Archives For Video

XM Portable Video Player?

Dave Zatz —  March 6, 2006 — 3 Comments

So is this a fanboy Photoshop job or a leaked prototype? I’m voting Photoshop, though XM has partnered with On2 for video distribution. At the moment it appears they don’t have the bandwidth or content partnerships to beam multiple feeds of video, but what’s to stop them from creating a bring your own video (BYOV) solution until those details are worked out.

(via Orbitcast)

Cisco’s IPTV Strategy

Dave Zatz —  March 1, 2006 — 1 Comment

Cisco, who recently announced the acquisition of cable set-top box maker Scientific Atlanta, lays out their IPTV strategy for eWeek. It’s not clear how or if their investment in MovieBeam plays into this. Five elements are nice, but will they leverage Scientific Atlanta’s assets into some sort of convergent Cisco-branded appliances — how about a IPTV DVR set-top box with built-in cable modem, wireless router, and VoIP functionality? I’m sure the cableco’s would love marketing that triple play device!

eWeek says: By leveraging the combined expertise of Cisco with IP, home networks with Cisco’s Linksys unit and now video, “we can deliver a better user experience with a platform to support many services to many screens,” said Paul Sanchirico, senior director of video and IP TV Network Systems Group at Cisco in San Jose, Calif.

In Cisco’s vision, there are five architectural elements required to deliver next-generation services that improve the user experience. Those include the connected home, where Cisco can now offer home gateways, routers and now set top boxes with Scientific Atlanta. The second element is the network; the third is the video head end, provided by Scientific Atlanta with satellite receivers, encoders and digital content managers. The fourth is a video control infrastructure and the fifth is Business Support Systems/Operational Support Systems. For BSS/OSS, Cisco intends to partner with systems integrators such IBM Global Services and Accenture.

Well folks, we have a date for both Blu-ray hardware and media. I can’t say I’m overly excited about the initial titles, though they’re an improvement over Charlie’s Angels. Lion’s Gate is listing newer titles at $39.99 a pop and classics (I use that term lightly) at $29.99. Let the format war begin!

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) is targeting May 23 to deliver the first wave of Blu-ray Disc (BD) titles at retail, it was announced today. Delivery will coincide with the launch that day of the first commercially available BD player from Samsung Electronics, which will be followed shortly by BD players from Pioneer and Sony along with a BD compatible VAIO PC from Sony.

SPHE and MGM Home Entertainment will first release eight BD titles, with another eight following shortly June 13. Benjamin S. Feingold, president, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, made the announcement.

The first Blu-ray Disc titles from SPHE and MGM Home Entertainment will include: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight’s Tale, The Last Waltz (MGM), Resident Evil Apocalypse and XXX.

BD titles streeting June 13 include: Kung Fu Hustle, Legends of the Fall, Robocop (MGM), Stealth, Species (MGM), SWAT and Terminator (MGM). Underworld Evolution will debut in early Summer day and date with the DVD.

“We are primed to ensure that a variety of Blu-ray Disc content is available at retail to support the introduction of the first BD players from Samsung Electronics and Pioneer, as well as the first BD player and compatible VAIO computer from Sony,” said Mr. Feingold. “Sony Pictures further intends to provide additional titles to coincide with the launch of BD products from other manufacturers. We’re thrilled that the Blu-ray Disc era is about to begin.”

Here we have yet another video distribution system that will fail (see MovieBeam ). MovieKlub will send you up to two DVDs a week for $24.99/month. So what’s the big deal? These movies can only be played 3 times… then you toss them out or return them for recycling. We’ve seen similar schemes in the past which expire discs by calling in or through degradation via exposure to air or laser… none have succeeded as business models. MovieKlub is scheduled to begin operations this summer.

No thank you — Netflix has got me covered until a better VOD/PPV experience arrives.

MovieKlub says: The Limited Play DVD disc has a coating composed of a dye capable of being irreversibly bleached by light absorption. In this DVD, the information encoding features are machine-readable prior to bleaching of the dye, which is activated by absorption of the laser light in the DVD player. The dye, once bleached, inhibits further reading of the information encoding features. Based on the application of the dye, the number of read/plays of the disc can be controlled and pre-determined. With the Limited Play DVD disc, however, upon sufficient exposure to the reading laser beam, the dye in the disc coating undergoes a change in the index of refraction, resulting in unrecoverable data.

