Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Universe: 7 Wonders of the Solar System 3D Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Jan. 11th, 2011
Disc Size: 15.6 GB
Episode Size: 14.6 GB
Region: A
The Video
The Universe: 7 Wonders of the Solar System’ comes to Blu-ray 3D with a 1080p MVC video presentation. Please note, to view the 3D version you must have a 3D TV, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D glasses. A 2D version is included and is also compatible with your regular Blu-ray player for those without a 3D setup just yet.

This title was a Best Buy exclusive release for a limited time, but the month exclusivity is now ending and thankfully A&E Home Video provided a copy for review. I hadn’t previously checked out this 3D release, but I remember a couple of complaints regarding ghosting/crosstalk which did have me worried.

After spending some time with the disc I have to wonder which display the users with complaints were using. Viewing it on my Panasonic 3D plasma, I found very little ghosting throughout the entire presentation. The ghosting may not even be noticeable depending on your setup, it really was quite slight in my eyes compared to other documentaries on Blu-ray 3D.

The detail on this presentation is quite fantastic, only limited by the source material at times. There are a few sequences which are lower-resolution/cheaper looking, but overall I had very few complaints with the quality of the material. The majority of the runtime I was actually very impressed by the detail in the computer generated sequences.

There are experts throughout the presentation which talk about the 7 wonders of the solar system and the depth here is quite incredible. The simulated tornado during another interview featured impressive pop, as do many other scenes (especially towards the end).

Overall this is a very solid 3D presentation. The issues I experienced were minimal (surprisingly) and while it doesn’t rank among the very best Blu-ray 3D releases, it is certainly respectable. I was really expecting the worst, but this is far from a mess others made it out to be. The only real negative is the cheaper animation used at times, I was very impressed throughout by the 3D. 8/10

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included. No subtitle options are included. The audio included is thankfully lossless, which is easy to tell. The high-def quality features excellent clarity, particularly for television material.

Dialogue is very easy and clear to understand. There were a few moments which the audio was easy to understand, but also included a slight hiss which was slightly distracting. I am not sure what the issue was, but I thought it should be mentioned.

The surround use isn’t particularly exciting, but surround speakers are put to use with various audio effects throughout. The space travel sequences sound quite nice and I would definitely say surround use adds to the overall experience as well.

Overall I thought the audio mix presented the material nicely. Despite a few issues I had with certain interview sequences, I was more impressed than disappointed. For TV material this sounds very good, especially considering how disappointed other TV releases have been with audio. 8/10

The Extras

No extras are included. 0/10

The 3D Episode
The Universe: 7 Wonders of the Solar System’ has been given a Blu-ray 3D release. I have to admit, I didn’t know whether this was a TV special or not, but I quickly found out it is the first episode from the popular series ‘The Universe.’ This episode in particular is from the fifth season which releases on Blu-ray on the same day.

While some would complain about this being a single episode, I think it was only released on Blu-ray 3D because it was produced in 3D to begin with. Personally I am very glad A&E chose to release the title on Blu-ray 3D as it makes for another great 3D release.
The episode is fairly short, 44 minutes in runtime, but that is similar in length to the many IMAX documentaries released on Blu-ray 3D from Warner Home Video and Image Entertainment. The quality is great and provides plenty of informative material.

If you aren’t a fan of documentaries in general, this one likely won’t change your mind. The information is actually very entertaining and far from dry, but I wouldn’t exactly call it exciting. I do think anyone who gives it a chance will enjoy it overall.

Overall I thought the 3D did enhance the episode nicely. The 3D pop is present throughout and can make a decent experience into an impressive one. I really liked the episode to begin with, but the 3D adds another level of fun. 8.5/10

The Blu-news Summary
This is a great documentary with a strong 3D release. The video and audio presentations both impress and while there are no extras, this release still comes easily ‘Recommended’ to anyone with a 3D setup.

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