Doctor Who, Top Gear first to get downloadable treatment
The BBC will be releasing its first UltraViolet-enabled DVD and Blu-ray titles in time for Christmas. The corporation is working with Flixster in order to offer the downloadable versions of the shows, which will include a stand-up comedy title from John Bishop, as well as the first part of Doctor Who Series 7.
NPD report see kiosks issue almost half of disc rentals
People still rent more movies on DVD and Blu-ray than streaming and video-on-demand services combined, according to an NPD Group report. In the first half of the year, 62 percent of all movie rentals in the US stemmed from discs supplied by brick-and-mortar shops, kiosks and mail-order services. Kiosk use has increased by five percent, now taking up 45 percent of the physical-media rental market.
Range of audio gear
Electronics maker iLive has announced 33 new audio products designed for iPhones and iPods. The gear varies in design from retro to modern. iPhone users will find over a dozen new products designed for their devices, ranging from portable speakers to home theatre bar speakers. The iLive iTDP610B features a DVD player that upconverts to 1080p, and uses TruSurround to simulate 5.1-channel surround. Other iPhone products include micro systems such as the iLive iHP310B, and clock radios like the iLive iCP610B.
Users must flip disc to switch formats
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has introduced a new dual-format disc containing both Blu-ray and standard DVD content. The company has aimed the new discs at users planning to upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray in the future, or for owners of multiple systems utilizing both formats. Each side of the "flipper" disc contains the full film and special features.
Ripping utility offers improved encoding
HandBrake has released an update to its self-titled DVD ripping utility. Version 0.9.4 adds support for 64-bit operations for the Mac, including both Leopard and Snow Leopard operating systems. The 64-bit builds are said to perform approximately 10 percent better than the 32-bit equivalents. The software is also claimed to offer overall improvements in quality, which has been partially attributed progress made with the x264 project.
Drive burns Blu-ray discs at up to 12X speeds
Other World Computing on Tuesday announced that it is now offering a Mercury Pro external Blu-ray drive with a quad interface. Users can choose between USB 2.0, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, or eSATA connection methods. The company claims the Pioneer BDR-205 can reach burn speeds of up to 12X on Blu-ray discs, 16X with DVDs, 4X on DVD-DL media, and 40X for CDs.
DVD burner supports LightScribe, 8x burn
LaCie has introduced its latest computer accessory, a portable DVD burner designed by Sam Hecht. The device is USB powered, eliminating the need for an AC adapter. A variety of DVD and CD formats are supported, with DVD burn speeds up to 8x and CD burn speeds up to 24x. The drive weighs under a pound and measures less than an inch tall.
DealNN: Sharp Aquos Bluray
Today's featured deal of the day from DealNN is on the Sharp Aquos Blu-ray player from OneCall.com. It is regularly priced at $249.95, but has been reduced to $219.95, and a fathers day promo code drops the price again by $20 to $199.95 making this the lowest total price we could find on this Blu-ray player by about $45. The Sharp Blu-ray player features 1080p HD-resolution and provides playback of Blu-ray discs as well as DVDs and CDs with full up-conversion.
Toshiba sues Imation
Toshiba has announced that it has filed suit against several companies, including Imation, over DVD patents. The accusations surround DVD format specifications and standards accepted by the DVD Forum. Toshiba claims the companies infringed on patents by manufacturing or distributing recordable media without first establishing licensing agreements.
Disc Cover 2.3 ($35) helps users create CD and DVD labels, covers, tray inserts, folding booklets, and more. The application includes over 250 professionally made designs that users can customize with their own images or with some of the included images. Along with several performance enhancements and fixes the update includes support for DiscT@2 which allows to etch text and graphics on the data side of DVD discs using a LabelFlash-enabled drive. [Download - 52.3MB]
Internal Blu Ray drive
EZQuest has unveiled its latest Mac hardware product, the internal Phoenix Blu-ray Super Drive 6X Rewriter upgrade kit. Owners can used the drive to produce their own Blu-ray movies. Recording, rewriting, and playback is supported for Blu-ray, HD-DVD, DVD, and CD formats. The device features a 4MB buffer for writing, and uses integrated buffer under-run protection. Files, folders, movies, or other content can be dragged and dropped directly from the Mac desktop to be written on the 50GB capacity discs.
