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June 07, 2005

Table of Contents

The DVD Writer: Writable DVDs for Blu-ray and HD DVD Video
Samsung Bundles NeroLINUX with DVD/CD Recorders
MF Digital Announces New Automatic Disc Handling System
Roxio Launches Xingtone Ringtone Maker in Retail Stores
Texas Memory Systems Adds Redundant RAM to Reliability Features
CineForm’s Aspect HD and Connect HD Add Film-Editing Workflow Features To Support Sony HDV Camcorders
LG Electronics Launches Line of DivX-Certified DVD Devices
Universal Rechargeable Battery Powers and Charges Multiple Personal Electronic Devices

The DVD Writer: Writable DVDs for Blu-ray and HD DVD Video

Who doesn't like a good fight? In optical storage circles, the latest dustup is between Blu-ray Disc (BD) and HD DVD. Lamentably absent, however, is frank discussion of ways to promote adoption and ease consumer and professional transition into these two (or, ideally, one unified) next-generation blue laser formats. To my mind, seamless evolution requires that, in addition to their own media, BD and HD DVD devices record and play high-definition video (HD) content to and from writable DVD (DVD±R/DL/RW) discs.

It's said that only blue laser technology will suffice for optical disc-based delivery of HD video applications. But not everyone needs to publish big-ticket movies with all the trimmings or capture HD broadcasts in native MPEG-2 form. Using MPEG-4 AVC or VC-1 compression (both required by BD and HD DVD specifications) changes the rules and makes current writable DVDs practical vehicles for many HD tasks. For example, one hour of 720p resolution material fit neatly on a 2.66GB DL (8cm) camcorder DVD, over 100 minutes on a standard 4.7GB, and three hours on an 8.5GB DL—more than enough to capture many broadcasts, hobby HDV camcorder videography, school projects, corporate, institutional, and government training and presentations, kiosks, commercial prototypes, and much more. Even at the high bitrates and 1080i resolution expected from Hollywood blockbusters, these same ordinary writable DVDs record anywhere from 25 to 40 to 75 minutes.

The history of optical storage technology has taught us that new formats are not born innately compatible. Rather, seamless interchange develops only over time as hardware, firmware, software, and discs gradually mature and adapt to each other's idiosyncrasies. So, good intentions aside, early recordable and rewritable BD (BD-R/RE) and HD DVD (HD DVD-R/RW) products will suffer compatibility problems. Obviously, during this painful childhood and adolescence there will be consumer and professional desire and need for a reliable method to record, view, and distribute HD content. And while writable DVD is not without its evils, it's here and relatively dependable.

Beyond writable DVD's predictable recording and playback compatibility are low cost and pervasiveness. BD and HD DVD prices are still up in the air, but it's safe to assume that new manufacturing processes, low production yields, high profit imperatives, a galaxy of patent royalties, and limited competition will keep discs and devices expensive and scarce for some time to come. By comparison, there's a massive installed based of computer DVD burners, new units to be had for as little as $40, and discs widely available for 20 cents (4.7GB) to $4 (8.5GB). Surely the ability to record and disseminate HD content economically is an important way to drive consumer and commercial interest in the next generation of optical disc and digital video delivery technology.

While some existing methods (DivX HD, WMV HD DVD, QuickTime 7, etc.) allow HD content to be stored on DVDs, all of them critically lack universal support and consistency. Thus, to me, not only should BD and HD DVD devices play and record HD content to and from writable DVDs, but do so in the same modes and application formats used for their indigenous BD (BDMV/BDAV/HDMV/BD-J) and HD DVD (HD DVD-Video/VR/iHD) discs. This will ensure that material is always playable (on devices within the same format family) and created and presented in the same way, independent of the type of disc and hardware used. And if no compromise between BD and HD DVD is achieved, there's even the remote possibility of writing bridge DVDs containing BD and HD DVD-compliant material to play on both types of equipment.

Add these features now before next generation products hit the market. The industry will have to act quickly or squander yet another opportunity.

Hugh Bennett (hugh_bennett@compuserve.com), an EMedia contributing editor, is president of Forget Me Not Information Systems (www.forgetmenot.on.ca), a reseller, systems integrator and industry consultant based in London, Ontario, Canada. Hugh is the author of Understanding Recordable & Rewritable DVD and Understanding CD-R & CD-RW, both published by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA).

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Samsung Bundles NeroLINUX with DVD/CD Recorders

Nero has announced that Samsung will be the first to bundle NeroLINUX with a DVD/CD burner--its TS-H552U WriteMaster. The bundle will be available as a retail kit.

