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Albatron have some rather interesting news for us today. They have just officially introduced the world's first "Blu-Ray Decoder Card", at least in terms of how it's being marketed that is.
In essence, this card is just your typical NVIDIA 8500GT with PureVideo HD technology, 256MB of DDR-II memory running at 1600MHz and a core clock of 450MHz.
Given it sits at the bottom of NVIDIA's GeForce 8 series lineup yet carries PureVideo HD support (unlike the higher-end models), this makes the card ideal for HTPC users who dont want to spend a lot and are sick of trying to get HD-DVD and Blu-Ray content running smoothly on their TV.
Though just your run of the mill 8500GT based card, I'll certainly give Albatron credit for using one of the more cleverer marketing ploys i've seen in recent times.
Grab the press material here for the full scoop.
Albatron has recently announced the exciting new "Blue Ray Decoder Card" giving mainstream users a great alternative to Integrated Graphics. This low-profile VGA card can provide even the most basic systems with High Definition video playback including Blu-ray and HD-DVD. This card also supports DirectX 10, boosting 3D graphics performance for the Windows® Vista operating system.
Along with further price cuts and a trimmed down production line of their CPUs today, AMD have also released a couple of new "TV Wonder" tuner products.
The first offering is their new "TV Wonder 650 Combo PCIe", a PCIe x1 card featuring the Theater 650 Pro video processor (which debuted around a year ago). Dual tuners reside on the card, one purely for receiving digital, and the other analogue. Both are capable of operating simultaneously, allowing the user to watch and record from two individual sources at the same time.
Next up is the "TV Wonder 600 USB", featuring a hybrid TV tuner design which is capable of tuning into both digital and analogue broadcasts, but dont confuse that for being able to provide dual tuner functionalities like the TV Wonder 650 Combo card, as it does not sport dual tuners. This should be a great little addition to your notebook though.
Both of these tuners are compatible with Windows Vista and will become available in September.
The ATI TV Wonder 650 loads your system with a complete set of media abilities, transforming your PC into the ultimate entertainment system. Attach your TV cable2 or an amplified antenna1 and you can watch, pause, or record high definition TV on your PC. Even analog TV is made brilliant as the 3D Comb Filter produces a sharp, true-to-life image.
TV Wonder 600 Hi-Speed USB is a powerful High Definition PVR packed into a sleek and elegant USB 2.0 stick. This compact and mobile design is flexible enough to use with either your laptop or desktop PC, and easily fits in your pocket. Instantly add free-to-air digital and analog TV to your laptop or PC with no monthly fees and watch TV where you want, when you want.
Aleratec has just launched its 1:3 Copy Cruiser Blu, which is a high speed Blu-ray/DVD/CD duplicator which can make up to three simultaneous copies of all three types of media. It incorporates three SATA Blu-ray drives and the external enclosure has an eSATA connector that allows you to attach it to your PC and a dual channel eSATA card is supplied in the box.
It also comes with Aleratec's Disc Recording and Disc Duplicating software suite that allows you to write data and backups to the 1:3 Copy Cruiser Blu. For those based in the US, Aleratec is also offering a special mail in offer where you get 20 BD-R Blu-ray discs for free before the 31st of July.
The 1:3 Copy Cruiser Blu is expected to retail for around US$2,999, which is actually quite reasonable considering the price of a single Blu-ray recorder, although it seems like it's currently listed for $3,199 on the Aleratec website. Click here for more info.
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Pioneer have announced a Blu-ray drive for the desktop PC market today which is stamped with only a $299RRP. Don't get too excited though folks, she's just a BD-ROM (read only memory) drive. Unfortunately Blu-ray burners will continue to be very pricey for a good while yet.
This new BDC-2202 drive from Pioneer will however burn conventional DVDs and CDs as well as being able to playback high-def Blu-ray movie titles.
For further information, have a read of this article over at XBit.
