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September 20, 2005

Table of Contents

The DVD Writer: Recordable & Rewritable Blu-ray Disc--How Far, How Fast?
Canon Enters HDV Fray with XL H1
Octave Systems Announced New Data Safe Copy Master II CD/DVD Duplicators
The DV Shop Announces the Third Annual GraVT Expo
New Droppix Recorder Adds Built-in CD/DVD Label Making and LightScribe Support
TEAC Launches New Line of 10-Disc DVD Duplicators
Memorex Uses U3 Platform to Transform USB Flash Drive into U3 Smart Drive
VideoEgg Unveils VideoEgg Publisher Web Video Publishing Solution

The DVD Writer: Recordable & Rewritable Blu-ray Disc--How Far, How Fast?

As Blu-ray Disc's (BD) entrance draws near, I'm increasingly asked about its writable formats. How long will it take to record a BD disc? How much will its writing speeds increase in the future? How quickly will it get there? And, frankly, is there a way for the industry to avoid past problems and intelligently ramp up to these speeds?

As a matter of background, BD discs will come in prerecorded (BD-ROM), recordable (BD-R) and rewritable (BD-RE) versions with both single (SL) and dual-layer (DL) types possible. Although several configurations will be officially supported, typical 8cm discs hold 7.791GB (SL) or 15.582GB (DL) and 12cm discs 25.025GB (SL) or 50.050GB (DL). Single-speed (1X CLV) BD writing takes place at 35.965Mbps (equivalent of 3.25X in DVD terms). The first wave of recorders, however, is expected to launch at 2X. At 2X, full 8cm discs will take on the order of 14.5 minutes (SL) and 29 minutes (DL) to write; the recording of full 12cm discs will clock in at 46.5 min (SL) and 93 min (DL).

Astonishingly, though BD has yet to make it to market, manufacturers already promote increases to 4X and then 6X speed. At this stage, anticipating anything further is only speculative, but it's possible to make some informed predictions. Consider, that for a variety of reasons, including sound levels, vibration, as well as safety concerns, spinning an optical disc at 10,000RPM has long proven the realistic limit for half-height drives and 5,000RPM for slim-types. Since a 12cm BD disc rotates between 1957 to 810RPM (inner to outer diameter) at 1X speed, it looks to me as if 12X CAV (5X to 12X) will be the maximum potential ceiling for computer and 6X ZCLV or PCAV (2.5X to 6X) for portable BD units. If blank disc and component design can keep up, full 12cm BD-R (SL) discs may be eventually written in as little as 11 to 25 minutes respectively. Generally, rewritables and multi-layers are trickier to record at high speeds, so it's possible that 5X or 6X may be the top end for BD-REs and DLs.

Relentless competitive and other market pressures assure that these recording speeds will escalate even more rapidly than the brief few years it took for writable DVD. It also looks to me as if manufacturers plan yet again to release every speed boost (4X, 6X, etc.) as soon as it becomes technologically possible. Each turn of the screw yields a brief opportunity for product differentiation and, hopefully, superior return. This will, however, come at a high cost as it did with writable CD and, especially, DVD—reduced product predictability and quality, a snarl of incompatible media types, quasi-supported performance levels, dissimilar writing speeds among physical formats, premature obsolescence, and overall complexity. The result, as always, will be confused consumers, suspicious professionals, beleaguered retailers, manufacturers, product developers and PC builders and intellectual property theft and counterfeiting, to name but a few.

Rather than unleashing a flurry of incremental advances of questionable value, a saner approach will be for the BD community to immediately establish a couple of meaningful targets and limit increases to these. Given my admittedly rough calculations, 5X or 6X and then 12X should be the focus of all writable BD development efforts. And if HD DVD also makes it to market, I challenge its architects to bite the bullet and do the same within its design boundaries.

Lamentably, as always, I'm pessimistic. Given the optical storage industry's dismal track record I expect writable BD to end up just another free-for-all.

