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Streaming Media
July 19, 2005

Table of Contents

Glass Houses: Let's Work Together
Blu-ray Disc Leads in Early Format Match-up, According to Survey
Spinergy Announces My Party Disc Product Line
Music Kiosk Provider Burn-A-Song Selects SyncCast to Power New CD Burning Service
RIAA's Annual Piracy Report Shows Trafficking In Pirated Music Increasingly Sophisticated
FarStone Partners with Microgistix to Deliver System Recovery Software and CD/DVD Replication Software
Addonics Announces Serial ATA to CompactFlash Adapter
I/OMagic Unveils its DataStation 2 New ``Dual Problem Solver''

Glass Houses: Let's Work Together

If DVD has taught the industry anything, it should be how to work together (current conflicts over Blu-ray and HD-DVD notwithstanding). Actually, I should clarify that statement. The home video executives and studios have set an example of cooperation that the audio industry has not followed. While DVD-Video was almost an overnight sensation, SACD and DVD-A have gone nowhere. The lesson to be learned is to look beyond the competition and create and market a new format that will benefit everyone. Sonic Solutions is taking a step in the right direction to help in the launch of high definition formats by pulling together more than 25 DVD authoring houses to form the High Definition Authoring Alliance (HDAA). The members from across the globe include companies such from Comchoice Corp. in California to Daikin Industries in Japan, DGP Ltd. in England, and Motionlink in Australia.

Sonic says it formed HDAA to help get quality titles out to marketplace in a timely fashion by providing members access to information, training, and the industry's first available toolsets for both interactive HD formats, HD-DVD and Blu-ray. HDAA members exchange information at group meetings, special events, and technical seminars with Sonic engineers directly involved in defining the new standards. In fact there was a meeting in Burbank on Monday, July 18, and others are scheduled this week in London and Tokyo.

Rolf Hartley, senior vice president and general manger of Sonic's professional products group, told me that while HD-DVD and Blu-ray are different, each has traditional authoring components. For both formats "we have to figure out how to meld the standard DVD-Video authoring style, which is kind of technical, with more of a more creative ROM-style program which has its own techniques." Sonic, he says, is in a solid position because of its past affiliation with the high-end DVD video authoring houses, but also with the world's leading ROM creative houses.

Putting out a single tool that will satisfy needs for both formats is the challenge, Hartley says. Sonic is demonstrating early tools that it hopes will open discussions on the use models needed to create bonus content. Feedback and design ideas will help maximize the efficiency and workflow for authoring houses working with each format group. "Hollywood's CE companies and the technical consortiums all have extremely challenging time frames for wanting to release titles either at the end of this year or early in 2006. That means we have to come to some sort of baseline functionality for creating these titles very quickly. It makes obvious sense to work together in an alliance," he says.

The first phase of the HDAA program included delivery of Sonic-HD series encoding, Scenarist HD for creating standard-content high-definition titles, and the Sonic Advanced Interactivity Toolkit. Hartley says they are already offering delivery of new capabilities based on feedback received at HDAA meetings.

Comchoice VP Duncan Wain says Sonic is the only off-the-shelf solution provider for HD-DVD and Blu-ray right now, so it makes perfect sense to be involved with the alliance. "While (members of the alliance) are all fierce competitors, we'll initially have to put all of that aside as we venture down uncharted paths."

Comchoice is in a unique position of its own, and it clearly illustrates the point that competition needs to rest if physical media will prevail (at least for now) over downloads. The company is one of eight affiliated with the Global Digital Media Exchange (GDMX), the primary authoring, compression, broadcast distribution facility for Warner Brothers. While Comchoice is an independent firm not owned by Time Warner, as an affiliate they helped GDMX put out DVD titles back when the format was launched. What gives Comchoice a unique advantage, as a result, is that Toshiba is much involved with Warner Brothers, and they will have their own HD equipment at some point. Comchoice will be able to test both high-definition toolkits early on. Sonic, however, is the only one to offer Blu-ray tools so far. "That's why we joined the Sonic Group."

As a journalist, I talk to all kinds of people all of the time. Many consumers don't have a clue to what high-definition formats are, others don't care. Even many replicators I talk with are not convinced consumers will embrace yet another new format. I have to agree with Rolf Hartley that if the new format offers something new beyond just picture quality, it will be very successful. But everyone has to remember that purchasing toolkits and machines is expensive, and no company is going to take the chance of buying product that is just not up to par. Most everyone who has been in business for a length of time has be burnt before. That can't happen again. High-definition might not have a second chance.

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Blu-ray Disc Leads in Early Format Match-up, According to Survey

A new poll suggests that as the battle between Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD heats up, consumers prefer Blu-ray Disc as their format of choice. In the poll, conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, a nationally recognized strategic polling firm, consumers were given a side-by-side comparison of the two formats on the following dimensions: technology company support, Hollywood studio support, gaming console support, disc capacity, potential movie title availability and anticipated launch dates.

