We've long extolled the wonder and tangible benefits of 5.1 audio in the video-gaming realm. It is a major feature of the Sony PlayStation 2 and the Microsoft Xbox and is a mandatory element for all Xbox 360 games. While some folks simply drop a console into their fully equipped home theaters, many are new to 5.1, so I present here an assortment of exemplary powered speaker suites for video-game use.
Time marches on. DVD software has steadily improved in its half-decade history, so you'll see lots of recent releases on this year's best-of list. The never-ending tide of discs keeps our perspective (while subjective) in a constant state of flux. Time, DVD's evolution, and the chance to plumb the most elaborate discs' untold depths have yielded some modified rankings from last year's list. As for our criteria, the film itself must be good, or at least good enough—or even so bad that it's back to good. Given DVD's storage potential, few movie-only discs made the cut. Picture and sound quality are essential, as are quantity, value, and originality of extras. Our comments cut right to the chase; so, if you want further insight, why not rent or buy the discs we list below to find out for yourself what makes a great DVD?
As the annually updated list of the top 100 DVDs of all time hits stands in the August issue of Home Theater magazine, we thought we'd take a moment to honor the number-one picks from each category in last year's ranking. We purge these "best of the best" titles each year to help keep the list current, although they still receive our highest recommendation: Buy them all as part of your own ultimate DVD library.
Best Music DVD
The latest videogame based specifically on the most recent Arnold
Schwarzenegger (who apparently recorded only a portion of his in-game
dialogue) action sequel, Terminator 3: Redemption, is the first I've
ever seen (and heard) to offer such a distinct hierarchy of audio formats
across each of the three major consoles. (I'm a Home Theater guy,
sadly this is one of the first details I look for on the package.)
1. These are the essentially the 1997 Special Edition versions of all three films. Sort of. Yes, this means that Greedo still fires first in the notoriously rethought Star Wars cantina scene and modern special effects are everywhere, but further modifications have been made, and not just visual tweaks: The Return Of The Jedi Emperor now appears in The Empire Strikes Back for example, bringing new dialogue with him, and young Anakin from Revenge Of The Sith also replaces old Anakin in the finale of Jedi.
Last year’s Best Picture, The Artist, embodies a simple enough idea: a silent movie about silent movies, told in the classic style. Set in the waning days of the era, the story introduces us to aging matinee idol George Valentin (Oscar winner Jean Dujardin) who meets the wide-eyed ingénue Peppy Miller (nominee Bérénice Bejo) outside one of his premieres. Seldom does the screen see such an intoxicatingly attractive couple, and yet their relationship is a complicated smolder of admiration and respect that has its share of ups and downs across years of drastic change.
You've got the iPod. Now find some friends for it.
The Apple iPod was still selling out at stores this past holiday season, with an ever-expanding lineup that now includes the wafer-thin flash-memory-based nano and the fifth generation of the classic iPod, which now offers video playback in addition to music and still photos.
DVD is not only the king of the home theater, the benefits have been trickling down to the portable realm for years now, raising both the standards and the subsequent expectations of mobile power-users. Here are three of the most innovative and enjoyable products to come our way.
Christopher Reeve flies again.
Perhaps never before in the history of home video has a studio crafted months of releases upon a single theme, as Warner has in 2006, “the year Superman returns.” No doubt tying into that new feature film, all manner of Super movies and TV shows have been issued on DVD, some for the first time—new seasons of Smallville, the classic Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark, Superboy, The Animated Series, and even the cartoon adventures of the Dog of Steel, Krypto. But we can never give enough credit to Christopher Reeve and his dual role as the impossibly awkward Clark Kent and a gentlemanly savior in a red cape. Reeve’s electric screen presence was born of classical acting training, an understanding of how to fly under his own power—from his experience as a glider pilot—and a willingness to bulk up his lean frame under the tutelage of Darth Vader himself, trainer David Prowse. The later of Reeve’s four franchise films were not an ideal stage for his inspired thespian stylings, but his characterization was a high-water mark for the timeless hero, as celebrated in Warner’s new boxed set, The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection.