Audio News for August 1, 2006

by | Aug 1, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

Apple Could Capture the Home AV Market – Market research firm ABI Research says that Apple’s iTunes download service has the potential to outstrip its own huge iPod business and allow Apple to best its competitors in home audio and video markets. The report says that iPod has already won the battle for portable devices, but in the home and mobile markets the prize is still up for grabs.  Thru iTunes Apple could enter the home AV market sooner than the competition.

The key, according to ABI, is consumers’ expanding interest in digital media connectivity in the home. They said we will soon see more high end audio devices with AV receivers and multiroom audio systems adding support for iTunes to their support for iPod. Leveraging all the content – over a billion files downloaded from iTunes to date – which users already have paid for and want to hear on their home audio system or watch on a digital-ready TV, makes a huge opening for a consumer electronics vendor. Apple already is offering a media center in its Intel-based Mac Mini with its Front Row networking software. Music, video and stills stored on any Mac in a user’s home can be viewed on any other Mac in the home if the two are networked with Ethernet or Airport.

iTunes’ European Woes – At the same time, Apple and its iTunes is in trouble in Europe. Pressure is increasing in the Scandinavian countries as well as the UK for Apple to loosen the close ties between its iTunes music store and its iPod players. The Consumer Council of Norway says that Apple’s DRM (Digital Rights Management) violates the Norwegian Copyright Act since it hinders users from playing music they buy from iTunes on the music player of their choice – forcing them to purchase iPods. [For example, like many users today I have a portable CD player which plays CD-Rs I encode with MP3 files.  Unfortunately, any music or radio programs I download from iTunes or record off the air with my radioSHARK unit are automatically in Apple’s proprietary AAC files – similar to MP3 but with DRM.  So far I haven’t been able to find a workable way to convert the AAC to MP3, and even if successful it takes time and effort to do so.]  France has proposed a law requiring Apple to open up its DRM so that makers of other players – both CD and solid state – could allow iTunes songs to be played on their devices.

Tips on Burning Optical Discs – While on the subject of CD-Rs, here are some basics on the confusing array of discs and formats used for burning optical discs on either your computer or a stand alone disc burner. (This takes as a given that your disc drive can burn both CDs and DVDs!) :

1. CD-RWs, CD+RWs, DVD-RWs & DVD+RWs are OK for copying computer data to if you are going to be playing them back on the same drive on which you recorded them. But bear in mind they cost more and take longer to record. Don’t send them out for friends to play on their computers or CD/DVD players – there is too much risk they won’t play.

2. If you are making music discs for others, where 80 minutes is enough time (at 44.1K/16 bit), stick with CD-Rs.  They are the most compatible format for all home disc players and computers – though many older CD decks may refuse to play them. For best sonic quality, don’t use the highest speed available in burning.

3. If you want much more capacity to back up computer files, and/or are copying videos or stills, use DVD-Rs.  They can’t be erased and reused but can be had for as little as 19 cents each, and burn faster than DVD-RWs.

4. For utmost safety and compatibility buy known brands such as Fuji, JVC or Sony.  And realize that any burned optical disc is going to deteriorate eventually, unlike pressed commercial CDs and DVDs.  Some researchers even say five years is a good rule of thumb. (Librarians are still urged by archivists to back up vital recordings to open reel analog tape – not digital formats!)

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