Sunday, December 16, 2007


DTS-HD High Resolution Audio

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, like DTS-HD Master Audio, is an extension to the original DTS audio format. It delivers up to 7.1 channels of sound at 96 kHz sampling frequency and 24 bit depth resolution. DTS-HD High Resolution Audio is selected as an optional surround sound format for Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD with constant bit rates up to respectively 6.0 Mbit/s and 3.0 Mbit/s. It is supposed to be an alternative for DTS-HD Master Audio where disc space may not allow it.

DTS-HD Master Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio logo
DTS-HD Master Audio logo

DTS-HD Master Audio, previously known as DTS++ and DTS-HD, supports a virtually unlimited number of surround sound channels, can downmix to 5.1 and two-channel, and can deliver audio quality at bit rates extending from DTS Digital Surround up to lossless (24-bit, 96 kHz). DTS-HD Master Audio is selected as an optional surround sound format for Blu-ray and HD DVD. Currently the Japanese version Pioneer BDP-LX80 supports bitstream digital output of the format along with the Samsung BD-P1400 (through a firmware update). All Blu-ray and HD DVD players can decode the DTS "core" resolution soundtrack at 1.5 Mbit/s, however. DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD are the only technologies that deliver compressed lossless surround sound for these new disc formats, ensuring the highest quality audio performance available in the new standards. (N.B.: DTS Coherent Acoustics coding system has been selected as mandatory audio technology for both the Blu-ray Disc (BD) and High Definition Digital Versatile Disc (HD DVD).[7])

Blu-ray - Software standards


Codecs are compression schemes that reduce data storage requirements; both lossy and lossless compression techniques have been developed and are being used. Depending on the application, either can be used to greatly increase the amount of audio or video storable on fixed-bit-capacity media.

The BD-ROM specification mandates certain codec compatibilities for both hardware decoders (players) and the movie-software (content). For video, all players are required to support ISO MPEG-2, H.264/AVC, and SMPTE VC-1. MPEG-2 video allows decoder backward compatibility for DVDs. H.264, sometimes called MPEG-4 part 10 (but now mainly referred to as AVC), is a more recent video codec. VC-1 is another MPEG-4 derivative codec mostly developed by Microsoft (based on Microsoft's previous work in Windows Media 9). BD-ROM titles with video must store video using one of the three mandatory codecs (multiple codecs on a single title are allowed).

The initial version of Sony's Blu-ray Disc-authoring software shipped with support for only 1 video-codec: MPEG-2.[citation needed] Consequently, all launch titles were encoded in MPEG-2 video.[citation needed] A subsequent update allowed the content producers to author titles in any of the 3 supported codecs: MPEG-2, VC-1, or H.264.[citation needed] The choice of codecs affects the producer's licensing/royalty costs, as well as the title's maximum runtime (due to differences in compression efficiency).[citation needed] Discs encoded in MPEG-2 video typically limit content producers to around two hours of high-definition content on a single-layer (25 GB) BD-ROM. The more advanced video codecs (VC-1 and H.264) typically achieve a video runtime twice that of MPEG-2, with comparable quality.

For audio, BD-ROM players are required to support Dolby Digital AC-3, DTS, and Linear PCM (up to 7.1 channels). Dolby Digital Plus, and lossless formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD are player optional. BD-ROM titles must use one of mandatory schemes for the primary soundtrack (linear PCM, Dolby Digital, or DTS). A secondary audiotrack, if present, may use any of the mandatory or optional codecs.[48] If Dolby Digital Plus is used, it must be accompanied by an AC-3 soundtrack (which provides the "core" bitstream). For uncompressed PCM and lossless audio in Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio formats, Blu-ray Discs support encoding in up to 24-bit/192 kHz for a maximum of six channels, or up to eight channels with at most 24-bit/96 kHz sampling.[49]

For users recording digital television programming, the recordable Blu-ray Disc standard's datarate of 54 Mbit/s is more than adequate to record high-definition broadcasts from any source (IPTV, cable/satellite, or terrestrial). For Blu-ray Disc movies the maximum transfer rate is 48 Mbit/s (1.5x) (both audio and video payloads together), of which a maximum of 40 Mbit/s can be dedicated to video data. This compares favorably to the maximum of 36.55 Mbit/s in HD DVD movies for audio and video data.[50]

Java software support

Main article: BD-J

At the 2005 JavaOne trade show, it was announced that Sun Microsystems' Java cross-platform software environment would be included in all Blu-ray Disc players as a mandatory part of the standard. Java is used to implement interactive menus on Blu-ray Discs, as opposed to the method used on DVD video discs, which uses pre-rendered MPEG segments and selectable subtitle pictures, which is considerably more primitive and less seamless. Java creator James Gosling, at the conference, suggested that the inclusion of a Java Virtual Machine as well as network connectivity in BD devices will allow updates to Blu-ray Discs via the Internet, adding content such as additional subtitle languages and promotional features that are not included on the disc at pressing time. This Java Version is called BD-J and is a subset of the Globally Executable MHP (GEM) standard. GEM is the world-wide version of the Multimedia Home Platform standard.

Region codes

Regions for Blu-ray standard
Regions for Blu-ray standard[51]

Blu-ray discs may be encoded with a region code, intended to restrict the area of the world in which they can be played; similar to the DVD region codes. Blu-ray players sold in a certain region should only be able to play discs encoded for that region. The purpose of this system is to allow motion picture studios to control the various aspects of a release (including content, date, and, in particular, price) according to the region. Discs may also be produced without region coding, so they can be played on all devices.

Region code Area[52]
A North America, Central America, South America, Japan, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia.
B Europe, Greenland, French territories, Middle East, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
C India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Mainland China, Pakistan, Russia, Central, and South Asia.

This arrangement places the countries of the major Blu-ray manufacturers (Japan, Korea, Malaysia) in the same region as the U.S., thus ensuring early releases of U.S. content to those markets. Reportedly, early BD releases (including Casino Royale) are "ALL" region and therefore compatible in various BD players around the globe.

HD DVD - Xbox 360

Released at the end of November 2006, the Microsoft HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 game-console gives the Xbox 360 the ability to play HD DVD movies. The drive was announced with an MSRP of US$199 and includes a USB 2.0 cable for connection to the console. The first drives also included Peter Jackson's King Kong on HD DVD.

Xbox 360 and add-on HD DVD drive
Xbox 360 and add-on HD DVD drive

HD DVD video output at the highest supported resolution (1080p) requires a display with HDMI, component, or VGA input. Despite the fact that the Xbox 360 supports 1080p output across component and VGA cabling, all first and many second generation 1080p TVs do not support that resolution on those types of inputs, which limits the TV and older Xbox 360 units (which did not include HDMI-out ports) to 720p or 1080i. For audio output, the Xbox 360 is limited compared to standalone players. However, the console is able to handle transcoding, if necessary, so a movie soundtrack of any type (Dolby TrueHD, Dolby DD+/AC-3, DTS, LPCM) will be outputted in the selected format. The HDMI-output on Xbox 360 Elite does not support multichannel LPCM and the Elite is limited to the same output choices as the non-HDMI Xbox 360 models.

The Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive is sold at retailers in the white color of the Xbox 360 Core/Premium. No announcements have been made by Microsoft to release this product in other colors to the general public.

In the fall of 2007, circulating rumors were spread of Toshiba working in partnership with Microsoft to develop a new Xbox 360 model that would include a built-in HD DVD player as well as other entertainment features.[64] However, this rumor was later denied by both Toshiba and Microsoft[65].

As of September 2007 the add-on has sold over 210,000 units world wide.[66] Although PC use is not officially supported, a number of users buy the HD DVD add-on drive to use exclusively with their PCs because of the cheap price when compared to HD DVD drives made for PCs.[citation needed]

On December 13, 2007 Microsoft annnounced the availability of an HD DVD emulator that works with the Xbox 360 console and the HD DVD drive accessory[67].

High-Definition Video - Film to high-definition transfer

Most major motion pictures are shot in negative film. Film negative is a very high resolving medium, with resolution measured in cycles/mm. One cycle is also called one line pair which consists of one black line and one white line. In simple terms, one cycle is equivalent to 2 pixels, one black and one white. Film by itself can commonly resolve from 50 c/mm to 400 c/mm (100 pixels/mm to 800 pixels/mm) depending on emulsion stock. However, since the image on film is formed by exposing it through a lens and this lens also has its own resolution limits, the final resolution on the photographed negative is always less than each component's individual resolution.

