Audio News for August 29, 2007

by | Aug 29, 2007 | Audio News | 0 comments

Hi-Def Format War Not Over Yet – It was looking like Sony’s Blu-ray hi-def DVD format was carrying the day against Toshiba’s HD DVD format.  Blockbuster announced it was putting Blu-ray (and not HD DVD) rental discs in most of its stores. Sales of Sony’s PlayStation 3 – which sports a good Blu-ray player – pushed that format way ahead. And sales of hi-def discs nationwide generally ran about 70% in favor of Blu-ray. Many of the movie studios have been releasing DVDs in both formats and a few only on Blu-ray.

Now, however, Paramount and its subsidiary labels – DreamWorks, Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films – has announced that they will release all their new titles only on HD DVD. They cited its advantages of “market-ready technology and lower manufacturing costs.”  Toshiba (one of only two makers of HD DVD players) has a player selling for about $100 less than the least expensive current Blu-ray player. A possible explanation for Paramount’s newfound interest in HD DVD was seen on a Hollywood news blog site, which reported that Toshiba paid Paramount $150 million for “promotional consideration.”

What Really Soaks Up Those Watts – We’ve had conflicting opinions about what electronic and electric gadgets in the home use the most electricity,  including concerns about the power drawn by unit’s wall warts even when the gear is turned off. Now there’s another electronic gadget, but it’s a device to measure exactly how much each of your components is drawing from the AC.  It is called the Kill A Watt.  www.p3international.com/products/P4460.html    You just plug one end in the wall and plug the unit you are testing in the other end. Push the watt button and read how many watts the particular item is using. You repeat this with every device in your home. Some examples: a big computer-gaming setup = 266 watts. a 20-inch iMac = 84 watts. a 42-inch plasma display = 200 watts. an old 27-inch TV = 68 watts. an inkjet printer = 33 watts when printing, but 24 when idle. a new refrigerator = 14 watts. a PlayStation 3 = 171 watts. Electric toaster = highest of all!

Burmester Goes Multichannel – A surprising move for the top German hi-end manufacturer, who has formerly been strictly two-channel with their stratospherically-priced audio gear. They have introduced not one but two high-performance surround sound processors, beginning a new era for them in multichannel home theater components. Burmester’s proprietary sample rate conversion is carried out on all channels, and the units have balanced amplification, automatic overload control, and all hardware and software elements can be upgraded as needed. The 007 processor is $40,000 and the 057 is $20,000.

Monster HDMI Cables Go Series – Pricey HDMI cables have been a boon to home theater dealers who make little profit selling their widescreen displays but make up for it with their cut on accessories such as cables. Monster Cable has launched a series of five distinct categories of HDMI cables beginning in the $30 range: Standard Speed, High Speed, Advanced High Speed, Ultra High Speed & Ultimate High Speed. Uh, huh. Here is what a Hungarian audio magazine had to observe about this:

“My guess is that these cables will all be of decent to high quality across the board, and more importantly, I will bet that even the “Standard Speed” cables will deliver 1080p video over short distances (3 to 6 feet) and perhaps over longer ones (35 to 50 feet) without trouble. Why? Because Gizmodo has already discovered cheap cables that can do this with no problem, so Monster’s would have to be worse than the generics in order to prove the value of the high-end ones.” 

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