We have heard the soundtrack of the High Definition future on DVD, and it's compatible with the jillion1 or so digital surround sound receivers currently delighting home theater owners around the globe - or so says Dolby Laboratories and DTS. In separate recent announcements, each company proudly touted the fact that their audio technologies have been selected as a mandatory part of both the High-Definition Digital Versatile Disc (HD DVD) and the Blu-ray Disc high-definition video disc formats. The two rival disc formats are locked in a good-versus-evil, battle-to-the-death struggle to convince studios, manufacturers, consumers, and anyone else who will listen that their format makes the most sense (and cents) for the future of packaged optical media. Although most people immediately think video when they hear about High Definition on disc, the announcement of mandatory audio standards is an excellent reminder to all concerned that audio quality is just as important as video clarity.
While we can't vouch for the scientific nature of a recent survey conducted by Quixel Research at Best Buy stores in three different USA locations, the results do fill our hearts with gladness that the average consumer-type person (or at least the average Best Buy visitor) can tell quality when he or she sees it. At least that's how we interpret the results. Sponsored by "several major CE and component manufacturers", Quixel's survey team had "TV purchase intenders" compare Plasma TVs, LCD TVs, front projectors, and MicroDisplay rear-pro sets side-by-side. After careful evaluation in the retail store environment, the consumers then told the Quixel Research scribes what they wanted in a new TV and how much they were willing to pay for it. Quixel claims that the study "is the first of its kind to compare all the products side by side in a retail environment across the USA."
Imagine finally being able to have a high-end product in your home for a non-high-end price tag. AudioControl is set to make that happen with their new Architect Model 735 multiroom amp. The Model 735 delivers a rated 35 watts into all 12 channels simultaneously and allows for channel bridging. The amp can play into low impedances and runs very cool, the company reports. With AudioControl's room-correction equalization controls for each channel, you or your installer can maximize your in-wall or in-ceiling speakers' performance. Available in the company's Cool Blue style, the Model 735 is available now for $1,699.
(425) 775-8461 www.audiocontrol.com
Extras: 3 Saved! is the heartwarming story of love, redemption, religion, high school, hypocrisy, and teenage pregnancy. Movies have gone after far less heady subjects and done far worse. Remarkably, this film doesn't make fun of religion per se, but the hypocrisy found in far too many people who claim to be religious. It's a funny movie, but its need to tiptoe around heavy religion waters it down to some extent. Jena Malone plays Mary, one of the cool kids in her Christian high school. She sleeps with her boyfriend because Jesus told her that would "cure" him of being gay. She, of course, gets pregnant and disillusioned. I swear, it's a comedy.
Those who know me are aware that a chat with Mark Hamill, the star of The Best Damned Movie Ever Made, was the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. I even chose "Mark" as my Confirmation name years ago, my parents thinking it was in honor of one of the four Disciples. ("Luke" is in there too, come to think.) After countless fanboy discussions, I suddenly found myself shifting pronouns, from "When he made Empire. . ." to "When you made Empire. . ." and it felt good. The experience was all the more fun for the fact that Hamill himself is a hardcore fan, passionate about his work—including directing his first feature film, Comic Book: The Movie—and remarkably candid and generous.
[This is an extended version of the interview that appears in the October 2004 Sound & Vision to accompany Carrie Fisher's exclusive interview with George Lucas.] John Lowry designed his first image-processing system to clean up the live TV pictures from the Apollo 16 and 17 lunar landings.