(via Hacking Netflix)

Disney’s MovieBeam Goes HD

Dave Zatz —  February 14, 2006 — 3 Comments

MovieBeam, who just received a large cash infusion, is relaunching in 29 markets this year. In fact, my neighborhood already appears to be online. Basically you buy the Linksys MovieBeam set-top box, every week a few movies are downloaded via a digital over-the-air (OTA) signal, and then you choose which you want to rent. The movie rental includes a 24 hour viewing period and typical DVR controls. Initially, only Disney and Warner Brothers content will be offered.

If they weren’t upgrading the service to include HD movies, I’d say they’re doomed to fail with this pricing model. By offering HD, they may have a chance… though I wouldn’t bet on it. I believe most people will still prefer Netflix’s understandable low-tech methods and reasonable rates. Not to mention, anyone with a cable or satellite box has access to some sort of PPV or VOD without MovieBeam’s upfront hardware fee. Things could get interesting since Disney, the originator and a major investor, is leveraging their movie library by making flicks available to MovieBeam 30 days prior to when cable providers can offer them via VOD.

LA Times says: The service allows customers to rent movies from a library of 100 titles stored in a set-top box. As many as 10 new films, including some in high definition, are automatically delivered to the device each week via television airwaves. The MovieBeam box costs $199.99 after a $50 rebate and requires a one-time service activation fee of $30. Movie rental fees are $3.99 for new releases — $4.99 for films in high definition — and $1.99 for older titles.

Sony Preps Wireless AV System

Dave Zatz —  February 12, 2006 — 3 Comments

What’s a bored, snowed-in geek to do on a Sunday AM? Troll the FCC website for new products, of course!

Sony’s got a home wireless AV transmission system (HWS-AV10) in the works. It uses the 2.4 GHz frequency to relay audio, video, and IR remote signals from a component in one room to a TV in another… while likely interfering with your cordless phones and WiFi. The base station includes an IR blaster allowing you to change channels or choose TiVo recordings at a distance. The receiver smartly bundles an external antenna to fine-tune reception.

In the past, I’ve used a few variations of this device with mediocre results. I’ve had better luck using media extenders/servers over WiFi… though they require a larger investment of both time and money. If cash is no object, go whole-hog with Sony’s LocationFree TV and take your screen with you around the house. For basic video, I’d advise just fishing the coax.

Sorry, HD Beat… this puppy’s standard def only.

Continue Reading…

GM wants to build you a car-based multimedia infrastructure. They envision a system for moving content from various home and portable devices into your car for storage, organization, and presentation. Oh yeah, they want to enforce DRM by tying content to your vehicle identification number (VIN) — surely that’s a first!

GM’s Patent Application says: Apparatus are provided for navigation of multimedia content in a vehicle multimedia system having an embedded database of multimedia files. A navigation interface for controlling playback of the multimedia files and includes a processing unit, an input unit coupled to the processing unit, and a display coupled to the processing unit. The processing unit is configured to couple with the embedded database, determine a playback frequency for each of the multimedia files, and generate a playlist of multimedia files based on the playback frequency. The input unit is configured to initiate playback of the playlist. The display is configured to display the playlist.

[0030] The hard drive 32 has an embedded database containing a list of multimedia file content and stores multimedia files such as found on conventional CDs, DVDs, and other storage mediums. Multimedia files may be downloaded to the data storage device 36 from any number of devices. As best shown in FIG. 2, multimedia files may be downloaded to the data storage device 36 from a conventional CD 40, a compressed audio CD 38 that may be used to store compressed digital audio files such as MP3 files or the like, a portable storage/player device 42 such as a DVD player, a video content storage/player device 46 such as a digital video recorder (DVR), and a personal computer 44. In one exemplary embodiment, the multimedia files are stored as compressed files on the hard drive 32.

[0031] To preserve DRM protected multimedia files, a public key encoding system may be used to encrypt such multimedia files. For example, a vehicle identification number (VIN) may be used as the public key. In a wireless transfer configuration, the vehicle’s public key may be transmitted over the wireless network to the remotely connected personal computer 44, portable storage/player device 42, video content storage/player device 46, or remote data storage device 26 (FIG. 1) to be used for encrypting content. For an end-to-end DRM scheme, the originating vehicle, such as the vehicle 12 shown in FIG. 1, may authenticate using the VIN as the public key before transfer of content thereto while also preserving DRM protected content from subsequent transfer out of the vehicle 12.