The <A HREF="http://www.fcc.gov/">Federal Communications Commission</A> was correct when it formulated rules preventing cable operators from offering integrated security and channel-surfing features in cable set-top boxes, a District of Columbia appeals court has declared. The regulations, which will take effect in 2005, are derived from a proper interpretation of provisions in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the court found.
A "new breed of Digital High-Definition Television Receivers" is about to be unleashed by <A HREF="http://www.thomson-multimedia.com">Thomson Electronics</A>, manufacturer and marketer of RCA and Proscan. According to the company, four new HDTV models are now in pilot production in Thomson's facilities, including the "world's largest direct-view widescreen HDTV" intended to dramatically reduce consumer prices for HDTV products.
According to the results of the "PVR and Enhanced TV Potential" study, released last week by <A HREF="http://eBrain.org">eBrain Market Research</A> in cooperation with the <A HREF="http://www.ce.org">Consumer Electronics Association</A>, despite the continuing popularity of videocassette recorders in the US, the number of Americans who own hard-disk–based personal video recording devices (PVRs) is likely to increase significantly in the next 12 months.
R<I>obert Arkins, Michael Aherne, Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Johnny Murphy, Andrew Strong, Colm Meany. Directed by Alan Parker. Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 (pan&scan). Dolby Digital 2.0. 119 minutes. 1991. 20th Century Fox 112892. R. $28.99.</I>
Like the 1959 Cadillac convertible, Cinerama was one of the peak expressions of 1950s excess. With three synchronized projectors casting overlapping images on a curved screen 96 feet wide, the format was the era's ultimate form of cinematic entertainment and the precursor to today's IMAX.
Last week, <A HREF="http://www.thx.com">Lucasfilm THX</A> announced a new DVD software feature that they claim will allow the performance of a home-theater system to be optimized for individual DVD releases. The process, called THX Optimode, consists of a series of tests "that make it easy for consumers to fine-tune the audio and video performance of their home components."
Home-theater equipment continues to be one of the fastest-selling segments of the consumer electronics market, according to the most recent figures from the <A HREF="http://www.ce.org/">Consumer Electronics Association</A>. How good is it? Try $2 billion in factory-to-dealer sales of video equipment in the first quarter of this year. That's a 20% increase over the first three months of 1999, according to the May 31 report. The figure is even more astounding in light of 1999's growth, in which home theater revenues increased by 11% over 1998's totals.
Recently, <A HREF="http://www.ti.com/dlp">Texas Instruments</A> and <A HREF="http://www.technicolor.com">Technicolor</A> unveiled what they term "the latest major expansion" of digital cinema technology, at the AMC Empire 25 in New York City, which they say is the world's only theater to feature two all-digital screens. AMC Empire 25 is currently using a digital system for a special showing of the digitally animated feature film <I>Dinosaur</I>.
Entertainment systems may be easier for consumers to hook up in the near future, thanks to an agreement on labeling standards reached in Washington, DC on May 24 by representatives of the <A HREF="http://www.ce.org/">Consumer Electronics Association</A> and the <A HREF="http://www.ncta.com/">National Cable Television Association</A>. Labels to appear on new equipment will make it clear whether the digital TV sets provide only cable programming, or whether they are also compatible with other digital devices, such as set-top boxes providing interactive capabilities, video-on-demand, and other services.