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All posts tagged "blu-ray"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

iTunes New Video Encoding Compares Favorably To Blu-ray

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 01:00 PM

"Ars was recently able to conclude that the newly launched iTunes movies encoded in 1080p do, in fact, look better than the same content encoded in 720p, despite the modest increase in file size. That's good news for iTunes customers. But the real question is: how do iTunes 1080p downloads compare to the reigning king of home video image quality-Blu-ray Disc (BRD)? This is what we set out to test."

With the recent announcement of the new iPad, Apple also launched iTunes movies encoded in 1080p. This was welcome news for many video enthusiasts. Many questioned, though, just how good the video and audio encoding would turn out to be, especially compared to Blu-ray. Ars Technica resources were up to the task of examining this question, and their report indicates the encoding is pretty good indeed (video, at least) although it is not quite as good as Blu-ray. The Read link has the complete story.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Playing 'Smarter' with the Samsung BD-D6500 3D Blu-ray player

Posted by Don Tolson in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

Product Category: Internet connected Blu-Ray player
Manufacturer: Samsung
Where to Buy: Amazon [affiliate]
Price: $199.99USD, but on special for $114.95
System Requirements: Plays Blu-Ray, 3D, DVD +/-R(W), CD DA, CD-R(W) discs
Specifications: Dimensions - 17in (430mm) x 8.2in(209mm) x 1.3in(33mm); Weight - 3.8lbs (1.7kg); Outputs - HDMI, Component Video, Composite Video, Optical Digital Audio (Dolby/DTS 7.1), Analog Audio (2ch).


  • Small, compact and light;
  • Plays just about any type of video disc;
  • Internet capable, via wired or wireless (b, g, n) LAN.


  • Not able to easily connect/share with other network PC's;
  • Limited content available in Canada;
  • Only cable provided is for 2 ch stereo and composite video.

Summary: When Samsung first approached us about doing a review of the BD-D6500, I was very excited about the fact that here was a Blu-Ray player with built-in Wi-Fi connectability. The stars in my eyes forsaw a possible replacement for my big, bulky media PC -- using this player to access all the music, video and pictures on my home network -- as well as having a really cool, sleek blu-ray/DVD player. Did it work? Let's take a look... Read more...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Home Theater In a Box: Reviews Of Three Recent Products

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:00 PM

"If you're not ready to go whole hog with discrete components, Blu-ray home theater systems-also known as home theater in a box systems, or HTiBs-are an easy and affordable alternative."

Several years ago I purchased a Panasonic home theater in a box (back before Blu-ray and HDMI, mind you), and I have to say that I sure got a lot of mileage out of it. These convenient packages can be very cost effective solutions in many circumstances, but they are not for everyone. Gizmodo has posted a review of three recent systems: the Harman-Kardon BDS 800, the Sony BDV-HZ970W, and the LG LHB976. These systems range from about $500 to $1500, so you would expect a fair bit of variance in performance. Then again, you might be surprised to find out that, in the author's opinion, in this case cost is not always an indication of best overall price/performance.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Your Digital Convenience Price Threshold?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

In the tug of war between atoms and bits, how much does it take to sway you one way or another? Digital download or buying DVDs - which way do you roll? I bought the first episode of "Breaking Bad" on iTunes a few weeks ago, watched it yesterday, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Since I don't currently have an active account (it's a DVD rental service) I'd be looking at buying Breaking Bad season one. How do the numbers work out? Read more...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Get a Free Panasonic 3DTV with an Avatar 3D Blu-ray Purchase!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"When Panasonic announced it was including copies of Avatar in 3D with its 3DTVs and Blu-ray players, it simply seemed like a great marketing move. Now it's looking like more of a coup, with Panasonic UK confirming that the company's bundle deal runs until February of 2012."

