Archives For HDTV

Talk about irony… I was drafting a “How To Save Moviebeam” post, when low and behold they’re purchased by Movie Gallery. While an acquisition wasn’t on my list, an expanded retail presence (in video rental stores) won’t hurt — though Best Buy end caps and shelf space in Radio Shack hasn’t seemed to be of much help. The selling price wasn’t disclosed, though Cisco, Disney, and Intel invested $48+ million after the unit was spun off from Disney. Presumably, Movie Gallery sees this as a way to get into digital delivery of content – much like Blockbuster is eyeing Movielink.

I’ve had Moviebeam in the house for about nine or ten months now (review here, YouTube video here), but it’s been sitting under the coffee table collecting dust for at least six of them. The idea to utilize unused broadcast bandwidth to “beam” movies over-the-air seemed clever, but in practice my reception was spotty… even after taping the antenna to the window (which wasn’t so attractive). MovieBeam also requires a telephone line to periodically dial up for billing purposes (pay per movie rental), which doesn’t work so well with the early adopters who might be interested in their product. So the first tip of my original “How To Save Moviebeam” post was to introduce them to the Internet and suggest they leverage the provided Ethernet jack.

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Ben’s Rack.

Over the last couple of months, there have been reports of HD-DVD and Blu-ray copy protection being defeated and bypassed. I can’t say I’m an expert in this area and I haven’t slogged through the public AACS documents. While it’s unclear if these methods (and keys) are temporary “solutions” or if they will permanently bypass AACS, one hacker describes his methodology for teasing out the data:

This gave me an idea: what I wanted to do is “record” all changes in this part of memory during startup of the movie. Hopefully I would catch something interesting. In the end I did something a little more efficient: I used the hd dvd vuk extractor and adapted it to slow down the software player (while scanning its memory continuously) and at the very moment the Media Key (which I now knew: my bottom-up approach really paid off here) was detected it halted the player. I then made a memdump with WinHex. I now had the feeling I had something. And I did. Not surprisingly the very first C-value was a hit. I then checked if everything was correct, asked for confirmation and here we are.

Confirmed: Half Price Xbox 360

Dave Zatz —  February 1, 2007

After spending time with all three next-gen gaming systems, I finally decided on picking up a Xbox 360 last November. At the time, Micro Center’s deal seemed too good to be true ($200 for a $400 system) and involved playing Rebate Roulette. Fortunately for me, I won — in about 10 weeks I received two $100 checks. That one above just arrived today, actually ahead of when they had promised.

Knowing what I know now, I would have gladly paid full price for the 360: Xbox Live is so well executed and the new video downloads are a keeper (even if they use fake Microsoft currency and the selection is thin). Maybe I’ll just dump that bonus $200 into a HD-DVD accessory… Hm. Or perhaps I’ll apply it to a Wii when some interesting games come out this spring.

Doing The 1080p


I was wrong. Just a few weeks ago I speculated that we wouldn’t be able to purchase a next generation hybrid disc player in 2007. Heck, I even saw a glass enclosed model at CES but refused to believe it would make it to retail any time soon. But the rumors started that LG Blu-ray HD-DVD hybrid players (BH100) would be available at Best Buy 2/4, then a unit showed up in someone’s home, and yesterday Gizmodo posted a hands on review.

I had figured this project (and others like it) would be derailed, that to sell a device like this a vendor would need endorsements from both consortiums — something I didn’t see happening this early in the game. However, it looks like the player is in stores despite the lack of support for many HD-DVD interactive features. I suppose Toshiba’s HD-DVD camp could try to block this, but I dont’ see them stuffing it back into Pandora’s box.

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SED Back On Track?

Dave Zatz —  January 12, 2007

Reports today indicate Canon will buy out Toshiba’s stake in their joint SED flat panel display business. The hope is that this will clear the way in a patent dispute with Nano-Proprietary, who asserts their technology is licensed solely to Canon. The ongoing tiff prevented SED sets from making an appearance at CES this week.