RealNetworks release v9

RealNetworks have updated their video CODEC to version 9. Significantly they are giving the option to play back on a TV screen and a computer monitor. They are also claiming 30% better compression and smoother playback at 56k. I would assume that the smoother play is due to being able to get more data to the viewer – it the 30% better compression.

Xbox sales lower than expected

The sales on the Microsoft Xbox have been lower than expected, so they have now downwardly adjusted the sales targets from 4.5m to 6m to 3.5m to 4m). Where they are different from the game console makers is in the fact broadband and a hard drive are included with the unit, giving them a natural advantage in broadband, multi-user games.

Xbox price drop in the UK

I was briefly at a MS PocketPC social event in London last night and MS had taken the opportunity of making a large numbers of Xboxes available (around 30-40). It’s no shock that the attendees were keen to play, they must be the perfect market, but they were incredibly popular. So why isn’t Xbox selling in the numbers anticipated – the price maybe?

Microsoft UK have announced they’re taking 1/3 off the price of an Xbox from 26th April, dropping the price to £199. The PR quote is that they are “determined to not make price an issue” – translation – people think it’s too expensive and the GameCube is going to be coming out at the beginning of May in the low hundreds. The current three-way battle should be interesting to watch over the coming months.

Oftel head commits to broadband

In a speech given by David Edmunds (Head of UK regulator Oftel) yesterday he outlined Oftel’s commitment of broadband through a strategy of keeping the Public’s aware of broadband, maintaining competition, controlling anti-competitive practises and regulatory guidance on widely available access.

Will current HDTV’s work in the future?

There have been rumours buzzing around about the possibility of many of the $5-10k HDTV set that have been sold in the US won’t be able to display HDTV by the time it’s actually publicly launched. A news item appears to confirm the rumour. Discussions between the Hollywood studios and equipment manufacturers has lead to the creation of the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). HDMI will be the interface between the receiving set top box and the screen/monitor, enabling the content to remain encrypted up to the point it is displayed. By unscrambling at the point it is actually viewed, the studios hope to reduce unauthorised copying of films.