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AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - web magazine for music, audio & home theater

April 21, 2004

Dolby Pro Logic® II Uber Alles - Dolby Laboratories has announced that their Pro Logic® II licensed decoding technology can now be found in more than 15 million products worldwide. With a home theater speaker system it creates a natural and convincing five-channel listening experience from any matrix-encoded or uncoded stereo source, and is used in home audio and video, PCs, and autos. The groundbreaking technology was perfected by surround sound pioneer Jim Fosgate, building on the original Dolby Pro Logic® process which had added logic-controlled level adjustments to the individual channels of the initial iteration - just plain Dolby Surround. That basic matrix decoder had only mono surrounds and suffered from steering artifacts that at their worst could send musicians sailing around one’s listening room. Many are finding that listening to their CDs and LPs via a Pro Logic® II decoder is like rediscovering their music collections, and it is effective on videos with just stereo soundtracks. It also gets consumers interested in multichannel music as they move into discrete 5.1 formats such as SACD and DVD-A.

Microsoft in Settling Mood - Microsoft this month settled an antitrust dispute with its loudest opponent in the computer industry, Sun, for $2 billion. Now they are paying $440 million to settle a long-running digital rights management (DRM) patent infringement dispute with Intertrust. One result is that developers working in the Microsoft platform will not longer have to sign up for an Intertrust license, but if they combine MS software with that from third parties they will still have to sign licenses. Sony and Philips were so convinced of the claims by Intertrust about their licensed DRM technology that last year they teamed up (again) and bought the company for $453 million. Meanwhile Microsoft’s congressional investigation continues full steam: they have had a record fine imposed and were ordered to unbundle their Windows Media Player from Windows.

Set-Top Box vs. PC for Home Interactive TV - A major debate is going on around how television will expand into being a central server for home electronic networks. The set-top box camp (the cable industry, Motorola, Scientific Atlanta and others) see their black box becoming a complex brain center for the home, encompassing satellite reception (including interactive), VOD (video on demand), personal video recording (PVR), Internet surfing, and video networking capabilities. The PC camp (Microsoft and others) would like to have the personal computer act as a home network central to feed video and audio to any room, video instant messages to a wireless service, record anything, etc. The Telco industry opposes the intent of the cable operators to carve up broadcast signals for interactive delivery of file packets; they say the signal was never intended for return paths on content. An industry expert observed the battle among these players is not just for the “pipe” into homes and where the pipe leads, but also for the “real estate” at the end of the pipe.

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