Sr Product Manager, VUDU
In my experience (with a TH50PX50U of my own), yes, there is a considerable improvement. The additional bit rate makes a pretty big difference in detail, particularly in dark scenes and action scenes. Also, don't discount the audio improvement thanks to us maxing out the DD 5.1 bit rate to 640kbps, which we can't do with the instant HD version of the same film (since the audio would take up a considerable portion of the 4mbit total stream and video quality would suffer).
I haven't watched all of the titles, but of the titles I've watched, Rambo and Chronicles of Riddick are excellent examples of what HDX is capable.
Sr Product Manager, VUDU
My only complaint is the VUDU box still only has around a 4mbs max download rate. I have a 50mbs connection(50/20 tier) with FIOS. It would be nice if I could use a larger portion of the pipe for VUDU downloads.
39TB unRAID1--53TB unRAID2--36TB unRAID3
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The move could be the first of several steps addressing issues in Internet video and music for users, content producers, distributors and consumer electronics companies. The news marks the second major gambit from entertainment and technology companies in recent weeks to make it easier to access premium online content across a broad range of systems.
A new SMPTE committee dubbed Broadband 23B will meet for the first time on October 27 in conjunction with the SMPTE's annual technology conference in Hollywood. The group aims to address formats that would cover movies, television programming, online programming and music regardless of the broadband distribution platform.
When someone plays a DVD, a master file indicates where to find and start related video, audio and image files and how to synchronize them. A similar process happens when media is played from a Web site today, but each site tends to handle the problem in its own way, said Wendy Aylsworth, engineering vice president of SMPTE in an interview with EE Times.
The new effort aims to create a standard for the process. It also hopes to define a standard for tailoring the content to the resolution and size of the display requesting the content.
Although the effort began with one SMPTE member requesting a standard, "there are now content, distribution and consumer electronics companies saying they agree there is a need here and supporting this work," Aylsworth said. "Content aggregators and distributors are already feeling the pain of different services handling this problem in their own way," she added.
"It's not yet clear whether this effort will be confined to one or two standards on file packages and formats or whether it will extend to areas such as compression" and perhaps digital rights management, said Aylsworth, a senior vice president of technical operations at Warner Brothers who helped spearhead work on the digital cinema standard.
Anyone interested in the Broadband 23B effort is welcome to join the first meeting without registration at 5:15 PM, at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. However, the meeting's proceedings will remain private to SMPTE, and membership in the SMPTE standards community is required for ongoing participation.
The success of Apple's iTunes as a source of movies and TV shows has prompted studios to back their own outlets such as Hulu. Last year Cable TV giant Comcast launched its own Internet video site, Fancast. Observers say content owners and service providers are increasingly concerned about Apple's dominance in online distribution.
"More media than ever is flowing to consumers outside traditional TV and cinema channels, and currently, it can only be accessed on a limited subset of services and devices because there are no interoperability standards," said Aylsworth in a prepared statement.
In September, reports emerged that a broad group of studios and tech companies had formed the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem. DECE aims to ensure content from multiple sources can play on any device.
The group is not expected to announce details of its plans until the Consumer Electronics Show in January. However, observers said it could embrace a wide range of issues regarding interoperable formats, codecs and digital rights management schemes.
The group includes Warner Bros. Entertainment, Fox Entertainment Group, NBC Universal, Sony, Paramount Pictures and Comcast Corp, retailer Best Buy as well as tech companies Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Philips, Intel, Toshiba and Verisign.
"They are creating a business model for themselves, not a standard," said Aylsworth. "Hopefully they will contribute some ideas to the SMPTE process and use whatever standards we come up with," she said.
The standard would likely be implemented as software or firmware that would run on client devices such as cellphones, TVs and computers, she said. SMPTE standards typically take about a year to reach publication.
New Technology Committee: 23B Broadband Inaugural Meeting
Jointly developed by Pioneer and Sonic Solutions, Qflix is a new DVD technology that gives consumers the opportunity to purchase licensed Hollywood films, and eventually TV shows, from CinemaNow, some of which have previously been unavailable at retail.
