We made time to visit the folks at Dolby at their Computex suite today and they had an interesting demo to show us of Dolby Home Theater v3 and just what it is all about and what it is capable of delivering on the PC audio front.
The test subject was a high-end 17-inch Acer notebook with Dolby Home Theater v3 testing certification. What that actually means is Acer sends the notebook over to Dolby's San Fran office and audio experts fine tune the audio systems of the Acer notebook for best quality sound possible.
In the video below you get some type of idea of the difference with the Acer notebook not tweaked by Dolby audio engineers and then of course with the audio enhancer and surround sound tweaks enabled. Take a listen for yourself below:
Keep in mind our video here doesn't fully justify the improved sound quality we noticed in person, but it provides a fairly accurate representation of what we heard.
ATI has unveild the Theater HD 750 tuner card, offering HDTV viewing capabilities on desktop and notebook PCs using analog, digital, and FTA broadcast signals.
The new Theater HD 750 uses advanced video and signal reception technologies for clear HD picture quality, crisp imagage, and high color performance and fidelity. It is compatible with HDTV/DTV/analog broadcast signals including NTSC, PAL/SECAM, ATSC, ClearQAM and DVB-T.
ATI's Theater HD 750 will also capture and convert recorded TV into popular formats including H.264, AVI, MPEG, DivX, WMV and MPEG4 for use on portable media devices. Fast and seamless transcoding can be obtained when pairing the ATI Theater HD 750 with an ATI Radeon graphics card.
It is compatible with Windwos Vista Media Center, Windows XP Media Center, and Windows 7 whenever it arrives. ATI says that the card will be available later this year in PCI Express, USB, and "other" formats.
"ATI Theater HD 750 combines AMD's longstanding reputation for video expertise with consumer demand for a cost effective, easy to use and high quality TV on the PC experience," said Matt Skynner, Vice President & General Manager, GPU Division, AMD Products Group. "ATI Theater HD 750, in combination with ATI Radeon graphics and AMD mobile technology-based notebooks, provides a simplified, high-quality home-theater solution."
DFI has contracted FirstZoom.tv to promote their LANParty DKX58 motherboard and they have put out a high-def video showcasing not only the highlights of the board, but some of the smaller features as well.
The DFI DKX58 is a Intel Core i7 platform motherboard specifically designed for overclockers and PC hardware enthusiasts. The specialized cooling seen on the video as well as the other integrated features are all geared towards optimizing the best performance from a PC system. The BIOS alone has over 100 settings which could daunt even the most experienced tweaker, however, let no man say that DFI did not give you the tools to make your machine purr to perfection.
Apple may finally be hopping on the Blu-Ray bandwagon after patiently waiting out the results of the format war.
A leaked version of iTunes 8.2 contains some information that could tie the software to Blu-Ray utilization. Everyone knows that Apple loves to drop little hints of information without confirming anything until it launches and this could very well be such a hint.
However until Apple makes an official announcement, its nothing more than pure speculation at this point. It wouldn't be surprising at all though as Apple's adoption of the high def format is inevitable lest it be left behind. Surprisingly enough Microsoft hasn't added this to its "I'm a PC" commercials, but give it time.
Our Deal of the Day today is the Sylvania Nb501sl9 Blu-ray Player Deal at Deep Discount.
Offer: Get the Sylvania Blu Ray 1080p player for just $199 with FREE shipping.
Western Digital has released a firmware update for the WD TV. The new firmware brings the version up to 1.02. Below are some of the major changes made in the update:
Enhanced cover art, album art, and thumbnail support for media files and folders
Additional subtitle languages and decoding support
Improved media playback and navigation
More audio formats for MKV container
Fixed bugs reported by the WD TV user community
MSI announced five new video cards, all of which are targeting the HTPC market. The new cards all utilized Radeon HD 4670 or 4650 GPU's, all have HDMI onboard, and all are bus-powered.
All of the cards in MSI's R4600 HDMI series have Hi-c capacitors and solid state choke's, normally reserved for higher end cards. The R4600 series all use a maximum of 75 watts, allowing them to stay cool and keep the noise down which is ideal for HTPC implementation.
