Archives For HDTV

HD-DVD Launch Whimper

Dave Zatz —  March 15, 2006

Looks like the next generation of DVDs will be getting off to a slow start. Netflix may have added a HD rental page, but they won’t have any discs to rent to the few consumers who manage to get their hands on a player.

Generally speaking, I’m an early adopter of new technology. I was definitely first on my block with a DVD player (and finding discs was a chore), but I have little desire to upgrade to either of the new formats. Why? Current 480p movies with 5.1 digital surround is quite nice… and spending $500-$800 on a bulky player with limited titles for marginally improved video and sound quality doesn’t compute. Additionally, copy restrictions will prevent ripping (not that computer drives even exist yet) and may limit output to HDMI. If I’m not jumping on board now, I can’t imagine many people who will.

Hollywood Reporter says: Moreover, sources report that only 10,000 Toshiba players are being shipped to retailers initially, a number that indicates low sales expectations. On the software front, it is unlikely that even a single HD-DVD title will be available for sale this month at any of the consumer electronics chains and discount retailers that are bringing in the players.

(via Thomas Hawk)

Ben over at HD Beat got his hands on a MovieBeam and doesn’t come away impressed. The bottom line seems to be a limited selection of content with poor picture quality. Granted, both these faults could be improved without requiring a software or hardware upgrade — sign more partners and use less compression. But it’s a good thing I haven’t ordered one yet. ;)

TiVo is running an American Idol contest over the next 11 weeks — each week you vote who’s going home. That’s all well and good… but the real interesting news is that in 11 weeks they’ll be giving away a Series 3. Though TiVo officially has up to four months beyond the sweepstakes to deliver.

So speaking of worshipping that false idol, we now have a little more info to base our speculation on. I’ll go first… Series 3 HD will be available 9/1 @ $800 a pop. What’s your guess?

Update: This is now a contest! Predict the Series 3 release date and cost to win a TiVo-branded wireless adapter. Details are in the comments.

Grand Prize: 1 Special Limited Edition TiVo Series3 HD Digital Media Recorder w/Product Lifetime Service
Average Retail Value: $1,500.00

Selected entrants will receive the the weekly prize by mail within thirty (30) days of the Weekly Sweepstakes end date and the Grand Prize by mail within four (4) months of the end of the Sweepstakes Period (exact timing subject to change based upon availability of Grand Prize, which is scheduled to be released for public sale in the second half of 2006).

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TiVo Winter Olympics Recap

Dave Zatz —  February 27, 2006

The results are in… and the Olympics were boring! Overall the US finished second in both total medal count (25) and gold medals (9) without Bode Miller’s participation. The HD was great, but NBC’s coverage just didn’t capture my attention. I also felt used in the way events and participants were edited together in prime time to keep me watching… reaffirming sports coverage is more enjoyable when live.

TiVo crunched the numbers from 20,000 households to determine the top Olympics moments. Surprisingly, The Shani Davis Chad Hedrick Show didn’t crack the top ten though it contained my most replayed moments outside of curling.

TiVo’s Top 10 Moments:

  1. Canadian skater Marie-France Dubreuil slamming to the ice
  2. Sasha Cohen’s Short Program performance putting her in first by a razor thin margin
  3. Apolo Anton Ohno winning gold in the Men’s 500M Speed Skating
  4. Bob Costas interview of Silver Medalist Sasha Cohen
  5. Sasha Cohen performance at the Champion’s Gala Evening
  6. Commentary featuring U.S. skaters Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes
  7. Gold medal ceremony for Women’s Giant Slalom winner American Julia Mancuso
  8. Re-broadcast of silver medal win by U.S. Ice Dancers Ben Agosto and Tanith Belbin
  9. Julia Mancuso’s gold winning Giant Slalom run
  10. Russian figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko’s performance at the Champion’s Gala Evening

Disney’s MovieBeam Goes HD

Dave Zatz —  February 14, 2006

MovieBeam, who just received a large cash infusion, is relaunching in 29 markets this year. In fact, my neighborhood already appears to be online. Basically you buy the Linksys MovieBeam set-top box, every week a few movies are downloaded via a digital over-the-air (OTA) signal, and then you choose which you want to rent. The movie rental includes a 24 hour viewing period and typical DVR controls. Initially, only Disney and Warner Brothers content will be offered.

If they weren’t upgrading the service to include HD movies, I’d say they’re doomed to fail with this pricing model. By offering HD, they may have a chance… though I wouldn’t bet on it. I believe most people will still prefer Netflix’s understandable low-tech methods and reasonable rates. Not to mention, anyone with a cable or satellite box has access to some sort of PPV or VOD without MovieBeam’s upfront hardware fee. Things could get interesting since Disney, the originator and a major investor, is leveraging their movie library by making flicks available to MovieBeam 30 days prior to when cable providers can offer them via VOD.

LA Times says: The service allows customers to rent movies from a library of 100 titles stored in a set-top box. As many as 10 new films, including some in high definition, are automatically delivered to the device each week via television airwaves. The MovieBeam box costs $199.99 after a $50 rebate and requires a one-time service activation fee of $30. Movie rental fees are $3.99 for new releases — $4.99 for films in high definition — and $1.99 for older titles.

Wired is out with their annual Vaporware Awards. As with last year, TiVo has made the list… this time placing tenth for failing to deliver a stand-alone HD model and a Mac version of TiVoToGo. While it’s true they didn’t surface in 2005, I’m hopeful we’ll see both in 2006.

Wired says: High-def TiVo and TiVoToGo for Mac

The little elves at TiVo have been idle of late. Readers complained the company has failed to release two updates to its product line — a high-definition TiVo that can be used with cable, and TiVoToGo for the Mac. Reader Kyle Johnson wrote: (The cable-card) high-definition TiVo (was) announced at CES 2005, probably will be re-announced at CES 2006.” Reader David Rosen said: “If the cable companies have anything to say, this is never gonna happen.” Of TivoToGo for Mac, one reader said: “We’ve been getting nothing but nebulous promises out of TiVo for months.” And reader Aaron Ouellette said: “Tap, tap, tap, we’re still waiting.”

TiVo’s Series 3 HD Lives!

Dave Zatz —  January 5, 2006

Megazone’s been quizzing the TiVo folks all day and has tons of details on the forthcoming Series 3. Well, except for a concrete date (mid-late 2006) and price. All in all, exciting news if TiVo delivers.

megazone says: The unit has two CableCARD slots on the back and it will support Multi-Stream (CableCARD 2.0) or Single-Stream (CableCARD 1.0) cards. If you have multi-stream then you only need one card, but as long as only single stream cards are available you can use two of them. Yes, it supports digital and analog cable, digital ATSC OTA, and analog NTSC OTA. The unit has front panel controls clustered on the right, and a nice display in the middle with a very cool feature – it displays the title of the show(s) tuned at the time, so you always know what it is recording at a glance. The remote ls also sleeker – a slick update of the Series2 peanut with minor changes for HDTV (such as an aspect button). But the big change is that the remote is backlit! TiVo will also be selling an external SATA drive for easy storage expansion, and they have that on display here too.

Photos provided by megazone…


Series 3 Front View


Series 3 Front Panel


Series 3 Rear Panel
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