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Archives: March 2011

Star Wars Blu-ray Release Date Gets Closer Thanks to Lucasfilm

Is Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray the most anticipated Blu-ray release of the year?  If it isn't, it can't be very far from the top of the list!  When it was announced in January, Lucasfilm had given us plenty of notice, as the discs wouldn't go on sale until the 27th September; making us wait a long time for our HD Star Wars fix.

If you've already pre-ordered, or are waiting until a little closer to the time, Lucasfilm have sweetened the news this week with a slight decrease in the amount of time you're having to wait.  The release date has now been changed to the 16th September, a whole 11 days less. 

Although we would have preferred a month or two to be knocked off, those who've marked their calendars in anticipation will no doubt be very pleased; but only if they live in the USA, as UK online retailers still have it marked as being released on the 30th September.

UK Akira Steelbook Image Revealed

Akira, representing for many their introduction to modern manga, is headed to the UK on Blu-ray and will be presented in a striking Steelbook.  The film is already available in HD in the USA, but in a lightweight release with just a couple of trailers for company.  The UK edition's features are still unknown, however it will be a dual-format release with both the Blu-ray and the DVD included.

MangaUK tweeted a picture of the set a short while ago and it will include a 40-page booklet on the film, but we're hoping for a few other bonuses too.  The Steelbook was described as 'super-limited', so if you want this one it would be best to pre-order it, otherwise you could miss out.

Released on the 27th June, it's available through most online stores for around £17.99, and the cover-art is looking very special indeed.

Scarface Blu-ray Limited Editions Take it to the Limit!

Scarface Brian De Palma's Scarface has been announced for the UK and the USA on Blu-ray, and in addition to a standard edition, there are three limited editions available too!  The film has been restored and will be blessed with a 1080p image with a 2.35:1 ratio and a new 7.1 audio track.  The bonus features have been given an overhaul and are as follows:

  • The Scarface Phenomenon.  An all-new documentary on Scarface's unique place in cinema history. It explores the film's controversy leading up to its release and its assention to becoming a Hollywood classic, plus its influence on film makers and movie culture.
  • The World of Tony Montana.  Hear from experts on the real world violence, fear and paranoia that surrounds a drug lord.
  • The Rebirth.  Brian De Palma, Martin Bregman, Al Pacino and screenwriter Oliver Stone revisit Scarface, exploring its inspiration and evolution of the script.
  • The Acting.  Join the filmmakers, Al Pacino and Steven Bauer to discover how each of the roles was cast and how Brian De Palma worked with his actors to get unforgettable performances.
  • The Creating.  A fascinating, controversial and definitive journey through the making of the film, which began with the production being forced to leave its initial location in Florida. Discover how the chainsaw scene was filmed, learn about the production design, the photography, and the struggle to get the film an “R” rating.
  • Scarface: The TV Version.  A revealing and hilarious montage of film clips comparing the theatrical version to the network television version of Scarface.
  • Deleted Scenes.
  • The Making of Scarface: The Video Game.
  • U-CONTROL - Scarface Scoreboard—Watch Scarface like never before. Keep track of the number of times the “F” word is used and monitor the bullets fired!
  • U-CONTROL - Picture in Picture interview footage of Brian De Palma, Al Pacino, Oliver Stone and others.  Also featured is a scene comparison between the 1983 version of Scarface and Howard Hawks’ original film.
  • In the US, the limited edition releases will come with the original 1932 Scarface on DVD.  This hasn't appeared on any UK listings yet.

Both the UK and the US will get a triple-play set with the Blu-ray, the DVD and a digital copy, available with standard packaging or as a limited edition Steelbook.  Then there are two further editions, one for the UK and one for the US.  The US will get a super-special Scarface-themed Humidor limited to just 1000 worldwide.  Designed by Daniel Marshall using his trademark methods and top-quality materials, it'll set you back an eye-watering $999!

The UK's cigar-themed set is slightly more sensibly priced at around £45 as a pre-order and takes the form of a hinged cigar box containing the Steelbook, an exclusive booklet with stills and production notes, a green card envelope with a dollar bill, a green card and three artcards, and finally a Tony Montana signature money clip.

