Chris Chiarella

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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: Oct 15, 2005 Published: Oct 30, 2005 0 comments
Any signal, anywhere? Yeah, pretty much.
Increasing droves of con-sumers are installing networks in their homes to accomplish boring feats such as sharing printers or perhaps more diverting applications like music sharing. But, not until I reviewed the offerings from SkipJam did I fully understand how much entertainment a home network can provide. SkipJam has designed a platform-agnostic networking system in which a single wholehouse configuration can work seamlessly with an existing CAT-5 (Ethernet), Wi-Fi, coaxial cable, or power-line network—or any combination of these different standards. You will need a properly functioning network in place, independent of the SkipJam installation. But, if you want to add one more location wirelessly, for example, it's no problem.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 14, 2005 0 comments
The October issue of HT featured our one-on-one interview acclaimed director John Landis, but those pages were scarcely adequate to contain his boundless enthusiasm, and who are we to restrain the mind that perfected the R-rated comedy? We hereby present this unfettered version of our discussion with the man behind Animal House, The Blues Brothers (celebrating its silver anniversary this year with a new special edition DVD from Universal Studios), and An American Werewolf in London, to name but a few, in addition to Michael Jackson's groundbreaking video "Thriller," which once ruled MTV.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 30, 2005 0 comments
5.1 for your head.

After more years writing about sound technology than I care to count, I've had two revelations of note: A full 5.1-channel speaker system is too much for some people, while, for many of those same folks, traditional stereo just isn't enough. With content—movies and games—growing ever more sophisticated, we need adequate gear on which to enjoy it. However, not everyone has the space, the budget, or even the basic technical know-how to wire five speakers and a subwoofer.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 30, 2005 Published: Aug 31, 2005 0 comments
In a nasty world, Sonos makes wholehouse music distribution friendly.

Not to sound cynical, but, at this stage of the distributed audio game, "me too" products don't cut it anymore. What we want is something new, something different, something better. Luckily for Sonos, that's what their Digital Music System delivers. Much of the allure in these gray and silver boxes lies in the freedom they promise. It's not just a question of wired or wireless—although wireless is an option here, sort of, and it's mighty desirable. This system is also independent from the computer, so that you can connect it to a PC, a Mac, or even Linux—or directly to a network storage drive for even greater flexibility.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 27, 2005 0 comments
More and more PC fanatics have grown to appreciate the computer as a television, fully exploiting the kick-ass video potential of even a run-of-the-mill PC monitor, first for viewing then for timeshifting/recording and even burning those recordings to DVD. The ATI TV Wonder Elite ($149) has it all covered. A surprisingly complicated chain of technology is necessary to achieve this amount of functionality at this level of quality, although it is all ultimately transparent to the end user, with a very user-friendly interface to boot. The TV Wonder Elite (TVWE) is also designed to work seamlessly with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 26, 2005 0 comments
In the simplest possible terms, Steve McQueen had "It." Truly, women wanted him, and men wanted to be him. Maybe it was the eyes, the sense of intensity he conjured, or the impression that he knew something we didn't. Or perhaps it was his physicality, the grace with which he performed his own stunts, combined with his ease and outright glee with props. Warner has assembled some hard evidence of the actor's elusive mystique in their recent Essential Steve McQueen Collection, a grouping of souped-up reissues and new-to-DVD titles.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 20, 2005 0 comments
You'll be hearing things that aren't there, like surround channels.

The wheels of compliance grind slowly, but they do grind. With the ongoing mad rush to embrace DVD's audio and video potential, many consumers have expressed an interest in wireless surround speakers to simplify setup, while others—spoilsports, really—insist that they lack either the room or the desire for dedicated surrounds. As a result, we saw and heard more products than ever at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that put all of the gear up front while creating an illusion of surround, some more successfully than others. So expect to see more reviews in this burgeoning category from me and the gang. Even your run-of-the-mill home-theater-in-a-box requires a dollop of basic HT know-how to configure: running wires, connecting speaker cables, and, of course, allocating space for five loudspeakers and the subwoofer. Don't get me wrong: I've never viewed these steps as a chore, but, for some, it's just too much, and it's perpetuating the schism betwixt DVD wannabes and DVD gurus.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 20, 2005 0 comments
It's two-fisted entertainment!

Over the past quarter-century, consumers have been bombarded by portable electronics. From the Walkman, to the PDA, to video players and handheld games of every description, the allure of technology-to-go has proven irresistible. But what constitutes a truly great portable? Ask anyone who has juggled three or more disparate devices, and he'll tell you that a convergence of different technologies is key to pushing the entertainment experience forward, in the same way that camera and PDA phones have enhanced productivity, as well as the coolness factor. Quality is at issue, too, as is a supply of worthwhile content.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 05, 2005 Published: Jul 06, 2005 0 comments
Over in the pages of the August 2005 Home Theater magazine, we just revealed our thoroughly refreshed picks for the top 100 DVDs of all time, a roadmap to assembling the ultimate DVD library, in a variety of categories. To keep the list from being too redundant from years past, and to give newcomers a sporting chance, we have instituted a new policy of purging the number-one-ranked winners from 2004, not as any sort of penalty, rather to retire them to this "best of the best" status:

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