According to a recent poll very few Americans are onboard with high definition media players, given that only 11 percent own an HD-DVD player, while 7 percent own a Blu-ray player.
While these numbers may not seem that high, they are up notably from 2008, where only 6 percent had HD-DVD players, and 4 percent had Blu-ray players. And, while there are a good amount of people with these players, many are still buying standard definition discs to watch on them, with only one high definition disc being bought per six standard definition discs.
Interesting results, especially given that Blu-ray was declared the winner of the format war sometime last year.
If you’d like to see the whole poll, be sure to check it out here (clicking the link will download a PDF).
BenQ promises that its E2400HD LCD monitor will provide “a brand-new standard for personal digital audiovisual entertainment….” And while we’ve grown weary of marketing hyperbole, at first glance, this 24-inch panel has the specs to back up this statement. The E2400HD sports a 1080p HDMI interface and utilizes a 16:9 aspect ratio (rather than the more common ratio of 16:10 for widescreen panels), two features that should improve the movie-watching experience. OK, perhaps “brand-new standard” is a bit overboard, but as we unboxed it, we did think that a 1080p 24-inch monitor for less than $400 was certainly intriguing—even if it sports a 6-bit panel.
A 16:9 aspect ratio should, theoretically, provide a better image when viewing high-def widescreen movies because a 16:10 monitor has to either stretch an image by 10 percent or add black bars to the top and bottom of the image to compensate for the additional space. In our tests with multiple DVD movies, however, those ubiquitous horizontal black bars appear during playback. While TV shows and many movies (typically romantic comedies) are filmed in a native 16:9 aspect ratio, many films are matted using a wide 2.35:1 aspect ratio where you’ll still see black bars. Therefore, while the BenQ is capable of displaying a movie in its original widescreen glory, many DVDs will still not be able to utilize all of the screen’s space.
Recently Via announced their VX855 Media System Processor that allows their Nano, C7 and Eden processors to support 1080p video. This entertains the possibility that Via will provide a more attractive option an Intel and Nvidia when it comes to platforms to base a netbook off of.
The VX855 is designed for mobile PCs and comes with an HD video processor that gives smooth, hardware accelerated playback of high definition videos encoded in H.264, MPEG2/4, DivX and WMV9.
“For the first time, system developers have an ultra low power media system processor that delivers high bit-rate HD video to small form factor and mobile devices,” said Via’s VP of Marketing, Richard Brown. “The VIA VX855 opens up exciting opportunities for several PC segments, particularly the mini-notebook category that will now be able to offer true 1080p HD video playback.”
No solid information as to when we can expect to see this powerful little chip make its way into netbooks and nettops alike, but if its as good as they say, we should see it making a splash relatively soon.
Everyone assumed the high definition format war was over after movie studios abruptly bailed on the HD-DVD format seemingly over night, but could it be just beginning? China certainly hopes so, whose China Blue HD (CBHD) just received a shot in the arm from Warner Brother's announcement that it plans to support the format with several films in the first half of 2009.
Like HD-DVD, CBHD players and media are comparatively inexpensive next to Blu-ray. According to the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center (OMNERC), who jointly produced the CBHD format with the DVD Forum, converting an existing DVD production line to CBHD costs just $800,000, significantly lower than the $3 million it takes to switch to Blu-ray. Add low licensing fees to the mix and you have a format that's easier on the wallet for Chinese customers than Blu-ray.
Studios appeared uninterested in backing the CBHD format when the group tried to promot itself in the fall of 2008. With Warner Brothers jumping on board, it will be interesting to see if other studios follow suit, especially since a pricing advantage wasn't enough to keep HD-DVD afloat. And with the announcement of a new Blu-ray licensing firm, which is expected to result in lower priced players and media by mid-year, CBHD's window of opportunity might be closing fast.
Having trouble seeing what all the fuss is about after buying a new HDTV? Better get your eyes checked, says Vision Express. According to a study by the UK optometry chain, as many as one-third of adults and children are in need of glasses, contact lenses, or a stronger prescription in order to take advantage of the higher resolutions offered by high definition displays.
"Even a marginally short-sighted person sitting on a sofa watching an HD broadcast may not see the full benefits in enhanced image quality," said Phillip Hyde, head of professional services as Vision Express. "If you're investing in HDTV, you ought to have your eyes checked to make sure you get the full benefit."
So there you have it. The next time some killjoy disses your new Blu-ray player and swank new 52" LCD TV, you can confidently accuse them needing to see an eye doctor.
It appears the Blu-ray format may finally be picking up steam. At CES, Andy Parsons, president of the Blu-ray Disc Association, described 2008 as a banner year for Blu-ray sales, and the numbers appear to back his claim. Fourth quarter sales saw 28.6 million Blu-ray sales, up significantly from 9.5 million a year prior. There are now nearly 11 million Blu-ray capable players in the U.S., although 6 million of those are PlayStation 3 consoles.
