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Get to know the CNET family: Q&A with David Katzmaier

When it comes to TVs, you need him and I need him. Meet David Katzmaier, our resident expert on TVs and home theaters whose tool of choice for work is his label maker.

James Martin/CNET

Take a look behind the scenes at CNET to get to know some of our staff members better and learn what they do to make our site a success.


Hello there, folks! I hope everyone is in good spirits and are gearing up for the holidays ahead. Today I have a special treat, a great addition to our collection Get to know the CNET family. I have with me none other than our TV and home-theater guru, a longtime fixture on the CNET crew, David Katzmaier. 

If you come to CNET for TV and home theater buying advice, I will bet my firstborn that you've read one of David's TV reviews. I know I've relied on his takes a few times and could not have been happier with my buying decisions based on his expertise. (Thank you, Katzmaier!) And if you are fan of David's, I'm sure you've seen him interact with our readers -- and possibly you -- in the comments section, as he is as one with our readers. You know that, as a community manager, seeing his interaction with you all makes me do the happy dance!

His work is everything having to do with TVs and home theaters, day in and day out, but did you know that his go-to tool of the trade is a label maker? Say whaaa?!  He's also a DIY brewer. TVs, home theaters and beer -- what more can you ask for, right? Find out more about him by reading his profile . Here's David!

Ah, just another day at work.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Q: What's your job title, and what do you do?

A: My title is Section Editor, but I prefer Senior Editor because it sounds better. My main thing is reviewing TVs and home-theater gear. I work closely with reviewers David Carnoy, who handles headphones and small speakers, and Ty Pendlebury, who does home audio, like big speakers, sound bars and receivers. Obviously, the stuff we review is friggin' awesome. 

Q: What's a fun fact about you related to work?

A: I'm chronically over-organized in life, and in CNET's TV lab. My label maker is my best friend (maybe I should get out more). I like to label new products ("2017 P65-E1"), lab gear ("Input 5: Samsung Q7 EDID") and even the label maker itself ("Ironic label"). 

Me in the projector testing lab.

Sarah Tew

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

A: Prioritizing my time. In the home-theater category there's so many cool products to review, and so many other non-reviews things to do, that it's easy to get overwhelmed. I never feel like I'm doing enough to satisfy readers, who depend on CNET for buying advice especially around the holidays. 

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

A: Playing with new gadgets is always fun, but more rewarding at this point in my career is communicating with readers. I love going back and forth on Twitter, via email and in the comments sections of reviews, and every time I answer someone seeking advice, I get a warm fuzzy that's even more satisfying than unpacking the latest TV. 

Q: What was the first tech gadget you owned?

A: A Timex Sinclair computer, circa 1982. My grandpa gave it to me as a gift, complete with the 16KB (not a misprint) RAM pack, an upgrade from the built-in 2KB of memory. It connected to a black-and-white TV in my room, stored programs on an actual audio cassette tape, and let me program in BASIC. I eventually figured out how to create Choose Your Own Adventures-style text games on it, but my first program less ambitious: mocking my sister. I used the GOTO command to fill the screen with: "TRISH IS A DOG." It was glorious. 

Q: Besides your phone, what's the tech item you can't live without? 

A: Duh, my TV. I'm rocking a 65-inch Panasonic plasma at home and everything I watch on there pops. Sure, there's TV and streaming, but gaming is my preferred big-screen activity. When I have the spare time I usually spend it playing the latest RPG using a PC connected to the TV, complete with surround sound, controlled by a PS4 controller. DS4Windows FTW! 

Q: What does it mean to be a good tech product? 

A: My litmus is bang for the buck. Expensive products that don't seem worth the extra money annoy me, while awesome products that everyone can afford make my day. I introduced a "Value" subrating into my reviews that takes into account that concept, and as a bonus it helps assure that inexpensive products can get high ratings, too.  

Now playing: Watch this: Vizio M-Series is the best midrange TV value
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Q: Favorite CNET tech tip? 

A: Get a hub-based Logitech Harmony universal remote. If you have more than one remote you're using in the living room, you're doing it wrong. And if you're using your phone as a remote, physical buttons will feel like a revelation once you try them. The  Harmony Smart Control is $80 at Amazon, and it can control everything in a way that's easy to set up and works beautifully. Just do it. 

It's the Katzmaier family!

Jim Kehr

Q: If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be? 

A: 42. Coincidentally, that's how old I am now. Pretty much halfway to dead, but I don't suffer any of the crappy physical things yet that will come when I get older. I also have all the benefits of a loving family, a great job I love doing, and enough free time that I don't go crazy. 

Q: Do you have a campy, guilty-pleasure film? If so, what is it? 

A: "Dune", the David Lynch version. Campy maybe, but it's my all-time favorite film, full stop. It stays true to the book(s), which I love, yet manages to make them even weirder. The visuals, from the opening with the huge grotesque spice-smoking Guild Navigator to the insane "flying fat man" Baron Harkonnen with his leaky cyber-gut, are amazingly nightmarish. Sting. Kyle MacLachlan. Patrick Stewart. I'm psyched for the Villeneuve remake, but the original will be nearly impossible to top. 

Just a few of my brew arsenal

David Katzmaier/CNET

Q: If you could have a magic power, what would it be? 

A: I could go with invisibility, mind-reading or super speed, but all-time I'd have to choose teleportation. In addition to just being able to think myself home from work, it would be sweet to zap to Five Guys for takeout and back, or slap on a wingsuit and teleport 10 miles into the air for a quick fly. Hell, I'd own a spacesuit and teleport into orbit around Jupiter or Dimidium. That would be neat. 

Q: What are some of your hobbies? 

A: I brew my own beer. I started a couple years ago with a plastic bucket kit, a Father's Day gift from my wonderful wife. I mainly use ingredient kits, and true to my bang-for-the-buck credo, I usually pick blends with higher ABV. I also spend a lot of time reading on the train during my long commute between Long Island and New York City, where I'm usually devouring a favorite sci-fi or fantasy novel. Otherwise I'm trying to work on my own fantasy novel, inspiration depending. Does collecting hot sauces count as a hobby?

Q: Where do you like to vacation?

A: Camping with my wife and kids. We've been tent camping in various campgrounds around the east coast for the last couple years and I really like exploring the area, stargazing and sitting around the campfire. I love the gear too, from our propane porta-grill to the head-mount LED lamps. After our tent sprung a leak after the last time we went, I'm strongly considering an upgrade to a camping trailer next spring and summer. 

katzkids-testing

Eventually I have to retire and pass the torch on. Couple of my kids doing some real world TV testing. Future editors? We shall see.

David Katzmaier/CNET

Well folks, that's a wrap on Mr. Katzmaier, the real deal in the flesh. I hope you enjoyed his Q&A. If you need TV buying advice and want the latest TV reviews, he is your man. If you bought a TV and need some TV picture-setting recommendations, check out the CNET TV picture setting forum, and look for David's post on your model. 

Now if you're a DIY beer brewer, or love the movie "Dune," or need a tip or two on TVs, hit up David in the comments section and talk shop. Thank you all for reading, and thank you, David, for your time. More staff Q&A will be headed your way soon. In the meantime, catch up on them here.