Archives For Blu-ray

apple-tv-blu-ray

After reading rumors of new Macs with integrated Blu-ray drives for the umpteenth time, I posed a query to my Twitter followers: “Would you buy an AppleTV if it had a Blu-ray drive, too?” Because a computer or laptop with a Blu-ray playback capabilities doesn’t do much for me. I prefer to watch HD movies on a large screen television from the comfort of my couch… and suspect I’m not alone. Integrating an optical drive into AppleTV would surely eat away at Apple’s iTunes digital download business, yet it’d move more hardware if the price is right. I wouldn’t have conceived of such an offering a few weeks ago… but formerly unlikely iPods with FM tuners have hit the scene. Anything is possible. Have your say in the comments, and here’s the initial crop of Twitter responses (click to enlarge):

apple-tv-blu-ray-survey

Netgear Entertainer Live ($150)

netgear-live-eva2000

The new Netgear Entertainer Live (EVA2000) was originally announced as a VuNow platform device at Netgear’s CES press conference back in January. At that time, I saw the unnamed Netgear product demo-ed using VuNow’s non-distinctive hardware, but has since been repackaged with some left over Netgear router enclosures. In addition to YouTube and CinemaNow VOD access, and unlike Roku’s similar small box solution, the EVA 2000 is also capable of streaming a wide variety of local media. PlayOn is supported (and offered at a discount), but that PC-based software hack is only interesting until Hulu drops the hammer (technically or legally). However, this $150 box should gain a bit more traction than Verismo‘s VuNow with the Netgear brand and retail relationships.

LG BD390 Blu-ray Player with Vudu ($400)

lg-BD390-vudu

Vudu continues to execute on their hardware diversification strategy as LG announces a network upgrade to their existing 802.11n-capable Blu-ray player. The smooth Vudu experience and extensive HD video-on-demand library joins Netflix on YouTube on the well-regarded connected BD390. While the $400 MSRP may seem a bit steep for what it offers and compared to the Sony unit below (or the $300 PS3), this box can be found online for significantly less. We’re hopeful of taking a look at a review loaner in the near future.

Sony BDP-N460 Blu-ray Player with Bravia VOD (~$250)

sony-bdp-n460

Sony just unveiled a new Bravia-connected device at CEDIA. The BDP-N460 Blu-ray Player will be available in October “for about $250″ and features “Bravia” Internet services, including video-on-demand, YouTube, Slacker, and Netflix streaming. While it doesn’t incorporate the type of wireless connectivity found in the LG BD390 above, Sony’s upcoming model sure looks aggressively priced to boost holiday sales.

hdfury-2

Over on Geek Tonic, I recently learned of the HDFury 2 – a small dongle designed to complete the HDCP handshake and convert a digital signal into a possibly more useful analog one. (Component or D-Sub 15, VGA) The folks who’d benefit most probably want to keep older projectors or HDTVs, which lack HDCP, in production. This could also be particularly useful in places like the UK, where I hear more and more boxes are shipping without analog outputs. Presumably to prevent recording. The HDFury 2 reopens that door. And, for now, will keep it open. Recording from an HDMI connection isn’t a technical limitation, as formerly (?) proven by the Gefen HD DVR that I tore apart. However, HDMI licensing restricts those capabilities. And I assume spoofing a HDCP compliant device, as the HDFury 2 appears to, probably isn’t authorized either. Retailing for $200, it’s not inexpensive. But, depending on your needs and application, the HDFury 2 could very well be priceless.

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.

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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.