When I hear the word "bundle," several things come to mind. Gaming console bundles like Halo with your PS3 or Gran Turismo 5 with a Wii or Dance Central with your PS3. It apparently is a great way to spur sales, though I have to admit that I really wonder if anyone is fanatical enough about Avatar in 3D that they would buy a TV to go with it. At least with console bundles you can buy the game separately. Not so with Avatar 3D! And now it appears that you will not be able to for at least another year. I can only surmise that Panasonic is having a real hard time selling those 3DTVs. It kind of makes me wonder if something is wrong with them.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sony NSZ-GT1 Blu-Ray Player with Google TV Reviewed By AnAndTech

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"Offering unprecedented content aggregation via a consumer oriented federated search experience, the Google TV (GTV) platform is a fascinating product with incredible promise. Subsequent to its launch amidst high expectations, users have slowly come to terms with the capabilities of the software as well as the underlying hardware platform. Without doubt, the Logitech Revue was the flagship product for Google TV at launch. However, many of its users are finding it hard to justify a dedicated device for just the functionality provided by Google TV. A detailed review of the Revue will follow in the coming weeks. However, the unanimous opinion amongst the editors at AnandTech is that Google TV could only be justified as a bundled value add-on for already existing CE devices in a HT setup. Consumers would probably be willing to pay for Google TV on devices such as TVs, Blu-Ray players, media streamers, STBs or even AV receivers."

This was an expected move and one I am not surprised to see Sony do. Having dedicated devices purely for one function is no longer what consumers seem to want, and integrating this with a blu-ray player is the right move I believe. The review by AnAndtech is fairly comprehensive and does hgihlight the good and bad points of Google TV well. It's certainly not the cheapest blu-ray player out there and you would have to decide if having Google TV is worth the extra premium.

Monday, November 1, 2010

DVD2Blu Version Two

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

Thinking about taking advantage of this one. Pretty much any DVD (other than adult titles) qualifies. So, it sound like you could go pick up a bunch of DVD's from the Dollar Store and net out getting a bunch of Blu-Ray discs for about $6 each. But, I'm betting a lot of these titles will probably have a regular price of $9.99 by the end of the year (some already do), so if you are only interested in one or two titles, it may not be worth the effort.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Nero Goes HD With Two New Products

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Software" @ 03:30 AM

"Nero Introduces Ultimate High Definition Solutions for Creative Video Enthusiasts: Nero Multimedia Suite 10 Platinum HD and Nero Video Premium HD. Nero offers complete HD experience with the introduction of Bluray playback, new HD effects, and the ability to seamlessly transfer content between any mobile device at an unbeatable price."

If you have been shooting HD video clips, but they are simply gathering dust on your hard drive due to the lack of a HD burning solution, Nero AG is introducing just the products you need: Nero Multimedia Suite Platinum HD (US $129.99) - an upgrade of their Multimedia Suite 10 - and Nero Video Premium HD (US $69.99), a new product that also adds Blu-ray Disc support to Nero's Vision Xtra software, but lacks the "BackItUp" and "Move It" Plug-ins featured in the suite. Both products are scheduled for release in mid-October, but are currently available for "Presale" directly from Nero. If the Platinum Suite appeals to you, pre-ordering it offers benefits: not only is Nero offering discounted pre-order pricing (US $109.99), but they will provide you with the existing Multimedia Suite 10, as well as MediaHome 4, to keep you busy until the new product arrives. Current owners of Multimedia Suite 10 can upgrade to the Platinum Suite for $29.99 (US).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blu-ray on XBMC? Oh Yes!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 10:00 AM

"No one has written any open-source software that can play back Blu-ray movies, nor is there any software library capable of decoding the DRM encryption on-the-fly yet. However, previously mentioned DVD-ripping application MakeMKV does have a few advanced features that, coupled with an XBMC plug-in, can give you a pretty close experience on Windows or Linux (it works on Mac OS X in theory, but we aren't going there)."

The solution provided by LifeHacker is not perfect, but it is a step forward and a hint of things to come. For those who like to tinker, this seems like the latest advance that you can show off to your friends. For those who like a polished solution with few quirks, it looks like you will have to plunk down that cash to get a proper Blu-ray player after all. Most home theater systems I have seen usually come with a mix of various components, each designed for a different task. Even new things like Netflix's streaming box are still single purpose devices. The closest one I know if is the PlayStation 3, so it is nice to see another option for an all-in-one device crop up for your TV viewing pleasure.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Awful Looking Text Over HDMI on Your TV? Turn Down the Sharpness

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

Are you seeing awful-looking text on an LCD or plasma TV after connecting your laptop or desktop to it via HDMI? Here's a tip that might help. First, some back story...

