Merger news: IMDb to Amazon.com. If this sounds like a chess move, it certainly is for a few folks at the top of the Web's food chain. On April 27, the Internet Movie Database became part of Amazon.com, the world's largest online bookseller.
Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Milla Jovovich. Directed by Luc Besson. Aspect ratios: pan&scan, 2.35:1 anamorphic. Dolby Digital 5.1. Two sides. 126 minutes. 1997. Columbia TriStar Home Video 82409. Rated PG-13. $29.95.
Surprise, Microsoft'sWebTV is now the only player in the TV/Internet game. On Wednesday, April 29, NetChannel Inc. threw in the towel, announcing that it was getting out of the business of bringing the Internet into homes via set-top converter boxes. The $20-per-month service never gained a large enough following to become profitable.
DVD interloper Divx has not won the hearts and minds of early adopters, but that isn't stopping its proponents from laying out some serious cash for future orders. Last week, Nimbus CD International, Inc. and Digital Video Express, developer of the Divx system, announced that they have signed a five-year, multi-million-disc replication agreement.
On April 30, General Instrument Corporation and DIVA Systems Corporation signed a letter of intent defining an agreement to market DIVA's OnSet video-on-demand (VOD) service on GI's DCT-1000 and DCT-1200 interactive digital-cable set-top boxes. This joint effort will enable cable operators who use the GI system to commercially deploy an OpenCable-compliant implementation of the OnSet VOD service by this fall.
It's just about a month away: HI-FI '98, The Home Theater & Specialty Audio Show, will attract thousands of home-theater enthusiasts when it visits The Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel in Los Angeles, California from Wednesday, June 10 to Sunday, June 14, 1998.
Trekkers, rejoice! Paramount Home Video, owner of the Star Trek franchise and Indiana Jones movies, will release open-format DVDs this year, the company announced Monday, April 27. The decision comes two weeks after Blockbuster Music & Video announced that it would begin a big push with DVD rentals. The growing popularity of DVD was a major factor in both decisions: Consumer-electronics industry analysts predict that there will be as many as one million DVD players in American homes by the end of 1998.
The living room in most American homes has traditionally served ceremonial purposes. It's the place where your parents entertained visiting dignitaries, like the local minister who came to offer consolation after your grandmother's funeral. It's the place where they took pictures of you and your senior-prom date. As a showcase for stiff, uncomfortable, and rarely used furniture, the traditional living room is an ornamental vestige of a bygone, formal era, like buttons on the sleeve of a dinner jacket.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show earlier this month featured all manner of professional high-tech toys, from HDTV cameras to the latest video-production devices. But among the broadcast-industry announcements, several products of interest to cutting-edge consumers were also presented.
More set-top box news this week: On April 21, Scientific-Atlanta announced an agreement with SeaChange International to develop a complete server-to-set-top digital video-on-demand (VOD) system for cable networks. This agreement makes Scientific-Atlanta the first company to offer cable operators all network components for an integrated, commercially feasible digital VOD service in 1998.
Despite the ocean of ink that has been spilled on the subject, most consumers are indifferent about the inclusion of TV tuners in their computers. "Convergence" might be simply another intellectual fad---popular among journalists because it seems so logical, yet flopping among consumers because it really isn't. Most computer users who have responded to marketing studies indicate they don't care if they can receive television on their computers or not.
Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine. Directed by Jonathan Demme. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1. Dolby Surround (3.1). One side. 118 minutes. 1991. Image Entertainment ID4069ORDVD. Rated R. Price: $29.95.
Hollywood is now cranking out DVD titles at a rate of more than one per day, but rental outlets have only a few of the most popular titles in stock. This is clearly a problem for home-theater owners and movie fans looking for new material.
Last week, Intertainer, Inc. announced that both USWest Communications and Sony Corp. have invested in the company, which provides a broadband entertainment-on-demand programming service of the same name. The two investors join Intel, Comcast, and Sterling Ventures in committing capital and technological resources to Intertainer. As part of the agreement, USWest !nterprise Networking, the data-integration arm of USWest Communications, will supply the Interprise service to its customers via Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) wire centers in 40 cities starting in June 1998.
Manufacturer Faroudja, Inc., famous for its video projectors, line-doublers, line-quadruplers, and other ultra-high-quality video processors, kicked off a nationwide HDTV road show last Thursday with a well-attended open house at The Audible Difference, a high-end dealer in Silicon Valley, about 25 miles south of San Francisco.