Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

What streaming box should I buy?

Mickey from Studio City, CA

Episode 1190

Mickey recently bought a Samsung Galaxy TV for streaming, but she can't get the HBO Go or Showtime Go App on it. Leo says that's the problem with the SmartTV, is that they won't have all the smart apps you want. You're better off just buying a Roku. What about the AppleTV? Leo has both and the only reason to prefer the AppleTV is that if you plan to buy stuff though the Apple ecosystem. Roku, by contrast has a lot more options, thousands of channels, and it's updatable.

Why am I having issues playing back video files?

Dave from San Diego, CA

Episode 1189

Dave has some hi def videos and they aren't playing right. They're dropping frames and are jumpy. Leo says that HiDef video can be a bandwidth hog and on an old computer, it can be struggling to keep up. It could also be an issue with the codec or that it was encoded at way too high a bit rate. But the files are probably OK. You may want to re-encode them. Handbrake will help you with that.

What kind of Blu-ray player should I get for a 4K TV?

Mike from Whitewater, CA

Episode 1189

Mike just bought a 65" Samsung curved 4K TV. He wants to know if they're going to be coming out players soon. Leo says that there will be a new 4K Bluray player later this year and some are already streaming in 4K, like Netflix. But the problem is, to get all that streamed to you, they have to compress the heck out of it. It's really early now and standards are going to change.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1189

Scott Wilkinson

This week on HTG, Scott is having on Jim Hellman, an expert in high dynamic range cinema and how it's really making the movie image pop and will be a main focus in the standards of 4k/ultra high definition.

Scott says that HDR will change the way we see movies. But Leo believes that it could be much ado about nothing since people are generally happy with their HDTVs. But Scott says that HDR has the promise to drive people back to the theaters, rather than wait to watch movies on their home theater system.

Is there a USB external sound card option?

Episode 1188

Mark from Escondido, CA
Syba SD-CM-UAUD USB Stereo Audio Adapter

Mark has an old PC and his sound card broke. He knows it isn't worth fixing, so he's wondering if there is an external sound card option? Leo says yes! USB sound cards are available, and they are even better for the computer because they don't pick up the fan noise of the computer itself. Mark will want a USB DAC. They range in price from affordable to expensive. Check out the Syba USB Stereo Audio Adapter. It costs just $8!

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1187

Scott is going to see Disney's Tomorrowland this week and he gets to see it in Dolby Cinema, Dolby's new Laser projection system. Scott says that Tomorrowland is the first movie to be featured with Dolby's new High Dynamic Range format. Scott says that HDR may just get more people to go back to the movies, rather than just rely on their HD Home theater systems to watch a movie.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1185

Scott Wilkinson

Scott spend the week watching Avengers: Age of Ultron in various versions, including 3D and laser projected. He's coming around to Leo's point of view that 3D just isn't that great a format. Laser projection, by contrast, gives you a brighter image, and when it's Laser 3D, it works quite well unless you wear prescription glasses, where the polished inner surface bounces light around and the reflection is quite distracting. So he's quickly starting to see Leo's point. Leo likes the idea of immersion, and the more realistic a movie the better.

What are my options to replace Windows Media Center?

Episode 1184

Brian from San Clemente, CA
Plex

Brian has a home theater setup with a home theater PC and he's worried that Windows has abandoned the Home Theater PC concept, including Windows Media Center. Leo says that it has been a long time coming since Microsoft has killed Windows home server in favor of Windows 8. Now killing Windows Media Center is just part of that. Microsoft doesn't want to be in the media center business, they want customers to get an XBox One.