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“Jack the Giant Slayer” seemed doomed before the minute it hit the big screens: delayed a half dozen times for various reasons, given a ton of reshoots and a monstrous budget that seemed to grow as time went on along with an ATROCIOUS marketing campaign. The last film that suffered these problems was “John Carter." As happened to Disney with “John Carter,” Warner ended up losing nearly a 100 million dollars on “Jack the Giant Slayer.” I was actually intrigued when I saw all the goings on; “John Carter” was one of my favorite movies of 2012 and a complete delight, in spite of the box office failure. Hoping that lightning would strike twice, I was on pins and needles...
Title: Lilo and Stitch/Lilo and Stitch: Stitch Has a Glitch
Movie: Video: Audio: Extras:
HTS Overall Score:75
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
To finish off my Disney trifecta for the week, we round it out with “Lilo and Stitch”, the ONLY mouse house release of the last generation to be skipped by myself. After “Hercules,” I think that I sort of “gave up” on the Disney animated movies. Missing much of the joy and love that went into the Gold and Silver era films, the Bronze Age films had grown tiresome and their luster was not as bright as they once were. Fast forward a decade and some years, and I finally get around to watching it. I’m absolutely flabbergasted...
Title: The Emperor's New Groove/Kronk's New Groove
Movie: Video: Audio: Extras:
HTS Overall Score:65
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Summary The Emperor's New Groove
Now we’ve come to probably one of my favorite Disney movies of all times. Even with the classics being the great films that they are, “The Emperor’s New Groove” has always managed to stick with me over the years. It may not be as epic as some of the older stories, but the film just happens to WORK on every level. I honestly don’t know a single Disney fan who can’t quote this...
Not that long ago Dwayne Johnson was simply known as The Rock. A hulking beast of a wrestling star, loaded with muscle, handsome features, a steer tattoo, and a devious raised eyebrow look that was both inquisitive and daring. After dabbling in television roles outside of wrestling, The Rock made his foray onto the silver screen by playing the Scorpion King in 2001’s The Mummy Returns. At that time he was still pigeonholed as a professional wrestler and his character didn’t do much to alter that perception. But something has changed over the years. The Rock, as we knew him, has slowly faded away and the man behind him (along with his real name) has emerged. His diverse roles as Agent 23 in 2008’s Get Smart and Derek Thompson in...
When I heard that Disney was creating a prequel for the “Wizard of Oz,” I was a bit skeptical at best. Modern remakes never seem to do justice the classics of old, but when I heard that they were scoping out Robert Downey Jr. for the role of Oz I became more intrigued. As luck would have it, RDJ passed on the role and then so did Johnny Depp. Finally, we have James Franco, an actor who can be really good with the proper direction, but a bit over the top if not reigned in. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I entered into this new realm, and I was partially correct. Sam Raimi’s trademark wit and heavy use of practical effects may have seemed like a good idea at the times, but it seems that he decided to...
Smart phones these days are really just mini computers because of how powerful they are and everything that they can do. I know of one person, for example that runs a home based Internet business just from her phone (and that includes blogging), plus she uses it as her primary entertainment system. More than just her main radio and TV, it is also her gaming device, still and video cameras, clock, stop watch, alarm clock, and well, with the plethora of apps available you know where this is going.
Now, despite the numerous and increasingly amazing things you can do with just one small gadget that costs less than $500 in most cases, or free with a service commitment, for them to be mobile and act as a phone which is there primary function usually, the device itself and therefore the screen size, must remain small. That is, small in relation to the standard TV sets (and laptop screens) of today.
Mirroring a screen from one device to another is pretty simple
Mirroring the screen of a modern laptop desktop computer to a modern TV set is very simple. In most cases you just plugin in one side of an HDMI cable to the computer and one side into the TV. With a modern Operating System installed it will figure out right away what you are doing and behave accordingly. The default behaviour in most cases is not to extend the computer screen, but to mirror it. This has been a standard way for my family and I to enjoy Netflix for some time on the TV that lacks the apps and other plugged in gadgets. The TV screen essentially acts as a larger monitor.
