Chris Chiarella

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 20, 2005 0 comments
You'll be hearing things that aren't there, like surround channels.

The wheels of compliance grind slowly, but they do grind. With the ongoing mad rush to embrace DVD's audio and video potential, many consumers have expressed an interest in wireless surround speakers to simplify setup, while others—spoilsports, really—insist that they lack either the room or the desire for dedicated surrounds. As a result, we saw and heard more products than ever at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that put all of the gear up front while creating an illusion of surround, some more successfully than others. So expect to see more reviews in this burgeoning category from me and the gang. Even your run-of-the-mill home-theater-in-a-box requires a dollop of basic HT know-how to configure: running wires, connecting speaker cables, and, of course, allocating space for five loudspeakers and the subwoofer. Don't get me wrong: I've never viewed these steps as a chore, but, for some, it's just too much, and it's perpetuating the schism betwixt DVD wannabes and DVD gurus.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 15, 2005 Published: Oct 30, 2005 0 comments
Any signal, anywhere? Yeah, pretty much.
Increasing droves of con-sumers are installing networks in their homes to accomplish boring feats such as sharing printers or perhaps more diverting applications like music sharing. But, not until I reviewed the offerings from SkipJam did I fully understand how much entertainment a home network can provide. SkipJam has designed a platform-agnostic networking system in which a single wholehouse configuration can work seamlessly with an existing CAT-5 (Ethernet), Wi-Fi, coaxial cable, or power-line network—or any combination of these different standards. You will need a properly functioning network in place, independent of the SkipJam installation. But, if you want to add one more location wirelessly, for example, it's no problem.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 11, 2013 1 comments
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Half a century after the release of Dr. No, director Sam Mendes and a gifted team of screenwriters have managed to give audiences a James Bond film unlike any other. Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third outing as 007, and yet the star is unafraid to show his advancing age, as we are reminded that the job of international secret agent apparently takes a heavy toll on all who dare to sign up for it.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 01, 2012 0 comments
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The second-highest-grossing movie of 1977 (behind only a certain science-fantasy film of some renown) and one of the biggest hits in the esteemed history of Universal Studios, Smokey and the Bandit combined frequent car chases, vast amounts of beer, and copious nose-thumbing at The Man to create a wildly popular piece of entertainment. Like most movies of the era, it lacks the slickness of modern fare and relies more heavily on the charm of its star, Burt Reynolds, as legendary trucker Bo “Bandit” Darville. He takes a big bet to deliver 400 cases of Coors beer across five states in only 28 hours, an extremely difficult and highly illegal challenge.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
iDeclare: Your portable music player is now your home music server (with photos, anyone?).

We've been writing about digital music and the various hardware options, including home audio servers and portables, for several years now. Among portables, there is no denying that the iPod is king, with a popularity that transcends mere market share. People have even taken to wearing the distinctive white headphones with any old portable stereo, in an attempt to achieve that iPod look, while many old-school iPod owners (yes, it's been around long enough to give rise to different schools) have switched to more traditional ear gear, just to eschew any sense of jejune trendiness. The iPod is standard issue here in New York, along with a little vial of pepper spray and a big scoop of attitude. Thanks to Hewlett-Packard, iPod technology is now available to the teeming PC throng, although we have never had an appropriate occasion to cover the iPod in the pages of Home Theater before.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 30, 2005 Published: Aug 31, 2005 0 comments
In a nasty world, Sonos makes wholehouse music distribution friendly.

Not to sound cynical, but, at this stage of the distributed audio game, "me too" products don't cut it anymore. What we want is something new, something different, something better. Luckily for Sonos, that's what their Digital Music System delivers. Much of the allure in these gray and silver boxes lies in the freedom they promise. It's not just a question of wired or wireless—although wireless is an option here, sort of, and it's mighty desirable. This system is also independent from the computer, so that you can connect it to a PC, a Mac, or even Linux—or directly to a network storage drive for even greater flexibility.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
More video-game hardware in less space.

My medication is obviously not working because I'm still talking to myself. Marveling at the redesigned PlayStation 2's jaw-droppingly slender form factor for about 10 minutes straight, I caught myself actually saying "Wow" out loud, even though I was alone. It's comparable in size to a paperback book, but it reminds me more of a portable DVD player, sans screen, in black. While some of the accessories designed for use with the original PS2 are not compatible with this new design (the vertical stand and the Multitap to allow four players instead of the standard two, although new versions of each are now available), I was happy to find that my step-up Monster Game products all still fit. The digital optical cable and component video adapter plugged into the obvious places, while the replacement AC cable now patches into the breakout AC adapter (the 8.5-volt power supply is now located outside the console, which is another secret to the PS2's profound weight loss). At just 2 pounds, it's half as heavy as its former incarnation and takes up one-quarter the space, leaving me with vast amounts of open air in my under-TV gear stack after a quick, new-for-old PS2 swap. I do wish it had a catchier moniker, rather than simply "the 70000 Series."

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 29, 2007 0 comments
Shoot the robot dog. This is an HT gamer's new best friend.

It's just so beautiful. I realize that's a pretty shallow initial evaluation of Sony's much-hyped super-fun-happy-smile machine, the PlayStation 3. But the lines are so bold, the shape is so commanding, and it's all just so. . .shiny. Of course, it's what's inside that counts, and, in this case, that would be the imposing new Cell Broadband Engine, which Sony developed in collaboration with IBM and Toshiba. The Cell engine features a mind-blowing eight processors working in parallel—a main CPU, plus seven Synergistic Processing Units. It's 40 times as powerful as the PlayStation 2's processor, performing 208 billion floating-point calculations per second. This translates to highly detailed, highly interactive environments, complex effects, and bigger battles with a greater number of enemies. Backing this is the RSX graphics-processing unit, which is capable of 4X antialiasing. This can be a real boon in the large-format high-definition universe. The games themselves spin on the PS3's Blu-ray drive and arrive on high-capacity BD-ROM discs.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 20, 2005 0 comments
It's two-fisted entertainment!

Over the past quarter-century, consumers have been bombarded by portable electronics. From the Walkman, to the PDA, to video players and handheld games of every description, the allure of technology-to-go has proven irresistible. But what constitutes a truly great portable? Ask anyone who has juggled three or more disparate devices, and he'll tell you that a convergence of different technologies is key to pushing the entertainment experience forward, in the same way that camera and PDA phones have enhanced productivity, as well as the coolness factor. Quality is at issue, too, as is a supply of worthwhile content.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 05, 2006 0 comments
5.1 speaker suites for every fragger.

We've long extolled the wonder and tangible benefits of 5.1 audio in the video-gaming realm. It is a major feature of the Sony PlayStation 2 and the Microsoft Xbox and is a mandatory element for all Xbox 360 games. While some folks simply drop a console into their fully equipped home theaters, many are new to 5.1, so I present here an assortment of exemplary powered speaker suites for video-game use.

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