Koolio

Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

It’s official: HD-DVD is dead…Blu-ray is the victor


bd-hddvd-logo.jpgToshiba officially put the last nail in the HD-DVD coffin – today, Toshiba announced they will cease HD-DVD player production and replication. They will phase out HD-DVD by the end of March 2008. Warner Bros. decision to go Blu-ray exclusive this past January was one nail in the coffin. The second nail was delivered by the retailers (Best Buy, Netflix, and Walmart). After these two it was only a matter of time before Toshiba raised the white flag.

As most of you know, I was an early supporter of HD-DVD but when WB went BD exclusive, I was ready for this format war to end so we can all unite under one HD format. Do I regret my decision in buying an HD-DVD player? Heck no. I bought the Toshiba HD-A1 for it’s excellent ability to upscale SD DVDs to 1080i and looked at HD-DVD as a ‘bonus.’ The HD-A1 was also appr. $300 cheaper than the Denon DVD-2910 that I was contemplating on buying.

Anyways, we’ve already gotten an announcement from Universal Studios (one of the two HD-DVD exclusive studios) stating that future titles and catalog titles will be released on Blu-ray disc. Although Paramount hasn’t officially announced anything it’s obvious they will support Blu-ray (again).

Now, let’s hope the BD association starts lowering the prices of players and movies. The next battle for BD will be against HD movie downloads/rentals.

[via Format War Central]

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Filed under: Blu-ray, HD DVD, Home Theater, Movies

Blu-ray Deal: Buy 2 get 1 free


Amazon is having a buy 2 get 1 free deal on select Blu-ray titles. There are approximately 180 titles that qualify – just make sure you view each genre (action & adventure, drama & family friendly, etc.) by clicking on the tabs on top of the page.

I bought Black Hawk Down, House of Flying Daggers, & Underworld: Evolution for $38 ($12.66/title) – a pretty darn good deal.

The price varies so if you’re buying a lot of discs make sure you divide your purchase into separate orders. For example, all $15.95 discs in one order and all $23.95 discs in another because Amazon gives the cheapest disc to you for free.
Not sure how long this deal will last so buy ’em if you can!

Filed under: Amazon, Blu-ray, Deals, Home Theater, Movies

AppleTV HD video review round-up


promo_appletv_box20080115.pngThis week Apple finally released version 2.0 of the Apple TV software that was demo’d by Steve Jobs at this year’s MacWorld. This is a big deal because it finally makes the Apple TV a lot more functional – adding the ability to buy and/or rent movies (SD or HD) and TV shows. However, the one question I had was, ‘just how good is the HD video quality compared to Blu-ray/HD-DVD?’ Answer: it’s surprisingly good…ranking #2 – right behind Blu-ray/HD-DVD.

It’s def worth reading the reviews as they have screen shots comparing AppleTV, Blu-ray/HD-DVD, HD Cable, and standard DVD:

I haven’t had time to rent an HD movie on mine, yet, but I’ll post a review of my experience when I do.

Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, Digital Movies, HDTV, Home Theater, Movies, Reviews

Video: First look at the 1098R


Man, watching these videos and hearing the 1098 really makes me miss my bike…winter can’t end early enough!

My favorite part is how Michael Neeves (MCN reviewer/rider) is speechless for a second after he gets back into the pits.

Filed under: Ducati, Motorcycles, Reviews, Video, YouTube

1st Ducati Desmocedici hits the UK


One word describes my reaction to watching and hearing this bike: incredible. Man, it’ d be nice to be able to spend $73,000 on a motorcycle.

[via TwistingAsphalt]

Filed under: Ducati, Motorcycles, Video, YouTube

Looks like Blu-ray is going to beat HD-DVD


bd-hddvd-logo.jpgI’m a bit sad to write this but it looks like Blu-ray is going to win the HD DVD format war now that Warner Bros. has gone Blu-ray exclusive. Now, Blu-ray has a large majority of the studios supporting it – the only exclusive studios supporting HD-DVD are Universal Studios and Paramount. However, there have been rumors that they will also go neutral or Blu-ray exclusive but I don’t think we’ll see them go Blu in the near future since Universal publicly stated that their ‘current plan is to continue to support HD-DVD’ (notice how they used the words “current plan” which tells me they’re starting to think in Blu).

