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Streaming Media
November 25, 2003

Table of Contents

Philips Demonstrates 16X DVD+R Recording
Sonic Bundles Matrox Parhelia With DVD Producer 4
Discreet Offers mental ray 3.2 as Standalone Product
PLUS Vision Introduces V3 Projector Line
NewSoft Launches Presto! DVD PowerSuite
BiTMICRO Offers Secure Digital Card
ArcSoft Offers Audio and Video Codec SDKs
POPIO Unveils New CD Storage Device
Comdex 2003: Maybe Less is More

Philips Demonstrates 16X DVD+R Recording

Philips has demonstrated the world's highest ever recording speed of recordable DVD (DVD+R)—16X—in an experimental set-up built at Philips Research, burning a DVD+R with video or data up to the maximum capacity in less than 6 minutes. This recording speed is close to the highest possible speed, which means that this represents the ultimate performance of any DVD recording system.

The Philips technology will form the basis for the 16X DVD+R recording standard to be defined by the DVD+RW Alliance in the course of 2004. A key aspect in realizing higher recording speeds is the development of a suitable "writing strategy"—the timing and power of the laser pulses in such a way that marks (representing digital zeros and ones) of the correct length are created in the organic dye that forms the active layer of recordable DVDs. Doing this well becomes increasingly difficult at higher recording speeds, because the available time to heat up and cool down the dye at the position of a mark becomes ever shorter. Philips has developed an efficient write strategy that not only results in accurate recording results, but in addition needs only a limited number of parameters to realize it, allowing disc-drive manufacturers to implement the algorithm in a straightforward manner.

Besides the write strategy, improvements on the recorder set-up were needed to realize recording at 16X speed. The design of an accurate and stable system for tracking and focusing the laser beam to the right position on the disc was especially challenging. Another demanding task was the development of fast laser driving electronics, which runs at a 420 mHz clock at 16X DVD speed. Furthermore, a prototype high-power laser was utilized to achieve the recording power needed. Finally, Ricoh provided the DVD dye discs for the recording experiments The results mark a next step in the speed race for recordable DVD. It is generally agreed that the now achieved recording speed is close to the ultimate limit, which is set by the highest safe rotational velocity of the polycarbonate discs. At the currently reached 16X recording speed, a disc makes 180 rotations per second, corresponding to a linear velocity of 56 meters per second (over 200 km/h), while marks are burned with a precision of less than 0.05 micrometer.

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Sonic Bundles Matrox Parhelia With DVD Producer 4

Matrox Graphics Inc., a leading manufacturer of professional graphics solutions, is pleased to announce that the Parhelia 128 MB AGP graphics card has been chosen by Sonic, a leading supplier of DVD creation solutions, to be bundled with Sonic DVD Producer 4. By integrating support for Parhelia's PureVideo Preview technology with DVD Producer 4, Sonic users are able to output their projects full-screen to a dedicated video monitor for real-time What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) proofing.

Furthermore, Parhelia's unique Dual-display plus TV output support allows users to simultaneously employ up to two RGB displays with DVD Producer 4 to extend the authoring interface and conveniently place toolbars, menu compositing and control windows for optimal visualization and efficiency. The Sonic DVD Producer 4 and Matrox Parhelia 128 MB AGP bundle will be offered through authorized Sonic resellers in December 2003.

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Discreet Offers mental ray 3.2 as Standalone Product

Discreet, a division of Autodesk, Inc. announced new configuration and pricing options for the mental images mental ray 3.2 rendering solution-now an integrated part of Discreet's 3D modeling, animation, and rendering solution in 3ds max 6. In addition to selling mental ray 3.2 integrated in 3ds max 6, Discreet will now offer a standalone version of the high-quality rendering solution. mental ray 3.2 can be deployed in multi-workstation and render farm configurations.

The current 3ds max 6 software release, shipping since October 2003, includes an integrated license of mental ray-enabling artists to render on a two-processor workstation. Today's announcement offers design and animation studios additional mental ray rendering licenses for 3ds max for use in render farm configurations with pricing of up to 25% less than comparable 3D software solutions that offer the mental ray option.

Available through the Discreet sales and reseller channel, the new mental ray pricing is$1,500 (single license); $10,000 (10-license pack); and $1,000 for each license above the mental ray 10-license pack.

