What's funny about a group of staid suburban Texans who take life much too seriously? Pretty much everything, as their Emmy Award–winning third season proves, from the all-time-great "And They Call It Bobby Love," with guest voice Sarah Michelle Gellar (the episode culminates in a cheer-out-loud eating contest), to the darkly comic skydiving mishap in the season finale.
What if you could put your home theater (virtually) anywhere?
Simply put, Belkin's PureAV RemoteTV accepts the output of any NTSC video source, converts that analog audio/video signal to MPEG-2, and sends it wirelessly to a display device in another location, in better quality than is possible from similar devices. It essentially eliminates the need for a second source component—not just the hardware, but any related service, as well. Already have a single TV/DVD setup but want to enjoy programming in another room? Want to keep an eye on what someone else is watching or be sure to get your money's worth by displaying your pay-per-view movie on two different TVs? This is the way.
There are many different approaches to home theater, which is one of the reasons why this magazine is as burly as it is, month after month. The stereo speakers built into many modern televisions are nirvana for some, while carefully matched loudspeakers, preamplifiers, processors, and amps are the only solution that others would ever consider. Somewhere between those two polar extremes are the ubiquitous home-theater-in-a-box systems and novel products like the ZVOX 315 Sound Console. The idea here is simple, and noble, offering your TV a painless upgrade to the inadequate audio it was born with.
My medication is obviously not working because I'm still talking to myself. Marveling at the redesigned PlayStation 2's jaw-droppingly slender form factor for about 10 minutes straight, I caught myself actually saying "Wow" out loud, even though I was alone. It's comparable in size to a paperback book, but it reminds me more of a portable DVD player, sans screen, in black. While some of the accessories designed for use with the original PS2 are not compatible with this new design (the vertical stand and the Multitap to allow four players instead of the standard two, although new versions of each are now available), I was happy to find that my step-up Monster Game products all still fit. The digital optical cable and component video adapter plugged into the obvious places, while the replacement AC cable now patches into the breakout AC adapter (the 8.5-volt power supply is now located outside the console, which is another secret to the PS2's profound weight loss). At just 2 pounds, it's half as heavy as its former incarnation and takes up one-quarter the space, leaving me with vast amounts of open air in my under-TV gear stack after a quick, new-for-old PS2 swap. I do wish it had a catchier moniker, rather than simply "the 70000 Series."
The Lite-On LVC-9006 DVD+VHS Recorder meets consumer need to record TV directly to DVD and to backup VHS to disc, all in a single chassis and compatible with a wide variety of blank media.
The duplication of VHS onto DVD is nothing new, but a single-component solution is clearly the way to go, and the aggressive pricing we've seen over the past year surely helps as well. While upon close inspection the Lite-On LVC-9006 does appear more streamlined than the Lite-On LVW-5005 DVD Recorder I reviewed in the December 2004 issue of Home Theater—the front-panel inputs (digital video, composite video, analog stereo) are now exposed, and the optical audio output is gone altogether—I cannot overlook the obvious, namely the addition of an excellent four-head Hi-Fi stereo VHS VCR. Yes, it might finally be time to retire your old VCR to Miami (or at least the kids' room), or take it put back behind the woodshed and put a bullet between its fast-forward and rewind buttons. Chief among the LVC-9006's strengths remains the "All-Write" technology which enables it to recognize and record onto most popular blank media types: DVD+/-R, rewritable DVD+/-RW, and even more affordable CD-R/RW. Choose whatever works best for you, if you know for example that a friend's DVD player doesn't support DVD+RW. It is that compatibility, combined with the Easy Guider menus (now seamlessly enhanced for its increased functionality) which virtually hold our hand every step of the way, that make Lite-On recorders such a particular pleasure to use.
Despite some unfortunate '70s style curses, Rocky is a simply timeless tale of the American spirit, and the start of something big: The second installment is a little heavier-handed but still wildly satisfying. The rest become more cartoonish—the Cold War–themed IV is almost laughable now—until the franchise flamed out with V.
The exhilaration surrounding established digital audio and video formats tends to plateau over time, until some pseudo-genius somewhere figures out a way to make the technology fit into our pockets, and then pulses quicken anew. The portable MP3 player has become the must-have gadget for the masses. Portable DVD has become even sexier, with larger screens and enhanced feature sets, but a new crop of slimmed-down audio- and video-to-go devices is poised to change everything...again.
One of the most realistic World War II videogames ever created, Call of Duty: Finest Hour (Activision) presents an often frantic, unsettling true-to-life series of exploits on the frontlines at the peak of WWII. We are among half a dozen soldiers on Russian, British, and American campaigns that take us to Russia, North Africa, and Germany on both vehicle- and infantry-based missions. T-rated for its graphic imagery, the story unfolds movie-style with a musical score by The Incredibles’s Michael Giacchino; single player or up to 16 online. The PlayStation 2 and GameCube versions offer Dolby Pro-Logic II audio while GameCube and Xbox deliver progressive scan video, and Xbox alone packs Dolby Digital 5.1-channel sound.
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.