Plasma TVs May Be Going Away – Critics and reviewers of TV displays have mostly agreed that plasma displays give the best video image. However, Panasonic has announced they will no longer make plasma TVs, and Pioneer gave up some time ago. LG and Samsung still have them, however, although the LGs have rated low compared to the Samsungs.  Everything is LED LCD now, OLED is not happening because it’s too expensive. One of the problems of LCDs is a lower native contrast ratio than plasma. This can be helped by full-array local dimming, and higher refresh rates on LCDs can reduce motion blur (which plasmas don’t have). Many new TVs have an ultra-smooth motion drive to reduce motion blur. It creates new interpolated frames to smooth out motion, which is fine for material shot in video but drives some viewers crazy when applied to movies which were show at 24 frames rate. The best solution of the “Soap Opera Effect” is to turn it off when you are watching feature films—most sets allow this if you dig into their menus. Keep in mind you will be paying more for those LCDs with these features to make them look better, but if you don’t purchase a UHD TV at this point you will be saving a great deal.

Paintable Acoustic Panels for the Home Theater Market – Primacoustic now offers high performance acoustic panels that may be painted on site to match surrounding color to even photo-finished with your choice of images. Their special surface enables the panels to be lightly painting without affecting the absorption. The panels come in Absolute White latex and mounting is easy with a set of impalers on the wall and the panels hanging like a painting. Adding a thicker paint coat with a roller will increase high frequency energy in the room while attenuating problem energy in the voice range. Between 15% and 30% wall coverage is sufficient.

Another USB DAC/Headphone Amp Combo – Cambridge Audio has a new DacMagic XS for getting hi-res sound from your computer via headphones. There have been quite a few portable USB DACs recently which add a headphone amp, though some only handle up to 96/24 files. The DacMagic handles up to 192/24 and is very small, with a short USB cable include to plug into your computer. It uses either USB 1.0 or 2.0 protocols and is asynchronous, which helps control jitter. It uses Sabre chip sets and puts out 150 mW of power with a minimum 12 ohms impedance, sounding great with most any good headphones. You’ll hear a major improvement in more clarity, detail and less background noise vs. just plugging headphones into your computer. The price is $189.

Two New Studies Gauge Consumer Awareness, Interest and Purchase  Intent for UHD TV – Two studies were conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association. They found that 73% of those who see UHD TV want to purchase it (although many feel it’s too expensive), and 43% are hesitant to purchase due to concerns about lack of content.