For the video buff on your Christmas shopping list, accessories and other gewgaws that constitute the lowly side of high tech:
- MEMOREX CP8 UNIVERSAL REMOTE CONTROL: This was one of the earliest entries in the field of unified remotes. It can replace the remote controls for up to eight components, hence the 8 in the name. (The CP is insider humor; it stands for "couch potato.")Programming is easy. Place it head-to-head with your existing remotes. Enter the "learn" mode and press the corresponding keys, one by one. Do this for each remote, and when you're done, the old gadgets can go into the closet.
This year, the CP8 was given a sleeker design and expanded memory, but it retains all the virtues of the original: a lighted window with LCD clock, sequence buttons for programming a series of commands, and timer activation to turn on components in your absence. There's also a plastic template for labeling the button yourself.
The list price is $99, but it's frequently available for $20 less.
- BIB HEAD CLEANER: Holidays usually inspire promotions among accessory makers, and this year, Bib is packaging a free 10-cassette video caddy with its VE-40 pushbutton VHS head cleaner.
It's a wet cleaning system, but since the fluid is contained within the shell, there's no bottle to spill or misplace. A press of the button releases the right amount. The plastic cassette rack is a great way to tidy things up around the VCR, a utilitarian item we always mean to buy some day and never do.
The VE-40 cleaner is $16.95.
- SIMA 8mm TAPE REWINDER: If you know someone with an 8mm camcorder, consider surprising him or her with an 8mm rewinder from Sima or another accessory maker.
Most of us use our VCRs for rewinding tapes, but since very few people have 8mm VCRs, a separate rewinder makes a lot of sense. Lacking one, the only way to rewind a tape is in the camcorder, and that can be a very tedious exercise when you're wowing guests with your home movies. The Sima model has a counter and a sensor to avoid hard stops.
It retails for $69.95.
- TDK RECORDING GUIDE: This one takes the prize for no-budget gift-giving.
For just $3 and the patience to listen to an extended plug for TDK audiocassettes, the recipient can pick up pointers for making better tapes in TDK's "The Ultimate Guide to Recording From Compact Discs." VH-1 personality Bobby Rivers narrates a 71-minute CD on home audio taping that covers system maintenance, tape types, bias levels, noise reduction and other arcana. Also included are test tones to help you set recording levels properly, depending on type of music.
It's not available in stores. Send a check for $3 (payable to TDK CD) to TDK Disc, DBA Productions, Dept. SR, 3d Floor, 50 W. 17th St., New York, NY 10011.VIDEO QUESTION
Q: I've heard that many of the new releases are on 8mm, but I don't know where to find them. Any suggestions?
A: You probably won't find any in rental stores, but sometimes the larger record chains have them for sale. Most cost about $30. There's also a mail-order operation run by Sony that can provide you with a catalog of more than 1,700 titles. Write to Cinema 8 Club, 507B Maple Dr., Nashville, TN 37210. - Andy Wickstrom (Knight-Ridder)NEW VIDEOS
MADONNA - THE IMMACULATE COLLECTION - Every new Madonna video is a major event, and the imagery in almost all of the dozen clips collected here has already entered the realm of popular fantasy as surely as Marilyn's billowing skirt. Yet few of these hold up as great videos. The only close-to-brilliant piece of filmmaking in Madonna's busy, six-year oeuvre so far is "Open Your Heart," in which she bravely plays a stripper in a peep show. The two other terrific clips here are the musical-styled "Material Girl," and "Oh Father." The embarrassing early efforts "Lucky Star" and "Like a Virgin" consist mostly of her writhing on the floor or, as budgets increased, writhing in gondolas. Warner Home Video. $19.99. - Chris Willman (Los Angeles Times)
JANET JACKSON: THE RHYTHM NATION COMPILATION - Containing more than twice the number of videos as last year's "Rhythm Nation 1814," this collection is most noteworthy for its inclusion of "Love Will Never Do." On it, Jackson brazenly frolics on the desert with two muscle-bound hunks, sporting a bustier, skin-tight jeans and a blonde, upswept hairdo. Forget the little-sister-of-Michael-Jackson hype. Jackson is all woman here. Most of these elaborately staged, meticulously detailed videos are great showcases for Jackson's willingness to stretch beyond her public's conceptions of her. Jackson is a cut above your average, paint-by-numbers pop star. A&M Video. $19.95. - Connie Johnson (Los Angeles Times)
GEORGE MICHAEL - If you didn't like Michael's new album, "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1," you'll probably hate this hourlong documentary of concert footage, video clips and interviews about the new George Michael - the sensitive, suffering soul who's upset at the trials of being a multimillionaire superstar. If you care about the new music, this video does give insight into why Michael turned his back on the dance-music audience to do the "Prejudice" material. Michael, it turns out, simply aches to be taken seriously. Cinematically, this ambitious, expertly edited, shot and lit documentary puts most long-form music videos to shame. But if you're an old fan, most of its content is hard to swallow. CMV. $19.98. - Dennis Hunt (Los Angeles Times)