HDMI Licensing, LLC, the agent responsible for licensing the High-Definition Multimedia Interface® (HDMI®) specification, today announced the features that will be incorporated in the upcoming HDMI 1.4 specification. This latest version of the HDMI specification will, among other advancements, offer networking capabilities with Ethernet connectivity and will add an Audio Return Channel to enable upstream audio connections via the HDMI cable. The HDMI specification 1.4 will be available for download on the HDMI LLC website no later than June 30, 2009.

The HDMI 1.4 specification will offer the following enhanced functionalities:

HDMI Ethernet Channel

The HDMI 1.4 specification will add a data channel to the HDMI cable and will enable high-speed bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature will be able to send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, making them instantly ready for any IP-based application.

The HDMI Ethernet Channel will allow an Internet-enabled HDMI device to share its Internet connection with other HDMI devices without the need for a separate Ethernet cable. The new feature will also provide the connection platform to allow HDMI-enabled devices to share content between devices.

Audio Return Channel

The new specification will add an Audio Return Channel that will reduce the number of cables required to deliver audio upstream for processing and playback. In cases where HDTVs are directly receiving audio and video content, this new Audio Return Channel allows the HDTV to send the audio stream to the A/V receiver over the HDMI cable, eliminating the need for an extra cable.

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DivX, Inc. and LG Electronics today announced the first LG Blu-ray Disc player capable of playing back 1080p high-definition (HD) DivX(R) video files. The LG BD390, a WiFi-enabled Blu-ray Disc Player now available in the United States and Europe, allows consumers to play their favorite DivX HD videos from their PC to the TV.

Consumers are using HD video across multiple platforms and devices, and there is a strong demand for playback of DivX HD files. By adding DivX support to the BD390, now consumers can play DivX video up to HD 1080p burned to DVDs or stored on USB flash drives. DivX HD 1080p content can also be streamed directly from a network with a DLNA server making it simple for consumers to playback their library of favorite HD videos.

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Despite the growing popularity of on-demand digital distribution, a new report by the NPD Group has revealed that consumers still spend most of their home video budget on buying and renting DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. According to the report, consumers spent 88% on DVD and Blu-ray Disc purchases and rentals with only 12% going toward video on-demand, digital downloads and online streaming.

According to The NPD Group, a leader in market research for the entertainment industry, watching movies and other video content on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD) comprises the lion’s share of home-video acquisition and viewing, even as newer digital methods are beginning to gain a foothold in the consumer market. In fact DVD and BD sales and rentals represented 88 percent of consumer spending on home video content, based on a survey that asked about home video consumption over the previous three months.

Results from NPD’s March 2009 update to the “Entertainment Trends In America” consumer tracking study, which provides an in-depth look at shifts in entertainment consumption, revealed that the average U.S. home video consumer reported spending an average of $25 per month on all types of home video purchases and rentals. When it comes to spending on home video content: 63 percent was spent on DVD purchases; 7 percent on BD purchases; 18 percent on DVD/BD rentals from retail stores, subscriptions or kiosks; 9 percent on video on-demand (VOD); and 3 percent on digital downloads and online streaming.

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Denon Electronics, one of the world's premier manufacturers of high-quality home entertainment components, today introduced two high-performance Blu-ray products, each designed to make the benefits of high-definition video and audio more available and affordable. The company's new Blu-ray offerings include two Profile 2.0 Blu-ray players, the DBP-2010CI (SRP: $699) and DBP-1610CI (SRP: $499.) Both are scheduled for July 2009 availability.

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Denon's new Models DBP-2010CI and DBP-1610CI are both geared for use in today's most advanced integrated home entertainment systems. Among their innovative interactivity features, both include built-in BD Live and Bonus View functionality. For easy connectivity to both a host of current-day and future entertainment enhancements, the new models both feature onboard Ethernet port that allows for Internet connectivity for BD Live and firmware updates. Adding to their video handling capabilities, both models offer DivxHD playback and support AVCHD playback from BD discs made from HD camcorders.

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Fujitsu Microelectronics Limited today announced 2 new transcoder ICs that can convert between Full HD (1920dots x 1080lines) MPEG-2 video data and H.264 video data, as well as transcoding between audio formats while featuring a low power consumption of only 1.0Watt(W) including the in-package memory. These new ICs are targeted to support the growing number of electronic equipment that can record digital broadcasts. By employing Fujitsu’s proprietary transcode technology, Fujitsu Microelectronics realized industry-leading low power consumption. Combined with the small form-factor packaging, these ICs can be used not only for non-mobile fixed electronic equipment – such as digital video recorders (DVRs) - but also in such mobile products such as notebook PCs. In addition to the transcode function, security functions are included on a single chip to make it easy for customers to create their systems. Sample shipment of the new transcoder ICs, the MB86H57 and MB86H58, will begin from late July, 2009., will begin from late July, 2009.