The MSI R4650 will be available in three varieties. Al have a GPU clock of 600MHz and memory clocked at 1GHz. Two have 512MB of GDDR2 memory, differing only in active/passive cooling solutions, while the third is available with 1GB of GDDR2 and active cooling.
MSI R4670's have a 750MHz GPU clock and a memory clock of 1.746GHz. Both of these cards will have GDDR3 and active cooling while letting you choose between 1GB and 512MB of memory.
The full press release can be found here.
Apple announced that iTunes customers will finally be able to purchase and rent movies through the iTunes store.
Purchasing a movie in HD costs $19.99 and rentals will cost $4.99. The rentals will be available within 30 days after release. Currently the hit thriller Twilight is available and Quantum of Solace will be available on March 24. More movies will be added soon and you can view what iTunes has to offer here.
You can read the full press release if you'd like.
"Movie fans are going to love being able to buy and rent films including 'Quantum of Solace' and 'Twilight' in stunning HD from the iTunes Store," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet Services. "Customers have made HD content on iTunes a hit, with over 50 percent of TV programming being purchased in HD when available."
Starting today, iTunes customers can pre-order "Quantum of Solace" which will be downloaded to their computer on March 24, and the smash hit thriller "Twilight" will be available on March 21. iTunes customers can purchase "Transporter 3," "Punisher: War Zone" and other select titles in HD today, and the action/comedy "The Spirit" will be available on April 14. The iTunes Movie Store will be adding more HD movies soon and customers can view the latest offerings at http://www.itunes.com/movies/hd.
Something pretty cool popped up this morning while I was looking over news. It is a fanless, 1080p Small Form Factor HTPC from Habey USA.
This tiny and quiet little device has an Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz CPU under the hood comes complete with support for up to 2GB of RAM, two SATA II ports and options for Wireless and HDTV Tuners. HDMI support helps to round out the package.
There has been a push towards these types of devices for home entertainment as an HTPC can provide a broader base for digital entertainment than your stock Set Top Box from the cable company.
Of course the cable companies are not happy about this move but what they will do to stem the tide remains to be seen.
Check it out here .
HABEY announced its latest high performance Intel N270 Atom processor based 1080p HD platform, Model BIS-6550HD. It has a built-in ultra low power HD AVC/VC-1/MPEG-2 hardware decoder, capable of full HD real-time decoding of H.264, VC-1 media contents at up to 40Mbps, MPEG-2 at up to 125Mbps as well as playback of Blu-ray. Playing back of 1080p H.264 HD video with the BIS-6550HD uses less than 15% of the 2.5W Atom N270 CPU, 1080p WMV HD content uses even less. That is over eight times more efficient in term of CPU usage when playing back the same contents of using an Intel T7300 Core 2 Duo processor. The power consumption of the complete loaded system with hard drive is less than 13W, a fraction of a conventional GPU on a standard video card with HD capability, or half of that of the nVidia ION reference design.
Standard media interfaces include: VGA, HDMI, Composite and S-Video out, built-in CF socket, SD reader, two SATA II ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet. Optional wireless card and HD TV tuner is also available. The industrial grade embedded board, SSD (solid-state drive) support and compact fanless design make it perfect for any full HD media player applications. Based on request for projects, OEM options are available on various enclosures, including HABEY's signature fanless enclosure with high efficient heatpipe design.
Our Download of the Day today is TightVNC 1.3.10.
TightVNC is a free remote control software package derived from the popular VNC software. With TightVNC, you can see the desktop of a remote machine and control it with your local mouse and keyboard, just like you would do it sitting in the front of that computer.
- Free, GPL-licensed, with full source code available;
- Useful in remote administration, remote customer support, education, and for many other purposes;
- Cross-platform, available for Windows and Unix, compatible with other VNC software;
- Well maintained and being actively developed.
- This version includes both the VNC viewer and server.
The latest version includes the following changes:
Changes in Version 1.3.10
- Windows Server: Impersonating currently logged on user while
processing file transfer requests. Disabling file transfers if
current user is unknown or nobody is logged in.
