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Barry Willis  |  Apr 02, 2000  |  0 comments

First Sony made the PlayStation 2, a $370 "gaming console." Then users discovered that it could play Digital Versatile Discs from all regions, a clear violation of DVD Forum engineering specifications intended to accommodate the entertainment industry's longstanding policy of releasing films on video at different times in different parts of the world&mdash;after they've run in commercial theaters. Shortly thereafter, users also found that they could make perfect videotape <A HREF="htpp://">copies</A> of DVDs via the RGB outputs on the machine, thereby circumventing Macrovision, the copy-prevention technique built into the DVD format. Seems the PlayStation 2 was a two-front nightmare for the film business.

Barry Willis  |  Mar 26, 2000  |  0 comments

Fear that its programming will be given short shrift by the combined might of America Online and Time Warner has led the <A HREF="">Walt Disney Company</A> to lobby US lawmakers about the media giants' impending merger. Disney has made quiet but persistent efforts to influence legislators who must approve the merger, according to several reports appearing in late March.

 |  Mar 26, 2000  |  0 comments

Affordable set-top boxes for the reception of digital television signals from Direct Broadcast Satellites are popping up like spring flowers. At prices from under $250 to about $400, the STBs (set-top boxes) offer a lot of bang for the buck.

Jon Iverson  |  Mar 26, 2000  |  0 comments

The Linux operating-system movement appeared to have taken a leap forward last week with the announcement of <A HREF="">Indrema</A>, a new consumer-electronics company specializing in open-source digital products for home entertainment. Using the Linux operating system, enhanced by a set of open-source multimedia standards such as the Direct Rendering Infrastructure, the new OpenStream video architecture, and Mesa 3D compatible graphics components, Indrema says it plans to "turn the consumer-electronics industry on its head."

 |  Mar 26, 2000  |  0 comments

February's manufacturer-to-dealer shipments of video products were up 22% over the same period last year, according to figures released March 17 by the <A HREF="">Consumer Electronics Association</A>. Every segment of the video market showed strong growth, including analog direct-view televisions, which were up by 8%, with 2.9 million units shipped.

 |  Mar 26, 2000  |  1 comments

Last week, <A HREF="">IBM</A> announced a family of chips that it hopes will accelerate the transformation of TV sets into fully interactive, two-way information appliances. IBM says it is combining high-speed PowerPC processors and other television set-top box (STB) components onto a single "system-on-a-chip" that will give STB makers "significant benefits in system performance, price, and design." IBM claims that the chips will also help drive new capabilities for electronic program guides, Web browsing, and interactive applications such as home banking, e-commerce, and information retrieval.

Barry Willis  |  Mar 26, 2000  |  0 comments

The cat has really gotten out of the bag with Sony's new Playstation 2. In mid-March, we <A HREF="">reported</A> that the machine can play Digital Versatile Discs from all regions, reinforcing one of the film industry's biggest fears: that the new format will circumvent carefully orchestrated release dates. Now it appears that the machine can do more.

 |  Mar 19, 2000  |  0 comments

While many cable TV systems serving large metropolitan areas offer advanced video, data, and voice service over their cable TV lines, that's not often been the case in small towns and rural areas. In fact, according to the latest report by <A HREF="">Cahners In-Stat Group</A>, most cable operators in small- to medium-sized markets will not offer comparable services for the foreseeable future.

 |  Mar 19, 2000  |  0 comments

As part of its mission "to provide home entertainment however consumers want to receive it," <A HREF="">Blockbuster</A> announced last week that it has taken a "significant first step" in the development of a national program to deliver movies and games to the home. Under a home-delivery agreement with, Blockbuster says that its videos will be delivered by through Takeout Taxi, a restaurant delivery service. Blockbuster has also <A HREF="">recently announced</A> a deal with MGM to develop digital streaming technologies for movie delivery.

Jon Iverson  |  Mar 19, 2000  |  0 comments

Judging from the responses to our <A HREF="">Vote!</A> question from several months ago, a significant number of home-theater fans are not happy with DVD region codes. The film studios are attempting to control their staggered rollouts of movies for the consumer markets around the planet with the codes, which prevent a DVD made in one region of the world from playing on a DVD player from another region.

 |  Mar 19, 2000  |  0 comments

Short films, many of them animated, are popping up all over the Internet. Because it is less demanding of bandwidth than live-action video, animation lends itself to the type of connections that most consumers have today. Ultimately, however, features that began on the Internet will find their way onto network television---improving it in the process.

 |  Mar 19, 2000  |  0 comments

Major sports events and digital television are made for each other. This year's annual <A HREF="">National Collegiate Athletic Association</A> men's college basketball tournament will present broadcasters and electronics dealers an unprecedented opportunity to show the public what DTV is all about.

Jon Iverson  |  Mar 12, 2000  |  0 comments

Last week, <A HREF="">iBlast Networks</A>, which comprises 12 major television broadcast groups, announced that it has formed a national network that it says will use a dedicated portion of the digital spectrum assigned to local television stations to deliver a "wide array of high-speed, over-the-air broadband digital content and services" direct to consumers. iBlast claims that this digital content will include music, video, games, software, and other applications.

 |  Mar 12, 2000  |  0 comments

The <A HREF="">Consumer Electronics Association</A> has accused the American broadcasting industry of delaying the transition to digital television by refusing to make the necessary investments in equipment and programming. The consumer electronics industry and related businesses are moving forward aggressively while broadcasters drag their feet, the CEA stated in a letter delivered March 8 to <A HREF="">Federal Communications Commission</A> chairman Bill Kennard.

Barry Willis  |  Mar 12, 2000  |  0 comments

They have seen the future of cinema, and it is digital. The 12,000 attendees at last week's ShoWest 2000 convention in Las Vegas, the biggest annual event for theater owners, went home with both enthusiasm and concern about the effects digital technology will wreak on their industry. One major announcement was the agreement by six major theater chains that they would take their ticket sales onto the Internet.