The Qflix-enabled drives allows burning of content on Qfix-certified DVD media using CSS (Content Scramble System), which is the same content protection found on commercially released DVD movies.
"Consumer adoption of digitally distributed entertainment will happen at a far greater rate than the extinction of the DVD player," said Mark Ely, executive vice president of Strategy, Sonic Solutions. "Qflix is an important and necessary bridging technology that allows content owners to deliver a more flexible product that combines the convenience of digital distribution with the permanency and portability of the DVD."
For home audiences who were previously relegated to viewing downloaded content on a small computer screen, Pioneer?s new writers with Qflix technology enables users to preserve digital content for playback on standard DVD players and then watch it on a big screen television.
"Our commitment to enhancing the digital entertainment experience has driven us to expand offerings in new ways, far beyond the traditional computer screen. Now we can provide a packaged media option that can be enjoyed on multiple disc drives or players located throughout a home," said David Cook, president and COO of CinemaNow. "Being able to offer a selection of feature films that are compatible with Qflix technology, unlocks a dynamic collection of content for consumers who are searching for movies or shows that do not even exist on DVD."
Both Pioneer drives incorporate Roxio's Venue software that provides simplified management and writing of downloaded digital content. Also included in the software bundle are applications that allow users to back-up and play their disc media on a PC via the Roxio CinePlayer and Easy CD & DVD Burning software.
Besides featuring 20x write speed to DVD-R and +R, the internal DVR-2920Q and external DVR-X162Q writers boast a variety of other features:
- Optimal Write Support - Recognizes the disc media and adjusts the drive?s write speed to ensure the highest quality
- Quiet Drive - Unique interlocking design ensures low acoustic noise by "trapping" the airflow noise generated by the spinning disc
- Improved Durability - Improved chassis insulation helps protect the drive's internal components from dust and small particles that can hinder the product's operability and lifespan Available at retail stores nationwide and at www.pioneerelectronics.com, the Pioneer internal DVR-2920Q and the external DVR-X162Q DVD/CD writers will begin shipping in October 2008 for a suggested price of $69.99 and November 2008 for a suggested price of $114.99, respectively.
Philips & Lite-On Digital Solutions Corp (PLDS) has also licenced Qflix technology and plans to integrate Qflix into a range of optical disc drives planned for release this year.
Apple announced Thursday that all four of the major US television networks are offering primetime programs in high definition on the iTunes Store, which has become the world's most popular online TV service with over 200 million episodes sold, including more than one million HD episodes purchased since last month.
"We've got an incredible Fall 2008 TV lineup with over 70 primetime comedies and dramas, including many of the most popular shows on TV in stunning HD," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet Services. "With over 200 million episodes sold, iTunes customers have proven they love watching television on their computer, iPod, iPhone and TV with Apple TV."
The iTunes Store features the world's largest online catalog of TV programs with over 70 primetime comedies and dramas from the major networks and television programs from over 70 cable networks including Bravo, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN, FX, HBO, MTV, Nickelodeon, Sci Fi, Showtime and USA.
Apple said the list of HD programs now available on the iTunes Store includes ABC's "Brothers & Sisters," "Desperate Housewives," "Dirty Sexy Money," "Eli Stone," "Grey's Anatomy," "Life on Mars," "Lost," "Private Practice," "Samantha Who?" and "Ugly Betty." CBS programming includes "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: New York," "NCIS" and "Numb3rs." FOX shows include "Bones," "House," "Prison Break" and "Sons of Anarchy," which airs on FX. NBC shows include "30 Rock," "Heroes," "Kath & Kim," "Knight Rider," "Law & Order: SVU," "Life," "Lipstick Jungle," "My Own Worst Enemy" and "The Office," and SCI FI Channel's "Battlestar Galactica" and "Eureka," and USA Network's "In Plain Sight," "Monk," "Psych" and "The Starter Wife."
Standard definition television shows on the iTunes Store are $1.99 per episode, while HD programs from ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX are $2.99 per episode. Many series offer a season pass option which allows customers to purchase entire seasons at a discounted price.
The iTunes Store digital media catalog now spans over eight million songs, over 30,000 TV episodes and over 2,500 films including 600 in high definition.
Moves content to online sales
OCT. 17 | Playboy Enterprises is shuttering its DVD production business as part of a larger restructuring to reduce costs.
The company wants to shave expenses by $10 million in order to return to profitability in 2009, Playboy chair and CEO Christie Hefner said in an Oct. 15 note to staff. In addition to exiting the disc business, Playboy will eliminate 80 employee positions as well as consolidating office space in Los Angeles.
Playboy hopes to transition its DVD activities into exploiting online programming, which is considered a profitable operation for the company. Next year, the company will re-launch its Web site, Playboy.com, which will better integrate its publishing and online businesses.
“We will continue to deliver more of our content digitally, using our assets across multiple distribution platforms and adding more a la carte offerings,” said Hefner. “Given the declines in the DVD market, we will exit that business in phases over a few months to concentrate on selling that content online.”
Bay State users of Comcast Corp.'s broadband Internet service will soon be able to download files a lot quicker. Comcast has introduced a new technology that could make the service run twice as fast for most customers, while offering even faster speeds for those willing to pay extra.
"Comcast is really changing the experience of our users and revolutionizing what people can do on the Internet," said Mitch Bowling, general manager of the company's online services business.
But a spokesman for Verizon Communications Inc., a rival, said that Comcast is just catching up with Verizon's FIOS service, which delivers data at much higher speeds than Comcast's previous broadband offerings.
Most users of Comcast's broadband service get download speeds of either 6 or 8 megabits per second, compared to Verizon's basic FIOS service, which delivers 10 megabits per second. But thanks to Comcast's new technology, called Docsis 3.0, customers will see their top speeds doubled to 12 or 16 megabits, respectively, at no additional cost.
In addition, Comcast will offer two premium broadband services: 22 megabits for $62.95 a month and 50 megabits for $139.95 a month. Verizon already offers similar FIOS services at about the same prices.
Bowling said the new Comcast services are available in about 100 Massachusetts and New Hampshire communities, including Foxborough, Framingham, Natick, New Bedford, and Manchester, N.H.
Docsis 3.0 service has also been launched in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, and in parts of New Jersey.
Though 14.4 million US households subscribe to Comcast Internet service, about 50 million households have access to the network. The company said it will be able to deliver the service to 20 percent of those homes by year's end, and to gradually upgrade the rest over the next couple of years.
The speed boost won't affect Comcast's plan to limit its customers' Internet use. Starting this month, users who download more than 250 gigabytes of data per month could be disconnected. A Comcast spokesman, Jim Hughes, said Docsis 3.0 doesn't eliminate the need to set limits on bandwidth usage. He said that only about 1 percent of users ever exceed the limit, and he doubted that higher download speeds would cause customers to sharply increase their downloading.
The Comcast upgrade comes at a time when fewer Americans are signing up for new broadband Internet accounts. According to Strategy Analytics Inc. of Newton, Comcast added 278,000 subscribers nationwide in the second quarter of the year, down 18 percent from the same period in 2007. But demand for DSL, a slower broadband service offered by Verizon and other telephone companies, has fallen much faster. Orders for Verizon DSL dropped 81 percent in the second quarter of 2008.
"DSL can no longer compete with what cable has to offer," said Ben Piper, broadband analyst at Strategy Analytics.
Verizon is fighting back with FIOS, a $23 billion effort to run fiber-optic data lines directly to millions of homes. A fiber connection can carry far more data than Verizon's old-fashioned copper telephone wires. FIOS allows Verizon to compete with Comcast and other cable companies in delivering television services as well as faster Internet connections. Verizon has signed up 2 million FIOS customers in 14 states; the service is available in 84 Massachusetts communities.
Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro said Comcast is rushing to deploy Docsis 3.0 because its standard services can't measure up to FIOS. "I think they have to do something," he said, "and this is their best attempt at that."
The move follows Dell's inclusion of a digital copy of Paramount Digital Entertainment's Iron Man on select laptop and desktop computers as a free add-on last month.
The latest pre-loaded movies will be offered in bundles starting at $25 to consumers when they buy select Dell laptop and desktop PCs. In addition to the offerings from Warner and Sony, Universal Studios' Fast and Furious collection will be available, and Paramount Pictures will offer a romantic comedy and comedy bundle.
