High-End Blu-ray Players Debut Next Week
While reports indicate that entry-level Blu-ray player prices are falling,
Panasonic, Yamaha and Pioneer next week are expected to introduce new pricey,
high-end models. That's according to an article by
Video Business. The new, expensive Blu-ray players are
expected to be unveiled at the annual CEDIA Home Theater conference in Denver,
which runs September 3-7.
Pioneer is scheduled to introduce the Elite BDP-09FD, which will retail for
$2,200. The company says it will be the first Blu-ray player that can playback
Net-enabled interactive features immediately after purchase, according to Video
Business. (Other standalone Blu-ray players must download the features.)
Yamaha is expected to introduce a $1,195 Blu-ray player that will offer
picture-in-picture features, but it will not be Web-enabled. Video Business
notes that the PS3, which costs just $399, has PIP and is also web-enabled.
Finally, Panasonic is scheduled to unveil two new Blu-ray players next
week -- the DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55, says Video Business. But the company has been
mum on pricing and launch dates.
While the higher-end Blu-ray players may be going against the trend, the CEDIA
conference attracts Home Theater installers whose clients may opt for the
pricier, feature-laden models. “With a show like this,
people who are willing to spend the kind of money it takes to put together a
great home theater system will want Blu-ray,” Panasonic spokesman Jeff Samuels
told Video Business.
Blu-ray To Sell 45 Mln Discs in 2008
In the wake of the high definition disc format war between Blu-ray and the
vanquished HD-DVD, many industry watchers were expecting a flood sales of both
Blu-ray players and Blu-ray titles as consumers got off the fence and finally
began investing in high-definition gear, assured that the Blu-ray format wasn't
going to go away overnight. Instead, the market has shown comparatively tepid
interest in Blu-ray: sales of Blu-ray players have picked up, but it's hardly
been the landslide that Sony (and its partners) may have wished for, as
consumers have increasingly deferred high-definition purchases, looked at
inexpensive upscaling players for traditional DVDs, and looked at downloadable
video, bypassing discs entirely
Futuresource Consulting has released its projections (PDF) for Blu-ray sales for
2008, as well as its projections for Blu-ray market share through the year
2012…and it says Blu-ray is right on track. According to Futuresource, American
consumers should snap up 45 million Blu-ray titles during 2008, and the firm
expects that by 21012 between 40 and 50 percent of video disc sales in the U.S.
and Western Europe will be Blu-ray.
Futuresource says between 5 and 6 percent of "big titles" are already sold in
Blu-ray format, and by the fourth quarter of the year that might reach as high
as 10 or 12 percent on selected titles. Futuresource notes, however, that
studios have so far been relatively disappointed with Blu-ray title sales,
although the studios are continuing to push content onto Blu-ray and expand
their catalogs. "All eyes are on Warner's initiative to cut catalogue prices,"
said Futuresource lead analyst Mai Hoang, in a statement. "Other studios and the
retailers are going to be watching consumer reaction to this very carefully."
Futuresource also attributes upticks in Blu-ray sales to growing consumer
awareness of the format, reduced hardware prices, and PS3 owners who are
increasingly using the consoles for video playback.
"I would be amazed if we don't see a Blu-ray player in the U.S. at or below $250
by the end of this year," said Futuresource's Jack Wetherill. "In order to
stimulate consumer traffic in the holiday season who's to say there won't be a
product at closer to $200? In the UK, player prices will fall to around £149 and
there may be one or two companies trying to better that."
Forget HD DVD: Toshiba focuses on plain old DVD
After losing out in the battle to define the high-definition successor of the
DVD, Toshiba Corp. has turned its attention to the next best thing: the DVD.
On Monday, the Japanese electronics company is releasing a new DVD player
that it says does more than previous models to improve the look of DVDs on
The XD-E500 will sell for a suggested price of $149.99, twice as much as regular
"upconverting" players, which also improve the look of a DVD, but it is less
than half the price of a Blu-ray player. The Blu-ray
disc, championed by Sony Corp., early this year beat out Toshiba's HD DVD to
become the dominant format for high-definition discs. Toshiba has stopped making
HD DVD players.
