RealDVD Brings Lawsuit From Hollywood

RealDVD Brings Lawsuit From HollywoodA strong sense of Deja Vu is flowing thick around the Digital-Lifestyles offices today as we hear that ‘Hollywood’ is to take legal action against Real Network for their DVD copying software, RealDVD.

Five years ago last month, the collected legal might of the Hollywood studios took a disliking to 321 Studios as they too had the temerity to create and sell software that allowed people to copy their DVDs.

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Who Will Win The Camcorder Format War?

Who Will Win The Camcorder Format War?More than four in every five camcorders sold in Europe in 2005 recorded footage to digital tape. However, according to a new industry report from Understanding & Solutions (U&S), digital tape will only account for 14% of the European camcorder market by 2010.

“Over the course of 2006 we’ve seen a format war develop between Digital Tape, DVD and Hard Disc Drive (HDD) camcorders,” says Simon Bryant, Business Director of Consumer Electronics at U&S. “Right now, digital tape still accounts for nearly 70% of the European camcorder market, but DVD is gaining ground, and as early as Christmas 2008 shipments will outstrip those of digital tape.”

With most of the leading brands producing DVD camcorders in 2006, the format has proved itself popular across the globe. Prices are now beginning to fall and by 2008 the price will be close to that of digital tape.

Who Will Win The Camcorder Format War?“By 2010, DVD will have clearly established itself as the format of choice for mass market consumers, and will account for nearly half of all camcorders shipped,” says Bryant. “This format’s appeal is its ease of use. You can record direct to a DVD and then drop the disc straight into your home player: it makes for a hassle-free workflow system. Couple this with the wide availability of low cost DVD players and you can see its appeal.”

The third competing format – the HDD camcorder – is still a niche product, but has outperformed the expectations of many, performing particularly well in the Japanese market. Though it has a more complex workflow and archiving process when compared with DVD, consumers are becoming familiar with the variety of HDD-based devices within their homes. As the migration of HDD from PCs to MP3 players, set top boxes and games consoles continues, its many benefits will become more widely recognised, making it an attractive alternative to DVD. By 2009, U&S predicts HDD will have overtaken digital tape to become the second most popular choice amongst camcorder purchasers, accounting for 31% of all camcorder shipments in Europe.

In addition, the rise of High Definition Television, with more than 115 million ‘HD-Ready’ homes in Western Europe by 2010, will create further opportunities for the camcorder market. Fuelled by consumer demand for flat panel LCD and plasma TVs, most of which now come HD-Ready, the hunger for HD content won’t be far behind. High Definition DVD players are already available, in either HD-DVD or Blu-ray format, and the next 12 months will see a proliferation of High Definition consumer electronics products. As a result, the camcorder market is forecast to experience a similar revolution, with High Definition devices becoming ever more prevalent. However, initial demand will be low and will ramp up slowly, due to the large price premiums. Longer term, HDD camcorders, with far greater storage capacity than DVD camcorders, will be the preferred choice for memory-hungry High Definition image capture.

Who Will Win The Camcorder Format War?In addition to traditional motivations for video capture, there is an upsurge of consumers who capture video to inform, meet and entertain, primarily via the Internet. The growing global interest in social networking sites such as YouTube and MySpace will squeeze the camcorder market, applying pressure through hybrid ‘still-cams’, digital cameras and mobile phones. In particular, the ever-increasing capacity of flash memory will make these devices a serious future competitor to the camcorder.

Due to issues surrounding quality, features and functionality, the short-term impact of convergence on the camcorder market will be minimal; however, moving forward, high-end digital cameras, hybrid ‘still-cams’ and mobile phones will increasingly steal share of the video capture market.

Humax PVR-9200T: Freeview Duovisio PVR Launched

PVR-9200T Freeview Duovisio PVR Launched by HumaxHumax have dished out detailed information about their new dual-tuner, Freeview-enabled PVR, the PVR-9200T.

Like the Sony RDR-GXD500 we reviewed in April 2005, Humax’s PVR lets users watch and record digital terrestrial Freeview TV shows, with lucky UK consumers able to feast on over 30 channels of freebie programming.

