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Brainwavz Delta IEM Earphones
Brainwavz Delta IEM Earphones
Price: $19.50
3 used & new from $17.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Brainwavz Delta, July 10, 2014
AUDIO QUALITY: 4/5
Overall, the sound quality is very good. I have watched several movies with these headphones, plus listened to a few of my favorite music playlists... no complaints. The Brainwavz Delta has clear and balanced audio & bass. The ear buds do a better job than most at keeping external sounds out (although if you really want to cancel out noise, you'll want to skip earbuds and buy an over-ear headset).

COMFORT: 3/5
The comfort of the headphones is average. The in-ear cushions in particular are comfortable. Sometimes in-ear headphones don't fit into the ear properly and thus can't be worn for very long periods of time, but I could keep this pair on for hours with only minimal discomfort. Occasionally, the earbuds would fall out if I made a quick movement (which might be annoying while exercising), but it did not happen too often.

COMPATIBILITY: 5/5
The headphone cable is a standard 3.5mm cable which can be used on nearly all devices - MP3 players, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.

DURABILITY: 4/5
These headphones have a nice design and a quality build. They seem to be very durable - I expect them to last several years.

EXTRAS: 5/5
The packaging for the headphones is very nice and easy to open. The headphones come with extra ear cushions, which is nice because they do wear out eventually. It also includes a compact carrying/storage case.

* The manufacturer allowed me to test this product for review purposes.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films
Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films
by Matt Hurwitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.49
51 used & new from $17.50

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rise/Dawn of the Planet of the Apes -- Art Book, July 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a great art book, and one that I highly recommend.

A lot of the book is devoted to the creation of the apes - including concept art, production stills of Andy Serkis and other performers, VFX renders of Ceasar and the apes, and finished frames from the movies. That portion of the book is most fascinating, since they really did push the limits of technology with these films in order to create realistic CG apes infused with human performances from actors.

There are also many pages devoted to environments - for "Rise", this includes places like the lab, Will's home, and the primate shelter. The combination of conceptual artwork and production stills really show off the amount of work that went into the set design/dressing. Because of the intensive visual effects required, the production had to build most environments from scratch (rather than going on location) so that they could have complete control. This results in set pieces like the Bridge and the Primate Facility being built rather than finding and shooting an existing location.

As massive a production as "Rise" was, it seems that "Dawn" has eclipsed it in terms of scale. The sequel takes place 10 years after the first film, and most os humanity has been ravaged by the Simian Flu. As a result, cities and architecture have become run-down and vegetation has encroached. The places occupied by the human colony are large spaces that were practically built and required an enormous amount of effort to distress them to a point where they look worn down. At one point, Ceasar returns to Will's home - it's fascinating to see the differences between Will's home between the films (colorful and vibrant in "Rise"; dirty and desolate in "Dawn").

If you are a fan of these movies, then this is certainly a good purchase to make. The book features a nice balance of conceptual artwork, production photos, and film shots. The images are printed large and clear. There is also a decent amount of text which sheds light onto the challenges of the production and adds to the enjoyment of the book, including a foreword by director Matt Reeves.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Offered by SONY Music Entertainment Downloads LLC.
Price: $9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Original Score, July 8, 2014
The "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" score does exactly what it needs to do - there are some memorable themes, as well as a sense of foreboding and rising tension through a lot of the music.

I enjoyed Patrick Doyle's music for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", however I would say that composer Michael Giacchino's score for "Dawn" is an improvement and contains a bit more emotion. Giacchino is a favorite of mine (particularly for "Lost" and "Super 8") - this score doesn't reach the heights of his very best work; but it's great nonetheless and I'm happy to add it to my collection of music.

Giacchino really does a good job blending classic elements of the score with the more tribal/percussive sounds. I think what he has managed to do here is honor the legacy of Jerry Goldsmith and the original "Planet of the Apes" scores. His music sometimes sounds reminiscent of those previous soundtracks, while at the same time adding a fresh perspective on the music. I liked listening to this album very much and look forward to listening to it in context during the movie.

