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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 28, 2005 Published: Jun 28, 2005 0 comments
"The minute I finished the film, I plunged into the dvd."

Toon Town has a new sheriff, and his name is Brad Bird. On small screen and big, Bird has always brought tremendous heart and an offbeat comedic sensibility to his work, most recently his Oscar-winning The Incredibles, the only opus in the Pixar canon with a sole "Written and Directed by" credit. Here, the humble auteur shares some insights on his unique creative spark.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 26, 2005 0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 5
Extras: 2
While some fans lament the seemingly imploding film career of the latest prettier half of "Bennifer," what's really sad is that Hollywood has managed to take Elektra, the dark, driven creation of the great Frank Miller, and reinvent her as just another melodramatic heroine. As portrayed by the lithe, earnest Jennifer Garner, "E" is a conflicted killer with quirky habits (obsessive-compulsive disorder for a few quick laughs!), who squares off against a slew of overdone computer-generated special effects. Oh, and did I mention the precocious young sidekick and the hunky single dad next door? Had the filmmakers gone for gritty action and an R rating instead of the flashy fantasy nonsense, this movie could have been great instead of just OK. Even at a mere 96 minutes, it's a tad sluggish.
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: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
HTIB goes Wi-Fi.

In case you're just joining us, there's a whole new world of entertainment material to be enjoyed in your living room, beyond what you'll find in your DVD rack or emanating from your cable/satellite feed. Many folks like me are amassing quite a large collection of music, videos, and photos on the PC, and that there Internet has a lot to offer, too. The convergence of PC and home theater is certainly nothing new, but, until now, this union has been attainable only through a series of clever add-ons (not the first marriage to benefit from the use of electric appliances). What if the connection to the computer—and its many perks—was an integral part of your home theater gear, and it was wireless to boot?

Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 26, 2005 0 comments
Video: 2
Audio: 2
Extras: 0
What's funny about a group of staid suburban Texans who take life much too seriously? Pretty much everything, as their Emmy Award–winning third season proves, from the all-time-great "And They Call It Bobby Love," with guest voice Sarah Michelle Gellar (the episode culminates in a cheer-out-loud eating contest), to the darkly comic skydiving mishap in the season finale.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 24, 2005 0 comments
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
A definite cut above the ordinary.

There are many different approaches to home theater, which is one of the reasons why this magazine is as burly as it is, month after month. The stereo speakers built into many modern televisions are nirvana for some, while carefully matched loudspeakers, preamplifiers, processors, and amps are the only solution that others would ever consider. Somewhere between those two polar extremes are the ubiquitous home-theater-in-a-box systems and novel products like the ZVOX 315 Sound Console. The idea here is simple, and noble, offering your TV a painless upgrade to the inadequate audio it was born with.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
What if you could put your home theater (virtually) anywhere?

Simply put, Belkin's PureAV RemoteTV accepts the output of any NTSC video source, converts that analog audio/video signal to MPEG-2, and sends it wirelessly to a display device in another location, in better quality than is possible from similar devices. It essentially eliminates the need for a second source component—not just the hardware, but any related service, as well. Already have a single TV/DVD setup but want to enjoy programming in another room? Want to keep an eye on what someone else is watching or be sure to get your money's worth by displaying your pay-per-view movie on two different TVs? This is the way.

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."

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 11, 2005 0 comments
The Lite-On LVC-9006 DVD+VHS Recorder meets consumer need to record TV directly to DVD and to backup VHS to disc, all in a single chassis and compatible with a wide variety of blank media.

The duplication of VHS onto DVD is nothing new, but a single-component solution is clearly the way to go, and the aggressive pricing we've seen over the past year surely helps as well. While upon close inspection the Lite-On LVC-9006 does appear more streamlined than the Lite-On LVW-5005 DVD Recorder I reviewed in the December 2004 issue of Home Theater—the front-panel inputs (digital video, composite video, analog stereo) are now exposed, and the optical audio output is gone altogether—I cannot overlook the obvious, namely the addition of an excellent four-head Hi-Fi stereo VHS VCR. Yes, it might finally be time to retire your old VCR to Miami (or at least the kids' room), or take it put back behind the woodshed and put a bullet between its fast-forward and rewind buttons. Chief among the LVC-9006's strengths remains the "All-Write" technology which enables it to recognize and record onto most popular blank media types: DVD+/-R, rewritable DVD+/-RW, and even more affordable CD-R/RW. Choose whatever works best for you, if you know for example that a friend's DVD player doesn't support DVD+RW. It is that compatibility, combined with the Easy Guider menus (now seamlessly enhanced for its increased functionality) which virtually hold our hand every step of the way, that make Lite-On recorders such a particular pleasure to use.


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