Weekly News Roundup (13 April 2008)

Hello everybody on this beautiful Sunday. Actually it’s cloudy and cold here, but hopefully it will be nice wherever you are reading this from. Quite a bit of news to go through this week, so let’s not waste any time.

In Copyright news, apparently DVD piracy is so common amongst the South Australian Police force that it makes it impossible to prosecute. So basically if everybody does it then they can’t do anything about it? Or does having guns help? Or perhaps it’s more of a “one rule for them, and another for the rest of us”? It’s certainly seems that way since the President of the United States has now been caught with pirated music on his iPod. Only last week did the US Attorney General say that piracy leads to terrorism … so where does this act of piracy lead to then? New Zealand meanwhile has passed their new digital copyright laws. While new laws will always mean more, not less, restrictions – at least the New Zealand laws seem to have taken a more sensible approach in terms of fair use. The Europeans are taking a more sensible approach as well, rejecting the latest attempt by the RIAA/MPAA to have provisions to chuck users off the Net who are suspected of piracy. And if chucking you off the Net isn’t enough, you chucking a CD out might be construed as ‘unauthorised distribution’, and hence, piracy. And in a “well it was bound to happen eventually” type of story, hackers have broken the encryption on PlayStation Network games for the PSP, which will now allow piracy of these games to go ahead.

UK subscription television network Sky is phasing out component output on their HD set top boxes in an ‘anti-piracy’ drive. HDMI will be the sole video output supported since it includes HDCP copy protection. Speaking of copy protection, expect to see DisplayPort becoming the next big thing in PC-monitor connection. DisplayPort (DP) is not compatible directly with DVI or HDMI, although it can be made interchangeable through adapters – and yes, it includes HDCP. So that’s VGA/DVI/HDMI/DP – does the PC really need this many connection types? But to be fair, HDMI is not suited for PC connections, and DVI is starting to get a bit old.

Onto HD news. In a surprising turn of events, Microsoft released an update for the HD DVD add-on drive this week. The update is only needed for those that connect their add-on drive to the Xbox 360 for HD DVD playback. And for those that did purchase HD DVD players, including the add-on drive, from Amazon before Toshiba’s decision to pull out, Amazon will be giving them $50 credit that can be used on anything. A very nice move by Amazon, although how many HD DVD users will end up using the $50 credit on more HD DVD movies is hard to say (I know I will if I was eligible – with HD DVD movies so cheap, that’s maybe 3 to 6 movies that you can buy, compared to just two for Blu-ray, so why not?)

I’ve always been facinated with 3D movies, and Disney is about to release a 3D movie on Blu-ray. It’s only a Hanna Montana movie, but I wonder perhaps proper 3D support through electronic glasses could help Blu-ray achieve better sales through the “gimmick factor”? Meanwhile, those with iPhones might be able to interact it with their PS3 – I wonder if the iPod Touch might have been a better choice for the integration. The flurry of news in regards to Blu-ray price rises hasn’t dampened enthusiasm, with statistics (yeah, those damned things) showing people are actually willing to pay for higher prices. Not me though, even though I consider myself an early adopter and us early adopters are well known for wasting money on stuff that we know will be much cheaper in a few months time. The question remains about the general public, who are used to low low DVD prices, and whether they are willing to pay 10 times more for a Blu-ray player and twice as much for the Blu-ray movie? Sony seems to think so, and they are predicting that Blu-ray will hold 50% of the movie market compared to DVDs by the year’s end. Blu-ray actually only holds about 8% of the market at the moment, and there’s no sign that it will surge to much higher than that in the short term, so I don’t know what Sony are talking about. 50% of the movie market will need 50% of the hardware market as well, and I just don’t think Sony and co. can get a few hundred million machines into people’s home by the end of the year when they’ve barely sold over 1 million machines so far. But PR won them the war against HD DVD, so perhaps they’re hoping to do the same against DVDs. But you can’t really fight against low low prices (ie. “reality”) unless you fight fire with fire (or fire sales).

Before we move onto gaming proper, half-way in between is news that Sony will release the 2.30 firmware update for the PS3 that will finally include DTS-HD MA decoding (to LPCM). It is the one last major feature that the PS3 lacks in terms of Blu-ray playback, and I’m glad it has finally arrived since I’ve been telling people it will be here for ages now and have recommended the PS3 based on this assumption.

Onto gaming now. The Wii has scored a coup by signing up a deal with the BBC to add a iPlayer channel. Of course, it’s only for UK users only, but I’m sure Microsoft and Sony would have liked to have been part of the deal. Microsoft are rumoured to be developing a Wii like controller codenamed “Newton”. Not sure if trying to be more Wii-like than the Wii will help Microsoft’s cause, since I think they should concentrate on making a new version of the console that’s a bit more sexier and quieter to compete with the PS3.

And following last week’s news story about the censored Australian version of the GTA IV, the confirmation has come from Rockstar that the game is censored, although no details has been given as to what has been removed/changed. Well that’s it then, I will have to source the game from elsewhere. Expect Australian versions of GTA IV to sell extremely poorly then, which is a shame for Australian retailers.

Ok, that’s it for this week. Can’t believe this is the 29th issue of the Weekly News Roundup already. Will I do something special for the 30th issue? Wait and see (and don’t be too surprised if nothing happens …)


One Response to “Weekly News Roundup (13 April 2008)”

  1. Why HDMI is unsuitable for PCs « Blog Archive « DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Says:

    […] DVDGuy’s Blog @ Digital Digest Just what the world needs, another blog « Weekly News Roundup (13 April 2008) […]

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