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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Canon Enters HDV Fray with XL H1

As Canon's first HD video camera, the XL H1 High Definition (HD) camcorder and 20x HD video zoom lens with Superior Canon Optics is designed to provide broadcasters with a low-cost 1080i resolution option for ENG, documentary, or reality TV production. The XL H1 also includes extensive Cine controls and a 24 Frame rate option geared torward filmmakes. Canon's "professional jackpack" features include uncompressed digital HD-SDI output for seamless integration into broadcast studios or high-quality image transfer to non-linear editing systems. The Genlock feature allows movie sets to synchronize camera settings across multiple camcorders and SMPTE time-codes in-and-out allow for streamlined tape and edit management.

The XL H1 camcorder has three 1/3 inch 16:9 interlaced CCDs that capture images at 1080i resolution. The camcorder features selectable frame rates of 60i, 30 Frame and 24 Frame to allow the user to adjust to the assignment at hand and can switch back to SD resolution if needed.

At the 30 Frame rate, broadcasters can capture high motion, like sports with confidence that each frame is captured individually and completely. Filmmakers can utilize the 24 Frame rate when creating the look and feel of movie film. The 60i frame rate, meanwhile, delivers exceptional resolution for shooting environments like ENG or Reality TV.

The XL H1 HD camcorder is the first model to include Canon's proprietary DIGIC DV II image processor. DIGIC DV II is an image processor that can process both HD and SD video signals as well as still photos, while maintaining the correct color space for each mode.

The XL H1 camcorder's professional jackpack terminals consist of three key features designed to streamline production: HD-SDI output (High Definition Serial Digital Interface), Genlock, and SMPTE (Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers) Time Code input and output.

To streamline in-studio television production, the XL H1 model offers HD-SDI and SD-SDI output. HD-SDI output allows professionals to directly connect to a TV control room or a non-linear editing system. With this feature, users can plug their XL H1 camcorder into any professional's system with an HD-SDI input and can deliver live, unfiltered HD content in all its detail. With other HDV models on the market, the user must feed the HD signal into an analog to digital signal converter box which adds an extra step and extra cost.

The XL H1 camcorder can also record to HDV Master recording media or Mini-DV tapes. For multi-camera shoots, the XL H1 features Genlock synchronization input. This feature allows many XL H1 camcorders to synchronize through a switcher. With its SMPTE time code input and output, multiple cameras on a shoot can all lay down the same time code. The XL H1 camcorder uses a customizable open-architecture approach, selectable frame rates, and multiple output options.

Canon's XL H1 HD camcorder can capture still images plus metadata at full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 dpi or 2.1 megapixels) onto a standard Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card and MMC media. The "Photo" button located on the outside of the camcorder allows users to capture still images at up to five frames per second. Camcorder settings can be stored on the memory card and transferred to another camcorder so setup can be replicated.

The XL H1 camcorder's still image capture plus metadata feature provides an in-camcorder solution for cinematographers and directors to check for scene continuity and provides added back-up to any still photographers on set.

Canon is launching a new multi functional color electronic viewfinder (EVF) and 2.4" 16:9 LCD monitor with Safe Area Marking built-in; black and white mode; Zebra Pattern (70-100 IRE); Horizontal and Vertical flip and a Distance Readout (using 20X HD Video lens). As a menu option, users can chose to view Aspect Ratio Guides in the viewfinder. Canon provides a choice of 4x3, 13x9, 14x9, 1.66:1, 1.75:1 1.85:1, 235:1 guides.

The XL H1 HD camcorder viewfinder also includes a feature called Focus Help. The first setting — Peaking — creates an exaggerated line in the viewfinder that disappears when the image is focused. The second setting — Magnifying — enlarges the viewfinder image, helping the camera operator better see if the image is properly focused.

The new XL H1 HD camcorder features Canon's XL-interchangeable lens mount. For the XL H1 camcorder, Canon drew upon its exceptional heritage and expertise in designing and manufacturing lenses for photography and broadcast TV to create its new 20x HD video zoom lens with Superior Canon Optics. This lightweight, high performance lens achieves fast, precise focusing and a unique balance of focal length, angle of view and depth of field; key quality attributes that distinguish Canon from some other brands.

