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.
While the wife and I haven't quite reached a peace accord on the matter of our abundant remote controls, one source of marital friction has recently been downgraded to a non-issue: When once we clashed over dwindling recording space on our DVR, Humax has now given us 250 gigabytes, the most in any TiVo, which is frankly more capacity than we know what to do with. The T2500 TiVo Series2 digital video recorder is the Korean company's first consumer electronics product marketed in the United States, under their Humax USA brand. Although Humax is a major global manufacturer of satellite set-top boxes, this single-tuner recorder is not a DirecTV receiver, so you must provide it with a signal from either cable or a satellite box.
I've spewed countless compliments upon this movie, or more accurately
the DVD, in the print magazine over the past year, and like a good
consumer my fondness eventually gives rise to the question, "What else
can I BUY?" Not all of my favorite movies have Star Wars in the
title, and some (Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October) have
yielded precious little tie-in merchandise, and so when an unusual
product like the Old Century Master and Commander game is
released, I am compelled to take note.
Two years ago I had the immense pleasure of reviewing Logitech first
5.1-channel speaker package with Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, their
flagship Z-680, in the January 2003 issue. While maintaining the $400
price point and those 500 tremendous watts—enough to truly transcend the
computer and invade into the home theater—Logitech has introduced a
successor, the Z-5500 Digital.
Savvy readers might be familiar with Alienware. Their built-to-order gaming PCs are as famous as their functional and distinctive cases that prevent dust and birds from nesting between the circuit boards. Taking those two strengths into the living room, Alienware has introduced a Media Center Edition PC like no other, the DHS-321 Digital Home System. This box, which approximates the look of a consumer electronics component in black-anodized, brushed aluminum, runs the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 operating system.
Why I can never watch Super Speedway in my home theater again.
Even I can't believe how far I'll travel for a great home theater demo. Hidden up in the cold, cold reaches of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is the headquarters of D-BOX Technologies, which features the coolest faux living room in North America. I aimed to try their Odyssee motion simulator firsthand. My brother told me that home theater gear depends upon the demo perhaps more than any other product, and this was never truer than with the Odyssee.
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.)
Those who know me are aware that a chat with Mark Hamill, the star of The Best Damned Movie Ever Made, was the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. I even chose "Mark" as my Confirmation name years ago, my parents thinking it was in honor of one of the four Disciples. ("Luke" is in there too, come to think.) After countless fanboy discussions, I suddenly found myself shifting pronouns, from "When he made Empire. . ." to "When you made Empire. . ." and it felt good. The experience was all the more fun for the fact that Hamill himself is a hardcore fan, passionate about his work—including directing his first feature film, Comic Book: The Movie—and remarkably candid and generous.
The size of a deck of cards, Verbatim's new 2.1-gigabyte Store 'n' Go HD Drive offers the blazing speed of a USB 2.0 connection (which also powers the little guy), meaning that even enormous MPEG video files can be transferred fast. The vast capacity of the one-inch, 4,200RPM hard disk puts it in a class above the popular flash memory drives, to hold almost half a DVD's worth of video... or music or photos or any other files you care to drag and drop. The Store 'n' Go is plug-and-play for Windows ME or better--Win98SE users, keep that driver CD handy--and is also Mac- and Linux-ready. The built-in USB cable means you never need to search for it, although an extension cable is also included, and at under two ounces this drive is light enough to carry around your neck, with a lanyard and protective carrying pouch supplied for that very purpose.