In this side-by-side format comparison, 58% of the 1,200 consumers surveyed preferred Blu-ray Disc, 26% were undecided and only 16% preferred HD-DVD. Of those consumers who indicated that they are extremely interested in purchasing the next-generation format, 66% favored Blu-ray, 19% were undecided and only 15% preferred HD-DVD.

The launch of Blu-ray Disc is expected to offer consumers a broad selection of movie and broadcast content from Walt Disney Pictures and Television, Miramax, Touchstone, MGM, ESPN and Sony Pictures. A selection of Blu-ray players, recorders and computer drives are expected from Sony, Hitachi, Sharp, Panasonic, LG Electronics, Pioneer, Philips, Mitsubishi, and Samsung as well as PC hardware from Dell and HP. Gaming hardware will be available from Sony with the release of PlayStation 3, and software will be available to the leading gaming software manufacturers.

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Spinergy Announces My Party Disc Product Line

Spinergy has announced the availability of a new product line called "My Party Disc," made up of 10-packs of blank, recordable CDs that are pre-printed with full-color theme imagery on the surface.

The initial six designs are:
- Happy Birthday (2 designs)
- It's A Boy
- It's A Girl
- Baby's First Birthday
- Our Special Day (wedding theme)

The 10-packs are available at select iParty stores in the greater Boston area and will be coming to additional retail and Internet outlets in the near future. The retail list price of the 10-packs is $9.99. New designs will be available on a regular basis, but especially for major holidays.

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Music Kiosk Provider Burn-A-Song Selects SyncCast to Power New CD Burning Service

Burn a Song, an innovator in unique interactive marketing solutions, has entered into an agreement with SyncCast, a leading digital media technology solutions provider, to develop and integrate an end-to-end solution for CD-burning kiosks that will allow a consumer to create and purchase a personalized CD.

SyncCast's digital rights management solution, based on Windows Media Rights Manager 10, embraces all aspects of secure content delivery, meeting industry standards necessary to acquire securely guarded digital content from major record labels. Burn a Song's touch screen kiosk will create a music-on-demand environment in a retail setting for consumers in need of instant gratification, providing the buyer a way to hear and download his or her favorite songs and walk away with their own customized CD.


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RIAA's Annual Piracy Report Shows Trafficking In Pirated Music Increasingly Sophisticated
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FarStone Partners with Microgistix to Deliver System Recovery Software and CD/DVD Replication Software

FarStone Technology, Inc., developer of PC system recovery software and CD/DVD content replication solutions, has announced a partnership with Microgistix to deliver FarStone's RestoreIT 6.5 and VirtualDrive 9 software via Dell's Online Store. Specializing in the delivery of software marketing solutions, Microgistix seeks software that will add value to established distribution channels.

 The software distribution agreement with FarStone calls for the company's RestoreIT 6.5 and VirtualDrive 9 software products to be individually packaged by Microgistix in DVD boxes. FarStone's RestoreIT 6.5 and VirtualDrive 9 are available at . Suggested retail price is $39.99 each.

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Addonics Announces Serial ATA to CompactFlash Adapter

Addonics Technologies has announced a SATA to CompactFlash adapter board, which allows a CompactFlash device to be used in any system that has a SATA port. The Addonics SATA to CF Adapter is one of the fastest CF Readers/Writers available. It is compliant with Serial ATA 1.0a specifications and is capable of high transfer rates of up to 1.5Gbps, depending on the type of media used.

The solution connects directly to the SATA port of any system and supports direct booting from the Type I/II CF, and IBM Micro Drive media as well as hot swapping of CF media without the need to restart the system. Addonics bundles each reader/writer with a 3.5-inch bay bracket (black or ivory), a standard-height bracket and a low-profile PCI slot mounting bracket. The SATA to CF Adapter can be installed in any computer case, mini computer, embedded system, iPC or rack-mount case. The versatility and the fast performance of this adapter make it an ideal CF read/write device for many industrial PCs, embedded systems or various vertical applications. The adapter is compatible with DOS, Windows 3.1, NT4, 98SE, Me 2000 and XP, and Linux. The reader/writer is transparent to the operating system and does not require any drivers.

MSRP of the Addonics SATA to CF Adapter is $36.99.

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I/OMagic Unveils its DataStation 2 New ``Dual Problem Solver''

The DataStation 2 is a USB 2.0 external floppy drive with built-in 7-in-1 media reader. Highlights include a small and lightweight proprietary design, with a built-in lighting system and the ability to draw power directly from the USB 2.0 port of any personal computer or notebook computer which eliminates the need for an external power adapter.

The DataStation 2 features sophisticated power control circuitry that significantly reduces power consumption. It also comes with a lighting system that switches from blue to red with a touch of a button. The DataStation 2 is compatible with floppy disc format sizes of 720KB, 1.2MB and 1.44MB. The 7-in-1 card reader supports Compact Flash (CF), IBM Micro Drive, Multimedia (MMC), Secure Digital (SD), Memory Stick (MS), Memory Stick PRO and Smart Media (SM). The DataStation 2 is Windows XP, 2000, ME and 98SE compliant.

The DataStation 2 has an introductory price of $59.99.

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