Dell will regularly add new movie bundles, with films chosen by the studios.
Users can watch the movies on their PC or make copies for viewing on up to four other PCs or Windows Media-compatible handheld devices. Some of the films also will be able to be transferred to other select devices, such as the Xbox 360 for TV viewing as part of Dell's deal with CinemaNow.
It's unclear whether users will be able to use Dell's recently launched Qflix DVD drive, which burns films with CSS copy protection, to burn the pre-loaded films to disc.
Dell customers also will be able to download additional films through Dell's movie store, powered by CinemaNow. CinemaNow began offering downloads to Dell subscribers last month for the Qflix DVD drives.
Some had expected Dell to launch a new open-standard download format to compete with Apple iTunes this fall. BusinessWeek reported in August that former Apple executive Tim Bucher was leading an initiative at Dell to break Apple's hold on the digital music and movie market.
Los Gatos, CA (October 27, 2008) - Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced it has begun the deployment of Microsoft Silverlight to enhance the instant watching component of the Netflix service and to allow subscribers for the first time to watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers. The deployment, which will initially touch a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers, is the first step in an anticipated roll-out of the new platform to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year.
Silverlight is designed for delivery of cross-platform, cross-browser media experiences inside a Web browser. It is expected that Netflix members who watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their computers will enjoy a faster, easier connection and a more robust viewing experience with Silverlight, due to the quality built directly into the player. Among the viewing enhancements with the new player is a breakthrough in timeline navigation that vastly improves the use of fast-forwarding and rewinding. The new Netflix player takes advantage of Play Ready DRM, which is built into Silverlight, for the playback of protected content on both Windows-based PCs and on Macs. That had not been possible with previous generation technologies.
Silverlight with Play Ready offers a powerful and secure toolkit for delivery of dynamic streaming, which offers faster start-up, and higher quality video, adapted in real time to users' connection speeds, said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. Members who enjoy watching movies and TV episodes from the growing library of choices that can be instantly streamed at Netflix will be thrilled with this next generation improvement of access and quality, on a broader range of platforms, including Intel Macs and Firefox.
The ability to stream Netflix movies and TV shows will begin beta testing for select TiVo owners immediately, with an official roll-out scheduled for early December. It will be available on TiVo HD, HD XL, and Series3 DVRs (not Series2 or DirecTV models).
The service will effectively be identical to the Netflix feature available on the LG BD300, Samsung BD-P2500, and BD-P2550, Roku Player, and--as of mid-November--the Xbox 360. That means that existing Netflix subscribers can stream more than 12,000 movies and TV shows directly to their TV over a broadband Internet connection on an "all you can eat" basis, with no additional charges beyond the existing Netflix and TiVo service fees.
Interestingly, the TiVo/Netflix tie-up makes good on a deal originally announced in September 2004. At that time, the then-novel idea of streaming Netflix movies directly to TiVo set-tops generated a lot of industry buzz and consumer excitement, but nothing became of it. Both companies seemed to go their separate ways, with TiVo adding on-demand content from Amazon and (just last week) CinemaNow and Jaman, while Netflix's service rolled out on the above-mentioned devices from Roku, LG, Samsung, and Microsoft. More than four years later, however, TiVo owners will finally be getting their Netflix streaming.
Separately, CNET has confirmed that Netflix's nascent HD streaming capability will soon be coming to all Netflix-compatible devices, not just the Xbox 360. However, the Netflix HD library will be starting with a very small selection (just 300 titles), and will require significantly higher bandwidth than the standard-def streaming that's currently available.
NOV. 10 | Vudu has added hundreds of high-definition titles, including Iron Man, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Mongol, to its online library.
In total, Vudu has amassed 1,000 titles in its proprietary HDX format within its library, which the company touts as the largest collection of available high-def digital content. Other newly featured films include classics Cool Hand Luke and Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Vudu first launched HDX titles in early October and has since been adding 150 titles in the format a week. The company's overall high-def and standard-def library stands at more than 10,000 titles, which users view on TVs via broadband-enabled set-top boxes.