In a demonstration to reporters last week, Toshiba played the same disc in an
XDE player and a standard, $70 upscaling model on side-by-side LCD HDTVs. The
new player produced a subtle but noticeable sharpening of the image.
Toshiba didn't demonstrate the XDE against a Blu-ray or HD DVD player,
and Louis Masses, director of product planning for the audio and video group at
Toshiba America Consumer Products, was careful to stress that it's not meant to
compete with or replace Blu-ray.
"If you want Blu-ray, go get Blu-ray. This product is meant to improve playback
of DVDs," Masses said.
Masses said the XDE technology, for eXtended Detail Enhancement, will be used in
other players, and the brand will be promoted extensively in advertising,
including on NBC's Olympics site. Blu-ray players have
six times the image detail of a DVD, and upscaling players, even those using XDE
technology, can't overcome that. But they can sharpen edges to overcome the
blurriness of a DVD when displayed on a large screen.
Three years after their launch, Blu-ray players are popular with home-theater
aficionados but have not caught on in the mainstream, except through Sony's
PlayStation 3 game console, which can play Blu-ray discs.
In emphasizing DVDs, Toshiba is playing up to a difficulty for Blu-ray
marketers: Most U.S. consumers are happy with DVDs, according to a recent study
by ABI Research, and don't believe Blu-ray provides as big of a quality jump as
DVDs did over VHS tapes.
Hitachi Debuts Three Format Hybrid Blu-ray Disc CamcorderHitachi
Hitachi Home Electronics (America), Inc. continues to introduce
state-of-the-art consumer electronics with its next-generation Blu-ray Disc
Hybrid Camcorder with the ability to record onto the next generation HD format,
A step above from its predecessor announced last year, the DZ-BD10HA from
Hitachi's Consumer Group contains several new features and improvements. A newly
developed 7 mega pixel CMOS image sensor, which captures rich and vibrant videos
and stills in FullHD (1920 x 1080) High Definition. The new DZ-BD10HA can also
record up to 4 hours 20 minutes of 1920x1080 video or 8 hours 40 minutes of
1440x1080 video onto the built-in 30 GB HDD. Additionally, the built-in SDHC
card slot provides added flexibility by allowing for Full HD video and still
The new DZ-BD10HA also offers a dubbing function that allows Full HD video to be
transferred with the single push of a button from either the HDD or SDHC card to
the BD drive, all within the camcorder, without having to connect to a PC.
Editing functions such as split, splice, delete, merge, and transitions can also
be performed within the camcorder before dubbing for additional functionality.
The Transcoding feature allows for the camcorder to transfer full HD videos off
the HDD or SDHC card to standard definition DVD discs for the sharing of videos
with friends and family who may not own a Blu-ray player yet.
Another new feature added to this year's camcorder is face detection, which
automatically detects and focuses on faces to provide the most true to life
color accuracy and clarity. Additionally, Hitachi has developed a compact, low
power consumption, quiet and highly reliable 8cm BD/DVD drive, which results in
a 20% reduction in overall volume compared with last year's DZ-BD7HA Blu-ray
"Hitachi is well known for having introduced the world's first DVD camcorder,
the world's first Hybrid camcorder with a DVD drive and a Hard Disk Drive and
the world's first Blu-ray camcorder," said Daniel Lee, Vice President of
Marketing at Hitachi Home Electronics, America. "Hitachi continues to improve
upon and deliver cutting-edge and innovative products, and is pleased to offer
the latest upgrades in camcorder technology to its customers and consumers. The
new DZ-BD10HA underscores Hitachi's commitment to developing original
technologies that consumers can easily embrace."
While keeping the same core design as the previous Blu-ray camcorder, the
DZ-BD10HA has several added features and an ameliorated design. These features
Three Format Hybrid Compatibility
This camcorder has the versatility of being able to record HD video onto three
separate formats (Blu-ray Disc, Hard Drive, SDHC) and provides the flexibility
and ease of playback and long recording time all in one camcorder.
