My big-screen TV turned itself into a roaring, brick-ensconced fireplace. I could almost feel the warmth.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Screen Dreams DVDs: An American Idyll

Feb. 1, 2009

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   A screen saver for your TV? Give me a break.
   That's what I thought the first time I heard about the Screen Dreams screen savers for TVs. The idea seemed preposterous. After all, who would ever think their TV needed protection against burn-in?
   Even burn-in itself seems so old fashioned. Picture tubes of the kind used in Ye Olde Computers could get permanent marks from static images, but the flat-screen monitors so popular today shrug off that kind of problem. And, hey, aren't TVs switching to the same kind of display? LCD TVs don't have a problem either. So what's the idea?
   I found out when I slipped a Screen Dreams "Living Fireplace" DVD into my player. My big-screen TV turned itself into a roaring, brick-ensconced fireplace. I could almost feel the warmth.
   A screen saver for my TV? For whatever the reason, I warmed up to it immediately. It's ideal for relaxing. It's cool.
   The screen savers come from www.screendreamsdvd.com, which has at least eight varieties. "Living Earth" is the most impressive, showing incredible scenes from around the globe, but fans of tropical fish will enjoy the two aquarium disks (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) in the series. I also liked the "Living Butterflies," "Waterfalls" and "Living Beaches" disks.
   Picture quality was stunning, despite the fact that all the disks I watched are standard-definition recordings, not HD disks. But I'm told Blu-ray versions are on the way.
   Bolstering the screen saver concept is the clever programming evident in each of the "Living" DVDs. You can simply play the disks from start to finish as if each one were a normal video, but you'd be forgoing the pleasure of the sensation you get from the constant presence of an aquarium or fireplace, for example, at one side of the room. The best experience comes when you choose the DVD menu option for continuous play. When I did that, I started wondering if my neighbors would peek through the picture window and ask if I'd put in a new fireplace.
   I'm not sure what they would have said if I'd been showing the "Waterfalls" disk, but I'm not taking any chances. I've got bath towels ready.