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Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 02, 2006 0 comments
Would you like to fling HDTV around your living room without wires? Seven major names in consumer electronics have banded together to do just that with the forthcoming WirelessHD standard, according to TWICE. They want to transmit high-def signals up to 32 feet using the 60GHz frequency band, also used by the military, universities, and offices. Up to 7GHz of that band would support simultaneous streaming of three 1080p signals. There would be no compression—at least, none in addition to the usual MPEG-2 and other HD codecs—so there would be no compromise in picture quality, in contrast to current low-bandwidth wireless video schemes. Look for WirelessHD in HDTVs, of course, but also in DVD players and adapters for set-top boxes. The WirelessHD Consortium includes LG, Matsushita, NEC, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba plus newcomer SiBEAM, the startup providing the underlying technology. The spec will be finalized in 2007 with products to follow in 2008. For updates, hit the official site.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 01, 2006 2 comments
Looks like 2006 is not the year of Blu-ray after all. Pioneer has announced that its BDP-HD1 won't hit until December, having already been postponed from May to June to November. Sony had previously delayed its own BSP-S1 until December 4. The Panasonic DMP-BD10 has been out since September. And the Samsung BD-P1000 hit in July, though plagued by a problem with the video processing chip. Well, maybe 2007 will be the year of Blu-ray.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 27, 2006 0 comments
A friend who is moving to a new apartment asked me to take delivery on his second-generation iPod nano. The (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition, no less. What was I going to say, no?
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 26, 2006 0 comments
The new TiVo Series3 is HD-capable, CableCARD-savvy, and limited to "35 hours of HD goodness," note the folks at Engadget HD. And so a tutorial on the new Engadget offshoot walks you through the process of upgrading the drive with lots of pictures (and some assistance from DealDataBase and TiVoCommunity). The proccess is part physical, part typing into a character-based BIOS interface. Be warned that you'll need a TORX 10 screwdriver and there's some real danger from opening up any product with a power supply (so don't do it, our lawyers would no doubt advise). If you're not suicidal, or mechanically inclined, or the memory of DOS gives you nightmares, WeakKnees will do the upgrade for you, replacing the 250GB TiVo drive with 750GB. But it doesn't hurt to watch, does it? Engadget HD has been running for a few months and worth regular visits.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 25, 2006 1 comments
Eighty percent of home theater buffs value sound quality. Even more, 84 percent, value video quality. And when asked whether they value both, 83 percent say yes—proving that the traditional definition of home theater as the marriage of big-screen television and surround sound is still valid. Those are a few of the highlights of Home Theater Opportunities, a study from the Consumer Electronics Association's CEA Market Research. The study also finds that a third of existing home theater system owners plan to buy at least one component in the coming year, at an average cost of $1700, while home theater newbies plan to spend $1400. More than half of these planned purchases will be video displays; CEA defines an HT-worthy screen as 34 inches or more. Comments Sean Wargo, CEA's director of industry analysis: "The high interest in displays leads many to wonder if there is opportunity left for the other components of a home theater system, such as audio. But the survey results show, when it comes to home theaters, sound and video quality are almost equally important to the majority of consumers. As a result, investments in displays may just be the first round in a larger investment in the home entertainment system." Especially, I think, if display prices continue to drop, leaving more budgetary room for audio purchases. The full study sells for $499 but you can read the press release for nothing.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 24, 2006 0 comments
I told you so. Google's acquisition of YouTube has gotten a lot of attention for its $1.65 billion pricetag. But that's not the end of the story. Chapter two of the YouTube saga will be an elaborate dance with copyright laws—and holders. Stephen Colbert's comic diatribe ("the way I see it, you owe me $700 million") is only the tip of the iceberg. There will be purges, of course, including 30,000 items deleted at the demand of the the Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers. YouTube had quietly started changing its business model a month before the acquisition by signing a deal with Warner Music that will allow revenue sharing for music clips, even those, um, unofficially uploaded by fans. There's a new concept: file sharing retroactively made legal! The rapprochement may be traced back to February when Saturday Night Live aired a rap parody featuring Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell called "Lazy Sunday: Chronicles of Narnia." Reports Business Week: "NBC asked YouTube to pull the video down, and YouTube complied. However, after the clip showed up on YouTube, Saturday Night Live's ratings ballooned, says Gerry Kaufhold, an analyst with consultancy In-Stat. In the end, NBC decided to make even more programming available to the site." YouTube's graceful transition from copyright outlaw to media darling may become an influential model—but only for as long as it can ride on the magic carpet of net neutrality. That rug may get pulled from under us at any moment. Will chapter three of the YouTube story be about its death on the information superhighway?
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 23, 2006 0 comments
Which is more likely to corrupt America's youth: The temptation to steal copyrighted works? Or the temptation to shill for a trade association that fights consumer fair-use rights as fervently as it does overt piracy? Fifty-two thousand Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in Southern California are about to face that moral dilemma. The Motion Picture Association of America has teamed with their leadership to offer "a curriculum designed to educate kids about copyright protection and change attitudes toward intellectual property theft." There will be five ways to earn the "respect copyrights" patch shown, to include grabbing dad's camcorder to make a public service announcement, or visiting a local studio to see people at work and their local economy in operation. The reward is an activity patch, not a merit badge, and therefore not a requirement for advancement.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 20, 2006 0 comments
Buying a fancy CD rack may seem counterintuitive in the iPod era. After, even a drop-dead-gorgeous piece of industrial design like the Boltz CD600X2 still takes up space. Isn't it more elegant to rip everything and dump your discs?
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 19, 2006 0 comments
Lawsuits from the RIAA are not the only hazards for the intrepid file sharer. Simply downloading P2P software can pollute your PC with nuisance software. The most notorious example remains Kazaa, which paid more than $100 million to settle music-industry lawsuits, but is still listed as badware by stopbadware.org. That report is a few months old, but according to the McAfee SiteAdvisor, the Kazaa site still exposes PC users to what "some people consider adware, spyware, or other unwanted programs." In addition, it links to firstadsolution.com, "which our analysis found to be deceptive or fraudulent." SiteAdvisor gives similar warnings about BearShare. Limewire and Morpheus get a clean bill of health, but beware of other sites that offer free downloads of Limewire and Morpheus software—and that includes most of those listed as Google-sponsored links! By the way, the SiteAdvisor is a free plug-in for Internet Explorer or Firefox that festoons Google, Yahoo, or MSN search results with green- or red-light bugs to warn you of PC health hazards. Click on the bugs and they'll give you information like that quoted above. SiteAdvisor is totally goodware—it costs nothing to install and may keep you out of loads of trouble.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 18, 2006 0 comments
Brigitte Bardot's performance of "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus" was a Top 5 hit when it was released in the 1960s, but until recently, the only way to add it to your music library was to rummage through secondhand shops. But it's back in circulation—not as a CD, but as a download, one of 3000 out-of-print tracks sold by the Universal Music Group over iTunes during the last seven months. More than 250,000 people downloaded a 2000 Christmas compilation by Nana Mouskouri, Les Plus Beaux Noels du Monde, during a period that didn't even include the holiday. Universal plans to follow up in November with 100,000 more albums, many previously released only on vinyl. Record companies have good reason to rediscover their back catalogue: Part of Amazon's success with the "earth's biggest selection" lies in brisk sales of o/p material by third-party merchants. "We are now able to respond to and quantify the appetite for more eclectic, diverse recordings from the past," Universal's Olivier Robert-Murphy told Reuters. The unanswered question: What, if anything, will artists or their estates get paid?

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