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.
With Omnifi, your MP3s are everywhere you want to be.
Liberating gear such as that manufactured by Omnifi, a division of Rockford Fosgate, compels me to look at where I spend the bulk of my waking hours: at the office, in the home theater, or in the car. As with all great action heroes, my daily adventures are set to music—not a problem when I'm chained to my desk with my entire music library at my disposal on my hard drive. A portable player is one way to transcend the confines of the workspace, and some even arrive bundled with cables to plug into a hi-fi system for all to enjoy, but this is hardly an elegant approach.
Wi-Fi is certainly one of buzzier hyphenated words I hear each week, and while my experiences have generally been positive, seldom are they jaw-dropping either. That all changed earlier this month when the team from Belkin Corp. demonstrated their newest products, the Wireless Pre-N Router (F5D8230-4, $179.99) and Wireless Pre-N Notebook Network Card (F5D8010, $129.99). "Pre-N" means that these products are arriving in advance of the upcoming 802.11n standard, but are Wi-Fi certified under the 802.11g standard and are intended to perform closer to the theoretical levels promised in Wi-Fi literature.
Home networking is about to hop forward with the arrival of SkipJam, a hardware/software solution for watching, listening to, and digitally recording entertainment content housewide. With a wired or wireless network and an iMedia Center box in your stack of home theater gear, enjoy TV (including satellite) and more on the PC and share any audio/video source with an iMedia Player anywhere in the home, view/hear PC files in the living room, or bypass the computer altogether and simply network all your A/V devices directly, with high-quality audio and video including 24-bit/192-kilohertz DAC/ADCs with 114db dynamic range. Look for a hands-on review in an upcoming issue of Home Theater.
With an elegance too-rarely found in the portable MP3 realm, the Creative MuVo Slim ($200) packs 256 megabytes of digital music into a unit barely larger than a credit card and weighing just over an ounce, unobtrusive even in a shirt pocket. There's a built-in FM tuner that can even record music off-air (also a voice recorder with built-in microphone) and a five-band custom equalizer in addition to Jazz, Rock, Pop and Classical presets. MuVo Slim is a mass storage device so it does not require drivers, just the familiar drag-and-drop between PC and player with a USB 1.1/2.0 connection that also recharges the removable, replaceable lithium ion battery, good for well over ten hours.
Bose was nice enough to show me their new Lifestyle 38 ($2,999) and 48 ($3,999) home entertainment systems recently, with the nifty uMusic intelligent playback system: Music can be ripped from CD and stored on an internal hard drive (capacity unspecified at press time), but even without the benefit of an Internet connection all songs are automatically tagged with extensive track information, from a vast onboard database. In addition to helping organize and access your tunes as never before, this data can be used to create "smart" playlists automatically, with variety yet a related sound, nimbly transitioning from Steely Dan to Michael McDonald (former Dan member) to The Doobie Brothers (McDonald's subsequent group), as one mellow example.
The latest FireBall aims to give us what we've been missing.
One of the benefits of talking about home theater all day every day is that I get to hear people ask questions like this: "I'd buy a DVD megachanger if there were a way to keep track of my hundreds of discs, but what choice do I have?" Apparently, the spies from Escient were eavesdropping. Their FireBall DVDM-100 DVD and Music Manager has been designed specifically to integrate with the latest generation of super DVD jukeboxes to help identify and organize all of the movies and music stored inside, with a little help from the Internet. You can find a specific DVD in a hurry, sort through all of your comedies, or visually search through all of the covers, right from the sofa.
The Consumer Electronics Show is sort of the Super Bowl of our industry, as manufacturers of just about everything that accepts AC, DC, or batteries descend upon Las Vegas each winter to parade what's new and what's coming soon. Given the presence of all the wonderful new products that blur the lines between consumer electronics and computers at this year's show, it looks like I've got my work cut out for me as convergence editor. Here's a quick look at some of the most interesting arrivals.
Where's the DVR? Come to think of it, where isn't the DVR?
Amazing but true, many TiVo and ReplayTV owners out there just see the devices as neat, little living-room boxes that record their television programs, and they simply don't care about the technology inside. Thanks to steady improvements in digital-video-recorder technology, consumers don't have to care if they don't want to. Not to be like that weirdo in the mask and spoil the magic trick, but there's a simple hard disk drive inside—in many cases, the same exact brand and model you have inside your PC. However, while computer-based "video capture" applications seem to have plateaued in terms of features and convenience (at least for now), the more user-friendly dedicated DVR hardware has undergone some interesting transformations, in and out of the home theater.
The DVD-V3800 combines popular technologies from yesterday and today.
Samsung was the first to market with a backwards-compatible, single-box DVD/VHS combi player a few years ago. It's still a hot product as consumers continue to wrestle with the whole VHS-versus-DVD quandary. Most manufacturers keep upping the ante in small ways, adding this output or that performance enhancement on the digital half—there's only so much room for improvement on a standard VHS recorder, after all—without really rocking the multimedia boat. Finally going a step further, Samsung has incorporated a multi-format flash-memory card reader into the top-of-the-line model in their recent wave of value decks.