Netflix has been charging new members a $1 monthly fee, in addition to the price of their standard monthly rate, for the pleasure of renting Blu-ray discs, while those who have been members of the service for a long while have had no such increase to deal with. Well, as of November 5th, Netflix will make the $1 fee mandatory for all members. If you don’t want to rent Blu-ray discs, you are fine, no change in price - but if you, like us, are all about the 1080p, lossless surround sound goodness, then I think you’ll find that paying one extra dollar isn’t really so bad. Seriously, it could have been a lot worse.
Read More | Netflix Blog
Onkyo has just released a couple of new high-end THX Ultra2 receivers upon us all, in their TX-NR906 and TX-SR876 units. Both units feature 7.1-channel surround processing, four HDMI inputs, new THX Loudness Plus processing, XM HD, and the fantastic HQV Reon-VX upscaling processor. These bad boys will upconvert just about anything you throw at it to 1080p. In terms of audio, your got both units conservatively rated - the TX-SR876 is at 140 watts per channel, while the TX-NR906 hits you with 145 watts per channel. The TX-NR906 specifically is also Windows Vista certified, and supports digital audio devices (like the Zune) by way of its front USB port. You can also stream a bunch of audio formats on your local network to it, as well as streaming Internet radio, including SIRIUS iRadio.
Both models are available now. Suggested retail comes out to $1,799 for the TX-SR876, and $2,299 for the TX-NR906, but we are sure you can find them for a lot less if you do a little shopping around. Be sure to also hit up our Onkyo TX-SR906 image gallery.
OPPO Digital has released their latest up-converting player for Standard DVDs. The DV-980H has a 1080p output, 7.1 channel audio with Dolby Digital Surround EX decoding, and optimized high-fidelity audio circuitry for Super Audio CD, DVD-Audio, HDCD and regular CDs. Add to that Kodak Picture CD for high resolution picture slide shows, a USB 2.0 interface, and the ability to play all versions of DivX video (including DivX 6) with standard playback of DivX media files. While it doesn’t support Blu-ray or the failed HD DVD, it certainly is a lot less expensive for $169.00.
Read More | OPPO
Hey, remember that HP HDX Dragon PC that we unboxed a few months ago? Well, HP has gone and upgraded the specs on that puppy, and they want us to give one of them to you guys. Not just the computer, but a few Blu-ray movies, a few PC games, and a bunch of software too. All in all, if you were to purchase everything we are giving away on your own, you’d end up spending somewhere around $5,196.00. Yeah, I said it. Go ahead and read that again.
No, here is the real kicker. Now only are we here at Gear Live giving away one of these 1080p beasts, but thirty other sites are also going to be giving away the exact same package, including our friends over at ArsTechnica, Lockergnome, JKOnTheRun, and Jake Ludington’s MediaBlab. That means you have 31 chances to win. Seriously. That’s why we are calling it 31 Days of the Dragon.
Now, each site is going to set their own criteria for how they are going to run things, and we will be announcing what we will be doing soon. Our giveaway date for the HDX Dragon is June 7, 2008. You’d better keep it locked here, peeps. Oh, and anyone in the world is eligible to win.
Hit the break for the full scoop on everything we are giving away, which other sites are also giving these away, and an unboxing video of the HDX Dragon.
Read More | 31 Days of the Dragon
We visited Sharp at CES and checked out their TV specifically for gamers. It’s the GP3 Series of 1080p LCD TVs, with a 6 millisecond response time, which reduces lag time between your beloved console and the TV. It’s even available in 3 cool colors: Red, White or Black. Available for $1500. We also checked out their D64 Series of 1080p LCDs, 20% lighter and thinner than the previous D62 Series. Sizes range from 32” - 65” and are available now.
We loved AquosNet, an internet service in which up-to-the-minute, customizable information (weather, stocks, sports, traffic, Hollywood news and more) appears on the side of the TV screen at the push of a button. AquosNet is free with the SC94 and D74 Series.
Sony Computer Entertainment President Kaz Hirai has been speaking out about the PlayStation 3 including the reported development troubles some studios have had and Sony‘s commitment to the Japanese market.
