Panasonic DMR-E20 DVD Recorder
(original review, October, "Recordable DVD Gets Real") It's high time for the VCR to be replaced. And the first devices to offer serious competition to "high-end" VCRs have been Panasonic's DVD-RAM recorders, the DMR-E10 and DMR-E20. The E20 is quite an improvement over the earlier model. At $1,500, it costs more than twice as much as a top S-VHS recorder, but it's also less than half the initial price of the E10, which came out about a year ago and received this same award. The E20 is also considerably more versatile than its predecessor. For instance, its EP recording speed lets you record up to 6 hours on a single-sided blank disc. Another big draw is that it can record on unerasable DVD-R discs, which any DVD player can handle. And the incorporation of a hard-disk drive allows essentially simultaneous recording and playback, giving the DMR-E20 some of the viewer-friendly capabilities of the VCR's other rival, the video hard-disk recorder. Clearly, the VCR's days are numbered.
Panasonic USA - www.panasonic.com, 800-222-4213
- David Ranada
Infinity Interlude IL 100s Powered Subwoofer
(original review, June, "Subway Series") The Interlude IL 100s 10-inch subwoofer offers striking high-tech styling, excellent performance, and a full feature set, including Infinity's exclusive Room Adaptive Bass Optimization System (RABOS), for only $499. It plays down to a deep-enough-for-most-folks 20 Hz with low distortion. And the RABOS parametric equalizer helps you get the best performance in just about any room. To take full advantage of the RABOS circuit, you should buy the optional $60 kit, which includes instructions, a test CD, and a battery-powered sound-level meter. In fact, you'll find the kit useful for optimizing any sub's performance. (The only downside is that the meter's operating range is roughly 78 to 94 dB.) I'd recommend the kit to anyone who's serious about getting the best sound from his system. And I'd recommend the Interlude to anyone looking for a small, inexpensive subwoofer capable of deep, clean bass.
Infinity Systems - www.infinitysystems.com, 800-553-3332
- Tom Nousaine
Outlaw Audio ICBM-1 Integrated Controlled Bass Manager
(original review, November) Rarely has an audio product met a greater need than Outlaw Audio's ICBM-1 ($249), which solves most of the problems created by the lack of proper bass management in DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD players. Without bass management for the player's multichannel analog output in either the player or the receiver, the result will almost certainly be distinctly bass-shy sound in a system with small satellite speakers and a subwoofer. The ICBM's principal attractions are its adjustability (separate crossover frequencies for each channel), versatility (processing is included for a back surround channel), and provisions for stereo subwoofers. Frequency response, noise, and distortion are good enough that it won't audibly alter frequencies above the selected crossover points. In time, bass management may become common in SACD and DVD-Audio players as well as in receivers. But if you're interested in these new music formats now and don't have full-range speakers for all five main channels - something few of us have the money or space for - consider adding an ICBM to your system.
Outlaw Audio - www.outlawaudio.com, 866-688-5297
- David Ranada
Philips DSR6000 DirecTV Receiver/TiVo Hard-Disk Recorder
(original review, May) TiVo makes it easy to locate, record, and manipulate the shows you really want to see. It automatically records as you're watching, so you can pause live TV, create instant replays, and skip over commercials. You can search for shows to record by broad categories (sports, movies, and so on) or more specific ones (Yankees games, say, or Harrison Ford action movies). Set up a Season Pass to record your favorite TV series, and you'll never miss an episode. TiVo even learns your personal tastes by noting what you record and letting you rate shows as "thumbs up" or "thumbs down," then recommends shows you might like. Recording is a one-button breeze, and there's never any fussing with tapes or timers. Now add a DirecTV receiver to a TiVo box - as Philips has done with the DSR6000 ($399) - and you can have more than 200 channels of digital programming beamed via satellite right to your home. This product is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
Philips Electronics - www.philipsusa.com, 800-531-0039
- Teri Scaduto
JVC XV-S60 DVD-Video Player
(original review, October, "Progressive Views") A few other inexpensive DVD players offer a progressive-scan video output, but in most cases their disappointing image quality in that mode makes them something less than a bargain. JVC's XV-S60 DVD player, on the other hand, is the real deal. At $349, its price is right, and its progressive-scan video performance - complete with 2:3 pulldown - is superb. Sound & Vision technical editor David Ranada found that the JVC came "extremely close to theoretical perfection in noise and distortion levels" playing standard audio CDs, making it as good a choice for music listening as for watching movies. The XV-S60 also includes aspect ratio control for progressive-scan images, playback of CD-R discs with MP3 files, and butter-smooth 2x fast scan. Topping the bargain off is a complimentary set of component-video cables - a necessity that most other manufacturers don't bother to include.
JVC of America - www.jvc.com, 800-526-5308
- Al Griffin
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.