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Review Guide
Here at DVDActive we are constantly seeking to improve things in order to make the site more user friendly. To this end we have created the DVDActive review guide! The guide is designed to allow our visitors to better understand how we decide on what marks to award a particular disc, and it breaks down like this:

DVD Software



Film

This rating is intended to give an indication of how good the actual movie on the disc is. All too often studios release incredibly poor films with an abundance of extra features, expecting the public to be seduced by the lure of deleted scenes and commentaries etc. As most of us know, bigger isn't always better, and there are some lesser-known classic films out there just waiting to be discovered. Hopefully this score will give you an indication of whether or not the film is worth seeing in the first place.

Video

This rating concerns the quality of the transfer to disc, as well as encompassing things like the visual style of the film. If the transfer is perfect, but the visual effects are poor, this will bring the overall score down. On the other hand, a visually stunning film with slightly flawed transfer may be more visually appealing overall. It is best to take this as a guide to the whole visual experience.

Audio

This rating covers the quality of the soundtrack(s) on the disc. Like the video score before it, this encompasses the whole aural experience, not just the technical aspects. A film with a fantastic score and sound effects can be completely ruined if given a substandard audio mix. Conversely, a relatively old, weak sounding movie can be given a new lease of life with a remixed multi-channel surround soundtrack.

Extras

This rating concentrates on those lovely little extras features found on many DVDs. However, quantity does not always equal quality, and discs with a huge amount of uninteresting additional material are obviously not as worthwhile as a disc with a smaller number of high quality features. Think of this as an at-a-glance score of how worthy the extras are.

Overall

Not an average of the other scores, but rather an at-a-glance indication of the overall worth of the DVD. Just because a disc is devoid of extras doesn't mean that it's not worth buying. The same can be true in reverse, and an average film can be transformed into a great package with the inclusion of some high quality bonus material. This is perhaps the most important score to reference when deciding on a new purchase. Once again, this is not an average of the other scores!

DVD Hardware



To compliment our movie review guide, we at DVDActive decided to write a short piece detailing how we decide what marks to award the various bits of hardware we review. The scoring system is simple: the higher the mark, the better the hardware is in any given category.

Build

This score reflects the overall build quality of the machine. As many of you will know, hardware varies greatly in terms of build quality, with some of the budget options feeling very cheap and nasty. The score also takes into account the aesthetic qualities of the hardware. While it doesn’t affect the functionality of the machine, it’s much nicer to have a sleek, sexy box under your TV, than an ugly plastic brick. Connectivity also falls under this category.

Performance

This is probably the single most important category when deciding on a a piece of hardware. The performance score encompasses all applicable categories. Depending on the hardware being reviewed, that could mean video and audio quality, layer change transition, navigation speed and the like. It also includes the reliability of a particular piece of hardware.

Features

This is your guide to all of the non-essential bells and whistles found on the machine. Although not strictly necessary, it’s nice to have a few of the optional extras to play around with.

Value

This is quite simply the hardware's value for money, taking into account the previous categories. While a particular machine may have many more features and connectivity options than another, it may well cost three times as much!! This will give you an indication of whether the machine warrants its price tag.

Overall

As with the movie reviews, this is your at-a-glance guide to the hardware. This is not an average of the other scores, but rather what we feel the machine is worth.

DVD-Audio



Now that DVDActive has expanded its reviews to include DVD-Audio titles, we thought it was about time that we came up with a review guide for this exciting new format.

Audio

This rating is one of the most important for the new emerging types of media such as DVD-Audio as it conveys how impressive the new sound can be and is where the motivation will come from the public to upgrade to perhaps a DVD-Audio capable machine. Poor use of the surround speakers with an vocals that echo through the room rather than define themselves can ruin a listening experience, however well-defined vocals with imaginative use of all six speakers can take what was, for instance, an old classic album and give it a new lease of life.

Visuals

These is not a measure of the clarity of the transfer as in a DVD film review, but a gauge of how interesting, beautiful and in keeping with the album's original cover art the visual aspect of this disc is. Well-designed menus well can really improve the experience as can the addition of photos of the band and song lyrics for each track.

Extras

This rating covers a new stage in audio presentation–extra features. With such formats as DVD-Audio also allowing video to be included on the discs, there is no reason why the disc should not be flooded with interviews and bonus music videos (obviously depending on the actual album's running time). However, quantity does not always equal quality, and discs with a huge amount of uninteresting additional material are obviously not as worthwhile as a disc with a smaller number of high quality features. Think of this as an at-a-glance score of how worthy the extras are.

Album

This rating is to give an indication of how good the actual album is. With these new audio formats many back-catalogue titles will be released to try and get people interested, and while some of these are either going to be aimed at niche markets, some will be just to pad out the overall selection. There are some lesser-known classic albums out there just waiting to be discovered and hopefully this will give you an indication of whether it is worth listening to in the first place.

Overall

Not an average of the other scores, but rather an at-a-glance indication of the overall worth of this disc. Just because a disc is devoid of extras doesn't mean that it's not worth buying. The same can be true in reverse, and an average album can be transformed into a great package with the inclusion of some high quality bonus material. This is perhaps the most important score to reference when deciding on a new purchase.

Review Guide