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Samsung UBD-K8500 3D Wi-Fi 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player (2016 Model)
Samsung UBD-K8500 3D Wi-Fi 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player (2016 Model)
Price: $397.99
43 used & new from $296.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An awesome blu-ray player with some important caveats, June 12, 2016
An awesome blu-ray player with some important caveats.
This is one of the few players that can play Ultra HD blu-ray discs which have 4x the resolution of standard blu ray discs. 4K Ultra HD discs really bring the best out of you 4K TV. The colors pop out with an incredible vibrancy and the detail is even better the HD. When playing standard blu-rays, it can upscale to 4K which offers the highest image quality possible with standard blu ray at a relatively low price.
However there are several important caveats. First, your television must be HDCP 2.2 compliant, otherwise 4K movies will be downsampled to standard HD resolution. If you have a AV receiver that is 4K and HDCP 2.2 compatible, you can connect it to the receiver. Alternatively you could connect the video HDMI directly to the TV and the audio HDMI to your receiver if it doesn't support 4K. It really pays to reading your TV's operating manual to determine if it is compatible. Some TV's have HDCP compliant ports, but not on all of them. The Samsung 4K TV I have only has one port that is compliant.
Another factor is your screen's size. The larger your TV, the more of a difference you will notice between HD and UHD discs. I would recommend a screen that is 55 inches and greater. And if it supports High Dynamic Range, that is even better, but not a requirement. They will still play on non HDR TVs.
The last thing to consider is the "newness" factor. There are only a small number of movies out and remains an open question if the market will grow or be surpasses by 4K movie downloads which would render the format irrelevant. The content out there looks gorgeous. Mad Max Fury Road, The Martian and Journey Into Space are beautiful to look at and are reference grade content to use to show off your TV. However is it doubtful if 4K transfers of older movies will come out as well. Ghostbusters looks like it has a lot of noise in the picture.
Should you buy? If you are an avid film collector that wants the highest quality experience, it may work for you if you have the right display. Bear in mind that the UHD blu ray may remain a niche product with a small library. And the studios have to embrace it with the best possible transfers of older movies.


Alienware AW15R2-6161SLV 15.6-Inch FHD Laptop (6th Generation Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD + 256 GB SATA SSD,NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, Windows 10 Home), Silver
Alienware AW15R2-6161SLV 15.6-Inch FHD Laptop (6th Generation Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD + 256 GB SATA SSD,NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, Windows 10 Home), Silver
Price: $1,683.77
21 used & new from $1,343.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this machine, May 16, 2016
I really wanted to like this machine. But at the end I felt cheated and unsatisfied. The hardware specs are all there to provide an awesome gaming experience. The machine feels solid and rugged. I like the placement of its mouse pad and the screen meets standards although I have seen better. The absence of a DVD drive doesn't figure since I have a portable drive and most the games I play are electronic downloads from steam and origin.
But that is where the good aspects end. At the very minimum a computer should work out of the box. However in this case it fails miserably. After just an hour of playing some games to run it through its paces, I saw several lockups, severe slowdowns. When I had task manager up, I notice that the 99 percent of memory was being used at idle. What could possibly use up 16 GBs of memory! I ran windows update and it seemed to clear up some of the slow downs. But I still observed system lockups while running games. When I started using the wi-fi things got even worse. Random blue screens occurred with the IRQ not equal fault. I came across the Dell support assistant which advised me to update drivers and programs. I did so, and the blue screens went away. Despite using the Dell assistant and Windows update, the system crashes still occur occasionally. To anyone interested in Alienware, ehem DELL laptops, steer clear of them.
Here is a memo to Dell: Invest more time into PRODUCT TESTING in real world conditions before shipping a product. This machine is clearly defective as a result of design, not shoddy workmanship. A customer who drops 1500 on a computer should have the expectation that it should function as advertised without having to perform the job of a computer technician. This is something that Apple figured out a long time ago.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2016 3:31 PM PDT


The Theory of Everything (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD)
The Theory of Everything (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD)
DVD ~ Eddie Redmayne
Price: $11.08
70 used & new from $2.83