With two tuners onboard, Humax’s PVR-9200T (or “Duovisio” as it likes to be called), lets you record one channel while watching another or you can really push the boat out and simultaneously record two channels while playing back a previous recording.

PVR-9200T Freeview Duovisio PVR Launched by HumaxReceiving and recording of pay TV channels is possible through a special CA module.

There’s no DVD recorder on board, so storage is taken care of by a fairly generous 160GB hard drive, supporting up to 100 hours recording.

The unit comes with preloaded software, allowing for picture-in-a-picture and “assorted trick play, diverse formats of recording and recording services playback, all through the time shift recording function.” We’re not quite sure what that last bit means.

Folks baffled by the complexities of traditional video programming will enjoy the 7 day Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) with the Duovisio providing support for subtitles, digital teletext and interactive features.

PVR-9200T Freeview Duovisio PVR Launched by HumaxThere’s also a handy USB2.0 port provided for MPEG A/V file transfers between the Duovisio and a PC, letting users play back their digital photos or listen to MP3 files downloaded from a PC.


Toshiba RD-XS54 DVD Recorder Offers Email Programming

Toshiba RD-XS54 DVD Recorder Offers Email ProgrammingToshiba has unveiled its new DVD recorder with the handy ability to set up and record TV programmes via email.

The RD-XS54 Multi-Drive (DVD-Ram, DVD-R and DVD-RW) can be connected to other devices over a home Ethernet network.

This means that the RD-XS54 can be connected to a PC, allowing users to share the machine and stream recorded content or live programming to the computer.

With the added connectivity, users can add and edit title information to personal home videos from a PC, upload custom Menu backgrounds for creating DVD-R/RW discs, receive automatic software upgrades and, of course, remotely schedule recordings via email. We like that bit.

The DVD recorder, which ships with a 250GB hard disc drive, also includes a High-Definition Multimedia Interface with “up-conversion” capability to 720p or 1080i.

This conversion will be performed for all sources whether they are playing back content encoded on a DVD or the hard disk, including the tuner and inputs.

“Home networks are rapidly increasing,” said Jodi Sally, vice president of marketing at Toshiba’s America Consumer Products Digital A/V Group.

“With our network-capable DVD recorder we enhance the functionality of the unit. Whether it is being able to schedule a recording via email or by using your home PC to program new recordings, the RD-XS54 makes recording and playback easier and more flexible for consumers”.

The built-in DV input also allows the transfer of camcorder recordings directly onto DVD media, with the unit supporting high speed copying from the HDD to recordable disc, at 12x speed for transferring to DVD-RAM, and 24x for DVD-R.

Toshiba RD-XS54 DVD Recorder Offers Email ProgrammingThe RD-XS54 comes with Toshiba’s EASY NAVI menu and the TV Guide On Screen Interactive Program Guide for simple, easy-peasy channel navigation and recording scheduling.

The RD-XS54 has begun shipping in the US with a retail price of US$699.99 (~£385,€570~).


Playback compatibility: DVD-Video – CD-Audio – CD-R/RW – SVCD – VCD – DVD-R – DVD-RW – JPEG Picture Disc – WMA – MP3
Record compatibility: DVD-RAM and DVD-R/W
Hard Disc Drive stores up to 250GB Audio and Video
10-Bit / 54Hz Video D/A
Component Video Output: ColorStream Pro Progressive Scan
3:2 Pulldown: Digital Cinema Progressive
181-Channel Tuner
3-D Y/C Comb Filter
Black Level Expansion
3D-DNR Digital Video Noise Reduction Recording
Block and Mosquito DNR Digital Video Noise Reduction Playback
Time Slip Recording / Playback
Pause Live TV / Channel Playback
Time Base Correction
Instant Replay — Instant Skip
VCR Plus+
Inputs: S-Video, Composite, IEEE-1394 (FireWire), RF
Outputs: Component, S-Video, Composite, Optical, RF (Tuner Pass-Through)
Offers HDMI direct digital connection with an HD-ready TV


Sony RDR-GXD500 Review: DVD Recorder With Freeview

Sony RDR-GXD500 DVD Recorder With Built In Freeview TunerAs the number of digital TV-enabled households continues to rise and the analogue switch off looms ever closer, it seems strange that Sony’s RDR-GXD500 is the first DVD recorder to come equipped with a built-in digital TV tuner.