We're certainly proud to offer the largest HD library on the planet, but the motivation to accomplish this really sprang from our customers, retail partners and home theater installation professionals, all of whom were asking for more HD content, said Edward Lichty, executive VP of content at Vudu. And this is only the beginning of our effort. Our goal is to maintain a leadership position in offering the best picture quality.
Blockbuster is planning to bow for the holidays a set-top box that would deliver movies on demand from its Movielink download service. The Dallas-based DVD rental chain next year also will bow a Blockbuster-branded widget on Intel-manufactured chips imbedded in IPTV monitors.
Chairman and CEO Jim Keyes, who made the announcement Nov. 6 during a call with investors, offered no additional information on the set-top box, including manufacturer, price and availability.
Analyst Edward Woo with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles said the set-top box device sounded ambitious, but wondered how consumers under pressure from the current economic downturn would receive it.
“Until I hear more concrete information, I'm not sure how receptive consumers will be and whether it will be different or better than other boxes out there or planned be out there,” Woo said.
Blockbuster downplayed posting a third-quarter (ended Oct. 5) net loss of $17.8 million and 2.7% decline ($33.6 million) in total revenue to $1.2 billion, citing a limited slate of movie titles and competition from Olympic telecasts.
The Dallas-based DVD rental giant said the loss was 48% less than the net loss of $34.4 million during the previous year period.
Domestic same-store revenue increased 5.1% due to a 0.8% growth in same-store rental revenue and a 30.7% increase in same-store merchandise sales, driven largely by increases in sales of games software and hardware.
Blockbuster chairman and CEO Jim Keyes said in a call with analysts that the chain’s ability to overcome a 53% drop in August theatrical box office comps and the public’s growing interest in the presidential campaign underscored the resilience of DVD.
He said Blu-ray rentals now account for 2% of the chain’s domestic revenue. Keyes said Blockbuster stores will increase availability of player selections at prices competitive with other CE chains.
Still, despite panelists bullishness on Blu-ray, execs said season sales will be carefully scrutinized after Jan 1. Depending on how things go with HD discs and other packaged goods sales, it's possible that the industry's go-slow approach on digital downloads could accelerate.
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is set to introduce speedier Internet services based on Docsis 3.0 technology next month to systems serving a total of 1.8 million basic video subs in Washington and Oregon.
In Washington, where Comcast serves about 1.2 million video subs, the MSO will wire up its systems for Docsis 3.0 in areas such as Seattle, Bellingham, Bremerton, and Spokane. The deployments in Oregon and the southwestern portion of Washington include Longview and Eugene. (See Comcast Rolls Wideband in OR and Comcast Rolls Wideband in WA.)
In those areas, Comcast will cross swords primarily with Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q - message board), with spottier run-ins with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ - message board) (in Seattle, for example).
Following an initial launch in Minnesota's Twin Cities, Comcast unleashed Docsis 3.0 in the MSO's New England region (including Boston metro and Southern New Hampshire), and parts of New Jersey and Philadelphia. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era and Comcast Takes 'Wideband' Wider .)
Comcast has committed to wire about 20 percent of its markets, or roughly 10 "major" markets serving a total of 10 million homes and businesses within its footprint by year's end. The MSO has previously said it expects to have all of its systems Docsis 3.0-ready by mid-2010.
Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said "it's still our goal" to have one fifth of the MSO's network upgraded to Docsis 3.0 by the end of 2008. "We'll have more announcements in the next several weeks that will get us there."
Could this be the start of many?
MediaPoint™ digital media player provides instant entertainment from BLOCKBUSTER® ONDEMAND straight to television
Thousands of titles offered including new releases like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Smart, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, The Strangers, The Love Guru
DALLAS, TX and SAN JOSE, CA - November 24, 2008 - Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE: BBI, BBI.B), a leading global provider of media entertainment, and 2Wire, a provider of integrated broadband solutions, today introduced the 2Wire MediaPoint™ digital media player, an easy-to-use, on-demand video solution that offers movie fans instant access through their television sets to BLOCKBUSTER® ONDEMAND content, including thousands of titles from the latest movie releases to classic favorites.
