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David Vaughn Posted: Apr 06, 2016 32 comments
With the announcement in January of Samsung's pending Ultra HD Blu-ray player, I got excited to jump right into a new disc-based format offering high dynamic range (HDR), wide color gamut (WCG), and 4K resolution (3840x2160). It took about five weeks, but on February 11 I was able to purchase a Samsung UBD-K8500 at a local Fry’s Electronics. Sadly, UHD Blu-ray software wouldn't be available until March 1. But I figured I could at least get the player installed in my rack and await the first UHD discs to arrive.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 11, 2016 1 comments
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Korben Dallas, a New York cab driver, is just trying to get through another day when a fare drops into his cab unexpectedly, and before he knows it, he’s responsible for saving the galaxy from an intergalactic feud that happens every 5,000 years. The fare is the Fifth Element, who, when combined with earth, wind, fire, and water, becomes the perfect weapon to save the human race from destruction—if Korben can keep her safe until she fulfills her destiny.
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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 05, 2016 2 comments
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A massive earthquake hits an unknown fault line in southern Nevada, causing a chain reaction along the San Andreas in California that will have disastrous effects on the nation’s most populous state. Fortunately for L.A. Fire and Rescue helicopter pilot Ray Gaines, he’s good in a crisis, and he’s put in position to single-handedly save his loved ones while the world is literally crumbling around him.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 29, 2016 3 comments
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Adapted from George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series of books, Game of Thrones debuted on HBO in 2011 and became an instant small-screen classic. The fifth season was recently honored with the “Outstanding Drama Series” Emmy, and the sixth (of rumored eight) will debut this year.

This is my second attempt at watching after the first failed miserably due to complaints from Mrs. Reviewer. While she loved the medieval period sets and costumes, she was extremely turned off by the gore and the seemingly never-ending display of bare breasts along with “pointless sex scenes.” I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the incestuous scene in the first episode, but I found that the rampant depictions of prostitution showcased the low morality prevalent in this society, and it became an integral part of the storytelling, especially the aforementioned incest.

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 22, 2016 1 comments
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As a youth, Frank Walker is full of hope and aspiration, which is almost snuffed out when his entry into the 1964 World’s Fair science competition is shot down by one of the judges before he even gets a chance to enter it. But fate has a different plan for Frank, and with the help of Athena, a mysterious young girl, he’s taken to a magical place where his hopes and dreams can come true. Fifty years later, we meet Casey Newton, a science-minded teen who dreams of going to the stars and will stop at nothing to sabotage NASA’s efforts to dismantle the last remaining launch pad—that is, until the police catch her. Upon posting bail, she finds a mysterious pin among her belongings. When she touches it, she gets a glimpse of the magical world of Tomorrowland, a futuristic city that’s light-years ahead of Earth technologically.
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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 22, 2016 1 comments
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Fourteenth-century prince Vlad Dracula ushers off on a religious crusade to battle his enemies, leaving the love of his life in his gothic castle. Before he returns victoriously, the evil Turks send word to his bride that he has died in battle. Beset with grief, she commits suicide, and upon seeing her lifeless body, Dracula denounces the church in a fit of rage and becomes an undead man whose eternal existence requires him to feed off the blood of other living creatures. Four hundred years later, a London real-estate broker visits Dracula in Transylvania. When Dracula happens upon a picture of the agent’s fiancée and notices her striking resemblance to his deceased bride, he must travel to London to gaze upon her beauty for himself and rediscover true love.
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David Vaughn Posted: Dec 30, 2015 6 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile sound quality
Best-in-class control for iOS and Android
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
Built-in MusicCast multiroom audio
Minus
Slow to lock onto HDMI signals
YPAO doesn’t equalize below 31 Hz

THE VERDICT
Yamaha’s Aventage CX-A5100 is an incredible value in the sub-$5,000 pre/pro market, with stellar audio and a suite of usable features to keep an A/V enthusiast happy until the next upgrade cycle comes around.

Amazingly, you can buy a pretty damn good AVR these days that’s Dolby Atmos–enabled for under $500, so why spend more if you don’t have to? Well, there are many reasons: better-quality DAC chips, enhanced features (such as multiple zones for both audio and video), and more channels of audio and associated amplification. You can also usually count on these upgrades when you move into the realm of the preamp/processor (also known as a surround processor), though with pre/pros, you’re left on your own for the amplification. It’s kind of like an impromptu college party that advertises BYOB—except, it’s BYOA: Bring Your Own Amp(s)!

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David Vaughn Posted: Nov 20, 2015 1 comments
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After their last adventure in London, the team headed by Dominic Toretto has made a new enemy in ex–black ops assassin Deckard Shaw, the brother of Owen Shaw, the mercenary they just took down. With revenge on his mind, Shaw systematically targets every one of the crew for death, and they must band together in order to survive—which isn’t a guarantee. Help comes from Mr. Nobody, a secret U.S. government agent who is willing to trade support for the gang as long as they can capture Ramsey, a hacker who has created a technology that will make finding Shaw a piece of cake.
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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 09, 2015 0 comments
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Picking up five days after the thrilling conclusion of Divergent, we find Tris and her companions in exile with the Amity group while they decide what their next move will be. Riddled with guilt over the death of her parents, Tris does her best to look strong, but she’s carrying around some serious emotional baggage. When the authorities finally catch up to her in the second act, the back story of the isolated community starts to make more sense, and as shocking as it sounds, Tris is the gateway to the past as well as their hope for the future, despite the Erudite’s leader doing her best to silence the rebellion.
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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 02, 2015 2 comments
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Computer programmer Caleb Smith wins an inter-company competition to spend a week at the remote estate of the company’s brilliant, yet quirky CEO and founder, Nathan Bateman. He soon learns that the vacation will be anything but when he’s coerced into signing a nondisclosure release in order to administer a Turing Test on a new AI program that could revolutionize the world. It turns out that the AI has been placed in a fully functional—and human-looking—robot named Ava, who has been locked in a glass enclosure and can’t be freed unless she proves to Smith and Bateman that she’s achieved full consciousness and is not just copying human behavior.

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