My Two Cents

Heavy Traffic, Rectify & new Warner/Fox MOD titles, plus Microsoft unveils the Xbox One

May 21, 2013 - 4:05 pm   |   by
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All right, we’re kicking things off today here at The Bits with a review from our own Jeff Kleist of Universal’s new Battlestar Galactica (1978) on Blu-ray Disc.  The title is currently a Best Buy exclusive, but should go wide in a few weeks.

Also this afternoon, Russell Hammond has posted the weekly update of the Release Dates and Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game cover artwork and pre-order links.  As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we surely do appreciate it.

Now then… in Blu-ray/DVD release news today…

Shout! Factory has set the Ralph Bakshi animated classic Heavy Traffic for Blu-ray release on 7/16.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has set the Sundance Channel's Rectify: The Complete First Season for DVD only release on 6/18.  The set will include all 6 episodes plus 5 behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Anchor Bay and RADiUS-TWC have set the action-thriller Erased (starring Aaron Eckhart and Olga Kurylenko) for Blu-ray and DVD release on 7/16.

Image Entertainment has set The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Third Season for Blu-ray release on 6/11 (SRP $59.98).

Image will also release Combat!: The Complete Third Season on DVD only on 6/4.

Comedy Central and Paramount will release Workaholics: Season Three on Blu-ray and DVD on 6/18.

Warner Home Video has set Southland: The Complete Fifth and Final Season for DVD only release on 8/13.

Entertainment One will release Todd & The Book of Pure Evil: The Complete Second Season on DVD only on 6/25 (SRP $19.98).  The 2-disc set will include deleted and extended scenes, extended musical numbers, a blooper reel, cast and crew commentary and more.

And Autonomy Pictures has moved the Blu-ray/DVD street date for Blood for Irina to 6/18.  Adjust your plans accordingly.

Also, new titles available at Warner Archive starting this week include A Guy Named Joe (1943 – Spencer Tracy), a set of films starring Robert Taylor, including Stand Up and Fight (1939), The Power and the Prize (1956), The House of the Seven Hawks (1959) and Cattle King (1963), the western Massacre River (1949 – Rory Calhoun), the film noir The Mask of Dimitrios (1944 – Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre) and TV’s Growing Pains: The Complete Third Season (1987-88).

And Fox has announced the new availability of 23 additional classic films as part of the Fox Cinema Archives Collection, including The Gambler from Natchez (1954), Tail Spin (1939), The True Story of Jesse James (1957), Powder River (1953), Princess of the Nile (1954), Young Guns of Texas (1962) and White Witch Doctor (1953) all available now, The Road to Glory (1936), The Siege at Red River (1954), The Silver Whip (1953), Welcome Home Soldier Boys (1972) and Western Union (1941) all due on 5/28, King of the Khyber Rifles (1953), Bird of Paradise (1951), Hard Contract (1969), Lure of the Wilderness (1952), Red Skies of Montana (1952) and Untamed (1955) all due 6/4, and The Fighting Lady (1944), Paris After Dark (1943) Marines, Let’s Go (1961), Battle at Bloody Beach (1961) and Confirm or Deny (1941) all due 6/11.

Finally, the other big news today (and it’s actually mildly Blu-ray related) is that Microsoft has just announced some details of their upcoming Xbox One console system – the next-generation replacement for the current Xbox 360 game system – that’s set to street “later this year.”  It comes complete with a HAL 9000-like “eye” (via Kinect) to watch your every move.  Here’s Jeff Kleist with a summary of the home theater/home entertainment-related aspects the new system and also a couple pictures (he’ll be back to talk about the specs and game-related angle tomorrow)…

“Today, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One, a device that’s centered around the home theater as much as gaming.  This successor to the now 8-year old Xbox 360 is a cable box on steroids, able to integrate Second Screen and social experiences side-by-side with live television, movies or games.  Couple that with literal Minority Report-style gesture control, Star Trek-style voice commands (“Xbox, watch SyFy”), a DVR, a Blu-ray drive and a vast array of connectivity options (which appears to even include antenna/cable coax) and the One could become the centerpiece control system for your whole home, as well as your home theater.  Combined with new partnerships with the NFL (to create side-riding interactive experiences), ESPN and brand new exclusive television series, and Microsoft has essentially just fired its guns over the bow of GoogleTV and other companies that have tried, and thus far failed, to make truly interactive TV a compelling reality.

The biggest thing that impressed me, aside from Kinect finally working right, was the task switching.  Microsoft’s presenter went from live TV, back to the dashboard, then to a game and back to TV again almost instantly, all with voice commands.  There was no three second wait for the cable box to tune, bam – you’re there.  Supposedly any app written for Windows 8 will work with the new device, and that opens up a whole new world of interactivity.  Commands like “Xbox turn on NBC news, set the air conditioning to 68 degrees and order my usual from Pizza Shack” are a very real possibility.  But that’s not all – the console will recognize you when you walk into the room and can be programmed to your preferences automatically.  This presumably could include room temperature, light levels, your favorite TV channel and anything else that’s connected to your network.

When you program your DVR, the shows you’re subscribed to become more like a Netflix experience on an iPad.  When you click the show, it takes you to a menu that shows all available episodes (likely from both the hard drive and streaming services), as well as news and other information.  Xbox One will also be tightly integrated with their Smartphone apps, allowing you to connect and interact with the device – and by extension your home – from anywhere with an Internet connection, even streaming a Skype video call.  Say you see junior playing Halo instead of doing his homework.  Not only can you shut down his fun via your phone, but you can lecture him right from the TV.  The future for parents is now!

Movie studios and television networks have been trying to integrate their content with the online experience for years, but the technology just wasn’t there.  From the failed effort that was BD-Live, to Second Screen apps, it’s still pretty clunky in the best of cases.  The Xbox One looks like it’s going to be great for people that really want to computerize their homes… even if you never care to bother with playing games.  (And I’ll talk more about the system for gaming tomorrow.)  There’s likely going to be a lot more information on content partnerships in the near future, so stay tuned for E3 (in 3 weeks).  The console is rumored to be priced at $499, with potential cell phone style subsidies from subscribing to Xbox Live Gold or a cable contract, which are rumored to decrease that by $2-300.”

All right, more on all this here and here at ars technica... and of course here at the official Xbox website.  And here’s a couple of pictures of the system…

Microsoft's forthcoming Xbox One system

And that’s all for now!  Back tomorrow with more so stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt


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