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Sunday, February 17, 2008

New feature Blog (Hot News)

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New Yamaha AVR model RX-V663

Very soon we will start seeing the newest Yamaha AVR models coming out. One of the most interesting is the RX-V663. This will replace the current RX-V661 and have the same retail price. You can see the official web page HERE.

Essentially, the 663 adds HDMI 1.3 and video up-conversion, which are outstanding additions to a receiver in this price range. It also adds all the HD audio decoders and the ability to accept bitstreamed HD audio for decoding, (including 7:1 bitstream), or MPCM. It also will support 1080p/24 HDMI video.

Previously, you needed to double the price to get these features in any of the Yamaha models.

For a comparison of the 661 and 663 models, you can look HERE.

For folks trying to break into the AVR game with a minimal investment, this is a great option and will play nice with any of the current HD players, PS3, you name it. I have a 661 and can attest to the awesome sound quality speaker and ease of use. The Yamaha AVRs also offer the option of using a 7:1 audio decoder on all 5:1 signals, which is unique in this price range and a real plus for anyone with a 7:1 setup.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

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To up to date news, a new link that is part of my blog;

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HD DVD and Blu-ray releases on February 5th, 2008

The Assassination of Jesse JamesWhen you look at the lineup this week, don't be too quick to passover these titles. While nothing in the lineup really jumps out at us, we were very surprised to see how highly rated some of 'em were on IMDB, including the biggest title of the week, The Assassination of Jesse James, with a crazy score of 8.0. If none of the new releases are up your alley, then there is sure to be a catalog title for you, seriously, who doesn't like Wall Street? The red fans will have to be content with Elizabeth: The Golden Age this week, but it should hold them over as two big titles are coming down the pipe later this month. After looking at the lineup for both camps this week, we have no doubt that the VideoScan results will be a landslide again, but it will be very interesting to see how red does when American Gangster and Beowulf hit the shelves in a few weeks.

HD DVD 384 vs Blu-ray 437*

* Blu-ray total does not reflect 32 Paramount titles that were previously available.

from Engadget HD

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl Ads

To watch them all, go to

HD war not over by a long shot.

Upon the release of recent news on Warner Bros. shifting its HD home video support from both formats to only Blu-ray, many of the mainstream media outlets quickly jumped to the conclusion that “the HD format war was over.” The idea of the format war being over couldn’t be further from the truth, although Sony’s Blu-ray is without question picking up supporters. Conjecture from the recent Consumer Electronic Show suggests Sony is helping their cause with as much as $500,000,000 per studio willing to jump on to their sidelines, but that support and the figure have not been easy to confirm so far. The same rumors surfaced when Sony was battling for high-resolution audio supremacy with their SACD format vs. the also-doomed DVD-Audio format.

Sony knows the stakes are high, but so do the likes of Toshiba and Microsoft. The pace of this war is playing out quickly, as HD DVD had booming sales at the end of 2007. Prices for some HD DVD players dropped to as low as $99 per unit. Then Blu-ray stole the spotlight back by persuading Warner Bros. to support only their side.

Some industry experts say content rules supreme and Blu-ray clearly has the edge in terms of big-ticket titles. However, many prominent retailers say that without the players in the marketplace, selling the discs is nearly impossible. Sony benefits from their Playstation 3 system being the most stable of all high-def players, but most mainstream consumers don’t play video games and don’t look to an odd-sized game machine with clunky controllers and no RS-232 jack as a source for movie playback. In terms of set-top boxes, HD DVD has lower-priced models with that magic word “DVD” on them, which every consumer understands. Blu-ray, as a brand and as a concept, is still new to the soon-to-be-HDTV-converted marketplace. Moreover, people who already own set-top Blu-ray players suffer from the frequent need for firmware updates. Even the most recent players from Sony and Pioneer will not effectively play the latest blockbuster titles from Blu-ray-supportive studios, such as Disney, with its Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.

Can The HD DVD Camp Right The Ship?
With HD DVD on the ropes after the “Blu-Friday” Warners announcement, the HD DVD camp looks to regroup. It's likely too late for Microsoft to re-engineer their Xbox 360 system to run HD DVD internally, and with its overall success in the gaming world, who can blame them? What Microsoft can do is give people the incentive to add the company’s HD DVD drive to the vast base of players on the market. Perhaps extending the promotion where gamers would get close to the equivalent of the price of the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive in free titles would convert a few million more people to the world of HD DVD.

