While the good news is that we now apparently know when Blu-ray is going to launch, a pair of news stories from last week dovetail to paint a fairly ugly picture for the Blu-ray Disc. If the reports of the <A HREF="http://ultimateavmag.com/news/022606ps3delay/"> delay of PlayStation3 </A> hold, that means there will not be a single BD player available at launch for less than $1000. Add to that the uninspiring list of titles announced to accompany Blu-ray’s May 23rd launch and you’ve got to wonder, who’s going to bother?
Walking around at CES 2006 it wasn't difficult to ascertain what's coming down the road in video: 1080P and lots of it. While in years past it's been simple to embrace 720P front projection due to the lack of 1920x1080 HD sources, that argument is losing some steam. There's more HD on satellite and cable all the time, and according to the companies involved HD DVD and Blu-ray will arrive in the first half of this year. And Marantz and all the other companies who are in the 720P DLP business made it clear that this year will see them enter the 1080P DLP business.
On Tuesday Apple introduced the iPod Hi-Fi and two new Intel-based Mac Mini computers, each orders of magnitude faster than their predecessors. Of course, the iPod Hi-Fi stole the headlines, but it was one of Mac Mini's new features, Front Row with Bonjour, that offered the best and clearest glimpse of what an Apple-powered digital living room might look and feel like.
It's incredibly common for Hollywood blockbusters to come in way late and over budget, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised since Sony owns its own movie studio. An industry analysis by Merrill Lynch predicts that Sony's PlayStation3 could not only be delayed 6-12 months, putting off its US launch until late 2006 or early 2007, but also estimates that the gaming consoles are going to cost Sony nearly $900 per unit to build. These predictions started a firestorm across broad segments of the industry, as such delays would not only hurt Sony in the gaming space, but also would undoubtedly cost Blu-ray Disc some critical momentum in the next-gen disc format war. HD DVD players and discs are currently on schedule to hit retail stores next month.
<B>Parasound's Zcustom Line Now Features Dedicated HDMI Switcher</B>
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Several years ago as component video began to appear on more and more sources and displays, those living on the bleeding edge quickly accrued more component sources than their displays and/or surround processors and AVRs could effectively switch. Flash forward and the same thing is happening with HDMI sources now. Many users have a DVD player and an HD set-top box of some kind, and yet it's still shockingly rare to find a display with even two HDMI inputs. Well, Parasound has an answer for you.
This past week two stories circulated around the Internet that dramatically illustrate the confusion surrounding the next-gen optical disc formats. The first rumor had both formats being delayed due to failure to agree to the finalized standard for the AACS copy protection that will be employed by both formats. The second was that Toshiba will kick off a 40-city promotional tour this coming week to hype HD DVD's March launch. Well, is it on again or off again?!
Earlier this week the video-on-demand movie service called MovieBeam was reborn, and will offer movies from six major Hollywood studios in standard definition, and high definition movies from Warner Bros. and Disney. According to MovieBeam, Disney, Miramax, and Touchstone titles will be available day and date with the DVD release, while movies from other studios will conform to a 30-45 day window between DVD release and on-demand availability. Although MovieBeam has specified that around 10% of its titles will be in HD, there is no word yet as to whether the day and date titles specifically will be in HD.
<B>Marantz Becomes Preferred Brand Of Juilliard</B>
Marantz has entered into a strategic marketing relationship with New York's prestigious Juilliard School, and will be recognized as "the preferred audio/video brand of The Juilliard School." Announced in December of 2005, the relationship coincides with Juilliard's yearlong 100th anniversary celebration, and will see Marantz serving as the performing arts conservatory's Official Audio/Visual Sponsor and donating its AV products for educational use and world premier performances at the school throughout the year.
<B>Blu-ray Players, Java Interactivity, And1080p</B>
At the close of CES 2006 a few stories circulated around the Internet that some of the first Blu-ray players out of the gate would not support the full implementation of Java-based interactivity (dubbed BDJ, for Blu-ray Disc Java) touted as one of the format's chief selling points. These stories expounded that players would be classified as either basic or full profile, with the latter being the only players that would support full BD-J interactivity.
If you've been reading <I>UAV's</I> reviews you know that while 1080p displays are proliferating, the ability of these displays to actually accept a 1080p native signal is a rarity. And if you've been following our coverage of the next-gen disc formats you also know that DTS and Dolby have cooked up new audio formats that aren't based on the lossy compression schemes we've been living with on DVD for years. All of these developments are intertwined with the HDMI specs, as HDMI will be the carrier for both 1080p video and the new audio codecs. Here's the latest on what it all means.