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While Blu-ray still has a long ways to go before it overtakes the DVD, a new report issued by The NPD Group shows that the format is moving further into the mainstream. According to NPD's latest point-of-sale tracking data, first quarter sales of stand-alone Blu-ray players in the U.S. grew to more than 400,000 units, an increase of 72 percent over Q1 2008. Consumer awareness also reached 90 percent with 6 percent of those surveyed stating that they would be “extremely or very likely” to buy a Blu-ray player in the next six months.

According to the latest point-of-sale (POS) tracking data from The NPD Group, a leading market research company, Blu-ray Disc (BD) video technology is moving further into the mainstream. First quarter (Q1) sales of stand-alone Blu-ray players in the U.S. grew to more than 400,000 units, an increase of 72 percent over Q1 2008. Dollar sales increased 14 percent, to reach $107.2 million according to NPD’s retail tracking service.
"The rising penetration of high-definition televisions and lower Blu-ray player prices are broadening the format’s market opportunity," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD. "Even as options expand for accessing movies digitally, Blu-ray is carrying forward the widespread appeal of DVD into the high-definition marketplace."

NPD’s “Blu-ray Report” March 2009 update revealed that overall consumer awareness of the BD format in the United States has reached 90 percent awareness in the past six months.  Purchase intent for Blu-ray set-top boxes also rose slightly in NPD’s most recent tracking surveys, with 6 percent of respondents saying they would be “extremely or very likely” to buy in the next six months, compared with 5 percent who responded similarly in the August report.  Despite these high awareness levels, more than half of adults (58 percent) continue to report that they were still “not very familiar” with BD. 

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Warner Home Video has launched a new program that will let HD DVD fans trade in their movies for the Blu-ray version. To do so, send in the cover art to Warner's processing center, pay a small $4.95 upgrade fee (as well as $6.95/$8.95 for shipping) and in 4-5 weeks, you'll receive the Blu-ray version of the same title. While you are limited to one copy of each movie and a total of 25 titles total per household, most people will probably be more than happy to rid themselves of the defunct format. Full details can be found at Red2Blu.com.

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DivX, Inc., a digital media company, and LG Electronics, Inc. today announced that LG's new line of digital TVs is the world's first device series capable of playing back full DivX(R) HD 1080p videos. More than 200 models of LG digital TVs have been DivX Certified(R), including the LH50, LH70, LH85, PS70 and PS80 series. In addition, a wider variety of innovative LG TVs are now DivX Certified for playback of full DivX HD. Over 100 million DivX Certified devices have shipped worldwide from major manufacturers, and more than 400 digital TV models from leading consumer electronics manufacturers have been DivX Certified to date.

Available in the United States and Europe in late May and late April respectively, the LG digital TVs will enable consumers to easily playback DivX HD videos from the PC or the Internet through the USB slot. Typical HD video requires a considerable amount of digital storage space, but DivX HD video provides a superior media experience by maintaining the highest visual quality while significantly reducing the video file size. Using DivX technology, users can fit approximately two hours of high-quality DivX HD video on an 8GB media card.

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A new survey conducted by National Consumers League has found that consumers want to be able to make backup copies of their DVDs. Out of the 1000 people surveyed, 90% agreed that DVD owners should be able to copy a DVD to their computer in the same way that they save music from a CD. Half of those surveyed were also bothered that they couldn't save DVDs to their hard drives without cracking the encryption or purchasing an expanded version of the DVD.

Americans' attitudes towards DVDs are evolving and driving expectations about their use, according to a new survey released today by the National Consumers League. The Opinion Research Corporation survey of 1,000 consumers, aged 18-64, who own a personal computer, conducted March 11-16, finds that -- amidst a backdrop of a slowing market and troubled economy, when consumers' satisfaction may be more important than ever -- Americans are overwhelmingly interested in the ability to copy or back up their DVDs to their computers and laptops.

With 69 percent of respondents reportedly watching DVDs on their computers, and with more than a third saying they've had to repurchase lost or damaged DVDs in the past, consumers are resoundingly interested in the ability to back-up their DVD content. According to the survey, 90 percent (and 93 percent of those with children in the household) agree that DVD owners should be able to copy a DVD to their computer in the same way that they save music from a CD.

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Samsung Electronics America Inc., a market leader and award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, today announced availability for its Spring 2009 Blu-ray line-up, led by the flagship BD-P4600.

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As the world’s slimmest and first wall-mountable Blu-ray player, the BD-P4600 offers compelling multimedia features in a sophisticated design form factor. A great gift idea for Father’s Day, the BD-P3600 provides unprecedented networking capabilities, top-notch video playback and comprehensive audio decoding for an immersive, theater-like experience. The new BD-P1600 player also provides even the most discerning viewer with superior HD performance for the best sports and entertainment viewing pleasure.

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