Chris Chiarella

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 05, 2007 Published: May 06, 2007 0 comments
Teasing the high end while still embracing the previous generation.

I recently read somewhere that DVD's install base had eclipsed that of VHS, the former king of meat-and-potatoes home entertainment. I flashed nostalgically on DVD's initial toehold in rental outlets like Blockbuster and stores such as Suncoast, as well as its relentless growth to the point where VHS was relegated to a single shelf before disappearing altogether. I'm sure that recordable DVD still remains a runner-up to the ubiquitous videocassette—even though blank DVDs cost less than blank tapes and recording decks are at all-time-low prices. Still, for reasons that escape me, VHS just won't lie down, even though the consumer electronics coroner has pronounced it dead.

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 21, 2007 Published: Apr 21, 2007 0 comments
Hit maker Ivan Reitman has left his mark as the director and/or producer on some of the biggest, funniest comedies ever. Appreciative of his collaborators, keenly aware of his own canon, and showing a remarkable savvy for the home-video landscape, Reitman reflects upon almost three decades of favorites on the occasion of his latest release, Fox's My Super Ex-Girlfriend, starring Uma Thurman.
Chris Chiarella Posted: May 21, 2007 Published: Apr 21, 2007 0 comments
Putting the fun back into next-generation consoles.

Nintendo's follow-up to their popular GameCube—number three in the Big Three consoles of the previous generation—is the Wii (pronounced "we"), which represents a very different approach from SCEA's and Microsoft's next-gen gaming offerings. The humble Wii de-emphasizes the absolute latest and greatest in graphics and game audio, supporting a maximum video resolution of only 480p, in EDTV mode. Instead, it offers innovation in game design and control. And you can buy two of these Wii consoles for the price of the stripped-down PlayStation 3 model.

Chris Chiarella Posted: May 18, 2007 0 comments
The Spider-Man film franchise has millions of satisfied fans, which is quite an accomplishment by the filmmakers, considering the persnickety nature of comic-book devotees and the quality of most sequels. These fans must be confused by the apparent eagerness to modify one of the great superhero movies of all time, but they need not fret. Sony Pictures’ re-edited Spider-Man 2.1 preserves everything we enjoyed theatrically and on DVD in 2004, plus it offers about eight more minutes of footage, every second of it enjoyable in its own right.
Chris Chiarella Posted: May 01, 2007 Published: Apr 01, 2007 0 comments
Ah, to be young again. As Finding Neverland taught us, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is really for the kids, but the overwhelming charm of this tale about an ageless boy’s carefree adventures makes it pretty much irresistible for the rest of us. That was true of the original stage production and of Walt Disney’s 1953 animated adaptation, with perhaps only its clichd Hollywood depiction of Native Americans looking the worse for wear these many years later.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 24, 2007 Published: Oct 24, 2006 0 comments
From the opening credits, to that crazy hitchhiker, to the ceremonial bones and feathers outside the old house, to the tooth (with filling) lying on the front porch, to the sudden, ugly killing of the first victim, we know that something ain’t quite right in Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. You can even feel a knot forming in your stomach during John Larroquette’s restrained narration that sets the stage for this road trip that’s about to take a tragic turn. I can’t even imagine how savagely this smart, brutal masterpiece of modern horror must have rocked moviegoers’ worlds back in a more innocent 1974. Dark Sky Films’ Ultimate Edition now transports us to those backwoods of the Lone Star State where it all began.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 13, 2007 Published: Mar 13, 2007 0 comments
Get Back
Would you believe that
Get Smart has returned on DVD? I don’t think we’ve ever reported on a TV title in the Reference Corner column before, and perhaps that’s because there are too few TV-on-DVD sets like this one.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 13, 2007 Published: Jul 13, 2006 0 comments
Video: 3
Audio: 3
Extras: 4
OK now, I don’t say this very often, but this movie is messed up. It’s actually pretty good—don’t misunderstand—but this well-crafted tale of three impossibly obnoxious tourists on a budget takes many a dark twist, with lots of unapologetically graphic violence. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 29, 2007 0 comments
Shoot the robot dog. This is an HT gamer's new best friend.

It's just so beautiful. I realize that's a pretty shallow initial evaluation of Sony's much-hyped super-fun-happy-smile machine, the PlayStation 3. But the lines are so bold, the shape is so commanding, and it's all just so. . .shiny. Of course, it's what's inside that counts, and, in this case, that would be the imposing new Cell Broadband Engine, which Sony developed in collaboration with IBM and Toshiba. The Cell engine features a mind-blowing eight processors working in parallel—a main CPU, plus seven Synergistic Processing Units. It's 40 times as powerful as the PlayStation 2's processor, performing 208 billion floating-point calculations per second. This translates to highly detailed, highly interactive environments, complex effects, and bigger battles with a greater number of enemies. Backing this is the RSX graphics-processing unit, which is capable of 4X antialiasing. This can be a real boon in the large-format high-definition universe. The games themselves spin on the PS3's Blu-ray drive and arrive on high-capacity BD-ROM discs.

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