– The Consumer Electronics Association testified to a House
subcommittee that adoption of a fixed date for returning the analog
spectrum to the government would provide regulatory certainty to all
industries involved in the NTSC to HDTV transition. (But no specific
date was given.) CEA President Gary Shapiro called on everyone involved
in the transition to continue educating consumers about the analog
shutoff and working together to get there as fast as possible.
(Whenever the cutoff does occur, those viewers without either a DTV or
a set-top translator box will suddenly find they can no longer receive
any over-the-air TV at all.) The CEA also announced that more than a
million Digital Cable Ready sets were sold last year and three million
will be sold this year. They urged the cable industry to promote
Digital Cable Ready sets and the requisite CableCARD.
Video Phone Redux –
Texas Instruments has partnered with Wintech Digital Systems to release
the Videophone Development Platform for designing workable and
reasonably-priced point-to-point videophone systems for business and
personal use. The new technology uses video codecs requiring only half
the former bandwidth, and the continuing expansion of broadband
connectivity augers well for picture phones in the future. The phone
companies also welcome another service they can offer and make money on.
Surround Sound Cell Phones
– Japan’s largest mobile operator has unveiled a new line of advanced
cell phones with stereo-quality surround sound. They can be used for
gaming, as hi-res digital cameras, and even as a debit card with a
special chip. They are part of the 3G or 3rd generation of mobile
phones, and will be first introduced in the fall in Japan by Sharp.
Two Beleaguered Audio Companies in News Again
– Dorian Records, who filed for bankruptcy protection in January, has
received court permission to hire a businessman to secure new
financing. Dorian can continue operating on a limited scale until early
next month. And Tara Labs audiophile cable specialist – who a few
months back had their offices raided by FTC officials and cables
labeled as “Made in the U.S.” confiscated because they were actually
made offshore – is back introduced a new design of their RSC Series
audio cables featuring air-suspension filaments.