Audio News for December 1, 2005

by | Dec 1, 2005 | Audio News | 0 comments

FCC Supports “a la carte” Cable Pricing – After longtime
agreement with cable TV providers that “bundled” packages of channels
were the best option for consumers, the FCC has done an about face and
warmed to the idea of subscribers being free to select only those
channels they really want and paying for them on an individual basis.
This option would prevent customers from having to take channels they
don’t want and in some cases would even like to screen from family
members due to violence or sex. Last year an FCC report claimed that
allowing subscribers to choose specific channels would cost them more
and hurt the cable industry. (Cable rates, by the way, have in many
areas increased three to four times the rate of inflation.) Now the
agency says the report was flawed; for one thing they predicted
customers would select a total of more channels than they actually
wanted.  One possibility is to allow customers to “opt out” of
certain channels in a bundle they already subscribe to, and thus have
their bill reduced accordingly.

Sony/Microsoft Battle Over Hi-Def DVD
– Sony’s Blu-ray hi-def DVD
format seems to be gaining support from top Hollywood studios over
Toshiba’s HD-DVD format.  One executive said “Blu-ray’s potential
for more capacity started looking better and better.”  Microsoft
had been selling its software to both sides in the format battle, but
new developments raised Bill Gates’ ire against Sony.  This was
due to the announcement that Sony would include Blu-ray in their new
PlayStation coming out next year.  One way Sony got more support
from the studios was to beef up Blu-ray’s anti-piracy protection. They
added safeguards developed by Cryptography Research of San Francisco
which prevent Blu-ray movies from being copied to a computer’s hard
drive.

This step affected Microsoft’s Xbox game console, which instead of
including a next-generation DVD player in the console, attaches it to a
TV and streams hi-def content to it from a PC nearby.  Microsoft
felt the new Blu-ray copy protection would prevent content being moved
around a home network. In September Microsoft tried to go on the
attack, promising that Toshiba would hit the market prior to the
holidays with its HD-DVD format. The very next day Toshiba announced it
would delay introduction of its format until February or March (when
the Sony Blu-ray PlayStations also go on sale). Sony, who stumbled
years ago with the BetaMax debacle, has been stumbling again lately,
but the Blu-ray format promises a gold mine for the innovative
electronics firm. If successful, it will get royalties from all the
disks sold (as Toshiba and Warner have been getting from standard
DVDs), increased sales of the new discs will help their movie studio
business, and sales of all of Sony’s electronic products – including
the new PlayStation – could soar.

First AC-line Audio Distribution Product
– Powerline Audio has
introduced a pair of boxes which use the copper wires of the AC lines
in the home to distribute music-quality audio.  Your sound source
– CD player, iPod or computer tuned to Internet radio – plugs into the
first box and it plugs into the wall socket. Isolation transformers
prevent the AC current from traveling up the connecting wires. In any
other room of the home – without any extra wiring required – you plug
in either a set of powered speakers or a complete hi-fi system, going
thru an identical box. The unit converts all audio to MP3 files at
192kbps, so you won’t get audiophile quality, but it’s considerably
better than the baby monitors which work on the same principle.

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