The UK edition is out on the 5th September with the US version coming the day after.


New USB-Powered Blu-ray Drive From Samsung Announced

Se406 A slim, sleek new external Blu-ray drive has been announced by Samsung.  The SE-406A is the perfect portable companion too, as it doesn't need a mains power cord, instead drawing everything it needs from the USB cable.

The drive plays standard and 3D Blu-ray discs, plus it can read/write DVD discs.  It comes bundled with CyberLink's TrueTheater software and can convert 2D material into 3D.  Of course, to view 3D content you're going to need a compatible screen and a pair of glasses. 

Samsung have added 'Buffer Under Run' technology to the writer, which prevents errors when data transfer speeds get too high, while the drive supports 8x DVD-RAM and DVD+RW recording, and 6x DVD+R Dual Layer, DVD-R Dual Layer and DVD-RW recording.  On the playback side, it's happy with BD-R and most rewriteable DVD and CD formats.

Available in black or white, the SE-406 is compatible with both Windows and OS X, and will go on sale in the USA next month with a retail price of $150.  That's a good price for a 3D capable USB-powered drive, and this could work well in HTPC setups, especially as it can easily be transported to another computer in the house when needed.

Lord of the Rings Blu-ray Extended Edition Made Official

The extended versions of The Lord of the Rings appeared on Amazon a short while back, with a list of extras, some unclear information about how many discs would be included, and no fixed release date.  Warner have now corrected this with a full official announcement, and the set is coming far sooner than we expected.

The extra features are all as described previously, with the Costa Botes documentaries and everything found on the original DVD extended editions too.  The question on how many discs and what they will contain has been answered too, as it'll be a 15-disc set!  The films will once again be split across two discs, and Fellowship has been given a remaster from the 2k digital original too.  The audio will be DTS-HD 6.1.

As the films are split across two Blu-rays, we can hope for this to be a standout Blu-ray release in terms of picture and audio quality. 

The multi-disc set has been given a US streetdate of the 28th June 2011.  UK online retailers still don't have a release date for the set though.

New Dell Inspiron Laptops Have 3D Blu-ray Built-in

Just like the Sony Vaio F laptops we looked at back in February, the latest range of Dell Inspiron R series computers introduce a 3D ready Blu-ray drive to the feature list.  Unlike the Sony machine, the Blu-ray drive for the Inspiron R's is an option, although Dell's official customisation page doesn't list it just yet. It also appears that the screen won't be 3D, so you'll have to rely on the various output options to view your 3D discs.

You've got a choice of screen sizes - 14", 15" and 17" - but if you're planning on adding the Blu-ray, there doesn't seem much point in selecting anything other than the 17" model.  Either the Intel i3, i5 or i7 processors with the updated Cougar Point chipset can be used, and each will have HDMI 1.4 for sending those 3D Blu-ray pictures to your 3DTV. 

Other features include USB 3.0, SRS Premium Audio, up to 8GB RAM, an HD webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium and a range of swappable lids to add some style and colour to your machine.

In addition to the HDMI, Dell have also added Intel Wireless Display to the Inspiron R to provide a wireless way of watching video on the big screen, however we don't think this will work with 3D.  You'll need to add an adaptor to your TV, but once you have the laptop will wireless send full 1080p video to it from anywhere in the house, making it much easer to watch content stored on your laptop.

The Inspiron R range is available in both the US and the UK, with prices starting from $529 or £479.

Coen's True Grit Rides on to Blu-ray

Truegrit The original True Grit's Blu-ray edition has attracted some favourable reviews, complimenting it on a very sharp image and a great restoration; and now the Coen Brothers' recent re-telling of the story has been announced for its own Blu-ray release.

