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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Ultimate DVD Platinum
The Ultimate DVD Platinum
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List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at 800]
Review by Chris Hughes | posted March 5, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Features: Home Theater Set-Up and Diagnostic Tools Maximize system performance with laboratory-quality calibration tools. Provisions for stereo audio, multi-channel audio and video set-up. (Not available on "The Ultimate DVD" Gold or Silver version!)

Major Audio Features: DTS Audio Demonstration Select from multiple audio demonstration tracks featuring DTS Surround Sound audio. (Not available on "The Ultimate DVD" Gold or Silver version!) Dolby and DTS Surround Sound Comparison Including video clips from Mickey Hart, Thomas Dolby and Jan Hammer. (Not available on "The Ultimate DVD" Silver version, plus additional tracks not on the Gold version!) High Resolution 96/24 Audio Track Featuring audiophile quality recordings from Mapleshade Studios and Wildchild! Records (Not available on "The Ultimate DVD" Silver version, plus additional tracks not on the Gold version!) Multiple Audio Tracks Featuring Stereo, Dolby Pro-Logic and Dolby Digital Surround. Select from multiple audio tracks featuring the latest in surround sound technology.

Major Video Features: Multiple Aspect Ratio Viewing Pan & Scan and Widescreen Letterbox videos. Select viewing mode from full frame or widescreen letterbox. Multiple Angle Viewing Select from up to 7 viewings angles "on-the-fly." Includes incredible multiple angle scenes of the world's greatest implosions and explosions from the video series "What a Blast."

Complete User Control Full motion video, icons, animated menus and graphics. Access to DVD demonstration segments, web links and A/V set-up and system enhancement tools. 100% System Compatible - DVD-ROM hybrid programming with custom DVD video screen saver. Auto run and install compliant with both MCI and DirectShow systems. No regional coding--will play anywhere in the world.

Multiple Languages and Subtitles Select from multiple languages, subtitles and captioning "on-the-fly." (Plus additional multiple-language IMAX film clips not on "The Ultimate DVD" Gold or Silver version!)

Full-screen and widescreen letterbox formats

The Disc:
The Ultimate DVD Platinum is the most recent installment in Unapix's ongoing series of system calibration and demonstration discs. The Platinum version includes all the content from both The Ultimate DVD and The Ultimate DVD Gold release. The two-volume set includes dozens of high quality audio and video presentations that are intended to show off your home theater setup and show the advanced features of most DVD players in action. In addition there's a matrix of calibration tools for home theater audio and video setup.

The Video Sections:
The Ultimate DVD Platinum's video setup tools allow you to adjust the main picture options on both direct view and projection TVs. The test patterns are easy to use and come with complete audio instructions. The disc also comes with a blue filter for chroma adjustments. I used The Ultimate DVD Platinum's test patterns to set up my TV and achieved acceptable results. Compared with my original setup (using the Avia Guide to Home Theater) I'd say that Ultimate DVD Platinum produced a somewhat less precise group of settings. The tests for sharpness and chroma in particular were less useful than those found on Avia. Nevertheless these test patterns should help the average DVD user to get a much better picture out of their TVs than the factory settings produce.

The Audio Sections:
The audio setup section is a little more comprehensive than its video counterpart. There's a wider variety of test signals and I found it to be almost on par with Avia. The settings it produced on my system were almost exactly the same as those I got with Avia. The only difference was in subwoofer setup where I think that The Ultimate DVD Platinum had a little more precise control.

The Demos:
The Ultimate DVD Platinum is a two disc set. The first is mainly comprised of video and audio setup screens but it includes a handful of demonstration tracks covering anamorphic video, Dolby digital audio and a number of reference stills for checking flesh tone and color saturation. The second disc is filled to the brim with high quality demos that will put your entire system through its paces. On the video front there are sections showing multi-angle functions, a comparison between widescreen, anamorphic and pan and scan material (great for explaining aspect ratios to unenlightened friends), multi-lingual subtitling and parental lock features. There are also a dozen or so short video segments showing high sample rate images. In the audio section you'll find demonstrations of Dolby Surround (2.0), Dolby Digital (5.1), PCM stereo and DTS. Each format has a stand alone demo area as well as a comparison page where you can switch back and forth between each kind of audio track. These demonstrations are by far and away the most useful aspects of The Ultimate DVD Platinum.

Conclusion:
In comparison to the Avia Guide to Home Theater, The Ultimate DVD Platinum falls a little short. The home theater setup section is limited in the tests it provides and the instructions on their use are less helpful than those found on Avia. Unlike Avia, The Ultimate DVD Platinum is packed with eye and ear popping demonstrations that should blow your friends away and send them scrambling to build their own home theaters.

At a street price of around $20 The Ultimate DVD Platinum is a great choice for people with mid range home theater setups who want to tweek their systems for better overall performance. If you have more than a few thousand dollars invested in your home theater you'll want a more advanced tool like Avia or Video Essentials as they offer more exact control of video and audio calibration. Avia in particular has excellent instructions and a user-friendly interface but at $45 it's a little pricey for many people. If you already have Avia or Video Essentials and want a nice set of short audio and video demonstrations you can't go wrong with The Ultimate DVD Platinum.
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