Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 23, 2006  |  0 comments
At least two German-language DVDs have a DRM-related security flaw reminiscent of the XCP CD rootkits that have recently shaken U.S. consumers. According to Heise Security, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Edison contain Alpha-DVD, developed by Settec, a Korean company spun off from LG. The rootkit program announces itself in a user agreement. When installed, it redirects DVD-burning functions to itself to prevent illegal copying. However, it also "manages to affect the operation of CD/DVD burning applications with some DVD writers, regardless of whether the copy-protected disc was present or not," says Heise. Settec now offers both an update and an uninstaller. Alpha-DVD is not quite as insidious as the infamous XCP rootkit—it hides from the Task Manager but not from the OS. Even so, it still poses a hazard to consumers. "Our message to software companies producing any software (not just copy protection products) is clear," says Finnish security firm F-Secure, whose rootkit sniffer is pic of the day. "You should always avoid hiding anything from the user, especially the administrator. It rarely serves the needs of the user, and in many cases it's very easy to create a security vulnerability this way."
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 22, 2006  |  2 comments
Manhattan's Upper West Side is home to many world-class attractions—Lincoln Center, the Museum of Natural History, and the Fairway cheese department, to name just a few—but electronics-industry press events are relatively rare. Yet there I was, a 15-minute walk from my apartment, in a store full of reporters getting Toshiba's marketing message about HD DVD. The event at P.C. Richard & Sons was day one of a 40-city roadshow that will be repeated in stores throughout the country. The highlight of the presentation was a split-screen comparison of high- and standard-definition material, including a boat that glided from one side of the screen to the other, acquiring depth and detail along the way. Consumers had already placed orders that day for players to be delivered in the last week of March, we were told. Contrary to a rumor reported here, an interim agreement on encryption keys will allow hardware and software manufacturers to move forward in tandem. Still unanswered are the two big questions: (1) Can either HD DVD or Blu-ray prosper in a format war? And (2) what impact will the down-res of component video output have on owners of early-generation HDTVs? Toshiba has a new HD DVD website here and Darryl Wilkinson offers more details here. I, however, got the free long-sleeved HD DVD T-shirt, available in a choice of emerald, rose, and blue-grey. Word up, Blu-ray people—this is going to be a hard T-shirt to beat.
Geoffrey Morrison  |  Feb 22, 2006  |  4 comments
In the March issue I did a Hook Me Up on how to shoot in HD. I mentioned there would be web content with links to HD resources and such. You can find that very web content here. Don’t bother reading it if you haven’t read the first part, ah, first.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 22, 2006  |  3 comments

It was the most ambitious do-it-yourself carpentry work I've done in five years, ever since I covered the windows in my home theater studio to shut out the light and minimize extraneous outside sounds. The latest project involved building a false wall directly in front of an existing wall, not only to conveniently hang an expected ongoing parade of flat panel displays coming in for review, but also to facilitate a planned series of on-wall speaker reviews. There's no question that on-wall speakers are a significant trend, and one that we can't continue to ignore here at <I>Ultimate AV</I>. As for in-walls, well, that's a project for the future.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Feb 22, 2006  |  0 comments
You can find Part 1 in the March issue.

I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I would say I am fairly knowledgeable in the workings of consumer electronics gear and computers. I took several film and video classes in college, and even interned at a video production house. I would consider myself qualified to work a video camera, and a computer. Then why in all things holy CAN'T I GET THIS THING TO WORK?

Geoffrey Morrison  |  Feb 21, 2006  |  0 comments
Goodbye analog; hello 1080p.

Welcome to our third biannual RPTV Face Off. For those of you just joining us, we've brought together today six 1080p RPTVs at the roughly $4,000 price point. The excitement is palpable, the TVs warmed up, and the judges ready to stare.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 21, 2006  |  0 comments
2.1 speakers, an iPod, and thou.

As soon as I added a subwoofer to my stereo desktop system, the illicit charms of 2.1-channel audio began to woo me like the moon pulling on the tide. So, I was primed and ready when Denon's S-301 HTIB system arrived with its two speakers, sub, and controller.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Feb 21, 2006  |  0 comments
A controlling interest in your home theater can turn into a wholehouse-friendly takeover.

Silly girl. My wife thinks our home theater system ought to sound great and be easy to operate. She also wants one remote control to work the gear, the lights, and whatever else she desires dominion over.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Feb 21, 2006  |  0 comments
It's 26 percent more compact, packed with easy-to-use features, and more affordable than its predecessor. Oh, yeah, and it lets you record high-definition home videos.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Feb 21, 2006  |  1 comments
Would I stoop to running a news item just because it comes with a cool pic? If you thought otherwise, how little you know me. Congratulations to the Blu-ray family on the birth of the quad-layer disc, first shown in prototype at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show. Existing Blu-ray discs (inasmuch as they can be said to exist) use a single layer for capacity of 25 gigabytes or two layers for 50GB. Double the number of layers yet again and what do you get? A 100GB quad-layer disc that can store up to nine hours of high-definition video, at least in situations where digital rights management would so permit. As the picture shows, the disc actually has nine layers if you count the spacers, the second-from-top cover layer, and the Durabis layer—that's the name TDK has given the specially formulated top layer. Blu-ray players read data at a much shallower depth than regular DVD, so the top layer has to be both thin and hard. Otherwise it would need a protective caddy, like 2003-vintage Blu-ray in Japan. The quad-layer prototype is a write-once disc (not rewritable) and there's no word on when it will become available.