By comparison, in the same three year time frame after release, DVD players totaled 5.4 million units, not far above all non-PS3 Blu-ray players. And with 40 million homes equipped with HDTVs, there's plenty of room for Blu-ray player sales to grow. Helping to do that, 18 new Blu-ray players were announced at CES, including an HDTV with a built-in player by Sharp.
Despite Blu-ray's recent success, Microsoft reiterated it has no plans to integrate Blu-ray capability with its Xbox 360 console. According to Robbie Bach, Microsoft's president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, the decision comes down to a combination of not enough users requesting a Blu-ray player, and because it wouldn't help "in the core of what Xbox does, which is gaming."
The death of VHS may be old news, but now the cassette format has officially been ejected from the movie market. According to the Los Angeles Times, the last major supplier of VHS tapes has shipped its final truckload, driven by Ryan J. Kugler out of a Palm Harbor, Florida warehouse to Who-Cares, USA.
"It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," said Kugler, 34, a Burbank businessman. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in a warehouse we'll just give away or throw away."
Meanwhile, DailyTech reports that things might finally be looking up for Blu-ray with "signs of quantifiable success." The news outlet points out increased sales in the high definition format, such as in Britain where consumers bought 462,500 Blu-ray discs in November, an increase of 165 percent from October. Blu-ray's share of the optical disc market is expected to double in France next year, and Europe expects to account for 2.5 million Blu-ray player sales in 2009 without factoring in Playstation 3 console sales.
Your eyes are great tools. Currently they’re reading these words on this screen (hi!), and they’re used to watch everything from paint drying to glorious movies. And while the movies are more fun to watch than paint drying, the latter of the two actually provides richer color.
The reason that movies aren’t giving your eyes the rich color that they so desperately crave is because of the range of color produced by current technology. The best digital theaters can only provide 50 percent of the range of color that your eyes can perceive (technical term: the gamut). While traditional film can give 60 percent, its decay makes it less desirable.
But, your eyes are on the verge of feasting on something fresh. New digital cinema projectors based on lasers offer the possibility of providing up to 80 percent of the gamut to your eyes. This is all thanks to a group of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and a firm named Phoebus Vision OptoElectronics Technology.
While the concept of lasers being used as a projection source dates all the way back to the 1960’s, the bulk and expense of lasers made them impractical. Laser light of yesteryear also “speckled,” meaning that it would scatter off any rough surface, creating a shimmering and sparkling pattern. Or, in laymen’s terms, it would create a dull image.
Lasers still have a pretty sizeable cost; currently one of these projectors will cost 20 times as much as a normal digital projector. But, as the cost of lasers continues to drop, so will these prices.
Netflix continues to lay the groundwork for subscribers to stream movies and television shows to their TV sets with yet another partnership announcement. This time around, it's Samsung who the online rental service is cozying up to, as owners of Samsung's BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 Blu-ray disc players now have the ability to instantly stream content from Netflix's catalog.
As you might recall, a similar announcement was made with LG last summer. In addition to the $99 Roku set-top player and upcoming fall dashboard update to Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, Netflix subscribers have a bevy of options to choose from in streaming content to the living room.
"Samsung presents a new value proposition for Blu-ray players by posititioning it as a portal to a world of engaging digital content, be it Blu-ray discs, movies from Netflix, or other online content," said Reid Sullivan, VP of Marketing, Audio/Video & Imaging at Samsung.
Both Blu-ray players sell for about $400, and Netflix points out that existing owners can upgrade their device at no cost by flashing the firmware. Once upgraded, BD-P2500 and BD-2550 will have access to Netflix's growing library of 12,000 movies and TV episodes.
Whether you're looking to purchase a standalone Blu-ray player or going for the entertainment combo kill with Sony's Playstation 3 console, the cost of entry remains a prohibiting factor for many consumers. This gets compounded by the fact that upscaling DVD players cost far less than Blu-ray while still offering a better picture than standard DVDs. But what if you could pick up a Blu-ray player for under $100?
Now you can, in a roundabout sort of way. Best Buy has started selling Insignia's NS-BRDVD Blu-ray player for a cent under $200 and with it a coupon book for $100 worth of Blu-ray flicks from Disney, Touchstone, and Miramax. The player itself is pretty spartan with few of the features found on higher end models, and it remains to be seen whether $100 in free movies will prove enticing enough (for $1 extra per month, Netflix subscribers can add Blu-ray titles to their queue), but it is the least expensive Blu-ray player around. Kinda.
Know of any good Blu-ray player deals? Hit the jump and post a link!