Week in and week out the CE press is inundated with propaganda and counter-propaganda from both sides in the format war. Most of this stuff falls under the category of all being fair in love, war and marketing. But sometimes these things go a little too far.
Late last week I had a chance to speak directly with Ken Graffeo, who has a high ranking position with Universal Home Entertainment and is co-president the HD DVD Promotional group. Ken and the group wished to clear the air on the running rumor mills and talk about Universal and HD DVD's plans in the post-Warner decision world.
Meridian has noticed something that many companies haven't- the current iPod is a video playback device. Meridian's MV-D1 dock not only allows your AV system to control the iPod and hear the music, it features component and HDMI outputs with built-in scaling up to 1080p!
Panasonic’s DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55 players have been ensconced in our Top Picks since last fall. That they’ve been replaced by the DMP-BD60 and DMP-BD80 is significant in and of itself, but that’s not the half of it. The core DVD/BD functionality remains the same on the new players, which means top notch BD and DVD playback. Both are BD-Live capable (and they still require the user to buy SD media for storage which remains my only gripe with the players). But what’s new is Viera Cast. Through this networked player users can now access Internet sourced content from YouTube, Picasa photo sharing, Bloomberg Weather Channel and now Amazon Video On Demand. I think players like this one, and those from LG and Samsung will expand Blu-ray’s growth exponentially this year. I think there’s a better opportunity for players with more value-add features at higher prices than players that only play movies at even cheaper prices. Not forcing users to choose between Blu-ray and streaming/downloading is a big plus in my book. Plus, nothing will make Blu-ray’s strengths more apparent than easy direct comparison to streaming video. The new players will be available this spring. Pricing was not determined yet but I'd expect them to be in line with current pricing on the BD35 and BD55.
Directed by noir great Robert Aldrich, 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was a shocker in its day, from the lurid subject matter to the monumental uniting of two of the silver screen’s greatest actresses (and fiercest rivals), Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, each in her mid-fifties then. It’s a twisted tale of two once-famous, now codependent sisters: Davis’ Jane was famous in childhood as Baby Jane Hudson, while Crawford’s Blanche went on to greater stardom in Hollywood before being hit by a car, presumably driven by jealous Jane, and crippled.
Vivitek was the only manufacturer I found showing DLP projection with an LED light source. And there’s good reason for that- the company claims an exclusive deal with Texas Instruments on its LED-based DLP light engines. This technology is significant in two areas- no bulb replacements, ever, and no more color separation “rainbow” artifacts. The H6080FD is full 1080p, and incorporates TI’s DynamicBlack dynamic iris system. The image was being shown on a very small screen by front projection standards, but had a lot of pop and detail with rainbows nowhere to be seen. The 6080 is due later this year at an MSRP of $19,999. This is a new wrinkle we’re very anxious to get a closer look at!
Price: $15,000 At A Glance: LEDs promise longevity, consistent performance • Excellent color • Good contrast mitigated by unrefined dynamic contrast performance
Get the LED In
The last few years have been a golden age for digital front projection in home theater applications. Today’s best projectors offer an absolutely stellar combination of price, convenience, essential features, and most importantly, performance. In virtually all of these respects, today’s digital projectors shatter any expectations we had a few years ago. But there is a rub. Digital projection as we’ve known it has been driven by analog lamps for illumination. These lamps, which generally cost $300 to $500 each, age and need to be replaced every couple of thousand hours. If you insist on the very best performanceyou may need to replace them even sooner. In addition to dropping light output, aging lamps also affect a projector’s color performance, gammaand gray-scale tracking. Inother words, the lamp-driven projector you buy today isn’t the same projector you’ll have after several hundred hours without a touch-up calibration.
Bandai's Freedom Vol. 1 offers up to cast/crew info by hitting the A button, storyboards using the B button, and up to seven bookmarks using the C button (all of which is explained by a handy tutorial readily accessible in the main menu). The storyboard feature here is awesome. I've got to admit that I'm not an anime guy, so this material didn't grab me as much as it might some of you. But, think of looking at storyboards and art in band with the movie with something like Lord of the Rings, or even Martin Scorsese's crude storyboards for Taxi Driver (oh wait, that's a Sony movie). Still, you get my drift.