The Pioneer BDC-2202 drive can playback, read, record and re-write DVDs (12x speed for DVD±R, 6x for DVD±RW, 4x for DVD±R DL) as well as playback, read and record single- and dual-layer Blu-ray discs (5x for BD-ROM and BD-R/-RE, 2x for BD-R DL/-RE DL), it also can playback and record CDs. It is unclear whether the new drive is meant for outdated Parallel ATA or contemporary Serial ATA interface. In order to playback high definition movies from Blu-ray discs, end-users will also need a graphics card and an output device (monitor, TV-set, etc.) that support HDCP copyright protection technology.
Wal-Mart may end up having a big influence on the outcome of the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, this due to them having just arranged a $100 million shipment of HD DVD players from the Great Wall Corporation in China, with parts developed by Taiwan's Fuh Yuan and Japan's TDK. These players are set to go on sale for under $300 in the very near future.
For the full story head over to the Dailytech.
Although the news was initially pegged as a huge boost to the HD DVD camp, closer examination and more accurate translation of Chinese reports indicate that the players for Wal-Mart are "Blu-ray (or blue light) HD DVD" players, adding an extra layer of confusion to the matter. Both next-generation optical formats use blue or violet lasers, so unless the player is to be compatible with both HD DVD and Blu-ray, the exact nature of this low-priced will be unknown until we get official English confirmation.
We've just been given the heads up from Cyberlink that there is an important update available for select versions of PowerDVD with regard to Blu-ray and HD DVD support.
For the full rundown on it click here.
This update file includes robustness enhancements and replacing a new set of protection keys. The new protection keys will replace your expired key and will be required when you play Blu-ray disc and HD DVD movies. If you choose not to update the software, you will not be able to playback protected Blu-ray disc and HD DVD movie titles properly.
Please note that renewing protection keys will be a process that will happen periodically. Keeping your keys updated will ensure you the capability to continue the use of PowerDVD Ultra and other Blu-ray and HD DVD software players from CyberLink. It is our support policy to provide free lifetime protection keys update services to our customers. Hence whenever there are new keys, we will notify you to update your copy of PowerDVD Ultra and other software player for Blu-ray disc and HD DVD.
With the High-def format war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD having gone on for quite some time now, the DailyTech have posted up a very interesting report from Sony today in reference to the latest sales figures between these two standards. It may not be enough to declare a definitive winner just yet, but it certainly suggests a likely eventual outcome.
Sony, a clear backer of the Blu-ray Disc, has released a special report on the next-generation format's current lead over HD DVD. Although the source of the report leads to immediately brings up the issue of obvious bias, the numbers cited come from reputable retail point-of-sake statistics source Nielsen VideoScan.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment was likely spurred to release the report based on the success of Casino Royale on Blu-ray Disc. The latest Bond flick debuted at the top of the next-gen format sales charts with 28,233 units, making it the fastest selling high-def disc to date. The release of Casino Royale also boosted Blu-ray sales 74.4 percent for the week ending March 18 as compared to the previous week. In comparison, HD DVD sales fell 14.1 percent compared to the week before that.
About to lay down big bucks for a Blu-ray player? Here's some advice, think twice!
Though there have been recent signs to suggest Blu-ray will eventually reign supreme in the HD format war, this bit of sour news suddenly changes that, at least for the minute. Apparently there will soon be an improved specification change to the Blu-ray standard, which would be considered a GOOD thing only that it may be incompatible with todays Blu-ray players.
The most common piece of advice given to those unsure about which high-definition optical format to buy is to simply wait until a victor emerges. Early adopters, however, should be aware that being cutting edge could come with a price, such as the risk of bugs or complete hardware and software obsolescence.
The Blu-ray Disc Association has mandated that all players of the format released after October 31 must adhere to a specific feature set that is currently not standard for today's hardware. All Blu-ray Disc players after the fall date must support BD Java, a programming language for Blu-ray Disc media used mainly to deliver picture-in-picture for in-movie commentary and special features.