DVD: The Alamo—Buena Vista
I'm not a huge history buff myself, but this version of the story of the men who held the Alamo against Mexican General Santa Ana is compelling and beautifully told, though some may argue that the story isn't historically accurate. As usual, Billy Bob Thornton (as Davy Crockett) steals the show, but the rest of the cast (Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric, and Patrick Wilson) hold their own as well.
Home Theater is proud to present the first edition of its new free monthly eNewsletter. The first Monday of each month, Home Theater will publish exclusive content for readers who either opt-in with a subscription or sign-up using the online form.
In the first issue, Maureen Jenson explains how to pick a great installer, while Darryl Wilkinson reveals his top AV holiday picks for under $100. Wilkinson also tells us why he thinks Dual Disc is in deep trouble, why HD-DVD may be taking the lead, and what you'll find if you watch Girl with a Pearl Earring on DVD.
And you thought your antenna days were behind you. With Terk's new HDTVo HDTV antenna, you can receive both UHF and VHF signals. You'll be able to catch all of your local HDTV broadcasts, thanks to the HDTVo's directional log-periodic antenna array with a pair of curved elements that capture and focus HDTV signals toward the array. According to Terk, this produces a high degree of interference rejection. Additionally, the high-gain, ultra-low-noise amplifier is designed to increase the strength of weak signals and optimize them for maximum reception. The $120 antenna is lightweight and sleek, so it's a breeze to mount on the roof.
Terk (631) 543-1900 www.terk.com
Camille Saint-Sans—Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 Organ (BMG)
Audiophiles the world over cherish RCA's Living Stereo classical recordings that were originally released on LP in the 1950s and remastered to CD in the mid '80s, and they have eagerly anticipated the transfer to SACD. The wait was worth it—pop on one of these Living Stereo discs, and you'll be listening through the mists of time back to the virtual dawn of the stereo era, and yet the realism of the soundstage trounces many more recent recordings. It's also worth noting that, since the original Saint-Sans Organ Symphony master tapes were lost for many years, this SACD is the first reissue sourced from the first-generation masters since it was released on LP.
DVD: Elf—New Line
Elf is 10 feet tall. Thoroughly entertaining, Will Ferrell's breakout film is now available on two DVDs that are fun, pure and simple. Ferrell plays Buddy, who accidentally ends up in Santa's North Pole Workshop and is raised by the elves, never being told he's really human. . .even though he's 3 feet taller than everyone else. Yearning to find his real father, Buddy heads to New York to do so.
Now this is what we call a deal. With JBL's new Cinema Vision system, you get a 7.1-channel loudspeaker package, a 50-inch plasma HD monitor, and an A/V system controller that includes a five-disc DVD-Audio/-Video changer, a surround receiver, and a digital amplifier. The 16:9 monitor works with the A/V controller to automatically display any video source in widescreen mode. The A/V controller has a rated power output of 100 watts times seven, and the JBL Digital Link maintains all-digital audio and video signal paths. Each speaker uses multiple 5.5-inch woofers, along with a 0.75-inch titanium-laminate dome tweeter. The Cinema Vision is available as a system only, for $15,000.
(516) 496-3400 www.jbl.com
DVD: That's Entertainment: The Complete Collection—MGM/UA
A fully remastered picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio make this compilation leap off the screen. A tribute to the golden-era of movie musicals and the studio that essentially made the medium, these four discs are full of wholesome entertainment. There is something sweeping and epic about these clips and performances, the grand scale on which these were mounted interspersed with classic solo dances from Fred Astaire and many others. Seeing the full body in motion, fluid and in long takes without cuts is really the only way photographed dance should be seen. The beauty of the art form in all its striking color and sound is simply a joy. Plus, some non-dance sequences are here from the Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello, and the like, highlighting the intricate choreography of physical comedy as well as classic verbal timing.
Panasonic has recognized their customers' desire for high-quality performance with easy setup, and the result is their new home theater receiver, the SA-XR70 ($400). This fully digital receiver features HDMI connectivity, which simplifies the connection to other sources and allows for high-quality playback. It supports high-definition images up to 1080p and the DVD-Audio multichannel audio format. The SA-XR70 has built-in decoders for DTS, DTS ES, Dolby EX, and Dolby Pro Logic IIx. Connections include optical inputs and outputs, component video, and S-video.
Panasonic (800) 211-7262 www.panasonic.com