DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor


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Blu-ray Player Update

September 9, 2006

Panasonic has reaffirmed the planned September launch of its DMP-BD10 Blu-ray Disc player ($1300), but Pioneer has just announced that it will delay the introduction of the BDP-HD1 player ($1500) until next month.

Sony is still set for October 25 (or thereabouts) for its $1000 BDP-S1.

Nothwithstanding the reported shortage of blue laser diodes (that will limit the numbers of PlayStation 3 game consoles that will be available in November), production of these three Blu-ray Disc players will not be affected. This because the number of PS3 consoles expected to be sold is huge compared to the relatively small numbers of BD players.

In other news, the FCC has released a list of tentative digital channel assignments, this coming out of the final round of digital channel elections. These channel assignments will be the channels that broadcast stations will be using after February 17, 2009.

Those stations that are already broadcasting digitally on their final assigned channels must now be transmitting their digital signal at full power (equivalent signal strength on both analog and digital channels). All other stations must now be transmitting at a power level that will provide a good digital signal to 80% of their analog viewers.

For many stations, their final digital channel assignment is the channel they have been using for their analog broadcast. This switch-over will be more involved for these stations than those already on their final channel.

The most difficult switchover is for stations that will be broadcasting digitally on a channel different than either their current analog or digital channels. Equipment specs vary depending on the radio frequency being used.

And finally, five Japanese TV manufacturers have agreed on a standard for televisions to receive programming directly over the Internet. The idea is to make this simple for the consumer. With a single standard, no computer would be needed to sort out multiple formats and applications.

Televisions incorporating this capability will be marketed initially in Japan beginning next spring. They will show up later in the U.S.

One of the requirements for this standard is widespread adoption of high-speed internet connections, and by that, I do not mean what we have here in the U.S. In Japan, and in many other parts of the world, broadband speeds of 100 Mbps are common. (U.S. DSL is typically 1.5 - 6.0 Mbps, Cable 5.0 Mbps)

The five companies in the consortium are Matsushita, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, and Hitachi.