Weekly News Roundup (16 December 2007)

Only three more weekly roundups for 2007, assuming I’m arsed to do them just before and after Christmas. This is the 13th roundup that I’ve done, setting a personal record for keeping up with anything for so long. I hope you’ve all done your holiday shopping, and that the shopped items include some of the very things covered by this blog (HD, gaming, movies). If so, then I think the people that will be receiving your gift will get a very nice surprise indeed.

The big news in the last couple of weeks, in regards to copyright/DRM, has been the Western Digital portable hard-drive scandal. WD apparently added certain DRM provisions in the bundled software that prevented sharing of popular media files due to “unverifiable media license authentication”, in other words, they couldn’t tell if your files are pirated or not so they basically assumed so. Now, the actual issue has been exaggerated a bit, some going as far as suggesting that WD drives have hardware control built in to prevent media sharing, but this is not the case. The software that comes with the drive is optional, and the drive supports other methods of file sharing that is not restricted. The software itself isn’t even very good. But what is clear is that DRM has gotten so out of control that even large companies such as Western Digital are too afraid to include software that do basic things such as media sharing on your own home network. And while the first step is a simple software control that can be easily bypassed, if the trend continues, then who knows where we will end up. The public outrage is a welcomed sight though, because as long as we’re angry enough to demand a DRM-free world, then we will get a DRM-free world (just look at online music buying and how public pressure, along with companies that aren’t afraid to listen to consumer demands, have basically killed off DRM in that arena). But if we don’t get angry, then the media owners are going to get more and more greedy and demand more and more control over “their” content (or rather, content they’ve gotten comparatively cheaply from artists forced into the studio system) – perhaps something like not being able to rip your CDs to MP3 because the RIAA thinks that’s copyright infringement (even though CDs are not protected, and even if you don’t share the MP3s with anyone other than yourself).

But I did find this news story about porn companies suing a certain YouTube-style adult video site quite funny for some reason. The Internet has probably been the worst thing that could have happened to the porn industry – who needs mail order videos when you could just log online and get unlimited porn. But it appears the increased competition has meant every increasing production values of pornos, umm … or so I’ve been told.

Moving on quickly, in HD news, Blu-ray player prices have dropped, for the first time, below the $300 mark. Samsung’s BD-P1400 can be had for less than $280 now on Amazon (I just checked), and at that price and with HD DVD‘s already low price, as well as PS3s being discounted all over the place, there’s very little reason not to get into HD now (especially if you already have a HD screen), and even more reason to project yourself from the format war and become HD neutral. Be warned though that the BD-P1400 is only profile 1.0 compatible, so I would save up and buy the PS3 instead for about a hundred dollar more (and for the extra price, you get a pretty decent media hub, Internet browser and of course, games console). I’ve decided to set up a page where I will list and update all the HD deals on Amazon (including both hardware and software deals) – there are some good savings to be had. The war of stats between the two camps have intensified, with both sides claiming some sort of victory in the Black Friday sales. The HD DVD people say that they captured 62% of the market during the sales, most likely not including the PS3. There is also research from them showing that the next wave of buyers might favor HD DVD over Blu-ray. I’m sure the Blu-ray people have similar stats showing the exact opposite. Or if not stats, than just more rumors about Warner Bros. going Blu-ray exclusive will do (despite Warner having already denied the rumors twice – and again, the HD DVD people will find some “clues” that suggests Warner are going HD DVD exclusive too). But even when you add both HD DVD and Blu-ray sales, they only amount to 10% of combined high def and standard def DVD players sales in the same period – there’s still a long way to go before people stop buying DVD players and start buying high def ones, if we ever get there. I don’t like the notion that somehow high def is fighting a war against SD (in this case, HD will eventually win, just like HDTVs won over SDTVs). I think the war is against user confusion and apathy towards HD – the confusion comes from the format war, and the apathy comes from the high prices of HD movies. But hopefully, the confusion will slowly go away we more dual format players, like the LG BH200, are released. Right now, it’s the real dedicated, early adopters that are getting into HD and confusion and apathy are not issues, and even life and death is a trivial matter when it comes to your home theater equipment.

And finally in HD, last week I mentioned something about Michael Bay saying Blu-ray is superior. Michael Bay seems to like posting on his forum, and this should be applauded, but there’s probably a reason why famous people like Mr. Bay need to be more careful when it comes to public speech. His statement about Blu-ray suiting the look of his movies better, apparently irregardless of trivial things like the video codec, bitrate, transfer process, is funny to the extreme. By his reasoning, CDs sound better than MP3s because MP3s don’t even have a physical medium. It’s like a ghost format, and how can a ghost defeat something that is real? Unless of course the ghost uses it’s ghostly powers to scare away physical beings – perhaps this the reason the RIAA is so against MP3s is because THEY ARE AFRAID OF GHOSTS!!! Well, it makes a little bit more sense than Mr. Bay’s statements anyway. As as for his conspiracy theory about Microsoft, of course Microsoft has come out to deny all of his claims (but their response was expected, just like how government deny the existence of UFOs and yet already have spacecrafts that can travel thousands of light years to make deals with alien races in regards to the enslavement of mankind). And to show that Microsoft cares about HD DVD, they’ve released an emulator for testing HD DVD/HDi compatibility, quite ingeniously I might add – it works simply through the Xbox 360 and an Xbox Live account (and $2,999 to buy the emulator, of course), no need to purchase dedicated hardware at all.

In gaming, the November NPD figures were just released and you can read my full analysis here. But to sum up, sales of everything was up for the holiday shopping season, with the Nintendo DS leading the way and the Wii following only because of stock problems. Xbox 360 was next, followed by the PSP and PS2. And propping up the whole group is the PS3 once again, even though sales quadrupled, it was not enough to even get past the PS2 sales. The Xbox 360 “only” doubled (or nearly) it’s sales numbers from last month, but because the 360 sells more games per console (6.9 per console), they are the most profitable when it comes to third-party revenue in the US – more than both the PS3 and Wii combined. Which means they can cut prices even further without feeling it, unlike Sony.

Ok, that’s all for this week. I’ll be back the same time next week, just two days before Christmas, to bring you more news updates. Until then …


Comments are closed.

About Digital Digest | Help | Privacy | Submissions | Sitemap

© Copyright 1999-2012 Digital Digest. Duplication of links or content is strictly prohibited.