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Blu-ray Tide

Sepember 2, 2007

Not a lot of digital TV news coming from the IFA 2007 consumer electronics show in Berlin. Seems there are an awful lot of gadgets, though--MP3 players, cameras, and such. The TV announcements were mostly for the European market--good if you live in Europe. Next week CEDIA Expo starts here in the U.S. -- in Denver. (that's Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association)

The Blu-ray folks put on a big show in Berlin, with lots of Blu-ray player announcements. Unfortunately, complete specs, pricing, and release dates were hard to come by. We did hear something about these players:

  • Daewoo DBP-1000 (conforming to the Blu-ray Profile 2.0 spec)
  • Sharp BD-HP20S (detailed specs expected to be announced at CEDIA on September 4, with anticipated $499 price tag, a big drop from the $1200 mentioned last January)
  • Philips BDP-7100
  • Loewe Blutech Vision
  • Sony BDP-S500 (with Dolby TrueHD decoding and bit stream output via HDMI 1.3)
  • Samsung BD-P1400
  • Hitachi (no model designation)
  • Panasonic players to get new firmware

The Daewoo player (pictured) is unique in meeting Blu-ray Profile 2.0 specs. Or rather as having been announced as meeting, since no release date or price was mentioned. In fact, what struck me about the reports of these BD players was the absence of any word about whether they would even be Profile 1.1 compliant, much less Profile 2.0.

BD players out now comply with the Blu-ray 1.0 spec. New models released after October 31 must comform to Profile 1.1 specs, unless the Blu-ray Association choses to postpone that requirement (wouldn't be the first time).

Profile 1.1 requires players to include a second video decoder that can be used for picture-in-picture features, as well as a second audio path, and 256 MB of RAM. These are the BD-Java interactive features I have mentioned in the past.

The so-far optional Profile 2.0 specs ("BD-Live") add internet connectivity and a minimum of 1 GB local memory.

Since October 31 is just two months away and manufacturers of the new Blu-ray players are not talking about whether or not they're Profile 1.1 compliant, one wonders why. Have they not decided yet? Or perhaps they don't want to advertise that players coming out in two months will be fully-featured, whereas their current players are not.

Samsung has new technology in a few of their upcoming big LCD sets. As in 70" big (and one 52"). They go on sale in Korea first, and later elsewhere. The big deal is LED backlighting--hundreds of LEDs behind the LCD screen, with the brightness of individual LEDs controlled to match the light intensity in the part of the picture they are behind. Makes for extremely high contrast ratios -- 500,000:1! And 50% lower power consumption.

This presumably is the same general technology used in the Sharp prototype reported in last week's article, and the same sort of thing that BrightSide Technologies/Dolby Laboratories developed (with intent to license) that I wrote about last March 18.

The dawn of a new age. (as they say)

Until next week. . .