LG DVS450H Player
LG's Swedish website has revealed the company's new DVD player, the DVS450H. The player separates itself from ordinary readers using a top-mounted loader and eliminating all but a thin slice of the cabinet for controls. To give users options of showing off its new player, LG ensured the DVS450H can be mounted vertically or horizontally, as well as on walls.
20 new Digital Copy DVDs
20th Century Fox has announced a slate of new movies in its Digital Copy program. Digital Copy is a partnership with Apple, and bundles a digital version of a movie with its DVD counterpart; the file is pre-formatted for iTunes, making it convenient to sync with devices like iPhones and Apple TVs, although the file is not DRM-free, as with a normal DVD rip. Digital Copies can also be loaded onto Windows Media-compatible devices.
Japan develops 42GB DVD
A Tohoku University research team at the Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials claim to have developed a DVD that is capable of holding 42GB of data, or nearly 9 times as much as a standard DVD. The Japanese researchers achieved this feat by using V-shaped as opposed to flat pits on the DVD's recording surface, which allows for more data-recording space. The same method can be applied to CDs as well.
Westinghouse HDTV models
Westinghouse Digital on Tuesday unveiled four new 1080p-capable LCD TVs, as well as several other multi-purpose LCD TVs, including its portable and all-in-one units. New to the 1080p TX lineup are the 42-inch TX-42F430S, the 47-inch TX-47F430S, and the 52-inch TX-52F480S, which feature an integrated ATSC/NTSC/ClearQAM Tuner, and 1080p resolution through all high-definition connectors, including component and VGA.
LaCie doubles drive speed
LaCie on Tuesday unveiled a new Blu-ray disc burner, capable of writing to single-layer media at 4x speeds across Firewire or USB 2.0. The drive retains LaCie's durable d2 aluminum casing and boasts whisper quiet operation while burning 25GB and 50GB BD-R and BD-RE media, in addition to all common CD and DVD formats. LaCie is offering the dual-interface Blu-ray burner for $650, available from LaCie directly and authorized retailers.
OWC low cost Superdrives
Other World Computing on Thursday unveiled low-cost Superdrives for almost any Mac released within the last decade, offering 48x CD burning and LightScribe labeling technology. OWC claims the drives are quiet, and do not require any extra software to be installed with the drive. Users can also write to dual-layer DVDs at up to 12x speeds, while single-layer discs can write at up to 20x. OWC is selling the Superdrives starting from $35.
Toast Titanium 9
Every Mac with a Superdrive can burn your iTunes music files to a CD, your iMovie video files to a DVD, and your digital photographs (or any files and folders) to both a CD/DVD. However, if you want to do more than ordinary CD/DVD burning, you may want to look at Roxio’s latest version of Toast Titanium 9, a multi-purpose optical media authoring application that can burn CDs/DVDs and do a whole lot more.
Equinux software updates
Equinux has updated two of its key programs, MediaCentral and VPN Tracker. MediaCentral operates as a kind of Mac equivalent to Windows Media Center, combining the playback of several types of media within one program; users can not only load music, photos and videos, but DVD movies and TV, the latter offering the option of IPTV or digital broadcast. Version 2.7 retools the TV engine for better video quality and faster channel switching, as well automatic timeshifting when hitting pause. The software costs $30.
Lionsgate BR/DVD & iTunes
Lionsgate, the independent studio most recently responsible for movies such as Rambo and The Bank Job, has announced that it will be the next company to support Apple's iTunes Digital Copy program. The program puts iTunes-formatted versions of movies on retail discs, as an accompaniment to the standard version; while these videos are restricted by Apple's DRM protection, it provides a quick and legal method of synching movies with computers, iPods, iPhones and Apple TVs. The first company to support Digital Copy was Fox, with the release of Family Guy: Blue Harvest on DVD.
OWC Mac DVD/CD burners
Other World Computing (OWC) today unveiled new Superdrives and CD burners for all Mac computer models. The company's drive upgrade -- the 20X DL SuperDrive DVR-115D -- reads as well as writes DVDs, CDs, and dual-layer DVDs. Capacity for dual layer DVDs is 8.5GB at speeds of 10X; regular DVDs for 4.7GB capacity at 20X; and CDs for 700MB at 40X. "For most Macs, this is an incredibly easy upgrade and one of great return for anyone who's currently making or planning to make their own DVDs or CDs," OWC said. The new drives are priced from $30 and up.
8x SuperDrive upgrade
MCE Technologies today debuted a new slim slot-loading 8X SuperDrive upgrade (site not updated) for Apple's MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks. The drives write to DVD+R DL (Double Layer) as well as DVD-R DL, and are designed to replace the original 4X and 6X SuperDrives in Apple's stock systems. Built to accommodate the slender form factor of Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro, the drive upgrade ships for $200 with all required tools and instructions to perform the upgrade at home.
Discribe 6.0 released
CharisMac Engineering today released Discribe 6.0 Robotic and Standard Discribe 6.0, optimizing the disc mastering software for Mac OS X on Intel-based hardware. The latest release is a major upgrade that is completely rewritten to offer support for Blu-Ray discs, and expands the boundaries of CD as well as DVD mastering while simplifying workflows. Discribe 6.0 is priced at $70, while Robotic Discribe 6.0 single-drive version is available for $300.
NTI Dragon Suite
NewTech Infosystems today released NTI Dragon Suite, a collection of three Mac applications to handle disc burning as well as data compression and backup. NTI Dragon Burn features patented multi-burning technology that supports internal as well as external drives for simultaneously creating multiple copies of a CD or DVD. The software includes support for burning the leading video, audio, photo, and data formats onto the latest optical discs -- such as 16x DVD-R drives and 8.5GB DVD+R Double Layer (DL) media. NTI Dragon Suite is priced at $80, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
JVC unveils GPS deck
JVC unveiled its new KD-NX7000 combination CD/DVD player with built-in GPS navigation, and has announced the return of its KD-NX5000 unit. The device features a 7-inch LCD, and a removable smart faceplate that includes a proximity sensor, illuminating buttons as the user’s hand approaches. Users can also play media and use navigation resources simultaneously. The player comes preloaded with real-time traffic information for over 80 metropolitan areas in the US and Canada, with over 12 million points of interest. Maps are upgradable, while traffic reporting relies on the built-in NAVTEQ traffic RDS tuner. Pricing and availability for the new unit was not available.
Toshiba: LCDs, DVDs, more
Toshiba recently unveiled several new lines of LCD TVs, portable and home DVD players, DVD recorders, and some LCD TV-DVD combo units. The AV500 series LCDs range from 19- to 42-inches in size, and feature a 720p HD image resolution. Dynamic backlight controls can adjust for deeper black levels, and the display is housed in a glossy black cabinet. LCDs in the AV500 series will range from $430 to $1300, and Toshiba expects to ship the various models between February and May.
JVC camcorders, recorders
In its second major wave of CES announcements, JVC has pulled the wraps off several new camcorders, and a collection of DVD/VCR combo devices. The camcorders are led by the 7.4-megapixel Everio GZ-MG730, which holds a 30GB hard drive, and uses a CCD sensor with a primary color filter. The main feature is said to be its double-use as a still camera, since it not only incorporates flash, but also shutter and aperture priority modes, exposure bracketing, backlight and spotlight compensation, and a histogram view.
Macrovision, the company largely responsible for modern DVD copy-protection schemes, has officially integrated its technologies with CinemaNow to offer downloads of CinemaNow premium video directly to Macrovision-enabled consumer electronics devices. Users who have registered Macrovision-enabled hardware at CinemaNow.com can use those devices to watch movies, TV shows, and music videos from CinemaNow's online library of available programming, according to TWICE.