Let’s make this easier, here’s a list of what’s happened since Warner Bros. went Blu-ray exclusive:

Yeah, these are very dark times for the HD-DVD consortium and mostly for Toshiba since they are the primary backer of HD-DVD…and these are great times for the Blu-ray Disc (BD) consortium – especially Sony since they’re the primary backer of Blu-ray. However, I don’t think it’s gonna be a cake walk for BD to win the format war due to various reasons – the primary being that Universal and Paramount are still HD-DVD exclusive and the high BD player prices.

Personally, since the Warner Bros. announcement (Jan. 4) I broke down and bought a Blu-ray player (Playstation 3). I bought it about a week after the WB announcement. Needless to say, I think the writing’s on the wall for HD-DVD and it will die a slow death, which is very unfortunate because I’ve been a HD-DVD supporter from the beginning and I am NOT a Sony fan by any stretch of the imagination. I supported HD-DVD for various reasons that I won’t list because this post on Gizmodo sums it up almost perfectly.

Needless to say, I’m tired of this format war and am ready for it to end. Blu-ray has around 75% of Hollywood studios supporting it…and it hurts to say this but “go Blu.”

Filed under: Blu-ray, HD DVD, HDTV, Home Theater, Playstation 3

HD-DVD & Blu-ray: Buy 1 Get 1 Free at Best Buy


hd-dvd_logo_resized.jpgBest Buy is offering a buy 1 get 1 free deal on HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs. And, yes, there are some good movies that qualify for this offer.

blu-ray-resized.jpg
FYI, I was in a Best Buy store yesterday (Watertown, MA) and there were no advertisements for this offer so this offer may be online only. If you need the discs before Christmas, just buy online with in-store pickup – that’s what I just did.

HD-DVD

  • 300 ($34.99)
  • Arctic Tale ($34.99)
  • Blades Of Glory ($29.99)
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • The Departed HD-DVD ($34.99)
  • Disturbia ($29.99)
  • Evan Almighty ($19.99)
  • Harry Potter & Order Of The Phoenix ($32.99)
  • I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry ($29.99)
  • Knocked Up: Unrated ($19.99)
  • Mr. Bean’s Holiday ($29.99)
  • Ocean’s Thirteen ($34.99)
  • Shooter ($34.99)
  • Shrek The Third ($29.99)
  • Transformers ($29.99)

Blu-ray

  • 28 Weeks Later ($29.99)
  • 300 ($29.99)
  • Are We Done Yet? ($29.99)
  • The Condemned ($29.99)

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bargains, Deals, HD DVD, HDTV, Home Theater, Movies

Bargain: Toshiba HD-DVD Player for $100


Looks like Wal-Mart will be selling the Toshiba HD-DVD player (HD-A2) for $100 this Friday, November 2 and Best Buy is already selling it for $100 (sold out on their website, though).

Not good enough?  Well, rumor is Sears will be selling the newer HD-A3 Toshiba HD-DVD player for $169 on Black Friday (compare that to Best Buy’s current price of $249).

If you’re thinking about buying an HD-DVD player now is the time!

[via Engadget]

Filed under: Bargains, Deals, HD DVD, HDTV, Home Theater, Movies

Toshiba HD-DVD player for $200


toshiba-hd-a2.jpgHave you been waiting for a cheap but good quality HD-DVD player? Well, your wait is now over. You can now buy Toshiba’s 2nd generation HD-DVD player (HD-A2) for $200 at Circuit City and, starting next week, at Wal-Mart and most likely Best Buy.

I was an early adopter and own the 1st gen Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player and love it. The picture and sound quality is amazing…assuming you have a calibrated HDTV and a good surround sound system.

FYI, the latest HD-DVD player is the HD-A3 and HD-A35 (3rd gen). You can check out the specs of the HD-A2 and the rest of the HD-DVD players on Toshiba’s site.

