices. 

Mark Craven  |  Jul 17, 2014  |  0 comments

From a lack of legroom to unforgiving upholstery, we’ve all had a movie experience affected by an uncomfortable seat. At your local cinema this is just about sufferable, but in your own room it shouldn't be tolerated – spending thousands of pounds on AV hardware and software but ignoring where you park your fundament is home cinema heresy. The good news is that there are numerous options available, suited to most budgets and tastes, so before you start saving for a 4K projector, perhaps it's time for a seating upgrade...

Steve May  |  Nov 02, 2013  |  0 comments

Light and cinema have always enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. Without the former, our flickering home theatres would be little more than gloomy sheds with extravagantly comfortable seating. A well-designed lighting system can really help deliver that 'wow factor' that we want our cinema setups to provide – especially if you want the room to rock even when you're not watching a movie.

Steve May  |  Oct 24, 2013  |  0 comments

Apple's iPad Air is the must-have gadget of the moment, available from November 1 with a price tag of £399 for the 16GB version. Yet there are plenty of other great things you can spend that sort of money on. Not got the following? Then hold off on that pre-order…

Steve May  |  Oct 04, 2013  |  0 comments

Right. I’m hearing an awful lot about 4K, but why should I be excited?

Martin Pipe  |  Aug 19, 2013  |  0 comments

The Raspberry Pi is a very cheap computer that's no bigger than a credit card. It's the brainchild of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a charity devoted to promoting 'back-to-basics' computer science in schools – as opposed to simply teaching the kiddies how to use spreadsheets and design web pages on Windows PCs. What was needed, reckoned the Raspberry Pi gang, was an affordable computer that could encourage children to experiment with programming and electronics – the sort of thing that went on during the home computer boom of the 1980s and gave birth to a generation of entrepreneurs.

Adam Rayner  |  Aug 10, 2013  |  0 comments

It all started with a disastrous screening at my local multiplex cinema, where I eventually had to complain about stifling heat, 3D trailers in a no-glasses 2D showing and a baffling system of seat allocation. And when the complaint yielded a grunted response, I began looking for another cinema for my business – and discovered that my local Odeon in Uxbridge had a new IMAX screen.

Mark Craven  |  Aug 03, 2013  |  0 comments

Hi-def disc-spinners have become smaller, smarter and cheaper, making them great for adding to second-room screens. Mark Craven auditions a trio of big-brand offerings…

Jamie Carter  |  Jul 27, 2013  |  0 comments

When Universal Studios announced earlier this year that it was to release Schindler’s List on its twentieth anniversary as a special edition Blu-ray, the PR blurb was all about how the 35mm film original negative had been meticulously restored in pristine high-definition. More importantly, Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic was actually scanned to create a 6K master, then downscaled to 4K for the restoration, and down to lowly 2K, or 1080p, for the Blu-ray edition.

Steve May  |  Jul 14, 2013  |  0 comments

Pretty much every new bit of home entertainment kit you’ll buy these days is networkable. It’s the way of things. Whether for cloud content access, Catch-up TV and YouTube streaming, online gaming or local network playback from a PC or NAS, cutting-edge products expect to be networked.

Ed Selley  |  Jun 25, 2013  |  0 comments

In a perfect world, there would be no need for us to employ headphones for AV use. Children would sleep through anything, your partner would be just as keen on the same films watched at the same volume as you, and you’d be separated from your neighbour by a bit of open space – Lincolnshire, for example. Sadly, this utopian vision of home entertainment is just that, and a good pair of headphones can allow you to keep using your system when speakers aren’t suitable.

Steve May  |  Jun 02, 2013  |  0 comments

Home cinema is changing. Sure, screens are getting larger and more pixel-packed, and there’s a plethora of streaming options available – both in terms of content and hardware – but there’s also evolution happening at a more fundamental level, and it has the potential to change everything. Called HDBaseT, it represents an entirely new way of moving sound, vision and data around your house. But, of course, there’s more to it than that...

Anton van Beek  |  Mar 29, 2013  |  0 comments

It may have taken several years to reach these shores, but subscription-based streaming service Netflix clearly hit the ground running when it made its UK debut in 2012, racking up more than a million customers in its first month of operation.

Mark Craven  |  Feb 19, 2013  |  0 comments
We regularly see Kaleidescape setups in professional cinema installs. Premium movie player/server combis, they're priced beyond the aspirations of the thriftier home theatre enthusiasts, who are more likely to make do with a combination of NAS drive, media player software and massive jumble of metadata mess. Yet part of the appeal of Kaleidescape, beyond its sophisticated-looking hardware, is the super-slick user interface, idiot-proof usability, and its Movie Guide database. The latter stores info on literally hundreds of thousands of titles so that whatever disc an owner adds to their system, the necessary metadata appears. Kaleidescape claims it's unique. We spoke to Simon Diplock, from Kaleidescape UK, about what makes it tick.   'A typical day in Movie Guide requires skill and agility,' jokes Diplock. 'Leaping over boxes while balancing a tower of discs in one hand and a remote control in the other is not something just anyone can do.' More seriously, Diplock admits that his days aren't just spent watching films. 'The job requires more than you would imagine. Every day, DVDs, CDs and Blu-ray discs are delivered to each of our offices for special processing. And there, the journey of the disc begins.'   'While the disc imports, we gather up all the crucial metadata about the film: who’s in it, who directed it, which year was it released, which studio made it, what is its rating, how long it is. All of this goes into Kaleidescape’s proprietary database.   'After typing all this out, Movie Guide artistry comes to life. What’s the movie about? Can you type that in 25 words or less and make it snappy and interesting? We write a short synopsis of each film that does just that.'   This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Once the cover art has been scanned in, Kaleidescape prepares to 'slice and dice' the disc.   Eh? Diplock explains.'The start and end points of the film are marked so that any custom controls programmed by the installer who fits the system will sync with the movie, like lights fading in time with the credits and popcorn popping from the nearby machine when the homeowner presses play, etc. The aspect ratio and borders of the film are also 

Steve May  |  Jan 25, 2013  |  0 comments

2013 is fast shaping up to be the year of eight million pixels. Full HD, now ubiquitous on TVs at every price point and served up by more than 60 channels, finally has something to look up to. 4K resolution displays, built for those with really deep pockets, are finally becoming a reality. January’s International CES was a galvanising launch pad for these next-generation screens.