Chris Chiarella

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 29, 2013 0 comments
The Criterion Collection serves up another eclectic batch of classic, near-classic and neo-classic films, all restored for high-def disc.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
What's shaking in the world of convergence?

One of the reasons I sleep well each night, secure in my job at HT, is the fact that seemingly every unusual product that comes down the pike is deemed "convergence" and falls into my lap. The Crowson Technology Tactile Effects System (TES) 100 wasn't exactly what I thought it would be: I anticipated a little added shaking of the sofa at appropriate moments, and the TES 100 certainly delivered, but the Couch Kit's two magnetic transducers turned out to be actual loudspeakers that also happen to channel enough physical vibration to move whatever is pressed down upon them, ideally the two hind legs of a big piece of furniture. Two rubber feet help to isolate the front legs. The less-expensive Chair Kit comes with one transducer and three rubber feet.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 07, 2008 10 comments
High-end gaming PC overlords Alienware showed off an ENORMOUS curved LCD screen here in Las Vegas, tentatively named... Alienware Curved Display. It's even more impressive in person, wider than any consumer-available screen I've ever seen, with a curve that does a better job filling the user's field of vision for a more immersive experience.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 09, 2003 Published: Apr 10, 2003 0 comments
By the time you read this, Paramount's two-disc special collector's edition of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home should be available. While it was never my favorite Star Trek film, the movie does offer some memorable funny-because-they're-true lines. One that I often quote occurs when time-traveling Scotty confronts a 20th-century computer. When he eventually realizes that he'll have to use a horribly outdated keyboard, he quips, "How quaint."
Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 15, 2004 Published: Oct 01, 2004 0 comments
Why I can never watch Super Speedway in my home theater again.

Even I can't believe how far I'll travel for a great home theater demo. Hidden up in the cold, cold reaches of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is the headquarters of D-BOX Technologies, which features the coolest faux living room in North America. I aimed to try their Odyssee motion simulator firsthand. My brother told me that home theater gear depends upon the demo perhaps more than any other product, and this was never truer than with the Odyssee.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 09, 2008 0 comments
In addition to spreading their technology message and announcing new software partners (Disney!), the D-BOXers brought along their top-of-the-line products, including a motion-enabled loveseat and this little beauty, a recliner with a third actuator for up-and-down-movement, or "heave," hence my raised thumb to illustrate. The heave literally adds another dimension to the interactivity that the chairs bring to DVDs and Blu-rays. If you ever see the D-BOX roadshow truck in your neighborhood, be sure to take a seat.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 15, 2007 Published: Oct 15, 2007 0 comments
Is everything else suddenly "just home theater"?

I don't know anyone who has actually admitted boredom with the traditional home theater experience, but perhaps that's because not all buffs realize just how many gear options are out there. A few years ago, I traveled up to Canada to demo a D-BOX Quest Chair, a sophisticated piece of furniture that adds realistic motion effects that are synchronized to the action and sound of particular movies. The result is akin to living the adventures of your favorite cinematic heroes, which is why the D-BOX-supported movies tend to be more car-chasey and less talky-talky.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
The universe is still expanding.

People seem to love bashing the last great format war—SACD versus DVD-Audio—in which, of course, there was no real winner. My personal opinion has always been a little different. I consider it a unique pleasure to bask in the warm embrace of 5.1 high-resolution channels of some of the best popular music ever. I continue to do this, as I always have, by way of an affordable universal disc player, as one could fairly call it in the days before HD DVD and Blu-ray. I'm glad to see that manufacturers are still supporting the high-resolution audio formats, helping the consumer take advantage of all the great software currently available, much of it heavily discounted in the aftermath of the conflict.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 05, 2007 Published: May 06, 2007 0 comments
What's the key to portable video? Lots of slots.

The problem with a moniker like Picture Porter Elite, classy sounding or not, is that it conjures up notions of a digital bucket of sorts, compatible primarily with still photos. That is far from true for this well-rounded portable media player. Its roots are in the realm of the memory-card reader, which began its life as a PC accessory and later became a freestanding device with its own onboard data storage. You could insert cards while out in the field and safely archive their contents onto the unit's built-in hard drive, thereby freeing up the precious removable media real estate so you could snap new pictures and/or lens new video. A small LCD let you interface with your multimedia content. To expedite the transfers, it displayed file names, file types, and so on. The Piture Porter Elite uses a bigger color screen and has the necessary decoding so you can view your images and movies. Throw in music playback just because everyone everywhere is listening to MP3s, and you begin to formulate a sense of what this device can do. It also connects to a video source and records content to play back on the go later. Or you can park the Picture Porter Elite next to an audio/video system, patch it in with the included cables, and view all of the content on your TV. You can zoom, pan, and rotate your photos or easily print them via a simple USB connection to a PictBridge-compliant printer. The FM radio has a bold, clever graphic user interface and is a nice bonus. (The included headphones serve double duty as an antenna.) There's even a voice recorder with an embedded microphone and a pre-loaded game: It's Tetris, even though they call it Matrix.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 27, 2013 3 comments
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The antebellum South returned to modern screens by way of ’60s/’70s-style Blaxploitation in Quentin Tarantino’s electric Django Unchained. A surprisingly good-hearted, forward-thinking bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz, Oscar'd again here) purchases and frees the slave of the title (Jamie Foxx) in exchange for his help in tracking down three big-ticket wanted men.

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