Research studies have shown that research studies can cause brain cancer in researchers. Well, maybe not, but it does seem that for everything in this world, somewhere a study of its effects on society exists. Take the latest study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which states that the average household in the US owns 26 pieces of consumer electronics. That number is up from last year where only 25 products were owned, so somebody must have been a good boy or girl around their birthday.
The top five areas of growth were shown to be MP3 players, digital cameras, car video systems, in-dash CD players and notebook computers. Of the products surveyed, the top five won’t come as a surpise to anyone with the television easily topping the list with 95% penetration. Following closely behind was the VCR (87%), cordless phones (85%), DVD players (81%), and wireless phones (78%).
Maybe it’s just me, but the survey’s magic number of 26 doesn’t even begin to make a dent in the number of electronic items at my house that slurp happily away at the power grid or chew through batteries. Anyone else blow way past the average 26?
Two movie download services, Cinema Now and Movielink, have announced that they have entered into licensing agreements with major studios. Cinema Now has inked agreements with Sony Home Pictures Entertainment and Lionsgate Films, while Movielink has signed with Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM. Of the seven studios that Movielink has signed with, five are in joint ownership of the company. In addition, both companies have non-exclusive licenses with other studios and licensors.
With digital media comes heavy DRM implementation and Microsoft’s DRM software is the system of choice for both services. Rentals from either company are yours to watch as many times as you wish during a 24-hour period which begins the moment you first start to view a film. Purchased films are storable indefinitely, but neither company allows the movie to be burned to a DVD for playback on a standard player. Movielink does allow their movies to be transferred onto 2 additional computers for playback, with the copies being managed by their Movielink Manager software.
Cinema Now has better pricing with purchased movies being offered for $9.95 to $19.95 and rentals going for $2.99 to $3.99. Movielink on the other hand, charges more with purchasable movies going for $20 to $30, and rentals for $0.99 to $4.99. (All prices quoted are in US dollars.)
DRM complications aside, with purchases prices rivaling and often exceeding that of a movie on DVD, it’s doubtful that traditional rental services like Netflix and Blockbuster have anything to worry about . . . for the short term. Oh, and put away your trusty Firefox or other Internet browser as both services only work with Internet Explorer.
On a fairly regular basis, some research lab or government institution needs computing power on a massive scale. In this case it’s the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They’re having Cray, an old hat at supercomputers, build them a system that should break the 1 petaflop barrier (that’s 1 quadrillion floating-point operations per second). The next closest system currently in operation is IBM’s Blue Gene/L which turns out a quite respectable 350 teraflops.
To achieve the necessary performance, the system (which goes by the name Baker) will utilize 24,000 2.6GHz quad-core AMD Opteron processors (96,000 cores!), taking up residence in 187 liquid-cooled cabinets. Totally dependent on the cost of memory at the time of construction, Baker will be outiftted with 187 to 400 terabytes of memory (yes, you read that correctly - terabytes) and hard drive space will fall between 1 and 11 petabytes. Baker is only in the design phase right now and won’t be operational until sometime in 2008, which coincidentally, is the same year IBM has targeted for expanding Blue Gene/L to 1 petaflop.
We can only imagine that a project of this magnitude has execs at AMD giddy as little school girls.
For those keeping tabs, Scrubs is now the latest show that is available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store. While there is no Season Pass option as of yet, you can purchase Season 5 episodes starting now. The back story on this one is unique as well, since NBC has made the Touchstone Television (owned by Disney-ABC) produced series available on the Internet. This marks the first such partnership for a prime-time series to be made available for commercial purchase via download. Snazzy.
Read More | TV Envy
It’s a shock, we know. As it turns out, those Hollywood movie releases that have been released on UMD over the past year or so? It seems no one is interested in buying them. While we are not sure if this is a surprise to anyone buy Sony, it just makes sense to us that the media would sell poorly. I mean, why would I buy a movie that I can only play on one dedicated device - especially when that device isn’t my television? If Sony was smart about the whole idea, they would have done a bit more planning. If I buy Spider-Man: The Movie, I want the game in there as well. Or vice versa. Otherwise, I am buying the DVD and ripping it to my Memory Stick. Anyways, expect to see Wal-Mart drop shelf space for UMDs altogether very soon. Even better, know that Universal and Paramount Pictures have already stopped UMD production.