Beginning today, for a limited time, the MediaPoint digital media player is available free with the advance rental of 25 BLOCKBUSTER ONDEMAND movies for $99 at www.blockbuster.com. Unlike subscription-based services, which typically offer movies years after their release, BLOCKBUSTER ONDEMAND includes hot new releases, many available within weeks of leaving theaters. After the initial 25 rentals, movies are available for as little as $1.99 each. The players will begin shipping in time for the holiday season.
"The MediaPoint digital player, featuring BLOCKBUSTER ONDEMAND, is entertainment made easy. We are bringing Blockbuster, and the thousands of movies in our digital library, straight to customers' televisions," said Jim Keyes, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO. "The player is simple to use, delivers DVD quality video, and there's no monthly subscription commitment. We are delighted to team with 2Wire to give consumers this great entertainment product."
Easy to install, the MediaPoint digital media player works seamlessly with any broadband connection, either wirelessly via built-in Wi-Fi or wired via Ethernet cable, to deliver the hottest new movies, classics, foreign films and television shows from the BLOCKBUSTER digital library. With full fast-forward, rewind, and pause capabilities, the viewing experience is DVD quality, no matter the speed of the broadband connection. Movies can be played right away or saved to watch later. Additionally, the player supports HD video content and can be connected to HDTVs.
"To be successful, a broadband video offering needs to deliver movies that people want to see, in the quality they expect, with minimal setup requirements," said Pat Romano, chief executive officer of 2Wire. "BLOCKBUSTER ONDEMAND and the MediaPoint digital media player give movie fans what they want. We are thrilled to help bring this service to the living room, providing immediate access to high quality movies directly on the television set."
The MediaPoint digital media player is extremely compact — about the size of two boxes of movie candy — and can be integrated seamlessly into home entertainment systems through composite cable, HDMI, component cable, or Toslink.
In the Box
2Wire MediaPoint Digital Media Player (8" x 8" x 1")
Quick Installation Guide
Composite A/V cable (supports SD viewing)
Video and Audio Connections
Toslink (digital optical audio)*
Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)
2Wire MediaPoint Accelerates Service Provider Delivery of Entertainment Services, Bridging Television and the Internet
The MediaPoint digital media player, designed and specified by 2Wire, is the hardware component of the MediaPoint broadband entertainment solution. It includes support for SD and HD content, SD and HD TV interfaces, wired and wireless network connectivity, internal storage, and USB expansion. It supports connections to televisions via HDMI, Component, Composite, and Optical Audio. In addition, the MediaPoint digital media player can be customized by the provider with the storage and external interface options that best fit their offering, pricing, and deployment schedule.
Hulu has long had an HD gallery as part of its site, but it was largely relegated to trailers for upcoming films, rather than feature length movies and television shows.
That is changing this week, as Hulu begins adding full length 720p high definition content to its HD gallery. The move is part of Hulu's "Hulu for The Holidays" push, which features new movies, TV shows and features every day until Dec. 26.
The first programs available are NBC shows, including the latest episodes of 30 Rock, The Office and Heroes, as well as Joss Whedon's strike induced web-feature Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
So far there are only 10 full-length shows available. Hulu is not setting a timetable or program schedule for the HD gallery, though it is expected to refresh it with new content as it sees fit. In addition, HD content is not embeddable to outside websites, unlike nearly everything else on the site.
"Ultimately, Hulu is committed to leveraging and developing innovative technologies that deliver the best possible online video viewing experience," said a Hulu spokesperson. "To that end, the Hulu HD gallery is the first step in making HD quality videos available on Hulu."
Blockbuster Inc. caught up to the competition last week by introducing a set-top box that brings rentals from the Internet to the television.
Now, the Dallas-based company hopes to pass the pack by teaming with Microsoft Corp. on new mobile services that will let customers watch even more movies on more devices.
"Eventually, we'll give customers instant access to any movie on any device with an Internet connection and a screen," said Keith Morrow, Blockbuster's chief information officer.
"More immediately, we could use this technology to reach into airports. Travelers could quickly download movies from Blockbuster kiosks to their portable media players."
Blockbuster will try to build some of these services on top of the new software platform from Microsoft.