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary performance of a wonderful human being, June 6, 2015
An extraordinary performance of a wonderful human being.
Stephen Hawking is the most preeminent physicist since Albert Einstein with writings such as A Brief History Of Time. The movie instead of delving too much in his professional life, focus more on his personal life and his family which turned out to be the better story. I really felt that I got to know the man behind the superstar persona and his iconic synthesized voice. You go through a journey in which he had to live with ALS, a devastating disease which can kill quickly or slowly over many years. I wonder how many people would carry on after being told they had only two years to live. Yet he moved on and had a family and continued his work. Love for his work and family has sustained him which is captured well. There many lighter moments too, like the time he got his synthesized voice. In a Dr Who moment, he impersonated a dalek.
Moving on to the performances, Redmayne delivers a performance well worth the Oscar and BAFTA award. He his completely believable and genuine in his portrayal of Hawking. To add emphasis to that, Stephen Hawking himself has noted that it seemed that he was really looking at himself when he saw the movie. I even go as far to compare his performance to be on the level of Daniel-Day Lewis. Felicity Jones delivers a strong performance as his first wife, Jane. She shows a inner strength and anguish as she shoulders a heavy burden to raise a family, pursue her career and care for Stephen.
I hope one day he does find the Theory For Everything. That would be a marvelous and proper epilogue.


American War Generals
American War Generals
DVD ~ None
Price: $9.99
17 used & new from $5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Those generals were arguably the best field commanders the Army produced after the Vietnam War, November 1, 2014
This review is from: American War Generals (DVD)
This is the story on how the US Military dealt with the consequences of Vietnam and its aftermath, the re-organization of the military leading up the the Gulf War and the challenges posed after 9/11 as told from the generals' perspective. Most of the key players were present with a few notable exceptions such as Tommy Franks, Peter Pace and Norman Scharzkopf. Those generals were arguably the best field commanders the Army produced after the Vietnam War.
One of the main stories told is the comparison of the War In Iraq to Vietnam. While the origins of the conflicts and eventual outcomes were completely different, they do have some remarkable similarities. Both were largely supported by the public at first. The cases for intervening were made on false premises and assumptions. Low grade insurgencies and all out civil war ensued which the Army was not prepared to fight. The irony was not lost on the ones who served in Vietnam and went on the command the forces in Iraq.
The most interesting tidbits came up during the discussion of the Battle of Tora Bora. In perhaps the quickest most successful campaign to overthrown a government after WWII in terms of personnel used and speed of execution, we somehow managed to let several hundred of al qaeda's top leadership get away. We had every opportunity to throw every asset into the battle and press home the attack. But the Bush administration was all ready planning for the invasion of Iraq and would not provide any additional assets. Had the al qaeda leadership been killed or captured, the case for invading Iraq would have been extremely difficult to make if not impossible. It was in the Bush's administration's interest to keep Osama Bin Laden alive and free to build public support for invading Iraq. Of note, Tommy Franks, mastermind of the Afghanistan campaign do not appear in this video.


ASUS G74SX-A1 17.3-Inch Gaming Laptop - Republic of Gamers
ASUS G74SX-A1 17.3-Inch Gaming Laptop - Republic of Gamers
3 used & new from $700.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Gaming Laptop for the price, October 13, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Just purchased this laptop 3 days ago and have some initial impressions. For the record, I have never come across the ideal Windows based laptop for everything without completely breaking the bank. However, this laptop comes pretty close. I have put it through some initial paces to see how it performs. As a gaming machine, it works at high frame rates at full 1080p with older games from the last few years. With some of the current games, you have to dial back graphic settings and play at 720p.

The video playback did present some issues. DVDs played with no problems, but Blu-ray is hit or miss. Some movies like the Star Wars set would not play. Not sure if this is a software issue with Cineplayer or a firmware issue with the drive. I have been unable to find a solution. The other issue with video is the aggressive use of edge enhancement and dynamic contrast. You have to tweak the display settings for color, contrast and brightness to tune the display. Some may like video enhancements, but I prefer to turn them off.

The other issue is the sound. It sounds too tiny, without much of a low end. If only it had the sound quality of a Macbook Pro or a HP Envy, with would be near perfect.

