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Movie industry eyeing 3D movies for the home theater

3-D display technology has had an on-again/off-again relationship with the film industry for decades, but has never established itself on the small screen. Modern technology has made 3-D broadcasting a more realistic proposition, but there's currently no standardized method for how such content should be formatted, processed, and displayed. The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers intends to tackle this problem, and has given the problem over to the newly formed 3-D Home Display Formats Task Force.

The stated goal of the task force is to develop a standard that will allow 3-D programming to be played "on all fixed devices in the home, no matter the delivery channel." The group will first explore what technology is required in order for 3-D content to play over the variety of devices available in the home, and plans to issue a report on its findings within six months. When the group refers to playback on all fixed devices, they mean it—the report will cover cable, satellite, and over-the-air broadcasting, as well as packaged media (DVDs, Blu-ray). A variety of display mediums will be evaluated as well, including "televisions, computer screens, and other tethered displays." Presumably, this includes plasma, LCD, and standard televisions, as well as displays based on OLED technology.

Once this initial document is finished, it will form the basis of what's to become the SMTPE 3-D standard. The task force holds its first meeting on August 19, at the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, and the event will feature multiple product and technology demonstrations, as well as a discussion of the development group's goals and aims. If any of you are planning to attend, feel free to drop us a line and let us know. The prospect of 3-D technology gaining traction in the home entertainment market is both bane and boon to Hollywood studios. On the one hand, there's nothing that would make Hollywood happier than selling us all of our old favorites again, but this time, in AMAZING 3-D ACTION. Not all films benefit from a 3D makeover, and 2D-3D film conversion is still problematic, but industry heads clearly think the idea has potential. George Lucas' upcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie will be released in 3-D on August 15, and the director himself has expressed interest in doing a 3-D version of the previous Star Wars movies.

The problem with pushing 3-D technology into the home, from Hollywood's perspective, is that it gives people yet another reason to stay home, instead of driving to a theater. Recent 3-D movies have done quite well, and Hollywood has picked up on that. Big-screen TVs and 7.1 surround sound systems have made it increasingly difficult for the movie industry to entice people to pay for the "theater experience," and the industry would undoubtedly be unhappy to see the potential 3-D cash cow handed off to the small screen before it has been well and thoroughly milked. The transition may be inevitable, but writing a new standard, building support for it, and putting actual compatible hardware on store shelves are all processes that will take time. Until it happens, the movie industry will push the 3-D angle for as much as it's worth, while simultaneously perfecting their own conversion technologies.

NEC Commits to Price War in Blu-ray Market

Japan's NEC Electronics Corp said on Tuesday it expects to double sales of its Blu-ray products in the next two years by matching steep price falls hitting its clients, manufacturers of DVD players. NEC Electronics, which competes with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, Broadcom Corp and Sigma Designs Inc, aims to take over half the global Blu-ray chip market by March 2011 from an expected 40 percent at the end of March 2009.

By pushing the world's first chips that pack on a single sliver of silicon signal processors and memory to control graphics, audio and other functions, the NEC Corp unit aims to raise sales of its Blu-ray products to 40 billion yen ($378 million) in the year ending March 2011, executives said.

"We've gained an edge over our rivals with this chip," NEC Electronics Associate Vice President Shigeo Niitsu told reporters at a news conference. "We will do what it takes to keep pace with market price falls of 30 percent to 40 percent to keep our lead."

The February defeat of Toshiba Corp's HD-DVD discs in an optical-disc format war against Blu-ray discs championed by Sony Corp has cleared the way for Blu-ray suppliers to cash in on the growing home movie market. But price competition remains stiff as client makers of high-definition DVD players race to cut costs and develop the first players to sell for under $200—commonly seen as the threshold to herald a boom in the next-generation home video market.