Any fan of Giacchino knows he goes crazy with the puns - this album has so many good ones: "Past Their Primates", "The Apes of Wrath", and "How Bonobo Can You Go". Rather than spoil the plot like so many other soundtrack titles do, Giachhino instead titles his cues in a clever and fun way that also doesn't give too much away about the movie.

FAVORITE TRACKS
[3] The Great Ape Processional
[11] Gorilla Warfare
[17] Primates for Life


Star Trek: The Compendium [Blu-ray]
Star Trek: The Compendium [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Chris Pine
Price: $33.99

100 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Star Trek: The Compendium -- includes IMAX version of 'Into Darkness', June 29, 2014
This is a 2-movie box set that contains the reimagining of "Star Trek" (2009) and the sequel "Star Trek Into Darkness" (2013), directed by JJ Abrams. There are 3 reasons why you might want to consider purchasing this set - I own these films already, but will be picking this up because of the reasons listed below:

1. Those who saw "Into Darkness" in IMAX theaters may remember that for certain scenes the aspect ratio of the film shifted from the typical 2.40:1 to the taller 1.78:1, creating a larger and more immersive image. Unfortunately, the original blu-ray release of Into Darkness did not include the IMAX footage... But this one does, meaning for those scenes it will fill your entire TV (instead of the usual black bars on the top and bottom).
2. This set also includes an Enhanced Commentary for "Into Darkness" that was previously exclusive to iTunes. Basically you play the movie, but all sorts of content appears on the screen while you watch and the director/crew will come on at various points to talk about the film (it's similar to the WB 'maximum movie mode' feature that is on discs like Watchmen and Terminator Salvation).
3. The bonus disc for "Into Darkness" has some new deleted scenes and additional bonus material that was not previously available.

Below is a complete listing of all the content in this four-disc set:

Disc 1 - Star Trek (2009)
- Star Trek in high definition
- commentary by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci

Disc 2 - Star Trek (2009)
- To Boldly Go -- Taking on the world's most beloved science fiction franchise was no small mission. Director J.J. Abrams, writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, producer Damon Lindelof, and executive producer Bryan Burk talk about the many challenges they faced and their strategy for success.
- Casting -- The producers knew their greatest task was finding the right cast to reprise these epic roles. The cast, for their part, talk about the experience of trying to capture the essence of these mythic characters. The piece concludes with a moving tribute to Leonard Nimoy.
- A New Vision -- J.J. Abrams' vision was not only to create a Star Trek that was a bigger, more action-packed spectacle, but also to make the spectacle feel real. Every aspect of production--from unique locations to the use of classic Hollywood camera tricks--was guided by this overall objective.
- Starships -- Abrams and production designer Scott Chambliss were careful to pay tribute to the design of the original Enterprise, but they also wanted to make it futuristic and cool for a modern audience. This chapter focuses on the unique stories behind the creation of the film's starships.
- Aliens -- Designers Neville Page and Joel Harlow talk about the hurdles they faced creating new alien species, recreating the Romulans and Vulcans, and designing the terrifying creatures on Delta Vega for the new Star Trek
- Planets -- From the frozen landscape of Delta Vega to the desert plains of Vulcan, Scott Chambliss and the art department had a number of radically different planets to create. Abrams' desire to shoot on real locations whenever possible led the production team to a number of strange and surprising locations.
- Props and Costumes -- Property master Russell Bobbitt had the unique challenge of designing props that were both true to the original series and pertinent to today's technology. Likewise, costume designer Michael Kaplan talks about how he designed costumes that paid homage to what came before yet were relevant and timeless.
- Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek -- When famed sound designer Ben Burtt was hired to create sounds for the first Star Wars film, he took his inspiration from the original Star Trek series. Burtt jumped at the opportunity to pay tribute to the sounds that sparked his career with the sounds he created for the new Star Trek.
- Score -- As a fan of the original series, composer Michael Giacchino embraced the challenge of creating new music for Star Trek while preserving the spirit of Alexander Courage's celebrated theme.
- Gene Roddenberry's Vision -- J.J. Abrams, Leonard Nimoy, previous Star Trek writers and producers, and scientific consultant Carolyn Porco describe and commend the optimistic and enduring vision of Gene Roddenberry.
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Starfleet Vessel Simulator -- Explore extensive data on the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Romulan ship, the Narada. Submerse yourself in breathtaking 360° views and close-ups and review detailed tech information.
- Gag Reel
- Trailers