The Samsung TS-H552U WriteMaster drive supports 16X DVD+R, 16X DVD-R, 5X DVD+R DL, 4X DVD±RW, 40X CD-R, and 32X US-RW. Nero provides applications that take advantage of these recording options. NeroLINUX supports CD/DVD burning data and disc images, Bootable CDs and DVDs, Audio CDs with CD text, Mixed Mode CDs, CD-EXTRA, and Multisession.

The bundle of the Samsung TS-H552U WriteMaster with NeroLINUX will begin shipping June 2005 and will be available for a period of one month.

www.nero.com

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MF Digital Announces New Automatic Disc Handling System

MF Digital has announced the upcoming release of Baxter, a multi-function automatic disc handling system that will duplicate CDs and DVDs, backup hard drives, rip CDs, and archive CD and DVD images.

Baxter's hard drive backup feature allows users to schedule a backup plan that will execute automatically--loading new discs when necessary and sending an email notification of the results. Baxter's CD ripper automatically looks up track information and includes advanced features like normalization, amplification and attenuation, silence trimming, digital resampling, and channel merging.

Baxter includes MF Digital's Scribe CD/DVD authorizing software and a software developer kit for users to write their own applications. Baxter has a 25 disc capacity, interfaces via a USB 2 connection, and is compatible with Windows XP and 2000.

MF Digital has also announced plans to make Baxter's features available to commercial users via software plug-ins for their Scribe XP PC line.

www.mfdigital.com/baxter.html

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Roxio Launches Xingtone Ringtone Maker in Retail Stores

Roxio has introduced Xingtone Ringtone Maker software in thousands of retail locations throughout North America. Under the terms of its publishing agreement with Xingtone, Roxio is using its established sales infrastructure and retail relationships to expand the market reach of Xingtone Ringtone Maker, which was previously only available online. The wide retail distribution gives consumers access to this software for converting personal music into custom, real music (True Tone) ringtones for their mobile phones.

A recently published report by Consect indicates that global mobile phone ringtone sales will total $4 billion in 2004. The report also reveals that, in the U. S., total sales have doubled from $150 million in 2003 to more than $300 million for 2004, making the U.S. one of the fastest growing and largely untapped markets for mobile music.

Xingtone Ringtone Maker enables consumers to convert and transfer portions of an audio file from their computer or a CD to their mobile phones using cable-free, over-the-air transmission. The desktop application offers a workflow for preparing music or audio voice recordings and is both Windows- and Mac-compatible. Xingtone Ringtone Maker supports more than 100 handsets from budget-buy to high-end devices and works with major U.S. carriers, including Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS, Cingular (including AT&T Wireless), and T-Mobile. Consumers may test their phone's compatibility with Xingtone Ringtone Maker at www.Xingtone.com.

Xingtone Ringtone Maker is widely available in retail stores throughout the United States, Canada, and direct from Roxio at www.roxio.com/go/xingtone. The suggested retail price is $19.95. Desktop software requires an Internet connection and a system running Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, or Mac 10.2.8.

www.roxio.com/go/xingtone

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Texas Memory Systems Adds Redundant RAM to Reliability Features

Texas Memory Systems has announced the availability of redundant RAM (RAID-ed memory) technology for its RamSan-325 solid-state disk systems. The IBM Chipkill-based technology helps protect database and other business-critical applications from serious multi-bit errors that can cause data corruption and unscheduled system downtime, according to Texas Memory Systems.

Standard error correcting code (ECC) implementations correct single-bit errors but cannot correct the multi-bit errors that can result in data integrity losses. Chipkill technology is more reliable because it allows a memory system to correct a multi-bit failure up to and including a total chip failure, according to Texas Memory Systems. As implemented on the RamSan-325 solid-state disk, Chipkill works with the existing ECC to provide this data protection.

In addition to Chipkill, the RamSan-325 high-availability architecture includes redundant and hot swappable power supplies, redundant batteries to provide power in the event that external power is lost, and a four disk RAID with hot swappable backup hard disk drives that stores data that is flushed from memory. Texas Memory Systems' Active Backup feature allows users to simultaneously benefit from the solid-state drive's performance and the hard disk drives' persistence by constantly backing up memory to the internal RAID without affecting application performance.

The RamSan-325 non-volatile solid-state disk can accelerate I/O intensive applications such as databases up to 2500% by delivering random data at sustained rates exceeding 1.5 GB/sec, according to Texas Memory Systems. Applications benefiting from this technology include online transaction processing, online analytical processing, modeling, and data acquisition.

