Their future seemed so very bright. The SACD format, with a bit rate four times that of CD, was designed to lead the CD to new heights. DVD-Audio, sibling of the wildly successful DVD-Video format, offered audiophile fantasy surround at 96 kilohertz/24 bit. Hard on the heels of Avatar, 3DTV promised to change TV viewing forever.
A screen of infinite beauty, of most excellent fancy. He hath shone on me a thousand times. And now, how abhorred he is. Where be your hues now? Your wider viewing angle? Your deeper blacks? Your brightness that was wont to set the room on a roar? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and let her paint a screen an inch thick. Make her look at that.
Much to the dismay of audiophile old fogies, the audio scene has been overrun by punks and their celebrity endorsements. Everywhere you look (Dre, I’m looking at you) you see audio gear, headphones in particular, with a famous DJ or other artist name attached. Of course, even old fogies were young once, and now it’s another generation’s turn to discover how cool audio is.
The year is 1976, when sex was safe and racing was dangerous. The Formula One World Championship is up for grabs, and it’s a grudge match. British race driver James Hunt goes mano a mano with Austrian race driver Niki Lauda, both driving pedal to the metal, with absolutely no margin for error and loving every minute of it. As Hunt explains, “The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel.” Director Ron Howard accelerates out of his comfort zone, and you’re sitting beside him, on the ride of your life.
So far, this has been a pretty good year for moviegoers. The Hollywood dream machine has cranked out a steady stream of big-budget movies with colossal production values. If you enjoy getting your eyeballs fried by flying fireballs or your ears rocked by rampaging robots, the multiplex has been very, very good to you. But how will these screen gems look from your Lay-Z-Boy? After our reviews of the theatrical releases, I asked colleague Leslie Shapiro (our Grace Notes blogger) to join me in eagerly anticipating their Blu-ray releases.
Of course, you have a wall of discs. And what an impressive wall it is. LPs, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. There is no better feeling than firing up the home theater and sipping on a martini as you casually peruse your massive collection, pondering which disc to deploy. Moreover, with Vudu to Go, you can take the wall with you anywhere you go.
Sometimes, even during the most secret of covert ops, you need to unwind a little. You know - put your weapons aside (but still placed within easy reach) and relax with The Duffel Blog. But what kind of music playback system is best? You sure can’t pack a big boombox into your knapsack, and when the batteries run out, where are you going to find a Radio Shack in Tora Bora? What you need is a small, rugged music player that can recharge on solar power. With carabiner attach points, of course. What you need is an Eton Rugged Rukus.
Would you dunk your entertainment electronics toys in water? Probably not, unless you’re running some kind of insurance scam. Don’t worry. Most of my gear doesn’t like being underwater either. Trust me, if you try to play an LP record at the bottom of your pool, bad things happen. Really bad things. The jacuzzi isn’t good either.
When summer rolls around, we all go mobile. We drink morning coffee out on the patio, surf while sitting by the pool, and might even do an overnighter in a treehouse. Of course, all of those activities are accompanied by music, and we also need to stay connected for incoming calls.