Chris Chiarella

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 07, 2004 Published: Nov 01, 2004 0 comments
No, really: It's a computer!

Savvy readers might be familiar with Alienware. Their built-to-order gaming PCs are as famous as their functional and distinctive cases that prevent dust and birds from nesting between the circuit boards. Taking those two strengths into the living room, Alienware has introduced a Media Center Edition PC like no other, the DHS-321 Digital Home System. This box, which approximates the look of a consumer electronics component in black-anodized, brushed aluminum, runs the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 operating system.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 08, 2004 0 comments
The latest videogame based specifically on the most recent Arnold Schwarzenegger (who apparently recorded only a portion of his in-game dialogue) action sequel, Terminator 3: Redemption, is the first I've ever seen (and heard) to offer such a distinct hierarchy of audio formats across each of the three major consoles. (I'm a Home Theater guy, sadly this is one of the first details I look for on the package.)
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 01, 2004 0 comments
Those who know me are aware that a chat with Mark Hamill, the star of The Best Damned Movie Ever Made, was the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. I even chose "Mark" as my Confirmation name years ago, my parents thinking it was in honor of one of the four Disciples. ("Luke" is in there too, come to think.) After countless fanboy discussions, I suddenly found myself shifting pronouns, from "When he made Empire. . ." to "When you made Empire. . ." and it felt good. The experience was all the more fun for the fact that Hamill himself is a hardcore fan, passionate about his work—including directing his first feature film, Comic Book: The Movie—and remarkably candid and generous.
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.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 23, 2004 0 comments
The size of a deck of cards, Verbatim's new 2.1-gigabyte Store 'n' Go HD Drive offers the blazing speed of a USB 2.0 connection (which also powers the little guy), meaning that even enormous MPEG video files can be transferred fast. The vast capacity of the one-inch, 4,200RPM hard disk puts it in a class above the popular flash memory drives, to hold almost half a DVD's worth of video... or music or photos or any other files you care to drag and drop. The Store 'n' Go is plug-and-play for Windows ME or better--Win98SE users, keep that driver CD handy--and is also Mac- and Linux-ready. The built-in USB cable means you never need to search for it, although an extension cable is also included, and at under two ounces this drive is light enough to carry around your neck, with a lanyard and protective carrying pouch supplied for that very purpose.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 08, 2004 0 comments
1. These are the essentially the 1997 Special Edition versions of all three films. Sort of. Yes, this means that Greedo still fires first in the notoriously rethought Star Wars cantina scene and modern special effects are everywhere, but further modifications have been made, and not just visual tweaks: The Return Of The Jedi Emperor now appears in The Empire Strikes Back for example, bringing new dialogue with him, and young Anakin from Revenge Of The Sith also replaces old Anakin in the finale of Jedi.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
Is it finally time to say, "Au Revoir, VCR"?

So a bunch of us reporter types were sitting around CES 2003, and we kept hearing that recordable DVD finally stood poised to replace the VCR, since the prices had come down to the $600 range. Marketing people are paid to make these unrealistic claims with a brave smile, but the journalistic consensus was that recordable DVD would indeed replace VHS. . .when the price was closer to $200. We also hoped that format-compatibility issues would largely be resolved by that time.

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.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 16, 2004 0 comments
Wi-Fi is certainly one of buzzier hyphenated words I hear each week, and while my experiences have generally been positive, seldom are they jaw-dropping either. That all changed earlier this month when the team from Belkin Corp. demonstrated their newest products, the Wireless Pre-N Router (F5D8230-4, $179.99) and Wireless Pre-N Notebook Network Card (F5D8010, $129.99). "Pre-N" means that these products are arriving in advance of the upcoming 802.11n standard, but are Wi-Fi certified under the 802.11g standard and are intended to perform closer to the theoretical levels promised in Wi-Fi literature.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 19, 2004 Published: Aug 01, 2004 0 comments
With Omnifi, your MP3s are everywhere you want to be.

Liberating gear such as that manufactured by Omnifi, a division of Rockford Fosgate, compels me to look at where I spend the bulk of my waking hours: at the office, in the home theater, or in the car. As with all great action heroes, my daily adventures are set to music—not a problem when I'm chained to my desk with my entire music library at my disposal on my hard drive. A portable player is one way to transcend the confines of the workspace, and some even arrive bundled with cables to plug into a hi-fi system for all to enjoy, but this is hardly an elegant approach.

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