In Blu-ray drives, NEC Electronics held a 60 percent share of the global market in the year ended March and competes against Matsushita and Renesas, a joint chip venture between Hitachi Ltd and Mitsubishi Electric Corp (6503.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Monk and Psych return to USA

Friday July 18th

We all know have thought the same thing; the summer is upon us and there is nothing new on television. We are in the hot sticky months of reruns and would live to see something original. Once again the USA cable network comes to save the day, or evening as it were. New seasons are starting up for two of the best comedy mysteries on TV; ‘Monk’ and ‘Psych’. They will turn your Friday nights into something you will look forward to coming around. On July 18th both are starting brand new seasons. If you have never seen these series do yourself a big favor and tune it and have a lot of laughs.

In the new season of Monk some bug changes are in the works. Tony Shalhoub is back again as the defective detective Adrian Monk. His list of phobias is as hefty as a Manhattan telephone book. The phrase ‘you have nothing to fear but fear itself’ would perfectly apply to Mr. Monk. He is assisted by a single mother Natalie Teege (Traylor Howard) as he works as a consultant for the San Francisco police department. Mostly he works along side Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and his somewhat clueless assistant Lt. Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford). The biggest change is due to a recent tragedy; the death of Stanley Kamel who played Monk’s put upon psychiatrist Dr. Charles Kroger. While his sudden loss was a blow to the series they have found a great actor to fill in; Hector Elizondo. This talented man has over forty years honing his craft and is a fantastic addition. The writers did show the proper respect by writing the death of Dr. Kroger into the story line. Monk is lost without his friend and doctor and has to get used to the new psychiatrist. In the first episode things are slow at the precinct and Monk is looking through closed cases. He comes across one of an elderly man who apparently died by accidentally falling down a flight of stairs. Monk decides to investigate. Once there he learns the house is up for sale. His young neighbor has been bothering him by practicing a piece of music on the piano so Monk impulsively buys the house. Of course he finds something off center and hires a handyman, played by ‘Everybody Love’s Raymond star, Brad Garrett, to fix up the place. He winds up destroying it and the mystery is on.

‘Psych’ also returns with a bang and a special guest star. Shawn Spencer (James Roday) has been trained since he was a child to develop his remarkable memory and attention to the slightest detail. Providing the training is his now retired police officer father, Henry (Corbin Bernsen). Things are never smooth between the father and son resulting in near constant friction. Shawn’s best friend since childhood, Gus Guster (Dulé Hill) now works as a sale representative for a larger pharmaceutical distributor. He is always taking time off from his job to help Shawn pretend to be a psychic and solve cases beyond the police. Typically the detective unable to solve the case is Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson), an uptight, by the book man. You might remember him as one of the major bad guys in the recently cancelled series ‘Jericho’. Here he shows his comic style to a tee. Lassiter’s partner, Juliet O'Hara (Maggie Lawson) is dubious about Shawn’s paranormal abilities but is always impressed with his results. Overseeing the chaos is the chief of police Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson). In the opening episode Gus is in trouble with his boss for taking so much time off from work for his Psych adventures. He is about to loose his job when the big boss of the division calls him in, Apparently his wife is a true believer and feels that their house is haunted. If Gus and Shawn can get to the bottom of the mysterious things that are happening he just might get to stay gainfully employed. Also goin on in this episode is the return of Shawn’s mother played by guest star Cybill Shepherd. She is a little to friendly with dad for Shawn. She is a psychologist who has taken a consulting job with the police force examining the officers. She finds that when she gets Lassiter on the couch she is in for a strange time.

The bottom line here is now there are two shows not to miss on Friday nights. Make sure you catch every episode of fun and mystery.

Pioneer's 400GB Blu-ray Disc Holds 48 Hours of Movies

Get ready to never leave your home. Pioneer announced this week a read-only Blu-ray technology that could put up to 48 hours, or 400GB, of movies on a single disc. By comparison, the current Blu-ray Disc format stores 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer version. A 50GB Blu-ray disc can hold up to about six hours of high-definition video.

16 Layers

The new Pioneer technology has 16 layers on a conventional 12-centimeter optical disc, and is currently a play-only version. The company has indicated that a writable version is being developed. Pioneer's announcement said "it is possible to maintain compatibility" between the new, very high-density Blu-ray format and existing players. However, the company indicated that some kind of modification may be necessary, either in the production of the discs or in the players.

