short circuits

New and noteworthy experiences among home video, games, gadgets and the Web.


Get into the 'Zone'

Between October 1959 and June 1964, there were five seasons of Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone." All 156 episodes, about 75 hours, are included on the Blu-ray boxed set "The Twilight Zone: Complete Series" (Image, $400).

Some of the episodes are great. Some are good. Some are almost good in that they contain the germ of an idea, unrealized. Some are plainly bad, but even the bad ones are bad in an interesting way. Dreams have a way of telling the truth, and looked at from a distance of half a century, "The Twilight Zone" is like a country's collective dream.

Social issues, memories of World War II and Cold War terrors all find their way into these fantasy miniatures. Moreover, because "The Twilight Zone" tended to deal with universal, existential terrors, the episodes haven't really become dated. Yes, the settings are dated, and the acting is dated. But those people onscreen are worried about the same things that everyone worries about, that everyone who has ever lived has worried about -- life, death, one's place in the universe.

Aside from a handful of videotaped shows, "The Twilight Zone" was shot on black-and-white film. Restored for Blu-ray (on 24 discs), the clarity of the image is nothing like anyone ever saw on TV screens in 1962. The facial detail renders this a whole new experience. By the way, the cost of this set is enormous, but if you look around, you can find it for less than half the list price.



Xbox amps up apps

Xbox 360 is launching updates for its entertainment apps, as well as new ones. Most are old favorites, such as Rhapsody for music and Blip.TV for Internet videos.

It was reported that more apps are on the way for the Xbox 360 and will make it pretty hard to not be entertained. Xbox is partnering with MTV, the CW Network and PBS, to name a few, to show that entertainment is something Xbox wants to dominate.

Other additions include CNET for tech reviews, karaoke for the singers in your house, Maxim for the guys and SkyDrive, a cloud service, for storing your files.



Take control of smartphone pictures

Taking photos with your smartphone is pretty easy, but getting yourself in the photo with a large group of people can be a challenge.

The BT Smart Pointer ($45, is a pocket-sized portable remote built with an internal lithium-ion battery and Bluetooth technology to control selected Apple iOS and Android devices, along with PC and Mac computers built with Bluetooth.

It has buttons to control selected functions on your devices and trigger a device's camera shutter to allow the whole group get in the photo before the image is taken.

The remote also can set the volume or control presentations in PowerPoint and even has a built-in laser pointer.