Thursday, January 3, 2008

Studios Preview CES Blu-ray, HD DVD Title Announcements

CES is still a few days away, but several studios are providing a sneak peek at some major 2008 Blu-ray and HD DVD titles expected to be officially unveiled at the annual confab.

Among the studios previewing their 2008 plans for Home Media Magazine this week in a special pre-CES high-def studio roundtable were Warner, Fox, Sony and Paramount/DreamWorks.

On the Blu-ray front, Fox's Mike Dunn indicated that the studio is eyeing extensive day-and-date support of its top titles this year, with such current and future theatrical releases as 'Alien vs. Predator: Requiem,' 'Horton Hears a Who,' '27 Dresses,' 'The List,' 'Babylon A.D.' and M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Happening' all expected to debut simultaneously with the DVD versions.

Sony prez David Bishop similarly pledged continued day-and-date support throughout 2008, naming 'Hancock' and 'The DaVinci Code' sequel 'Angels & Demons' as two of its top titles earmarked for Blu-ray.

For HD DVD fans, Paramount/DreamWorks' Kelly Avery said the two studios will issue an extensive slate of both new releases and catalog titles, including the blockbusters 'Bee Movie' and 'Beowulf' (which have both already been announced to retailers).

Finally, format-agnostic Warner said that their high-def releases this year would include 'The Dark Knight,' 'Speed Racer,' 'Get Smart,' 'The Bucket List' and the current Will Smith smash 'I Am Legend.'

Though the titles revealed so far are likely only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can expect to see from all next-gen supporting studios next week, all indications are that 2008 will be the biggest year yet for both high-def formats.

The 2008 Consumer Electronics Show kicks off Monday January 7th in Las Vegas. We'll be here all next week with complete coverage, so be sure to watch this space.,_HD_DVD_Title_Announcements/1319

Dell Announces Stylish New LCD Monitors Ahead of CES

Slickly designed 22-inch Crystal display confirmed along with the new UltraSharp 3008WFP, a 30-inch model featuring DisplayPort connectivity.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show may not kick off until January 7, but Dell today officially announced two new (and long rumored) wide-screen computer monitors that it plans to showcase at the event. Most eye-catching is the stylish 22-inch Crystal display: It boasts an innovative design and gained favorable attention when first unveiled as a concept product at last year's CES.

Dell Crystal

Like other models on PC World's Top 5 22-inch wide-screen monitors chart, the pricey but-ever-so sleek $1199 Dell Crystal (pictured at left) has a native resolution of 1680 by 1050. More uniquely, it features capacitive touch controls, and a panel encased in 4mm ultraclear tempered glass (with integrated speakers) that sits on a chrome-plated zinc alloy stand for a floating screen effect. The Crystal lacks height or swivel maneuverability, but tilt adjustments can be made.

Further specifications include a 2 millisecond response time (grey to grey), 2000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, and--through Dell's TrueColor technology--the stated ability to provide 98 percent color gamut of the NTSC color space.

The monitor also has an integrated 2-megapixel Web cam that's capable of capturing video at 30 frames per second (fps) in 640-by-480 resolution, but just 10fps at 1600 by 1200 resolution. The Web cam also has a microphone.

Connection options include DVI, HDMI, subwoofer out, and USB. More details are available at Dell's Web site.

First Monitor With DisplayPort

Meanwhile, Dell's new 30-inch UltraSharp 3008WFP is the first monitor we've seen to include DisplayPort connectivity. (Read PC World's full review of the UltraSharp 3008WFP.) In size and shape, the digital DisplayPort connector looks similar to an HDMI port (which the 3008WFP also has), but Dell touts DisplayPort as a future-proof digital connection, one approved by the video standards body VESA.

Like HDMI, DisplayPort can handle high data rates (up to 10.8 gigabits per second versus HDMI's 10.2 gbps) of video and audio with the same cable, potentially positioning the new technology as a multimedia or home theater connector.

The 3008WFP comes with a bounty of other analog and digital connections too: DVI, HDMI, VGA, S-Video, Composite, Component and USB. The monitor has a native resolution of 2560 by 1600, an 8ms response time (grey to grey) and a 3000:1 contrast ratio.

The 3008WFP's design is attractive and subtly understated thanks to its brushed gray aluminum bezel. It features a forward-looking industrial design: a glass and metal base, double-hinged height adjustment, and high-quality materials. The 3008WFP also swivels and tilts, but the height adjustment is particularly impressive for its smooth mechanism.,140934-c,lcd/article.html

LG.Philips LCD Unrolls 14-Inch Color E-Paper Display

South Korea's LG.Philips LCD will show a high-resolution 14.3-inch color electronic paper display at CES.

South Korea's LG.Philips LCD is out to impress at next week's Consumer Electronics Show and will unveil a 14.3-inch color electronic paper display.

The display, which is about the same size as an A4-sheet of paper, has a resolution of 1,280 pixels by 800 pixels and can display 16.7-million colors, LG.Philips LCD said Thursday. That makes it the highest resolution screen of its type yet developed, the company said, and is an advance on a display unveiled in May last year that offered just 4,096 colors.

Electronic paper is being pursued by many companies as a future replacement for paper. The screens are often produced on a flexible substrate so they can bend, unlike conventional LCD (liquid crystal display) panels that are made on glass. But the amount by which they can be bent without causing damage to the screen widely varies between prototypes, and there are still no displays that can be folded like a sheet of paper.

The new LG.Philips LCD panel borrows some of the TFT (thin-film transistor) technology used by the company to make LCD panels and marries it with metal foil and a plastic substrate. The result is a flexible screen that is less than 300 micrometers thick, which is a few times thicker than standard copier paper. In addition to being flexible the screen can be viewed through 180 degrees even when bent, the company said.

At CES the company also plans to show a mono e-paper screen equivalent in size to a B5 sheet of paper (176 mm by 250 mm). While not as impressive as the larger, color display, it is easier to manufacture and LG.Philips LCD said it plans to launch this latter display later in the year.

In addition to the physical specifications of the displays one of the keys to success will be how fast the image can be refreshed on the screen. A conventional LCD is capable of redrawing the image many times per second but e-paper prototypes shown until now typically take a few seconds for the on-screen image to completely change. For example, a Fujitsu prototype unveiled in May last year took 2 seconds to refresh an 8-color image and 10 seconds to refresh a 4,096-color image.,140959-c,monitors/article.html

Sharp BD-HP20 Blu-ray Review

Being 24fps (frames per second) compatible, the BD-HP20 has the ability to play movies (typically shot at 24 frames per second) at their correct speed. Without 24p support they are played on your TV at 25 fps (PAL TV standard).

The Sharp BD-HP20 can decode Dolby TrueHD (one of the latest High Definition sound formats) which enables your 5.1 input multi-channel receiver to deliver stunning cinema-like sound.

Despite its budget price tag, by the performance of the Sharp BD-HP20 you could place it alongside some of the more expensive Blu-ray players out there.

SED TV technology down but not out

Having heard similar claims from various manufacturers before, the skeptics among us will take with a pinch of salt Canon's announcement that it is to once again promote a new form of flat screen display technology.

In fact, Canon had planned to launch their SED (surface conduction electron-emitter display) screens with manufacturing partner Toshiba in 2007.

However, these plans were shelved when Canon failed to reach an agreement with a third party company, 'Nano-Proprietry' who hold patents related to the new technology.

SED technology works along the same lines as CRT except instead of one large electron gun firing at all the screen phosphors that light up to create the on screen image, SED has thousands of tiny electron guns known as "emitters" for each phosphor sub-pixel which enable a vastly superior picture.

Cannon plans to introduce their own take on SED technology and bypass the problems with Nano-Proprietry. No time scales have been released by Canon to give any indication as to when their new SED screens will become available commercially. The skeptics among us will pause for a wry smile, while we are all hoping that Canon may actually surprise us all and be the first manufacturer to release a revolutionary flat screen technology some time soon.