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Chris Chiarella

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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.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 08, 2008 1 comments
At the Dolby booth, this prototype of the first-ever audio/video receiver with the new Dolby Volume technology was on display outside their mini-theater. Onkyo, with a tradition of early integration of new audio technologies, won the honor of debuting the new process which organically rejiggers the loud and quiet parts of a soundtrack within a scene, such as hard-to-hear dialogue amid background sound effects, as well as equalizing the levels between two different programs when we change channels or go to commercial, with very enjoyable results in all of the demo I've heard in the past year. Clearly this is something that consumers have been demanding, one of those seemingly simple problems that's a bear to solve (otherwise everyone would do it!)
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 28, 2006 0 comments
Dual-core and other Intel technologies are a boon to heavy users of multimedia PCs.

One wife, two kids, and one cat later, it hit me: There are just not enough hours in the day. My leisure hours, like work, have become a matter of multitasking—watching a DVD in one window as I write a review in the other, downloading photos, and sending e-mails. I can no longer use the "I'm already busy" excuse since, frankly, I'm expected to walk and chew gum at the same time around here. And what of my poor PC, which is charged with performing all of the above and more? At least I know I'm not alone, here at wit's end, as the fundamental usage model has evolved and one-thing-at-a-timers have gone the way of the Timex Sinclair.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 24, 2005 0 comments
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 12, 2013 0 comments
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Within the first few minutes of E.T., old-timers like me who remember seeing it on the big screen 30 years ago can’t help but recall why this movie was a bona fide cultural event, the likes of which we seldom see anymore. Oft copied, never equaled, it is an exquisitely crafted piece of cinema by a virtuoso at the top of his game. E.T. tells the tale of a lost, lonely visitor and his equally lonely host, an ordinary boy named Elliott. It celebrates the universal childhood fantasy of a secret best friend…and that other one about the flying bicycles. Rough around the edges though it may seem by today’s standards, this 1982 original version remains one of the most profoundly moving films most people will ever see.

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