Here's some unfortunate news for early HDTV adopters. It looks like late changes in the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) will cause a downgrade in picture quality when the signal is sent through analogue connections.
In a deal reached this week after tense negotiations, the eight-company consortium behind the Advanced Access Content System, created for use by both high-def formats to prevent unauthorized copying, has agreed to require hardware makers to bar some high-def signals from being sent from players to displays over analog connections, sources said.

Instead, the affected analog signal must be "down-converted" from the full 1920x1080 lines of resolution the players are capable of outputting to 960x540 lines—a resolution closer to standard DVDs than to high-def. Standard DVDs are typically encoded at 720 horizontal by 480 vertical lines of resolution.
It's hard to say at this point just how many people will be affected, but I think it's fair to say that many current HDTV owners will not be happy with this news. For more information, the whole article can be found here. Add a comment
Here's some surprising news. Imation has announced that they will be acquiring Memorex in an all cash transaction of $330 million plus contingent payments of up to $45 million.
Imation Corp (NYSE: IMN - News) and Memorex International, Inc, today jointly announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Imation will acquire Memorex International in an all cash transaction for $330 million. Additional cash consideration ranging between $5 million and $45 million would be paid out over a period of up to three years after close, contingent on financial performance of the purchased business. The Boards of both companies have approved the transaction...

..."This acquisition is a major strategic milestone for Imation, as we implement our profitable growth strategy. It is also a win-win for both companies' customers and shareholders," said Bruce Henderson, Imation Chairman and CEO. "We are gaining a powerful consumer brand and global market share leader in recordable CDs and DVDs as well as an experienced management team under the leadership of Mike Golacinski. Added to our technology expertise, strong B2B brand, global footprint, broad product portfolio and industry experience, we are creating a new global powerhouse in the data storage industry."
At this point, I really don't know how this will affect Memorex's product line. As we find out more, we'll let you know. In the mean time, Imation's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Samsung sent out a press release today, announcing that they've completed the technical development of its Blu Ray Disc Drives.
TSST Korea (Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corporation) announced today that it has completed the technical development of its Blu Ray Disc Drives. These revolutionary products for the Optical Disc Drive market offer a massive storage capacity up to 25GB at a single layer disc.

"As a global technology leader, Samsung is always on the forefront of cutting-edge technologies, working to provide consumers with best-of-breed products," said Albert Kim, national sales manger, Storage Systems for Samsung SSI. "Samsung's announcement of the completion of its Blu Ray disc drive is a major step ahead in the ODD technology battleground."
According to Samsung's press release, the company plans to simultaneously launch both internal and external Blu Ray drives later this year. More information can be found here. Add a comment
Philips has announced a new way to license CD-R disc patents. Using their new Veeza system, traders and retailers will have a much easier time recognizing unlicensed discs. Here's part of Philips' press release:
Veeza makes it simple for everyone involved in the trade of CD-R discs to recognize unlicensed goods. With traditional patent licensing methods traders and retail companies tend to have difficulty in verifying that the goods they have purchased, are licensed and royalties have been paid. Veeza will make it easier to sell licensed CD-R discs and more difficult to sell unlicensed discs. Discs distributed under a Veeza-license can easily be traced and recognized by three clear marks: a logo that is embedded in the disc, a serial number on each package carton and an authenticity document, called Licensed Status Confirmation Document (LSCD). These three marks provide simple proof that a shipment with CD-R discs is licensed under Philips' patents.
To help promote their Veeza system, Philips will be reducing the royalty costs for Veeza-compliant companies by 44%. If you'd like to read more, additional information on Veeza can be found here. Add a comment
In a recent blog post, Jon Johansen announced that he plans to release a tool that will be able to defeat the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) used by both Blu-ray and HD DVD.
Jon "DVD Jon" Johansen, who popularized the means to crack the CSS system protecting DVDs, has committed to launching a tool to crack the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) used in next-generation DVDs.

