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Video Savant Blog


Public TV Group Urges More Education on DTV Switch
Written by Video Savant   
Tuesday, 05 June 2007
According to a story in the Morning Bridge newsletter, a study conducted by US public television stations finds that a significant percentage of the households that receive television solely over the air are unaware of the pending move to digital broadcasting and the corresponding shutdown of the analog system. And these viewers are largely clueless about what they need to do to continue receiving local TV broadcasts after February 17, 2009.

The conclusion of the public broadcasters? Government needs to spend more money to educate the public about the transition, suggesting it will require a "Y2K"-style awareness campaign.

My conclusion? Broadcasters -- both public and commercial -- need to take some initiative before looking for government handouts.
Runco International Sold to Planar Systems for $37m
Written by Video Savant   
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Sam Runco is widely credited for creating the term "home theater," and he actually owns the trademark on that bit of verbiage, at least in the state of California.

So then, even though it sounds like Sam will continue to be involved in the Runco business after the sale closes, it is still a bit sad to hear the news that he's selling the company he founded 20 years ago.

From the TWICE (This Week in Consumer Electronics) web site:
Commercial and high-end home theater display manufacturer Planar Systems Wednesday acquired elite home theater display manufacturer Runco International for $36.8 million in cash, Scott Hicks, Planar home theater display group president said.

Runco, a privately held company, has been positioned as the market share leader in the ultra-high end home theater display business, and has expanded its distribution in recent years through the acquisition and development of the Vidikron brand.
PlayStation 3 Upgrade Addresses Scaling Shortcomings
Written by Video Savant   
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Sony today announced immediate availability of a PlayStation 3 firmware upgrade that addresses a number of issues in how the popular game console handles standard-definition DVD and Blu-ray Disc playback.

From a press release issued by Sony Computer Entertainment America:
SCEA is enhancing the PS3 user experience by enabling PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games to be upscaled to HD resolution, up to 1080p. Classic games as well as recently released titles can now be enjoyed like never before.

And PS3 system now has the capability to upscale DVD videos to HD quality (up to 1080p), a feature typically limited to top-of-the-line DVD players. Upscaling games requires an HDMI or component AV cable, while upscaling DVD-ROM (including DVD Video content) requires an HDMI cable and HDMI compatible TV set.
Picture Quality Claims Lead to Another DirecTV Lawsuit
Written by Video Savant   
Monday, 21 May 2007
DirecTV has filed suit against Comcast for a Comcast advertising campaign that claims viewers prefer Comcast HD picture quality over the HD picture quality available from DirecTV and DISH Network.

From a story in today's TV Predictions newsletter:
In the ad, Comcast cites a Frank N. Magid Associates study conducted in March 2007 that said respondents were shown high-def signals from Comcast, DIRECTV and EchoStar. and asked to rate each screen.

According to the Magid study, Comcast was the preferred choice of the three.

In a nine-page suit, DIRECTV asks the U.S. District Court in Northern District of Illinois to stop Comcast from "engaging in any further false advertising and promotion."
I detest these sorts of lawsuits, but in this case I think they could be a good sign for anyone who cares about the long-term direction of HD picture quality via cable and satellite.
Climate Expert Says Plasma Displays Should Be Taxed
Written by Video Savant   
Sunday, 20 May 2007

A UK climate change economist and co-director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has recently suggested that governments should consider taxing plasma televisions, due to the fact that these new, larger displays consume more energy than their traditional CRT predecessors.

Plasma televisions, which are 50% bigger than their cathode-ray tube equivalents, consume about four times more energy, according to the government-funded Energy Saving Trust.

A cathode-ray tube TV costs about 25 per year to run and accounts for 100kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, whereas a plasma TV costs about 100 per year and accounts for 400kg of CO2.

But another recent study, this one conducted by the Imaging Science Foundation in conjunction with environmental consultancy ECOS Consulting, finds that there may be a simpler, less burdensome solution.

HDNet Looking to Raise the Bar?
Written by Video Savant   
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
From the official US public launch of digital television in late 1998, few individuals or companies have done more to bring HDTV into the mainstream than Mark Cuban and his HDNet and HDNet Movies channels.

That makes it understandable how one might get a a little overexcited about a recent news report that details the latest capital spending approvals moving across Cuban's desk.

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