In addition it incorporates multiple Fluorite elements for superior contrast, resolution and color fidelity through the reduction of chromatic aberration. The 20x HD Video lens offers a fast f/1.6 to f/3.5 aperture for users that shoot under the most demanding lighting conditions and a close focusing distance from only 20mm away (when at wide angle). At an aspect ratio of 16:9, the 20x zoom range is an impressive 38.9mm to 778mm (35mm equivalent). At the 4:3 aspect ratio, it is an equally impressive 47.4mm to 954mm (35mm equivalent).

The lens features a 72mm filter thread, two independent ND filters (1/6, 1/32), focus and zoom presets, and optical image stabilization. Canon's Super-Range Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) system corrects camera shake instantly so even hand held shots, at full telephoto, and shots taken from a moving car, are smooth and steady. Because it is optical, it can compensate for a greater degree of camera shake and avoids any loss in image quality, unlike some electronic image stabilizers. Other optical image stabilizers use a gyro sensor to detect camcorder vibration (the data from which controls a vari-angle prism that continuously corrects the path of the incoming light).

Canon's SuperRange OIS system examines the image after the CCD receives it and detecting any low-frequency vibrations missed by the gyro. This data is fed back to accelerate and refine the movement of the vari-angle prism. This greatly improves performance for low frequency vibration, according to Canon.

The XL H1 camcorder and the 20x HD Video Lens with Superior Canon Optics will be available as a kit in November for an estimated selling price of $8,999.

www.usa.canon.com

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Octave Systems Announced New Data Safe Copy Master II CD/DVD Duplicators

Octave Systems, Inc. has unveiled its new line of Data Safe Copy Master II CD/DVD duplicators, which allow users to duplicate CDs and DVDs quickly via user-friendly tower-style duplicators. With the addition of a convenient front-bay removable 160GB hard drive, users can now remove and secure sensitive data by locking it in a safe.

The latest addition to the Copy Master line offers tower-style models that can provide 1-to-8, 1-to-6, and 1-to-4 duplication depending on the user's needs, and can duplicate DVDs up to 16X, 8.5 GB Dual Layered DVDs up to 4X and CDs up to 48X. An eight-drive Data Safe Copy Master II can produce eight full 4.7GB DVDs in seven minutes, and eight full 650MB CDs can be produced in three minutes, according to Octave.

One new addition to the Data Safe Copy Master II is the quick-start Auto Copy feature, which allows users to load up the master and blanks and start the duplication process by pressing the new Copy button. There are four additional convenience buttons: Copy, Test, Speed and Source. The Copy button allows the user to begin the duplication process. The Test button tests the copy process without actually writing to the media. The Speed button sets the speed of the copy. The Source button changes the master source of the information the user wants copied from the DVD-ROM or CD-ROM to the hard disk.

In addition, the Data Safe Copy Master II also features a buffer memory of 128MB; a removable 160GB hard drive; password protection for different users; hard disk drive partition naming, allowing a user to name the images stored in hard drive partitions; multiple language displays; DVD drive firmware upgradeable by the controller; enhanced firmware in the controller that speeds duplication; better cooling through the use of an aluminum case; and an auto counter that keeps running totals of successful copies.

The Data Safe Copy Master II line is competitively priced at $995 for a 1-to-4 duplicator, $1,209 for a 1-to-6 duplicator and $1,429 for a 1-to-8 duplicator, all of which are currently available.

www.octave.com

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The DV Shop Announces the Third Annual GraVT Expo

The DV Shop has announced Gra-VT Expo 2005, a graphics and video editing event to be held November 8 in Atlanta. GraVT Expo 2005 is promoted and hosted by The DV Shop, Norcross, GA (www.thedvshop.com), Showcase Inc., Atlanta, GA (www.showcaseinc.com), and Tape Warehouse, Atlanta, GA (www.tapewarehouse.com).

The exciting event will be held November 8, from 9:00 AM to 9:30 PM, at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Norcross, GA. Gra-VT Expo 2005 will provide an opportunity for exhibitors to provide demonstrations products and/or talk about what their organization can provide for the graphics and video industry professional. A special room will be set up for seminars that will be scheduled throughout the day for exhibitors to showcase their products.

The DV Shop will also host the November meeting of the Atlanta Videographers Association (www.atlantavideographers.net) in the seminar room from 6:30 till 9:30.