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PLUS Vision Introduces V3 Projector Line

PLUS Vision Corporation of America, a leader in projector miniaturization technology, has introduced the V3 series. At 1.38 inches high the projectors are as thin as a laptop computer, yet includes the features found in larger projectors. The new projector line includes the V3-111, an 800 lumen SVGA (800x600) projector and the V3-131 a 1000 lumen XGA (1024 x 768) projector. Both feature quiet performance, a 2000:1 contrast ratio, and employ Digital Light Processing(TM) by Texas Instruments. PLUS Vision designed the V3 specifically for mobile professionals who want to carry a laptop and a projector in a single bag.

To further assist with portability, the V3 comes standard with protective sleeves for both the projector and its accessories, making packing for trips a snap. The new PLUS Vision V3 projectors include features and functions designed for quick and easy set-up. Full automatic sensing and projector adjustment enables users to instantly achieve an optimized projected image by input source. With Digital keystone correction the V3 provides distortion-free, square images. Additionally, all V3 models offer a money-saving "Eco-Mode" option to extend lamp life by more than 30 percent. The V3 series comes standard with password security protection as an anti-theft deterrent. When the security feature is enabled, the projector will work only with the user's secret password.

The V3-111 will be introduced with a street price of $1,595 and the V3-131 at $2,295. Both projectors come with PLUS Vision's comprehensive three-year warranty. First production shipments of the V3 are scheduled for mid-December 2003.

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NewSoft Launches Presto! DVD PowerSuite

NewSoft, a leading provider of innovative business and consumer software, announced the immediate availability of Presto! DVD PowerSuite, designed to provide consumers of all experience levels with a fast and easy solution for capturing, editing, authoring, and burning DVDs. PowerSuite's MPEG-2 codec provides full video capture capabilities with real-time MPEG-2 encoding to all leading video file formats. Users can also connect their camcorder or VCR direct to the notebook or PC's IEEE 1394 port or USB 2.0 port to capture raw video footage direct to DVD±RW or DVD-RAM for immediate direct-to-disc editing.

Using Presto! DVD PowerSuite, users can cut and remove unwanted scenes as well as add still or motion menu templates, titles, transitions, effects, background music, and DVD menus. For added convenience, the PowerSuite offers real-time preview enabling users to preview edits and revisions without waiting for the video to be rendered. Compatible with Windows 98SE/Me/2000 and XP operating systems, boxed copies of NewSoft's Presto! DVD PowerSuite are now available through for $69.95.

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BiTMICRO Offers Secure Digital Card

The ultra-slim, postage-stamp size Secure Digital Cards (SDC) are offered with up to 1GB capacity. BiTMICRO Networks has introduced its latest addition to its product line--the Secure Digital Card. BiTMICRO's SD Card can be used in a wide range of digital products such as handheld PCs, cellular phones, digital music players, digital cameras, digital video camcorders, smart phones, electronic books and car navigation systems.

BiTMICRO's SD Card is robust, non-volatile, secure, removable stamp-size solid state flash memory storage with high transfer rates for fast copy or download. The BiTMICRO SD card has a high storage capacity ranging from 16 MB to 1GB and has very low battery consumption.

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ArcSoft Offers Audio and Video Codec SDKs

ArcSoft, Inc., a leading provider of digital imaging software for consumer devices, has announced the availability of powerful and flexible MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 codecs. Accompanying the codecs are comprehensively documented SDKs and sample applications that demonstrate the usage of the codec APIs. Additionally, ArcSoft offers performance optimization professional services for a wide range of platforms. While powerful enough for use on the desktop with video-centric software applications, the codecs are optimized for use on low profile devices such as camera phones, PDAs, camcorders, set-top boxes, and other video-centric hardware with minimal processing power and memory to spare.

ArcSoft's Video Codec Benefits:
• Real-time MPEG-1 (ISO/IEC-11172) and MPEG-2 (ISO/IEC-13818) encoding and transcoding
• High perceptual quality and optimization
• Scalable implementation complexity -- balance between cost and quality
• Flexible and application-friendly API
• High compatibility -- handles industry standard multimedia file formats
• Rich audio and video functionality

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POPIO Unveils New CD Storage Device

The POPIO CD Tray was created in 2003 by San Diego-based multimedia accessories company, POPIO. The clever storage device provides consumers and businesses with a convenient solution for organizing and managing digital content from software to music to photos.

Key features include:
• A numbering system for each CD slot helping consumers to find CDs easily
• A push release function that effortlessly pops CDs in and out of each slot
• A sleek and lightweight design that slips vertically and discretely into most shelving units or hangs horizontally and securely in file cabinets and drawers.
• Capacity to hold up to 24 standard or 48 slim-size CD jewel cases
• Availability in four colors—soft beige, burgundy, dark gray and pastelblue
• The ability to retrofit home and office furniture that has not yet caught up to today's digital media needs

The device is available at Tower Records, Fry's Electronics and other online and retail stores across the country. Its suggested retail price is $19.95.

