Last week, <A HREF="http://www.thomson-multimedia.com">Thomson Multimedia</A> announced what the company terms "an aggressive new effort" designed to bring HDTV within reach of more American consumers. Thomson, which manufactures and markets the RCA brand of television and video products, says it will be trimming suggested retail prices of RCA HDTV sets by 20%, effective in April.
In a move that promises to significantly enhance HDTV access for consumers across the United States, representatives of a number of industries last week announced their support of the Digital Visual Interface (DVI) with high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) for transmission of high definition video content from set-top boxes to television monitors.
High definition television is struggling to get off the ground with the hesitant support of local, cable, and satellite broadcasters. But as readers revealed in an <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/showvote.cgi?176">online <I>SGHT</I> poll</A> a while back, what would really give HDTV a kick in the pants would be a high definition playback medium—something like an HD-DVD.
In the good old days of over-the-air (OTA) broadcast TV, before the proliferation of cable and DBS, pointing your rooftop antenna was a common ritual when switching between channels. OTA HDTV has brought those days back, as viewers carefully orient their specialized HDTV antennas to lock in fussy signals.
HDTV fans rejoice: The magic formula needed to bring high definition video into millions of consumer homes may be near. Nine of the major audio/video consumer electronics companies announced last week that they have jointly established the basic specifications for a next generation large capacity optical disc video recording format called "Blu-ray Disc."
Digital cinema has begun to pick up speed in movie houses (see <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?738">previous story</A>), but finding ways to deliver the huge datafiles needed to present theater-grade imaging has remained an obstacle. Hoping to provide a solution to the problem of digitally storing high-resolution feature-length films, <A HREF="http://www.c-3d.net">Constellation 3D</A> announced last week the impending demonstration of its Fluorescent Multilayer Disc (FMD) videodisc technology at a satellite-delivered digital cinema film premiere of the film <I>Bounce</I>, to be hosted by <A HREF="http://www.miramax.com">Miramax Films</A>.
Last week, <A HREF="http://www.magisnetworks.com">Magis Networks</A>, which develops <A HREF="http://www.80211-planet.com/">802.11a</A> wireless chipsets, announced it will offer what it is calling the world's first live demonstration of a wireless 5GHz network capable of transmitting HDTV. The company says that its chipsets enable wireless communications of TCP/IP data, high-quality video, and audio throughout the home and office. Magis adds the demonstration will be featured at the upcoming Western Cable Show, November 28–:30, in Anaheim, CA.
Last week, EchoStar Communications Corporation announced that, starting this week, its <A HREF="http://www.dishnetwork.com">Dish Network</A> will begin showing HDTV versions of popular motion pictures, beginning with the James Bond film <I>The World Is Not Enough</I>. EchoStar claims that the Dish Network currently serves more than 4.3 million customers.
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.