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March 10, 2004

TV Computers Revived Again - Although hard drives and what in effect are really computers have made some inroads into the home entertainment market via TiVo, RePlay and some high end manufacturers such as Linn, the personal computer hasn’t become a part of many U.S. living rooms or entertainment centers. Intel and Gateway Computers are trying to change that. Intel has a device that appears to be a souped-up DVD player called Entertainment PC. Controlled via a remote, it is connected to the TV and allows users to flip thru all the available TV channels, record any wanted, play movies and music, and download music and shows from the Internet as well. It can stream video to PCs anywhere else in the home and to wireless handheld devices. The idea is for one PC to replace a stack of home electronics gear. Intel’s PC runs a special version of Windows with chips offering surround sound audio and wireless networking. A version they expect to introduce next year will also boast a HDTV tuner. Gateway has a similar TV-connected unit they call the Gateway Family Room Media Center PC. Both Gateway and Compac had such concepts fall flat in the past, but the new one is cheaper at $999 and PCs are said to now have the power to become easy-to-use hubs of home entertainment systems.

Opera News Retracts Telarc Comment - The February issue of Opera News had an article titled “So Why Do the Grammys Matter?” in which the author revived an old rumour that Telarc Records received so many Grammys for Atlanta Symphony CDs because the record label paid for all the symphony members to join NARAS (the organization which votes for the Grammys). It was alleged the players then voted for their own recordings. The program annotator for the Atlanta Symphony emphatically denied such a thing ever happened, and said that NARAS adopted new rules in the l980s to eliminate any possibility of such block voting. Since that time ASO recordings have continued to win Grammys, including three last year. Opera News will print a retraction of the error in their April issue.

Barenboim Hints He Might Resign His Berlin Post - Daniel Barenboim has suggested he might resign as chief conductor of Berlin’s top opera house, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. His ire is directed at a package deal which was drawn up to save Berlin’s three big opera houses and which Barenboim feels would diminish the quality of opera in Berlin.

Sopranos Guilty of Mush - Australian physicists at the University of New South Wales have studied operatic sopranos and determined that their pronunciation was distorted and vowel sounds became similar when the singers positioned their vocal chords in order to hit the highest notes.

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