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Blu-RayChris Lewis, the regional vice president for Microsoft in Europe, the Middle East and Africa recently had some nasty comments on Sony’s new Blu-Ray DVD format. 

“Blu-ray right now reminds us of another technology from Sony: Betamax. A bit like VHS—we think that HD DVD is the format that consumers, film studios and publishers will embrace. As you’re mentioning the cost of Blu-ray—we think it’s about giving consumers choice, we think it’s about not necessarily asking them to pay over the odds for a technology that, at the moment, is unproven.”

It should be interesting to see what rebukes towards Microsoft Sony can come up with.  I mean its not hard to down anything Microsoft, but we are hoping Sony can come back with something interesting.  Past that Betamax wasn’t that bad - it was overpriced; but who pays attention to price when you get an increase in quality?

Read More | Ars Technica

Gallery: Microsoft Downs Sony and Blu-Ray


Toshiba HD-A1

If you’re an early adopter, the general consensus of DVD Town’s review of the Toshiba HD-A1 won’t matter a whit to you, but if you’re considering buying one or merely curious as to the next generation of the venerable DVD, the review is worth a read.  Suffice it to say, the picture quality of the unit was excellent, but there were some downsides (which is to be expected in a first-run product).  For one thing, it’s terribly slow to load and launch a movie (~30 seconds) as the HD-A1 bears more in common with a computer than a DVD player.  Also, the ventilation fan on the unit is quite audible, which for some could be very distracting.  Finally, the remote leaves room for improvement, but that’s typical of almost all electronic devices these days.

Keep in mind that if you’re a Netflix user, they’ve started stocking HD-DVDs and you can set your account to automatically ship movies in the new format if they’re available.

Read More | DVD Town

Gallery: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player Reviewed

HD DVD NetflixIf you are a Netflix subscriber, you may be excited to know that you can now add HD DVD movies to your queue. Even better, some titles are set to ship on April 18th, just six days away. When picking movies, you can switch between the HD DVD and standard DVD versions by hitting the HD DVD button. You can also choose to default to the HD DVD version of any upcoming flicks by setting the option under Account Preferences. Oh, one other things. You will need to have an HD DVD player for these puppies as well - and those don’t come cheap.

Gallery: HD DVD Movies Appear On Netflix, Ship April 18th

Pioneer PDP-5000EX

Fresh picked from the crop of new plasma displays is Pioneer’s PDP-5000EX, a 50-inch plasma display that offers 1080p as its primary claim to fame, and is a world’s first according to Pioneer.  Offering double the pixel density and a faster refresh rate than 720p displays, the PDP-5000EX also includes proprietary technology (with the requisite fancy names), designed to improve picture quality.  Such as:

• The Deep Waffle Rib Structure makes each cell deeper to increase overall phosphor area for a brighter image.
• The PUREBLACK Crystal Layer sandwiched between the plasma glass and the individual light cells conducts energy more efficiently so each cell is charged and discharged at a faster rate, improving contrast and brightness while using less energy.
• High Quality Up Conversion to 1080p minimizes interlacing motion artefacts of 1080i and increases the resolution of a 720p signal.
• New PURE Drive 2 HD Signal Processing delivers low noise, high contrast and natural colour images. The High Precision Video Scaler receives and displays 1080p HD native resolution.
• The Direct Colour Filter reduces ambient light reflection and heightens colour reproduction through the elimination of an extra layer of glass for sharper, crisper and more vivid images.
• Enhanced ISF C 3 capability allows a certified calibrator to perform advanced colour calibration with never-before-achieved simplicity, accuracy and reliability.

The display will be available in June 2006 with pricing yet to be announced.

Read More | Pioneer via TechEBlog

Gallery: Pioneer PDP-5000EX 50-Inch 1080p Plasma

Laser HDTVMitsubishi has announced that there is a new breed of HDTVs on the way.  These new DLP displays use red, blue, and red

green lasers to create deep, bright images on super thin screens.  The laser-based HDTV is expected to have a very small footprint, and should be incredibly lightweight.  By using lasers rather than a lamp in these sets, a wider range of intensity in color can be achieved.  Even better, these units should consume one third of the power of a conventional HDTV.  Lastly, the lasers are expected to last the lifetime of the TV (rather than burning out like DLP lamps.) Exptected to hit retail late next year, we should at least have more information on the prototype later this week.