Over 60% of UK households can now receive digital TV, but trying to record the content can involve nightmarish battles with endless cables and component boxes.

Sony’s RDR-GXD500 is a one-stop solution that’s easy to set up and use, with its all-in-one functionality letting users view Freeview digital channels, make digital recordings and play discs all from a single compact unit.

The included ‘learning’ multi-function remote control lets you jettison your TV remote too, leaving one less thing to have to find on a drunken Saturday night.

Setting up the recorder is a breeze: plug it into your telly, turn it on and then let it automatically scan for channels.

Sony RDR-GXD500 DVD Recorder With Built In Freeview TunerThe unit’s onscreen interface is simplicity itself, with the eight-day electronic programme guide (EPG) banishing those video timer nightmares forever – this puppy is so simple, even a granny overdosed on Christmas sherry would have no problem setting up a recording of Des and Mel.

Selecting programs to record is as simple as clicking on the programme you wish to record from the EPG and that’s it. Easy!

Things look pretty good under the hood too, with the unit sporting high quality components such as a 12-bit/108Mhz DAC and both digital and analogue tuners, allowing you to record one channel while you watch another.

Conveniently, the RDR-GXD500 offers simultaneous record/playback and chase play (this lets you begin watching a recorded programme before it’s finished) as well as a veritable armoury of advanced editing, archiving and organising functions.

In use, the Sony performed flawlessly. Memories of long hours endlessly fast forwarding and rewinding video tapes looking for a programme, were banished forever thanks to the recorder’s indexing and multi speed search facilities.

The digital reception was crisp and sharp and infinitely superior to the vintage On Digital box lurking downstairs. Images were rock solid, the black is Bible black, and the colours are vibrant and richly balanced.

Sony RDR-GXD500 DVD Recorder With Built In Freeview TunerA range of recording quality modes let you increase recording time at the expense of image quality.

The highest setting (HQ) produced copies that were indistinguishable from the original broadcast, although this brought the recording time down to a just over two hours.

With the lowest quality mode, SLP (super long play) time-rich viewers could squeeze in up to six hours of recording with that old school ‘snow storm’ dodgy video feel.

DVD playback was pretty damn good on the machine, with a stable image output providing very little in the way of ‘smearing’ and digital artifacts.

Overall, the Sony RDR-GXD500 gave a consistently good account of itself in all areas, and as such, this is a DVD recorder I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Sony RDR-GXD500 DVD Recorder With Built In Freeview TunerHighly recommended


Pros: Great all round performance, integrated digital tuner and simple Cons: The baffling lack of progressive scan video capability

Size (WxHxD): 49x9x38cm
Weight: 5.1kg
Recording formats: DVD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW
Playback formats: DVD, DVD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW, CD, CD-R/-RW, VCD
Video outputs: Component, SCART (RGB), S-Video, composite, RF
Audio outputs: Line out, optical digital, coaxial digital

Street price: Under £400 (~US$762 ~€591)

Sony RDR-GXD500

Springsteen DualDisc Album Market Test

Springsteen Album Tests Market For CD/DVD HybridUS Record industry honchos will be taking a bigger interest than unusual in the new Springsteen release as they wait to see how the new DualDisc format goes down with Brooooooce fans.

“Devils and Dust,” the Boss’s 19th album, will also be released in the fledgling CD/DVD hybrid format, marking the first major change in retail music packaging since the compact disc was introduced more than two decades ago.

The format bolts together a standard CD with a DVD on the flip side, and fills it up with fan-tempting extras like video clips, surround-sound mixes for home theatres and lyrics etc.

Springsteen fans shelling out for new DualDisc release will be rewarded with video of their hero performing his new songs and discussing the making of the album.

Although “Devils and Dust” is not the first DualDisc to hit the market, it’s the first one released by a major artist exclusively in the format (there will be no traditional CD pressings available) and should provide a useful benchmark to see if the new technology has a viable future.

The four major record labels, EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner created a consortium last year to launch the new audio-video hybrid in the US market, with Sony BMG claiming that where albums have been released in both formats, DualDisc purchases have accounted for around 30 percent of sales.

