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JVC logoWe could go two ways with this one.  Hopefully manufacturers will make things easier on the consumer by including both DVD and HDTV content on one of these dual-layered discs.  But they might also ignore the technology and still make you purchase both formats, in a scheme that we can also foresee.  The Register article appears to focus on the former of the two scenarios, describing how the discs can help smoothen the transition to the new HDTV standard, by assuring customers that they have both versions of a movie (Blu Ray and DVD) on one disc, for when they decide to upgrade their TV’s.

Read More | The Register


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If doing away with late fees wasn’t enough for you, Blockbuster has reduced the fee of it’s Blockbuster Online subscription service. For those keeping score, this is the second time they have dropped the price of Blockbuster Online in just a matter of a couple of months. Just two months ago, Blockbuster Online dropped from $19.99 per month to $17.49. The latest decrease brings the price down to a cool $14.99 per month. With Blockbuster Online you get to have 3 DVD’s out at any time, plus you get two free in-store movie or game rentals per month. The new price point is guaranteed through January 2006.

Read More | Internet Week


Toshiba Canon SEDIt looks like Toshiba plans to jump out of the plasma display panel television market head first, and with good reason. They developed surface conduction electron emitter display (or, SED) panels in conjuction with Canon Japan, and plan to produce all flat panel televisions with screens that measure 40 inches or larger with SED display panels. I have always seen plasma as a love-it-or-hate-it thing, and personally haven’t been that impressed with the technology. SED is expected to bring with it higher contrast ratios, faster response times, and consume less power than plasma and LCD televisions. The plan is to have these for sale in Japan by mid-2005.

Read More | MacNewsWorld


Format Wars While we love the way competition helps to bring down prices, format wars can just bring us headaches. Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers have all announced their support for HD DVD, which was developed by Toshiba and NEC; while Blu-Ray will have Dell, Philips, Sony and Twentieth Century Fox in their corner. It's still too early to tell, but it sounds like Blu-Ray will emerge victorious, especially since the PS3 will support it out of the box, and it holds about a third more data. The downside is that unlike HD DVD, the hardware would be more expensive and incompatible with current players.

Read More | VNUnet
TiVo to advertise during fast forward

Most readers already know how fond I am of my PVR device, and to so to hear this kind of news this morning, I'm just left completely disgusted. According to a report on USA Today, TiVo is planning on introducing static ad images on their players, when users skip through commercials. It's a valid concern for advertisers, without whom we would not have TV programs in the first place. But as one user already points out: "I'm already paying $12.95 a month (to avoid commercials)." Half the fun of a PVR is not putting up with ads. I simply don't watch them anymore these days, allowing me to catch a 1-hour show in about 40 minutes. First we have to put up with annoying Fanta videos before our $10.50 movies, and now this.

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Comcast DVR On Demand Washington RolloutComcast is finally set to begin rolling out new cable boxes with Microsoft's Foundation Edition 1.7 software beginning tomorrow to approximately 1 million subscribers in Washington state. Comcast and Microsoft inked the agreement last May, which saw Comcast grant Microsoft the rights to have their set top box software running on 5 million Comcast boxes. The new boxes will allow for much more functionality than you will find on just about any other box. For example, each one will come with a 120 GB internal hard drive and will have advanced DVR functions. This thing can do just about everything a standard TiVo can do, plus more. The dual tuner boxes will allow you to record two shows at once, and they WILL record high definition broadcasts as well. On Demand programming will also be available beginning tomorrow. As for Microsoft, they have just been itching to get into the living rooms of every American home. Along with the XBOX, and Media Center PC's, this is just another channel for them to do so. A Microsoft representative also stated that there is a possibility of having Comcast boxes and Media Center PC's communicate with each other in the future. You can check out the many features of the Foundation Edition 1.7 software by viewing this video.

Read More | Seattle Post-Intelligencer

HP z545 Digital Entertainment Center



The line between personal computer and home entertainment system appear to be more blurred as each day passes. This is no exception with the all new HP z545 Digital Entertainment Center. At first glance it is a normal home entertainment receiver, upon further inspection, it houses Windows XP Media Center, an Intel Pentium 4 3.0Ghz w/HT, 512MB RAM, and ATI RADEON X300 SE Graphics Card with 128MB RAM, a 200GB hard drive AND a 160GB Personal Media Drive, a Dual Layer 16x DVD-+R/RW drive. Catch your breath, and we will continue. There is also an integrated Personal Video Recorder with dual TV tuners, a 9-in-1 memory card reader, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, gigabit ethernet, 802.11b/g wi-fi built in, and high-definition audio with 7.1 surround sound...phew!

With all this in a stylish case designed beautifully to blend in with the rest of your components in your entertainment room, the HP z545 Digital Entertainment Center definitely seems to be at the forefront of the living room media hub race, at least here in the US.

Read More | Sparktoblog
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MicroSoft

Get ready for an extensive advertising blitz from these two powerhouses this holiday season. In an effort to promote their new Media Center PC's, the two companies will be launching a new site, digitaljoy.com, which demonstrates how a PC can be the hub of an entertainment center. Part of the plan is a $1,400 PC that looks like a DVD player and a device that beams digital photos, video and music through the home over radio waves. It may not catch on fully this year, one analyst observes, but it's a first step in letting consumers know what's possible.

Read More | Seattle Times

Philips Streamium HDTV 23PF9976i Wi-Fi



There are more and more adding wireless networks to their homes, as the technology has come down in price quite a bit. After taking that plunge, most try to make future purchases based on whether the device has integrated Wi-Fi or not. It's understandable, as you have invested in the technology in the first place. Philips is finally ready to release their Streamium HDTV. What does one have to do with the other? The Streamium 23PF9976i is an HDTV with integrated 802.11g Wi-Fi.

Philips claims the TV is "future proof" as well. This simply means that the TV will check Philips servers for updates on codecs and other features throughout its lifetime. Sounds nice, but that's not all the Wi-Fi does. The main attraction of this unit is that it can stream audio (MP3, MP3 Pro, PCM, WAV), video (MPEG-1/2/4, DivX, XviD), and photos (JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG ) over your network and display them on its 23-inch high definition screen. It also boasts a built-in FM tuner, and if that isn't enough, you can stream internet radio as well.

So what's the price? So far, Philips hasn't made it public. We can expect an announcement soon, though, as the Streamium HDTV is set to be released in November. While 23-inches might seem small, it is the perfect compliment to your Streamium Boombox. Right.

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Sony HDR-FX1 High Definition Camcorder

Those of you who are of the mentality that smaller is better, may want to rethink that philosophy - at least as it pertains to camcorders. We all know that high definition is where it's at in terms of jaw-dropping visual quality. How nice would it be to be able to record our home movies in the same vein? Sony has just introduced the world to the HDR-FX1 High Definition Camcorder. Why should you care? Put simply, it enters another consumer level high def recorder into the market, and that brings prices down. This bad boy records in 1080i, and when compared to a regular camcorder, the difference is immediately apparent. A test recording of written text from a book showed that even the fine print was legible on the HDR-FX1 in comparison to the same recording on a normal camcorder where the text was blurry and illegible.

The HDR-FX1 weighs a good 4.4 pounds, and is set to go on sale next month in Japan for about 400,000 yen. That equates to roughly $3,600 USD. The recorder should be available in the States by the end of 2004.

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