Archives For HDTV

Prime Time For Hi-Def

Dave Zatz —  May 23, 2006

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The June edition of Wired has an interesting little article about HD hitting its stride this year. 2006 will be the first year HDTVs outsell SD analog sets. As you know, 2006 also marks the debut of HD DVD technologies… though I’m holding back. The article is relatively brief, but they do touch on a variety of topics including CableLabs, DirecTV’s HD expansion, IPTV, and the always provocative Mark Cuban. If you don’t get Wired, look for this content online June 2.

Never enough time…

  • Download your TV; the current options. (TechCrunch)
  • ABC.com users watch more than two million streams. (PVRBlog)
  • TV networks blissfully ignore TiVo problem. (CNN Money)
  • Windows Vista requires analog tuner. (jkOnTheRun)
  • Paramount embraces blogosphere. (Technorati)

Never enough time…

  • Blu-ray is doomed. (PC Magazine)
  • T-Mobile Europe to ban heavy data usage. (jkOnTheRun)
  • Commercial server-hosted MP3 HME application released. (MP3tunes)
  • Microsoft unveils beta of Windows CE 6 operating system for embedded devices. (CNET)
  • GE debuts one-second ad targeted at PVR users. (PVRWire)
  • Warner Brothers to team with BitTorrent for movie sales. (Engadget)
  • Finally, Fox in the iTunes Music Store. (TUAW)

I just couldn’t seem to find the time…

  • Philips patents digital flags to prevent channel changing or content advancing during commercials. (New Scientist)
  • The facts and fiction of 1080p. (Team Xbox)
  • Podcasts outnumber radio stations. (eWeek)
  • Windows Media Player 11 to be released this summer. (Thomas Hawk)
  • Portable VLC released. (PortableApps)
  • Windows smart-phone maker HTC profiled. (Business Week)

PC Mag chimes in with a 3.5/5 review of the current iteration of MovieBeam. It’s not as critical as HD Beat’s take, but it’s probably also not as accurate focusing on convenience while discounting HD compression issues. MovieBeam is making a retail push as you can see from the pic I snapped yesterday at Best Buy.

PC Magazine says: As media companies struggle to find new, secure ways to distribute video digitally, MovieBeam is using old-fashioned broadcast TV—albeit with a little tweaking—to offer a video-on-demand service. The MovieBeam Player ($199.99 direct) holds 100 recent Hollywood movies, which users can rent at any time. It takes a digital version of a film and piggybacks that data onto a conventional television broadcast signal. The player then receives that signal, reassembles the video file, and stores it on its 160GB hard drive. When you want to watch a movie, you select it and are charged from $1.99 to $4.99. You can watch any movie you “rent” as much as you want in a 24-hour period. It is more convenient that schlepping to the video store or waiting for your favorite films to arrive via Netflix, but most people won’t find it worth paying $200 plus rental fees.

The first HD DVD player is now for sale at my local Best Buy (Washington, DC), though they have no DVDs to go along with it. In fact, they didn’t even have a sample HD disc in the demo unit. The Toshiba HD-A1 is pretty bulky, even larger than the initial batch of first gen DVD players, but the remote is sexy. At $499 with a questionable improvement in picture quality, potentially restrictive HDMI requirements, and unhacked copy protection I’ll be on the sidelines for at least a year. By the time I get onboard, perhaps dual HD DVD/Blu-ray players will exist or maybe one format will have been decided upon… Yeah, right!
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1080p Over Rated?

Dave Zatz —  April 15, 2006

Here’s an interesting article which summarizes 1080p, provides a few set reviews, and defines wobulation. It’s a good read, especially if you’re considering a big-ticket HDTV purchase in the near future. They pretty much conclude unless you’re sitting very close to a large screen and have perfect vision you may not notice much difference between 1080p and 1080i or 720p. It also justifies my hanging back on the new HD generation of DVD players. Will 720p flicks look significantly better than 480p on my 30″ den HDTV? Somehow, I don’t think so…

Popular Mechanics says: Is the extra resolution worth the price premium of a 1080p set? That depends a lot on what you want from your TV. If you insist on neighborhood bragging rights in the resolution department, then you may want to buy a 1080p model to “futureproof” your purchase. But if you choose to make the 1080p splurge, you should do it knowing that it might be a couple of years before widespread 1080p content becomes available. And, even then, the 1080p advantage will be pretty subtle on anything less than the largest screens. On the other hand, if you are interested in making the jump to high definition today–and enjoying the HD content that is already available–then most current 720p and 1080i sets will deliver stunning results right now.