What's an American industrial icon worth? Try 200 million bucks. That's what <A HREF="http://www.lgeus.com/">LG Electronics</A> paid when it acquired <A HREF="http://www.zenith.com/">Zenith</A> in a bankruptcy settlement completed November 8 in a Federal court in Glenview, Illinois. As Zenith's largest creditor, LG electronics agreed to accept 100% of Zenith's assets in exchange for $200 million in claims against the former consumer-electronics giant.
Here's proof that the early adopter plays a dangerous game: Less than a year after the official release of their hard-disk-based video recording system, <A HREF="http://www.replaytv.com">RePlay Networks</A> announced last week that it is releasing a major upgrade to its system. RePlay says the new device, named the RePlayTV 2020, is a personal video recorder with twice as much storage capacity as the company's current best-selling model, and—here's the part that tweaks early adopters—at no increase in price: 20 hours of storage for $699.
The world's largest Internet service provider is teaming up with the world's largest video rental chain to deliver movies and as-yet-unspecified content over broadband connections. <A HREF="http://www.aol.com/">America Online</A> is pumping $30 million into a three-year joint venture with <A HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com/">Blockbuster Video</A>, with the intent of leveraging the two companies' huge customer bases for mutual benefit. AOL members will have access to Blockbuster's enormous library of discs and tapes, and Blockbuster will promote AOL by giving away CD-ROMs of AOL version 5.0 at its more than 4000 outlets in the US.
Hackers have succeeded in defeating the Digital Versatile Disc's copy-protection encryption, according to several reports that popped up in late October and early November. Source code for decrypting entire movies is now circulating on the Internet, and an underground trade in illicit copies has arisen.
In recent months, <A HREF="http://www.plasmavision.com">Fujitsu</A> has steadily lowered the prices for its groundbreaking 42" plasma display (see <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?450">previous story</A>), while steadily improving the basic design's performance. Last week, the company announced that the newest models will be jumping back up in price with the latest additions to their Plasmavision product line, the PDS4221 and PDS4222. These two new models increase the number of current Plasmavision offerings to seven.
One of Silicon Valley's most aggressive semiconductor companies has surrendered to the siren song of merger and acquisition. On October 27, Milpitas, California-based <A HREF="http://www.c-cube.com/">C-Cube Microsystems</A> announced that it has entered into an agreement to combine its <A HREF="http://www.divi.com/">DiviCom</A> digital television subsidiary with <A HREF="http://www.harmonicinc.com/">Harmonic</A>, a Sunnyvale designer and maker of digital and fiber-optic systems that deliver video, voice, and data via cable, satellite, telephone lines, and wireless networks. DiviCom products enable digital video broadcasting over the same variety of networks. Blending the two companies may be a good fit for the coming age of digital TV and Internet-based "infotainment."
Is the world ready for interactive television? The <A HREF="http://www.pbs.org">Public Broadcasting Service</A> (PBS) apparently thinks so. Last week PBS, along with several of its member stations, LG Electronics, and <A HREF="http://www.lgerca.com">LG Electronics Research Center of America</A> (LGERCA), began demonstrating "enhanced digital television and data broadcasting" to their viewers as part of PBS Digital Week 2.0.
Put <A HREF="http://www.dreamworks.com/">DreamWorks SKG</A> and Imagine Entertainment together and what do you have? <A HREF="http://www.pop.com/">POP.com</A>, a joint effort by the two of the film industry's most innovative and highly regarded companies. On Monday, October 25, film director Steven Spielberg (<I>Saving Private Ryan</I>), actor/producer/director Ron Howard (<I>Apollo 13</I>), and their associates announced a new joint venture to bring professionally produced short videos to the Internet. The videos will incorporate both live action and animation, with an emphasis on comedy.
Last week, <A HREF="http://www.ti.com/dlp">Texas Instruments</A> announced that its Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology has received the "Golden Note" award from <A HREF="http://www.avacademy.com">The Academy for Advancing High Performance Audio & Video</A>. The award recognizes DLP as "The Most Innovative Video Technology," and was received at the Academy's Award Banquet at the Indianapolis Westin Hotel.