Of course, you don’t get something for nothing in the notoriously tight-fisted music industry, and punters will be compelled to shell out an extra dollar for the bundled DVD content.

Springsteen Album Tests Market For CD/DVD HybridThe music business is hoping that the new format – and the extra cash – will help recoup the slice of the retail market lost to piracy and illegal file-sharing. “It’s harder to file-share DVD content and it’s virtually impossible for anyone to burn a DualDisc at home,” purred Thomas Hesse, president of global digital business for Sony BMG.

“We think all this will lure people back to the stores, because it’s a product you can’t really get in pirated fashion,” he continued.

But there’s a darkness on the edge of town, as critics complain that the DualDisc is just another industry wheeze to push consumers into repurchasing the albums they already have on CD.

Hesse was having none of it, reminding critics that because no extra hardware is needed, “it’s really a new product, rather than a new format”, adding that plans were looming to roll out the DualDisc in European markets.

DualDisc Bruce Springsteen

Diffusion Group Report: Media Servers, Digital Media Adapters Reborn In Converged Platforms

Stand-Alone Media Servers And Digital Media Adapters Reborn In Converged PlatformsEvidence is beginning to amass that two of the most hyped products in the early digital home market will be lucky if they manage to reach niche market status in the next few years.

Not so long ago, people were getting very excited by media servers and digital media adapters. They were the future. And then, err, people kinda forgot about them.

So what happened?

According to new research from The Diffusion Group, it seems that despite the products being well-hyped, widely discussed and blessed with encouraging early forecasts from a number of research firms, the devices have suffered from extremely limited demand.

Moreover, the report concludes that demand for both these technologies will remain limited and that what unique functionality these solutions do offer will be quickly integrated into other platforms.

“It is not that this type of functionality is undesirable,” said Michael Greeson, President of The Diffusion Group. “The premise of networking stored digital media content to multiple devices in the home is valid, but consumers aren’t looking for separate devices to enable this experience.

Instead, the applications and benefits enabled by these two platforms will be increasingly integrated into devices with which consumers are more familiar – such as DVD players that are now evolving into DVD-recorders or set-top boxes with built-in hard-drives and integrated networking.”

“While media servers were originally positioned to be the hub of the digital home, demand for these solutions has never gotten off the ground.”

Although Windows Media Center PCs have proved more popular, Greeson asserts that this is simply down to normal PC replacement cycles rather than consumers finding anything particularly compelling about the concept.

Other media server platforms have been much less successful, although the push of high-end digital set-top boxes by cable and satellite video service providers offers a case for optimism.

“However,” says Greeson, “this is a push model, where the equipment is subsidised by the service provider in order to generate digital media service revenue, as opposed to a ‘pull’ model where consumers are so enamoured with the device that they run to the retail store to purchase one.”

When it comes to digital media adapters or DMAs, the Diffusion Group paints a gloomy picture.

Introduced a couple of years ago, the idea was to make it easy to share content from the PC to other media devices in the home, such as a TV or stereo using a DMA. But their techie-tastic appeal failed to win over punters.

“Not long ago, there were ten to fifteen companies offering DMAs,” said Gary Sasaki, a contributing analyst with The Diffusion Group and President of DIGDIA, a media consultancy.

“At this year’s CES, DMAs were hard to find. Part of the reason for the premature demise of DMAs is that their functionality appeals mostly to early-adopter or technology-savvy buyers. Additionally, and somewhat similar to media servers, the functionality of DMAs is slowly getting integrated into other more familiar product categories.”

The report suggests that we’ve got an industry in fast transition, with early, stand-alone technologies being picked clean for their useful ideas and then incorporated into more consumer-friendly converged products.

Diffusion Group

DR-DX7S Leads JVC DVD/HDD Recorder Line Up

JVC announces its 2005 DVD recorder line upJVC have wheeled out a veritable cavalcade of new, full-featured multi-format DVD recorders, including a series of combination units that combine DVD recording with hard disk drive (HDD), VHS and Mini DV recording.

Stuffed full of technical innovations and user-friendly features, JVC hopes that their range will delight DVD dubbers and enrapture home recorders.

