Here's an interesting bit of news. According to an article at Reuters, Pioneer is pushing back the North American launch of their Blu-ray players to some time this fall.
Japanese electronics maker Pioneer Corp. (6773.T: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Tuesday it would postpone the North Amercian launch of next-generation DVD players using Blu-ray technology to this autumn from its previous launch schedule of June, citing a delay in the development process.
With Sony's Blu-ray player reportedly delayed until August and Pioneer's until fall, its now up to Samsung. Hopefully they can ship their player before the first Blu-ray titles hit store shelves on June 20th. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here here. Add a comment
Over the weekend, the Japanese newspaper, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, reported that Pioneer was going to stop developing DVD recorders. Instead, the company is looking to form a partnership with Matsushita (Panasonic).
Pioneer Corp will stop developing DVD recorders on its own, as stiff price competition is causing the firm to lose money in this segment and is looking to link up with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co to cut costs, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported, company sources said Saturday.

Pioneer plans to continue developing next-generation DVD recorders based on the Blu-ray format, promoted by Sony Corp and Matsushita, by purchasing key microchips and software from Matsushita, the business daily said.
As far as I can tell, this only applies to Pioneer's set top DVD recorders and not their PC based drives. As we find out more, we'll let you know. In the mean time, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
RCA has announced that they've started shipping their new HD DVD player, the HDV5000. Here's part of their press release:
Officially endorsed by the DVD Forum industry organization as the next high-capacity DVD disc, the HD DVD format featured in the HDV5000 delivers sharper, more detailed picture performance than standard DVD discs. Moreover, the HD DVD format opens new avenues of interactivity including enhanced on-screen menus, scene searching, directors' commentaries and the potential for online shopping. For consumers with large libraries of digital disc content, the RCA HDV5000 player provides backward compatibility with current DVD discs as well as audio CDs that have been available for over 20 years.

The HDV5000 supports various video formats including MPEG2, MPEG4/AVC and VC1. The unit plays back DVD/DVD-R/-RW/DVD-RAM discs and mp3 audio files from CD-R/CD-RW discs.
RCA's HD DVD player can also upconvert standard DVD's to 720p or 1080i. The HDV5000 is shipping now for a suggested retail price $499. More information can be found here. Add a comment
Yesterday afternoon, Sony announced their latest A/V receiver, the STR-DG1000. Designed to optimize Blu-ray and other HD sources, the STR-DG1000 includes features like dual HDMI active intelligence, 7.1 channel sound and support for resolutions up to 1080p.
Whether it's 1080p pass-through, eight channels of uncompressed audio, smooth video switching, simplifying set-up of a surround sound system, and automatically adjusting performance, this new A/V receiver is optimized for a full high-definition experience.

The STR-DG1000 receiver has several HD enhancing features, beginning with dual HDMI active intelligence, which automatically detects and receives the best possible video and audio signals from connected devices. This all-digital path from source to display also handles 1080p resolution and up to eight channels of uncompressed audio.
The STR-DG1000 will ship in August for about $800. More information can be found on Sony's website. Add a comment
Businessweek has a great editorial about the DRM technologies being used by Blu-ray and HD DVD. According to the author, many of these copy-protection schemes are simply anti-consumer.
Having grown tired of one war, we're on the eve of another, complete with alliances, secret codes, and laser beams. No, not Iran -- it's the fight over the next generation of DVD devices. The real battle isn't between Sony (SNE ) and Microsoft (MSFT ) and their chosen formats, it's between the manufacturers and us -- the consumers, the ones who ultimately pay for it all. And the battle is over Digital Rights Management (DRM), because in addition to increased storage, these new disks are packed full of copy-protection functions, some of which impair our ability to use the content we pay for, the way we like and are legally entitled to.
It's definitely an interesting read. If you'd like to check it out, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
While Microsoft has criticized Sony for making Blu-ray standard on the PS3, Ray Maguire of Sony UK has replied, claiming that it is essential to the next-gen gaming experience.
"Blu-Ray is really important for the games side of our business because what it does is it give us the ability to have 50Gb of information actually on the disc," Maguire said.

