Toshiba Announces Blu-ray Players – Toshiba Corporation – developers of the ill-fated HD DVD hi-def format which last year lost the video format war to Blu-ray – will be entering the Blu-ray market with disc players handling both BDs and DVDs by the end of this year. After giving up on HD DVD the company had pledged to focus on upconversion of standard DVDs, but the Digital Entertainment Group reports that it could no longer stay out of the potentially lucrative Blu-ray market. There has been a 62% increase in rental spending for Blu-ray titles, and more than two million players were sold in the first half of this year – up almost 25% over the same period last year. The total installed base of all Blu-ray players in the U.S. – except for those in PCs – is now nearly 11 million units, so Toshiba wants into this expanding market.
2010 Oscar for Best Picture Will Select From Ten Movies – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will increase the number of Best Picture nominees from the present five to ten for the next Oscar Night, March 7, 2010. Their intent is that worthy yet overlooked films and atypical candidates will get some attention they have missed in the past. Others are saying it is just a way for the studios to get more exposure and for more advertising revenue for ABC-TV.
Distribution of Hi-Res HD Movies Using BitTorrent – In Norway an independent producer used BitTorrent video technology on the Internet as a cheaper way to get his movie to a commercial theater, instead of having to snail-mail a hard drive with it to the theater, as is now usually done. The movie was streamed at 2K resolution at a 19MBps data rate. Whether torrent distribution can be made secure enough to please Hollywood studios remains to be seen.
Problems At Some DTV Stations Following Transition – DTV stations broadcasting in the lower-frequency VHF band in major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas, are having problems reaching their viewers since the DTV all-digital transition. The FCC is sending engineers to try to help the situation. Stations who have reverted to Channel 6 or 7 are right next to the FM radio band which is between those two frequencies, and the FM signals are interfering with the DTV signals. An expert on the problem said the FCC decision to retain channels 2 thru 6 was ill-advised, because they are plagued with noise from fluorescent lamps, motors and seasonal interference from the ionosphere. And as we mentioned recently, they also require much larger antennas than do the UHF channels.
J. Gordon Holt 1930-2009 – The founder of Stereophile magazine has passed away this week at his home in Boulder, Colorado, after a long fight with emphysema. Holt launched his magazine in 1962 with the innovative concept for that time that the best way to review audio components was to listen to them and write his own subjective descriptions of exactly what they sounded like. After many years of struggle with trying to publish on a timely schedule, Holt sold Stereophile to Larry Archibald, and it eventually moved thru various ownerships into a more commercial status as the top high-end print audio publication. Anyone having anything at all to do with high-end audio has a connection with Gordon’s unique vision and philosophy.