Audio Video News

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 |  Jun 27, 1999  |  0 comments

Last week, the DVD Forum announced that its Steering Committee has formally approved the physical format of the DVD-RAM discs for 4.7 gigabytes (GB) as version 2.0. The Format Book for version 2.0 (Physical Specifications) will be published in the third quarter of this year. The DVD Froum says that the 4.7GB DVD-RAM format will be compatible with the existing 2.6GB (v.1.0) DVD-RAM format, as well as with other DVD formats established by the DVD Forum. The new 4.7GB format is expected to impact both PC and audio/video applications.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 27, 1999  |  0 comments

One of every four film productions conceived and set in motion in the United States is now largely produced out of the country---the result of studio executives obsessed about extracting the highest possible profit at the lowest possible cost. About 23,500 entertainment-industry jobs and $2.8 billion worth of TV and movie projects were taken offshore or over the border last year, according to James Bates in the June 25 <A HREF=" Angeles Times</I></A>. The phenomenon, known in Hollywood as "runaway" filmmaking, could ripple through the entire US economy with an effect of as much as $10 billion.

Michael Metzger  |  Jun 27, 1999  |  0 comments

D<I>avid Bennett, Angela Winkler, Mario Adorf, Katharina Thalbach, Daniel Olbrychski. Directed by Volker Schl&ouml;ndorff. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (letterbox). Dolby Digital 5.1. 142 minutes. 1979. Image Entertainment/Kino Video K104. Rated R. $39.99.</I>

 |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

A plasma display's compact physical size, perfectly flat screen, and pixel-sharp picture answer many prayers for home-theater enthusiasts. There are a few downsides, however, including a lack of true blacks and prices equal to a new small car. But one of the biggest drawbacks so far is far too few pixels to properly present an HDTV image. To solve this problem, several manufacturers are creating larger displays with higher resolutions.

Paula Nechak  |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

H<I>olly Hunter, Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, Martin Donovan. Directed by Richard LaGravenese. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (letterbox). Dolby Digital 5.1. 100 minutes. 1998. New Line Home Video N4726. Rated R. $24.95.</I>

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

I have seen the future, and it is digital. On June 18, cinematic history was made as <I>Star Wars: Episode 1---The Phantom Menace</I> became the first movie in the U.S. to be publicly screened from a digital source rather than a film print (see <A HREF="">related story</A>).

Jon Iverson  |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

Every year, as summer sales for consumer-electronics products drag a little, manufacturers and retailers wonder which products will be the trend-setters in the upcoming holiday season. According to a report just released by <A HREF="">International Data Corporation</A> (IDC), the hot niche for 1999 will be a new product category: digital video recorders (DVRs) from companies like <A HREF="">RePlay Networks</A> and <A HREF="">TiVo</A>.

 |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

According to a June 14 report on the <A HREF="">OpenDTV news list</A>, <A HREF="">Showtime Networks</A> will begin delivering original HDTV programming early next year. Concerts, movies, and sports will all be produced in either 1080i or 720p. Showtime has not yet decided which format will get the ultimate nod, but Mark Greenberg, executive vice president for corporate strategy and communications, says his company is leaning toward 1080i as offering the biggest bang for the buck. Also undecided is whether HDTV signals will be delivered over dedicated channels or will share bandwidth with existing services.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 20, 1999  |  0 comments

Divx is gone. <A HREF="">Digital Video Express</A>, the <A HREF="">Circuit City</A> subsidiary that launched the pay-per-view DVD format less than a year ago, announced on June 16 that it would cease operations. Blaming lack of support from film studios and retailers, Circuit City decided to bow out early rather than continue to fight a losing battle. "We regret that a lack of support from studios and other retailers will prohibit consumers from receiving the exceptional benefits of the Divx system," says W. Alan McCollough, president and chief operating officer of Circuit City Stores, Inc. A refund program for Divx buyers is underway, company officials stated.

 |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

Last week, <A HREF="">DirecTV</A>, a subsidiary of <A HREF="">Hughes Electronics</A>, announced that its direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) television service acquired 110,000 new customers in May. This figure is a record for that month, the company reports, and a 57% increase in net customer acquisition over May 1998. An additional 145,000 customers---who previously subscribed only to programming from US Satellite Broadcasting---were gained last month by DirecTV when Hughes completed its merger with USSB on May 20.

 |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

Last week, <A HREF="">Panasonic</A> announced that it will market hard-disk video recorders with <A HREF="">ReplayTV</A> technology under the Panasonic brand. The company expects to be one of the first outside Replay Networks, Inc. to market hard-disk recorders with ReplayTV, which allows television viewers to record shows "on the fly" directly onto a built-in hard disk.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

Plasma displays have taken a big leap toward affordability. On June 10, <A HREF="">Fujitsu General America Inc.</A> announced a major reduction in the price of its Plasmavision 42 at the InfoComm International '99 confab in Orlando, Florida. The new price of $6995 is a 30% drop from the former suggested retail of almost $10,000---and half the price of the 42's predecessor, which was introduced at CES in 1997.

 |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

Last month, at HI-FI '99 in Chicago, Telarc's Bob Woods dismissed fears of a format war between the Super Audio Compact Disc---a format developed and promoted by Sony/Philips---and DVD-Audio. "Someone will make a universal player," he promised.

Barry Willis  |  Jun 13, 1999  |  0 comments

News Corporation's <A HREF="">Fox Network</A> and the <A HREF="">National Association of Broadcasters</A> have gone their separate ways. Fox made the announcement on June 8 in protest over the Association's refusal to lobby against legal limits on the number of television stations one company can own. The limit is now defined by Federal law as a total number of stations that reach no more than 35% of the more than 100 million homes in the US. Three weeks earlier, <A HREF="">NBC</A>, a unit of General Electric, had threatened similar action over the NAB's refusal to change its policy.

 |  Jun 06, 1999  |  0 comments

Last week, <A HREF="">Microsoft</A> and <A HREF="">Wink Communications</A> announced an agreement to promote interactive content and commerce based on the <A HREF="">Advanced Television Enhancement Forum</A> (ATVEF) specification for interactive television. Wink Communications says it will optimize its Response Network Service (which provides the broadcast and cable-television industries with viewer-response services) to support ATVEF-compliant content for television devices that use the Microsoft television-software platform. In turn, Microsoft claims that it will use Wink's Response Network to handle certain ATVEF-based advertising direct-response services. As part of the agreement, Microsoft invested $30 million in Wink Communications.