Depending on the year and format a movie was filmed in, the exposed image can vary greatly in size. Sizes range from as big as 24 mm × 36 mm for VistaVision/Technirama 8 perforation cameras (same as 35 mm still photo film) going down through 18 mm × 24 mm for Silent Films or Full Frame 4 perforations cameras to as small as 9 mm × 21 mm in Academy Sound Aperture cameras modified for the Techniscope 2 perforation format. Movies are also produced using other film gauges, including 70 mm films (22 mm × 48 mm) or the rarely used 55 mm and CINERAMA.

The four major film formats provide pixel resolutions (calculated from pixels per millimeter) roughly as follows:

  • Academy Sound (Sound movies before 1955): 15 mm × 21 mm (1.375) = 2160 × 2970
  • Academy camera US Widescreen: 11 mm × 21 mm (1.85) = 1605 × 2970
  • Current Anamorphic Panavision ("Scope"): 17.5 mm × 21 mm (2.39) = 2485 × 2970
  • Super-35 for Anamorphic prints: 10 mm × 24 mm (2.39) = 1420 × 3390

In the process of making prints for exhibition, this negative is copied onto other film (negative → interpositive → internegative → print) causing the resolution to be decimated with each emulsion copying step and when the image passes through a lens (for example, on a projector). In many case, the resolution can be reduced down to 1/6th of the original negative's resolution (or worse). Note that resolution values for 70 mm film are higher than those listed above.

Typical high-definition home video uses the following resolutions:

  • 1280 × 720
  • 1920 × 1080

Usually when studios master movies for home video release they use assets in high resolution and then master them to 1920 × 1080 and/or 1280 × 720. For standard definition applications (e.g., DVD or SDTV), they are also anamorphically compressed and mastered to 720 × 576 (PAL) and 720 × 480 (NTSC).

U.K. to Hold Its Own Post-DTV Spectrum Auction

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's media regulator Ofcom said on Thursday it would conduct an auction for the highly sought-after radio spectrum that will be freed up through the digital television switchover.

The "digital dividend" spectrum is in the UHF band currently used by the terrestrial television broadcasters.

Ofcom said the overall benefit from the use of the digital dividend was estimated to be between 5 billion pounds ($10.2 billion) to 10 billion pounds of added benefit to the economy over 20 years.

"To maximize these benefits, Ofcom plans to auction most of the digital dividend in 2009, offering licenses that allow users to decide the technology and service, and that can be traded after award," it said in a statement.

Ofcom said transmissions in this band covered large geographical areas with relatively few transmitters, and penetrated buildings well.

"This makes the digital dividend the highest quality spectrum likely to be released in the UK in the next 10 or 20 years," it said.

It will be suitable for a wide range of uses including ultra-fast wireless broadband services, mobile television, local television and more digital terrestrial television channels in either standard or high-definition.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by David Holmes)

Copyright Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.,2704,2233548,00.asp

The ABCs of 1080p HDTVs

If you want the full high-def experience, check out some of these 1080p HDTV sets we've recently reviewed.

Holiday Gift Guide 2007When shopping for a high definition television (HDTV), one of the common buzz words you'll hear is resolution--but the resolution of what exactly? In the realm of HDTV, resolution can describe a video format as well as the physical number of discrete pixels a particular TV screen provides (a.k.a. screen resolution). A potentially confusing part of this description is that a HDTV's screen resolution has nothing to do with what video formats it's capable of displaying. All HDTVs are designed to accept a similar set of video formats (resolutions) that are automatically converted for display at the TV's actual screen resolution. For optimal image quality, a TV's screen and its video source should provide the same resolution. Unfortunately, this situation is rarely achieved, and it results in some degree of visual compromise. Not long ago, television manufacturers began offering sets that provide a screen resolution matching the highest video resolution available to consumers today, and that magic number is 1,080.

The highest video resolution available from today's consumer home theater gear including game consoles and HD disc players is 1080p (1,920 by 1,080 pixels progressively scanned). The most common video format for televised HD content is 1080i--the same resolution as 1080p, but the video pixels are delivered differently to save bandwidth. To be sure you're seeing as detailed a picture as possible when viewing 1080i/p material, you need an HDTV that delivers full 1080p resolution. A TV with 720p (1,280 by 720 pixels) or 768p (1,366 by 768 pixels) screen resolution has about half the number of pixels of a 1080p set. Granted, pixel deficiency is just one of the ways an HDTV can destroy video detail, but providing enough pixels to display common HD sources without compromise is a primary motivator for HDTV manufacturers to transition all HDTV screens to 1080p resolution. Keep in mind that HDTV viewing distance directly affects the perception of video detail, and the extra million or so pixels that a 1080p HDTV screen provides helps minimize the gap between pixels resulting in a more seamless looking image that can be enjoyed at shorter viewing distances.

