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Category:    Home > Reviews > Special Interest > Geography > Travel > Documentary > Environmental > Airplanes > Science > TV > Aerial America Pacific Rim Collection (Smithsonian/Inception Blu-ray)/Air & Space Collection (Smithsonian/Inception DVD)/History Of The World In Two Hours (A&E Blu-ray 3D w/2D)/The Universe: The Compl

Aerial America Pacific Rim Collection (Smithsonian/Inception Blu-ray)/Air & Space Collection (Smithsonian/Inception DVD)/History Of The World In Two Hours (A&E Blu-ray 3D w/2D)/The Universe: The Complete Season Six (2011/A&E Blu-ray)


Picture: B-/C/B-/B-     Sound: C+/C+/B-/B-     Extras: D     Main Programs: B/B/C+/C+



Here are some special interest titles involving the sciences and nature.



Aerial America Pacific Rim Collection is one of two titles from The Smithsonian Channel, issued here on Inception Media Blu-ray with four programs that will remind you as a sort of alternative to the very successful and impressive Visions series (released on Blu-ray and DVD by Acorn Media, reviewed extensively elsewhere on this site) with nearly hour-long programs on Washington, California (especially), Hawaii and Oregon.  They talk more in this series, the focus is different and the pace a little more energetic.  This all fits on one disc and plays nicely, so if it sounds like your kind of program and you liked the Visions series, you will want to definitely check into this one.


The Smithsonian Channel is also behind the Air & Space Collection on Inception DVD this time and offering four really impressive programs on flight: America’s Hanger, Concorde: Flying Supersonic, History In HD: America In Space and Space Shuttle: Final Countdown.  There is some excellent footage and key history here you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else, but it also adds up to a sad decline of air & space travel internationally, though some new activity is going on not covered here.  Hopefully, this is just a portrait of a transitional period.  For those who like space travel and airplanes of any kind, this DVD set is a must.



We previously reviewed the 2D DVD of History Of The World In Two Hours and now, we have A&E’s new Blu-ray 3D version that includes a 2D HD version.  I was only so impressed with the original program, as this link will show:




However, it is more watchable in either HD format, with the 3D having some fun effects, but they are minimal and where they do not work, the 2D is still good for what it is.  If you have not seen this program before and can see this Blu-ray over the DVD or broadcast versions, it is your best bet top judge the overall quality of the show for yourself.


Also from A&E, we end with The Universe: The Complete Season Six (2011) which had its own separate, special non-season 3D edition we recently covered at this link:




Though it is a good show, I think the slap-dash approach is starting to wear thin and though the 14 episodes over three Blu-rays here play well, add its speculative side and it is not as fun as it started out to be.  Now you can see for yourself, but you might want to start with the 3D version above or earlier seasons (which we have mostly also covered) in case you land up enjoying it better.



The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on all the Blu-rays here look good, but all have some minor detail issues and even small aliasing errors, though Aerial has better color than expected making up for such flaws.  The 1.78 X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on World 3D is on par with its 2D version as noted above, but it is not a great leap beyond what was shot in HD to begin with.  That leave the letterboxed 1.78 X 1 image on the Space DVD set that looks like it was shot in HD, but should be anamorphic here.  The result is that it is softer t6han it should be, which is a disappointment, but maybe we’ll get a Blu-ray later.


The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo on the Blu-ray and DVD of the Smithsonian releases are simple, a little weak and disappointing, but are adequate just the same.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on World 3D (miscredited as Dolby Digital on the back of the case to the detriment of the release) is better, but nothing great and its soundfield is lacking on all episodes, which leaves the PCM 2.0 Stereo on Universe which sounding as fine, but it too could be better.

There are no extras on any of these releases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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