7 Mega Pixel CMOS Image Sensor
The CMOS image sensor in this camcorder is designed to record the highest
resolution video with effective 4.67 mega pixels while minimizing distortion and
artifacts to ensure the most clear and vibrant high definition picture. The
camcorder is also capable of capturing 6.22 mega pixel stills onto an optional
SD or SDHC card.
With the push of one button the user can transfer HD video from the SDHC card or
hard drive to a Blu-ray disc all within the camcorder; this eliminates the need
to turn on a computer.
This feature automatically detects and focuses on the face to provide
true-to-life color accuracy and sharp picture quality to the user.
O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization)
O.I.S. automatically detects and cancels camera shake by accurately stabilizing
the lens to produce the most sharp and vibrant picture possible.
Pricing and Availability
The Hitachi model DZ-BD10HA model Blu-ray Hybrid with built-in 30GB hard disk
drive (HDD) is priced at a Manufacturers Advertised Price (MAP) of $999. The
camcorder will be available in Japan on August 9th and will be available in
North America in September 2008.
Hitachi Home Electronics (America), Inc., Consumer Group subsidiary of Hitachi
America, Ltd., markets high-definition plasma and LCD flat panel televisions and
monitors, as well as Blu-ray Disc(TM), DVD and HDD camcorders.
Hitachi has a unique position in the marketplace by manufacturing and developing
its own core technologies to provide consumers and businesses with optimal
product performance in each of Hitachi's product categories. For consumer
products, please visit www.hitachi.us/tv. For Business products go to
Hitachi America, Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., markets and manufactures a
broad range of electronics, computer systems and products, and provides
industrial equipment and services throughout North America. For more
information, visit www.hitachi.us.
Samsung launches new Home Theater System
Samsung Electronics Co, a global leader in consumer electronics and digital
technology, has announced the availability of its new range of Home Theatre
Systems, specifically designed to compliment its latest series of LCD and Plasma
televisions. A self-contained home theater speaker
system with integrated upconverting DVD player, wireless subwoofer and Bluetooth
connectivity for easy connection to audio sources, the HT-X810 is designed to
enhance the digital living room experience and complement Samsung's HDTVs.
Samsung's HT-X810 Home Theater Sound Bar delivers dynamic, cinema-quality
sound with the streamlined look and contemporary convenience of a single
'Focusing on ease of use and offering Bluetooth capability for connecting to
various portable devices, the HT-X810 is an ideal addition to any wall-mounted
HDTV to boost audio performance and offer a clean yet sophisticated design,'
said Ashraf Sajed, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Digital Media
Business, AV, Samsung Gulf Electronics.
'Samsung continues to find ways to bring flexible, high performance home-theater
products to consumers that can easily fit into any home décor. The HT-X810 is a
great flat panel TV matching A/V system.'
The HT-X810 Home Theater Sound Bar has a piano black finish-a look every bit as
venerable as its performance is exceptional. This self-contained, wall-mountable
home theater speaker system is designed specifically to fit with all Samsung TV
models 40-inches and above, making it a great addition to any room.
From MP3 players to cell phones to PCs, the HT-X810 is all about seamless
connections. Not only does it easily connect with any Bluetooth-enabled device
to expand wireless audio listening capabilities even further, it also integrates
easily with a variety of different devices and file types. The USB Host Play
makes for a quick, direct connection to other mobile devices, including flash
drives and digital camcorders, bringing full multimedia compatibility into the
Samsung has also announced seven other Home Theatre Systems for release in July;
the HT- X715, HT-TX715, HT-X710, HT-XA100, HT-Z310, HT-Z210 and HT-Z110, filling
out the brand's buoyant portfolio of Home Theatre alternatives.
HT - X715 Home Theatre System features 5.1 speaker sets with Bluetooth and
Special Audio DSP including Smart Volume, Audio-Upscaling and Power Base. With
800w RMS and 2 way wireless speakers this system also features an iPod dock.
HT - TX715 Home Theatre System features all of the features of the HT - X715 and
also includes four Tallboy Speakers.
HT - X710 Home Theatre System features Bluetooth capabilities with 2.1 satellite
speakers and 400w RMS.