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Comdex 2003: Maybe Less is More

Once more we enter trade show season with a sojourn to sunny Las Vegas for COMDEX 2003. This was another "rebuilding year" for the show, now under new management after Key3Media emerged from a mid-year bankruptcy as MediaLive International. Show organizers emphasized that Comdex is now all about the information technology industry only; gadgets and consumer products can wait for the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Of course, this meant another Incredible Shrinking Comdex at the Las Vegas Convention Center, with the number of companies exhibiting dropping to 550 from last year's already anemic 900 or so. Where once the show covered almost two million square feet, this year it barely covered 150,000. Attendance might have hit 50,000, about 1/5th of the numbers the show brought in during its heyday.

Things were far worse, though, on the other side of town where a new show, CDXpo, tried to take the crown from COMDEX. Maybe the organizers hoped COMDEX wouldn't happen. Unfortunately for them, COMDEX did show up, and almost no one opted for the alternative show. The scant 30 or so exhibitors there mingled with 3000 or so attendees amongst the almost one million square feet of the Mandalay Bay halls. The highlight, if you can call it that, was CDXpo's keynote from the most hated man in the IT industry—Darl McBride of SCO—who continued his crusade against the villains of Open Source and Free Linux.

As happened last year, almost all the exciting things at COMDEX were on display in various hotel suites and not on the show floor. At one, Iomega brought out their new Rigid Disk Drive (RDD) technology, now with the more consumer-friendly moniker of REV. The REV unit is essentially a small, removable 35GB, 2.5-inch hard drive about the size of a pack of playing cards. What sets apart REV is that only part of the drive comes with you. The part that reads the disk stays with your PC, while the motor and platter is in a portable sealed box. Think of it as a kind of Zip disk on steroids.

Right now, Iomega is aiming the REV as a backup tape replacement and not as a portable storage device like the Zip. (The advantages for backup are pretty clear. Unlike tape, a hard disk is much faster and provides for random access to data.) Iomega anticipates that REV cartridges will run about $50, while the drive itself will sell for about $400 when released early next year. This would seem more appropriate for the backup market.

The REV technology is rather clever, and certainly more storage in a smaller space is worth having. However, with Blue Laser DVD coming soon (albeit with only 20GB or so of storage), the long-term prospects for REV are open for discussion. For me, then, I give the REV the "Technology to Watch" award, although I should probably give it the "Go Ahead and Get One Now" award, since it does have immediate value in the short term.

The "I've Got to Have It" award simply has to go to Hy-Tek for their Tek Panel 300. This was my first chance to get to know the system, which was announced at CES in January. For any video or gaming fan out there, the Tek Panel's 35-inch TFT-LCD screen and Pentium 4 power is to die for. If you thought Apple's 23" Cinema Display was awe-inspiring, wait till you see the Tek Panel's 35 inches. Nothing has been spared in sound or graphics with the Tek Panel in order to make it the fastest, best-performing platform for multimedia. At just $7000, it's almost a no-brainer for the digital studio, at least for those studios who've had the brains or luck to sock away $7000.

For the rest of us, Samsung's new 17-inch SyncMaster 172X LCD might provide a compact, much lower-priced alternative. It gets the "Eye-Popping Brilliant Vision of Tomorrow" award with its 12ms response time and cool form factor (only about 7.5" deep at the base). All this for under $650!

Speaking of eye-popping, StarTech introduced what they call "mutant mods," various PC add-ons like luminous fans, cables, and cut-away cases intended to turn the typically bland system into a phantasmagorical light show. For turning eyesores into art, something Apple's already done, StarTech gets my "Great Service to the Industry" award for bringing life to the drab PC.

Griffin Technology gets the "Still Way Cool" award for their updated iTrip FM transmitter for the iPod. Until my car has a wireless server onboard, the iTrip lets me play my music very nicely over that expensive sound system I already have installed.

Finally, Arrowkey's "CD/DVD Diagnostic" software wins my "Don't Stop, Run and Buy this Now!" award. Don't let the name fool you, as the tool has a recovery feature that lets you retrieve content from damaged or otherwise unreadable discs. This, for around $50, can be a life-saver.

Some say this was the Last COMDEX. I hope not. I actually think the IT industry wants and needs a Las Vegas show prior to Thanksgiving. CES may be exciting, but it's post-holiday. A little bit of Comdex and Las Vegas prior to the holidays just gets us in the mood.

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