- Windows Server: Fixed rendering problems when multiple CopyRects
were combined with normal updates. That could caused distortions
that never updated even with full-screen polling active.
- Windows Server: Added new "-silent" command-line option which
modifies the behavior of -install, -reinstall and -remove options
and makes them not show informational windows on successful
execution. Note that -silent should precede other respective
options in the command line.
- Windows Server: LastRect, XCursor and RichCursor pseudo-encodings
were not properly enabled if they preceded true encodings in the
SetEncodings protocol message.
- Windows Viewer: Fixed integer overflow vulnerabilities reported
by Core Security Technologies. A specially modified VNC server
could currupt the heap of the connected viewer causing its crash
To view the complete changelog, click here.
Our Deal of the Day today is the Samsung 52" 1080p LCD HDTV LN52A550 for just $1,299.99 Shipped Free from Newegg.
Offer: This Samsung LN52A550 52" 1080P LCD HDTV is known for its amazing picture quality. it features a quick 5ms response time, bright 500 cd/m2, three HDMI 1.3 inputs, PC input, ATSC / NTSC / QAM Tuners, and more!
Something of interest for home theater buffs, especially those who have adopted Blu-ray or are going to.
It seems that some of the people that hold licenses for Blu-ray might be willing to come down on the prices they charge for the rights to the technology. If this is true, it could bring prices down to a level allowing for more mainstream adoption.
The companies spearheading this charge are Sony, Panasonic, and Phillips. The program will launch sometime this year and should be under the care of Gerald Rosenthal, who used to work for IBM in their IP Department.
Read more here at The Inquirer.
Panasonic, Philips and Sony are currently working with Blu-ray patent holders in order to set up a 'one-stop shop' for anyone wishing to use the technology.
Gerald Rosenthal, once a bigshot in IP at IBM, is fronting the the programme which will launch sometime in mid 2009 assuming, that is, all of the patent holders are willing to play ball.
"By establishing a new licensing entity that offers a single license for Blu-ray Disc products at attractive rates," said Rosenthal, "I am confident that it will foster the growth of the Blu-ray Disc market and serve the interest of all companies participating in this market, be it as licensee or licensor."
Pioneer has released the BDR-204BK Blu-Ray burner. The new drive is capable of writing both single and dual layer BD-R's at 8X speeds.
The new drives runs on SATA and will have a 4MB buffer. BD-RE speeds are still at 2X, 16X/8X for DVDR/R-W discs, and 32X/24X for CD-R/RW disks.
The BDR-204BK will also feature technologies including Ultra DRA, Limited Equalizer LSI, Multi-Effect Liquid Crystal Tilt Compensator, and is bundled with Cyberlink Blu-Ray Disc Suite 6.
The drive is available in Europe and will cost 250 Euro.
HD Guru has some exclusive information on Honeywell's HDTV plans this fall. Without beating around the bush, Honeywell is bringing a monsterous 82" 120Hz LCD to the market.
Looks like the Movie industry finally wised up to a few things. One of the first is that people do not want to spend $30+ on a movie regardless of the resolution.
In an article over at PCworld they take a look at the new trend in BluRay pricing. It seems that now your high end titles are around $20 with many titles being offered at just $10.
This is great news and coupled with the sub $200 BluRay players that have hit the market will open up BluRay Hi-Def to more consumers than ever.
I also have to wonder if this move is also not to help combat the rising rate of Pirated BluRay titles some can be found in full 1080p. Lowering the prices could help turn people away from getting their favorite movie in this method.
Paramount Home Entertainment Australia have officially announced the first batch of Star Trek Blu-rays, starting with the release of Star Trek: The Original Series: Season One on April 30th, and a boxset of the first six Star Trek films, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Wrath Of Khan, The Search for Spock, The Voyage Home, The Final Frontier and The Undiscovered Country, also on April 30th, timed to coincide with the May release of the much anticipated Star Trek prequel.
Paramount has yet to release any specification or pricing on the titles, so hold onto your hats for that.