If you want the full high-def experience, check out some of these 1080p sets we've recently reviewed.

The LG 47LBX delivered the widest viewing angles I've ever seen from a 1080p LCD TV. The set's advanced video processor is also effective at minimizing distracting artifacts with standard and high definition video sources, and its stylishly modern design includes a swivel base.

Sony Bravia KDL-46V3000Sony Bravia KDL-46V3000
Other than an issue with smearing picture details when displaying dimly lit scenes, the Sony KDL-46V3000 delivers admirably accurate color right out of the box. The 46V3000 also produces a well-contrasted picture when viewed from its relatively narrow sweet spot (front and center.)

TH-42PZ700UPanasonic TH-42PZ700U (Editors' Choice)
The Panasonic TH-42PZ700U is a terrific plasma display that delivers 1080p resolution in a 42 inch screen size--something only Panasonic offers (for now). Excellent motion performance helps maintain crisp detail even when displaying the most challenging action scenes and its cinema picture preset proved optimal for accurate critical viewing. The TH-42PZ700U is also equipped with a good video processor for artifact-free enjoyment of standard and high-definition video sources.

Sony KDS-55A2020Sony KDS-55A2020
One of the best rear-projection televisions I've seen, the 55 inch Sony KDS-55A2020 features a 3-chip SXRD-based light engine that delivers a detailed picture and good motion performance for improved clarity with imagery containing fast motion.

Mitsubishi WD-65833Mitsubishi WD-65833
One of the best looking DLP-based rear-projection televisions (RPTVs) available today, the Mitsubishi WD-65833 offers 1080p screen resolution and plenty of HDMI inputs that support advanced color technologies. For a big screen HDTV on a budget, RPTVs like the WD-65833 are tough to beat.

PRO-150FDPioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD (Editors' Choice)
If you want the best flat panel HDTV you can get today, look no further than the 60-inch Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD. This 1080p plasma TV delivered a near-reference quality viewing experience without a lot of hassle, and its amazingly dark black levels and anti-reflective screen helped insure a well-contrasted and well-saturated picture even in challenging room lighting situations. The KURO PRO-150FD isn't cheap, but there isn't another HDTV that can match its performance.,2704,2233919,00.asp

Vudu video company to offer HD movies online same day they're released in DVD

In a major shift in movie distribution, a high-definition version of the hit "The Bourne Ultimatum" will be released through Vudu Inc.'s online service Tuesday _ the same day the DVD comes out.

It is the first of many HD movies Vudu plans to deliver online at the same time DVDs become available.

Owners of Vudu's set-top box, which costs $399, use a high-speed Internet connection to watch the movies they rent and to download the ones they buy.

Movies usually are released in staggered windows in different formats _ DVD, online through Xbox Live and other companies, or on demand on cable.

But Hollywood studios are experimenting more with digital distribution, and a few have agreed to work with Vudu to sell HD movies, though the selection remains limited.

Some in the industry worry that competition between the two high-definition formats _ Samsung BD-P1000 High Definition Blu-Ray DVD Player

and Toshiba HD-A2 Single Disc High Definition DVD Player

_ is holding back production in high definition as consumers debate which format to use. For consumers who download movies with Vudu, that choice is not an issue, however.

Universal Pictures, the studio behind the "Bourne" movies, is the first to offer a downloadable HD version of a movie the same day as the DVD is released.

In addition to working with Universal, Vudu has signed deals to distribute HD content from Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. Universal is owned by NBC Universal, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Vivendi Universal, while Paramount is a division of Viacom Inc. Lionsgate is independent.

The Vudu box, which first went on sale in October, offers a catalog of about 5,000 standard-definition films, which can be rented for 99 cents to $4.99. Some films, including the HD editions of the "Bourne" films, can only be purchased, meaning they can be stored permanently on the set-top.

"The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy," and "The Bourne Ultimatum" will sell for $24.99 each, though Vudu customers can get the two older movies for free during the holiday season.

Copyright The Associated Press 2007. All Rights Reserved