The Joy of Tech Makes Things Clear

Thanks to The Joy of Tech, the question of exactly why Monster Cables are so much more expensive than other cables has been answered!

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Sorry for the hiatus… Just hasn’t been much to say as of late.

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HD-DVD Officially Joins the Jurassic Players – UPDATE

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Toshiba has officially announced today that the HD-DVD player is no more. I guess having Microsoft shell out a ton of money backing you isn’t always a guarantee of success. This coming only weeks after a multi-million dollar push at the Superbowl.

Here is the official statement from Toshiba

19 February, 2008

Company Remains Focused on Championing Consumer Access to High Definition Content

TOKYO–Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders. This decision has been made following recent major changes in the market. Toshiba will continue, however, to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.

HD DVD was developed to offer consumers access at an affordable price to high-quality, high definition content and prepare them for the digital convergence of tomorrow where the fusion of consumer electronics and IT will continue to progress.

“We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called ‘next-generation format war’ and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop,” said Atsutoshi Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation. “While we are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to use our talent, technology and intellectual property to make digital convergence a reality.”

Toshiba will continue to lead innovation, in a wide range of technologies that will drive mass market access to high definition content. These include high capacity NAND flash memory, small form factor hard disk drives, next generation CPUs, visual processing, and wireless and encryption technologies. The company expects to make forthcoming announcements around strategic progress in these convergence technologies.

Toshiba will begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders to retail channels, aiming for cessation of these businesses by the end of March 2008. Toshiba also plans to end volume production of HD DVD disk drives for such applications as PCs and games in the same timeframe, yet will continue to make efforts to meet customer requirements. The company will continue to assess the position of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives within the overall PC business relative to future market demand.

This decision will not impact on Toshiba’s commitment to standard DVD, and the company will continue to market conventional DVD players and recorders. Toshiba intends to continue to contribute to the development of the DVD industry, as a member of the DVD Forum, an international organization with some 200 member companies, committed to the discussion and defining of optimum optical disc formats for the consumer and the related industries.

Toshiba also intends to maintain collaborative relations with the companies who joined with Toshiba in working to build up the HD DVD market, including Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation and major Japanese and European content providers on the entertainment side, as well as leaders in the IT industry, including Microsoft, Intel, and HP. Toshiba will study possible collaboration with these companies for future business opportunities, utilizing the many assets generated through the development of HD DVD.

Well the good news is that this means that Universal and Paramount will have no choice now, so Star Trek and Transformers will finally make their way to Blu-Ray. This comes the day after I discover that I can wirelessly stream my music (minus any iTunes purchases), pictures, and AVI or WMV movies to my PS3 from my mac using this software from Elgato. It’s not 100% perfect, but I didn’t play around with it too much last night, just wanted to see if it actually worked. Thanks to Dan’s friend Misha for telling me that this was a possibility!

UPDATE 02/19/2007 6:01PM: The day before I will be at Universal Studios Island of Adventure, Universal has officially announced today that they will be going Blu-Ray. This article has their official stance:

“While Universal values the close partnership we have shared with Toshiba, it is time to turn our focus to releasing new and catalog titles on Blu-ray,” said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.”

Woo-Hoo!!!!

Jurassic Players

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Gone the way of extinction… 8 Track, Betamax, and soon HD-DVD. I just blogged about Paramount’s ability to bail if they so want. While they are currently denying plans to do so, today, news comes that Universal (the last of two major studios distributing exclusively on HD-DVD) no longer has a contract with HD-DVD.

This clears the way for Universal to join the Blu-Ray bandwagon any day now. They have stated that they have some big HD-DVD promos already planned in the near future. They, however, have not denied plans to jump ship.

Many retailers are getting tired of dedicating space to the dying HD-DVD. I think we could see an end to this war in a matter of a few more months, even sooner possibly.

I feel bad for the 400k or so people that have adopted HD-DVD at this point. I know I would be feeling like crap right now if Blu-Ray were the side loosing, although at least I would still have a gaming unit out of it.

Thanks to Howard for the tip to the above mentioned article.

Star Trek Set To Boldly Go Blu?

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According to this article from the financial times, Paramount apparently has a clause in their contract with the HD-DVD camp, that if Warner Bros. goes Blu, that they will be allowed to jump ship and join the Blu-Ray camp as well.

While this is only speculation at the moment, with 70% of Hollywood movies being released in Blu-Ray now, it only makes sense that Paramount would abandon the ailing HD-DVD format in this war. At that point, it would leave only Universal and Dreamworks on the HD-DVD side (it isn’t known wether either of them have this same clause).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I for one will be happy to be able to upgrade my Star Trek movies to Blu-Ray if it does indeed come to fruition! Hopefully the end of the war will also see a drop in price to the Blu-Ray camp to get more consumers adopting it.

Planet Earth Disappointment!

For Christmas, I received the Blu-Ray version of Planet Earth, the remarkable High Definition Mini-series documentarty about, what else, Planet Earth.

