Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

What budget HDTV should I buy?

Terri from Laguna Nigel, CA

Episode 1215

Terri is ready to buy a new HDTV, what's a good affordable one? Leo says that the Vizio E series is a very good buy. She'll want to get a larger screen than she thinks. For 10 feet away, a minimum size is 55". Make sure it's LED Backlit with local dimming. To watch Netflix and Amazon, get the smart TV and Vizio makes the best smart TV apps. When she gets it home, she should put it into movie mode. It'll look better. She'll also want to consider getting a home theater in a box or sound bar.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Episode 1215

Scott gets questions all the time about if we're going to get high dynamic range broadcasting. Scott says not for awhile. Most of the cameras can do it, but the delivery standards are such that it isn't capable to do so with the current standard. But that could change over time since TVs are starting to offer OLED HDR. But until the prices come down, you won't be seeing it any time soon.

When will 4K content be coming?

Steve from California

Episode 1213

Steve just got a new ultra high definition 4K TV and wants to know how he can best enjoy it. Leo says there really isn't a lot of 4K content right now and what there is (Netfflix, DirecTV Video on Demand) is heavily compressed. It depends on how good his bandwidth is. 25-50 Mbps down is what he'll need to watch House of Cards on Netflix. It needs to be a consistent 25 Mbps, not "as fast as" like cable providers say. There's also emerging 4K Blu-ray players. When they come out later this year, there will be a flood of content coming out.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Episode 1213

Scott Wilkinson

The question of the day is: what's more important, video or audio? Scott says that a movie without sound is called a silent movie. But on the other hand, a movie without an image is called radio. So Scott believes they are equally important, like the Yin and Yang of home theater. However, the bad audio can really make the home theater experience terrible, which is why surround sound and home theater really exists.

How can I get video off my DirecTV DVR?

Episode 1212

Steven from Los Angeles, CA
Composite cables

Steven records Tennis matches on his DirecTV DVR and he would like to copy the video files off. Leo says that's called digital video extraction and television broadcasters are paranoid that people will pirate those recordings. But there is an exception called the analog hole. This is where Steven would put a recorder between the DVR and the TV itself. He can't do it via HDMI, though. That's still got HDCP copy protection. But the red/white/yellow composite or red/green/blue/white component connectors will allow him to do it. He may also need an analog to digital converter.

How can I run HDMI 50 feet or more?

Episode 1209

Glen from Rolling Heights, CA
HDMI Cable

Glen wants to split his TV signal via HDMI. It works for a minute and then it gets really dark. Leo says the challenge is that Glen is splitting the signal and then transporting it over a greater distance. So chances are it's dropping bits due to interference. That's why Leo says a Balun is a better choice. He can then send HDMI over ethernet and the signal is amplified over both ends. It's much better and not very expensive. Glen can check out HDMI Extenders or Baluns at monoprice.com.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1209

Scott Wilkinson

Lance says that he doesn't think 4K streaming will ever take over 4K Blu-ray discs. Scott says that the median downstream bandwidth in the US is far less than what 4K requires, and even if it did, with data caps, your streaming would be terribly limited every month. Leo agrees and says that he's seen 4K streaming and it's nowhere near as good as a Blu-ray experience. Scott says it's because the streams are compressed and that is part of the problem.

Why can't I keep using my Windows Media Center?

Michael from San Dimas, CA

Episode 1207

Michael has been using Windows Media Center but now that Microsoft has killed development for it, and the guide for Windows Media Center no longer works, he's been using Kodi. Then he heard of a third party guide which worked great, but now it won't work with Netflix because it's Windows Media Center. Leo says to try MythTV. It's open source, so it won't get killed off, and it has DVR capability. It works great. Another one to try is HDHomeRun.