Monthly Archives: January 2009

UK home entertainment industry launches Blu-ray info web site

HDTV UK: The British Video Association (BVA) has launched the new web site which “aims to become the online Blu-ray authority”.

The new site is a collaborative venture between hardware manufacturers, film studios and distributors supporting the Blu-ray format, and will be used to raise public awareness of the benefits of Blu-ray, plus software and hardware news.

The BVA believes that one of the main factors stopping Blu-ray from going mainstream is a consumer misunderstanding of what hardware is required to view high definition content. The web site will contain interactive guides which explain how consumers can get the best out of their equipment and the importance of having an HD-ready TV, a Blu-ray player and a Blu-ray disc to obtain the highest-quality home entertainment possible.

Marketing Manager of the British Video Association, Hannah Conduct, said, “As Blu-ray is now the next generation format for hi-def home entertainment, we expect to see sales going from strength to strength in 2009.”

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Toshiba introduces dual remote Vardia DVRs

Electronista: Toshiba recently introduced two new Vardia-series DVRs, including the 500GB-capacity RD-G503 and the 300GB RD-E303. Both sport also sport a DVD burner and are capable of recording video in MPEG-2 TS and in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC formats.

The Vardia DVRs are capable of upscaling standard DVDs to near-HD quality, while a built-in ground and BS/110 degree CS digital tuner are built-in to receive TV programming. The delete function can be set to erase partially recorded TV programs that get cut when the power goes out to prevent wasting hard drive space. Dual-layer and rewritable DVDs are compatible with the Vardia DVRs.

The integrated video DAC is a 10-bit/148.5MHz unit capable of supporting 1080i or 720p resolutions, while the simpler 10-bit/108MHz supports 480i/480p resolutions.

The G503 is available in both white and black, while the smaller capacity E303 will only be offered in black.

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Bowers & Wilkins introduces new in-ceiling home theater speakers

I4U News: Bowers & Wilkins maybe known to most as the maker of truly high-end speakers. The firm puts sound systems into some of the most luxurious vehicles in the world and offers some of the most expensive speakers you can get.

B&W has introduced a new in-ceiling home theater speaker called the CCM816 that is set to be available in February 2009 at a price of $600 each. For that price, you get a speaker that has a 2-way design and a woven Kevlar driver for bass and midrange.

The same cone is used on other B&W speakers, but the in-ceiling driver gets a blue coating to be less eye catching than the normal yellow. The drivers are set to a 28-degree angle to allow the speaker to focus sound on the optimum listening position.

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Archos moves into mobile digital TV

TechRadar: Archos has announced it will be bringing DVB-SH capabilities (Digital Video Broadcasting – Satellite services to Handhelds) to its latest range of Internet Media Tablets.

In a collaboration with Alcatel-Lucent and ICO to demonstrate mobile digital television, the French PMP makers have demonstrated the technology working in real life situations, allowing anywhere, anytime mobile digital TV.

The DVB-SH standard is specifically designed for handheld reception, offering more clarity over the traditional DVB-T standard currently used in the UK to broadcast digital transmissions.

Via an accessory and a software plug in (purchased separately), the latest range, which includes the Archos 5, 7 and new Archos 10 Mini-laptop, will be compatible with the service.

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Lowrance intros three GPS units

SlipperyBrick: Most of us will probably never need a GPS system outside of our car, but those who are more adventurous will find Lowrance’s new GPS units useful.

The trio goes by the names of Outback, Safari, and Sierra.

Each features a 2.7-inch LCD and a microSD card slot, plus all of the usual outdoor-friendly GPS specs.

Even a barometric altimeter and a 3D electronic compass on the more expensive models. The Sierra includes street maps using maps from NAVTEQ.

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Sennheiser offer up more HD models Sennheiser unveiled three new headphones  – the HD 218, HD 228 and HD 238 Precision. These headphones are optimized for portable devices such as the Apple iPhone and other MP3 players, and are especially designed for individuals who are constantly on the go.

The HD 218 features dynamic bass reproduction and closed ear cups to cancel outside noises. The HD 228 is a first-class headphone that offers depth reproduction, clear stereo sound and rich bass.  It incorporates neodymium magnets that ensure high-quality audio, and also features closed ear cups and comfortable padding so that listeners can wear them for hours without discomfort. 

The HD 238 Precision is a top-of-the-line headphone, designed for individuals who are serious about sound.  It has a well-balanced stereo sound that is effective both with portable devices and home audio use. 

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3D standard must be agreed before tech takes off say experts

Home Cinema Choice: The consumer electronics industry and Hollywood must agree a delivery system standard for 3D before the technology has a chance of taking off as a consumer product. That’s the view of UK-based market analysts Futuresource.