While the cinematography of this show is absolutely amazing, I was highly disappointed with what I received in the British release of this amazing mini-series. I originally saw much of it on Discovery HD Theater, and was blown away by the brilliant colors and amazing clarity! Definitely one of the biggest reasons I am glad I made the switch to High Def…

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However, as I have since discovered, this DVD does not play well with 1080p even though it says it is 1080p in resolution. Much of the footage was wavy, and had a lot of noise in the picture. I had the opportunity to watch some of on the standard def version, and got none of the noise in the Blu-Ray version. I also was quite disappointed by the less than vibrant colors, and poor audio. I could barely hear the narrator. The best way to describe it, was like watching an old PBS documentary from the 70s, only in widescreen.

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I have since returned this to amazon, and have ordered the version that Discovery is selling on their site with Sigourney Weaver narrating. It is only 1080i, but if it is even close to what was aired on DHDT, then it will be far better than this version. I believe the US release also contains much of the bonus footage that is absent from the BBC release.

I will give my review of the Discovery Blu-Ray version once I have received it.

iPhone Upgrade Woes… Learn from My Problems!

Today, Apple release iPhone update version 1.1.1. It brings some great new features like the iTunes Store for the iPhone,

Other new features:
– Louder speakerphone and receiver volume
– Home Button double-click shortcut to phone favorites or music controls
– Space bar double-tap shortcut to intelligently insert period and space
– Mail attachments are viewable in portrait and landscape
– Stocks and cities in Stocks and Weather can be re-ordered
– Apple Bluetooth Headset battery status in the Status Bar
– Support for TV Out
– Preference to turn off EDGE/GPRS when roaming internationally
– New Passcode lock time intervals
– Adjustable alert volume

However, in all the greatness, Apple overlooked one issue. When I installed the update to my iPhone, it told me that I needed to enter my passcode to unlock the phone… However, when I went to do this, my phone told me it had to be activated before I could do anything other than make emergency calls.

I was getting quite frustrated, and only more so when I had to wait for 45 minutes to get ahold of tech support. After that, I had to talk with the tech support for 30 minutes to get my problem resolved. Unfortunately, it meant having to do a complete restore of the iPhone, but how does one do that when iTunes won’t recognize the iPhone?

I had to disconnect the phone from the computer, then turn it off. Once it was off, I then had to hold the home button down for 10 seconds, and then connect the phone to my computer. Once I did that, the phone asked if I wanted to restore the phone. Once that was done, I then had to sync the phone, and go back in and reset all my settings on the phone.

One big thing, if you are reading this Apple… Please make a way to delete multiple e-mails at once, as well as a way to empty the trash can!

iPhone Blissness!

Yes, I broke down and decided to buy the iPhone last night… Giving into the temptation that has gripped me. All I can say, is that this is the phone I have been wanting! It does everything I could ever want a phone to do… Effortless to use, and I’ve even been able to master the tiny keyboard with my big thumbs!

I had been planning on getting a new MacBook Pro in October to release my desktop… But after getting the iPhone, it does everything I would probably ever use a laptop for when traveling, so I have decided that come October, it will be a shiny new iMac instead to replace my current machine!

I can’t even express how immediately the connection with this phone was. It was my post to my blog from the Apple store that finally convinced me that I was a fool to wait any longer! I find the edge network to be plenty fast for normal use. Not going to want to be doing any major surfing on the network, but then again, I wouldn’t want to be doing major surfing on the phone or on vacation.

Apple has once again nailed their product on the nose!

Childhood Dream Car To Go Back Into Production

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Growing up, I had this poster gracing my wall for many years. Back then I had no idea it had so much symbolism in it regarding Mr. DeLorean. All I knew was that I loved that car!

Well, it turns out that a group of grease monkeys from Houston are going to be re-introducing the DeLorean in a very limited production of 200. They have 200 of the original engines, and will start producing about 20 a year starting in 2008.

Now, if only I had $42,500 for a car!

Apple/EMI Get Rid of DRM – My Take

As I am sure many of you have heard by now, Apple and Record Label EMI announced the availability of DRM Free music coming to iTunes next month. Many have speculated that if this were to happen it could really eat into the sale of the iPod. I have a bit of a different view on this.

First off, Apple gets a portion of the sales from iTunes. iTunes sales have surpassed everyone’s expectations to a point, where I am sure that Apple is acutally making a profit off of a service that was originally not expected to do so. They had originally planned on it just breaking even. Also, at this point, there are like close to 100 million iPods out there now.

I know many people who have iPods that have refused to by tracks from iTunes for two reasons: 1) The files aren’t high enough quality for them, and 2) They don’t like the DRM that restricts where they can use the file. These people will finally have their two gripes met. Secondly, there are many who won’t buy an iPod because they don’t like the closed aspect of the iTunes locking you to the iPod making it a monopoly. Should the rest of the record labels realize this is going to work, and follow suite, I think we’ll see these hold outs finally be willing to buy an iPod.

I have talked to many people who have bought other mp3 players and have been very dissapointed. The iPod didn’t become what it is just because of a fad. While that may play some part in it, it has more to do with the fact that Apple has always been good and knowing what consumers want. They have made one of the easiest to use devices on the market and have continued to improve the offering while continuing to keep the simplicity of use there. So often other players forget that they need to have that ease of use to create loyalty. Until they learn that lesson, Apple will always hold the lead on this market.