"Daddy, I got cider in my ear."
Greetings everyone. So even though no one I know rushed out last week and snatched one of the first HD-DVD players, apparently others did as they're pretty much sold out in retail for the time being. Apparently, the pircure quality is great and the units do allow for full hi def via component video connections for those of us using older HDTVs. The downsides of this first "early adopter" unit are:
1) The thing has to boot up when you turn it on; about a minute or so and you can't do anything including open the drawer while it's doing this. This makes some sense as I hear this machine is a Pentium 4/2.4ghz PC running Linux. Toshiba hasn't gotten this stuff on integrated chipsets yet so I'd call this a cobbled together attempt to get the product on the market as soon as possible.
2) The remote is reportedly crappy. To make a cutting edge video product at $500, some corners were cut; here's one of them.
3) The machines take 30 seconds to begin playing once loaded, see above.
4) There have been some glitches while playing; more of that early adopter stuff rearing its head.
So the good news is that when it works and if you can live with the early unit's shortcomings, the picture quality is outstanding; clearly superior to standard DVD. I'll be curious to see how the early Blu-Ray machines do. The other thing to consider is the mostly lame assortment of titles they have coming. It looks like better titles will begin to ship later in the year, but for right now, it's mostly "demo discs" (meaning films that are flashy and look good in home theater dealer demonstration systems...also makes a mean trade show display). A list of what's been announced (many have no dates yet) for both HD formats can be found here, sorted by format and studio.
On to this week's DVDs:
Apollo 13 The Ron Howard film gets yet another release, this time on HD-DVD; at least this is a watchable demo disc!
The Betsy (1978) From the IMDB comments: "What a great trashy movie!" 'Nuff said.
Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory Another Warner box of classics. This one tackles musicals; they're all available seperately and haven't been on DVD before. The box includes: Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), Three Little Words (1950), Summer Stock (1950), and It's Always Fair Weather (1955). DVD Savant has a review of It's Always Fair Weather here with the tag, "Recommended for viewers with a low tolerance for musicals."
Crumb: Special Edition This one gets a special edition including a commentary by Roger Ebert.
Guys and Dolls: Deluxe Edition This is a re-do of a previous DVD that was bare-bones and used an old film transfer. The new disc nets a new 16x9 'Scope film transfer and some bonuses.
Law and Order: Trial By Jury - The Complete Series One of the fifty Law and Order shows that didn't make it...
Match Point Woody Allen's latest actually got some good reviews outside of the ones who like everything he does...and this time he's not acting in it and it's even set somewhere other than New York!
The Passenger (1975) A French film starring Jack Nicholson...
The Patriot: Extended Cut My brother in-law will love an even longer version of this film!
The Replacement Killers: Extended Cut What is this, "Sony Extended Cut WeeK?!"
Tristan + Isolde (2006) It's gotta be good, right? From the director of Waterworld?
Windtalkers: Director's Cut Oh never mind...