[via ArsTechnica]

Filed under: Deals, HD DVD, HDTV, Home Theater, Movies, Surround Sound, Video

iPhone Scratch Test Video


Thinking about getting an iPhone but are wondering how durable it is? Well, check out this video from PC World. They scratched the screen with a key, vigorously shaked it in a bag with a bunch of keys, and dropped it on concrete multiple times. The end result: no scratches. Just some scratches on the chrome strip around the screen.

The iPhone looks like it should be coddled like a newborn baby but Apple was smart and designed it to withstand real world usage.

Btw, iLounge has a nice review of the iPhone and speaks to their findings in regards to durability.

Filed under: Apple, iPhone, Mobile Phone, Smartphone, Technology, Video, Wireless, YouTube

Earth Day video from Rocketboom


Yesterday (April 22) was Earth Day and Rocketboom posted a nice video in relation to Earth Day.  The video is about the amount of waste that goes into the packaging of consumer products – in this case, a Canon inkjet refill cartridge.

Rocketboom is a videoblog based in NYC that posts daily 3-minute news videos (hosted by Joanne Colan and formerly hosted by Amanda Congdon) focused on international arts, technology and weblog drama.

Filed under: Video

Got my Joost beta invite


Well, I finally got my beta invite to Joost back on April 5 and I just was planning on downloading the install software but noticed that only Intel Macs running 10.4 or higher is supported. Since I’m running a PowerBook G4 with 10.3 I’ll have to install it on my Vista machine.

I’ll try to check it out later this week. When I do, I’ll post a review or, at least, my initial thoughts.

Update (4/11/2007) Well, I just tried to install it on my Vista Ultimate machine and I keep getting a “Joost stopped working” error message…ugh, what a pain in the ass.  I checked their forums and, with the latest version (0.9.2), some people are reporting issues with Vista while others aren’t.  The real annoyance is that I can’t post in the forums because the only way to create a Joost user account is via the client application.  Since I can’t launch the app, I can’t create an account.

I sent an email to their support email addy so, hopefully, they’ll help me resolve it soon.  Until then, no beta invites for me to give away. 😦

Filed under: Digital Movies, IPTV, Video, Web 2.0

Deal: Xbox HD-DVD player for $131


Xbox HD-DVD add-onSam’s Club is selling the Xbox HD-DVD add-on player for $131 (a full $59 lower than MSRP). Note: some Sam’s Club locations are selling it for $150, which is still a good deal.

Btw, this deal is in-store only.

[via TechBargains]

Filed under: Deals, HD DVD, Xbox 360

How NOT to sell an Apple TV


Are you interested in buying an Apple TV? If so, I bet the first thing you would do is visit an Apple Store so you can demo it and see how it works, how good the video quality is, etc. Well, the good news is the Apple Stores have 3 of them – each connected to a Sony Bravia LCD. Great, right? Wrong.

I went to the Apple Store in Burlington, MA this weekend and watched National Treasure, Heroes, and Pirates of the Caribbean (each for 30 seconds) and the picture quality of all of them was terrible. Of the 3 Apple TVs, the two I tested had the same issues. In fact, the video quality was so bad that, if that was my only experience with an Apple TV, I would NOT buy one.  If the Burlington, MA store is indicative of all Apple Stores, then Apple has a problem.

My Apple TV is connected to a 50″ Panasonic plasma (TH-50PX60U) and the picture quality is 10x better. And, yes, I compared the same TV show (Heroes).

Why is the picture quality so much better on my display? Simple – the LCDs at the Apple Store weren’t calibrated. Sony Bravia LCDs are excellent HDTVs and are known to display a very good picture. I’m guessing they just took the TVs out of the box and set them up using the default picture settings (which you should NEVER do).

It wouldn’t be hard for the Apple Stores to calibrate a TV – all they need is someone who knows how to use a DVD calibration disc. Heck, I’ll be their consultant and travel to all of the Apple Stores to calibrate them…I’d be willing to take payment in the form of cash or Apple products. 😉

To sum it up: Apple needs to calibrate those HDTVs if they want to sell Apple TVs.