A couple of weeks ago, I swapped out video cards in the desktop PC that I use as my Windows Media Center computer. A few months earlier, I'd removed my aged Dell 26" 720p LCD TV and replaced it with an LG 32" 1080p LCD TV. I was running over DVI, using a DVI to VGA adapter since the LG TV didn't have a DVI port. Everything looked great, though I wasn't sure if I was really seeing 1080p resolution when I was watching Blu-ray movies - the NVIDIA 7950GT video card was a couple of years old, and I wasn't sure if it would support HDCP over DVI > VGA. I spent a few hours trying to determine if I had an HDCP-compliant chain of devices (computer to video card to display) and found it impossible to find anything that allowed me to easily test this. I'd already purchased the new video card - a low-end, passively cooled ATI 5000 series Radeon card - so I figured "What the hell, I'll just put it in". Read more...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Digital Copy Codes & Downloads Expire Too Soon

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 02:00 PM

Have you ever seen that screen before? If so, you'll share my frustration. In the instance above, it was the Speed Racer Blu-ray disc I got as part of a promotion when I purchased the piece-of-junk Samsung BDP-1500. It took me a couple of months to watch Speed Racer, but when I did I saw the Digital Copy coupon and went to download it - and was presented the above error. OK, sure, it was my own fault for not getting the download right away - but it was my first purchase of Blu-ray discs and I'd never used digital copy at that point. Last week I bought a regular DVD at Costco, and upon opening the package I saw a digital copy coupon. Cool! I used it the same day I purchased the DVD and guess what? It was already expired. What the heck?

I think digital copy is a great advancement - well, it will be once they get Zune support - but it's frustrating to see the movie companies dangle it out as a carrot then snatch it away after only a few months. Are the bandwidth expenses really so high that they can't offer it for, say, a year after the DVD or Blu-ray comes out?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lexicon BD-30 = Oppo BDP-83

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"It's an Oppo BDP-83. Normally we'd launch into a statement like this with more tact. We may, for example, wax eloquent about the Lexicon BD-30's beautiful chassis or it's billet aluminum front face. We could tell you about the heft of the unit, or the fact that comes double boxed with enough padding to warrant throwing it off the FedEx or UPS truck while it's still moving. While all of that is true, the Lexicon BD-30 is still an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Player. And what's more, it's not just using the same parts - they actually stuck the player inside - chassis and all. This would be OK, were it not for the $3000 premium over the Oppo and THX certification."

Part of me thinks that if you are willing to drop over $3,000 on a Blu-ray player, you deserve to get duped. But lots of other companies re-badge lower priced products as other products (like Toyota/Lexus for example), but in most cases those are not 100% duplicates. I wonder if this is happening with Oppo's knowledge or if Lexicon is buying these through the retail channel.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Toms Hardware Reviews Low-cost 'Combo' Blu-ray Drives

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 AM,2483.html

"Once again, we face a situation where having separate drives might make sense to some people because the fastest DVD writers have slightly higher burn speeds than available combo drives. But the practical matter of saving a few seconds on a burn is only really valuable for someone who uses the feature continuously. Rather than devote resources to improving DVD-writing speed, combo-drive manufacturers have focused recent improvements on Blu-ray reads, which, at the now-standard 8x speed, are fast enough to buffer several seconds of video for each second of play time. The added read speed is gratis thanks to competition between manufacturers, so we finally have a selection of combo drives with good enough performance to convince us to take the plunge."

How many of us with CD/DVD writers haven't bought a Blu-ray drive for our PC's due to cost, not wanting a second drive just to watch Blu-ray, or simply because we perhaps have an HTPC case which only has space for one drive? If you are in the market for a drive that allows you to watch Blu-ray and DVD movies, yet still be able to burn CD/DVD discs, then this review by Toms Hardware of three low-cost 'combo' drives might just help you decide that these combo drives are now a viable and relatively inexpensive option for taking the plunge to Blu-ray.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Warner Offers to Swap Your DVDs to Blu-ray

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"Upgrade your Warner Bros. DVD titles for new industry-leading Blu-ray discs and unleash the power of your HDTV through the DVD2Blu program. Blu-ray disks as low as $7.95 and free shipping on orders over $25."

