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Sherwood Blu Ray player and Accell 83' HDMI cable also reviewed
The Super Bowl is nearly upon us, and it's time to take a look at a great, affordable 1080p LCD HDTV from VIZIO. And while we're at it, let's take a look at the Sherwood Blu-ray player and an amazing 82A-foot long HDMI cable from Accell, perfect for the home theater afficianado.
VIZIO 42" SV420XVT 1080p LCD HDTV
The 42" SV420XVT from VIZIO is a1080p LCD HDTV that produces a great picture and delivers wonderful sound. Like a similar VIZIO I reviewed in early 2008, the company once again knocks it out of the park, with its 2 million pixels and a contrast ratio of 6,500:1.
Once I hooked up the HDTV to my cable box (alas, only standard definition, SD), VUDU movie/TV show download device, and the Sherwood BDP-5003, I was ready for action. The first Blu-ray I popped in was The Dark Knight, which was shot partially with IMAX cameras. In my opinion, Blu-ray movies look more like what I see in the theater vs. SD DVD, which is to say they look great. But the IMAX scenes really popped.
Even an SD DVD like Iron Man looked great, whether on the Blu-ray player, or an SD DVD player. As usual, the HD and SD movies I played back from the VUDU were crisp and clear; I didn't get a chance to check out any HDX movies (their ultra high-end HD movies), but I will be doing so in a future article.
On the VIZIO, colors pop in both HD and SD (unless they are purposely muted) and the image is fantastic, even in standard definition. The HDTV also features a 120Hz refresh rate, which smooths out the image. This is perfect for sports, but makes playback of movies or TV shows in 24p (24 progressive frames per second, fps) look too smooth. The remote, which is easy to use, can turn this feature on and off.
Watching football in SD or HD is definitely an experience you have to see to believe, especially considering NFL games, along with many other professional sports, are shot in HD. However, I'm not the biggest fan of cable or satellite TV signals.
Why? Well, the problem is, TV broadcast over cable or satellite is usually highly compressed, and doesn't look nearly as good as DVDs or Blu-rays. However, I've heard from friends and colleagues with HD satellites or antennas who claim they receive a much cleaner signal, in both SD and HD. With that in mind, SD TV programming looked remarkably clean.
So how about sound? I advise you get a stereo surround sound system, but if you're not quite ready to make that jump, then take heart. . . The VIZIO's sound is very good, if not great, for just two speakers. Even with DVDs attuned to 5.1-surround sound, I was still able to hear dialogue over music and sound effects. Plus, I didn't have to turn the volume all the way up during quiet scenes, either. This has been an issue on most HDTVs I've used over the years.
If you're going to view an HDTV like the VIZIO, I highly recommend calibrating it properly for home viewing. As you've probably heard, stores tend to amp up the colors and brightness, making the HDTVs look incredibly great. But this is not a realistic assessment of an HDTV. I recommend using a Criterion DVD or Blu-ray (www.criterion.com) with a color bar set-up, or check out Joe Kane's DVD: HD Basics (http://joekane.com/). I haven't tried it yet myself, but many people I know use it.
VIZIO once again delivers an incredible 1080p LCD HDTV (the SV420XVT) at an affordable, suggested retail price of $1,049.99. The price has dropped since I reviewed last year's 42" HDTV model, which is a great thing for all of us. Get more info at www.vizio.com.
Sherwood BDP-5003 Blu-ray Player
This affordable Blu-ray player from Sherwood delivers stunning 1080p quality. It can also scale up SD DVDs to either 720p or 1080p. Outputs include HDMI (video and sound), component (video-only), composite (also called RCA or A/V; video and audio) and S-Video (video only). I recommend only using the digital HDMI for all your Blu-ray viewing.
Blu-ray discs load much faster on the Sherwood than other BD players, which are noticeably slower. I put a BD-RE disc in the Sherwood, created on a LaCie BD/DVD/CD burner, and it played without a problem. You can also play DVDs, DVD-/+r discs, and CDs.
Sound-wise, the player features:
- 2-Channel audio downmix output
- Dolby TruHD; Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital
- DTS HD, DTS-ES, DTS
It's a smaller player than most, and that's important to me. My first DVD player, which I received as a Christmas gift in 1998, was large and bulky, unlike DVD players I used later. Last Christmas I received a Magnavox Blu-ray player, and it's much bulkier and takes up more room than the Sherwood.
The Sherwood BDP-5003 Blu-ray player sells for around $269 at respectable retailers and e-sellers; check out www.sherwoodusa.com for more information.
Accell UltraRun 1.3 HDMI Cable
This 82-foot long HDMI cable is perfect for the home theater set-up where a 6-, 9-, or even a 15-foot HDMI cable just won't cut it.
There is no problem with the video or audio signals with such a long cable, due to bandwidth up to 6.75 Gbps, or 225 MHz. Full 1080p resolution is supported, along with a refresh rate of 120Hz, same as the the VIZIO SV420XVT HDTV.
Other features include support for 12-bit color, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD surround sound, and more. A repeater module keeps things moving smoothly, and the connectors are made of 24K gold (!). Simply plug it in, and you're ready to go.
So why 82 feet? Well, if you're home theater set-up is large and spaced out, you won't have to put compatible HDMI boxes (cable, satellite, Blu-ray, video game station, etc.) in less-than-convenient areas. If you have an HD projector hanging from the ceiling or near the floor, you won't have to worry about not having a cable long enough to enjoy digital video and audio.
The Accell retails for $449, and you can get more info at www.accellcables.com.
I quite enjoyed working with the VIZIO HDTV, Sherwood Blu-ray player and the Accell HDMI cable, and I recommend considering these excellent devices for your home theater set-up. I love movies, and this is an affordable way to have a terrific experience without having to shell out money to go to the movies.
Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.