Well, the same can be done with some of the modern cell phones using MHL technology. The new Galaxy S4 is a perfect example. While it does have a "large" screen at 5 inches with a great display (1080p HD) when comparing it against other phones, it still may not be big enough for some tasks. And when a giant TV is nearby that is sporting an HDMI connection, why not opt for a larger screen?
Using an MHL adapter is a simple way of sharing a phone's screen to to the TV
Connecting a phone to a TV is similar to connecting a PC to a TV but rather than HDMI to HDMI, it is MHL to HDMI, so an adapter is required. Fortunately even the brand...
The race to feature original content on streaming video services is officially in full motion. Once simply a mechanism to pump repeats and rentable movies to viewers, streaming services are scrambling to become sources of new and original entertainment. Amazon.com recently made aggressive overtures by launching 14 original pilot episodes that it allowed customers to evaluate. Amazon studios also has created a collaborative experience where users can submit ideas for original series and, if selected, shows are produced with profit sharing. Netflix and Hulu have also entered the race with a handful of original programs, and Netflix recently announced new Arrested Development episodes which it began exclusively airing in May. Major broadcasting networks, such as CBS, are also rumored to be investigating the production of original content for streaming and on demand services.
Yesterday, Netfilix and DreamWorks Animation (known for such blockbusters as Shrek, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon) dropped a bomb into the mix by announcing a multiyear deal between the two companies that calls for over 300 hours of original programming. The agreement is the largest deal, to date, for original content in Netflix history. It also is the first time that DreamWorks will expose characters from its movies to the land of television.
"DreamWorks Animation is a valued partner in our global efforts to provide families the most engaging stories delivered however, whenever and wherever they want," said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. "This deal represents a major expansion of what's already a phenomenal relationship, allowing us to bring beloved DreamWorks characters to the 40 countries where Netflix operates and setting the stage for us to innovate together as we expand into new markets."
Viewers can expect shows that draw from characters featured in previous and future DreamWorks movies, along with characters from Classic Media (which owns the rights to characters like Casper the Friendly Ghost and Lassie, among others) that DreamWorks acquired last year. The content, like all content in Netflix’s kids section, will have readily viewable ratings provided by Common Sense Media (a nonprofit...
The popularity of 3D television just didn't hit the mark, in general at least, and that remains true in the world of sports. ESPN plans to discontinue it's 3D channel by the end of this year, an experiment they started in 2010.
With the 3D exit, ESPN has plans to jump past 1080p and and perhaps begin broadcasting in 4K UltraHD which offers 4x the resolution of 1080p. This change may seem like 3D is dying a slow death but the truth is that 3D has been around for a very long time and it looks as though it will be around a lot longer despite ESPN dropping the channel.
People Still Like 3D In Some Mediums
IMAX theaters and other cinema setups show movies in 3D to raving fans who pay more for the extra dimension, plus Blu-ray has a collection of 3D titles. And those that stream video from Netflix and are connected to participating Internet Service Providers that are part of the Netflix Content Delivery Network, will have access to some 3D titles. More that Netflix in the streaming world, Vudu has a 3D service too. Other industries including gaming take advantage of the technology as well. China and Europe show continuing growth in the world of 3D despite the slow growth in other parts of the world including the United States.
With ESPN dropping 3D in favor of 4K it still remains to be seen whether 4K is something consumers will latch on to. Some analysts suggest that 4K and 1080p will have only subtle differences to the human eye on most screens. The 4K TVs using the "passive glasses system" however show 3D video impressively because the horizontal line artifacts that are often seen on a 1080p are eliminated as a result of the increased detail.
With all that said, ESPN 3D, to many, is considered the largest and most important source of 3DTV content available. Some suggest the 3D technology as a whole can cease to exist because of this move.
Many suggest it is because people just don't want to strap on the glasses, which makes sense. However, there is technology that exists where the 3D glasses are part of the TV in a sense,...
