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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 24, 2006 2 comments
"I got a lotta time for otters," someone sang recently. What a coincidence that I happen to be reviewing the OtterBox case for the iPod nano.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 23, 2006 1 comments
Seeking to lure back declining audiences, theater owners may be about to silence blabbering cell phone users by jamming their phones. "I don't know what's going on with consumers that they have to talk on phones in the middle of theaters," the president of the National Association of Theater Owners told a conference, and really, don't desperate times call for desperate measures? Churches in Mexico already jam phones, albeit in defiance of Mexican law. Our own feckless feds also forbid it, and if the subject came up, regulators would probably cock an ear for valuable advice from the wireless industry. But cutting the inane chatter just might increase the quality of the moviegoing experience—along with digitizing projection, easing off on abusive volume levels, and banning Tom Cruise from the screen forever.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 22, 2006 0 comments
That's the slogan of IPac, a pro-consumer group. They want the folks in Congress to know exactly what they're doing when they limit fair use of popular products. The impetus for the campaign was a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the latest version of the broadcast flag bill. Eighty-year-old Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) announced that his daughters had given him an iPod and he was having great fun listening to his favorite albums on it. This changed the tone of the hearing as Stevens and Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) grilled lobbyists on both sides of the issue, including Mitch Bainwol of the RIAA and Gary Shapiro of CEA. To date the campaign has raised enough to buy 12 iPods. They'll come preloaded with a commentary, for senatorial edification, by legal heavyweight Lawrence Lessig on "balanced copyright." Come on, people, there are still 88 senators left!
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 21, 2006 5 comments

As the old saying goes, what if they started a war and nobody came? That seems to be the case with the simmering format war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD. To the consumer who bothers to keep up on developments, it must look like a phony war.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 21, 2006 0 comments

Sony's 2006 line show for dealers and press offered few surprises. Yes, there was the new BDP-S1 Blu-ray player, planned for release in July at $1000. But it must rankle Sony every time they announce that the first Blu-ray player to market, day-and-date with the first Blu-ray titles in late May, will be from Samsung (if you haven't already heard, the delay of the PlayStation3 gaming console/BD player until November has created that awkward situation.)

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 21, 2006 3 comments
The legislative silly season is barely underway but this year promises a bumper crop of whoppers. Arguably the biggest mistake about to be written into law is a national franchise agreement for telcos muscling their way into the video-delivery biz. Cable companies have to win municipal franchises that bring in money for local governments and give consumers at least an indirect stick with which to beat slovenly cable operators. They are also required to serve all paying households in their service areas. Now the telcos can compete with cable companies while remaining blissfully free of the local regulation that encourages your local cable op to serve every neighborhood and keep his nose clean. If you think your cable company is arrogant, wait till you've got one wire coming into your home from a company that doesn't have to play by the rules, be it AT&T or Verizon. The cable industry is crying foul, and let's face it, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Give due consideration to this heated position paper from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
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Bob Lefsetz Posted: Mar 20, 2006 0 comments

There was a curious note on the front page of the L.A. Times Business section at the end of last week. They were dropping stock tables from the paper (Times Trims Stock Tables, Expands Business Coverage).

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 20, 2006 1 comments
Pope Benedict XVI is now an iPod owner. According to the Catholic News Service, employees of Vatican Radio honored the pontiff's first visit to their premises by giving him a nano inscribed on the back, "To His Holiness, Benedict XVI." The pope accepted the gift saying, "computer technology is the future." The iPod—in white, appropriately enough—is loaded with Vatican Radio programming, including a documentary on the life of St. Thomas a Becket, and music, including the works of Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. The iPod will allow the pope to enjoy Vatican Radio's daily podcasts, which are offered in eight languages.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 18, 2006 0 comments

Pioneer's newest flagship 50-inch plasma display differs from its predecessors, including the <A HREF=" "> Elite Pro-1120HD</A>, in a number of important ways. For the buyer, however, the most important change is the price. At $5500, the Elite PRO-1130HD is a whopping $8000 cheaper than the $13,500 PRO-1120HD we reviewed back in April 2005. The fact that the PRO-1130HD is also better than last year's model illustrates just how competitive flat panel sales have become. Pioneer has had to dance as fast as it can to keep up with the major players in the market.

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Posted: Mar 18, 2006 0 comments

<B>Three Warner HD DVD Titles To "Launch" HD DVD</B>
The HD DVD launch is beginning with a whimper. Warner Home Video, the only studio committed to supporting the March 28th debut of HD DVD hardware has officially announced it will not have software titles ready until April 18th, citing technical issues as cause. While more titles are to follow in subsequent weeks, exactly three titles are currently announced for the new April start date, <I>Million Dollar Baby</I>, <I>The Phantom of the Opera</I>, and <I>The Last Samurai</I>.


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