For or more information or to reserve your space at Gra-VT Expo 2005, call TheDVShop at 888-368-3268.

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New Droppix Recorder Adds Built-in CD/DVD Label Making and LightScribe Support

Droppix has announced today the availability of version 1.6 of its next-generation CD and DVD creation software, Droppix Recorder, which includes an integrated label-making module and support for drives using Hewlett Packard's LightScribe technology.

The Droppix Label Maker module lets users create customized labels for their CDs and DVDs, then print them directly on the surface of the disc via LightScribe-enabled optical drives. In addition, Droppix Recorder 1.6 includes new data encryption capabilities and the ability to easily change the BookType of DVDs. Droppix Recorder is available for a free 30-day full-featured trial download.

Users can design their own labels and print directly on the surface of the disc media with LightScribe-enabled optical drives, and password-protect some or all of their files before recording to CD or DVD. Droppix users can also change the BookType of their disc media to recognize DVD±R and DVD±R9 media as DVD-ROM, and increase the compatibility of these media types of discs on older drives. The Droppix Assistant has been redesigned for increased ease-of-use, better readability, and with the look-and-feel of Windows XP.

Additional features and functions include the following:

  • Fast & secure data backup in just a few clicks
  • Simple and intuitive user interface support for CD, CD-RW, DVD±R/W, DVD±R DL and DVD-RAM
  • Easy creation of music CDs and sophisticated multimedia compilations
  • Integrated ISO editor
  • Exact 1:1 copies of non-protected CDs or DVDs
  • Extract ("rip") music from audio CDs
  • Create video discs playable on home DVD players
  • Automatically download and update firmware
  • Supports most available CD and DVD burners
  • Integrated online help and free online product upgrades
  • 100% free support

Droppix Recorder 1.6 is available for purchase via the Droppix web site (www.droppix.com) for a retail price of € 39.90 (about US$50), as well as via dozens of software download web sites worldwide. A free full-featured 30-day trial download of Droppix Recorder is also available.

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TEAC Launches New Line of 10-Disc DVD Duplicators

TEAC has announced a new line of 10-disc DVD duplicators. The new 1:10 units are stand-alone disc-to-disc DVD duplication systems requiring no PC connection. TEAC's 1x10 DVDR Tower Duplicators support DVD recording at 16X speeds. They combine feature-rich controller technology with easy to use controls and stable design and quality and reliability, according to TEAC.

TEAC offers a complete line of duplicators, from 1x1 to 1x3, 1x7 and 1x10 duplicators. TEAC also offers high-quality dye-sublimation printers including the TEAC P55 Printer, and the P11 One-color Dye-Sublimation Personal Printer for home and office use.

TEAC also offers a complete line of Auto-Loaders and Auto-Publishers. TEAC's line of Duplicators, 1x1 CDR Duplicator (CDW/D11A/KIT), 1x3 CDR Duplicator without HDD (CDW/D13A/KIT), 1x3 CDR Duplicator with 80GB HDD (CDW/D13A/KIT/H), 1x7 CDR Duplicator without HDD (CDW/D17A/KIT), 1x7 CDR Duplicator with 80GB HDD (CDW/D17A/KIT/H), 1x1 DVDR Duplicator without HDD (DVW/D11A/KIT), 1x1 DVDR Duplicator with 80GB HDD (DVW/D11A/KIT/H), 1x3 DVDR Duplicator with 160GB HDD (DVW/D13A/KIT/H), 1x7 DVDR Duplicator with 160GB HDD (DVW/D17A/KIT/H) and 1x10 DVDR Duplicator with 160GB HDD (DVW/D110A/KIT/H) are all available through TEAC's Distribution Partners.

For more information about these products, see TEAC's Web site at http://www.TEAC.com/DSPD.

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Memorex Uses U3 Platform to Transform USB Flash Drive into U3 Smart Drive

Memorex has announced its U3 smart Mini TravelDrive, the first in Memorex's family of TravelDrive portable storage devices to offer built-in U3 support that transforms USB flash drives from simple storage devices into USB "smart drives." Memorex's first U3 smart drive hosts a personal workspace of not only a user's data and files, but also software programs, personal preferences, passwords, and settings, and the means for managing them--all in a highly secure and stylish device, according to Memorex.