Bill Foster, Futuresource’s senior technology consultant, also suggests that one of the key reasons Blu-ray won out against rival HD DVD was because studio executives were already looking down the road at releasing data-heavy titles in a 3D format: ‘Certain studios had their reasons for wanting Blu-ray (in the first place), because they were already thinking about 3D. But there has to be some technology standard.’ he says.

The research firm, more controversially, predicts that 3D technology which doesn’t require special glasses will supplant ‘spectacle-based’ 3D within a decade.

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Leica intros its first HD-capable DLP projector

Electronista: German photo camera manufacturer Leica has recently introduced its Pradovit D-1200 DLP projector at the Photokina show, the first product of its kind for the manufacturer.

The 16:10 aspect ratio projector sports a 1920×1200 native resolution along with a 2,000 lumens brightness and a 2,500:1 contrast ratio.

The D-1200′s magnesium body houses a 0.98-inch DarkChip sensor sourced from Texas Instruments and a six-segment RGB color wheel. Setting up the D-1200 is made easier thanks to a vertical lens shift feature, and minimum projection distance is rated at nearly 3.3 feet.

A 220W Philips lamp is used, with its life rated at 3,000 hours in regular operating mode or 4,000 hours in a special Eco mode that cuts down to 1,400 lumens of brightness.

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Samsung TVs: All-new LED, LCD and plasmas

Crave: This year sees a new range introduced to the Samsung TV family. In the US it’s going to be called Luxia, which is the umbrella name for the LED-backlit screens. In the UK, we won’t be calling them that, but it’s not clear yet if these new tellies will have some sort of catchy moniker or not.

In the LED-backlit stakes, Samsung has announced three lines, namely the 6000, 7000 and 8000. The 6000 range will be the ‘entry-level’ TVs, with four sizes, 32, 37, 40 and 46-inches. The 7000 range also comes in four screen sizes: 32, 40, 46 and 55 inches. You can either opt for an updated ‘Rose Black’ design or a new ‘Platinum’ style. This range will have access to the Yahoo Widgets. The 8000 range has two screen sizes: 40 and 46 inches. They’re both 200Hz sets, which is supposed to further increase the quality of on-screen motion, and they come with a beautiful aluminium stand.

There are some impressive LCD TVs on the way too though, which should offer better value for money. The big news this year is that all Samsung TVs larger than 32 inches will be 1080p. Series 7 are the most exciting screens in the LCD range. They’ll feature Yahoo Widgets, 200Hz for smooth motion, four HDMI inputs and multimedia playback courtesy of WiseLink Pro. The popular Bordeaux shape that Samsung introduced a few years ago has also made a comeback, the Series 6 screens all have the distinctive curve at the bottom of the screen, but also feature the ‘Rose Black’ finish too. In plasmas, Series 8 offers a new ultra-thin design, with a depth of 30mm.

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Cambridge Audio proves it can stand with the big boys When it comes to receivers and preamps we always think of names like Anthem, Pioneer, Yamaha and Sony.  However, Cambridge Audio has demonstrated that they are ready to stand with the big boys. 

At CES they displayed their version 2 of their Azur 640R AV receiver. Many viewers were quite impressed.

The version 2 receiver employs the long-awaited Cirrus Logic/Crystal chipset. There are twin 32-bit DSPs with full support for all the latest uncompressed audio codecs. 

The V2 can also transcode analog video into digital to output via HDMI. The receiver contains seven 100Watt outputs at a nominal 8ohms. The direct stereo mode delivers 1200Watts per channel for audiophile listening. 

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TomTom cuts 115 jobs

GPS Business News: TomTom today announced a reduction of its global workforce – excluding Tele Atlas – of 7% or 115 staff as part of a cost cutting programme aimed at “aligning its cost structure to reflect to the current challenging consumer spending environment”.

Two days ago TomTom lowered its revenue and profit forecast. Its revenue is now expected to be between €1.66 billion and €1.68 billion instead of €1.75 billion to €1.85 billion.

The Dutch company said that “today’s announcement does not affect Tele Atlas where reductions are already in progress which will lead to annualised savings of €35 million.” Tele Atlas announced 125 job cuts last month.

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Sony boss surrenders pay bonus as company braces for job cuts

Tech Digest: Sir Howard Stringer, the Sony boss whose company reforms were doing a great job until the global financial crisis stopped everyone buying second BRAVIAS for the bedroom on their credit cards, will be turning down his bonus this year as Sony reveals its first annual loss in 14 years.

“The massive economic upheaval being experienced across the globe is sparing no one in the consumer electronics world,” Stringer said, as he revealed a forecast loss of $1.7bn for the year – and said Sony would look to making more job cuts on top of the already-announced 16,000 staff its planning to axe – eventually saving 30% in personnel costs.

Sony also reduced its forecast for total sales revenues.

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