Filed under: Apple, Apple Store, AppleTV, Digital Movies, Video

How do you determine the video quality of an iTunes TV show?


Does anybody know how to determine the video encoding quality for a given TV show or movie from the iTunes Store (before purchasing)? I’ve tried Get Info but it’s useless.

When the iTS first started selling videos, they encoded them in 320 x 240 (which is similar to the quality you’d get from VHS) but starting around September 2006 they started encoding them in 640 x 480 (which is near dvd quality).  I’ve been thinking about buying some older episodes of Battlestar Gallactica and I don’t want to get stuck with a 320 x 240 video file because they look like absolute shit on a 50″ plasma.

Filed under: Apple, AppleTV, Digital Movies, iTunes, Movies, Video

Apple TV review from Ars Technica


In case you haven’t seen this (or aren’t sick of Apple TV posts), Ars Technica has a very nice, detailed, and thorough review of the Apple TV.

If you’re thinking about buying one, I recommend reading their review…and mine.  😉

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Reviews, Video

How to upgrade the hard drive in Apple TV


I’m sure you’ve already read about people upgrading that measly 40GB hard drive. Well, Engadget has some sweet step-by-step instructions with pictures.

Personally, I’m not planning on doing this since I haven’t maxed out the hard drive…yet.

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, How-To, Video

Review: Apple TV


apple-tv-menu.jpg I got my Apple TV this past Thursday and have been using it the past two nights. Everything about it is Apple-esque: the user interface is gorgeous, setup was extremely easy, integration with iTunes was perfect, synchronizing and streaming content performed flawlessly, and watching shows, film trailers, iTunes previews, etc. worked perfectly.

Overall, it rocks! But, as with anything, there is always some room for improvement. Here are the details:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, iTunes, Reviews, Video

Brits get a free 46-inch HDTV with the purchase of a PS3


Sony gave a free 46-inch HDTV (I’m assuming a LCD HDTV) to the first 100 people who purchased a PS3 on launch day. The PS3 has had a lot of negative press since it’s launch and it isn’t selling as well as the Xbox 360 and the Wii in the States…this seems like a big indication that Sony is unhappy with sales of the PS3. After all, if the PS3 was selling well, they wouldn’t be giving away HDTVs, on launch night, that will cost them an estimated £250,000.

[via Kotaku and BBC News]

Filed under: Gaming, HDTV, Playstation 3, PS3

Apple TV review from Walt Mossberg and David Pogue


The initial reviews are in: Walt Mossberg (From PC to TV — via Apple TV) and David Pogue (Apple TV Has Landed) give the Apple TV a thumbs up. Walt Mossberg summed it up nicely:

We’ve been testing Apple TV for the past 10 days or so, and our verdict is that it’s a beautifully designed, easy-to-use product that should be very attractive to people with widescreen TV sets and lots of music, videos, and photos stored on computers. It has some notable limitations, but we really liked it. It is classic Apple: simple and elegant.

Some points of interest:

  • Video and music that was streamed to the device did not hiccup or stutter on a 802.11g WiFi network (Walt Mossberg)
  • Setup was incredibly simple (Walt Mossberg)
  • After syncing your iPod to iTunes, Apple TV remembers where you stopped watching or listening to a movie, TV show, or song (David Pogue)
  • Pictures cannot be streamed but Apple plans on adding that feature soon (Walt Mossberg)
  • Only files from one computer will be synced/copied to Apple TV. The other 5 computers can only stream content to Apple TV (Walt Mossberg)
  • In iTunes, Apple created a page for ‘Apple TV podcast showcase’ (iTunes link)

The primary limitation that Walt Mossberg highlights is the lack of content that can be directly streamed from the Internet to Apple TV. Currently, only movie trailers, preview clips of songs, TV shows, and movies can be streamed. Another complaint was how

Hopefully, Logitech will update their Harmony remote control database to include commands for the Apple TV.

So far, things are looking good…

Filed under: AppleTV, Digital Movies, Reviews, Video