Lexicon/Oppo Switch? – Last week Lexicon introduced a new Blu-ray universal THX-certified player, the BD-30, at a suggested retail of $3500. Audioholics.com got one and reviewed it at the same time as a $499 Oppo Blu-ray universal player, the BDP-83. They showed photos of the insides and back panels of both units and they were nearly identical. They tested both players with an Audio Precision analyzer and found identical analog audio performance and a failure to meet some basic THX specs. This is not the first time this sort of “re-branding” of components has occurred. There have been inexpensive Chinese electronics rebranded as expensive high-end U.S. gear with little or no modification or enhancement. For many small high-end firms it is not cost-effective for them to make their own DVD or BD players. But the evidence appears to be that Lexicon simply lifted out the Oppo player, put it in their own heavier case, and jacked up the price. Another publication compared the two players and pointed out some slight subjective improvements in the Lexicon player, but no objective specs. Lexicon fans must decide for themselves if it is worth an additional $3000 for an Oppo in a Lexicon case to match the rest of their components. (There is also the $800 Oppo BDP-83 Special Edition which we recently reviewed and found definitely superior to the basic model on the multichannel analog audio out jacks as well as digital outs.)
LG 0.1-inch-thick LCD Display – Thin has always been the in thing in electronics, but LG has outdone others with their new 42-inch 1080p LCD panel display which is only .1 inches thick! It makes even the firm’s previous ultra-thin screen look fat at 5.9mm. A combination of LED backlighting and special optical film technology provided the breakthru to make the HDTV an additional 3mm thinner. However, it really doesn’t make the viewing experience any different. The screen was shown at the recent CES in Las Vegas.
Samsung Wins as Fastest-Loading Blu-ray Player – Newsday voted the Samsung BD-P3600 Blu-ray player as having superfast operational speed and disc loading. It also has 1GB of onboard memory and can stream media off a connected PC.
New iPhone Aps for “The Google Effect” – NBC Universal and 20th Century Fox have introduced interactive apps for the iPhone that tap into DVD and Blu-ray discs to augment viewing – providing information about the particular film and stars and connect you with friends to chat about the movies while you watch them (at home, of course). Fox’s FoxPop use the iPhone or laptop mike to listen to the soundtrack of the movie you’re watching and then respond with popups concerning the movie. It also intersects with Twitter and Facebook for movie chats. Universal’s Pocket Blu can turn your iPhone into a remote for Blu-ray players. The features are so far only on selected movies, including the latest Night at the Museum sequel, 500 Days of Summer, Funny People, and Brüno. A developer of the Fox ap said he found that about one-third of all Internet home use occurred while watching TV, so he set to work on something to combine those two experiences. He described it as “the Google effect” – the moment you feel like you have the right to information, you expect to have it. He said “You may not always use it, but it will be there when you want it…This is about enhancing the home entertainment experience.”
Don’t Scrimp On Your HT Sound System – Vance Dickason, editor of Voice Coil Magazine, says its a big mistake that many Americans pay thousands of dollars for flat-screen HDTVs but scrimp on the sound system, or even settle for the cheap and tiny speakers built into the screen. He says “Can you imagine going to a big theater with 1000 seats and listening to the new Star Trek movie with a boom box sitting below the 80-foot screen to provide the sound?…The same thing is true of your home theater experience. If you have $2000 to spend, split the amount to include at least 25% to 35% of your budget for the sound system.”