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In 1999, I made a decision to buy a DVD player and upgrade my hi-fi equipment to a home cinema set up. A key piece of this upgrade was a DVD player and I therefore needed to know more about DVD in general. I was starting to read about the various options open to me in a number of magazines and this was great for the hardware side of things. But I also wanted to know about which films were being released on DVD and where I could buy them from. In December, 1999, this magazine had its first issue and I felt it was a good starting point for me to learn some extra information on DVDs and forthcoming titles. As it was a new magazine it had a special offer to join for 12 months and I thought it would be useful and cost effective to do this. I have not regretted the decision I made at the time. As I have a subscription with them the magazine is sent to me before it hits the shops. Each issue of the magazine contains about 132 pages. The contents page of the magazine, entitled main menu, is laid out like the menu option of a DVD. The typical contents of each issue are: special features, extras, hardware, production notes, commentary, play movie and trailers. As an example of what the magazine offers in each section, I will provide a more detailed description of the various offerings from the last two issues (issue #11 and issue #12). SPECIAL FEATURES This section usually contains a number of items and one regular features is a discography. The last two issues covered Tom Hanks (#11) and Winona Ryder (#12). The discography provides a 2 page review of the actor and their work and finishes with a list of all the available DVDs and the prices, from both region 1 (USA) and region 2 (Europe), that the actor is in. A regular feature in this section is “What is DVD?” and this is a great little section for anybody new to DVD. Over two pages, it gives a short description of all the major terms used when discussing DV
Ds such as anamorphic, DTS, Dolby Digital, all the various video connections like SCART and S-Video, region coding and so on. Very useful for the newcomer to all the bewildering terminology. This section also has interviews with directors and actors e.g. #12 had an interview with Ridley Scott to coincide with the release of Gladiator. They also cover other topical items such as the new PS2. EXTRAS This sections covers competitions and each issue there are chances to enter a competition to win DVDs. In #12 you could try to win copies of American Beauty, Deep Impact, The Whole Nine Yards, Reservoir Dogs, Raging Bull and Kevin and Perry Go Large. Each chance to win a DVD has a question to answer and you can send your entry on a postcard, telephone a special number, or new in #12, by email. The other regular feature in this section is Ask the Anorak where you can send in oddball technical questions or more unusual questions associated with DVD. HARDWARE Each issue contains a review of hardware associated with home cinema systems. They do occasionally have TVs and speakers but it is mainly concerned with DVD players. Towards the back of each issue they keep a summary table of all the hardware they have covered with a list of available features on each player. This is a very useful comparison table if you are thinking of buying one of the machines covered. Their reviews of DVD players are quite useful but I think you will find better technical information in more specialist magazines, such as Home Cinema Choice. PRODUCTION NOTES Here you can learn about what went in to the making of recent releases. For example, #11 had an article on Fight Club and #12 covered Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season One. Previous issues have covered Jurassic Park and The Talented Mr. Ripley. COMMENTARY This section covers news about future releases and things that people hope will be released, such as Star Wars. I
t also contains a Letters section for people to write to the team at Ultimate DVD. PLAY MOVIE This is one of the major sections of the magazine and provides a one or two page review of all major new releases on DVD and its release date. The review also details all the extras that can be found on a particular disc and provides a separate rating for the movie and for the extras. An important thing with DVDs is the extras! This section is actually divided into two to cover all region 1 and region 2 releases. Many people with DVD players have them modified to play region 1 discs so it is useful to know what will be on offer in that region. At the end of the region 2 section there is an extensive alphabetical list of region 2 DVDs provided by HMV. The prices quoted, however, are much higher than you would pay on the internet! TRAILERS This is a very short and useful diary that simply lists the known dates and titles of movies that will be released on DVD. This section covers both region 1 and region 2. I have been very pleased with the magazine. There are certainly more specialist film magazines and hardware magazines out there but for somebody starting to learn about DVDs and DVD players, this is a useful magazine. I have not found the need to purchase any of the other DVD magazines available so I am not able to make a comparison. I’m sure they offer similar items. As I have now been buying and renting DVDS for some time, I now know many of the relevant web sites to find up to the minute information in developments and releases. It is therefore unlikely that I will renew my subscription to this magazine and I may now opt for some of the more technical magazines available. Even though I can get all the information I want (and more) on the web, I still like to have a good quality magazine to read. I think this magazine would therefore be very useful to anybody wanting to buy their first DVD player and wanting
to know more about the different movies available.