Chipkill technology is shipping on all new RamSan-325 and RamSan-325c orders and upgrade options are available for current RamSan-325 customers.

www.superSSD.com/chipkill

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CineForm’s Aspect HD and Connect HD Add Film-Editing Workflow Features To Support Sony HDV Camcorders

CineForm has announced that new versions of its HDV software editing products will offer special support for the progressive CineFrame modes in Sony's HDR-FX1 and HVR-Z1 HDV camcorders. Both Aspect HD 3.1 for Adobe Premiere Pro and Connect HD 1.7 can create a 24 fps progressive output file while ingesting footage shot in Sony's CineFrame modes. Both products are in production.

Sony's HDV camcorders offer special progressive modes called "CineFrame" which record progressive 24, 25, or 30 fps video sequences on tape using an interlaced MPEG-2 50i or 60i signal. However, if users desire film output at project completion, it is preferable to edit using a 24 fps workflow and not to use the interlaced tape format. The new features in CineForm's Aspect HD and Connect HD extract a 24 fps progressive sequence from Sony's CineFrame-24 or CineFrame-25 modes, which is then stored in CineForm Intermediate format. Users can edit the resulting files using Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas, or other AVI-compatible applications.

Aspect HD enables Adobe Premiere Pro to achieve real-time editing for HD post-production. According to CineForm, Aspect HD will edit up to four 1080i HDV streams simultaneously on a modern PC, including over 40 HD-optimized transitions, effects, and color corrections, plus graphic and title overlays. Aspect HD is built on patent-pending CineForm Intermediate software components including CineForm's post-production codec and CineForm's video effects and processing pipeline.

Connect HD includes the CineForm Intermediate codec to allow editing of HDV-resolution material in any Windows AVI-compatible application, with special optimizations for Sony Vegas 6. HDV I/O components are included to allow capture, export, and conversion of HDV footage external to video editing applications.

Aspect HD 3.1 and Connect HD 1.7 are available for purchase from CineForm's network of resellers or from CineForm's website at www.cineform.com. The retail price of Connect HD is $199; Aspect HD is $499. An Aspect HD 3.1 bundle that also includes Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5, Adobe Audition, and Adobe Encore DVD is priced at $799. Through June 10, CineForm is offering a promotional purchase price for Aspect HD to customers who first download the 15-day trial version, available from CineForm's website. Existing CineForm customers may upgrade to either Aspect HD 3.1 or Connect HD 1.7 without charge.

www.cineform.com

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LG Electronics Launches Line of DivX-Certified DVD Devices

LG Electronics has announced the introduction of DivX Certification to its 2005 line of DVD devices for sale in Canadian retail outlets. Thirteen different DVD products, ranging from portable players to DVD recorders to home theater solutions, will be available from retailers across the country this month. The DivX-Certified LG devices offer users flexibility in watching pre-recorded discs and discs that they have created from their own multimedia content.

LG's 2005 line-up enables use of a variety of digital media formats. The DivX-Certified DVD devices from LG include three different HTIB (home theater in a box) systems, four DVD recorders, and four DVD player devices, including a portable DVD player.

www.lg.ca

www.divxnetworks.com/solutions/certification/index.php

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Universal Rechargeable Battery Powers and Charges Multiple Personal Electronic Devices

Tekkeon has announced myPower ALL, a rechargeable battery that powers and charges a host of mobile devices on the go. myPower ALL powers and/or charges portable DVD players, digital cameras and camcorders, portable media centers, portable MP3 and CD players, PDAs, mobile phones, and even many notebook computers.

myPower ALL can also be used to power a device while simultaneously recharging the device's battery. myPower ALL provides up to five hours of extra play time on a portable DVD player, up to three hours on many notebook computers, up to 4000 extra photographs on digital cameras, and up to ten extra hours of recording time on a digital camcorder. myPower ALL will even extend the play-time of portable media centers for an additional 10 hours of video or 25 hours of audio playback, according to Tekkeon.

myPower ALL comes with eight adapters, enabling connection to over 300 devices. Tekkeon provides a list of compatible devices on its web site at www.tekkeon.com/mpadapters. For those devices that require adapters not included in the package, Tekkeon provides additional adapters for a fee.

To use this new rechargeable battery, a user connects myPower ALL to the power jack on the mobile device. A voltage selector and lock on myPower ALL lets the user choose the correct input voltage for the connected device (from 3V to 14V), then lock it to ensure that voltage doesn't change while the battery is powering or charging the device.

myPower ALL weighs 11.8 ounces and fits into a backpack, fanny-pack, or briefcase. The MSRP for each myPower ALL model is $119.95. They are available at retail and on-line stores and from the Tekkeon store at www.Tekkeon.com. myPower ALL comes with a one-year limited warranty.

www.Tekkeon.com

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