Despite winning the high-definition format war, Blu-ray adoption appears to be at a standoff with most consumers. Not everyone is willing to pay the relatively high prices associated with Blu-ray players, and that decision has been aided by the prominence of streaming media (a la Netflix) and upconverting standard DVD players. And it looks like consumers were right to wait.
Panasonic, Philips, and Sony have jointly announced plans to create a single licensing firm for Blu-ray patents, which should help drive prices down across the board. The new license is expected to cover all the essential Blu-ray patents to be overseen by an un-named licensing company in the U.S and run by Gerald Rosenthal, former head of intellectual property at IBM.
"By establishing a new licensing entity that offers a single license for Blu-ray Disc products at attractive rates, I am confident that it will foster the growth of the Blu-ray Disc marekt and serve the interest of all companies participating in this market, be it as licensee or licensor," Rosenthal said.
As it stands today, licensing Blu-ray requires talking to each of the three partner companies, but under the new plan, the group estimates the cost of a license to be "at least 40 percent lower than the current cumulative royalty rate." How much of that ends up being passed on to consumers remains to be seen, though we won't have to wait long to find out. The new plan is expected to be introduced by the middle of the year.
Should Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. manage to purchase a controlling stake in its smaller rival Sanyo Electric, Panasonic, who is already the world's largest plasma TV maker, could become Japan's biggest electronics firm as well. For that to happen, the company would have to come to an agreement with Goldman Sachs, Daiwa Securities SMBC, and Sumitomo Misui Banking Corp, all of whom are major shareholders in Sanyo.
The acquisition would put Panasonic ahead of the pack in the global market for rechargeable batteries, a market that is expected to see significant growth amid increased sales in portable electronics and hybrid vehicles.
"This appears to be the kind of deal where you add one and one and get three, instead of two," said Masayoshi Okamoto, head of trading at Jujiya Securities. "Their battery operations would truly be world-class."
Sanyo is currently the world's largest supplier of lithium-ion batteries, ahead of both Sony and Panasonic. The company can also boast being the seventh largest solar cell producer world-wide, another increasingly popular market sector that would benefit Panasonic should the acquisition come to fruition.
There's been a bit of hype as of late concerning OLED technology, leading to a cautious optimism in the consumer electronics industry. Back in June, Plexitronics, with funding provided by the U.S. Display Consortium, announced a breakthrough in OLED manufacturing that could lead to low cost OLED displays, and just one month later Matsushita cranked the hype machine by saying it had set a goal of selling 40-inch OLED displays by 2011. Could we be on the verge of an OLED revolution?
Not everyone is as optimisitc, including Panasonic, who casted a ray of reality on the situation during the opening day of Ceatec 2008. Panasonic AVC Networks president Toshihiro Sakamoto squashed that idea that we might see OLED televisions in sizes of 30 inches or more anytime soon, saying th technology is not suitable for mass manufacturing. Earlier this year at CES, Sakamoto said that because "you won't be able to beat the cost and price performance of LCD and plasma for a long time," we likely won't see OLED start to grow as a market until 2015, but now feels even that estimate might be overly optimistic. The biggest irony here is that Panasonic is a brand name of Matsushita's!
Is Sakamoto's pessimism warranted, or will we see affordable 30-inch+ OLED displays before 2015?
Intel’s new Atom mobile processor has been adopted by Panasonic which has incorporated it into their new UMPC the Toughbook CF-U1. The Atom Z520 with it’s power sipping 1.33GHz processor is living with it's new friends a Solid State Drive, WIndows OS, and 1024MB of DDR2 RAM, in the ultra mobile rugged U1 with it’s magnesium alloy chassis, spill-dust resistant, sealed, all weather enclosure. It is sure to be a hit with anyone that likes it rough. The backlit QWERTY keyboard and a 5.6" WSVGA sunlight-viewable touch screen, makes it usable in almost any lighting conditions. It sounds like just the thing, I need to replace my poor laptop that I beat to death and keep resurrecting.
According to eWeek.comit is expected to go on sale in August with a starting price of $2,499.
A few months back when Toshiba accepted defeat in the optical media wars and withdrew its HD DVD format, many trenchant analysts didn’t hurriedly crown Blu-ray the winner, instead they cast serious doubts on its success – and rightly so. But with Panasonic unveiling the world’s first 6x Blu-ray write-once disc and Pioneer selling probably the cheapest Blu-ray player in the world, Blu-ray is making sturdy progress. Read further to know more about Pioneer’s cheap Blu-ray player and the 6x Blu-ray media.
Here’s the most versatile camcorder of the bunch, letting you record 28 minutes of its best-quality video per 3-inch DVD. If you don’t feel like dealing with discs, you can cram 80 minutes of HD footage on an 8GB SDHC flash memory card instead. If you do record to a DVD, you can pop that disc into a compatible Blu-ray player (our Sony BDP S-300 played the disc perfectly) or play the disc back directly from the camera. But the DVD format has its drawbacks—it’s slow to read when you turn on the camera, taking seven seconds from a cold start. And once you’re done shooting, unless you’re using DVD-RAM, you’ll need to finalize the disk before you can read any of the files on the computer or play them back, which takes about five minutes for each minute of footage shot.
The HDC-SD1 was the smallest and lightest camcorder we tested, and the easiest one to use. It offers few buttons to confuse you and no viewfinder, but wait a minute—that’s a frickin’ 3-inch viewscreen, which seems huge compared to the others’ 2.7-inchers. And it’s bright enough to show you its crispy video even on the sunniest of days. The zoom lever gives you just the right amount of speed right when you need it, and the navigational joystick is right there under your thumb. Its optical image stabilization holds those shots rock-solid unless you zoom all the way to 12x.