I was pretty excited when I first saw this. But then I looked at the details. There are not a huge number of movies offered. Out of my collection, I only had 4 eligible movies (technically 7, but I'd already purchased the Blu-ray disk for the other 3). Of those, most were only a couple buck extra to just buy the Blu-ray directly from Amazon which, given the months I waited to get my disks shipped on the similar Red2Blu program, seems worth it since I'd get to keep the DVD's that way. The last movie, Superman Returns, is technically a good deal since it would cost $23.99 from Amazon, but I already regret purchasing that DVD, so no need to double down on the buyers remorse.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Corel's WinDVD Pro 2010 Reviewed

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

Here's the scenario: I have a computer in my office connected to a Dell 26" LCD TV, and I use it as my master media computer, including handling the task of recording standard-def TV shows. I often watch movies on it while I work on editing photos or videos. It doesn't have a Blu-ray player on it, but since I still have the dv2 on loan from HP I decided to connect the USB-based Blu-ray drive. It worked like a charm, but even with Windows 7 installed, I can't play Blu-ray discs without added software. I asked the nice folks at Corel to let me take WinDVD Pro 2010 for a spin. I tested this software on a machine with 4 GB of RAM, an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU at 2.4 Ghz, and an Nvidia 7950GT video card.

WinDVD Pro 2010 sells for a hefty $99 USD; it seems anything related to Blu-ray is expensive, from discs to players to software. It's likely in no small part to the royalties and codec licensing required to play that juicy 1080p video, but when entire computers cost $299, $99 seems a bit steep for software to play movies.

After downloading the 110 MB installer, I ran it and was surprised to see it had to install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable Package and Microsoft DirectX 2008 package. Really? A C++ package from 2005? On a Windows 7 computer? The EULA was a bit different than normal - the first paragraph was in bold text and it stated that the install was good for one copy on one computer only. That's not something I normally see, but given the expensive Blu-ray licensing fee involved, I can see why they do this. Next it asks for a region selection, and after the install is complete, it offers to be the default player not only for Blu-ray discs, but also for AVCHD and M2T/MTS files - and audio CDs as well. I said yes to the former, no the latter, and was then prompted to install the QuickTime player. It seems every MPEG4-based product out there leans on Quicktime in some way, which is frustrating if you don't want Quicktime installed on your computer. Read more...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blu-ray Digital Copy: Only a Good Experience for iTunes Users

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

There are a lot of things that I don't like about Blu-ray as a format, but as the industry has settled on it as the physical standard for HD discs, things have slowly started to improve. One such improvement is the increased proliferation of Managed Digital Copy on Blu-ray discs. It works like this: in many new Blu-ray packages, you'll have the Blu-ray disc, a regular DVD, and a small card with a code on it. When you insert the regular DVD in your computer, you'll typically get an auto-loader (pictured above) for the movie, and it will give you the ability to transfer a DVD resolution (or lower if they offer a portable device version) copy of the movie to your computer in one of two DRM-laden formats: iTunes MPEG4, or Windows Media Player WMV. In each case, the code you're provided is used to authenticate the WMV and MPEG4 versions of the movie. The neat part is that you can get both the iTunes and Windows Media Player versions of the movie - I did this with four Blu-ray discs I purchased. Read more...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Do the Movie Companies Toy With Us Like This?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:40 AM

That's what I see for choices when I look on, and this is something I've seen before: the studios release a Blu-ray version of the movie that has less features on it than the special edition DVD version - at least in Canada they do. In the example above, both movies are the Directors Cut, but the Blu-ray edition ($27.95 CAD) has no indication that it has the same bonus features as the special edition DVD ($33.99 CAD). The lower price of the Blu-ray version seems to back that up. Yet when I look on, the only Blu-ray version is the special edition, and it has all the bonus features listed. Curiously, it's the same price ($22.99) as the special edition DVD. What a headache - it looks like I'm going to have to wait for this to be in stores before I can figure it out.