Microsoft is the key to the future of HD DVD in terms of success with software and implementation. Amazingly, the actual specification for Blu-ray isn’t yet fully implemented in the majority of current Blu-ray players, thus leaving early adopters increasingly angry at Blu-ray 2.0 discs for not playing effectively in older Blu-ray players. This leaves the door open for Microsoft to produce the best, most meaningful software and code they have ever written if they want to potentially rally HD DVD back on top of this fray. HDMI is still a nightmare for consumers, installers and equipment companies, yet there is no faster way to get a Hollywood studio’s attention than to show them that you (with help from Intel, a long-standing partner of Microsoft) have the best, most reliable copy-protected connection. Right now, players of each format have HDMI connectivity issues, but it’s the only way to get uncompressed audio and 1080p video from the player to the monitor and/or receiver. If Microsoft can whip up a strong solution here, consider it a major battle won.

Back to the world of conjecture, if studios can be bought for $500,000,000, then Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer should be fueling the company Gulfstream 550 and heading down to Los Angeles to see the likes of Fox, and then swing a quick U-turn over the Southland to see the bigwigs at Disney in Burbank. $500,000,000 is a lot of coin to dangle in front of a company and will certainly get someone’s attention at the studios. If that is the cost of doing business and how the game is being played, then it is time for Microsoft to step up, as nobody has the ability to pay more than the Seattle software superstar.

The Last Battle of a Two-Front War
The structure of the format war reminds me in some ways of World War II, in that the battle isn’t as simple as England and the United States vs. the Axis powers in Europe and Japan. Even if Blu-ray runs away with the format war (think one or two more studios going to Blu-ray), they still have the fight of their lives left to wage. The last battle in the format war is with the consumer darling, the almighty traditional DVD.

For consumers not wowed by impressive 1080p video or are afraid of taking sides in a VHS vs. Beta-like format war, DVD offers millions of meaningful titles, quick load times and players that cost well under $100. Want to placate the hyper kids in the back of the minivan? Don’t look to Blu-ray and HD DVD, as traditional DVD rules this multi-billion dollar world of mainstream consumers. Want to sell movies in bulk at grocery stores, drug stores and even Costco? Well then you have to knock off the mighty DVD in the eyes of the everyday consumer. There are still vast technical issues that frustrate and delay millions of mainstream consumers from making the move from standard-definition DVDs to HD discs of both formats. Wanna watch a movie while traveling the country? Traditional DVD rules that world, too, despite Apple’s “support” of Blu-ray and Toshiba’s spattering of HD DVD-drive laptops.

In the end, when the HD battle is over and the charred Earth is starting to cool, the final battle will start to rage and that is a battle to kill off the DVD. Don’t think for a second that Microsoft and Toshiba don’t know they have the format with “DVD” in their name, and that they don’t know the value of that branding. They know what they have and are going to fight to the end to try to win. Right now, Sony and their teammates have them on the ropes, but even with a lead, both sides have their weaknesses.

I don’t want to predict who is going to win the format war at this stage, as there are too many battles left to fight. However, I can tell you, no matter what you read in the mainstream press, this war is not quite over yet.

by: Jerry Del Colliano ( AVS Forum)

Latest NPD report shows Blu-ray sales were no trend

NPD Groups data for the week after Warner's announcementMany were quick to claim that HD DVD was dead when the NPD group's numbers showed Blu-ray players had a 93 percent share the week after Warner's announcement. While those numbers were staggering, those with a level head wanted to wait to see if the blue camp could keep it up, and now according to the same firm, it did not. In fact the very next week sales were back to where we'd grown to expect them, about 65 percent Blu. As interesting as these numbers are -- as many have pointed out in the past -- Amazon and other online retailers are not included, and we all know how popular HD DVD players are on Amazon. While at the same time Blu fans would argue that many buy the PS3 as a Blu-ray player, which is also not counted in the study. Regardless, the better metric for the success of a packaged media format is media sales and with two weeks at about 84 percent and almost no decent red titles in sight, we'd be surprised if Blu victory in that court didn't continue.

from Engadget HD

HD DVD ad to air during Super Bowl XLII, BDA sez it's futile

While we wouldn't say this is anywhere near a last ditch effort, Toshiba's VP of marketing for the Digital A / V Group has affirmed that it will air a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLII extolling the HD-A3, HD-A30 and HD-A35 players. The plug is said to be a part of its revised strategy to "reinvigorate HD DVD," and oddly enough, it won't be running its ad up against that other format. Apparently, the BDA decided not to buy discounted airtime for a commercial after realizing that it couldn't complete a "Super Bowl-caliber ad" in time, but it seems as if the Blu camp isn't worried about a thing. Andy Parsons, SVP of industrial solutions business research group for Pioneer and BDA loudmouth, noted that he "admired [Toshiba's] chutzpah," but continued by saying that "running a Super Bowl ad is not likely to convince consumers that HD DVD will win the format war." Go on Andy, tell us how you really feel.

