Archives For Blu-ray

ps3-slim

After months of slimmed down PS3 rumors, all has been revealed. And boy is it ugly. While the original PS3 enclosure is quite large (and shiny), sporting unique angles and curves, it’s got some charm. Sort of like Gehry’s Experience Music Project. But this PS3 Slim with textured matte surface reminds me of some old plastic outdoor furniture we used to have. Or maybe a Foreman grill knockoff. Which is why I found Engadget’s roof-top patio unboxing quite fitting.

Of course, the real news here is that Sony dropped the PS3’s entry level price by 25% to $300. For the next month while inventory is being cleared out, you’ll able to pick up the discounted prior low-end model… in all its piano black glory. Followed by the Slim replacing it on store shelves in September – with the loss of open platform support (think Linux), but a 50% increase in hard drive capacity to 120GB. I can’t say I’m a fan of the XMB or PlayStation online gaming network, but 300 bucks for a modern gaming console that also happens to be a capable Blu-ray player is very reasonable. However, I’m probably holding out for a refreshed Xbox 360 replacement which ditches that tractor trailer of a power brick.

dolby-digital-plus-300x100

News from Dolby Laboratories has arrived, via EngadgetHD, that Microsoft is adding Dolby Digital Plus support within Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions.

Great news for those getting Windows 7 when it is released in October and especially good news for Media Center users. Why? Because many content providers and broadcasters use Dolby Digital Plus – a high-efficiency audio codec that aims to maintain the quality of Dolby Digital at a lower data rate.  All while staying fully compatible with the current Dolby digital A/V receivers.

Benefits of Dolby Digital Plus according to Dolby:

  • Delivers superior audio quality for a richer surround sound experience
  • Enables up to 7.1 channels of theatre-quality sound
  • Unlocks the full audio potential from Blu-ray Discs, HD broadcast, and streamed and downloaded media
  • Ensures that you hear audio precisely as it was intended

Catch more of Brent’s reflections on tech, gadgets, software and media over at Geek Tonic.

Blu-ray LogoYou may have heard recently that Blu-ray has plans to get managed copy – the ability to make a copy of your Blu-ray Disc within limits as defined by the studios.  That’s a great step in the right direction, but there are many negatives to the way it will be implemented. Ben Drawbaugh at EngadgetHD has the scoop on how it will work and the possible uses for this type of functionality.

We’ll get out the bad things we know about this first:

The Bad:

  • Will require new hardware – yes all that money you dropped on those shiny new Blu-ray players won’t get you managed copy ever.
  • Not free.  It will have some cost as defined by the studio.  Not a surprise, but still, do we really want to pay for the same movie over and over and over???
  • Apple hasn’t joined the group of studios for the finalized AACS license so it’s unlikely we’ll see support for putting that copy of Blu-ray onto your Mac or iPhone.
  • You’ll need an internet connection to copy the disk so it can check with the DRM server.
  • There’s already an excellent (if not a bit of a stretch of the rules) way to do this with AnyDVD HD.

The Good:

  • They are at least trying to answer the need for more portability of the media albeit in the typical imperfect way.
  • According to EngadgetHD’s interview with the chair of the AACS business group, managed copy was designed with the “movie jukebox” use concept in mind.  So the use in a HTPC-type scenario just might work.
  • The concept is a good one.  One that has a lot of potential and at least acknowledges the studios know (or are starting to understand) how its customers want to use their purchased media.
  • Apple could still get on board by the time managed copy goes live in 2010.

If you’re at all interested in Blu-ray, be sure and read the article on EngadgetHD – it’s a good one.

Check out more of Brent’s reflections on tech, gadgets, software and media at Geek Tonic.

ZNF ‘Round The Web

Dave Zatz —  May 3, 2009

Leaving comments across the blogosphere…

kodak-crap

Why Does Photo Sharing Still Suck?
Yep, I agree. Still looking for that perfect solution. And still pissed at Kodak for deleting my Galleries when I didn’t make a purchase. PS SmugSmug has a backup solution which uses Amazon’s cloud storage/server farm for an extra fee. They’ll even mail you recoveries on DVD.

Palm’s Foleo: Back From the Dead?
Agree with DTNick – Palm shot themselves in the foot. They understood the form factor, they didn’t understand the market. I played with a pair of Foleos at two different tech press events. Really liked the small size and super sprightly OS. The apps were minimal and minimalistic, but they seemed to have more powerful stuff in the pipeline. Thought it would have made a great mobile blogging tool. Then they blew it all up. I tried to get one that hadn’t been destroyed through some back channels, but never succeeded.

