Since I finally upgraded to the world of high definition about three weeks ago my channel surfing has become very limited. We have Charter cable service, and unfortunately it’s lagging behind other providers in terms of HD programming (not including premium movie channels that we don’t subscribe to). So since I rarely check out the standard-def channels anymore, my nightly flipping runs between the networks, the ESPNs and a handful of others.
I’ve gravitated to the Discovery HD Theater channel for my non-sports high-def fix. Most of the programming at least keeps my attention for the hour or so I’ll watch (or the few minutes between commercials of football and basketball games), and I’ve found the picture quality to be at the top of the HD ladder among the stations I receive.
I stumbled upon Discovery’s hour-long “Sunrise Earth” (not in the morning, but rather in the evening) and it hit me as the type of bizarro programming designed for HD viewing.
If you’ve ever watched it – and I haven’t really sat through an entire episode, but maybe 5-10 minutes at a stretch – you’d probably agree that it’s not for everyone. I can see why people might say that it’s just plain boring, not much good for more than being in the background while you do other things.
“Sunrise Earth” has been around for a few years, but it was fresh to me, and it’s now new to high-definition DVD too, having been released by Discovery Channel on HD DVD and Blu-ray this week. I can’t say even I’d shell out the $59.95 price, but then again, people spend plenty of money on a lot of the drivel that Hollywood spoonfeeds us in HD.
For one, the remote natural beauty of the featured sunrises that I’ve seen on the show are simply stunning. Indeed, perfect for HD viewing. I’ve caught glimpses of Peru’s rainforest, an elephant park in China and a lake in the woods of Maine. The parrots chirping along in Peru really soared through my 5.1 surround system too.
There’s no narration, and I love that. Just natural surroundings in surround sound like you’re there sneaking a peek behind your own camera. I remember when NBC did a commentator-less NFL broadcast about 20 years ago, and it didn’t go over so hot. I’d dig it if they tried again. Then you’d really feel like a middle linebacker during the game.
The high-def DVDs of “Sunrise Earth” feature a dozen such spectacular sunrises. Ordinarily I don’t endorse watching grass grow, but this might be the exception.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.