It Takes One to Know One

If it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then DVD Preview is likely the ultimate review "magazine" for new DVD releases. Arriving on newsstands in a cardboard package the size of a small magazine (think The Reader's Digest), DVD Preview bills itself as "a new kind of magazine coming to you on the very medium it reports on." To bring this point home, the magazine's website even has one of the recently minted ".tv" domain names (see previous story) instead of the ubiquitous ".com."

Featuring film critic Leonard Maltin, DVD Preview is based on the idea that, instead of trying to rely on printed words and pictures to describe a new release and why you might like it, it's better to simply run a clip of the film while Maltin runs his critique. As Maltin explains, "DVD Preview reinvents the magazine for the digital age. Think of it as you would your favorite monthly print magazine, the big difference—DVD Preview is available only on DVD. There is no better way to cover the latest in home theater than using the cutting edge of entertainment."

According to DVD Preview, the premiere issue is available now in limited distribution prototype form, with the next DVD magazine (and official public release) planned for later this year—most likely in early to mid-November. Next year, the company hopes to go to a bimonthly schedule delivered to subscribers' mailboxes or available at newsstands. DVD Preview says it is currently in discussion with several mass-market outlets to establish widespread distribution.

In addition to Maltin's reviews of more than a half-dozen new releases, the first issue contains a "Library" listing dozens of recent releases with thumbnail ratings, an in-depth spotlight on Hitchcock's The Birds, a sneak-preview "Clip Service," and Midnight@Best Buy, in which SGHT contributor Scott Wilkinson reviews home-theater hardware. The first installment finds Wilkinson doing matter-of-fact mini-reviews of a Toshiba 65-inch rear-projection TV (the explanation of the TV's rear-panel HDTV connections is especially helpful in a live video format) and a 5-disc DVD/CD changer from Panasonic.

Watching Wilkinson walk us through his equipment review was akin to consulting with a topnotch expert right there in the store, where consumers need it most. Using the DVD format to review movies is a no-brainer, but it's the use of live video to explain home-theater concepts and equipment that may prove most useful to HT fans preparing to assemble a system.