Netflix, LG set-top box
Online DVD rental service Netflix and Korean electronics-giant LG have announced that they are working on a set-top box designed to stream movie content directly over the internet to a television. Netflix has long said it wishes to branch out its internet movie delivery feature, which allows members to play content on their PC from a library of over 6000 movies and TV shows. Reuters reports that the device will function in a similar fashion to the PC internet streaming, where users that subscribe to Netflix’ DVD rental service would also get access to the TV streaming service. LG says that the Netflix set-top box will be available at some point during the second half of 2008.
- ImageBuddy 3.5.5 ($20) photo printing program. The release includes Auto Image Orientation Detection and improved Cropping and Scaling controls for Page Layouts as well as a number of bug fixes. Imagebuddy is a digital image layout program designed especially for the Macintosh that is quick and easy to use. ImageBuddy offers Drag and Drop support from iPhoto allowing you to greatly expand on iPhoto's limited printing options. [Download - 10.9MB]
- Comic Life 1.4 ($20) lets you create comics, picture albums, how-tos. The new release features oft-requested brightness and other image fine tuning, iPhoto '08 'Events' and 1:1 display of images. This free update for all users also includes custom page sizes, jagged balloon tails, and neater caption positioning. [Download - 3.3MB]
- BurnAgain DVD 1.2.2 ($24) multisession burning application. Simply adds files to a disk several times without creating an individual volume for each session. If items are burned again BurnAgain DVD automatically only adds new or changed files. BurnAgain DVD allows to change the title of the disk at each burn, hiding of previously burned sessions and preserves all HFS specific attributes (resource forks). Version 1.2.2 fixes DVD-RW and CD burning issues with certain drives and includes interface tweaks for Leopard. [Download - 10.9MB]
- MBS REALbasic plug-ins 7.8 ($270) a collection of several plug-in parts which extend the REALbasic development environment with over 900 classes and 2 controls featuring over 17000 documented functions. This release adds: addsDesktopFolderMBS now works for Windows, NSScrollViewMBS, NSTextMBS and NSTextViewMBS, updated to Mac KRM 1.0.7; SControlMBS and NSButtonMBS classes. You can add a checkbox to a NSSavePanelMBS using this class.[Download - 84MB]
- DockStar 2.1 ($10) way for Mail to users keep track of email with 5 colorful badges on the Mail dock icon. The update brings new clickable indicators on the menu bar, support for monitoring RSS feeds and To Do items, and improved Smart Mailbox support for Leopard users. DockStar helps you keep track of email in various accounts and folders, RSS feeds, Notes, and To Do items with customizable badges in the Mail icon, menu bar, Dashboard, and even in a Screen Saver. [Download - 5MB]
iTunes rentals beyond Fox?
Apple's unconfirmed video rental service will debut with several companies onboard, not just one, according to the New York Times. The Financial Times recently uncovered a deal with 20th Century Fox, which should see new releases come straight to iTunes, and iPod-sized, FairPlay-encoded files carried on DVD titles. The New York Times now cites "several people familiar with the negotiations" as saying that when Fox appears on stage at Macworld January 14th, it will be joined by several other companies whose names are not being leaked.
Apps: 3ivx; Speed Download
- 3ivx MPEG-4 5.0.2 ($7) is a video codec usable in any application QuickTime supports, such as Final Cut Pro; it is said to maintain the same quality as Apple's MPEG-4 files, but with smaller file sizes and faster encoding. The v5.0.2 release fixes an exploit in the Filter suite, and adds compatibility with both Mac OS X 10.5 and QuickTime 7.3. Mac OS X 10.3.9 and QuickTime 7 or later is required.