The last issue is with the track pad. It is overly sensitive at times especially when I don't want it to be when I am using the keyboard. But at times when I try to use the finger gestures like those found on Macs, it does not respond smoothly and consistently. I'll try to scroll using the 2 finger gesture, and it will zoom in or out instead. The track pad needs more work.

Overall, this is a great laptop for gaming. But I would recommend getting a decent pair of headphones or external speakers and use the supplied mouse or your own. And realize that this is a desktop replacement with emphasis placed on performance over portability and battery life. Better sound, stable blu-ray support and a redesigned touch pad would make this the perfect laptop.

Pros:
Great gaming performance for its price.
Quiet operation even when cooling fans spinning.
Nice Quickboot option directly into Chromium OS for internet surfing.
Display is crisp, bright and works well with games and video.
Cons:
Sensitive and inconsistent trackpad
System is heavy, not intended to be that portable.
Blu-Ray movie play back in buggy.
Sound lacks low end bass.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 26, 2011 7:13 PM PDT


Moon Machines
Moon Machines
DVD ~ Robert Seamans
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $11.55
23 used & new from $7.56

5.0 out of 5 stars An oustanding set of stories for all the Apollo space geeks, March 12, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Moon Machines (DVD)
Much has been written and filmed about the astronauts and their stories and memories of the Apollo space program. Equally compelling is what happened behind the scenes to make their feats possible. This video does an outstanding job at documenting the efforts, the problems overcame, setbacks and triumphs of the thousands of scientists and engineers who built the machines. We see how they look back in deep pride for their role in making the impossible possible. Highly recommended.


Caprica: Season 1.5
Caprica: Season 1.5
DVD ~ Eric Stoltz
Offered by twilightmedia
Price: $15.64
27 used & new from $11.78

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best show that was cut short this year, December 25, 2010
This review is from: Caprica: Season 1.5 (DVD)
What a shame. This show had tremendous potential. Set on Caprica before the events of Battlestar Galactica, it fills in the back story of how the cylons came to be. And in the process it dealt with the concepts of morality, religion and free will. Its presented a vivid picture of a dystopian future where technology enables and amplifies humanity's darkest impulses.

The cast is first rate with Eric Stoltz as Daniel Greystone and Esai Morales and Joseph Adama. The story unfolds as a story arc starting with their paths crossing when Joseph Adama's wife and daughter are killed in a terrorist attack by the Soldiers Of The One, a monotheistic cult bent on destroy the old world order. What follows afterward is a chain of events in which the main characters unwittingly set the stage for the rise of the cylons and for the eventual rebellion against their human masters.

The series overall is very good but there some issues that contributed to its cancellation. In the previous episodes, the overall story line takes a little too much time to develop. There really isn't a sense of movement and takes on too much of of teen-age soap opera elements. The characters never seem to connect with the audience. None of them are that sympathetic. I had a hard time cheering for any of them. It makes you wonder if humanity had it coming.

Fortunately this crop of episodes more than makes up for it. The show really started to have life. You began to see all of the pieces start to fall into place and you could connect the dots to see where it was leading with a few surprises along the way. And then the show was canceled.

Why did the show fail? The blame has to lie with the network. The first half of the season was aired early in 2010 with a 5 month hiatus until the next half was aired which really disrupted the pacing. That directly contributed to its loss of viewership. If you watch the first and second halves together, the show presents a much more cohesive story arc. SyFy really didn't do much to promote the return of the show in the Fall either.

I wonder if SyFy was really committed to the show anyway. The producers had to lobby hard just to get the show green lit. They didn't even give them a full season to start with at first. The final five episodes on the DVD were not even aired in the US. They are the best in this set. After watching the last episode, I got the sense that the producers and writers knew they were very short leash and were probably not going to be renewed. It had feel of a series finale.

