Digital Tools and Toys Highlight NAB 99
ABC is supplying copies of its 720p demo tape to all interested exhibitors in Las Vegas---the same tape familiar to home-theater fans who saw the demo in the Revel suite at the Hi-Fi '98 show in Los Angeles. Exhibitors in Las Vegas must supply their own Panasonic AJD-2700 digital tape machines.
JVC is showing a 720p camcorder (model HD D-9). Panasonic's first 720p HDTV display, the PT-56WXF95, can project images at its native rate as well as up- or downconvert 480i and 1080i images through the company's TU-DST50 set-top converter box. Parent company Matsushita is unveiling new multilayer video-compression technology that will reportedly enable full-motion video to be transmitted over the Internet with higher picture quality and smoother motion than has previously been possible. The technology is the "core of the emerging MPEG-4 standard," according to a press announcement.
Panasonic has also teamed up with hard-drive maker Quantum Corporation to produce a DTV recorder that will allow users to time-shift their viewing. QuickView, as the device is called, is similar in concept to hard-drive recorders from TiVo and Replay TV (see previous report). However, none of these products is portable.
Philips announced the availability of its second-generation DTV chipset. The analog/digital combo includes an input processor and DTV demodulator-decoder. Making a big splash is Lucent Technologies, with what they're calling "the most comprehensive public demonstration between an MPEG-2 encoder and DTV receivers from several different manufacturers." At booth L12146 in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Lucent's VideoStar encoder feeds decoder/receivers from Philips, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Thomson, and Mitsubishi. Last year, Lucent conducted the first formal interoperability tests between encoders and receivers.
Avid Technologies is introducing high-definition universal editing and mastering capabilities into its video-editing products. Called Universal Mastering, the system enables the simultaneous creation of multiformat, multiversion video masters from the same original tape. Patrick Dumas, a senior vice president at Avid, says his company's approach to HDTV post-production "enables customers to assemble flexible and scalable solutions that can be easily incorporated into their current environment." That means Avid's gear will work with what post-production houses already have.