Disc 3 - Star Trek Into Darkness
- Star Trek Into Darkness -- IMAX Version in high definition
- Enhanced Commentary (previously only available on iTunes)

Disc 4 - Star Trek Into Darkness
- The Voyage Begins... Again -- Go behind-the-scenes as filming begins on the next Star Trek adventure.
- Creating the Red Planet -- Experience the creation of a never-before-seen alien world, as featured in the action-packed opening sequence of the film.
- Introducing the Villain
- Rebuilding the Enterprise -- See the design and construction of a bigger, interconnected Enterprise set.
- National Ignition Facility: Home of the Core -- Location shooting at the National Ignition Facility.
- Attack on Starfleet -- Go behind the scenes with the cast and filmmakers and witness the creation of the shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters.
- Aliens Encountered -- The design and application of alien makeup.
- The Klingon Home World -- Discover the stunning world of Kronos, and see how the filmmakers reinvented the Klingons for a new generation.
- The Enemy of My Enemy -- Find out how, and why, the identity of the film's true villain was kept a mystery to the very end.
- Vengeance is Coming -- A comprehensive look at the design and production surrounding the black ship.
- Ship to Ship -- An in-depth and thrilling look at the filming of the iconic space jump sequence, which both defied the laws of physics and pushed the limits of visual effects.
- Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock -- Leonard Nimoy makes a cameo appearance and reflects on his history with Trek.
- Down with the Ship -- Discover the stunt & VFX work involved to make the Enterprise roll over.
- Kirk and Spock -- Explore the dynamic relationship between the film's heroes.
- Brawl by the Bay -- Sit in with Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as they revisit their intense preparation for the film's breathtaking climax.
- Continuing the Mission -- An inspiring look at the partnership between the film's crew and the organization that assists returning veterans to find meaningful ways to contribute on the home front.
- Unlocking the Cut -- A discussion with the film editors about their monumental task.
- The Sounds of Music (and FX) -- A discussion with film composer Michael Giacchino and sound designer Ben Burtt.
- Visual Affection -- A comprehensive look at the creation and implementation of visual effects.
- Safety First -- A prank pulled on the cast.
- Theatrical Trailers
- NEW! Deleted Scenes
- NEW! Photo Gallery
- NEW! Gag Reel
- NEW! Fitting the Future -- A look at the film's out-of-this-world costumes.
- NEW! Property of Starfleet -- Sourcing and tracking the film's myriad props.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2014 8:01 PM PDT


Aleratec Premium Tempered Glass Screen Protector for iPhone 5S / 5
Aleratec Premium Tempered Glass Screen Protector for iPhone 5S / 5
Offered by Aleratec
Price: $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice screen protector, June 27, 2014
I really like this screen protector. It is high quality, slightly more thicker than the average protector I am used to using. I can tell that it is going to be very durable and should not need to be replaced for a long time. I also did not notice any loss of sensitivity with the phone's touch-screen features, which is important.

Included a cloth to wipe your phone - it's important to clear all debris from the screen, otherwise it will get stuck under the protector once applied. As with any screen protector, air bubbles are a reality - this one is no different, and it's a bit of work to remove them (fortunately a "soft card" is provided to help move air out from under the protector).

I received this product free for testing/review purposes.


