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Digital DIGEST - LIVE UPDATE Issue 38

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8 November, 2003

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1. Introduction

1. DVD Recordable News

2. Digital TV on your PC

3. What's happened on DVD±R Digest since the last newsletter?

4. How to cancel/change your subscription email address/settings
- how to maintain the subscription to this newsletter even if
your email address has changed

5. A simple thank-you and some concluding words

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1. Introduction

First of all, let me apologize for the delay in getting this issue of
the newsletter out. I've been busy involved with a software project
(not related to digital video, unfortunately) and it's the first time
in 2 months that I've had time to think about writing a newsletter
(and also the first time in 2 months that I've had more than 5 hours
of sleep in a day).

Anyway, that software project has finished (or should it be "ended"
instead, since software projects are rarely "finished" ) and here
I am, writing another newsletter. Since so long has passed since the
last issue (not including the supplement issues), the format of this
issue is slightly different. It will focus more on general digital
video news and issues (much like the old format of the newsletter),
rather than specific updates related to the Digital Digest sites. The
next issue should see the format back to normal, whatever that is,
although I might have one of these "news/issues" newsletter once in a
while if there's something interesting to discuss.

Enjoy ...

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2. DVD Recordable News

At the start of the year, I predicted that 2003 will be the year that
DVD recordable technology reaches the mainstream (see issue 31, if
you don't believe me). DVD recordable technology seems to have
finally reached the mainstream. As I type, the latest DVD recordable
drives are going for about $USD 130, which is the price that I paid
for a DVD-ROM drive not long ago, and still thought it was a good
deal. And the reason for the sudden price drops and public
acceptance? I'm not sure (here in Australia, the Pioneer A06 drive
dropped from $AUD 400 to $AUD 250 over a week, it seems, so it's hard
to explain what was going on), but it probably has something to do
with multi format drives.

As you know, there are two (or three) main DVD recordable formats :
DVD-Plus (DVD+) and DVD-Minus (DVD-). Different manufacturers and
industry lobby groups are pushing for different formats, and the
consumers have been the one that's been left confused and frustrated.
That all changed when Sony, backers of DVD+, released a drive that
supported both DVD- and DVD+ (or DVD±R/RW, as I like to write, if you
refer to the "mini tutorial" I wrote in issue 32 on how to type
the "±" character), or a multi-format drive as it is known now. Now
every horse and it's monkey (??) has got their own multi-format
drives out, and even hardliners such as Pioneer have dived into the
market. So what does this mean to the consumer? It means an end to
the whole DVD+/DVD- issue, as consumers can go out and buy a drive
knowing that it won't be obsolete in a few months time. But then
again, the whole issue of having different formats in the first place
seems kind of silly now doesn't it, now that every drive now supports
every format anyway?

So is it really the end of the dual format debate? Probably yes, at
least until you decide to purchase some blank media. While recordable
drives now support both formats, the actual formats are still quite
different, and offers different degrees of compatibility with
standalones. And it appears that both formats may, in the near
future, go in different directions in terms of technological
advancement as well. In this area, DVD+ seems to be working "twice"
as hard as DVD-, 8x for DVD+R and 4x for DVD-R, in coming out with
new technology. Dual layered DVD+R with a capacity of 8.5 GB will be
out next April as well, something I thought the powers that be always
wanted to avoid since it now makes DVD back so much easier (no more
splitting, shrinking) - perhaps the reason why the DVD- camp have not
come out with a similar announcement.

2004 for the year of Blue Laser technology? Hmm ....

Related Links :
* April Launch for 8.5GB DVD+R Discs and Drives : http://www.dvd- id=’9&mode
* Sony Announces 8X Burners; Blue Laser Up Next? -,00.asp
* Issue 31 :
* Issue 32 :

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3. Digital TV on your PC

DTV is coming to a PC screen near you ... erm, right now actually.
Digital TV has been around for a few years now, and it's been a total
mystery why it hasn't converged with the PC so much sooner. If you
look at the specs : MPEG-2 compression, digital sound, interactivity -
it all sounds like something that should have come out on a PC
first, but it's only now that DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) cards are
being made available. So what are the advantages of watching DTV on
your PC? First of all, your typical computer monitor is an advanced
piece of equipment that supports the high resolution that high-def
digital TV needs. HDTV may need a resolution of 1920x1080 - most TVs
(discounting plasmas and other high end equipment) cannot handle this
high of a resolution, whereas most computer monitors (even two year
old ones) can (with a little bit of tweaking here and there).

Another advantage is the ability to capture HDTV clips directly to
your PC. Large hard drives are cheaper than chips at the moment, and
since the HDTV stream is already compressed, capturing is not CPU
intensive and comparatively not space intensive either (compared to
capturing raw AVI, at least).

Think of this scenario : you have a mid to high spec PC with a DVB
card and a huge hard drive. It's all connected to a top of the range
50" plasma screen or front/rear projection unit via the DVI-D output
of your PC. When watching digital TV, it's a pure digital pathway
from broadcaster right to your display screen, with real-time
filtering applied by your PC to improve the picture quality. All this
is done while you are capturing your favorite movie in HD format to
your hard-drive. You press a button, and the PC's DVD player is
activated, playing back a standard DVD movie with picture quality
that $2000 DVD players can't compete with - looks almost HD in
quality, in fact. Another button activates the DVD-Audio player, and
you surround yourself with glorious high definition surround audio.
Am I dreaming? Perhaps a little, but all of the above is actually
happening right now in people's homes. Apart from the plasma screen
(or front/rear projection unit) and associated home theatre
equipment, the only other piece of equipment that you'll actually
need is a mid to high spec PC (a cost of $1500, $2000 if you want to
play the latest games on a 50" screen, and a Creative Audigy 2 card
with WinDVD 5.0's DVD-Audio pack for DVD-Audio playback). The PC is
so versatile, that is can be made to do almost anything - from a
digital TV recorder, to a DVD player to a gaming machine or a top of
the range audio player. And it's all networked, of course. This is
what the industry means by convergence, and it's happening right now.

And it's not just some techno-home-theatre nerd's wet dream either.
The men in suits are getting into the act as well, with Microsoft
Windows XP Media Center edition and the associated Media Center PCs
that are available all the big companies, Dell, HP. In a years time
(or sooner), I can't see any serious home theatre setup without
having a PC at the center of it all.

Related Links :
* Windows XP Media Center :
* Media Center PC Showcase :
* myHTPC :
* TheatreTek :

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4. How to cancel/change settings/email address for your subscription
to this newsletter

Changing subscription status for this newsletter is pretty easy.

To un-subscribe :
- Send an email to liveupdate-unsubscribe at using the email
account that receives this newsletter.

To change the email address that receives this newsletter :
- Un-subscribe using your current one, and sign up using a new email

************************************************** *****

5. A simple thank-you and some concluding words

Just a note to thank all the thousands of people, including you, who
joined the Digital Digest LiveUpdate list. I've spent quite a bit of
time developing this site, and making it what it is today, and really
do appreciate your continued support.

I hoped you enjoyed another issue of the LiveUpdate newsletter. You
won't have to wait seven more months for the next issue, I promise


============END OF LIVEUPDATE NEWSLETTER===========

Hilary Duff is America's Sweetheart.

"FAILING = Finding An Important Lesson, Inviting Needed Growth" -- Gary
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