from Engadget HD

HD DVD and Blu-ray releases on January 29th, 2008

The InvastionAnd so it begins this week, as Warner's first title to be affected by the three week delay for HD DVD is released for Blu-ray. Meanwhile HD DVD fans will have to wait until February 19th to check it out. But that isn't the only thing that is in three weeks, as the first decent title for the red camp also comes out that day in the way of American Gangster. But the bad news for red doesn't end there this week because there are only three titles and we can't say we've ever heard of any of them. Of course this isn't that surprising considering HD DVD's ace in the hole Universal and Paramount are on the bench for the third week in a row. At the same time Blu-ray's lineup isn't anything to call home about either, but at least it includes a day and date in Invasion and Daddy Day Camp -- yeah, we're not excited either. Probably the most interesting title this week is the cult comedy classic Mony Python's Life of Brian, which includes both a TrueHD and LPCM sound track, that the reviewers say doesn't really sound any better -- but at least the video quality delivers. Looking ahead to next week, there isn't much to get excited about either, but at least Universal has a title for red.

HD DVD 381 vs Blu-ray 427*

* Blu-ray total does not reflect 32 Paramount titles that were previously available.

from Engadget HD

Nielsen VideoScan High-Def market share for week ending January 20th, 2008

While one week is not a trend, two weeks in the row could be the start of one. And according to this week's Nielsen VideoScan numbers courtesy of Home Media Magazine, Blu-ray has once again defeated HD DVD handily with a 83/17 split (4.9:1). The other thing to happen two weeks in a row that could also become a trend is that -- despite the fact that four of the top ten titles are also available on Blu-ray -- not one HD DVD made the list. You might be quick to say this is Warner's doing, but we can't forget that it has been a month since HD DVD released a decent title. So this situation is as much Universal and Paramount's fault as anyone else. Of course the real bad news here for the red camp is there aren't any hot titles to speak of until American Gangster hits the street in about a month. And to top this off -- looking at the entire release schedule for the red camp -- there are only ten HD DVD exclusive titles. If HD DVD is really trying to win this thing, they need to push Universal and Paramount to release the hottest catalog titles in their vaults, otherwise we don't see how this thing can be turned around.

NPD clarifies Blu-ray's market share the week after Warner went Blu

HD DVD vs Blu-raySome were very quick to crown Blu-ray the winner when we learned that the Blu-ray player owned 93 percent of the HD movie market the week after Warner went Blu. Evidently the numbers were leaked and the NPD group was quick to respond in an attempt to clear things up. As expected, some were just as quick to discount the Blu-ray success -- which is just as silly as saying the numbers alone mean Blu-ray has won. Two things happened that week that we're not so sure could continue forever; HD DVD sales were down, and Blu-ray sales were up. With some help from a a few promotions (free player with a new TV) -- stand-alone Blu-ray player sales were up 30 percent (22k, up from 15k) -- but this alone wasn't enough to shift HD DVD share from 40 percent down to 7. HD DVD only sold 1,758 stand-alone players during the same week, compared to 14,558 the week before. So while Blu-ray was up 30, HD DVD was down 88 percent. So it isn't that the Blu-ray sales were all that spectacular, but instead it was that HD DVD sales were way down. At this point it doesn't mean anything, but if it continues for more than a month then that's whole 'nother story entirely.

from Engadget HD

The Kicker zKICK ZK500 in High Resolution

I like speakers that sound good, speakers that have a bit of muscle; that's why I just wasn't all that impressed with the Altec Lansing M604. I've written about the zKICK ZK500 from Kicker before, but since it was hard to make out much detail about the unit from the video I took at CES (YouTube and their low-res quality), I thought I'd upload some sweet high-resolution images.

[click the image above for the 2000 pixel wide JPEG, 879 KB]

[click the image above for the 2000 pixel wide JPEG, 802 KB]

I can't wait to check one of these out when they start shipping!

GTAIV officially dated April 29

Take Two has finally pinned down the official release date for the game, April 29. We should note that this is the worldwide release date for GTAIV, so gamers the world over can officially start getting excited now. If you're not excited, then perhaps you should direct your attention to the flood of previews that swept the internet yesterday. Once you've reached the proper level of excitement, please read this post again and react accordingly.

Paradigm reveals SIG-LCR 5 and SA-LCR 3 in-wall speakers

Paradigm's latest duo isn't exactly cut out for retrofit applications, but if you're looking to add a wing and have a thing for keeping your speakers extra close to your insulation, these just may do the trick. Both the six-driver SIG-LCR 5 and four-driver SA-LCR 3 require the firm's Backbox support frame, and each can be installed in a variety of configurations depending on application. It should be noted that these suckas pack more than just good looks, and for more on the specifics of the $2,999 SIG-LCR 5 and $1,199 SA-LCR 3, click on through for the full release.

Continue reading Paradigm reveals SIG-LCR 5 and SA-LCR 3 in-wall speakers

from Engadget HD