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Microsoft's X-Box Passes On Blu-ray

Way back when the Next Generation Format War was being fought (sometime after The Clone Wars in a galaxy not so far away...) Microsoft decided to align itself with the HD-DVD camp.  After all, Sony was the manufacturer of the rival Play Station series of game consoles, so clearly it put them rooting for the opposing team.  However, Microsoft ended up backing the loser.

Fast forward to present day.  Those X-Box 360 consoles with their HD-DVD add ons are in need of a Blu-ray add on.  This way one could watch video goodness in a hi def way from their video game player.  Is Microsoft going to cave in and do such a thing?  Apparently not.

It comes down to Microsoft not wanting to back an opposing format.  While the war may be over, Microsoft won't change their hardware to appease the winner, and in turn, their minions of loyal hi def seeking fans.  While their games stick with the HD-DVD format, there will be no viewing of Blu-ray films on the X-Box 360.  It's a games platform after all.  Tell that to PS3 fans.

Blu-ray HD-3 Conference Coming Also


Another day, another Blu-ray conference. This time around it is the HD-3 conference, held in Los Angeles on Nov. 11.

HD-3 apparently used to covered both Blu-ray and HD DVD, but since the latter format is pretty much extinct now it is just about Blu-ray. Focus items are said to include studio plans for the fourth quarter of the year, a sneak peek of studio announcements expected to be made during CES, seminars and workshops and a research "supersession" on software, hardware and consumer trends and habits.

Also planned for this event are the "High-Def Disc Awards," in which a panel of critics will determine the best Blu-ray Disc titles that came to market between Oct. 1, 2007 through Sept. 30, 2008. Sounds exciting...

Blu-Con Industry Conference Coming


Apparently there's some one day conference coming up in early December to discuss "the creation, production and distribution of Blu-ray Disc." It is called Blu-Con 1.0 and it will be happening Dec. 8 in Los Angeles.

Blu-Con 1.0 is designed to bring together Blu-ray developers, marketers and producers. Discussion topics reportedly will cover a variety of topics, including BD-Live, Digital Copy, Blu-ray and music and a Blu-ray hardware update.

Other sessions, added the conference's organizers, will cover authoring, replication, packaging, replication and software tools. There will also be a studio creative panel and Blu-ray case studies on key titles in the market. Registration costs are $325 for qualified attendees.

Color Checking

Login_logo_technicolor Remember years ago somewhere in many films it would say something like "Color by Technicolor?"  I used to wonder what that really meant, and if we should care who developed the film, or what process they used.  Over the years, that logo seems to have faded away, but now it's back, in a Blu-ray way.

Thomson the worldwide leader in video solutions for the Communication, Media & Entertainment (CME) industries -- through its Technicolor Business Group, today announced it has established the first Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA)-approved Blu-ray Disc Testing Center in the United States at its Burbank location.

Because Blu-ray Discs feature cutting edge video, audio, and interactive features (BD-Jive and BD-Live), a sophisticated level of testing is required to ensure compatibility and flawless operation of all players available on the market before the discs are publicly released. Technicolor's test center is categorized as a 'content verifier' testing facility, approved by the BDA and tasked with testing commercial audiovisual (AV) content for the Association.

Technicolor, as an expert in Blu-ray Disc production, recognizes the need for improved quality control and format verification for Blu-ray Discs to ensure better compatibility and performance. The creation of a testing center directly addresses the demand by studios and content producers to create a knowledge center for improving disc compatibility and performance, and accelerate the release of Blu-ray Disc titles into the market.

So, I'm guessing that we'll be seeing that logo back on Blu-ray discs in the near future.  Glad to know the elves are working hard to ensure the best Blu-ray experience.


Blu-ray: "I'm Not Dead Yet."

Samsung_logo I think we can all admit that despite Blu-ray smacking down HD-DVD in the next gen disc format battle, it has not taken off like a rocket going into orbit.  Rather, many folks have taken a wait and see attitude pending less expensive players with a fuller feature set including BD Live 2.0.  In this down economy, none of us want to own the next laser disc after all.

However, one Samsung exec offers a view that this is the hey day of Blu-ray, and the decline is soon.  He is already talking about the replacement (the next gen of the next gen disc format, aka: Nex Gen 2.0?):

Samsung has said that it sees the Blu-ray format only lasting a further 5 years before it is replaced by another format or technology.

"I think it [Blu-ray] has 5 years left, I certainly wouldn't give it 10", Andy Griffiths, director of consumer electronics at Samsung UK told Pocket-lint in an interview.

Hoping to capitalise before it's too late, Griffiths believes that 2008 is the format's year.

"It's going to be huge", he told Pocket-lint. "We are heavily back-ordered at the moment."