Read More | New York Times

Gallery: Mitsubishi’s Laser-Based DLP HDTV


With TiVo ending their lifetime subscription, and many users frowning at the increased cost of the monthly subscription, open source solutions are beginning to look even better.  Freevo is an open source alternative to TiVo - all you need is an aging PC running a Linux distribution and a cheap TV tuner card or two.  Freevo has all of the features that a TiVo box has, and a few that TiVo does not offer.  The Freevo project is well documented, and has a very active community.  Most people with a little knowledge of Linux should have no trouble getting it up and running.  With Freevo, you are not locked into proprietary hardware either; you are free to customize your Freevo PC however you like.  With the decreasing costs of PC hardware and no subscription fee, open source projects like Freevo are looking better and better.

Read More | Freevo

Gallery: Freevo: TiVo Without The Cost

Blu-Ray Fifth ElementIn just a little over two months, Blu-Ray drops on us all. The Samsung BD-P1000 is the hardware player of choice on May 23rd, but what titles will you be able to throw into that player? Here is the none-too-exciting line-up:

  • Resident Evil Apocalypse
  • XXX
  • A Knight’s Tale
  • 50 First Dates
  • Hitch
  • House of Flying Daggers
  • The Fifth Element
  • The Last Waltz

Not exactly a killer launch as far as quality title’s go - we are guessing that Sony wants to provide a mixture of eye candy and mass appeal. Still, nothing says “No need to adopt Blu-Ray at launch” like this movie selection.

Read More | Sound and Vision via Gizmodo

Gallery: Which Titles Will Launch With Blu-Ray On May 23?

Plasma Fireplace

There are those that like to show off their home theater gear, and others who prefer a more discrete approach.  For the latter group comes a plasma television cabinet that also happens to be a fireplace.  Similar to other motorized display cabinets, the plasma screen is situated on a lift that raises and lowers it on command.  Sadly, the included fireplace isn’t really a fireplace by the true definition of the word.  Actually, its called a flame effect fire that has no real flame, but does contain an electric convection heater that churns out 2kW (approx. 6800 BTUs) of heat.  (So much for roasting chestnuts over an open fire.)

A variety of styles are offered and prices range from approximately $3,700 to $9,100 USD.  Ouch.

Read More | Picture House via CEPro

Gallery: Hide Your Plasma TV Behind a Fireplace

SED HDTV Delays?Toshiba announced that their intended target of a Spring 2006 launch might have to be pushed back till 2007.  In essence, because the technology is in it’s infancy, there aren’t enough of the required components for production.  SED stands for Surface-conduction Electron-emission Display, and has the best features of traditional CRTs and LCD panels.  SED displays operate in a similar fashion to CRTs and subsequently have better refresh rates and are able to reproduce the deep blacks that LCDs have trouble with.  However, unlike CRT displays, they are as thin as your typical LCD so bulky TVs become a thing of the past.  Delays are inevitable with new technology, but even so, Toshiba and Canon (who have partnered to produce SEDs), can’t be too happy.

Read More | Pink Tentacle

Gallery: SED Displays Delayed Until Next Year?


Yet another company is looking to cash in on the HDTV craze, looking to deliver first-run high-definition content through a set-top box. MovieBeam will provide a Linksys box, with capacity for 100 movies, priced at around $200 USD after rebate and $29 USD activation fee. It is meant to be stacked on top of a cable TV set-top box and comes with a paperback-book sized antenna to receive movie updates.

Anyone else looking forward to adding yet another set-top box to their entertainment center? We aren’t. Even worse though, is the pricing. First-run standard format videos will rent for $3.99 and high-definition videos rent for $4.99. Older movies in the catalog cost $1.99 for standard format and $2.99 for high- definition—roughly in line with rates at video stores. MovieBeam, which uses datacasting technology over the Public Broadcasting System network, will initially be available in 29 U.S. cities.

Companies are going to need to start realizing that subscription models are going to be the way to go. Why wouldn’t I just stick with Netflix if they are going to be able to provide me with high-definition DVD formats for one monthly fee?

Read More | Yahoo!

Gallery: MovieBeam To Offer On-Demand High Definition Movie Rentals