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Tomorrow's Living Room

by Klaus Oestreicher

A young Swedish researcher, Andreas Wiss, carried out a survey of future technologies which could be brought into the living rooms of tomorrow. His study examines the role DVD plays in the context of emerging delivery technologies.

Considering the opportunities on the horizon and those already at hand, Andreas suggests an interesting field of investigation in which the Home Entertainment industry could win back some lost ground.

First, the study calls for “proactive” considerations going above and beyond mere technology (increasing storage disc capacity or improving speed performance and picture quality).

The gaming industry moves into an interesting territory by increasing interactivity of games. Interactivity is a key word, which may give a clue, indeed may underpin, future business successes. Media are often seen as a scourge splitting family activities, but, by offering the possibility of interaction, media can as well support new ways of reuniting the family life.

We all know the typical scenario today: the father and mother are sitting in the living room, watching TV or a DVD, while the children are in their bedrooms listening to music, surfing the Net or playing video games.

From the social scientist’s viewpoint that is not quite the definition of a close family life. It rather describes parallel lives evolving in the same space. Hence, the proposal of a Home Entertainment’s value chain based on some form of scenario planning that seeks to identify opportunities that contribute to reuniting a family in tomorrow’s living rooms.

So far as this is a worthy goal to attain, it requires on the part of the package media industry to think beyond disc replication, beyond the sole daily fulfilment of orders. It requires thinking about the provision of content of common interest to all family members. Interactivity is surely the component that ought to be embedded in content with which different family members can “play” together.

That is not detached from reality, as two students from the University of Weimar proved a few years ago with their award-winning interactive film, where the play could be influenced at various “crossings.”

Another opportunity for interactive components was presented in Munich last month: DVDs enabling access to secret content from the web, a sort of content pull. Such downloaded content can trigger varying outcomes, that is, producing different, unexpected outcomes each time it is used.

Users may then store these different, interactive components they created to continue the “movie”-game another day, transferring such content back to a hard drive, an operation that can be described as content push.

For their part, content providers should offer such a system’s high performance since a more central role can thus be achieved, bringing together business interests and social responsibility for family lives. At once, they will set in motion a process that convert intangible assets into tangible outcomes in the shape of collectable disc boxes.

Today’s living rooms are often adorned with a collection of beautiful books people are proud of. Why shouldn’t tomorrow’s living rooms bookshelves be augmented with an eye-catching library of CDs and DVDs? Surely, well-packaged DVDs can be as good-looking as collectable books.

The process of Home Entertainment modernisation, from book library to media collection, which offers content with a high potential for peer-to-peer interaction, ought to be more effective than advertisement alone, hence generating more sales at good prices.

The conclusion is that the daily business should not avoid strategic thinking about tomorrow. There are still opportunities, but they need to be seized. As it was said quite a while ago, “the best way to create the future is to invent it”.

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By Taila on June 20, 2012, 3:35 pm

, I struggle to see the value ptosopirion of this player priced at $700 to an educated consumer. It is quick, but not fast. It offers some neat features, but lacks what I consider the most meaningful non disc playback (ie Netflix). Its touted image enhancement features tend to render a synthetic image whose contrast and pop is delivered at the cost of relatively common jaggies. While some might prefer this image (especially on the smoothening engines of soem LCDs). I struggle to describe the overall image with its enhancing engines without using the word artificial or synthetic.My biggest criticism is not with the player but with its price. At $700, this player is grossly over-priced in my opinion (this is reflected in my 6.5 value rating). The LG BD390 offers very similar dvd performance and more features at half the price. For those looking for simply quality DVD and BD playback, the Pioneer 320 is its equal in most ways at nearly a third of its price. Sony missed an opportunity to introduce a class-leading player by introducing this player as is at $300 or $400 with netflix and other video-streaming features. Simply put, there are so many better options at this price point like an oppo and a roku or a lg 390 and a pioneer 320 both combined at lower the cost than this player!In the interest of comparing the 1000 against an established performer (Oppo) and a very popular player (LG), I thought I would provide some anecdotal commentary of their respective performance for SD DVDs. LG and Sony appear to use their own chipset while Oppo uses the ABT 2010. In regard to film cadence recognition, the ABT is one of the best and quickest. I noticed a rather unusual occurrence with the Sony. Unlike other second set lock-on recognition, the Sony seemed to require a few seconds to lock on in each set. This surprised me as it was relatively new to me in the repeating sequence. The Oppo requires lock on in the second sequence for 2:2 cadences, but once it locks on, it repeats without moire9. The Sony appears to repeat its recognition error on each set in a number of cadences.The Sony must have some very active edge enhancement that threw off its performance on vertical scrolling text. There was readily apparent shakiness or hesitation in movement as the text moved up the screen. This was different from the video deinterlacing I saw in some lower performing players. This text hesitation was also visible in some DVD's opening credits on film.For real world material, all three players do not differ that frequently to be perfectly candid. Only seldom does an interlacing appear. The Oppo offers realistic edge enhancement and fluidity in motion. The sony's edge enhancement is aggressive and does bring a more definitive contrast between images. That said, its enhancement does appear to come at the cost of fluidity and motion. This is probably a subjective area some folks might like the pop it brings and might play better on the high hertz lcds that sony makes. In the second chapter of killshot (with opening credits), I did see a minor jaggie in the bumper of the blue Cadillac with the LG and the Sony. This was not present in the Oppo (and the Marantz 7004). Edge enhancement was the strongest with the Sony in most scenes; this might be desirable for those looking for a very poppy image with a smoothening engine on an lcd. For me, I found it a bit unnatural on my plasma. Some details were enhanced at the cost of others ie the distinct lines of people against the scenery over-powered the details of their faces, predominantly in medium zoomed perspectives.Sony PQ adjustments:The overlaid display menu allows for +/-3 settings for the HD enhancer. It appears to have an impact on contrst and edge enhancement. I pasued a dark scene and noticed that the contrast between dark and light images was amplified with each increasing setting. The image revealed by the HD enhancer is brings out more detail as well and I think more HDish for most viewers. That said, it brings out a lot of jaggies. Back to kill shot for specific references in the third scene after the screen door moire, Mickey Rourke walks in a house with vertical paneling. To his right (screen left), you can see very noticeable jaggies on the vertical lines with +3. At the zero setting, thereis no moire. To an untrained eye, the +3 yeilds a better image. It bothers me with the amount of jaggies it creates.There is also a smoothening feature I was unable to see that big of a difference, but did detect slight tearing on fast motion with it dialed off the zero default position.Another note:The Sony had trouble with three of my burned DVD+Rs. Both the LG and the Oppo played them without issue. I tried some of the non-playing discs on my Marantz and Onkyo HD DVD player and both played them without issue. I am not trying to indict the Sony for poor error recognition of burned media, but I do want to pt this out.

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There has been a lot of hype about 3D TV. But the industry getting behind a broad realm of technologies is a far cry from a monetisable mass market. Fundamentally, 3D is complex, more so than HD as technology and ecosystem. Screen Digest' TOM MORROD examines the issue.

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