Premium Paracord Kit - DIY Paracord Bundle includes 3 x 350lb military grade paracord (total 36 feet), more than ten accessories, including steel shackles, buckles, carabiner, firestarters AND instructions for making paracord bracelets and keychains - Lifetime Warranty by The Friendly Swede (Black/Army Green/Gun Metal)
Premium Paracord Kit - DIY Paracord Bundle includes 3 x 350lb military grade paracord (total 36 feet), more than ten accessories, including steel shackles, buckles, carabiner, firestarters AND instructions for making paracord bracelets and keychains - Lifetime Warranty by The Friendly Swede (Black/Army Green/Gun Metal)
Offered by The Friendly Swede
Price: $14.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paracord Kit, June 27, 2014
With this starter kit, you get 3 sets of paracord (12 ft. each) along with a number of accessories. Paracord is relatively thin but also very strong, making it ideal for a variety of uses - tying down items, replacing broken straps, using as a rope in survival situations, etc. I do some hiking and nature photography, and I will always make sure to have some in my bag.

This kit has all the supplies and instructions needed to fashion your paracord into a bracelet, making it easy to take with you (since it's on your wrist) and also convenient to access. If you want a paracord bracelet without having to manufacture it yourself, The Friendly Swede also sells pre-made bracelets. But I am very impressed with this kit, and it's a lot of fun using the paracord for crafts.

I received this product free for testing/review purposes.


Samsung UN55HU9000 Curved 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV
Samsung UN55HU9000 Curved 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV
Price: $3,497.99
22 used & new from $1,808.00

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Samsung UN55HU900 - a very impressive 4K television with a lot of features, June 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A few notes:
1. I have owned this TV for about a month, and have put it through the paces - I will also continue to update my review as time goes on with any new/relevant information.
2. I am not going to focus on the price of the TV (it's expensive), but rather the television's features and quality - I trust each person can decide for themselves whether they think the price is justified or not.
3. Finally, I monitor the comments section of my reviews; so if you have any questions about the TV that are not addressed in my review, feel free to ask and I will get back with you.

***

"THE CURVE"

There are some filmmakers and other content creators out there who believe in the curved screen. Samsung marketing materials suggest that the curve creates a more immersive experience. On a 55 inch TV, I'm not sure it's big enough to warrant the curve - they do sell 65" and 78" models which are no doubt more immersive. To be honest, I am neutral on this. When viewing the image straight on or at a 45-degree angle, I do not even notice that I am looking at a curved screen and there is no distortion of any kind. So for those wondering if it creates an awkward viewing experience, you can rest assured that it does not. At the same time, I am not sure if I am getting any real benefits from this curved panel technology.

***

4K / IMAGE QUALITY

The picture quality on this TV for 4K and HD content is incredible. Blu-ray discs look stunning on this screen (particularly those that are mastered in 4K), as is the high-definition gaming experience of my XBOX 360. There is very little content out there available in 4K right now, but the amount of 4K content will increase in the coming years -- the TV also upscales content pretty well.

Obviously, the whole point of a 4K TV is greater clarity - the main reason for this is simply that there are more pixels than a regular HDTV. The other specifications, such as 120Hz refresh rate and Samsung's UHD upscaling, also indicate that the TV should perform well. Specs aside, all I can say is that I've watched various movies/shows on this unit, and the colors and clarity impress me.

***

3D EXPERIENCE

This TV uses "active 3D" technology. The active shutter glasses sync with your TV to create the 3D experience. For those who are new to 3D - here's what happens (from Wikipedia): "It works by only presenting the image intended for the left eye while blocking the right eye's view, then presenting the right-eye image while blocking the left eye, and repeating this so rapidly that the interruptions do not interfere with the perceived fusion of the two images into a single 3D image."

Included with your purchase is four sets of 3D glasses (SSG-5150GB), as well as a total of eight batteries. One common complaint about active 3D is that the glasses are typically larger/heavier than the polarized glasses used for passive 3D. Not so with these glasses, they are incredibly light and the frames are small. The best part is that they are very comfortable to wear and have been designed to fit well even for people who already wear glasses.

As for the 3D picture, I think it is very high quality. Just for reference, I tested "The Art of Flight" (which streams in 3D from Netflix) and "Gravity" (on 3D blu-ray). Both movies looked great on this display; there was very minimal crosstalk and I did not notice any flicker effects from the glasses.

