Well folks, we have a date for both Blu-ray hardware and media. I can’t say I’m overly excited about the initial titles, though they’re an improvement over Charlie’s Angels. Lion’s Gate is listing newer titles at $39.99 a pop and classics (I use that term lightly) at $29.99. Let the format war begin!

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) is targeting May 23 to deliver the first wave of Blu-ray Disc (BD) titles at retail, it was announced today. Delivery will coincide with the launch that day of the first commercially available BD player from Samsung Electronics, which will be followed shortly by BD players from Pioneer and Sony along with a BD compatible VAIO PC from Sony.

SPHE and MGM Home Entertainment will first release eight BD titles, with another eight following shortly June 13. Benjamin S. Feingold, president, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, made the announcement.

The first Blu-ray Disc titles from SPHE and MGM Home Entertainment will include: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight’s Tale, The Last Waltz (MGM), Resident Evil Apocalypse and XXX.

BD titles streeting June 13 include: Kung Fu Hustle, Legends of the Fall, Robocop (MGM), Stealth, Species (MGM), SWAT and Terminator (MGM). Underworld Evolution will debut in early Summer day and date with the DVD.

“We are primed to ensure that a variety of Blu-ray Disc content is available at retail to support the introduction of the first BD players from Samsung Electronics and Pioneer, as well as the first BD player and compatible VAIO computer from Sony,” said Mr. Feingold. “Sony Pictures further intends to provide additional titles to coincide with the launch of BD products from other manufacturers. We’re thrilled that the Blu-ray Disc era is about to begin.”

TiVo’s CEO Video Interview

Dave Zatz —  February 27, 2006

Reuters is running a juicy 5 minute web interview of TiVo CEO Tom Rogers. The reporter does a nice job in understanding the issues and asking Rogers the tough questions. If the business side of TiVo interests you, check it out!

Here are a few highlights…

  • “Having a DVR is not having a TiVo.”
  • Several new value-added features will be unveiled in the next 3-4 months to further distinguish TiVo from a generic DVR.
  • DirecTV may be responsible for about 2/3 of TiVo subscribers, but 85% of their revenue comes from other sources.
  • TiVo-enabled Comcast service is expected late this year.
  • Existing Comcast boxes can be upgraded via a software “burst.”
  • TiVo is in discussions with other cable operators.

(thanks Pete!)

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

How-To Make a Fake Video iPod

Dave Zatz —  February 26, 2006

So you know that leaked video iPod image? Not only is it fake, the creator documented the whole process in a sweet little video put to music. You must go check it out!

(via Mac Rumors)

The Boondocks Cover TiVo

Dave Zatz —  February 25, 2006

Aaron McGruder and I simultaneously honed our artistic and comedic skills as undergrads at the U of Maryland. Print was his medium of choice with The Boondocks, while mine was radio with Zatz Not Funny. Looks like only one of us succeeded. ;)

Microsoft Trademarks MovieScout

Dave Zatz —  February 25, 2006

In trying to track down information on Microsoft’s Origami project, I came across a recent MS trademark application. On February 10, Microsoft requested the rights to the character mark MovieScout in relation to “providing online information concerning entertainment, movie schedules and locations, movie reviews, and ticketing.” The domain name is currently held through Market Vision’s squat and sell service. No telling if Microsoft has bought it or wants to buy it as MovieScout branded features could also exist within MSN, Xbox 360 Dashboard, MCE, or somewhere else entirely.

Hawk’s One Billion Suckers

Dave Zatz —  February 24, 2006

Thomas Hawk presents a less than rosy view of Apple’s one billion iTunes served. Though he is somewhat off the mark… we’re really talking about 50 million suckers. ;) Until recently I was counted amongst those suckers. See, I think the iTunes store is an efficient and reasonably priced service providing a large library of content to choose from. I also give Apple a ton of credit for defining a new and successful media distribution paradigm with this landmark accomplishment.

However, I’m not a supporter of Apple’s FairPlay DRM because they have refused to license it to other manufacturers. Prior to version 6 of iTunes, their DRM could be stripped enough with JHymn (of questionable DMCA legality) to play music on my Roku SoundBridge, TiVo, and Samsung Yepp. I’m not an advocate of piracy, but I do want the freedom to listen to my music on something other than Apple hardware or software. True you can export unencrypted songs to CD… but isn’t the whole point to free ourselves from cumbersome physical media? Not to mention it’s a tedious process with a large music collection… buy, burn, rip, label, repeat.

So as of iTunes v6 I ceased to be an Apple music customer. The DRM hasn’t been broken (why does it need to come to that?) and they still refuse to license it to other hardware manufacturers. Microsoft often gets a bad rap, but at least their DRM scheme for both audio and video is being made available to a variety of software, hardware, and media companies. I recognize and support a content owner’s right to protect their assets, but until a universal standard is agreed upon the consumer will lose — our options will be limited and confusion will abound. Ultimately this has and continues to stifle the adoption of digital media while widespread music and video piracy continues… Though I’m not sure that Apple minds as they continue to sell massive quantities of iPods.