ESPN 3D has announced on twitter and through an official statement that it will cease operation of its ESPN 3D channel by the end of the year. ESPN says that viewership for the channel has been weak, failing to gain acceptance, and that the company will focus its resources elsewhere like Ultra High Definition.
ESPN 3D has been in operation since June of 2010 when it opened broadcasting with coverage of the 2010 World Cup. It has since broadcast hundreds of events ranging from the BCS National Championship game to NBA Playoffs and many others. ESPN tried to make it’s current 3D venture work, going as far as to create what it called 5D production units that allowed one truck and camera crew to produce both 2D and 3D broadcasts. However viewership numbers dictate where the money flows and ESPN is letting go of its ambitious 3D venture for the time being.
The news was broken yesterday through two statements. One came from Katina Arnold (Vice President, Communications ESPN) who tweeted the following:
“ESPN 3D was great at home but due to low adoption of 3D to home, we are discontinuing to focus on other products for fans and affiliates”
The other came through an official statement released by ESPN. It stated:
“Due to limited viewer adoption of 3D services to the home, ESPN is discontinuing ESPN 3D. We are committing our 3D resources to other products and services that will better serve fans and affiliates. Nobody knows more about sports in 3D than ESPN, and we will be ready to provide the service to fans if or when 3D does take off. As technology leaders, we continue to experiment with things like Ultra High Definition television (also known as Ultra HD television or UHDTV) production tools to produce our current ESPN family of HD channels.”
Obviously the loss of ESPN 3D is a major blow to the broadcast viability of the technology and its use in sports in the United States. The Sports Video Group, however, says 3D broadcasts are doing well in Europe (primarily the United Kingdom). In addition, they report that Sony continues to push forward with the technology citing an agreement between Sony and the England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club to produce Wimbledon 2013 in 3D. The technology...
Most people who are passionate about the home theater experience pour money into the home theater in their living rooms, while the entertainment systems in the other rooms suffer.
A lot of those people may have a great TV in the bedroom as well but consider it second rate because it doesn't have a good enough sound system to back it up. Well, there may now be a solution for that. Well, sort of. It might not compare to the living room setup but it may improve upon the sound humming from the tinny TV speakers. SoftSound has introduced the pillow speaker, meant to bring great sound to the bedroom TV. But does it?
A Quick Look At The Pillow's Features
The SoftSound pillow speaker system has a set of wireless stereo speakers built into a BioSense memory foam core. Apparently they are so well encased that it is near impossible to feel them while resting your head on the pillow. The cover is "better than down," is hypoallergenic, and can be removed for easy washing.
So as not to alienate most televisions, the speakers aren't connected wirelessly by Bluetooth, but by an RF transmitter. The wireless audio feed has a range of up to 30 feet, and is sent by the TV-top transmitter that connects to the back of the TV set.
The speakers require 4 AA batteries that will last up to 8 hours. Batteries not included.
The soft pillow also has a soft remote (attached to the pillow) so it is not uncomfortable if accidentally rolled on. It has a built in sleep timer (with 30, 60, 90, and 180 minute settings) just in case you fall asleep while watching your late night TV (or listening to tunes).
Besides the TV, the RF transmitter can also connect to a stereo system, smartphone, or other music player.
It retails for $129.99 and is available for purchase on Amazon. It is labelled as a "personal care" product, so in non-refundable.
From the comments in the source article it seems some people aren't to keen on the idea, myself included. One comment is related to what was my immediate reaction when first reading the title. The...
In what appears to be an aggressive marketing move, Baltimore-based audio manufacturer Polk Audio is releasing three new products that are specifically tied to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and new Xbox One gaming platforms. Polk Audio is making it’s debut at the Entertainment Electronics Expo (E3) to market these new devices. This year’s E3 expo is taking place from June 11-13 in Los Angeles, California.