"With PlayStation 3 you're looking at a Cell chip that has immense computing power. That means you're going to need a huge amount of storage as well - we really need that Blu-Ray disc because what we don't want to be doing is swapping discs half way through loading. It's really important to us."
It's going to be interesting to see what game developers can do with Blu-ray. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
According to an article at Ars Technica, Hollywood studios have agreed to delay forced quality downgrades until at least 2010. This means that even if you don't have HDMI, you can still enjoy HD video for at least a few years.
The conundrum isn't apparently lost on the consumer electronics industry or Hollywood. According to German-language Spiegel Online, there is reportedly a behind-the-scenes, unofficial agreement between Hollywood and some consumer electronics manufacturers, including Microsoft and Sony, not to use ICT until 2010, or possibly even 2012. Without providing more details, the report suggests that Hollywood isn't exactly happy with the situation, and could very well renege on the agreement, such that it is. But the agreement is there nonetheless, presumably to help the industry transition to HDMI. This could explain why the very same studios that pushed for HDMI and ICT have recently announced that they would not use it for the time being.
This is definitely good news for consumers. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found website. Add a comment
Here's an interesting bit of news. According to, the HD-DVD drive for the Xbox will be priced so that it and the console combined will be cheaper than Sony's Playstation 3.
Currently, the Xbox 360 retails at GBP 279 in the UK, with the Core System version selling for GBP 209, while the 60GB model of the PlayStation 3 is expected to cost between GBP 399 and GBP 419 when it arrives in late November.

Microsoft's alleged comments to UK retailers seem to suggest that the HD-DVD peripheral, which allows playback of high definition movies using Toshiba's next-generation DVD standard, will be priced below GBP 130, making an Xbox 360 and HD-DVD player bundle into a potentially attractive option at Christmas.
Keep in mind that they're comparing the cheaper Xbox 360 core system and the high end, 60GB PS3. For those on a budget, the 20GB PS3 will still probably be the way to go. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Panasonic has announced that they will be incorporating DivX support into two of their DVD recorders, the DMR-EH55S and DMR-EH75VS. Along with the ability to play back DivX files, both players feature an HDMI interface and the ability to upconvert to 1080i.
Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company and DivX, Inc., the digital entertainment company that created the DivX media format, announced today that Panasonic will incorporate the DivX codec into two of its 2006 DVD-Recorders. The DMR-EH55S DVD-Recorder with HDD and the DMR-EH75VS DVD-VHS-HDD Recorder bring a range of popular functionality to consumers, including the playback of DivX encoded video files.

Both models feature HDMI single cable connection with up-conversion to 1080i. The Panasonic DMR-EH55 is a DVD recorder with a 200 GB built-in hard disc drive, SD slot and DV Input. The Panasonic DMR-EH75 is a combo VHS-DVD recorder deck with an 80GB built-in hard disc drive. They provide very versatile solutions to users who want extreme flexibility in the formats they use for content delivery.
If you'd like to read more, Panasonic's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Sony DADC has announced that they've started producing Blu-ray Discs in the US. According to their press release, they currently have three replication lines turning out 25,000 Blu-ray Discs a day.
Sony DADC today officially inaugurated Blu-ray Disc BD-ROM (video, games, data) production in the U.S.

Sony DADC in the U.S. currently has three Blu-ray replication lines functioning with a capacity of 25,000 single-layer 25GB Blu-ray Discs per day, for a total of 750,000 Blu-ray Discs per month. This capacity is expected to increase to nearly 5 million discs per month by October as additional lines are added to the facility. Of these additional lines, six will be capable of manufacturing 50GB dual layer Blu-ray Discs.
Wow, that's a lot of Blu-ray discs. If you'd like to read more, Sony DADC's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment