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Miscellaneous Tidbits

November 29, 2006 - Updated 12/4

Well, things are slow news-wise as the TV industry moves into its biggest selling season of the year. But things will be picking up.

Sony's Blu-ray Disc player is still scheduled to hit the market on December 4, and it looks like this time just might be for real, as there have already been unconfirmed reports of the player showing up at a few Best Buys. Nothing I found on the internet suggested that the release date had been moved up, however.

Pioneer's player is still due out in "December." Some more digging . . . Pioneer seems to be still working on the player, wanting to get it right. A rep said the specifications had not been finalized; quality control work could not be completed until sometime after that. There has been lots of contradictory info floating around as to timing. My assessment (best guess) is that the BDP-HD1 will not be on the market until after CES 2007 (early January). I have no idea what the specifications will be at that time.

Toshiba's second-generation HD-DVD players have been delayed, but both are supposed to be out in December--the base model mid-December and the deluxe $1000 HDMI 1.3-equipped, 1080p output model set for end-December.

The FCC December meeting is now on for December 20, delayed no doubt so that one or two important decisions can be finished. We're waiting for the digital cable set-top-box integration ban waiver decision (that's a mouthful).

There's also the AT&T / BellSouth merger waiting for an FCC thumbs up or thumbs down. AT&T has promised $10/month broadband DSL service if the FCC approves the merger. That flavor of broadband is pretty anemic -- up to 768 Kbps, one-way. Compare that to the normal range of DSL service starting at 1.5 Mbps and going up to about 6 Mbps.

Faster than dial-up, anyway. You may need to make a one-year commitment and buy your own modem. They would also be pushing incentives to get you to buy their telephone service.

FCC -- December 20; we just may get some news.

The NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Adminstration, part of the Department of Commerce) has also promised to publish its final rules on the digital-to-analog converter box subsidy program by the end of December.

January 8 will bring the beginning of the Consumer Electronics Show extravaganza. After waiting for everyone to buy as many of last year's TV models as possible, the industry will show off everything new for 2007. Don't think I can make that trip this year (I'll save my saliva for 2008).

On January 9, Steve Jobs gives his keynote address at MacWorld Expo, announcing a new wave of Apple multimedia goodies. ATSC widescreen iPods? The code-named "iTV" internet/TV link? High-definition Macs with built-in digital tuners?

Never a dull moment.

Sound and Vision has conducted a Blu-ray player shootout comparing Sony's PS3 player, the upgraded Samsung player, and the newer Panasonic player. Read the report.

Widescreen Review looked at the new Sony VPL-VW50 1080p SXRD front projector, the full-specification high-def machine that brings improved performance at half the price of last year's VPL-VW100. It's a long technical evaluation, but you'll have to buy the December issue of the magazine to read it, or pay for access to the on-line version. But here's the short verdict:

It's not supposed to be a replacement for the critically acclaimed older projector, which set benchmarks for performance and price, but it may end up being just that. Although not equalling the older projector's performance in all areas, it betters it enough ways to ask why pay $thousands more for the VW100?

It has the same 1920 x 1080 resolution, a brighter picture, improved auto iris performance, and 1080/24p compatibility (for 24 frames-per-second film-based source material -- a plus for 1080p BD and HD-DVD output).

Screen not included, of course; that could be as much as another $2K, like for the Firehawk SST that Stewart Filmscreen developed for the new Sony projector. You wouldn't want to aim this guy at a white wall, would you?

I guess that's all for now.