Dubbed "Live Mesh," it uses Internet connections to share data among different devices.
Folks with multiple PCs can already use Live Mesh to do some basic things, such as synchronizing their home and work calendars.
Soon, Live Mesh will work with Macs and Windows Mobile smart phones.
"We've built in the functionality that allows Microsoft programs to talk to each other, but we're also opening up Live Mesh to anyone else who has cool ideas for sharing data," said Jeff Hansen, general manager of Microsoft's Live Services group.
Blockbuster is one of the first companies to try building an application on Live Mesh, and it certainly has some cool ideas.
For example, Mr. Morrow said, once people begin connecting their televisions to the Internet, software such as Live Mesh will allow them to pause a movie on one TV and pick it up - at exactly the same place - on a TV in another building.
Mr. Morrow also envisions a system that would notify parents if their kids tried to watch a movie during homework time.
"There are so many things we can do to add value," Mr. Morrow said. "That's why we're working with Microsoft and other partners that can help us deliver."
The films, which will be offered on demand beginning Dec. 15, include "The Happening," "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who" and "Shine a Light."
Tuesday's deal means that BT Vision now has a VOD pact in place with every major studio but Sony Pictures. "We're working on that one," a spokesman said.
Fox catalog titles including "Alien Resurrection," "The Beach" and "Die Hard" also will be among those offered.
All Fox movies on BT Vision will be available on a pay-per-view basis without the need for a mandatory subscription.
Prices start at 2 pounds ($2.98) for back catalog titles, rising to 3.99 pounds ($5.95) for the newest movies. BT Vision also offers consumers HD versions for an extra pound ($1.49).
On Friday, the TiVo 11.0 software began to roll out, but other than a slight rearrangement on the main menu and the "11.0" insignia, there was little to speak of in the update. However, this meant that the updated boxes were primed for the Netflix On Demand service, which was announced at the end of October.
Now, through the DVR's interface, users can watch the movies and TV shows in the instant queue they have assembled through Netflix's site.
"With so much talk focusing on the economy these days," said Tara Maitra, General Manager and Vice President of Content Services at TiVo Inc, "this partnership makes more sense than ever because it brings people more movies at home."
Company Launches More than 120 Channels of Web Based Content and Applications, Announces Rich Internet Application Platform Open to All Developers in 2009
Last update: 12:01 a.m. EST Dec. 16, 2008
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec 16, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- VUDU today took a major step forward in bringing the Web into the living room by launching the VUDU RIA (Rich Internet Application) platform, a standards-based platform that brings Web-hosted rich applications and services to consumer appliances such as the popular VUDU Internet movie player. VUDU RIA combines the openness and ease of development of Web applications, lightweight hardware requirements compatible with today's consumer Internet appliances, and a lean-back user experience optimized for television.
To demonstrate the power and flexibility of VUDU RIA, VUDU has created an initial set of applications and services in a new area of the VUDU home page, called VUDU Labs. Available today to all VUDU owners, these applications include casual games, implementations of Flickr, Picasa and the entire YouTube library, as well as a new "On Demand TV" area with more than 120 channels.
Today, VUDU customers can access a broad selection of free on-demand shows provided by major network television and on-line specialty sites spanning news, food, music, sports, and more. Programs include daily highlights from shows such as "Today," "The Rachel Maddow Show," "Anderson Cooper 360," "Fantasy Focus NFL," "MTV News," as well as full programs, some in HD, from Nova, National Geographic, PBS and others. VUDU plans to add more applications and services throughout 2009.
"VUDU RIA enables us to quickly open up huge libraries of web based content to TVs in living rooms around America," said Edward Lichty, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Content. "We are excited to deliver both high quality TV shows as well as Web applications which enable our customers to share their photos and watch the tens of millions of YouTube videos on their HDTV's."
VUDU RIA Brings Web Application Development to CE devices
VUDU RIA allows developers to take advantage of the most advanced RIA techniques such as asynchronous Web queries, local scripting, and persistent client-side storage, along with unique TV-centered technologies such as VUDU's acclaimed user interface, one-wheel remote control navigation, and VUDU's TruFilm-powered video rendering for maximum visual quality.
