Hi-def was the order of the day in video cams at CES. Sony said it wants to make virtually all its video cameras capable of HD; Sanyo has its own HD camera at about $800. Dolby Labs introduced Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator, which allows your PC to turn all the audio you recorded with your home videos into DD 5.1 surround sound. An increasingly wide range of digital flat-panel screens were introduced, and prices will continue to fall in the coming months. Last year hi-def TV prices fell about 28%. Within four years, a typical 50-inch flat screen HDTV will likely be priced under $1000.
Pioneer showed a pricey in-dash voice-controlled auto system combining advanced GPS navigation, a DVD player, XM Satellite radio reception, a 30 GB hard drive to store movies and digital music, and Bluetooth technology to sync to your cellphone. The realization seems to be hitting the industry that users don’t want to view feature films on their computer screens, no matter how large or hi-def they are. Sony’s Bravia internet Video System, coming out this summer, will be flat-screen displays connecting directly to the Net via Ethernet – accessing and streaming free HD and SD video content supplied by partners such as AOL and Yahoo! Viewsonic’s ViewDoc is a video counterpart of the many speaker/charger docks for the iPod; it displays videos stored on the iPod in its dock on an integrated 22-inch HD wide screen. And both DirecTV and Dish Network announced that later this year they will be offering receiver boxes making hardwired Internet connections in order to download and serve up movies, TV series and specials on command.
To compete with the public favorite of flat screen displays, the makers of rear-projection TVs are reducing the depth of their cabinets and improving the technology. JVC’s wall-hanging HD-ILA models are 1080p and only 10 or 11 inches thick. Samsung will have a “Slim LED DLP” line replacing the clunky color wheel with a tiny array of energy-efficient LEDs said to also create better color. Mitsubishi will have thin-line 1080p displays using laser beams to create super-res images. RPTVs have the advantage of generally lower pricing vs. the plasma and LCD flat screens.
Minnesota Orchestra Beethoven Cycle Downloads – The Minnesota Orchestra has been recording the complete nine Beethoven symphonies under their Music Director Osmo Vänskä, for the BIS label. Now the symphonies thus far released on CD have been made available via all major Internet music sites as downloads, including iTunes, eMusic and Rhapsody. BIS founder Robert von Bahr spoke of the ability of anyone with a Net connection to now enjoy the sensational results – a case where technique actually serves people rather than the other way around.