The first pirated material from an HD DVD has been posted on BitTorrent. This latest battle in the digital rights management war began a month ago when a blogger told the world he'd hacked AACS, the DRM that protects both HD DVD and Blu-ray, as a means of getting the player to work with his DVI-in TV. Because AACS involves both firmware in the player and an encryption key in each disc, his BackupHDDVD utility was worthless without the keys. But now people are posting the encryption keys on the net and HD DVD is officially insecure. Blu-ray is not as badly affected, because it adds a second layer of protection called BD+. The news overshadows other recent HD DVD gains, including its first triple-layer 51GB disc and its embrace by the adult video industry.
The battle over the broadcast flag resumes, with the reintroduction of S.256 (the Perform Act) by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Last year it died in committee. Apparently, however, this is going to be an annual occurrence until the entertainment industry and its proxies in Congress get their way. The ostensible aim is to prevent cherrypick recording of satellite, cable, or Internet broadcasts. You could still record by time slot or station, but the bill is widely viewed as a Trojan horse for digital rights management and more draconian future restrictions. As before, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Consumer Electronics Association are leading the loyal opposition. Also up in arms is Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) who has introduced legislation of his own to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from hoisting the flag without even a figleaf of legislation.
"You want this ... don't you?" asked Geoff in our fab CES coverage. Of course you want LG's BH100 Blu-ray and HD DVD combi player--unless you've already bought into one format or the other, you poor sap. Even at $1199, who wouldn't want it after reading this description on the Best Buy site: "With the ability to play both Blu-ray Discs and HD DVDs, in addition to upconverting standard DVDs, this versatile system delivers crisp and clear images with rich layers of sound that will leave you on the edge of your seat." The site says the unit is sold out and mumbles something about in-store pickup though actually the product is not available yet. But judging from the detailed spec list and photos, it looks as though the product development process was well along before news started to leak out just prior to CES.
Are you a fan of Norah Jones? If so, you may be looking to download "Thinking About You," her new single. Best place to go is Yahoo, where you can buy it in the latest, coolest codec ever: MP3! Yeah, yeah, yeah, you can buy the track from iTunes. But if you do, it will be wrapped in FairPlay, Apple's brand of digital rights management (yuck, tooey). Wouldn't you rather pay the same to Yahoo, and enjoy the following advantages of DRM-free downloads, so helpfully enumerated by Yahoo? Oooh, talk DRM-less to me:
The former design guru of Platinum Audio now heads up American Acoustic Development, or AAC, and while the 7001i Reference monitor's ribbon tweeter caught my ear, I was soon sucked into the vortex of Phil's M Series, his first value-priced home theater package ($1350/5.1-channel system). He is a bass player and let me assure you the system had jaw-droppingly tight and focused bass response as well as the designer's signature clarity.
The G95 is this high-end digital icon's first product to combine preamp, surround processing, and amplifier functions. Power is rated at 100 watts times five. Also included is a DVD/CD drawer (with DVD-Audio compatibility). The price is a mere $8400 and surround-savvy, spaced-starved audiophiles are salivating. Meridian also showed off a new variant of its Faroudja video processing with motion compensation, not to mention a trendy iPod dock.
If this rosewood piano-gloss finish looks good to you, Onix will sell it to you in a two-way stand-mount speaker for $269/pair. The company also makes electronics. In fact, a previous incarnation of Onix made the stereo integrated amp that powers my desktop system.
Speakers of the future will go green. Among the several environment-friendly materials Infinity is considering is recycled-denim insulation (not to mention bamboo plywood). It will soon arrive in product. Just think, what was warming someone's booty yesterday may be in your speakers tomorrow.
Audio Physic's Sky on-wall suits a variety of decor situations with four choices of side panel for a mere $2000/pair (the company has a high-end rep on the block). Without panels, it also functions as an in-wall. The Spark mini-tower, Celsius center, and Step stand-mount speakers may find their way into my listening room.
The newer and smaller of Bang & Olufsen's two powered floorstanding speakers powers its woofer with 500 watts of Class D ICE power (the smart green kind) and saves sweeter-sounding Class AB for the midrange and tweeter. At $9900/pair, you might find it sinfully expensive, but when you see some of B&O's slick moves for integration with swiveling video displays and its brand-new multimedia interface, you just might change your mind.