Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

Can I use an HD splitter with a 4K TV and a 1080i TV?

Episode 1403

Frank from Camanche, CA
Xbox One S

Frank recently got a 4K smart TV and he lives in a remote area. He has a limited amount of bandwidth per month, so streaming 4K content would quickly put him over his cap. Leo advises taking his TV off the internet and just use a UHD Blu-ray player. Then he can rent Blu-rays from Redbox or Netflix. Leo recommends the Xbox One S. It's a game console, but it also has a Blu-ray DVD player built-in for games.

What's a good universal remote between rooms?

Episode 1403

Steven from Irvine, CA
Logitech Harmony Hub

Steven used to own a Logitech Harmony universal remote. He had his living room and bedroom linked so he could use the same players, but that was too much for the remote to handle. Is there an alternative? He's been using a program called RTI, but it requires a programmer. Leo advises the Harmony Hub. For $100, he can link rooms. It controls infrared everywhere. He can also link his Amazon Echo to it.

Do I need a digital to analog converter to use a sound bar with an HDTV?

Episode 1403

Harvey from Pahrump, NV
J-Tech Digital Digital to Analog Audio Converter

Harvey wants to get a sound bar for his TV so that dialog will be easier to hear, but his TV doesn't have any analog output. Leo says that since HDTVs are all digital now, there's not much of a reason for manufacturers to put a digital to analog converter inside. The good news is that most sound bars have digital inputs. Harvey already got a J-Tech Digital to Analog Converter.

What should I look for in a DVD player?

Episode 1403

Jason from Chino, CA
Samsung Blu-ray player

Jason is looking for a good DVD player, but he's worried that his DVD player will be locked to the wrong region. Leo says that region coding was designed to prevent movies from being copied and shared around the world before the movies were released. The trend now is that movies get released worldwide now, so region coding is going to be gradually going away. He'll just have to be sure he doesn't get a used DVD player from another region. He won't want a PAL player in the US, for instance. He'll want NTSC. Or, he should make sure to get a multi region DVD player.

What's the best sound bar?

Episode 1402

Vin from Corona, CA
Vizio Smart Cast Sound Bar

Vin wants to know if Bose makes a good sound bar for home theater. Leo says the benefit of Bose is that it has a wireless subwoofer. It sounds great, but he'll pay for it. It will also have to simulate surround sound, which will never be as good as a real home theater system. If he has a space challenge, a sound bar is a good alternative.

How can I backup programs from my DVR?

Episode 1402

Chris from Burbank, CA
DVR

Chris has a DVR with a lot of programs on it. Can he back them up before he changes companies? Leo says no. The programming is heavily encrypted because of copy protection. The only real way he can do it is by exploiting the analog hole. If his DVR has an analog connection, he can put a VCR in between the DVR and the TV connection. But he'll be recording in real time and it won't be in HD.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Episode 1402

Scott Wilkinson

Yesterday was "cut the cord day." Started by TV maker TCL, it's the day to commemorate canceling your cable or satellite subscription in favor of streaming video online. But Scott says that while cord cutting is extremely popular, the options we're getting is really just another spin on the cable model. He hopes that someday we'll get true ala carte programming where you just pay for what you want. But currently, Sling, YouTube, Hulu, and DirecTV Now are all just "cable lite." And in many ways, you end up paying more or the same amount by cord cutting. That may be the whole idea.

How can I hear dialog better on my TV?

Episode 1400

Karen from Smith Center, KS
Vizio 2017 36" 2.1 Soundbar

Karen wants to know how to make her TV sound better, especially for vocals, which are hard to hear. Leo says that vocals are mixed to be part of the center channel and if she don't have a home theater system, it can be a common problem. Leo recommends getting a sound bar. Vizio makes a good affordable one. She should also get one with a subwoofer. Then she'll have the ability to hear the center channel better and can even turn up the center channel alone to help with dialog.

How can I watch movies from my phone on my plasma TV?

Episode 1400

Carlos from San Bernadino, CA
Google Chromecast

Carlos has an LG G6 Android phone and he also has an old Samsung plasma TV. Can he use DLNA to cast to it? Leo says that he can't do it natively, but he can plug in a Google Chromecast to the HDMI port and it will work to cast from his phone to the TV itself via the Google Home app. It works really well and it's very easy to setup. Most apps will do it.

Another option is Miracast through his Windows machine if he has movies there, but it doesn't work very well. Chromecast works much better.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Episode 1400

Scott Wilkinson

Leo and Scott talk about cleaning out and organizing the "techno spaghetti factory" that is wiring coming from all home theater stuff. There was also a lot of dust built up and Scott says it's a good idea to clean out that cruft at least once a year and use IEC standard power cables to keep everything consistent. Leo likes banana plugs, and Scott agrees, but many people don't like them because they tend to be easier to disconnect. They make it easy to swap out other tech, though.