THX to Bridge Content-Hardware Divide

THX wants to take the headaches and confusion out of the audio/video/gaming experience for consumers. The company is meeting with journalists and companies at CES to promote its fledgling Media Director program that's designed to take the digital information available on movies and games and make that decipherable to consumer electronics devices. According to THX, Media Director will turn digital media into smart content that communicates directly with A/V components.

Not sure which aspect ratio is best for your DVD and tired of menu-hopping to switch between 4:3 and 16:9? Media Director-enabled devices will do the proper processing for you, stretching the image where appropriate and making the correct color temperature, contrast and other video choices so that you don't have to. On the audio side, Media Director will take the cues embedded in the DVD's descriptor file and select the optimum playback mode (dts 5.1 game, for instance) so that you don't have to scroll through the list of 50-odd audio modes available on today's A/V receivers.

So how do you get one? Well, you wait a bit--at least until summer when the first Media Director DVD is expected to be available. Meantime, start saving your money because the technology--in true consumer electronics fashion--will be available first in high-end components. THX announced at CES that Lyngdorf, a high-end audio company from Scandinavia, will be first to market with a Media Director-capable A/V receiver. Anchor Bay/DVDO will stuff Media Director into its pro video processor.

But THX's hope is to make the technology ubiquitous and in different flavors to meet different needs. How much will it cost when it goes mainstream? THX licensing fees typically add 50 cents to $2 to the cost of a product and manufacturers build that cost into the overall cost of the component. Start saving but don't expect to see Media Director in affordable receivers or Blu-ray Disc players in 2008. You may want to start looking for discs with the Media Director brand mid-year, though, so you're ready when it's time to upgrade gear.--Rebecca Day