Regarding the difficulty in development Hirai said he’s seen this before when the PS2 drew similar criticisms early in its lifecycle and that it doesn’t concern him. He said to The Official PlayStation Magazine that, in fact, he welcomes the news:
If they came back and told me, ‘PS3? We can do this in a heartbeat,’ that would be worrying because what it is telling me is that we’re not pushing the envelope from a technology standpoint.
In another interview with a Japanese website he said that developers working on cross-platform games ought to take advantage of the PS3’s extra capability to give PlayStation owners extra value. For example, “[W]ith the PS3, you’ve got the Sixaxis controller, or you could utilize the extra capacity provided by Blu-ray to add more levels, put on interviews with the developers or have your videos able to play in 1080p.” He said he understood why developers were choosing to work cross-platform considering the cost of making modern games.
Later in the same interview he tried to reassure Japanese gamers that they weren’t being overlooked:
Just because the foreign market is bigger than the domestic one, we don’t intend to take strategy of just making what would have been considered previously as ‘Western games’ and saying ‘We’ve got no choice but to do this’ to our Japanese users. If we did that, there’d be no point in having the Japan Studio.
Monster has just announced their new HDMI cable line, and this one looks to be a doozy. Looking to stay ahead of the curve, Monster has introduced a total of five different speeds for their HDMI offerings. Those would be Standard Speed (2.23 Gbps), High Speed (4.95 Gbps), Advanced High Speed (6.68 Gbps), Ultra-High Speed (10.2 Gbps), and Ultimate High Speed (14.93 Gbps). Now you might be wondering to yourself why any of this is even necessary. In our own opinion, it isn’t. Monster could have cut two of those speeds out of the equation and had a lineup that would still meet the needs of pretty much every consumer. The reason they went this way, however, seems to be so that customer can buy exactly the cable they need without having to spend more on one that might be overkill. Hear me out.
The Ultimate High Speed cable hits 14.93 Gbps. If you are just pushing 480p signals in your home entertainment system, you don’t need that, and therefore can spend a lot less on the Standard Speed. However, if you are doing 720p/1080i, the Standard won’t be enough, and you should then bump up to the High Speed cable - Advanced High Speed would be overkill unless you have devices that send and receive 1080p signals. Starting to make sense?
After a couple of delays, Onkyo has finally announced that their flagship TX-SR905 and TX-SR875 7.1 surround sound receivers are now shipping. These are the first A/V receivers to include Silicon Optix’s Reon-VX HQV video processing chips, which provide the receivers with some fancy video scaling and deinterlacing capabilities, including upscaling of all video sources to 1080p for output over HDMI. All video sources are also upconverted to HD output via the units’ component video outputs to accommodate video displays lacking an HDMI input. You’ll find 3 HDMI inputs on the TX-SR9875, and four on the TX-SR975. Extra features on the 975 include built-in Ethernet for streaming Internet radio and network media, HD Radio receiver, and USB port for use with digital audio players and USB memory devices.
The Onkyo TX-SR875 is available for $1699 USD, while the TX-SR905 sells at $2099 - excellent prices for receivers that include THX Ultra2 mode.
Along with today’s universal price cut on Xbox 360 consoles, Microsoft has added another nice little treat to the mix: a shiny HDMI port on all new premium systems. For many gamers, the promise of 1080p support made the Xbox 360 Elite a very tempting option for awhile, but now you don’t need to break the bank if you’re looking for the best video but don’t need an extra 100GB of hard disk space. These units should be showing up at retailers any day now, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re looking to grab a cheap(er) 360 with the best video you can possibly get…a bargain at $349.99. Systems with HDMI will now sport a nifty HDMI logo right on the box, so you shouldn’t have to tear open 10 boxes to find yourself one. No word yet on whether Microsoft has also been generous enough to include an HDMI cable with the new systems, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we have more info.
Read More | GamePro
VeriSign is throwing down the content delivery gauntlet with their Intelligent CDN technology. We are talking about full high definition video content streamed directly to your television at very high speeds. They show off a 200 MB file that is encoded at 5 mbps 1080p, which downloads completely in under 30 seconds. This is the kind of technology we hope to see on our set top boxes in the near future, and VeriSign is promising that it isn’t far away at all. Give it a view, and let us know what you think. Could both HD DVD and Blu-ray be dead in the water with tech like this soon to be available everywhere?