Why I Jumped on the Blu-ray Bandwagon
I had a Blu-ray player via a PS3. But I ended up dumping it. Not because I didn’t like the Blu-ray, but because I didn’t like the gaming experience. I’m fine with HD movie rentals (Xbox, Vudu, Amazon, cable box) and premium cable for now. Oh yeah, I also had a HD DVD player for a short time. That didn’t work out so well.

Here’s Why You Want Bandwidth Caps
Neil, it’s already a reality. Comcast has me capped at 250GB… without a meter to track household usage. 250GB isn’t unreasonable, but online backup solutions are much less useful/realistic. Also, there are NO higher tiers or overages. Break the cap, and my ISP reserves the right to dump me. Unlike a utility, which they may claim to be.

HP’s LX195 Low-End Windows Home Server is $390
@SysRq_: It’s definitely not a Time Capsule killer because HP’s MediaSmart servers don’t actually recover Macs. It’s a bit of smoke and mirror marketing… HP supports Time Machine for individual file recovery, but there’s no network whole-OS recovery. I got burned by this with the EX485.

Are There Caps on Boingo Wireless Wi-Fi Usage?
You still have any phones on T-Mobile? $10 gets you unlimited HotSpot (Starbucks, many airports, etc) PLUS unlimited WiFi domestic calling (if you have a UMA phone like Melissa’s Blackberry Curve 2). Great deal! I also have a Starbucks Gold (black) card which gets me that WiFi. Though the benefit seems the same as the regular debit card – 2hrs/day, purchases every 30 days. Although, I still need my Sprint 3G card. I have it on the friends & family plan, so it’s $50/mo instead of $60. It’s a lot, but well worth it to me. Maybe I should resell some of my wireless access.

jvc-xv-bp1_and_manual_042609

The fight for dominance in the living room continues apace, with a large number of contenders and no clear cut leader at the moment. Everybody wants their device to be the central hub for delivering content, both local and Internet-based to the masses on their couches. The major players remain:
  • Cable Set-Top-Boxes
  • Gaming systems (PS3, Xbox 360)
  • Stand alone devices (Roku, Tivo, AppleTV, etc.)
  • Digital Media Adaptors (Popcorn Hour, DLNA devices, etc.)
  • Networked HDTV’s (DLNA, widgets, etc.)
  • Blu-Ray devices with extended functionality
  • Home theater PC’s (Windows Media Center, Mac Mini w/ Boxee, etc.)

All of the above have both positive and negative aspects, and none of them have really taken off enough to be considered a mainstream success, at least in the context of advanced content delivery. Cost and complexity are probably the biggest hurdles to wide acceptance for all of them, but we are seeing some interesting moves to increase attractiveness to consumers.

Richard Lawler on EngadgetHD has reported that JVC’s US Blu-Ray player debut will be the first such device to playback Matroska (.mkv) files. The move to support codecs and file formats beyond those required for the official player specifications developed on standard definition DVD players in 2003 and then really took off with the growth of DivX certification thereafter.  Clearly JVC is trying to differentiate themselves from their Blu-Ray player competitors by appealing to a subset of consumers that are downloading Blu-Ray rips but would like to watch them on devices other than their PC’s.  Also interesting is that JVC is not working with DivX to do this, in fact they explicitly say “DivX files” are incompatible. These moves by JVC is interesting for a few reasons.

Read the rest of this entry at Digitalwerks »

samsung-bd-p1600-1

Meet the new BD-P1600 ($199.99 – $299.99, aka BDP-1590), one of Samsung’s CES Blu-ray player announcements. This relatively slim piano black deck slipped into many Best Buys around the country over the last few days. In fact, when I stumbled upon it Saturday, I didn’t know what I was looking at… as (previously) only the BD-P25550 offered Netflix and Pandora streaming.

Supposedly Blu-ray player prices will be dropping across the board, and I believe Samsung is positioning the BD-P1600 as one of their lower-end models. I wouldn’t call $300 cheap, but Netflix subscribers will probably find value in the unit. Which is how I almost walked out of Best Buy with a BD-P1600. However, “Wireless LAN Ready” was somewhat vague – so I journeyed back home for a Google expedition. Where I discovered wireless networking requires purchasing a Samsung USB accessory (yet to be released) and BD Live requires at least 1GB of external storage (USB). I may just wait for Samsung’s higher end BD-P3600, which will incorporate the necessary flash memory and bundle a wireless dongle. Also, the 1600 has a flip-down face plate (which you can sort of see below, top left) that I’m not particularly fond of. I’d prefer fewer moving parts.