Citing online rental sites like LoveFilm's adoption of Blu-ray titles, the move to offer cheaper players and a now clear path to adoption following the Blu-ray HD DVD battle, Griffith says the format will be a winner, although not for long.

Instead Samsung is putting its faith in its OLED technology. The new technology, which is "ready to rock", is being held back at the moment due to high manufacturing costs.

"We will launch the OLED technology when it's at a price that will be appealing to the consumer, unfortunately that's not yet."

What the heck is he talkin' about?  Last time I checked, OLED is not a way to store video, but the likely replacement for LCD TV's.  While they promise brighter colors, more energy efficiency and even thinner screens, I have no idea why they will replace Blu-ray discs.  I think in this case, the reports of Blu-ray's death are somewhat exaggerated. 


Beyond HD...3DTV

3d_glasses One of the holy grails of television has always been 3D.  Sure, you can put on those silly looking 3D glasses with the red and the blue, and while it does add some depth to the image, it is hardly three dimensional.  I thought things might have been better with the new HDTV's, but when the same 1950's glasses came in my TV Guide last month, I will admit that I did tune in to that silly Hannah Montana special for a few minutes to confirm that it was no better than the last time I tried this decades ago.  In the end, despite the cardboard glasses, it just isn't 3D, and looks more like "pseudo 3D."

However, it still could be done better.  Philips is developing a standard, and apparently Blu-ray will deliver the three dimensional visual goods.  Over at Tom's Hardware:

The next big thing Hollywood is hoping to bring to your living room is 3D television and the medium of choice looks to be Blu-ray. According to Xbitlabs, an undisclosed senior executive for a large consumer electronics company has said “The first real stereo 3D for the home will be via Blu-ray and for that you need a standard format. If everything goes perfectly this could happen in 2010 or 2011, but it never goes like that. Hopefully there will not be a format war."

While it sounds promising, here's hoping to no more format wars for a while.  After all, it set hi def discs back for too long, and we don't need that scenario yet again.


Studio Shuffling Towards Blu-ray Continues

Blurayces[UPDATE: Both Universal and Paramount have issued statements just now or recently declaring their intentions to stay with HD DVD. Get the full details over at HDDVDFreak.]

With all of the attention the Warner Bros. move has given to the war between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc this week, some other moves have been happening as well in this arena. Some were expected and others are rumored, but like the Microsoft issue we covered earlier, they could sound strongly for Blu-ray if they become a reality:

  • New Line Entertainment and HBO, as expected, fell in line with Warner Brothers in confirming they will be going Blu-ray only later this year.
  • There is speculation right now that the other major studios backing HD DVD, Universal and Paramount, might be considering jumping ship. Though nothing has been confirmed, a report details ways in which the two studios could exit their HD DVD relationships and move to Blu-ray. Neither studio is publicly ready to do that yet though and remains focused on backing HD DVD.

[via Engadget]

Macrovision picks up BD+ technology

MacrovisionMacrovision, that protector of digital media content which seems to have been around forever, is getting into Blu-ray Disc bed with its just closed $45 million acquisition of SPDC (Self-Protecting Digital Content) technology from Cryptography Research.

Why is this so important to Blu-ray you ask? The SPDC technology now owned by Macrovision forms the basis of BD+, one of the key technologies of Blu-ray's content security. For those unfamiliar with BD+, it is described by Macrovision as residing on both devices and media. "Title-specific security code is embedded in each BD+ protected disc. On the device side, BD+ utilizes an embedded virtual machine and APIs that are integrated directly into the media player, which communicate with the code from the discs. As a result, new titles can carry unique security code to address emerging threats, thus providing content producers the ability to respond to security breaches without impacting legitimate consumers."

The Macrovision purchase grants the company "includes certain CRI patents, security software code, and related third party customer and partner agreements." The BD+ feature is in use by more than 20 companies including CE manufacturers and studios. Macrovision sees the purchase as complementing other content protection technologies it uses.

About Hitachi-LG Data Storage, inc.

Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Inc. is a joint company of Hitachi, Ltd. and LG Electronics, Inc. that started its business in January 2001. We develop and sell optical data storage disc drives for PC OEM and keep top share in the world. Our main products are DVD writable drives, DVD-ROM drives, CD-RW drives, CD-ROM drives and its combination drives. Development sites are located in Tokyo (Japan) and in Pyungtaik (Korea).

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About Thomson

Thomson (Euronext:18453) (NYSE:TMS) provides technology, services, and systems and equipment to help its Media & Entertainment clients - content creators, content distributors, and users of its technology - realize their business goals and optimize their performance in a rapidly-changing technology environment. The Group is the preferred partner to the Media & Entertainment Industries through its Technicolor, Grass Valley, RCA, and Thomson brands.

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