Along with a deluge of bigger, flatter HDTVs of various technological stripes, a hot TV news item at CES 2005 was the arrival of digital cable-ready TVs with slots for a CableCARD. This credit-card-size device was designed to eliminate set-top cable decoders - those ugly black boxes that have squatted, like parasites, on or below our TVs for the past two decades.
You dropped the money. You bought a 1080p LCD flat-screen big enough to play air hockey on if you laid it down (and had the right paddles). You have the Blu-ray Disc player. And, you have the kind of surround sound system powerful enough to propel Delaware into a geo-synchronous orbit.
Just a week before the May 9 release of their two-CD set Stadium Arcadium, the Red Hot Chili Peppers found that the whole album had been leaked to the Internet, letting fans download it free from file-sharing sites. These days, of course, leaks are hardly novel - but the reaction of the band's bass player, Flea, was.
To the list of life's great mysteries - which already includes what's our purpose on earth, and how does Keanu Reeves keep getting work? - you can add one more: Just how in the name of 1080p do studios decide which titles to re-release on Blu-ray Disc?
Call it the projection paradox. Projector owners are so devoted to their pursuit of a cinematic effect that they're willing to spend thousands of dollars more than the average TV buyer and endure lights-out viewing.
The fun and sun capital of the world. Luxury yachts, fashion models, Cuban cigars, fast cars, and topless beaches. Tanned babes and boys, boats and bikinis, palm trees and piña coladas. Ocean Drive and Art Deco. The Magic City - Miami. Where better to get away from it all? A four-day weekend, a gold-star hotel, and - what the heck?
I usually get the gadget I review for this column about 3 to 4 weeks before I have to write it up. That's a relatively short time to really get to know a product, so I like to live with some of them beyond the deadline. Here are a few things that have truly stood the test of time.
(Photo Illustration by Tony Cordoza) Ever since Sean Connery shot a bad guy out of his Aston Martin's ejector seat in Goldfinger, James Bond's gadgets have become a staple of the franchise. In each Bond flick, the cantankerous Q outfits 007 with a few ordinary-looking items that can do much more than meets the eye.
Thirty-six floors above Rockefeller Center - or Times Square, depending on which side of the building you're gawking from - Jim Collins is giving a tour of Sirius Satellite Radio's Manhattan headquarters. The VP of corporate communications points out a bunch of empty cardboard equipment boxes propped up against a glassed-in control room.
Leave it to Apple to encase the latest technology in a wrapper so irresistible that it appeals both to cutting-edge technophiles and to people who care more about how something looks than how it works.
Is convergence dead? Not the concept - the term. With the Consumer Electronics Show awash in TVs, components, and speakers full of computer technology, maybe it's time to just dump "convergence" and embrace ever-shrinking, ever-more-powerful chip sets as our home-entertainment destiny.
1. I'm happy with DVD. Why should I care about high-definition discs?
While both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc offer a number of improvements over DVD, the most obvious one is picture quality. DVD was a huge leap in both convenience and performance over VHS, but its 480i resolution is well below the 720p, 1080i, and 1080p images both high-def disc formats can produce.
When I reviewed the first Super Audio CD (SACD) player, Sony's ultra-expensive SCD-1, in these pages almost two years ago, I envisioned the format as designed for audiophile "purists" who turned up their noses at CD and even (for reasons still very debatable) DVD playback.