Every few days, the convergence envelope gets pushed a little further. Last week, on July 15, Boston Acoustics announced its new DigitalTheater 6000 loudspeaker system, which the company describes as "a complete Dolby Digital 5.1 surround-sound system created specifically for use with computing and home theater systems." The five-satellites-plus-subwoofer system is being packaged by Gateway with its Destination computer systems.
Your local mom-and-pop video store might be on its way to extinction because of pricing benefits offered to large chains, complained the Independent Video Retailers Group last week at the Video Software Dealers Association trade show and conference in Las Vegas. According to the independents, mass-market outlets like Blockbuster are given an unfair advantage by movie studios eager to increase rentals by putting more copies of hit movies in stores.
Thursday, July 9, was "an important day for artists," according to Robert Chapman, attorney for film director, producer, and writer Francis Ford Coppola. On that day, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury imposed $60 million in punitive damages on Warner Brothers, the defendant in a lawsuit brought by Coppola.
Yesterday, Japan; today, America; tomorrow, the world: Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video have signed a pact to distribute DVDs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. Distribution of more than 100 titles to more than 30 regional territories will begin this fall. Studios to be represented include Warner, Disney, Hollywood Pictures, and Touchstone Pictures. Some independent films have also been picked up for distribution.
July 1, 1998---"These presentations always attract more Hollywood lawyers than engineers." That's how Dick Davies of the 1394 Trade Association summed up Brendan Trawl's update on DVD Copy Protection issues at the second annual FireWire Developers' Conference last week in San Jose, CA.
Move over, fiber optics; good-bye, T1 lines. The unexploited potential of ordinary copper telephone wires will soon be mined by a consortium of computer and communications companies. Known as the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (or HomePNA), the recently formed group intends to deliver affordable, high-speed networking over existing phone lines.
In a move that reportedly caught Circuit City CEO Richard Sharp by surprise, retail chain Sears, Roebuck & Co. has decided not to carry Divx. Apparently, the format's overwhelmingly negative pre-release publicity was taken seriously by the retailer.
With enthusiastic backing from the movie industry, DVD-Video is beginning a strong climb to widespread popularity. More than 3000 titles could be available by the end of 1998, which is four times the number available in 1997, the format's first year.
In its continuing crusade to standardize soundtrack-playback levels, Dolby Laboratories has introduced a new soundtrack-loudness meter, the Model 737. The device was unveiled two weeks ago at Variety's Dolby Tech Symposium at the Cannes Film Festival. According to a May 20 Dolby press release, the 737 "enables sound mixers to easily monitor the subjective loudness of trailers and other soundtracks as they are being prepared."
Video is hot and getting hotter. With HDTV looming on the horizon, no-compromise video demonstrations will be among the biggest attractions at HI-FI '98, beginning Tuesday at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel.