Back in the Stone Age of Digital Audio (circa 1990), discerning audiophiles paid big bucks for elegant-looking CD players. Today the emphasis is on performance rather than looks. Most DVD players are visually boring, and their lack of heft hardly inspires confidence. Sometimes I yearn for the days when a player's quality could literally be weighed.
Photos by Tony Cordoza Not so long ago, the VCR reigned supreme. Much like the proverbial chicken in every pot, there was a VCR in every house. If you wanted to time-shift the soap opera that your job inconveniently caused you to miss, you programmed your VCR. If you wanted to watch a movie, you turned to your trusty VCR.
Yamaha's remarkably trim DVD-S1500 manages to go beyond most other "universal" players. Of course it plays DVD movies plus DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD music discs, most varie-ties of recordable DVDs, and CDs with standard audio, MP3 files, or JPEG-format still images. But it also plays DVDs in the European PAL format on a U.S.-standard TV.
The Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Disc player had been out just a couple of days when my phone began ringing with some interesting reports from the field. It didn't take long to realize that this would be no ordinary product launch.
Wireless media streaming once seemed exotic, but these days we take it for granted. Between Blu-ray Disc players, A/V receivers, TVs, and gaming systems, chances are you have multiple components in your home capable of shuttling music (or even photos and videos) from one room to another.
One of the biggest news items to emerge from last year's Consumer Electronics Show was LG's announcement of a dual-format deck that could play both Blu-ray Discs and HD DVDs. We subsequently got our hands on that player, the BH100 Super Multi Blue, and we found it an intriguing but frustratingly incomplete solution.
In the book of 1,000 and One Nights, Aladdin discovers a magic lamp that when rubbed releases a powerful, wish-granting genie. DirecTV is hoping that its new Genie whole-home DVR will grant your TV-viewing wishes — no bottle rubbing required.
Logitech's Revue Google TV box is quickly approaching, but that hasn't stopped the recent influx of boxes designed to get the Internet (or at least parts of it) onto an HDTV. The latest effort from Western Digital sounds like an impressive one. Inside, WD has packed a full terabyte of storage, to which you can add media from networked PCs and Macs or via its pair of USB ports.
New technologies for time-shifting TV have been multiplying in recent years, making the VCR seem as old-fashioned as the Victrola. Most people know about TiVo and ReplayTV - hard-disk video recorders that seek out and store programs based on your viewing habits. But now there's also PC software like Snapstream's BeyondTV 3 that lets you capture shows on your computer hard drive.
Like swimmers in some Darwinian gene pool, DVD recorders are quickly mutating to fill every possible niche. Yet as they evolve, you can count on finding a core set of features in most decks - a TV tuner, a VCR-style timer, and a handful of recording "modes" that let you trade picture quality for playback time.