VUDU RIA enables the development of responsive, rich applications optimized for display and use on high definition televisions that bring the wealth of data and content of the Internet to the living room without needing to deploy new software on the consumer appliance, a first in the consumer electronics world.
VUDU RIA is targeted at today's low power set-top boxes and Internet appliances and delivers a lightning fast user experience on a 300 MHz embedded processor with 128MB of RAM. Applications developed on the VUDU RIA platform are as responsive as native applications but have the added advantage of being able to pull from the vast and growing reservoir of Internet content and services. They can also be updated anytime without modifying any software in the consumer's appliance, creating a dynamic experience heretofore unavailable in the living room. VUDU RIA will be opened up to third party developers in the first half of 2009.
"Our goal in creating VUDU RIA was to allow anyone with Web development skills to easily author Web-driven applications for the TV," said Prasanna Ganesan, VUDU's Chief Technical Officer. "We are very pleased with the results and look forward to opening up VUDU RIA to the developer community."
The Netflix Player by Roku is the latest Netflix-compatible device to offer HD video support. The free firmware upgrade (version 1.5) adds the ability to access the approximately 300 or so titles in Netflix's streaming library that are currently available in high-definition. The upgrade brings the Roku box up to speed with the Xbox 360, TiVo HD DVRs, and Samsung BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 Blu-ray players, all of which have been upgraded to support Netflix HD streams over the past few weeks. (The remaining device, the LG BD300 Blu-ray player, should be getting its own HD firmware upgrade soon.)
In addition to the HD upgrade, the Roku box is also teasing the eventual availability of new non-Netflix programming. Clicking the "what's new" button on the updated home screen reveals a message that says:
This screen will become your launching pad for a number of great new channels that will begin to appear on your player in early 2009. In addition to the hugely popular Netflix channel, you'll see new movie channels, TV channels, web video channels and more.
We've been hearing that the Roku box wanted to broaden its horizons since at least September, so the imminent arrival of new content options isn't exactly a surprise. And with more people looking to dump expensive cable and satellite subscriptions, a $99 set-top box with on-demand video options is certainly an attractive idea. It also probably means that the hardware--currently called "The Netflix Player by Roku"--may need to get a new name when the company eventually flips the switch on those new channels.
By now you've discovered our new home screen. This screen will become your launching pad for a number of great new channels that will begin to appear on your player in early 2009. In addition to the hugely popular Netflix channel, you'll see movie channels, TV channels, web video and more! We've also upgraded your player to support an advanced video format that will deliver better video quality, especially over Internet connections. Finally, your player is now fully HD compatible. If you have an HDTV, select update display type' below to get the full HD experience. (Tip: visit www.netflix.com/InstantHD for HD movies from Netflix.)
Comcast Rolls Wideband in the Pacific Northwest
FYI we are enjoying this new service now. It is remarkable to do a speed check and see better than 22 Mbit/sec down, and 10 mbit/sec up! All without paying anything extra. We were just about to switch to Fios but now we are holding tight. They also offer the 30 and 50 mbit tiers but the sweet spot is where we are now. Stated rate by the way, is supposed to be 16 mbit/sec. But I guess they are letting it fly past that for now...
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"Insist on Quality Engineering"
Nice, what competition does. Enjoy it.
During the summer, South Korean CE maker LG debuted the first streaming Netflix-enabled Blu-ray player. Today, the company announced its Blu-ray players will receive content from more streaming partners.
LG's network-connected Blu-ray players will be receiving an upgrade in early 2009, endowing them with features similar to the latest broadband TiVo DVRs: Users will be able to access CinemaNow and YouTube content.
By letting its connected Blu-ray players access these streaming services, LG instantly adds a library of nearly 30,000 cinematic and television releases and a countless number of user-generated videos to the approximately 1,220 Blu-ray titles available in the United States.
While the company's only network Blu-ray player is its $350 BD300, LG will be premiering a new line of products at CES 2009, which will immediately enjoy the fruits of LG's partnerships with Netflix, CinemaNow, and YouTube. The company expects more streaming service providers to join in 2009 and beyond.