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Mark Fleischmann

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 08, 2006 0 comments
Commuters in New York's Grand Central Terminal got an eyeful of huge TVs and the people who love them last week—see full-sized shot in the Galleries. It was the first stop in a Panasonic plasma tour that will also reach Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, and possible additional places. Says here: "The Panasonic Plasma Tour will be staffed by Panasonic Plasma Concierge experts who will be able to answer consumers' questions and give advice... Featured in the display will be Panasonic's full line of industry-leading Plasma TVs including the 37-inch, 42-inch, 50-inch, 58-inch, the recently debuted 1080p 65-inch, and the 103-inch model, the world's largest Plasma TV.... We know that consumers are looking for bigger screens and, when it comes to large screens, there is no better option than high definition plasma." All righty then. Did you know all Panasonic plasmas are covered by the Concierge program? And that you can call a toll-free number (888-972-6276) so a trained specialist can help you "get on with the experience of enjoying HDTV's benefits"? Well, I should hope so, since Darryl told you last June. Check out the Plasma Concierge website too.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 07, 2006 1 comments
You may not realize it, but space on your rack is valuable, and having gotten a slot, certain parties are determined to multi-task as much as possible. One of them is Microsoft. Starting on November 22 the behemoth of Redmond will start bringing TV and movies—including high-def material—to the Xbox 360 gaming console with content from CBS, MTV, Paramount, Turner, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and Warner. Some content will be download-to-own, some download-to-rent. Prices were not announced. TV stuff will include condensed NASCAR races, UFC's "most intense fights," and from CBS: episodes of CSI, Jericho, Numb3rs, and remastered Star Trek. Not many movie titles were announced except for Warner's The Matrix, Superman Returns, and Batman Forever. More content listed here, press release here.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 06, 2006 0 comments
Windows Vista launches November 30 to corporate customers and January 30 to consumers. Will the next version of Windows become the next big thing in high-end audio circles? There certainly are some interesting features listed in this tutorial from the Windows Vista Team Blog. For instance, bass management applies in both forward (LFE sent from main to sub channels) and reverse ("mapped back into the main channels"). There's "loudness equalization" to maintain even volume levels among different sources. "Speaker fill" seems to be the Microsofting of Dolby Pro Logic II though whether it will work equally as well remains to be seen (in my experience, nothing works as well as DPLII). Perhaps most ambitious, Vista will have its own "room correction" circuit, using microphone input to tweak delay, frequency response, and gain. "This technology works differently than similar features in high-end receivers since it better accounts for the way the human ear processes sound," says product manager Nick White. We'll see about that! While we're puckering up for Microsoft, check out Gizmodo's Happy Birthday, Windows XP. Five years old and still faithfully serving 400 million users.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 03, 2006 0 comments
For my money, the first-generation shuffle was the most boring iPod ever. Somehow, though, the absence of a screen seems more forgivable when the player shrinks to the size of a slightly obese postage stamp. That's the second-generation iPod shuffle and it shipped today after having been announced in September. It runs its one gigabyte of flash memory for 12 hours per charge. The one available color is silver and the price is $79. Even those of us who already have an iPod (I'm trying to hold the line at one) may be sorely tempted to add another one. You might want to keep one in your other suit. Or your second-favorite handbag. Or in all dozen pairs of faded, ripped, stained Levis. Or something.
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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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