"Polk brings a reputation for product excellence and a passion for sound that makes them an ideal collaborative partner for innovating new audio accessories for the Xbox One and Xbox 360," said Branden Powell, Microsoft director of strategic alliances. "These new products are customized for all-in-one entertainment and will immerse users in brilliant sound, whether they are using the console to play a game, watch TV or a movie, or listen to music."
The featured speaker product is the N1 sound bar. Polk says it is designed and engineered specifically for the new Xbox One platform and developed in collaboration with Microsoft. Don’t be fooled into thinking the N1 features proprietary (or unique) Xbox One console connectivity, because it doesn’t. What it does feature are four pre-programmed listening modes, or what Polk refers to a as "immersion" modes. Polk says the modes were created to best compliment the “complex audio” found in today’s games. Two modes, the FPS and Racer modes, are meant to enhance a game’s music, ambient sounds, special effects and dialog. Users will also have the option to select Cinema and Music modes meant to be used in non-gaming situations.
Aesthetically, the N1 sound bar is designed to compliment the physical look of the Xbox One. It will be available this fall in both black on black or vanilla with contrasting wood.
Polk is also releasing two different headphone models. The 4 Shot model is being marketed toward Xbox One users while the 133t is designed for the Xbox 360 crowd. Both products are said to be lightweight with pivoting ear cups and steel headbands. They feature near-field...
Atlantic Technology has released its first powered soundbar featuring H-PAS. The PB-235 ("PB" stands for "PowerBar") looks a bit pricey compared to most models you’ll find on the shelf at your nearest Best Buy, but it does have some handy features and impressive specs. The manufacturer even advertises that you don’t need to add a subwoofer for great sound. Wait, what? Try telling anyone here at HTS there’s no need for a subwoofer! But are they right? Can this hefty soundbar really provide convincing bass on its own? Depending on room size and other factors, the answer could, quite possibly be "yes".
Design, Build Quality, and Aesthetics
The PB-235 is a 2-channel soundbar with a total of four drivers (one 4” woofer and one 3/4” tweeter per channel) mounted in a ported cabinet. It uses Atlantic Technology’s H-PAS design to achieve higher levels of bass at lower frequencies, while maintaining a relatively small cabinet size. Speaker amplification is built-in, as is digital audio processing. There are multiple audio input options (both analog and digital), as well as a subwoofer output, if you are just crazy enough to still use one! [Insert sarcastic smirk] A small remote is...
Redbox, perhaps famed for its 42,000 some odd kiosks containing movies on DVD and Blu-ray (plus video games) that are available for rent, has a streaming service that is scheduled to be added to the 750 or more channel line-up on the Roku devices.
Called Redbox Instant, the service is similar to Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant in that it provides video-on-demand streaming for less than $10 per month. What's different about Redbox is that the subscription is also giving subscribers three free DVD rentals each month as well. Getting the DVDs requires a quick trek to the local Redbox kiosk, but it allows for newer released movies which aren't usually accessible through the instant service.
Redbox currently doesn't have any TV shows as part of its streaming service, but carries around 8,000 movie titles. According to an article on AllThingsD Hulu Plus subscribers have access to over 63,000 TV shows and about 3,700 movies. Amazon Prime has somewhere in the ballpark of 33,000 movies and TV episodes via subscription. In terms of quality, Redbox Instant will only deliver up to 720p, with some other services delivering as high as 1080p. Standard definition is OK for some, but others that are passionate about their home theater setups and have purchased a TV to support it, prefer or sometimes require that high-def content be streamed. Netflix and Hulu Plus both stream full HD when it is available for a given title.
While it is great that the Redbox Instant service is expanding to the Roku, and unless the DVD rentals is an exciting addition, it seems the service is not really up to par with the rest of the streaming video-on-demand options, especially when priced the same.
At least with Netflix we get access to original series TV shows like the latest season of Arrested Development, the political drama with Kevin Spacey called House of Cards, plus the upcoming Orange is the New Black from the maker of Weeds. Not to mention Amazon's lineup of originals recently announced (although mostly aimed at children). Hulu Plus, while it has commercials, often has TV show content...