Home Entertainment & Automation Services in Matthews, NC.
Home Entertainment & Automation Services in Matthews, NC.
Home audio and Video Services in Matthews, NC.  TV installation, Surround Sound, Home Entertainment Systems
Top 10 Blu-ray Releases for March 23

CIS is Charlotte, NC's #1 Source For Home Theater Design & Sales!

CIS is Charlotte, NC's #1 Source For Home Theater Design & Sales!

Pixar is at it again with the pristine additions of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on high-def Blu-ray this week.

Pixar’s at it again. Whether you’re looking for razor-sharp demo material as a custom installer or a good reason to sit through some high-def animation with your children, Pixar has always come through with its standard-def and Blu-ray releases. This week is no exception, as we get both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 sequel on Blu-ray for the first time.

We can’t wait to see all of the details of Andy’s room and his toys in high-definition, along with the enveloping surround sound. No, the Toy Story movies aren’t in super-wide 2.35:1 format like some more recent Pixar Blu-rays such as Wall-E and A Bug’s Life, but those of you with traditional 16:9 screens (especially projection screens) should still have a blast taking in the game-changing animation of the 1995 original and its 1999 sequel.

For a more recent children’s-oriented theatrical release, Fantastic Mr. Fox arrives on Blu-ray format as well this week. Unlike Pixar you don’t get the voice talent of John Ratzenberger (hey, we know he’s not the Toy Story star but we love that he’s in every Pixar movie), but you do get to hear the likes of George Clooney, Bill Murray and Meryl Streep in this Wes Anderson-directed movie.

Speaking of Clooney, even if you’re a fan of his films you may have missed the short-lived Men Who Stare at Goats in theaters. Obviously it’s no Up in the Air, but the solid ensemble cast includes Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges and Ewan McGregor, and at 94 minutes it could make for a good high-def rental. For an Oscar-acclaimed release this week, check out Sandra Bullock’s performance in The Blind Side—and it doesn’t matter if you’re a football fan or not.

If you’re interested in catching up on some TV, the best bet this week is the continuing saga featuring the men and women of AMC’s Mad Men—this week marks Season Three’s arrival on Blu-ray disc.

And in case you missed it, the tweeny-bopper fave Twilight got a jump on the traditional Tuesday release date by sending out Twilight Saga: New Moon just after midnight on March 20.

Here’s the full slate of Blu-ray releases for the week (schedule and slideshow synopses courtesy of Blu-ray.com):
The African Queen
Alter Bridge: Live from Amsterdam
Bigger Than Life
The Blind Side
Days of Heaven
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove
The Men Who Stare at Goats
Mad Men: Season Three
Nabari No Ou: The Complete Series
Phantom Punch
Red Cliff Part 1 & 2
Smokin’ Aces: 2-movie collection
Spring 1941
Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Trinity Blood: The Complete Series
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
The Vans Warped Tour 15th Anniversary Celebration

 by Arlen Schweiger


Custom Installation Services, LLC – Audio/Video Sales, Service and Installation in North Carolina and South Carolina

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Sub-$6K Theater Delivers Satisfaction

CIS - Charlotte's Source For Home Theater Installation/Design

CIS - Charlotte's Source For Home Theater Installation/Design

This budget-friendly home theater, and its 106-inch screen, provided the finishing touch to a finished basement.

One of the first things Phillip Thomas did after buying his 3,300-square-foot single-family home was finish the basement. He put in a bar, built a bedroom for his college-age son and threw in a nice-size bathroom. But he always felt that something was missing: a home theater.

“At the time, I thought that adding one would blow our budget out of the water,” Thomas says. So he and his family waited. After a few months of saving up, they contacted a local custom electronics professional for a quote. “They had a very firm budget of $10,000,” recalls Jason White of Commtech in Germantown, Md. “It was small, but it gave me some very clear parameters to work with.” 

Since the basement was already finished and furnished, all of the money could go toward audio/video equipment and installation. That didn’t mean, however, that White could go crazy with the cash. “I had to be very careful about the products I selected,” he says. Obviously, the price of each component would need to fit the budget. But it was also important that the products chosen could be installed easily and would require minimal programming, White says. Oh, and the equipment would need to perform to the family’s expectations.

One of those expectations was a huge display. “I would settle for nothing less than 100 inches,” says Thomas. Consequently, the largest portion of the budget, $1,000, was allocated to a 106-inch projection screen from Draper. To avoid going over budget, fancy accessories like a motor that allows the screen to roll down from the ceiling were excluded.

A 720p Optoma projector finished off the projection system. Although it lacks the Full HD resolution of a 1080p model, it saved the Thomases more than $2,000. White made sure to run HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) and extra Category 5 cabling to the projector location “just in case the Thomases ever decide to upgrade,” he says. The entire video setup came in at $2,000, which was about the same price as a much smaller 65-inch plasma or LCD TV.

White also stuck with the basics when it came to the audio/video receiver. The Denon AVR-590 is a quality piece, he says, but with one missing feature: HDMI upconverting. White explains, “A receiver with HDMI upconverting requires just one HDMI cable between the receiver and the projector. With it, any signal from any component will be upconverted to the 720p resolution of the projector.” The “HDMI switching feature” of the AVR-590, on the other hand, required White to route several additional cables from each component to the projector. The switching feature simply allows the signal from the connected source components to pass through to the projector without any enhancement in resolution. It was a minor sacrifice, White says, to save nearly $1,000.

Two fewer speakers would need to be purchased by going with a 5.1 surround-sound setup instead of a 7.1 system, and in-ceiling models would minimize the cost to have them installed.

“It’s usually easier to fish wiring through the ceiling to in-ceiling speakers than go through the ceiling and down the wall to install in-wall speakers because there are fewer obstacles,” says White. “It takes no more than five minutes to install an in-ceiling speaker compared to anywhere between 20 minutes to two hours for an in-wall model.” The 75-watts-per-channel rating of the five Proficient units may be less than the 100-watts per channel of the company’s higher-end units, but the Thomases saved $1,500 by sticking with the mid-grade models.

A final contributor to the savings was a stripped-down control device. The only two source components in the theater are a DirecTV satellite receiver and an upscaling DVD player, so the family didn’t need anything fancy, and so programming the URC MX-900 remote was basic.

Draper 106-inch Onyx Matte White Screen ($999)
Optoma HD65 Home Theater Projector ($800)
Denon AVR-590 Home Theater Receiver ($350)
Panamax M4300 Power Manager ($249)
DirecTV HD Receiver (already owned it)
Samsung 1080P9 DVD Player ($90)
Proficient C660 LCR In-Ceiling Speakers ($580)
Proficient S10 Subwoofer ($249)
URC MX-900 Remote ($299)
Xantech IR Kit ($99)
Proconnect Cables ($420)
Consultation and Design Time ($1,500)

by Lisa Montgomery


Custom Installation Services, LLC – Audio/Video Sales, Service and Installation in North Carolina and South Carolina

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Custom Installation Services, LLC | P.O. Box 132 Matthews, NC 28106 | 704-400-8701 | dmiller@cis-nc.com
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