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Mike McGann Posted: Jan 25, 2000 Published: Jan 26, 2000 0 comments
Real high-definition audio that everyone can appreciate.

Consumer-electronics writers are a curious group. We'll look at a product on paper and decide whether it's going to be any good long before we actually get our hands on the gear. That's not a very shocking admission. Think about it: You see Kevin Costner is making another baseball movie, and you have to figure it will be decent. It's sort of the same process for writers. Being cynical, most of us writer types looked at Sony's SACD format on paper and agreed it would probably sound good, as long as it's surrounded by good-enough gear to bring out the difference over traditional CDs and maybe even the long-awaited DVD-Audio. Some even argued that the product is of questionable value, since it's only aimed at the high-end, tube-amp crowd. Why muddy the water? Why mess things up for the upcoming (and more-mainstream) DVD-Audio? Isn't Sony just being arrogant?

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Posted: Jan 23, 2000 0 comments

Last week, Gemstar International Group announced that its subsidiary, <A HREF="http://www.StarSight.com/">StarSight Telecast</A>, had filed a patent-infringement suit against <A HREF="http://www.tivo.com">TiVo</A> in Federal District Court, Northern District of California. According to Gemstar, the suit claims "that TiVo willfully infringed certain Gemstar intellectual property by virtue of TiVo's deployment, marketing, offers to sell, and sale of personalized video recorder devices containing an unlicensed interactive program guide." Gemstar, which markets VCR Plus+, says it is seeking an injunction and monetary damages.

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Posted: Jan 23, 2000 0 comments

Showtime Networks has begun offering its East and West Coast feeds in high-definition video mode with Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound. <A HREF="http://www.showtimeonline.com/">Showtime</A> is the first premium cable network to do so, the company claims.

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Barry Willis Posted: Jan 23, 2000 0 comments

What's a tag line worth? Try five million bucks. That's the price <A HREF="http://www.lagroupinc.com/">LA Group, Inc.</A>, paid in mid-January for "As Seen On TV," one of the oldest phrases in the marketing lexicon. The domain name <A HREF="http://www.AsSeenOnTV.com/">www.AsSeenOnTV.com</A> will be used for a portal site for customers looking for products they have seen&mdash;that's right&mdash;on TV.

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Barry Willis Posted: Jan 23, 2000 0 comments

The old <I>Mission: Impossible</I> TV series always opened with the head of the spy team picking up his instructions on a miniature tape recorder stashed in an obscure place. An authoritative voice would give Mr. Phelps his instructions&mdash;always with the option of declining the assignment&mdash;and then announce that the tape would self-destruct, which it did with a burst of flame and a puff of smoke.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 23, 2000 0 comments

Pundits have long predicted that, as we move toward streaming more digital bandwidth into the home, consumers will begin to prefer video-on-demand services via their home network vs. renting films from video stores. This is not good news for the established bricks-and-mortar rental chains, many of which are fighting for ever-diminishing returns in crowded markets.

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Posted: Jan 23, 2000 0 comments

According to statistics released last week, factory-to-dealer sales of digital television (DTV) products closed out the year by posting a fifth consecutive month of growth in December. Numbers released by the <A HREF="http://www.ce.org">Consumer Electronics Association</A> (CEA) indicate that DTV sales last month surpassed 23,000 units, bringing sales figures for 1999 to 121,226, and total sales since the introduction of DTV (in August 1998) to 134,402.

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Posted: Jan 16, 2000 0 comments

Home-theater fans who hope to add a DVD version of <I>Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace</I> to their collections when the videotape hits the streets in April will have a very long wait. Possibly as long as five years, according to publicity from <A HREF="http://www.lucasfilm.com/">Lucasfilm</A>, which says director George Lucas wants to do "something special" with the DVD release, a project he probably won't get to until 2005, after he has finished the next two chapters in the "prequel" series.

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Posted: Jan 16, 2000 0 comments

One of the most cherished assumptions about a market economy is that competition drives down prices for goods and services. Widespread availability from numerous providers guarantees low prices, the conventional wisdom has it.

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Barry Willis Posted: Jan 16, 2000 0 comments

A war of words has broken out between television networks <A HREF="http://www.nbc.com/">NBC</A> and <A HREF="http://cbs.com/">CBS</A> over the use of digital effects that altered the background during CBS coverage of New Year's Eve festivities in New York's Times Square. "Shocked and outraged" is one of the milder phrases used by NBC executives over the use of digital effects by CBS technicians to block a huge NBC video sign visible behind newsman Dan Rather during the broadcast. A CBS logo was inserted in its place.

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