In a blog posting earlier this month, Johansen announced that he had registered the site, which cites a "winter 2006/2007" release date for the software.

"AACS, like CSS, will be a success," Johansen wrote. "Not at preventing piracy. That's not the primary objective of any DRM system. Anyone who has read the CSS license agreement knows that the primary objective is to control the market for players. Don't you just love when your DVD player tells you 'This operation is prohibited' when you try to skip the intro?"
I can't imagine the movie industry is going to be happy with "DVD Jon" if he succeeds. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
It looks like Lite-On is getting into the camcorder business. According to DigiTimes, Lite-On is working with some of their Japanese clients to develop DVD camcorders using 8cm DVD±R discs.
Lite-On IT is cooperating with Japanese clients to develop DVD camcorders using 8cm DVD+R/-R discs and expects to begin OEM production in small volumes next quarter and shipments in large volume in the second half of this year, according to the company.

Hard disk drives (HDDs) or small memory cards such as SD and MS entail trans-recording, whereas 8cm DVD+R/-R discs do not, Lite-On IT pointed out. Many Japanese brands will also offer DVD camcorder models following Hitachi, Sony, JVC, Panasonic, and Canon, Lite-On IT indicated.
It will be interesting to see if Lite-On sells these camcorders under their own brand. If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
At CES, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Interactive Entertainment Business, Peter Moore, commented that the Xbox 360 could eventually support the Blu-ray format. Microsoft has now reaffirming their committment to HD DVD, stating that they have no plans to support other optical formats.
Last week we reported that Microsoft would leave open the possibility that its next-gen console could one day support Blu-ray if that format ended up winning the war against HD DVD. This was based upon comments made by Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Interactive Entertainment Business Peter Moore to Japanese website ITmedia during CES.

However, Moore's comments, which made the rounds not long after MS announced plans for an external HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360, were taken out of context, the company insists. To clear up any confusion, MS has issued a statement to the effect that they are 100 percent behind Toshiba's HD DVD format.
Microsoft would be smart to release both HD DVD and Blu-ray drives and let consumers decide which is best. Then again, that's not really the Microsoft way. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
While many companies have chosen sides in the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD, Lite-On has remained fairly neutral. According to the Inquirer, Lite-On has not decided which one to chose and will likely introduce separate drives supporting both formats.
The chaps said that they will probably go "both ways" and introduce separate computer drives supporting both HD DVD and Blu-ray. Now we are not talking about combo drives, it will be two separate drives - one HD DVD manufactured device and one Blu-ray marchitecture based drive.
We have not heard anything from our contacts at Lite-On so I really cannot confirm any of this. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Miguel at Extreme MHz has taken a look at BenQ's new LightScribe capable 16x DVD±RW, the DW1655. Here's a sample of what he had to say about it:
In terms of performance, the drive did not fail to impress in all areas of testing. Its read performance with all media tested was excellent and write quality was impressive as well with both CD and DVD recordable media, including double layer media. For those primarily into DVD ripping, this is the drive for you. It can rip a single layer disc in just over 5 minutes and dual layer discs can be ripped in record time as well.
We too have a review of the DRW1655 in the works. In the mean time, head on over to Extreme MHz and check out their review. Add a comment
While Samsung had originally planned to introduce a combination Blu-ray/HD DVD player, the company has run into a major roadblock. Surprisingly enough, its not a technical one either. According to Engadget, there are licensing agreements in place, preventing a dual-mode player.
Last we heard, things degraded from gung-ho to so-so for Samsung on the prospect of going in on a dual-mode device that'd bridge the gap between HD DVD and Blu-ray for the consumer. But it looks like guarded has now turned to closed-until-further-notice according to a SVP of Marketing at Samsung North America, Peter Weedfald. We had no idea there were licensing agreements in place that prevented a dual-mode player, but apparently "Until everyone agrees to check their egos at the door and help the consumer, there is nothing [Samsung] can do about a universal product."
While a dual-mode player would be best for the consumer, it probably would not be cheap. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment