New Xbox could see Microsoft jump to Blu-ray
The third-generation Xbox could mark a symbolic switch in storage but also a step back for game ownership. Kotaku understood from a rumor source that it would keep an optical drive but jump to Blu-ray, allowing it to hold larger games and play offline HD movies. For Microsoft, it would be the footnote to the HD disc debate of the mid-2000s, where the company officially backed HD DVD but was forced to drop plans after Toshiba axed the format and eventually supported Blu-ray.
Ballmer sees Blu-ray external only
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer may have inadvertently tipped off his firm's plans for an external Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360 in a talk in advance of today's Windows 7 launch. The executive is doubtful that it will ever be built-in but does tell Gizmodo that an external Blu-ray drive will be an option. He doesn't provide details but is unexpectedly confident that the hardware is enroute.
BDX5000 and Satellite P500 debut
Toshiba picked IFA to make its first real entrance into Blu-ray following last year's exit from HD DVD with both its first dedicated movie player and a notebook to match. The BDX2000 catches up with full BD-Live support for movies with Internet features on an Ethernet connection and an SD card slot for playing the user's own content, including H.264 (AVCHD) videos. A flip-down front door is rare in the breed and keeps the design uncluttered either mid-movie or when it's not in use.
Toshiba BDA Application
Toshiba started the week by revealing that it hopes to join the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA). The company explained the move as a reaction to "recent growth" in the amount of hardware supporting Blu-ray along with high-enough demand from the public itself. If accepted, the Japanese firm plans to make both Blu-ray movie players, drives for computers and notebooks themselves using the large-capacity format.
Toshiba Blu-ray player due
Toshiba, which once vehemently defended the HD DVD high-definition format that eventually lost to Sony's prevailing Blu-ray, will soon release a Blu-ray player of its own, according to the Japanese paper Yomiuri. Toshiba should bring out its first Blu-ray player, likely in its home market of Japan initially, before 2010 rolls around. A Blu-ray recorder is also being considered for Japan, though there are no other details on this device.
Warner Bros HD trade-in
Warner Bros. has launched a new trade-in program that allows owners of high-definition movies on the now-defunct HD DVD format to trade them in for the same title on the surviving Blu-ray format. Known as Red2blu, the promo lets owners trade up to 25 HD DVD titles produced by Warner for the same title on Blu-ray. A $4.95 charge applies to each movie, as well as the associated shipping and handling costs of $6.95 for each Blu-ray title.
CyberPower Xtreme 3D PCs
CyberPower on Friday launched a duo of game PCs that all center on bundled GeForce 3D Vision glasses and Samsung's 120Hz, 22-inch 2233RZ LCD display needed to see the extra visual depth. They also both come with a GeForce GTS 250 video card that produces mid-range 3D capable of driving a stereoscopic 3D image.
Okoro Core i7 HTPCs
Okoro Media Systems today signaled itself as one of the first home theater PC builders to use Intel's Core i7 platform for its systems. The TH550 as well as the GX100 and GX300 all use the new quad-core processors combined with faster video cards to produce systems that can both share content across multiple zones, including HD, and also play games on the same level as larger desktop PCs. Every model has dual analog and dual QAM digital tuners that let it pick up as many as four separate wired TV feeds; a separate over-the-air TV tuner catches free broadcasts.
Netflix now BD exclusive
Netflix recently informed its subscribers that, starting on December 15th, it would stop shipping movies on the HD DVD high-definition format. This is the final move in the company's backing of the winning HD format, Blu-ray, after Netflix announced back in February that it would stop purchasing movies recorded on the HD DVD format. In the letter to its subscribers, Netflix told them any current HD DVD title will be substituted with the same movie on standard DVD as of December 15th, making the transition seamless and not requiring them to take any actions.
Sony Blames Loss on Phones
Sony today reported that its profit had dropped approximately 47 percent in the spring quarter versus the same quarter a year ago, representing one of the company's steeper drops in recent history. The Japanese company chiefly attributes the company-controlled aspects of the shortfall to poor Sony Ericsson results, which saw the company's cellphone sales virtually flatten as customers turned away from its mid-range and high-end phones, which target the same camera and music fields as devices like Apple's iPhone, LG's Viewty, and Nokia's Nseries.
PS3 sales gain on Xbox 360
Sony's PlayStation 3, long third in the wave of current-generation game consoles, is finally beginning to accumulate substantial sales, statistics show. Bloomberg reports that during the first five months of 2008 the PS3 sold more units than Microsoft's Xbox 360, which has normally held second place under Nintendo's Wii. The surge is attributed mainly to high-profile exclusives like Metal Gear Solid 4, and the demise of HD DVD, boosting the appeal of Sony's extensible, built-in Blu-ray drive.
Toshiba internet DVD unit
As the dust from the HD DVD/Blu-ray war settles, Toshiba is allegedly not adopting the victorious Blu-ray standard, but instead is expected to pursue DVD up-sampling and Internet-enabled players. TG Daily writes that Toshiba has not released specific plans or future machine specifications, but believes that the players would be based around its SpursEngine 1000 processor for upsampling – a 'lite' version of the Cell BE CPU. The observations come as the Toshiba-chaired DVD Forum approved the logo for "DVD Download/DL"
Lenovo IdeaCentre K210
After having left the market for several years, Lenovo today returned to home desktops and launched the IdeaCentre K210. The mini-tower is a parallel to the IdeaPad notebooks and borrows design elements from the portables, including face detection security when paired with a BrightEye add-on webcam that clips to most LCDs. The image recognition system also dynamically adjusts brightness based on proximity to the screen.
MS Denies X360 Blu-ray 2
Microsoft today repeated its past denials that the company is developing a Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360. Following a report on Friday which said Microsoft had contacted ASUS for drives to be used as add-ons for the game system by the fall, Microsoft has echoed its past approach and says that it has "no plans" to launch a Blu-ray reader add-on in the near future. The company prefers to focus on the core gaming of the Xbox, according to a statement.
Shuttle XPC G5 6801M Vista
Shuttle has taken the unusual step of launching a small form factor PC that caters to both current and obsolete HD videos. While the company already sells systems with Blu-ray alone, the XPC G5 6801M Vista incorporates a combo optical drive from LG that allows it to play both Blu-ray titles as well as the now defunct HD DVD format, letting early adopters keep their libraries active. Playback at 1080p is helped along by the use of a Radeon HD 3450 that offloads most of the work from the CPU and also outputs its video to either DVI or HDMI through a bundled adapter.
Amazon HD DVD credit
Online retailer Amazon is the latest company to offer compensation for having bought an HD DVD player, reports and anecdotes indicate. Customers say they are now receiving e-mail bulletins from Amazon, informing them that as "someone who purchased an HD DVD player from us before February 23, 2008," they are being given a $50 credit for any future purchases from the website. To claim it users must enter an individual promotion code during checkout, and do so by the end of April 9th, 2009.
Wal-Mart HD DVD refund
Bargain retailer Wal-Mart has joined the ranks of corporations attempting to appease buyers of HD DVD players, which are now obsolete and faced with an increasingly dwindling movie supply. The company is offering refunds to anyone who bought an HD DVD player on or following November 1st of last year, with or without original packaging. People must, however, return the player by April 30th, and bring with them their original receipt.
MS Denies X360 Blu-ray
Microsoft today has again denied claims that the firm is building an Xbox 360 with a Blu-ray drive. The Redmond, Washington-based firm has flatly rejected assertions that Lite-On is manufacturing BD drives for a future version of the console and has reiterated its past assertions that it has no need to push an HD movie disc format to succeed, noting that the Xbox built its current success on games rather than videos. Customers also have access to online downloads if they really need HD video, Microsoft says.
Lite-On Blu-ray X360 Rumor
Best known in the Americas for producing add-in optical drives, Lite-On is building Blu-ray drives for Microsoft's Xbox 360, according to claims made within the storage industry. The firm is reportedly assembling read-only drives that would ship in the second half of this year and would allegedly be used for the next version of the Xbox 360 itself rather than a USB add-on, as was the case for the now defunct HD DVD drive. The reasons behind the decision are unclear, though the move is likely necessary to ensure native 1080p output for Blu-ray movies, as USB may affect the likelihood of support for the HDCP encryption needed to play back some titles at full quality.
HD DVD Promo Group gone
HD DVD has ceased to exist in every formal capacity, an official announcement explains. The HD DVD Promotion Group, a body put together to represent the various companies which once produced HD DVD movies and players, has announced that as of March 28th, it has put a halt to all operations. Its website has been closed, leaving behind a message redirecting companies to the official bodies for the regular DVD format.
Plextor Blu ray RHD DVD
Plextor today surprised the computer drive industry with a pair of dual-format HD optical drives. The B920SA and B300SA are both intended as native Blu-ray disc drives but also provide 3X HD DVD reading; while the format war has ended, the new drives give owners of the now-obsolete HD DVD format a chance to watch their movies on a computer, according to the company. The B920SA also loses none of the functionality of a Blu-ray only drive and can burn 25GB discs at up to 4X speed in addition to writing DVDs and CDs.
BD+ protection cracked
The latest effort at blocking unofficial copying of Blu-ray movies has been undone, the developers of a cracking utility claim. AnyDVD 126.96.36.199 adds the ability to bypass BD+ encoding, used on a number of discs to prevent either direct copying, or ripping to a hard drive. This change is said to particularly affect releases from 20th Century Fox, who have led the adoption of BD+, while other companies continue with variants of AACS. AnyDVD is now also better compatible with regular DVDs using Arccos protection.
Best Buy HD DVD Coupons
Best Buy hopes to satisfy disaffected buyers of HD DVD players by offering them a $50 coupon, the retailer announced today. Worth $10 million, the deal will hand out the in-store discount to anyone who bought either a dedicated HD DVD reader or add-ons such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD drive on or before February 23rd, the Saturday that followed Toshiba's discontinuation of the format. The decision was made to head off concerns from customers who unknowingly bought into the now-obsolete format and will help them make their own decisions, whether to switch to Blu-ray or something else altogether, Best Buy claims.
Why wait on Blu-Ray
When Blu-Ray and HD DVD were first discussed, Apple said it would commit to Blu-Ray, but was allegedly waiting for a winner to be proclaimed in the next-generation format war. Robert Cringely, a writer for PBS wonders what Apple is waiting for, since Toshiba recently announced that HD DVD was to be no more. Cringely theorizes that Apple could be waiting to add official Blu-Ray support into its professional apps, like Final Cut Studio 2.
Toshiba 1 bln HD DVD Hit
Toshiba will take a serious but far from fatal blow to its bottom line for its decision to discontinue HD DVD, according to a report by Japan's Nikkei Business Daily (account required). The electronics maker is predicted by the newspaper to be spending $986 million this quarter to ramp down its production of HD DVD players and discs at its factories as well as writing down the cost of unsold devices. The tally will significantly affect Toshiba's income but should still result in a significant profit, as official company estimates would have it generating $2.9 billion in the same period.
MS Drops X360 Euro Price
Microsoft has quickly confirmed existing rumors and today officially dropped European prices for the Xbox 360. The base Xbox 360 Arcade system now costs £160 in the UK and €200 in Europe, making the system less expensive than the already low-cost Nintendo Wii that serves as its chief rival; the standard 20GB Xbox 360 in turn drops to £200 or €270. The black, 120GB Elite model now sells for £270 or €370 depending on the region.
Future Shop HD DVD Trade
Canadians who bought an HD DVD player now have a trade-in option for the obsolete format, Future Shop claims. A new deal from the retailer is offering any owner of an HD DVD player a $100 discount on the purchase of a hybrid player that can play both their existing titles as well as the surviving Blu-ray standard. This chiefly includes either the LG BH200 or its fellow Korean rival the Samsung BD-UP5000, the store notes. No distinction is made between the value of different HD DVD players.
Circuit City HD DVD return
Big-box electronics retailer Circuit City is extending a grace period exclusively for HD DVD buyers, notes the Associated Press. Beginning today, the company will now accept returns of HD DVD players within 90 days of purchase, instead of the normal 30-day period. Buyers will only receive store credit instead of cash, however, and there is no equivalent policy for HD DVD movies, which are useless without their intended player.
Samsung BD/HDDVD Axed
Samsung today canceled the launch of the BD-UP5500, its second hybrid Blu-ray and HD DVD movie player. The move is directly attributed to Toshiba's decision to drop HD DVD as a standard and is said to reflect the reality of the market. A single HD movie format will let Samsung focus primarily on its efforts for Blu-ray; the existing UP5000 player is also still available for those who want to keep access to HD DVDs before the format is withdrawn entirely from the market, the company adds. In the future, however, the prospect of selling any future devices remains slim.
DreamWorks Free From HDDVD
The last major movie studio bound to HD DVD, DreamWorks SKG, has been officially released from its obligation to produce movies in the now obsolete HD format, according to a statement by the company. The Hollywood business had previously said it was locked into a contract to produce high-resolution movies only in the format but now reveals that it will cancel the vast majority of its scheduled HD DVD releases effective immediately. This includes imminent releases such as the CG animated title Bee Movie, which was due March 11th.
DreamWorks Stuck in HD DVD
Despite Toshiba's discontinuation of HD DVD, movie studio DreamWorks is still locked into a contract to ship HD movies in the format, company chief Jeffrey Katzenberg said late yesterday. The Hollywood executive noted his company had an "obligation" to fulfill and that the largely necessary switch to Blu-ray was Toshiba's responsbility: the electronics maker will have to give permission to DreamWorks to publish movies in the surviving format until the contract expires or Toshiba releases the studio from terms.
360 HD DVD player hits $50
Microsoft has announced a dramatic price cut on its HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360. The movie player, which once sold for as much as $180, is now being sold for just $50; it continues to be bundled with a Universal Media Remote and Peter Jackson's King Kong, effectively negating the cost of the player entirely. This may suggest that Microsoft is trying to clear as much inventory as possible while HD DVD discs continue to be available in stores.
MS Axes X360 HD DVD Drive
Microsoft today made an unusual weekend announcement and said it would halt sales of the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player, its USB add-on drive. The move is the expected result of Toshiba's shutdown of the format and will leave sales to existing models already in shops. Support will continue throughout the HD DVD player's normal warranty, Microsoft says. No additional price cuts have been listed so far beyond the drop to $130 that was revealed just before Toshiba's revelation that it would phase out the HD movie disc standard.
Japan Pulls HD DVD
Not willing to wait until the official shutdown of production in March, Japanese retail shops are already pulling all their HD DVD drives and movies off of shelves, according to reports. Although less than a week after Toshiba's withdrawal of the HD DVD standard, several high-profile shops such as Edion and Yodobashi Camera have already halted selling either the players or the movies. Most are reportedly in discussions with Toshiba to send back unsold players and, in the case of Edion, are planning exchange programs where customers can potentially receive a Blu-ray player as a free or low-cost exchange for a now-obsolete HD DVD player.
Onkyo abandons HD DVD
High-end electronics maker Onkyo is the latest party to end support for HD DVD, a new announcement reveals. Although some limited production for the format is expected by other companies, in the wake of Toshiba's abandonment Onkyo says it has reconsidered, and will thus end all production for HD DVD in a short space of time. "As Onkyo manufactures HD DVD players with core parts supplied by Toshiba," the announcement states, "it will be difficult for Onkyo to continue its further development and production of HD DVD players."
Paramount Adopts Blu-ray
Paramount has become the last studio to drop HD DVD, the company quietly said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. The movie house said it would begin releasing movies on Blu-ray in the near future and claimed it was "pleased" that the industry had chosen a single HD movie disc format. This should help the end user, Paramount claims. The company follows previous HD DVD holdout Universal in switching to Blu-ray and came more than a day after Toshiba halted HD DVD production, leaving both studios with virtually no alternative but to opt for Blu-ray.
Amazon Pushes Blu-ray
Amazon today said it would make Blu-ray its preferred digital format, promoting the standard over all other physical formats. The move follows Toshiba's decision to put an end to HD DVD but will see Blu-ray promoted above both regular DVD and the now discontinued HD DVD format. This will include both the movies themselves as well as hardware, including both dedicated movie players and the Sony PlayStation 3. The company has not said whether it will promote Blu-ray computers, which are relatively rare.
Universal Backs Blu-ray
Universal Pictures today was quick to seize on Toshiba's end to HD DVD by announcing that it would stop producing movies in the now-obsolete format. The news confirms earlier hints and reveals that the movie studio will switch its entire schedule to Blu-ray for HD releases, including both new titles, back catalog releases, as well as movies that were previously available at the higher resolution only on HD DVD. The move is necessary as the format for HD video has "finally become clear," says Universal's digital production chief Craig Kornblau.
Paramount, Univ. & Blu-ray
Following today's announcement of the end of the HD DVD format, a German site is reporting that movie studios Paramount and Universal are already pledging to switch to the Blu-ray format for future HD releases. Both companies were once staunch supporters of HD DVD, the latter after a controversial $150 million payout which brought it on-side. Sony has also used money to influence format adoption, but Paramount claimed that its decision was based solely on merit.
Toshiba Drops HD DVD
Ending a longstanding format war, Toshiba on Tuesday formally announced that it would halt production of HD DVD devices and discs, all but rendering the format obsolete. In a confirmation of Japanese reports, the company plans to wind down hardware production by March for both stand-alone movie players and PC drives. Development of notebook HD DVD drives, such as for the company's own Qosmio line, will depend largely on demand. Writable HD DVD media will also continue to exist past March to cater to owners who need the format for burning video or computer data.