S3 Graphics are still hanging in there and mostly rely on their Chrome series of graphics cards to help keep them afloat. In November of last year the Chrome 500 series made its debut with a single new offering dubbed the Chrome 530 GT and now S3 extends that to two models with the new Chrome 540 GTX appearing on S3's GStore sub-site.
As the model implies, this particular card is better spec'd than the 530 GT and uses a full-size PCB instead of the low-profile PCB used on all Chrome cards in the past. The GPU is clocked at 800MHz whilst the 256MB of GDDR3 memory is also clocked at 800MHz.
Other features include DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.0 support, S3's ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine and a PCI-Express x16 interface. Connectivity is very good with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors.
Chrome 540 GTX - created by growing demand for DisplayPort! Chrome 540 GTX give users the DisplayPort in addition to HDMI and DVI. This allows users to create their PCs into true theatrical multimedia entertainment center on high-definition consumer electronics devices enjoy dual-stream (PiP) Blu-ray™ playback, consumer applications, and general 3D gaming. With support of the enhanced HD video codecs like H.264 and VC-1, along with a DirectX® 10.1 graphics core for the latest 3D applications, the Chrome 540 GTX provides users with the best bang for the buck.
For a limited time S3 is bundling copies of InterVideo's WinDVD 8 software with the card whilst keeping the price to just $69.95 USD, making this a very attractive option for HTPC users looking for a new card purely for video playback, especially considering all the connectivity options it gives.
Just one this week, good thing it's a good one.
Wait. No it's not…
Roadshow Home Entertainment:
Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay
Pick of the week? I'm not doing it Until next week!
With the switch to turn off Analogue TV drawing closer and closer, the senate has just passed a bill which pushes the date back from February 17 to June 12. The man to really thank for the whole process seems to be President Obama who backed the bill earlier this month.
The government has stepped in and offered vouchers to offset the cost of the $40 Digital Set Top Box. But with all vouchers now gone and a waiting list of 2.5 million, it's clear that people just aren't ready to make the jump yet.
There's no doubt that the process is going to be quite daunting for many and the whole forced upgrade will be confusing a lot of people. Hopefully now, though, with the extra few months up their sleeve they can organise someone to come out and set the unit up.
Personally, if I was there I would start charging people a few dollars for their Set Top Box setup (family and friends excluded of course) which gives you a bit of extra money and makes the whole process easier for the person on the other end.
You can read more about the passed bill over at Reuters.
Thermaltake are pushing a few new HTPC cases out of the door in the next few weeks.
The announcement follows on the heels of Thermaltake's MeOrb low profile cooler and looks to be part of an HTPC line up to come.
The new line will have the RSI H designation with the first two (RSI H SD200 and SD100 mini) to hit stores in the next few weeks. Both will ship with stands for vertical or horizontal setups.
Read more at Techconnect
the RSI H series SD100 Mini and SD200 cases. Measuring 318 x 268 x 70 mm, the SD100 weights just 2.7kg, has a piano mirror coating, an 120W Flex ATX PSU and comes with support for Mini-ITX motherboards. The case also boasts USB 2.0 and audio ports on a front-placed I/O panel, a 5.25-inch bay for a slim optical drive and a 60mm fan working at 1400 RPM on its side.
The 5.2kg SD200 comes in two versions - including a 270W TFX PSU or a 270W TFX PSU with PFC (Power Factor Correction), and has support for Micro-ATX motherboards, measures, also a piano mirror coating, a foot stand for vertical placement and one 80mm fan @ 1200 RPM. The SD200s measure 393 x 367 x 99 mm and provide one 'full' external 5.25-inch bay each.
Well after the singular new release from last week, we have a little bit more of a varied selection!
Paramount Home Entertainment:
The Italian Job
The Manchurian Candidate
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment:
Resident Evil Degeneration
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment:
Shine A Light
Man On Fire
Pick of the week? I'd probably have to go with Step Brothers. Will Ferrell comedies are either very good or very bad, but this one is the former.
Until next week...