Read More | Playfeed
Newly released research by Sanford Bernstein analyst Emme Kozloff, found that by using “electronic wallets” companies like Wal-Mart could save big. By using customer’s fingerprints as a payment method, companies could speed up the checkout process; reduce the potential for fraud and identity theft, and most importantly save money by lowering the transaction fee. This type of system is already in use by Albertsons, Cub Foods, and Piggly Wiggly. While this might save time at the checkout, privacy advocates are still very concerned about the process.
Read More | CNN
When Toshiba announced it’s newest gaming laptop, the Satellite P105-S921, it was announced as carrying NVIDIA’s GeForce Go 7900 GS mobile GPU. This is a video processor that has not even been officially announced by NVIDIA. The notebook carries 256MB of video memory and a 17-inch TruBrite display. The notebook also sports a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo T2400, 1GB of dual-channel DDR2 SDRAM, a 160GB Serial ATA hard drive, and a dual-layer DVD±R/RW optical drive. All of this bleeding edge technology does not come cheap; the notebook carries a $2000 price tag, and is available from select retailers.
Read More | Reg Hardware
Looks like Internet phenomenon YouTube is looking to cover their bases a bit more as it pertains to copyrighted material. Anyone who has used that service knows that, while you can find many an amateur Jackass-ish video on the service, you can also view full-length television shows (and in some cases, movies.) YouTube has been feeling the heat for this recently, and has responded by placing a ten-minute cap on all uploaded videos.
Well, if you’ve followed our blog postings or any of the press articles, you know we’re constantly trying to balance the rights of copyright owners with the rights of our users. We did some analysis of the videos in our system over 10 minutes in length, and we found the overwhelming majority of them were full length, copyrighted videos from tv shows and movies. However, we also recognize that there are legit content creators out there who may have videos over 10 mins, so we’ve created a Premium Content Program for those of you with professional-produced videos.
Obviously, it is a tough job for YouTube to screen each and every video that is uploaded - so this may be a step in the right direction. What do you think?
Read More | YouTube
Apple announced the release of their Volume Limit feature earlier today for the iPod. Basically, this is in response to all the hearing loss lawsuits that are going around in the MP3 player world. With the update, which is for the iPod nano and 5G iPods with video, users can set a maximum volume limit, and lock it with a passcode. This allows parents to set a max. volume for their children, and also ensures that if a little one gets ahold of your iPod, they can’t turn it any higher than your limit, saving your ears from a blaring shock. Here are the notes from the software update:
iPod Updater 2006-03-23 delivers:
New iPod Software 1.1.1 for iPod
New iPod Software 1.1.1 for iPod nano
For all other iPod models, iPod Updater 2006-03-23 contains the same software versions as iPod Updater 2006-01-10.
Important: After downloading the iPod Updater software, connect your iPod to your computer and launch the iPod Updater application. If iPod Updater determines that your iPod needs to be updated, click the Update button to install the latest software on your iPod.
Features of iPod Software 1.1.1 for iPod and iPod Software 1.1.1 for iPod nano:
For more information on volume limit, go to http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303414.
Read More | Press Release
It’s hard to imagine watching television without the use of a PVR. Whether it be a set-top box provided to you by your cable/satellite provider, or a media center of some kind, the ability to easily record your favorite shows (and skip the endless commercials) is quite liberating. Cablevision, who services areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, is testing a system that would allow subscribers to utilize PVR functionality, but rely on off-site storage at Cablevision’s facilities. Existing set-top boxes would continue to be used, thereby eliminating the cost of PVR units, and the necessary service call required to install them. Hypothetically speaking, with all content stored remotely, Cablevision would have complete control over what you could record and when you could record it. Control eerily similar in nature to the broadcast flag.
Current plans are for the system to go live by the end of the year (with a paltry 45-hours of recording capacity).