Tags: dvd, blu-ray, watchman

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cringely's Thoughts on Blu-ray

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"There is growing sentiment in the industry that Blu-Ray, as it was originally intended, is a failure. How can that be? Wasn’t it just a year ago that Blu-Ray, with its greater data capacity, triumphed over the opposing HD-DVD standard? Well promises were made to achieve that victory and now it appears promises may have been broken. Understand that the success or failure of Blu-Ray has little to do with games and everything to do with movies. Two historical events informed the battle between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. First was the epic and costly 1980‘s competition between the BetaMax and VHS tape cassette standards. Second was the triumphant succession of DVD over VHS, when we all replaced our tape libraries with disks, gladly paying anew for what we already owned, buying every Hollywood exec a new Mercedes in the process."

Cringley argues that the reason Activision is putting pressure on Sony has more to do with a failure of Blu-ray than game sales. Although I was hoping HD-DVD would win, I think the perceived failure of Blu-ray is really a matter of falsely defining the definition of success. Expecting Blu-ray to replicate the success of DVD was not reasonable. Neither HD format offered the kind of upgrade that DVD offered over VHS. Plus, people have lots of DVD players, so unless they want to restrict their viewing to just one TV, they've got to replace all their players, which is not exactly cheap. One of the great features of HD-DVD was the combo disk, which eliminated this problem. Eventually, Blu-ray players will achieve penetration through a slow war of attrition as old DVD players get replace and Blu-ray players reach a price that DVD players will no longer be produced.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Managed Copies Coming To Blu-ray Sometime Eventually

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Beginning next year, studios and other content holders will be required to give consumers the ability to make one copy of any Blu-ray Disc they buy. Dubbed “managed copy,” the requirement has long been planned for the Blu-ray format, but has only just been finalized by the Advanced Access Content System License Administrator, a consortium of studios, hardware manufacturers and technology companies that licenses the AACS copy protection used on Blu-ray Discs."

Good news everybody! The specification that will allow you to make one copy of your Blu-ray Disc has been finalized! That is the sound of progress marching that you hear in the background. The one thing left standing in your way is for studios, manufacturers and licensers to approve of the new specification. Actually, the two things left standing in your way is approval and new hardware. Okay, the three things left are approval by a those related to Blu-ray, new hardware and the licensing server to go online. Oh, and you might have to pay the sudio a fee for making that copy. But that is it! Really! Technology really had made our lives easier, has it not?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Anyone Else Having a Problem With Their Red2Blu Order?

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:00 PM

I placed my order back on 4/24/2009 with delivery confirmation and it was received by them on 4/30/2009. The web site indicated you'd received an e-mail when they received your order. By 5/7/2009 I'd not received an e-mail so called. I was told they had received my order and that they were just waiting for Casablanca to get in stock to ship it out. The expected wait was 1 to 2 weeks. Called again on 6/15/2009 since I had not received them. I was told they still had not gotten it in stock and expected it in 2 to 4 weeks. I asked if there was anything they could do like split my order or substitute a different movie. The representative told me that "they" (their bosses) said no. Asked to speak to "they" and was told they don't take calls. Asked to leave them a message with my complaint and the representative said they would deliver it, but that "they" do not reply to complaints. So with no other options, I gave up for the day.

Today I received a postcard stating the following:

"Dear Customer:

Thank you for your recent order. Unfortunately, due to delays in restocking our inventory, we are unable to process your order at this time. Please contact us at your earliest convenience for the expected ship date, or to cancel your order. Your product will be shipped upon availability. Please refer to the information listed on the reverse side of this card when calling on your order.

Once again we greatly appreciate your business and apologize fo this inconvenience.

Thank you."

First off, I thought it was kind of stupid to send a postcard telling me to call. Why could they not have just saved some money and sent me an e-mail with the actual information (no printing, postage, or phone charges)? When I did call, I was given two options. 1) Cancel, but I would not get the covers I had to mail in back or 2) Pay double shipping for them to split up the order. Option 1 was clearly unacceptable and after waiting 2 months, I didn't really feel like paying a $6.95 premium.

Warner Brothers had a great idea in coming up with the Red2Blu promotion. I'd already paid for the content in HD anyway, so what a better way to get goodwill (and probably a little profit) than by re-offering the same titles on BluRay at a discount. Unfortunately, their poor service and follow-through will probably offset any goodwill they might have gained, at least from me.

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