Microsoft claims its new Surface Pro tablet is powerful enough to replace your laptop for everyday computing tasks. Can that really be true? We put it to the test in our Surface Pro hands-on review. Also see: best tablets
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Umpteenth sequels to ancient first-person shooters aren't supposed to be any good. Especially when they stick to retro big dumb action values while playing it completely straight. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game about shooting giant robot Nazis in the 1960s, for goodness' sakes, but it doesn't stop and laugh at itself even once. And it absolutely gets away with it.
Surface Pro 3 vs Surface Pro 2 comparison: new Windows tablet is bigger and better - but who will buy?
During the launch of the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft freely admitted that it hadn’t quite got it right with the original Surface Pro and even the Surface Pro 2. It claimed the Surface Pro 3 is the first tablet that can truly replace your laptop, so in our Surface Pro 3 vs Surface Pro 2 comparison, let’s see why.
2015 Nissan Versa Note Priced At $14,990, New SR At $18,340
After being introduced as an all-new model last year, the Nissan Versa Note is getting a couple minor changes for the 2015 model year. As announced at the Chicago Auto Show, the 2015 Nissan Versa Note will be adding two trim levels to go along with some minor pricing changes, which were just announced.
Even to X-Men fans, "X-Men: Days of Future Past" seems like it would be one giant mutant headache. The seventh film in the Marvel series, it's a sequel of sorts to both "X-Men: The Last Stand" from 2006, and 2011's "X-Men: First Class", references the "Wolverine" spin-off films, and even includes a character from the next "Avengers" movie (but played by a different actor). Add to this a slew of B- and C-list mutants to keep track of, plus the inherent flaws of any time-travel storyline and you've got a gordian knot of superhero proportions. But thankfully, "X-Men" director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg have taken all this history (and baggage) and created a refreshingly sharp, smart and satisfying popcorn movie with plenty to please both hardcore and casual fans of the "X-Men" series.
The film begins in a dystopian future, where mutants and sympathetic humans are corralled in concentration camps. To battle the mutant "threat" of destruction to the human world (see "The Last Stand" - or don't, it's awful), the government unleashed machines called "Sentinels" - capable of targeting and killing those with the mutant gene. In the opening battle scene, we find that the Sentinels are also able to absorb and adapt mutant abilities, making them nearly impossible to kill.
Ida (Agata Trzebuchowska) is a young woman on the cusp of becoming a nun, in 1960's Poland. She has lived in a rural convent since originally being left there as a child, having known no other life. Before she can take the final step in the process, her Mother Superior tells her that she has a relative living in Gdansk and she orders Ida to go to her relative before taking her vows. Ida does not want to go, but realizes she has no choice.
Filmed in particularly bleak black-and-white, director Pawel Pawlikowski has created an intense mood piece dependent less upon events than an examination of two women whose lives have taken entirely different paths, but whose lives are inextricably intertwined.
When Ida finally meets her relative, the stark contrast between them is remarkable. Wanda (Agata Kulesza) is Ida's aunt. Their first meeting at Wanda's apartment lays out the contrast immediately. She answers the door with a cigarette dangling from her mouth. Inside, a gentleman is getting dressed, clearly after having engaged in sexual relations with Wanda. His quick departure indicates that they have known each other for hours, rather than years. Ida displays little reaction to any of this. There is no doubt that this is all foreign to her, but Ida hardly blinks. Her demeanor is even. It remains that way throughout.
Whether you're planning to snag a Sonos system for Dad, a grad or yourself, now would be a good time to get on that. Sonos just announced a new promotion that will offer six months of Google Play Music for free with the purchase of any Sonos player.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Not getting enough oomph from your home theater? You must not have a good subwoofer -- or maybe you don't have one at all (what?).
A subwoofer is a really important part of a good audio setup. Without it, you may be getting a bit of a flat audio experience. This is the piece of your speaker setup that puts you in the middle of the action or the concert. If you've been living without a subwoofer, today is the day to think about putting that boom into your room. We just found Amazon listing the Klipsch SW-350 8-Inch 350-Watt Subwoofer as today's Gold Box Deal of the Day.
Earlier today, Bang & Olufsen debuted the BeoVision Avant, which is pictured here on the new rotating floor stand.