***

SETUP

Setup of this TV is actually quite easy. The unit is obviously large and quite heavy, it's definitely a 2-person lift. Once you get the TV assembled (just a dozen or so screws into the base), then you can connect all your media players to the TV. Fortunately, included with your purchase is the ONE CONNECT box. This is essentially a pass-through box -- you plug all your cables into the One Connect box, and then there is one HDMI from the box to the TV. I've got my blu-ray player, XBOX system, Roku box, and basic cable all running into the one connect.

Once you're all set up, turn the TV on -- follow the on screen instructions, which takes you through the setup process (takes only a few minutes if you have a cable box, or about 15-30 if you have it scan for stations). Should you have any problems or want to know more, the included product manual has all the necessary information.

***

SPECIAL OFFER from SAMSUNG

From 4/27/14 to 8/2/14, if you purchase this TV you can get the Samsung UHD Video Pack (pre-loaded with five 4K movies) for free.
Amazon is an authorized retailer eligible for the rebate - more details are available at vp.samsungrebate.com

... review will be updated shortly with additional info ... if you have questions, please leave a comment and I am happy to respond.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2014 12:10 PM PDT


Clint: A Retrospective
Clint: A Retrospective
by Richard Schickel
Edition: Hardcover
61 used & new from $1.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Clint: A Retrospective, June 23, 2014
This review is from: Clint: A Retrospective (Hardcover)
This is a high quality book. It goes into detail about Clint Eastwood's career as an actor and director. It covers just about all of Eastwood's films, up through "J. Edgar".

I very much enjoyed reading about Eastwood's career and all the films he has made. It is fascinating to see him going from a young actor, to an iconic movie star, to a prestigious director. The text reads somewhat like a biography, going through each film in chronological order and including plenty of background information as well as anecdotes. Equally as important are the pictures (well over a hundred) - in turning through the pages quickly, it acts as a flip book of Mr. Eastwood's entire on-screen life.

It's an interesting read, and one that is suited to anyone - whether you have little prior knowledge of Eastwood or you are one of his most loyal fans. I have seen most of his work, but the book has inspired me to revisit his filmography and catch up on the one's I've missed.


The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era
The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era
by Jessica Fellowes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.65
186 used & new from $1.52

3.0 out of 5 stars The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, June 23, 2014
As a major fan of "Downton Abbey", I was excited when I saw this book on sale (I picked it up for about $5). Turns out I was a bit disappointed with it, and really I would not recommend picking it up unless you can get it at bargain price. To be fair, it's a nice keepsake that is fun to look through for fans of the show. But that's all; there's no content here that's really necessary or additive to the experience of watching the series.

The book is best used as a "scrapbook" of sorts, functioning as a good recap of the show (it only covers the first 3 seasons) with some nice images thrown in.

Its mostly a guide to the characters - each character has about a dozen pages dedicated to their biography and important events in the show. Accompanying the text is a large number of high quality photos. But for those interested in behind the scenes content, there's not much there.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles II - Creatures and Characters
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles II - Creatures and Characters
by Daniel Falconer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.31
68 used & new from $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Hobbit - Art Book II, June 23, 2014
Weta is an amazing company that does most of the design work on the "Hobbit" films. They do everything from practical effects (prosthetics to miniatures) to digital effects (CGI simulations and character animation). It's important to note that the people that work on these films are not only master technicians, but they are very creative artists as well.

This is the second book in what will be a 6-book series of Weta's chronicles of the Hobbit trilogy. The first book featured the production design and concept art of "An Unexpected Journey"; this book focuses particularly on the characters and creatures of that film. It's a expansive look at the character designs in the film.

There are plenty of high quality images that fans of the film will be interested in -- conceptual artwork of the creature designs; character portraits; photos of the makeup application; etc. The books goes in depth about every aspect of visual characterization, but particular emphasis is placed on the makeup and hair work.

I highly recommend this book (and its companion books as well). As someone who enjoyed the Tolkien novel, I find it fascinating to see how the filmmakers and the creative team took what was on the page and translated it visually into a movie - and I'm happy to own a book that provides an inside look at that process.


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