This was one of the most shortsighted decisions by a network in a misguided attempt to re-brand its image. The producers should look for another network to pick the show up and their upcoming Blood And Chrome BSG story. Bye bye SyFy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2011 9:47 PM PST


Need for Speed Hot Pursuit - PC
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit - PC
Offered by TECH61
Price: $14.99
19 used & new from $5.98

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Burnout meets Need For Speed, December 21, 2010
The Hot Pursuit games of the Need For Speed series were always my favorites. This iteration is very fun to play despite some issues. The goal is not only to win races but also elude the cops. It's the same concept from the previous games. The ability to deploy spike trips, jammers, EMP's and turbos give you the ability to dish it out to the cops is a nice addition. But the recharging nitrous booster could have been left out. The graphics are very good by X-box 360 standards, but do not take full advantage of today's PC hardware. This probably because this is a direct port from the console version.

The controls can't be customized especially steering and braking sensitivity. This makes the controls a little twitchy. It's really optimized for the X-Box 360 controller. Car physics are really simplified. It seems that every car under steers and drifts through every turn no matter how little braking and turning is applied. There are many cars but there seems to be very little difference between them in handling and braking.

The multi-channel sound is used well. You can hear the sounds of cars whizzing by you from front to back. The sound of your own car seems oddly muzzled though. It lacks customization beyond changing the sound effects, voice and music levels. I would have like to hear the sound of the engine more.
Despite these issues, this game is still a blast. You have lots of cars to unlock as you move through the game (sorry NO FERRARI). The free drive mode helps you practice the routes in different cars without any consequences. The crash animations a la Burnout are spectacular.

On the whole, its a good game but if you have a console, you're better off getting the console version.

Pros: Graphics visuals, high speed chases, large selection of the fastest cars.

Cons: lack of customization, arcade driving physics, too much reliance on nitrous
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 11, 2014 3:58 PM PDT


America: The Story of Us [Blu-ray]
America: The Story of Us [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Liev Schreiber
Offered by Park Slope Outlet
Price: $20.95
43 used & new from $12.57

9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good effort with a glaring oversight, August 15, 2010
To start off, the production values were excellent. The re-enactments and computer animation were fast paced and created a sense of tension and energy. The storytelling was crisp and to the point. Some have said that commentators that have expertise in the subject of American history should have been used. That is a valid point. If the celebrity commentators only talked about the times that they lived through, I would be okay with that.
In addition to the historical inaccuracies such as Baron Von Steuben's purported homosexuality, there is one important point that is not brought up but only insinuated.

Who is exactly "Us"? Throughout our history we have had to tangle with that question. If you were a Chinese worker building the continental railroad, you were not considered one of "Us". If you were a freed slave in 1865, you were not considered one of "Us". If you were an Irish Catholic, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Jewish or Hispanic immigrant you were not considered one of "Us" at one time or another. I could go on. Every immigrant group who has come here has had to deal with discrimination, hostility and bigotry. It was not that long ago when there were signed posted "Whites only" or "Irish Need Not Apply".
Despite that, people have found a way to succeed and even thrive in this country and contribute to its success. And that is part of the story of us. Every generation has had to answer that question. Even today the issue of who "Us" is, is open to debate.
I would recommend this series as a starting point for exploring history. Challenge every point made and find out for yourself. Do not accept this version of American history as gospel.


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - PC
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - PC
Offered by Digitalville
Price: $11.49
128 used & new from $3.69

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It could have gotten 5 stars., November 11, 2009
I was looking forward to this game with much anticipation. As details leaked out I began to have second thoughts. But I reserved judgment until I got my hands on the game. I'm not going to cover the crippled multi-player. There is nothing more to add. Activision's $10.00 console tax is unacceptable for a PC release. The biggest gripe is with the single player airport level. There has been a lot of bad press with this for good reason. The game forces the player make a completely immoral choice, either to do nothing or actively participate. The level also violates a core principle of a game, that the outcome can be controlled by the player. No matter what you do, everyone dies in the airport. Lastly, the level is COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. A 60 second cut scene could have been used to advance the plot of the single player game. Just when you think you can't put gratuitous violence into a first person shooter, Codemasters has found the worst possible way to do it. Anytime when the developer has to place an opt out message that allows you skip game play because it is may be too violent for a first person shooter, maybe it is not a good idea to have it in the first place.


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