NOVEMBER 2016 ;e Costco Connection 17
Q I’m looking for a new TV for Christmas and see
the term “HDR.” What does that mean?
A Thanks to a drop in prices and a rise
in the number of movies and shows
available in high and ultrahigh definition, your next television will likely be a
4K TV. These TVs offer four times the
resolution of a 1080p HD television. Sometimes
referred to as “Ultra HD” television, they offer a picture that is incredibly clear and lifelike.
While Ultra HD 4K refers to the resolution of
the television screen—how many dots (or pixels)
make up the picture—this isn’t the whole story.
Many new 4K TVs support high dynamic range
(HDR), an imaging technology that reproduces a
wider range of brightness levels, richer colors and
higher contrast levels for whiter whites and darker
blacks. To take full advantage of this latest advance
in picture quality, you must have HDR content as
well as an HDR-supported TV.
When seen side by side with non-HDR content,
HDR-enhanced video is incredibly bright and displays vibrant colors, including striking yellow and
orange hues, such as a sunset or campfire. Some
new video game consoles, including the Xbox One
S, also support HDR. An increasing number of
movies and shows offer HDR these days, from
streaming services such as Netflix and on 4K Blu-ray discs.
Q Can you explain what “ 5. 1” and “ 7. 1” mean
related to sound from my TV?
A Rather than listening to a movie in just two channels—left and right stereo from your TV’s built-in
speakers—home theater enthusiasts prefer surround sound, with a different audio track coming
out of multiple speakers. Just as at your local movie
theater, this audio helps immerse you in the film.
The system consists of an audio-video (AV) receiver
and the individual speakers. Sound bars can deliver
multichannel sound, too, with left, right and center
channels built-in the bar.
Here’s what the numbers mean. The “ 5” and “ 7”
refer to the number of speakers: the center one,
which sits just in front of or below the television, for
most of a movie’s dialogue; the two left and right
front speakers on each side of the television, facing
the viewer; and the rear left and right speakers—
either two or four—at the back of the room, just
behind (or to the side) of the viewer. The “. 1” refers
to the booming subwoofer that sits on the floor and
delivers low-frequency bass; many folks recommend
putting it in a corner for optimal performance.
Sights and sounds
Tech tips in time for the holidays
You’ll find a variety of TVs,
audio equipment, routers and
other electronics—perfect for
holiday gifts—at your local
Costco and at Costco.com.
Marc Saltzman, a leading
high-tech reporter, contributes
to more than three dozen
appears on radio and TV,
and is the author of
16 books. He’s on Twitter
Saltzman will answer selected
questions in this column.
He regrets that unpublished
questions cannot be
Please include “Marc Saltzman
Q&A” in the subject line.
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
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Seattle, WA 98124-1088
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Today, many films are recorded or remastered
in up to 7. 1 surround sound, which adds support for
those two additional speakers placed at the rear of
the room, for an even more theater-like experience
An audio receiver and a sound bar can offer this
audio technology. An upgraded configuration for a
sound bar is to have two rear speakers and a subwoofer to go with the speakers in the sound bar itself.
Q How do I know if it’s time to upgrade the router
in my home?
A A wireless router is a small box that connects to
your high-speed internet connection and allows
multiple devices to get online without having to
be plugged into your modem. Typically there are
three reasons why you’d want to upgrade: You’re not
getting the Wi-Fi speeds you want, you’re not
getting the range you want and/or your current
router can’t handle a number of simultaneously connected devices.
When shopping for a new router, get one with
802.11ac speeds instead of the older 802.11n protocol—it’s faster, covers a wider area and supports
many dozens of devices. Demanding internet users
should look for routers with powerful (“high gain”)
antennas and with dual-band or tri-band support as
well, even though these features are more expensive.
Newer routers also offer both a 2. 4 GHz connection and a 5 GHz connection. This is ideal, as it could
minimize interference from other devices operating
on the 2. 4 GHz frequency in the home, such as
microwaves, baby monitors and cordless phones.
While the 2. 4 GHz frequency is able to reach farther
than the 5 GHz frequency, devices connected to the
5 GHz frequency operate at faster speeds.
Another note is that today’s wireless routers are
easy to install. You don’t even need a PC to do it.
Finally, remember you’ll also need to pay an
internet service provider for faster speeds, too. C