Microsoft has confirmed that they will be unveiling an external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 at E3. While the company has not released a lot of technical information, they have said that it will connect to the Xbox 360 using a USB 2.0 cable, and will use the console to output HD video and surround sound.
This new accessory will connect to the Xbox 360 console with a USB cable, enabling it to harness the power of the Xbox 360 console for the HD video outputs and digital surround sound. As an accessory, it becomes another shining example of the flexibility of Xbox 360 designed into the console in order to grow and add new features. It's also just one of several new accessories being announced at E3.
While Microsoft has not announced pricing or availability, their external HD DVD drive is expected to ship in time for the Playstaton 3's launch. Of course, we'll find out more later this week when they officially unveil it at E3. In the mean time, Microsoft's press release can be found here. Add a comment
It looks like the Versatile Mulitilayer Disc (VMD) is coming to the US. NME has announced that they are planning to release over 100 HD titles on VMD later this year.
New Medium Enterprises (OTCBB:NMEN - News; NME) today announced that it will release over 100 HD titles on Versatile Mulitilayer Disc (VMD) in the United States later this year, which will include several Broadway shows. The VMD is a next generation optical disc standard suitable for high definition content, using current red laser technology with storage capabilities up to 100 GB.

Returning from a road show in the U.S., Mahesh Jayanarayan, NME's CEO, was extremely upbeat on the prospects in the U.S. marketplace stating that "We believe the opportunity for NME to succeed here in the United States is growing quickly and we are determined to exploit that opportunity as timely and completely as possible."
It will be interesting to see if VMD can compete with Blu-ray and HD-DVD. If you'd like to read more, NME's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Plextor Eruope released a number of new firmware updates today including ones for the PX-712A, PX-708A and Premium . You can download them directly using the links below.
 PX-712A/SA/UF V1.09
 PX-708A2/UF2 V1.09
 PX-708A/UF V1.12
 PX-W4012TS V1.06
 PX-W4012TA V1.07
 PX-W4824TA/TU V1.07
 PX-W5224TA V1.04
 Plextor Premium V1.07
According to Plextor's website, these updates improve "writing quality on TDK CD-R media." Please feel free to share your experiences with this new firmware in our forum. Add a comment
The battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD isn't limited to just the movie industry. The two formats are expected to duke it out at this year's E3. While Sony will be showcasing the Blu-ray equipped Playstation 3, Microsoft is expected to unveil an external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360.
While most gamers are heading into the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) hoping to view the latest and greatest in video games and consoles, a key subplot will be Sony Corp.'s plan to use the PlayStation 3, the newest version of its market-leading video game console due late this year, to get its Blu-ray high-definition DVD standard into homes.

By offering DVDs with far more capacity than current standard DVDs, studios hope to breathe new life into the $24 billion home video market. But their failure to use a unified format has paved the way for a costly battle similar to the VHS/Betamax war that caused widespread customer confusion in the late 1970s through mid-1980s.

There are two rival next-generation DVD standards, including Sony's Blu-ray and HD DVD, championed by Toshiba Corp..

While Blu-ray has drawn more support among Hollywood and electronics firms, HD DVD has garnered an ally in software giant Microsoft Corp., which plans to offer an external HD DVD drive for its Xbox 360 game console that will turn it into a high-definition DVD player.
While Sony has not announced a price, the PS3 is expected to run about $499. While not exactly cheap, its a great deal considering how much stand alone Blu-ray and HD-DVD players are expected to go for. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Thanks to CD Freaks we've learned that Nero has released a FREE AAC encoder. In a nutshell, the Nero Digital Audio Reference MPEG-4 & 3GPP Audio Encoder will take your .WAV files and encode them using the MP4 format.
    Nero Digital Audio Reference Quality MPEG-4 & 3GPP Audio Codec
  • Compression Ratios ranging from ultra high (58 CDs fit on one!) to High-End Audio (2.5:1), for absolutely perfect audiophile encodings
  • Crystal Clear, Award Winning Sound Quality at every compression ratio and bit rate!
  • Support for Embedded Album Art (Covers, Booklets, Lyrics!)
  • Store Entire Audio Album in a Single .mp4 File with all the Features of an Audio CD embedded inside, but at a fraction of the space!
  • Reference Quality MPEG-4 Audio Codec
  • Fully Compatible with the Latest Version of the State-of-the-art MPEG-4 Audio Standard (LC-AAC, HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2)
If you'd like to check it out, the Nero Digital Audio Reference MPEG-4 & 3GPP Audio Encoder can be downloaded here. Add a comment
Sony sent out a press release earlier today, announcing that they've started shipping their 25GB single layer Blu-ray Disc media. The company also announced that they will be introducing their 50GB dual layer discs in June.