Earlier today, Bang & Olufsen made a lot of heads turn -- and a few TVs as well. The company just debuted its new BeoVision Avant 4K Ultra HD TV at a press event in New York City. However, it wasn't just the image that had eyes popping. Instead, it was all of the details that set this new TV apart from the pack.
The W1500 is a single chip DLP affair (BenQ claims to be the largest maker of DLP projectors in the world), and features a TI DarkChip3-based light engine.
One of the perceived drawbacks to buying and installing a front projector is the cost and hassle of running a long length of HDMI cable from the source equipment to the projector itself. Projectors are typically mounted on the ceiling or back wall which means they may be far away from your sources and you'll need to find a way to hide that cable away.
The Kaleidescape Store allows users to download movies from an UltraViolet library to a Kaleidescape server in SD or HD.
A lot of people are starting to ditch the disc in favor of digital copies of all of their favorite movies. Now it's looking like you can ditch the disc, even if you have one of Kaleidescape's movie servers.
The DTR-40.6 has three-stage inverted Darlington Circuitry across all channels, as well as the ability to drive 4-ohm loads.
Hot on the heels of Denon's announcement that the company would add HDMI 2.0 to a few of its new receivers, Integra says it will add the same feature to the newly announced DTR-30.6 and DTR-40.6. Both receivers are expected to be available any day now.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Back in 2010, Joaquin Phoenix made the bizarre "documentary" I'm Still Here, which pretty much brought my love affair with the actor's work to a screeching halt. Despite the satire, it was really difficult to watch and seemed like a waste of talent and film, if you ask me. However, time heals all wounds -- and 2012's The Master certainly helped, netting Phoenix his third Oscar nomination.
With that film, Phoenix had to share the screen (and Oscar nominations) with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. However, Her is really his show. Well, it's mostly his show. Director Spike Jonze has certainly put Phoenix's talents front and center, but he needs to share some of the accolades with Scarlett Johansson, even though she doesn't have one second of actual screen time.
Her is set in the future, where people have access to awesome video games, wear their pants really high, and love their technology. Sure, people in 2014 love technology as well, but in 2025, they really love it. In the case of Theodore Twombly (Phoenix), that love is quite literal after he becomes completely dependent on an operating system named Samantha (voiced by Johansson). It's not such a stretch, considering everything going on (or not going on) in Theodore's life. His wife (Rooney Mara) just left him and his job requires him to create sweet hand-written letters for people that don't have the time or motivation to actually do it themselves.
Unlike "Spider-Man", the "Godzilla" franchise was in dire need of a reboot. After degenerating into man-in-a-suit camp and then being ignobly blockbusted in the 1998 Roland Emmerich/Matthew Broderick dud, the King of the Monsters seemed headed back to the ocean depths - or at least the bottom of a studio script pile. Now, celebrating 60 years of Tokyo-stomping action, the scaly one is ready for his close-up once again. The latest "Godzilla" is an ambitious and reverent reboot that ironically may satisfy neither purists nor modern moviegoing audiences.
After a clever, "redacted" title sequence, we pick up in The Philippines in 1999, where something big has caused a cave-in and left tracks leading to the sea. The trail leads to a nuclear power plant in Japan which has been suffering from a series of earthquakes. Only Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, sporting a distracting hair-do) suspects the worst. Fifteen years later, similar tremors begin to appear and again, Brody - now with an estranged son (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, a blank slate) - is the only one who gets it.
Still pining for Laura Palmer? Get ready to dissect her death and the rest of David Lynch's Twin Peaks in a whole new way -- in high-def! CBS and Paramount just announced plans to put out the 10-disc Blu-ray set, Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery.
Coming on July 29, the box set will come packing everything a fan could ever want. Well, there probably will be some gripes (there always is!), but this 10-disc set will have every episode of the series, including both the U.S. and international versions of pilot, as well as the theatrical feature Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and 90 minutes of highly sought after deleted and alternate scenes from the film.
Denon's AVR-S500BT is a real bargain, packing Bluetooth and HDMI 2.0 into an AVR for $249.
If you're looking to replace that receiver, Denon is planning to heat up its AVR lineup this summer by introducing three new products under the S-Series.
The curvy Blade Two loudspeaker has KEF's Uni-Q driver array and Tangerine waveguide.
This week is the Munich High End Show, which means that we'll see a few drool-worthy audio releases that we won't be able to actually reach out and touch (or hear) -- at least not yet. The first pair comes from KEF, who just announced an update for two of its popular speaker lines.
The Amphitheater K3 features Bluetooth streaming with near-field communication (NFC) technology.
Kicker is building up a nice crop of personal audio products. Late last year, the company was primarily known for car and marine audio -- until they launched the Amphitheater tabletop speaker. Since then, they've added a couple of new options to the lineup. Now, Kicker has officially opened the floodgates, making five new product announcements.
Our second announcement coming out of this week's Munich High End Show comes from MartinLogan. Although the company seems to be withholding a lot of juicy info, they are at the event, showing off the Neolith, a brand new hybrid electrostatic speaker.
Is the Blu-ray format dead? While no one is nailing the coffin on discs just yet, Sony's latest numbers are certainly helping to fuel rumors that physical media will soon go the way of the dinosaur.
In just a few weeks, Sony will start shipping all sorts of TVs from its 2014 4K Ultra HD TV lineup. Now they're starting to think about what kind of equipment you can pair with it.
The company just announced the availability and pricing information for the Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player. Also known as the FMP-X10, the player will start shipping in July, with an MSRP of $699. However, Sony says that if you order between now and July 15, 2014, you'll save $200. That will bring the price down to $499.
In "Neighbors", Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly Radner - a young, married couple with an adorable baby and a new house in a quiet, suburban neighborhood. They're happy, but in a bit of a rut. When the house next door goes for sale, they're hopeful that it will be taken by a nice, interracial gay couple. Instead, their new neighbors turn out to be a fraternity, led by the boyish Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron).
(How any zoning committee would allow a fraternity to live in a residential neighborhood is anyone’s guess, but okay, let’s play along.)
Not wanting to come off as "uncool" to the frat, Mac and Kelly initially try and make nice with the boys, hoping they can convince them to keep things to a dull roar. Likewise, Teddy woos them with a party invitation so they won't call the cops. It's a mutually beneficial relationship for about 24 hours, when Mac and Kelly sober up and realize the party's not going to stop.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Nymphomaniac was filmed as one entity, but director Lars von Trier cut it into two almost exact length parts. In Volume 1, we are barraged by sex in flashback and an exceedingly calm chat between Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a woman recounting her sexual adventures, and Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård ), a chaste elderly man who listens to her. Her anecdotes are steeped in religion and history and tied together with her experiences. It works. In "Nymphomanic: Vol. II", it works even better.
Joe continues recounting her sexual exploits to Seligman, but this time around she is a bit older in her flashbacks, and her tastes have gone in other directions. It's no longer just about her insatiable thirst for sex. Now it's about the repercussions of her actions.
She now has a young boy and she is married to Jerome (Shia Labeouf). She is of the belief that settling into a more normal lifestyle will cure her thirsts, but it does not work out that way. Her desires to wander are still strong. Jerome suggests that she continue to engage in sex with other partners in order to help straighten her out. It is not a great solution.
Feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the electronics currently on the market? Best Buy is hoping to entice you into buying an Ultra HD TV or another AV product by easing some of your fears about today's high-tech devices. The retailer has teamed up with Samsung and Sony to deliver in-store "experiences" at retail locations around the country.
If you're an avid Big Picture Big Sound reader, odds are you've at least heard of Veronica Mars and its trendsetting, funded-by-fans Kickstarter campaign. However, judging by the film's modest box office receipts - due largely to a limited release that had it confined to select AMC Theatres - there's a good chance you're unfamiliar with Veronica, Logan, Wallace, and the rest of the gang from Neptune. If that's you, this review is about to become a homework assignment. So sharpen those #2 pencils, sit up straight, and let's get to work.
Whether you're ready or not, this is the year of 4K Ultra HD TV. Back in January, we saw a slew of new 4K TV sets ready to flood the consumer electronics market (and living rooms). Now, companies are concentrating on ways to entice you into that 4K TV purchase. The latest is NanoTech Entertainment.
Handsome and all-around nice guy George Clooney must have made a few calls to assemble the cast for The Monuments Men, because it comes off as sort of an Ocean's-Eleven-meets-Inglourious-Basterds-style caper. Clooney is the star of his fifth feature-length directorial effort, but he shares the poster with the likes of Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett.