AUDIO VIDEO NEWS

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Jon Iverson Posted: Oct 31, 1999 0 comments

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.

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Posted: Oct 31, 1999 0 comments

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."

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Barry Willis Posted: Oct 31, 1999 0 comments

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.

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Barry Willis Posted: Oct 24, 1999 0 comments

The world's number-one video rental business will join the Internet gold rush early next year. <A HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com/">Blockbuster Video</A> announced October 20 that it will relaunch its website in November with sales of new and used VHS tapes and DVDs. Video rentals will be available online sometime in the second quarter of next year, company executives said.

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Barry Willis Posted: Oct 24, 1999 0 comments

Unheard by the general public, a debate has been raging in engineering circles about the <A HREF="http://www.atsc.org/">Advanced Television Standards Committee</A>'s transmission protocol for high-definition TV. Mandated by the <A HREF="http://www.fcc.gov/">Federal Communications Commission</A>, the standard, known as 8-VSB (trellis-coded 8-level vestigial sideband), has come under fire from several directions, most notably from <A HREF="http://www.sbgi.com/">Sinclair Broadcasting</A>, which has called for an overhaul of the standard after a series of DTV reception tests in the Philadelphia area.

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Posted: Oct 24, 1999 0 comments

Wading into the recently erupted battle over the future of HDTV (see <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?553">related article</A>), the <A HREF="http://www.CEMAcity.org">Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association</A> (CEMA) filed a Motion for Immediate Dismissal with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week in response to a proposal submitted earlier by Sinclair Broadcasting. CEMA claims its Motion (available for reading on its <A HREF="http://www.CEMAcity.org">website</A>) is aimed at urging the Commission to avoid a "costly, dead-end path of reopening the digital television (DTV) standard approved in 1996."

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Jon Iverson Posted: Oct 24, 1999 0 comments

Last week, <A HREF="http://www.sony.com/displaysystems">Sony Electronics</A> announced that its newest 16:9 flat-panel plasma display, the PFM-510A1WU high-resolution 42" (viewable area, measured diagonally) monitor, is now available. Sony claims that the new monitor, originally debuted at NAB in April 1999, is one of the first on the market to offer over 1,000,000 pixel capability in a plasma display, and is capable of handling high-definition video signals.

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Posted: Oct 17, 1999 0 comments

In the past 12 months, 1.8 million homes have signed on to <A HREF="http://www.skydigital.co.uk/">British Sky Broadcasting</A>'s digital Direct Broadcast Satellite service, the company reported in mid-October. Approximately 45% of them are completely new subscribers. With an estimated half-million homes connected to the COFDM DTV service, the total market penetration of digital television in the United Kingdom is now 2.3 million homes, or slightly more than 10%. By comparison, market penetration of digital delivery services (cable and DBS) in the US is now about 12%, after five years of service from <A HREF="http://www.directv.com/">DirecTV</A>, <A HREF="http://www.echostar.com/">Echostar</A>, and digital cable.

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Barry Willis Posted: Oct 17, 1999 0 comments

Cable subscribers in Tampa, Florida and Austin, Texas will be the first in the nation to get movies whenever they wish. <A HREF="http://www.pathfinder.com/corp/">Time Warner</A>, the nation's second-largest cable company, is preparing to roll out video-on-demand to its subscribers in those cities by the end of the year, according to an October 15 report in the <A HREF="http://www.ajc.com/"><I>Atlanta Journal and Constitution</I></A>.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Oct 17, 1999 0 comments

L<I>indsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson, Elaine Hendrix, Lisa Ann Walter, Simon Kunz. Directed by Nancy Meyers. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (widescreen). Dolby Digital 5.1. 128 minutes. 1998. Walt Disney Home Video 16888. PG. $24.95.</I>

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Posted: Oct 17, 1999 0 comments

The FCC's plan to convert US households to digital television by 2006 is on the verge of collapse, according to a new report by consultants <A HREF="http://www.strategyanalytics.com">Strategy Analytics</A>. Their report, titled "Interactive and Digital Television: Issues in the Transition Phase," predicts that fewer than 5% of US households will be watching over-the-air DTV by 2005, with terrestrial broadcasters expected to use their digital capacity increasingly for data services. Terrestrial broadcasters can use their digital (DTV) capacity for either HDTV (high-definition TV) or SDTV (standard-definition TV), and there is currently debate over whether the industry should change the technical specifications of the ATSC standard.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Oct 10, 1999 0 comments

In a recent poll conducted on the <I>SGHT</I> website, a majority of home-theater fans expressed their desire for an HDTV version of DVD to get them interested in the new high-definition formats. But so far, the storage capacity required to store the massive amounts of data needed by even 20 minutes of HDTV exceeded anything likely to be available in the foreseeble future.

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Barry Willis Posted: Oct 10, 1999 0 comments

As TVs become much more like computers, computers may become much more like TVs. That's one implication of a $10 million deal signed in early October by <A HREF="http://www.hearstargyle.com/">Hearst-Argyle Television</A> and <A HREF="http://www.geocast.com/">Geocast Network Systems</A>. The two companies plan to deliver a new-media program service to personal computers using a portion of Hearst-Argyle's over-the-air digital broadcast spectrum. The programming to be offered will originate with national networks, local TV stations, and other information and entertainment services.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Oct 10, 1999 0 comments

According to figures released last week by the <A HREF="http://www.cemacity.org">Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association</A> (CEMA), an additional 900,000 DVD-Video players were shipped to retail in the third quarter of 1999, bringing total year-to-date hardware shipments to 2.2 million. The CEMA statistics also reveal that DVD-Video experienced approximately a 225% rate of growth in the third quarter of 1999 vs. the third quarter of 1998, shipping 600,000 more hardware units than shipped in the third quarter of 1998. CEMA estimates that total players shipped in 1999 will exceed 3 million units.

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Posted: Oct 10, 1999 0 comments

Until recently, the ticket price for consumers wishing to get into the high-definition TV game was $5000-$6000. With a new receiver/monitor combination that began shipping the first week of October, <A HREF="http://www.rca.com/">RCA</A> has slashed that price in half. The model MM36100 is a 36"-diagonal digital high-resolution television monitor with a suggested list price of $2499. A companion receiver/converter box, the DTC100, carries a suggested retail price of $649. The pair are expected to sell together for around $3000.

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