HT-XA100 Home Theatre System features 2 way 2 speakers, 600W Power (5,1CH),
wireless ready, HDMI with 1080P up-scale, USB Host with video playback and a
HT-Z310 Home Theatre System features Bluetooth capabilities and an iPod dock
with HDMOI output for all digital signal transmission, 1080P upscaling and 1000w
HT-Z210 Home Theatre System features bookshelf 5.1 speaker sets and HDMI output
for all digital signal transmission, 1080p up-scaling and 800w RMS.
HT-Z110 Home Theatre System features 5.1 satellite speakers and a huge range of
format compatibilities for the media hungry consumer. The unit will also be
available from June 2008.
Chinese HD format: It's blue, but not "Blu-ray"
A Chinese industry consortium is moving forward with plans to launch its own
high-definition disc format, and the group has announced the beginning of volume
production by the end of the year, DigiTimes reports. The whole venture,
however, seems unlikely to succeed due to cost issues and lack of studio
Last September, the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center
announced that it was developing a new disc format called CH-DVD, to be released
by the beginning of this year. Although remarkably similar to HD DVD, the new
format purportedly would incorporate novel Chinese-derived technologies to
separate it from the other technology. These technologies included "advanced
copy protection technology" and Chinese-owned codecs for video and audio.
China's manufacturers and its government seemed to be trying to minimize use of
foreign intellectual property for cost saving and mercantilist reasons.
At the same time, though, they didn't hesitate to build on the progress of other
HD technologies to the maximum extent possible, and the group ended up with a
format similar to HD DVD. Chinese concerns had tried this trick in the past with
other technologies, ranging from SD video discs to WiFi to office documents.
China would, the reasoning went, become a mecca for making HD DVDs and
equipment because of manufacturing synergies between HD DVD and CH-DVD. Some
even thought the Chinese would try to launch their disc format elsewhere in the
world. The demise of HD DVD makes this kind of three-way slugfest sadly
impossible, however. In the meantime, OMNERC and its partners
are plugging away with plans to release what has been renamed China Blue
High-definition Disk, or CBHD. Shanghai United Optical Disc has completed its
first plant for producing CBHD discs, and a number of other Chinese optical
drive manufacturers have announced similar plans.
They cite the low cost of converting DVD production facilities to CBHD and the
low licensing fees charged by the CBHD group, compared to Blu-ray, as reasons
for the switch. Converting a DVD production line to CBHD costs only $800,000,
they claim, instead of some $3 million to convert to Blu-ray disc production.
Used HD DVD equipment may lower this number further. Meanwhile, the Chinese
group has pegged player license fees at $8, much less than the Blu-ray group.
Chinese drivemakers think these advantages add up to a coup for their new
format. Their Taiwanese counterparts are bearish on the idea, though, saying
CBHD will be unable to compete with Blu-ray even in its home market.
They have reason to think so. HD DVD offered very similar
advantages, including volume shipments of low-priced players, and it met with
failure. In the mean time, Blu-ray has advanced and can be manufactured more
cheaply, making a price war in China more feasible for Blu-ray purveyors if CBHD
ever becomes competitive. No major Hollywood studio has announced distribution
on CBHD, barring American movies from appearing legally on the format. With
these problems, CBHD seems as likely to fail as HD DVD did.
Pirated content could change this. China is known for
massive piracy of movies, and if CBHD offers the pirates a cheap and easy way to
produce and distribute pirated movies in high definition, these movies could
drive sales of CBHD players. The Chinese government may also subsidize the
format on mercantilist reasoning. This combination of factors, if it emerges,
could be the bane of antipiracy efforts in China.
The prospect of a renewed format war is not an encouraging one. Although prices
haven't continued their downward plunge, Blu-ray adoption is rising, and
widespread HD adoption is a good thing. Continuing format wars would probably be
undesirable for consumers in other countries, but for Chinese-language and other
licensed CBHD content, the prospect of a cheap HD format using cast-aside HD DVD
technology might be a pleasing one. Blu-ray purveyors may be pleased to segment
Chinese piracy into a Chinese sandbox, while allowing BD to reign with licensed
content. At any rate, the continuing adventures of CBHD will provide fascinating
entertainment for the duration of the format's existence.