[Download - 960KB]
- Speed Download 4.1.19 ($25) is a download manager that features an FTP client, auto-resuming transfers, and integration with web browsers. The latest patch includes an updated SD plug-in, which can now open partial SD files, and better handle multiple web links. Leopard support now includes Bonjour compatibility, and performance tweaks for the v10.5.1 OS update.
[Download - 7MB]
- MBS REALbasic plug-ins 7.8 ($286) extend REALbasic with over 900 classes and 18,000 functions. Among the changes in v7.8 are an upgrade to Mac KRM 1.0.7, NSControlMBS and NSButtonMBS classes, a QTSoundOutputMBS.Finished event and a WebViewMBS.dashboard behavior. The plug-in runs with REALbasic 5.5 or later, and needs at least 300MB of hard drive space.
[Download - 79MB]
- BurnAgain DVD 1.2.2 ($24) is a multi-session burning app that can copy without creating a unique volume for each session; is is purportedly the only Mac software that can do this with CD-R, CD-RW and DVD-RW discs. The latest edition solves CD and DVD-RW burning problems with specific drives, and makes some minor interface adjustments for Leopard. Users must have Mac OS X 10.3 or greater for CD burning, or v10.4 or higher for DVD-RWs.
[Download - 1MB]
- iWisdom 1.60 (free) organizes quotes and other insights, allowing users to search them by categories such as year and author. Files can also be exported to the web and/or RSS feeds. Version 1.60 improves the Import function, allowing it to spot duplicates and merge them together instead of creating a second entry. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, as well as Java 1.4.2.
[Download - 3.3MB]
- xSort 1.5.4 ($30) models card-sorting exercises, and presents the results using statistics and clustering algorithms. This lets web developers, for instance, gauge how to organize a site so that users can most easily find what they are searching for. The v1.5.4 patch enables exports to HTML files, and quashes a bug which prevented reports from displaying in their entirety. xSort runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher.
[Download - 6MB]
4x Blu-Ray drive upgrade
FastMac today unveiled a 4x Dual Layer Blu-Ray optical drive upgrade (site not updated) for Apple's Mac Pro and Power Mac G5 workstations. The 5.25-inch tray loading drive uses one of the fastest Mac-compatible Blu-ray mechanisms, according to the company, providing up to 50GB of storage on one dual or dual or double layer disc without sacrificing compatibility with standard DVD or CD media. Utilizing SATA connectivity, the drive's BD-R DL feature allows Mac users to burn a complete 50GB disc in under 50 minutes. The drive is already available for an introductory price of $600, and comes with a 1-year warranty.
ClearPlay DVD Player
Looking to provide an alternative to especially sensitive parents, ClearPlay today shipped out its Content-Filtering DVD Player. The movie reader is one of the few to allow parents to scrub movies of content they find objectionable without affecting the disc itself: a USB port for a USB flash drive lets adults automatically apply filters downloaded from the Internet that blot out audio or visuals thought inappropriate for children. A subscription model keeps the USB drive updated as movies are released to DVD, ensuring that parents can gradually wean children on to more mature movies at their own pace.
iTunes Movie Price Claim
Apple has made a rare concession to movie studios and will raise the average selling price of a movie at the iTunes Store in a bid to gain extra support for its service, according to a report (membership required) by Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield. The company will reportedly boost the average wholesale price of a movie to $15, only $3 below the average selling price of a DVD. This is a necessary condition to lure in studios such as 20th Century Fox that have been hesitant to embrace iTunes in the past, Greenfield says. Fox in particular would roll out both its latest titles and earlier movies in exchange for the deal.
Blu-Ray takes Black Friday
Blu-Ray remains the format of choice in the HD world, results from the week of Black Friday show. Data from Nielsen VideoScan reveals that of the HD discs bought during last week, 72.6 percent of them were Blu-Ray titles, leaving HD DVD at 27.4 percent. This is despite a massive influx of HD DVD players from Wal-Mart's $99 sale, and the success of particular titles such as Transformers. Simply by itself, the Blu-Ray version of Live Free or Die Hard sold nearly 100,000 copies, according to one Fox Home Entertainment executive.