Audio News for February 19, 2008

by | Feb 19, 2008 | Audio News | 0 comments

The HD Format War Is Over! – The ill-advised HD format war is over; Toshiba Corp. has surrendered by announcing today that it has given up on its HD DVD format, which has been battling Sony’s more complex Blu-ray HD format to set the standard for the next generation of optical video discs.  The fight confused shoppers and stalled the new technology which was an effort to settle on a disc and player that could provide hi-res movies to those receiving hi-def programming on their HDTV sets.

Consumers will no longer have to make a choice between two rival incompatible formats (which look the same on the screen), and run the risk of a deja vu situation similar to when Sony battled JVC and everyone else in the Betamax vs. VHS videotape war.  The defection of Warner Bros. studios from HD DVD to Blu-ray last month began to turn the tide against Toshiba’s format.  The company slashed the prices of their HD DVD players, which were already cheaper than the competing Blu-ray players, but that didn’t help. A survey showed 93% of next-generation DVD hardware sales went to Blu-ray.  Wal-Mart, Best Buy and others said they would no longer stock HD DVD.  In the week ending February 10th, Blu-ray movies constituted 81% of all hi-def disc sales.  Netflix also announced that it will only offer Blu-ray discs from now on, phasing out HD DVD. Toshiba’s CEO said “…when we thought about the trouble we would cause to consumers and our partners, we decided it was not right for us to keep going with such a small presence.”  Both they and Sony have already caused much trouble to early-adopting consumers.  The dual-format HD players launched just recently by both LG and Samsung will now be of little interest to most.  However this settlement comes just as digital video downloads – some of them in 720p hi-def – are exploding all over the Internet, using hi-speed broadband connections, and spelling the possible distant future disappearance of all physical AV discs. (Except for vinyl records, say vinyl fans…)

Interconnectibility and Wireless Features of New HDTVs – One example of the improved ease of use of new HDTV systems are Samsung’s home entertainment units. Five of them integrate Bluetooth 2.1 capabilities for wireless use of headphones, MP3 players and cell phones. Some models also feature wireless surround speakers using 5.8 GHz technology and Auto Sound Calibration of the surround speaker system. Select models connect to other digital peripherals with an HDMI 1.3 port, and a convenient USB port on the sets allows users to play back DivX, MP3, WMA or JPEG files without having to access a computer. All the models offer 1080p upconversion to improve picture quality of legacy video sources.

MusicGiants Launches VideoGiants – The hi-res music download site MusicGiants has launched a video equivalent with HD video downloads from Paramount Studios. The movies can be delivered one at a time via downloads or as entire collections on a hard drive to be installed in a home theater server.  The files will be supported by home theater media servers made by Creston, Imerge, Niveus, Russound, ReQuest, Xperinet and Cutting Edge. The service offers films that are easy to purchase, store and enjoy, for high-end consumers with home theaters who are adopters of new technology.

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