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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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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 17, 2016 3 comments
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After an acclaimed reboot that successfully shed the sillier trappings of the long-running James Bond franchise, the creators of the recent Spectre have now curiously chosen to embrace the clunky clichés and cartoon villains not only of the 007 canon but seemingly every thriller of the past decade. Big Brother has arrived! It’s the death of privacy! “We must stop this doomful technology before it goes online, or it will be too late!” (Not an actual quote, but you get the idea.)
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 23, 2016 1 comments
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Following a dubious big-screen debut three years prior, the fate of the entire Star Trek franchise was at risk when The Wrath of Khan opened to somewhat skeptical audiences. They needn’t have worried: Khan essentially saved Star Trek from potential doom and has gone on to become probably the most beloved of the Enterprise’s cinematic adventures. This time out, a ship full of trainees—under a familiar command crew—get more than they bargained for when they embark upon one of the most dangerous missions any of them will ever face. Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) returns to active duty only to face Khan (Ricardo Montalban), a figure from his past now consumed by unreasoning hatred. Having recently acquired a dreadful weapon, Khan is a menace not only to his old adversary but to the galaxy at large.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 15, 2016 2 comments
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I’ve seen some bad Star Wars movies and, well, The Force Awakens sure ain’t one of them. Yes, the plot is full of wild coincidences, implausible developments, and groan-inducing character moments. Worst of all, the events and even specific locations sometimes follow well-worn aspects of the classic canon a bit too closely. But these sins perhaps we can and should forgive. Filmmaker J.J. Abrams is a professed Star Wars fanatic, and his love and respect for the material have clearly guided this first new film since creator George Lucas divested himself of the fabled fantasy franchise.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 12, 2016 1 comments
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The still-thrilling Terminator franchise has certainly experienced its share of highs and lows over the last 30-odd years. And so creator James Cameron’s ringing endorsement for the latest installment, Terminator Genisys—in which he had no direct involvement—carried a lot of weight with fans. While giving major respect to the classic canon, this fifth movie is superbly smart, inventive, and even quite funny at times.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 05, 2002 Published: Aug 06, 2002 0 comments
Time marches on. DVD software has steadily improved in its half-decade history, so you'll see lots of recent releases on this year's best-of list. The never-ending tide of discs keeps our perspective (while subjective) in a constant state of flux. Time, DVD's evolution, and the chance to plumb the most elaborate discs' untold depths have yielded some modified rankings from last year's list. As for our criteria, the film itself must be good, or at least good enough—or even so bad that it's back to good. Given DVD's storage potential, few movie-only discs made the cut. Picture and sound quality are essential, as are quantity, value, and originality of extras. Our comments cut right to the chase; so, if you want further insight, why not rent or buy the discs we list below to find out for yourself what makes a great DVD?

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