Leading the charge toward the next generation of optical disc-based high-definition media, Sony Electronics has begun shipping its 25GB single layer Blu-ray Disc recording media with AccuCORE technology. In addition, a dual layer 50GB capacity disc is set to debut in June.

"Sony knows Blu-ray technology like no other company," said Mike Lucas, director of marketing for Sony Electronics' Media and Application Solutions Division. "Coupled with our uniqueAccuCORE technology, we expect our Blu-ray recording media to take the high-definition experience to a new level of performance."
According to Sony's press release, their 25GB BD-R and BD-RE media have suggested retail prices of $20 and $25, respectively. Expect to pay nearly double this when their 50GB media ships in June. If you'd like to read more, Sony's press release can be found here. Add a comment
Nero has announced the release of their new Fast CD-DVD Burning plug-in for Windows Media Player 10. This new plug-in not only gives users the ability to create their own CD's and DVD's, it offers support for MPV technology.
Nero, leaders in digital media technology, announced today the release of the new Fast CD-DVD Burning Plug-in including MPV (MusicPhotoVideo) technology support.

Leading off Nero's MPV push is the new Nero Fast CD-DVD Burning Plug-in for Windows Media Player 10. This Plug-in became immensely popular for Windows Media Player 9 owing to its considerable performance improvement for optical disc recording. Now, Nero takes Windows Media Player 10 a leap further by delivering not only a giant boost to burn speeds but plenty more functionality.

Windows Media Player 10 users leveraging the Nero Fast CD/DVD Burning Plug-in will find they have the ability to create audio CDs, data DVDs under WMP's Burn tab as well as Nero Digital Audio format discs. What's more, the new plug-in delivers MPV support. This function creates a multimedia-rich table of contents on the disc that can be easily and conveniently read by or viewed on a wide range of software applications and consumer electronics devices, such as MPV-compatible DVD players. Music, photo, and video collections burned through the Nero Fast CD-DVD Burning Plug-in for Windows Media Player 10 will be more accessible and enjoyable than they ever could have been before.
Nero's CD/DVD Burning plug-in is available now and is free to owners of Nero 7. More information can be found here. Add a comment
If you've been waiting for the first Blu-ray titles to ship, you're going to have to wait a little longer. According to an article at Reuters, the first batch of releases has been pushed back until June 20 to coincide with the launch of Samsung's new Blu-ray Disc player.
While high-definition DVD titles trickle into stores, the arrival of the first titles in the rival Blu-ray Disc format has been pushed back by a month until June 20.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president Benjamin Feingold said his studio's first batch of Blu-ray releases will be ready May 23, as planned.

"But the majority of our retail base and hardware partners have requested that we reconsider this date to better coincide with the first commercially available Blu-ray-compatible hardware," Feingold said.

The decision to hold off shipping Blu-ray titles to retailers comes several weeks after Samsung announced its first Blu-ray player wouldn't arrive in stores until June 25, a month behind schedule.
I'm sure Toshiba is enjoying this. Of course, its not like they didn't delay the launch of HD DVD... twice. In any case, if you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
CyberLink sent out a press release today, announcing the release of PowerDVD 7. Along with a new look, version 7 includes support for H.264 playback and a number of advanced features for DVD enthusiasts.
CyberLink Corp. (5203.TW), a world leader in digital home solutions, today launched the latest version of its industry-defining DVD player software, PowerDVD. Featuring new-look controls and advanced features for audio and movie enthusiasts, PowerDVD 7 delivers a fun home theater experience on both desktop and notebook computers.

New features for PowerDVD 7 include:
Integrated support for high-definition H.264 playback
Five interface modes, new skins and colors
Say-it-Again - one-click dialog looping
Read-it-Clearly - moveable subtitles
See-it-All - automatically activated time stretching for when mobile PCs run low on power
Power-saving settings for notebooks and an onscreen battery meter
UPnP media player support and premium content protection
PowerDVD is available online and in retail shops. The standard and deluxe versions are priced at $49.95 and $69.95 respectively. More information on both versions can be found on CyberLinks's website. Add a comment
InterVideo has announced that WinDVD and DVD XPack now support NVIDIA's PureVideo technology. With PureVideo, the decoding tasks are divided between the GPU and CPU, offering ultra-smooth video with minimized CPU usage.
InterVideo, Inc. (NASDAQ:IVII - News) announced today that its new WinDVD and DVD XPack supports the revolutionary NVIDIA PureVideo(TM) technology. Delivering superior clarity and picture quality, XPack enables DVD playback using Windows Media Player on Windows XP.

"With NVIDIA's unrivaled high-definition support, we're delighted to offer the ultimate DVD playback solution," said Steve Ro, CEO and President of InterVideo. "People can now install and enjoy the same DVD decoding engine as used by the over 125 million users of WinDVD -- the world's number one DVD player software."
If you'd like to read more, InterVideo's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment