I should add that Vader's vader in ANH (the original) DID have a small red "outer glow." The blade faded over the years to the point where it appeared like a neon orange rod, and in 2004 it was totally changed (to appear like a thin prequel style blade that is violent or pink in most shots, rather than red).
I should also mention that several places I've called them "prequel style" sabers when talking about the 2004 set. In reality it's more like they tried to duplicate the "look" of the sabers in Episode II. Ever Star Wars movie depicts the blades somewhat differently. They got bigger from ANH to ROTJ. TPM had thinner blades that nevertheless had a soft glow. In Episode II they seemed a lot "sharper" and more digital in nature (if that makes sense), and in Episode III they suddenly have those pointy tips.
Since these sets were created in 2004 it makes sense that they'd imitate the movie that was the most current at the time, Episode II.
I should also note, that I've come to realize that the "new CGI Jabba" in ANH 2004 is just a re-colored version of the model we see in Episode I.
Also, all three movies have a "blue tint" to them. I'm told that the "limited edition bonus disc" versions of each film have a "red tint" but it looks far more natural (like the colors we remember) than the blue-tint in the 2004 sets.
Regarding the sounds... each film had three (count 'em) different sound tracks when they were at the theater. Mono, stereo, and six channel surround (for the 70 mm picture, which must have been amazing, but showed at fewer theaters in each case). The "home video" versions of the movies (on laserdisc and vhs) each featured a new soundtrack cobbled together from each of the three theatrical sound tracks.
See, each soundtrack was different, featuring some alternate dialog takes, alternate sound effects and so forth. Some of these changes can be seen as they remixed the soundtracks for each version. For example the Special Editions gave us some "new lines" that were taken from a different theatrical soundtrack than the ones we were familiar with for the "home video" releases from the 80's and 90's (like Luke saying "you were lucky to get out of there" instead of "you're lucky you don't taste very good" in ESB or Han saying "It's all right, I can see a lot better" instead of "It's all right, trust me" in ROTJ). The "shotgun" or "44 magnum" sound effects from the stormtrooper rifles in the chasm scene (before the rope swing) in ANH is another example. The version most people saw in theaters didn't have this, but it was there in another version. The home video releases featured a "regular" blaster sound (from one of the more common versions). The SE went with the shotgun version. Then the 2004 version went back with the earlier version again.
You'll note that the "limited edition bonus disc" arbitrarily picks the old home video soundtrack again. There's a whole line missing from Threepio during the "planning" scene in ANH. Threepio talked about a power interruption at one of the terminals allowing the ship to leave. That's missing from the home video soundtrack but present in the 2004 (form an alternate theatrical soundtrack). When Greedo gets shot there's a "sizzling" sound in some versions, but in others note.
The french, spanish and english audio tracks on each DVD have a different soundtrack as well.
I've really learned a lot since 2004 on the many changes and variations of these three classic films. It was fun learning. But the more I learn, the more I wish they (Lucasfilm, George Lucas and 20th Century Fox) would just make available to us a high quality re-creation of the three originals how they appeared in theaters 1977-1985. As a fan, that's what I want most. I think much of the flames that Lucas and his company have gotten for the past decade would be forgiven and forgotten if he were to make that dream a reality, which he could do quite easily (and make a tidy profit in the bargain). New Special Editions are fun and it can be fun to play "spot the changes." But eventually the novelty wears off, and special effects can ALWAYS be updated, and I just want to watch the old movies. The so-called "GOUT" (bonus disc limited editions) is the closest we've gotten so far to that (and many attempts at fan restorations have been attempted), but they could do a LOT better. Rumor has it that this substandard release of the "original originals" was put out primarily to eliminate sales of laserdisc bootlegs (the existence of which proved that there was a demand for the "unaltered trilogy" in the face of Lucas' previous stubborn refusal to honor them since the 1995 "last chance to own" release). The lack of anamorphic widescreen (in an age where more and more people own widescreen displays) was just unacceptable. Lesser movies have gotten better treatment on the medium. Remember, it took 7 years for us to get the trilogy on DVD from the start of the medium and an additional 2 years after that to get this "laser disc dump." I think these films (and their fans) deserve better. So here's hoping someday...
Sorry for the rant, I know I tried to stay on topic, but I figure after all these years, it's worth a recap at least.
Update: Star Wars on Blu-Ray?
So the latest is that we ARE getting a Blu-Ray of Star Wars in 2011. I'm not sure if that just means ANH (and then another BD release each year after that) or if they mean a trilogy box set. But regardless, what we do know is that the originals will NOT be included. Since they said "just the special editions" I assume they mean a new version, even more modified than the 2004 version, rather than just the 2004 version, the 1997 version or some combination thereof.
If they released one episode each year (starting in "production order" with ANH) that would make sense to coincide with the one-movie-per-year release of the Star Wars 3D theatrical revamps (starting with Episode I and going in "chronological" order).
The complete SW saga was actually shown in HD on cable twice, iirc, though each movie was identical to the current DVD cut of each (2004 trilogy and prequels 2001, 2002, 2005 respectively).
So get ready for MORE changes. That will deserve it's own thread. Since I don't have a blu-ray player yet, and probably give this one a miss if it's just another special edition, I'll leave that to others to document the changes (though you know I'll be curious).
I suggest that people rent this thing if they can before buying. Don't get stuck with a lemon like many of us did back in the day with this set (rushing out to buy it before you knew exactly what you were getting).