HD DVD Stopped by March
Toshiba is readying a quick end to HD DVD that may come as early as March, according to a report by Japan's Nikkei BP (subscription needed for full access). The business publication claims that Toshiba chief Atsutoshi Nishida will announce the end of Toshiba's contribution to the format as early as tomorrow, all but ending HD DVD's viability as a disc standard. In the reported plan, Toshiba will cease sales of all its own hardware by March, including its stand-alone movie players as well as optical drives for desktop PCs and notebooks. Optical disks made by Toshiba itself will also be discontinued.
MS No Plans to Drop HD DVD
Microsoft will not make any decisions about the fate of its Xbox 360 HD DVD player until it hears from Toshiba, the former company said today. Although rumors have pointed to the Xbox creator developing a Blu-ray add-on for the spring, its official stance will hinge on whether Toshiba continues its own hardware, which is believed to rest inside the Microsoft-branded drive. Microsoft has often followed Toshiba's moves closely and recently dropped its Xbox 360 HD DVD price to match similar discounts for Toshiba's line.
MS Blu-ray in May
Microsoft could offer a Blu-ray attachment for the Xbox 360 as early as May, according to a claim by company insiders. The game console maker has reportedly fast-tracked an external drive for the Xbox that could clear marketing and sales hurdles by May. No pricing or features have been suggested for the device, though whether it will be capable of full 1080p output is uncertain and will likely depend on whether the main console is equipped with HDMI video output.
Toshiba Mulls HD DVD Pull
Toshiba is reviewing whether or not it will continue the HD DVD format, the company said Monday morning in a public statement. The Japanese electronics firm neither confirmed nor denied claims by national broadcaster NHK that it would halt HD DVD production outright but has admitted that it is reconsidering its position on the HD movie disc standard. The comment is the first public acknowledgement by Toshiba that it may need to discontinue the format after a succession of key studio and retail losses.
Toshiba to End HD DVD
Previous reports that Toshiba will end its efforts in HD DVD are accurate, according to a report by Japanese broadcaster NHK as well as additional sources. The electronics maker is poised to both stop future development as well as ramp down manufacturing of HD DVD players, recorders, and PC drives. The move will be one of Toshiba's costliest to date and should cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Japan press outlet. Toshiba has not responded to the claims, though sources have suggested an official announcement will be made soon.
Wal-Mart Dropping HD DVD
(Updated with official announcement) Wal-Mart will join a string of major retailers in being the next to drop HD DVD as a format, according to a post by an associate writing on an official company blog. The staffer claims that the store chain will echo the same Warner Bros. plans that triggered the sudden fall of HD DVD and will gradually phase out HD DVD movies and players, leaving only Blu-ray devices and titles on Wal-Mart shelves by June. Prices may also drop on Blu-ray equipment as consolidation around the single standard goes up, the writer speculates.
Toshiba Axes HD DVD Soon
Toshiba may be ready to pull the HD DVD format entirely after suffering a series of key defeats, says a claimed source of Hollywood Reporter. A tip reportedly from a person close to the HD DVD faction says Toshiba has not seen the expected surge in player sales from large-scale price discounts instituted for its movie players to compete with Blu-ray -- a decision which may have cost "several hundred dollars" per unit -- and is reportedly reeling from its format being marginalized at retailers such as Best Buy. The losses are such that Toshiba is said by the source to be announcing a complete withdrawal of HD DVD in a "matter of weeks."
Toshiba HD DVD firmware
Toshiba has released a new firmware update for several of its HD DVD players. These include the A3, D3, A30 and A35 (not pictured), which have migrated from v1.3 to 2.0. The A30 and A35 should now be capable of 1080p/24 video; other changes are mostly fixes, such as improvements to network connectivity and HDMI/DVI handshakes. The update also addresses a unique playback error which affected a portion of discs.
Best Buy Picks Blu-ray
Large-scale retailer Best Buy this afternoon unsettled the HD video industry by announcing that it would promote Blu-ray over HD DVD. The chain had originally claimed to remain platform-neutral but now says Blu-ray will be its "preferred" format and will reflect this choice in its stores. Blu-ray movie players and titles will be given more prominent positions than HD DVD, while store staff are more likely to recommend the new format. The sudden shift is a reaction to customer demand, according to Best Buy president Brian Dunn.
Netflix Blu-ray Exclusive
Movie rental service Netflix this morning dealt an added blow to HD DVD by announcing that it would drop the format from its mail-based subscriptions, offering HD movies solely in Blu-ray. While the company will not immediately halt rentals of HD DVD tiles, it will no longer add HD DVD movies to its catalog and intends to phase out the format as discs finish their useful rental cycles. The move is claimed to end the confusion caused by dual formats and will let Netflix push HD video more clearly to its rental business, which is still dominated by DVDs.