The new metallic "platinum" Mini also features many of the signature characteristics of Memorex's award-winning line of USB TravelDrives, including a slim design; cool, blue LED status indicator; reinforced aluminum lanyard connector with lanyard; ergonomic gripping area; and more.

Featuring up to 2GB of storage for digital photos, music, data, or video files, Memorex delivers its U3 Mini TravelDrive with four distinct U3 smart software applications designed to deliver the ultimate in smart portable storage; private, secure and personalized computing on shared PCs; and system stability and performance.

Migo enables users to carry an entire computer profile from one PC to another on a U3 smart Mini TravelDrive. When consumers plug a Mini TravelDrive into another PC, Migo displays their data files, folders, Internet Explorer settings, desktop wallpaper, and icons on the host PC. All changes are synchronized each time the U3 smart Mini TravelDrive is plugged into another PC.

Mozilla Thunderbird email client makes emailing safe, fast and easy to use with features such as intelligent spam filters, built-in Real Simple Syndication (RSS) reader and quick search. Consumers can read email stored on their U3 smart Mini TravelDrive at an Internet kiosk or any other computer.

U3 Anti-Virus Powered by McAfee is the first anti-virus software for USB smart drives. It ensures that all information stored on a U3 Mini TravelDrive -- including applications, data and identity -- is secure from malicious threats.

U Safe enables password protection of the U3 Mini TravelDrive allowing all data to be kept safe. Consumers who buy the U3 smart Mini TravelDrive can download additional U3 smart software applications directly from the built-in U3 Launchpad or by visiting http://www.U3.com. At 2.25 inches long, 0.85 inches wide and 0.27 inches thick, the U3 smart Mini is up to an inch shorter than other Memorex TravelDrives. Available in 256MB, 512MB, 1GB or 2GB capacities, the U3 smart Mini offers a complete range of models.

Earlier this year, Memorex announced its partnership with U3 with plans to evolve its TravelDrive family of USB flash drives into U3 smart drives that host U3 smart software applications. One of the first products built using the U3 platform, Memorex's U3 smart Mini will be revealed at the DEMOfall conference on September 20.

The Memorex U3 smart Mini TravelDrive will be available at major consumer electronics and office supply retailers beginning Oct. 15. Suggested retail prices are $29.99 for 256MB of capacity, $49.99 of 512MB of capacity, $89.99 for 1GB of capacity, and $179.99 for 2GB of capacity.

www.memorex.com

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VideoEgg Unveils VideoEgg Publisher Web Video Publishing Solution

VideoEgg, Inc. has unveiled the VideoEgg Publisher, a new Web-based video publishing technology designed to make it easy for everyday Internet users to capture, encode, upload, and watch online video. A "universal adapter" that captures directly from hundreds of devices and reads dozens of formats, the VideoEgg Publisher allows users to painlessly publish video that anyone can watch without worrying about player compatibilities, encoding settings, or extra software, according to VideoEgg Inc.

The VideoEgg Publisher simplifies the video encoding and posting process, allowing users to capture video directly into a Web site from camcorders, Web cams, and mobile phones. It also accepts video files via a drag-and-drop interface. Before movies are encoded and posted, users can perform basic edits with the Publisher's simple editing tools. Using this system, videos are immediately available for viewing online through the Flash-based VideoEgg Player, a "playerless" solution that does not require external players like Windows Media and QuickTime.

The VideoEgg Publisher is a lightweight browser extension which adds video capture, encoding, simple editing, and upload capabilities to a standard Internet browser. The result is new and creative opportunities to communicate and express video content online. According to VideoEgg Inc., the extension allows users to do the following:

  • Enhance online classifieds with video of real estate, cars, boats, etc.
  • Add life to personal profiles for dating and social-networking services
  • Enrich online auction postings with product presentations -- Share home movies with friends and family
  • Submit multimedia projects and reports for school and work
  • Augment applications to schools, jobs and programs
  • Spice up personal Web sites, emails, and blogs

The VideoEgg Publisher is available immediately for integration into partner Web sites. Interested parties should contact VideoEgg directly or go to http://www.videoegg.com for more information.

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