Now that we've survived the latest heat wave, our thoughts turn to HD. And, not just HD, but "Christmas or Holidays In July." "Holidays in July" is the type of press event that manufacturers put on at this time of the year as many magazines are now planning their November and December issue. The manufacturers want to show off the products that they think readers will want under their Christmas tree or Hanukah bush this year. Yesterday, Samsung and Sony came to town to talk about products that will be delivered later this Summer and Fall. Some of these products can be high-definition TVs, HD camcorders, or new set-top box designs.
While Samsung had previously demonstrated their Blu-ray player and display products, it had not shown any new set-top box products. At their function, we saw three new STB products. The first model that we saw was a replacement for its current stand-alone ATSC box. It's smaller in size, and less costly than previous models. According to Samsung, their goal is to get this box way down in price in anticipation of the February 2009 cut-off date of analog TV signals. While it may not get down to the $40 (which is the current amount of the voucher that the U.S. government will give towards a DTV converter) price range, Samsung thinks that it will be pretty close. By 2009, this STB will downconvert DTV signals to 480p and also display full 1080i ATSC signals on an HD Capable set. The second STB for Samsung includes a co-branded DirecTV STB built-into a 10.2-inch LCD flip-top screen. Reportedly, it is the first of its kind product with an integrated DirecTV tuner and a swivel LCD design with backlit control. Clearly, this product is designed for the kitchen as it can be mounted under cabinetry. The STB show was a new 2-way OpenCable box design, which is hoped to be sold at retail. It is being offered to TimeWarner and other cable operators right now. While this first generation STB does not include DVR capabilities, it is expected that later generations will include recording features -- possibly HD.
Sony, on the other hand, focused their "Holidays in July" on digital imaging, HDTVs, a unique 32-in. LCD TV with integrated DVD that raises and lowers behind a full-blown audio system, and HD camcorders. These are the first consumer camcorders to record in full 1080i HD resolution and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, offering a choice in recording media. While the HDR-UX1 ($1,400) model records directly to readily-available, three-inch DVD discs for effortless playback and sharing, the HDR-SR1 ($1,500) camcorder's built-in 30GB hard drive facilitates mass video storage as well as in-camcorder and PC editing. This is truly HD recording for the masses. Both models support the new AVCHD camcorder recording format based on the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec for video compression and Dolby digital audio. This technology makes it possible to not only achieve high-quality HD video and audio, but also produce camcorders that are power efficient and compact. On July 13, Panasonic and Sony announced the commencement of licensing for AVCHD, the high-definition digital video camera recorder format, as well as an expansion of the format's specifications. The two companies have been promoting this format extensively throughout the industry and the following companies have expressed their support for AVCHD. Other companies now supported AVCHD include: Canon, Pioneer, Samsung, and Sharp.
That's about it for this week. As the Summer continues on, try to stay cool and up-to-date with all of the latest news in Digital TV from Digital TV DesignLine!