The key to making such storage possible, Pioneer said, is reducing interference between adjacent layers, as its prototype does. A formal announcement of the 400GB technology is expected at the International Symposium on Optical Memory and Optical Data Storage, which begins Sunday in Hawaii. Industry observers anticipate that Pioneer will not commercially produce the discs, but will work with manufacturers. TDK has also announced a high-capacity disc, with six layers and a 150GB capacity.

In a separate announcement, Pioneer said it will start selling Blu-ray recorders in Japan before next March. The recorders, to be sold under the Pioneer brand, will be made with Sharp Electronics. Sharp, Sony and Matsushita control virtually the entire Blu-ray market in Japan. Matsushita makes Panasonic products. No plans for sales of the recorder in the U.S. or elsewhere were announced.

'Not Earth-Shattering'

Josh Martin, an analyst with industry research firm Yankee Group, said the new, high-capacity disc is "interesting, but not earth-shattering." He said the last time he checked, it was not much cheaper to produce a Blu-ray disc with, say, three times the capacity of a single disc, than to produce three discs. And then there's the matter of value for the average consumer. Martin said "there is value to a consumer in having multiple discs for, say, a $100 set." He added that a single disc with the same amount of movies, at the same price, doesn't have the same perceived value. But, Martin noted, a high-capacity recordable Blu-ray disc might have value in some businesses.

In general, he said Blu-ray player and disc sales appear to be picking up momentum, but there probably won't be any significant sales until closer to the holiday season. Martin noted that some retailers, such as Amazon and Wal-Mart, have reduced the price of some titles to $15 from about $25 or $30, and this could spur sales.

Accell Announces Their Line of Second Generation UltraAV® Switches and Splitters Now Supporting HDMI™ 1.3 High-Speed

Accell, a leader of enhanced connectivity, has announced the launch of their revised line of UltraAV HDMI switches and splitters, now compliant with HDMI 1.3 specification up to 6.75 Gbps. The new HDMI specification Version 1.3 offers significant audio and video enhancements to previous versions of the HDMI specification. Accell’s second generation switches and splitters support high-speed HDMI 1.3 audio/video transfer and are available with prices ranging from $79 MSRP to $309 MSRP.

Accell’s line of UltraAV HDMI 1.3 switches and splitters support the bandwidth intensive audio and video enhancements of HDMI 1.3 as well as supporting all the earlier versions of the HDMI specification. In order to support these data intensive audio/video requirements, HDMI devices must be able to accurately transfer high volumes of data at blazing fast speeds.

This line of products includes 4x8 HDMI 1.3 Distribution Amplifier; 4x1 HDMI 1.3 Switch; 1x4 HDMI 1.3 Splitter; 2x1 HDMI 1.3 Switch and 1x2 HDMI 1.3 Splitter, and supports the following features:

High-Definition resolutions of up to 1080p
HDMI displays that feature a 120Hz refresh rate, providing smooth, fluid video reproduction
Color bit depths from 8-bit up to 12-bit color including Deep Color™, providing more detailed gradations of individual colors displaying billions of colors
Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD lossless surround sound, delivering optimum audio technology for a superior home theater experience
HDTVs with x.v.Color™, expanding the number of available colors for nearly twice as many colors than standard RGB color
Lip sync capabilities allowing for a processing delay so both audio and video signals are synchronized and are output together, greatly improving the viewing experience

“Accell understands the A/V market and we strive to keep pace with its evolution, ensuring the delivery of high quality enhanced connectivity products with an excellent price and performance,” stated Tenny Sin, Accell’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “HDMI 1.3 products are in great demand and we will continue to expand our line of UltraAV products offering an extensive selection of audio/video distribution solutions.”

HDMI is a trademark of HDMI Licensing LLC. UltraAV is a registered trademark of Accell Corporation.

About Accell
Accell Corporation is focused on the design, manufacture and delivery of affordable, high quality connectivity products including audio/video interconnects and distribution systems, computer and networking cables. Accell produces high quality and innovative connectivity products by combining the low cost benefits of a global manufacturer and the design capabilities of a Silicon Valley based engineering and marketing team. Accell is a member of CEDIA and CEA. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.accellcables.com.

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