Between "message" pictures, a little sunshine, and a long-frustrated bandwagon for director Martin Scorsese, Dreamgirls was not nominated this year for a Best Picture Oscar. But it was, nevertheless, one of the best movies of 2006, and one of the most highly anticipated video releases of 2007. The Blu-ray discs are reviewed here. An HD DVD version, with identical contents, is also available, as well as two standard definition DVD sets.
While it didn't photograph well in its dark location (despite my primo photographic skills!), DreamVision's new Inti series of projectors are lookers. At least their cosmetics are, and if their JVC innards are any indication, their performance will be as well (they were on static display only. The Inti 2, shown here, is $10,000. The Inti 1 is $7000, and the Inti 3 is $13,995.)
While at least one other major manufacturer besides Sony (Samsung), this entry from enTourage Systems, the Edge, takes a...ah...page from another book. One size of this device is a relatively large screen e-Reader, the other offers an LCD display with some of the functionality of a tablet netbook. You can write on the screen in longhand, or type on either an electronic keyboard or an external keyboard attachable via USB. You can surf the web in full color. The only downside is the 3 lb weight (which felt unusually heavy when I lifted it. About $500, next month (February).
The popular new e-readers aren't exactly our beat at the show, but they could be significant to the publishing business if their promoters have their way. They might even be the way you'll read your favorite magazines (like Home Theater. Sony has three models, including the new Sony Reader Daily Edition. At $400, it's not only the largest of the three (7"), but the only one of Sony's offerings that let you download on-the-go via 3G.
We don't normally cover home video production and editing, but with a new generation of affordable HD camcorders comes new editing tools. Sony's VAIO RM Hi-def Video Editing System (VGC-RM1) has a Blu-ray Disc read/write HD drive, 1 TB of hard disc storage, and Adobe Premier Pro editing software.
Focal redesigned its Electra series a year or so ago to incorporate the beryllium tweeter originally found in the Utopia series. That revised Electra line remains available, but a new Electra S range makes for a more affordable (though not cheap) Electra package. The prices start at $3495/pair for the bookshelf 1007 S all the way up to $5995/pair for the floor-standing 1027 S. The CC 1000 S center will run you $2295, the SR 1000 S surrounds $3495/pair, and the SW 1000 S sub $2995. The big savings in the S series come from a somewhat less elaborate and expensive cabinet construction and finish, and the substitution of an Aluminum/Magnesium tweeter in place of the beryllium design in the Be range.
It seems that every screen maker these days is offering a 2.35:1, curved screen. The advantage to such a screen is its cinematic look. The disadvantages are possible geometry issues, cost, the fact that it can't be retracted, and possible audio concerns (a concave surface near your speakers isn't a plus). Elite joins the parade with its Lunette curved screens, available with several different screen materials, including a new woven acoustically transparent design (with an effective gain of under 0.9) and the company's 1.1 gain non-perf white.
The surprise here is the price structure. In a world where some curved screens command five-figure price tags, a 103-inch diagonal Lunette will set you back about $1500. Other sizes are available. Unfortunately, the woven, acoustically transparent screen will almost double that price. That's because while Elite screens are made in China, the woven material is available only in the U.S.
When it was released in 1998, Elizabeth (HD DVD) was nominated for a bushel of awards, but most of them went to a competing Elizabethan drama, Shakespeare in Love. The latter was more accessible, crowd-pleasing, and fun. Elizabeth on the other hand, was a dark take on the early years of Elizabeth I, with the emphasis on the international intrigue and court politics that both preceded and followed her accession to the throne.
Energy has long been one of my favorite speaker companies, not least because of my long term reference Energy Veritas v2.8 speakers, circa 1994 (an eon for an audiophile to favor anything). But the brand has fallen on hard times since its acquisition (along with Mirage) by the Klipsch Group. Hopefully better days are ahead. There are, apparently, some new Veritas models in the lineup, but you'd never know it from Klipsch's CES kiosk that features subwoofers and soundbars.