Paramount will be offering the film in either a two-disc or three disc Combo pack, with the third disc containing a digital copy.  The film will be presented in 1080p with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track, plus the following features:

  • Mattie's True Grit.
  • From Bustles to Buckskin - Dressing for the 1880s.
  • Colts, Winchesters and Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western.
  • Recreating Fort Smith.
  • The Cast.
  • Charles Portis - The Greatest Writer You've Never Heard of...
  • The Cinematography of True Grit.
  • Theatrical Trailer.

The DVD edition included in the pack contains a handful of these extras, with the majority appearing to be Blu-ray exclusives.  Despite not winning any awards at the Oscars, True Grit has been well-received and we're keen to see the quality of the transfer on this one too.  It's set for release on the 7th June.

Samsung HW-D7000 is World's First Blu-ray/AV Receiver Combo

Samsung have released the complete specification for their interesting HW-D7000, a product quietly demoed at CES 2011, but really deserves a lot more fanfare.  The D7000 looks a lot like other AV receivers on the market, i.e. it's a big, black metal box with two massive dials on the front and a display in the middle; however it has a secret...

Just above that display is a slot-loading Blu-ray player!  It's not just any old player either, it has 3D support and the receiver has built-in Wi-Fi, four HDMI ports (with 3D pass-though) and the ability to decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.  The player also has the full range of Samsung's online streaming video services and apps, plus it's even DLNA certified too.

As an amp, the 7.1 D7000 produces 120 watts per channel and the display is actually a very cool touchscreen.  Samsung say the D7000 is the world's first integrated Blu-ray/receiver combo, and with a retail price of $599, we expect it'll prove popular too.  It's scheduled for a May 2011 release in the USA, and we're keen to hear the sound quality of this one!

Sharp Introduce Three 3D Blu-ray Players

Sharp have finalized the announcement of three new Blu-ray players, all of which will be available in the US this month.  Initially unveiled at CES in January, the BD-HP25U, the BD-HP35U and the BD-HP75U are all 3D-capable players and aside from the HP25U, they have built-in Wi-Fi too.  If you do decide to buy the HP25U and still want wireless Internet, then you need to purchase a Sharp USB dongle.

In addition to the 3D capabilities, the three players display 1080p/24fps content and provided they have a data connection, there are various on-demand video services such as YouTube, Netflix and VUDU to enjoy, plus Pandora Internet radio.  On the audio side, the players are happy to decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

DVDs are upscaled and the USB ports - on on the front and one round the back - will playback a variety of file formats including AVCHD, JPEG, MP3 and DivX Plus HD.  If you have a DLNA compatible device, then each player will easily connect to your player for wireless content streaming. 

The main difference between the three new Sharp players are the HP25U's lack of Wi-Fi, the HP35U and HP75U both having IP control for web-based configuration and operation, plus the HP75U has an RS232 port.  Recommended retail prices have been set at $249 for the HP25, $299 for the HP35 and $329 for the HP75.  All should be available as you read this, although they're not showing up on Sharp's website as yet.

The Green Hornet Blu-ray Update, Special Features Announced

Greenhornet3d We showed you an early (small) image of the exclusive Steelbook release HMV have planned for The Green Hornet earlier this week, but at the time there was no information on the contents of the disc.  We've now got some information on the 3-disc 3D Combo pack, including both the 3D and 2D versions of the film on separate Blu-rays, plus a DVD of the film too. 

Here's what to expect:

The Green Hornet 3D.

  • 3D version of the film.
  • 3D Animated Storyboard Comparison.
  • Commentary track.

The Green Hornet 2D.

  • 2D version of the film.
  • The Green Hornet Cutting Room.
  • Commentary track.
  • Deleted scenes.
  • Awesoom.  Gag reel.
  • Trust Me.  Michel Gondry featurette.
  • The Black Beauty: Rebirth of Cool.
  • The Stunt Family Armstrong.
  • Finding Kato.
  • The Art of Destruction.
  • MovieIQ.

All the above features aside from the 3D animated storyboard and 'The Green Hornet Cutting Room' are repeated on the DVD, plus you'll find a couple of easter eggs too.  These features are for the the US edition, due out on the 3rd May, and we assume they'll be repeated on the UK edition too.