At the heart of the new JVC DVD recorder line is the DR-M100S, which records in the DVD-RAM and DVD-RW/-R formats. Also in the 2005 line up is the DR-MH300S DVD/HDD unit with 160GB hard disk drive, as well as the DR-MV5S DVD/VHS recorder, which features JVC’s exclusive VHS Progressive Scan for superior VHS mode playback.

Interestingly, JVC is also offering a new three-way combination unit – the DR-DX7S -combining a Mini DV deck with DVD and hard disk drive recording.

“The growth of the DVD recorder market over the last year shows that consumers are looking for more versatility in how they watch television and movies,” said Dave Owen, General Manager, Consumer Video, JVC Company of America. “Our new DVD recorder line is designed to meet the needs of virtually every customer. We’re providing advanced recorders that offer an unprecedented merger of innovation and utility.”Let’s take a closer look at some of the new models offered in JVCs line up.

Available in March 2005 for around $349.95 (€268, £185) the DR-M100S DVD recorder allows up to 16 hours of recording time (when using a dual sided disc) and shares all of its features with the line’s combo models. It can record in DVD-RAM and DVD-RW/-R formats and play back DVD-RAM, DVD-RW/-R formats, as well as CD, CD-R/RW, VCD, SVCD, JPEG and MP3 files.

The DR-MV5S makes it easy for consumers wishing to archive their collection of VHS recordings onto DVD. Combining a DVD recorder with a VHS VCR the one-touch intelligent dubbing system offers auto record speed optimiser which calculates total recording time on VHS tape then automatically selects the most suitable recording speed for dubbing to DVD.

JVC announces its 2005 DVD recorder line upThose with VHS collections chaotically labelled with a load of indecipherable scrawling, may enjoy the auto thumbnail creation feature, which automatically creates video thumbnail chapter references when dubbing to DVD.

The DR-MV5S will be available in April for around $449.95 (€345, £237).

We find the DR-DX7S the most interesting of them all (launching in July for $1,799.95, (€1,378, £958) although it’s not cheap.

By combining a 250GB hard disk drive, a DVD recorder and a Mini DV deck this looks to be a perfect solution for camcorder users who don’t fancy fannying about with a computer.

Users can simply load a Mini DV cassette into the deck to easily edit home videos on the hard disk drive and then dub onto DVD.

Mini DV is recorded onto the hard disk drive in the original Mini DV format, so footage can be dubbed, edited on the hard disk drive and then transferred back to Mini DV without a loss in quality. Nice.


Sony’s DVDirect – Transfer Home Movies Without a PC

What are you doing with all those digital tapes you’ve shot on your video camera? With many camera owners, chances are they’ll be in a drawer somewhere, unwatched an decaying – usually because attaching the camera to the television or hunting through a linear tape for the bit that you’re interested in is just too much effort – as is making copies of a tape to share.

Sony have recognised that home video archives really need the convenience of DVD, yet attaching cameras to PCs, capturing content and then editing it down to a disk is a far from simple job.

Enter the DVDirect – a US$300 (€243) external drive that can record DVDs straight from a digital or analogue source. Sony claim that the appliance is a world first and hopes that it will extend home DVD recording to a much wider range of consumers.

Available in November, DVDirect can burn up to 12 hours of high-quality MPEG-2 video onto a double-layer DVD+R – or up to six hours on single layer DVD+R/DVD+RW discs. It does this through a combination of built-in real-time video capturing and hardware MPEG-2 encoding. DVDirect sports a USB2.0 interface, and supports 16x burning – writing a full disk in around six minutes.

To simplify playback, the device can automatically insert chapter points at timed intervals – though extra features such as special effects or music require it to be connected to a PC. For this, a copy of Nero is provided.

“Preserving precious moments onto DVD has never been easier than with the DVDirect burner,” said Robert DeMoulin, marketing manager for branded storage products in Sony Electronics’ IT Products Division. “Users can simply connect their camcorder to the recorder, hit the record button, and out comes a DVD disc that they can pop into their home DVD player. Meanwhile, computer-savvy users can attach the DVDirect device to a PC to perform all of the common tasks characteristic of computer-attached burners.”

Sony talk DVDirect