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Chris Chiarella

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Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 01, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Vamp Verza, $598; Metallo case, $101

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Elegant two-piece add-on to enhance smartphone audio
More power, superior DACs
Sleek, serious metal construction
Minus
Makes phone heavy and bulky for your pocket
Metallo case a pricey add-on

THE VERDICT
V-Moda offers a stylish solution to turn your smartphone into the sonic titan you always dreamed it could be.

The Samsung Galaxy S III (a.k.a.GS3) was arguably last year’s second best-selling mobile phone, behind the iPhone 5, and the popularity of this non-Apple device—reportedly over 30 million units in consumers’ hands—in a sea of Android competitors speaks volumes. Smartphones do a lot, often serving as many folks’ primary media player, but they face the quandaries of all modern portable gear: Performance must contend with the realities of physical size and weight, as well as battery life. One such casualty is the diminutive digital-to-analog converter inside the phone, which turns the digital audio signals into analog audio that we can hear over headphones or the built-in speaker. As a GS3 user for the past 11 months, I have no major gripes about the onboard DAC (in this case built into the Qualcomm WCD9310 chip), but it is fair to say that it wasn’t selected only for audio quality, but perhaps partly because it’s tiny and it won’t overwhelm the phone’s battery.

Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 31, 2013 2 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Cloud Atlas is something of a cinematic curiosity. It is incredibly ambitious and deftly executed, weaving together six disparate tales with similar themes of oppression and rebellion, each told with the same handful of actors playing the key roles in each scenario. Set in different locations and in eras ranging from 1849 up through 2321, the movie serves up everything from a single slave earning his freedom on a sailing ship to a genetically engineered hostess inspiring a full-on societal revolt. But even when the all-star filmmaking team of the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer has three hours to play with, not one of the half-dozen narratives can be particularly deep or overwhelmingly original. They have, however, fashioned an enormous event movie that pushes technique—dramatic as well as purely technical—into bold new territory.
Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 14, 2013 0 comments
The small screen serves up some big drama in these three TV-on-Blu-ray releases, from Liberace to slave revolt to big-city vigilante justice.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 05, 2013 0 comments
Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Peter Jackson gave the world a beloved, wildly successful film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, culminating in a record-breaking Oscar sweep, so of course, he was the obvious choice to helm the Hobbit prequels. But whereas the Rings trilogy made a newbie like me love it with its epic thrills and fascinating characters, An Unexpected Journey seems to be in love with its own familiar world and everyone in it. We meet a younger Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit happily minding his own business when the wizard Gandalf drafts him for a dangerous quest.
Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 30, 2013 0 comments
Father and son Miyazakis craft another touching tale, Helen Mirren shines as a capable cop, and all hell breaks loose in an offbeat World War II gorefest.
Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 22, 2013 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Steven Spielberg’s long-rumored dream project—bring- ing the factual, Holocaust-set book Schindler’s Ark to the screen—finally arrived to great acclaim in 1993, culminating in Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, and more. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is a clever civilian businessman and a bit of a cad who achieves a fortune by manufactur- ing pots and pans for the German army during World War II. His secrets? World-class schmoozing and an unpaid legion of Jewish laborers. He has no love of the Nazis or their agenda, but as he bears witness to their escalating atrocities, he is reluctantly moved to become a champion of his ill-fated workforce. His steps are small at first, ultimately leading to the creation of a list of more than 1,000 names of people to be kept at his factory instead of sent to concentration camps or gas chambers. This decision winds up costing Schindler all of his vast wealth, but his selfless act made history. It’s a profound tale told with great passion and indelible images.
Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 16, 2013 0 comments
An Italian language Cannes winner, another terrific Justice League adventure and a long-lost Rock Hudson gem make their Blu-ray debuts.
Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 14, 2013 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Four of the 10 Best Picture winners of the ’60s were musicals, but as Hollywood transitioned to a post–Easy Rider era, they had to make even song-and-dance extravaganzas more relevant. And so in 1972, Cabaret redefined what a movie musical could be.
Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 26, 2013 0 comments
An unfairly overlooked monster-horror/drama finally goes HD, along with a Next-Gen two-parter and a long-unseen Alec Guinness miniseries.
Filed under
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 13, 2013 0 comments
Another edgy series from Cinemax, a trendy new thriller and a must-see documentary about hunger in America will heat up an already balmy July.

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