Soon after DVD hit it big--let's say right around the turn of the century--the concept of the home-theater-in-a-box ("HTIB," in the parlance of our times) was born. Manufacturers bundled up a 5.1 audio system with a DVD player and an amplifier--sometimes in one integrated unit--and sold the whole thing for a song, leaving the buyer to "just add TV." Not surprisingly, HTIBs soon became ultra-commoditized, with name brand units selling for under $300, and no-name budget rigs sitting on supermarket endcaps for half as much. But there's always a new high-end:… Read more
This post isn't about digital audio, but rather about a topic that pertains to the entire consumer technology industry. When I got to CES, I realized that I'd brought the wrong USB connector for my digital camera, a Kodak EasyShare DX4530. (Guilty: I didn't read the CNET review, but I've liked it better than the 6.8 rating might suggest. Although I'm not a fan of the integrated EasyShare software, which tries to hide the file system and in the process makes it really hard to use anything but EasyShare!) It's about four years … Read more
Since the beginning of Blu-ray, standalone, dedicated Blu-ray players have been a tough sell. The Sony PlayStation 3's built-in Blu-ray drive delivers excellent video quality, loads discs superfast, and it costs less than or the same as standalones. And it's also an HD gaming system with media streaming functionality. Sure, some people refused to use a game console in their home theater, but for everyone else, the PS3 has been a no-brainer buy for those who want to go Blu.
Finally, Philips has broken the PS3 barrier with the $350 BDP7200, which is the first Blu-ray player we'… Read more
Blu-ray has gotten a lot of flak regarding its trio of profile specifications--making it confusing for buyers who just want a fully functional Blu-ray player. Well, CES 2008 should mostly end the confusion, as all the new Blu-ray players are are Profile 1.1 compliant, meaning they'll be able to play "picture-in-picture" commentary tracks available on some new Blu-ray discs in 2008.
Sharp has announced one of these new Profile 1.1 players, the BD-HP50U. This is the follow-up to Sharp's first Blu-ray effort, the BD-HP20U, which broke some ground by offering extremely fast load … Read more
LAS VEGAS--"Disappointed" probably isn't a strong enough word to describe when a major focus of your business plan and the highlight of your Consumer Electronics Show pitch is derailed two days before by one of your former partners.
As the most prominent backer of the HD DVD high-definition video format, Toshiba's press conference at CES this morning drew a lot of interest among the tech press, mostly out of morbid curiosity. What could it say after Warner Bros. announced Friday it would exclusively back rival Blu-ray, after the studio had played it neutral up until … Read more
Do you remember earlier this week when I told you that step one of ending the high-def format war relied on Sony's ability to get Warner on its side? Luckily for us, it happened (and yes, I'll take the credit for it).
Is this the most significant development of the entire high-def format war? Sure. But now that we know Warner is backing Sony, I can't imagine Toshiba is feeling good about itself. Not only did it cancel the big HD DVD party here at CES, but we have yet to hear any true official response. If you ask me, the company is in crisis mode right now and desperately trying to justify itself to Paramount.
And while all this is going on, I can't help but not care.… Read more
Warner Bros. Entertainment may have cast the deciding vote in the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format war, announcing yesterday-- just before the big Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas-- that Warner will support Blu-ray exclusively starting in June 2008.
I'm at CES, where I've just left the CES Unveiled press event. Although there was a lot of cool stuff in the various booths providing a sneak peek of the CES show floor (all 1.8 million square feet of it)--and I'll be covering some of this cool stuff in future blog posts-- the topic of … Read more
War is hell, particularly when you want to schedule cocktail parties.
The HD DVD Promotional Group had scheduled a cocktail party and a press conference this Sunday evening in Las Vegas to tout the "progress" it has made in high definition video and the ongoing format war with the Blu-ray consortium.
On Friday, however, the group sent out a note terminating the event because Warner Home Video earlier in the day said it would switch exclusively to the Blu-ray format.
"Based on the timing of the Warner Home Video announcement today, we have decided to postpone our … Read more
The big buzz today around CNET offices in New York is the news that Warner Bros. Entertainment has decided to stop making HD DVD discs and will become a Blu-ray-only studio at the end of May. Needless to say, this is a major blow to the HD DVD camp, which earlier this year struck a deal with Paramount to go HD DVD exclusive. You could say this is a tit-for-tat move by Sony and the Blu-ray camp, but it's actually more of a clubbing because Warner has a much bigger library of movies than Paramount.
While rumors of Warner … Read more
How many times over the past few months have you heard that "the worst is over" and the chances of the high-def format war finally coming to a close were increasing by the day? If you haven't heard it at least once, you're probably not reading the right stories.
But with all that going on, the war is officially a quagmire for both sides and the chances of getting out of this quickly are diminishing at an astounding rate. Consider this: as it stands, the Blu-ray camp commands roughly 49 percent DVD market share, while HD DVD is trailing slightly behind. To make matters worse, some reports suggest HD DVD may be gaining strength, although most buyers are sitting out.
So what's really going on with this war? Is there an end in sight? Even better, is there a solution in sight that can finally put this to rest? If you ask me, I think this could be over in a month if the Blu-ray camp follows three steps.… Read more