DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor



Little Bits

December 6, 2005

Here we are poised on the cusp going into the final stretch of the transition. And poised, and poised, and poised...

The House took the Senate DTV transition bill (Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 -- Title III of the budget reconciliation bill - S. 1932), and amended it by deleting everything and substituting the text of H.R. 4241 (the House version of the bill) and sent it back to the Senate. It's been sitting there since November 18.

Then came Thanksgiving.

Of course the Budget bill is sort of important and they're going to have to get it out before too long. Presumably the staff is working on some sort of compromise for the conference committee; hopefully it won't be to set the transition date and leave out everything else (eg. consumer education) for later.

In the meantime we can all anticipate the new toys that will be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (January 5 - 8), and some of us are also waiting to hear what new Apple toys Steve Jobs will announce on January 9 at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco.

Read that some NBC, Sci-Fi channel (Battlestar Galactica), and USA network shows will now be available (via iTunes Music store) on the little low-def 320 x 240 pixel iPod screen (NTSC and PAL only) to add to the ABC/Disney fare.

The Blu-ray Disc people are already hyping their big CES roll-out announcement, and hinting that Blu-ray high-def players will be in stores sometime this spring (calendar equinox or meteorological?). I'm guessing that means sometime from March to May.

Apparently the Blu-ray Discs are going to start out single layer only (25 GB), with the full-spec 50 GB dual-layer discs coming out a little later as production techniques are worked out.

The satellilte folks over at DirecTV are finally getting local channel HD beaming into people's homes (in Detroit) and the other eleven first-tier markets by early 2006. Cost of the new antennas and MPEG-4 receivers is reportedly free after a $200 rebate, or $99, or something else depending on . . . well, hard to say.

FCC Commissioner Martin has been talking about moving the cable companies toward a la carte channel pricing (you only pay for the channels you actually want to watch). The cable companies are understandably opposed. We'll see if this actually goes anywhere.

Holiday shoppers are out in force -- drive safely. And you Firefly fans--don't forget that Serenity comes out on DVD on December 20.