Europe's online source of news, data & analysis for professionals involved in packaged media and new delivery technologies

News in Brief - april 2006


SAMSUNG Electronics chip factories have announced mass production of a 8GB NAND flash memory chip. Samsung said an 8GB NAND flash device can store 2,000 MP3 files or 225 minutes of DVD-quality video. NAND flash is manufactured by vertically stacking two, 4GB packages, each carrying a vertical stack of four, 8-gigabit chips. It's the kind of innovation the USB flash storage drive industry has been waiting for to push its devices to 16GB, which users should see in stores by Christmas. iPods, USB Storage are to benefit from the new Samsung chips.

LONDON-based PIMC Ltd announces they are "full-steam ahead on HD DVD authoring and encoding" after having invested heavily in the equipment and the training of staff to be able to offer HD-DVD alongside their DVD encoding services. PIMC is planning on offering Blu-ray encoding and authoring over the next few months. "After almost 3,000 digital video projects we're as keen and competitive as we were 10 years ago when DVD was still in short trousers," boasts Cliff Oxlale, the director. The company continues to offer international services and is one of the few UK-based studios to produce regular NTSC titles for US-based clients.

PHILIPS Electronics, the largest European maker of consumer electronics, reported on Monday a 69 percent drop in second-quarter earnings, partly because of a poor performance at its flat-screen joint venture. LG.Philips LCD, its liquid crystal display joint venture with LG Electronics of South Korea, reported a net loss of €85 million, reversing a profit of €822 million a year earlier. The displays suffered from sharp price declines as sales of flat- panel LCD televisions during the World Cup soccer tournament failed to meet expectations.

KOREAN firm LG will release its first 18x DVD burner - named GSA-H22N - in Europe later this month. The GSA-H22N is a 18x DVD super-multi DVD burner which also writes DVD-RAM at 12x. A LightScribe version of the drive will be also available under the name GSA-H22L. The company has also released the GSA-H30N (S-ATA) and the GSA-H10L (ATAPI) Super Multi DVD burners with 12x DVD-RAM recording and DL 10x/16x DVD burners in the Korean market.

DVD will continue to be the most popular way to view movies for at least the next decade, according to the 2006 Annual Report on the Home Entertainment Industry, which was released today. Relying on data from Adams Media Research, the report estimates that consumer spending on DVD purchases and rentals will total $30.3 billion in 2015, compared to $11.7 billion in box office revenue, $9.8 billion for video-on-demand, and $3.0 billion for pay-per-view. The report was released at VSDA's Home Entertainment 2006, the annual convention for the home entertainment industry, which opened today at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

TECHNICOLOR has eliminated more than 300 positions at its DVD production plant in Camarillo, California, laying off 176 workers immediately and giving 53 a chance to change shifts. Camarillo's largest employer took the action late last week at its home entertainment services plant where DVDs are copied and packaged for distribution. Employment at the facility generally fluctuates between about 1,600 and 2,000 workers, said John Fraser, the city's management assistant for economic development.

TECHNICOLOR has eliminated more than 300 positions at its DVD production plant in Camarillo, laying off 176 workers immediately and giving 53 a chance to change shifts. Camarillo's largest employer took the action late last week at its home entertainment services plant where DVDs are copied and packaged for distribution. Employment at the facility generally fluctuates between about 1,600 and 2,000 workers, said John Fraser, the city's management assistant for economic development.

THE launch of Blu-ray Disc burners may be further delayed due to tight laser diode supply.Optical disc drive makers such as Lite-On IT and BenQ recently expressed concerns that a tight supply of key component laser diodes may affect the release of Blu-ray Disc burners, according to the Chinese-language Commercial Times. The yields for Blu-ray laser diodes are still low due to a high technical barrier, with only Sony and Nichia being the only suppliers, stated the paper. In addition, Sony is setting aside a major proportion of its laser diode capacity for its upcoming PS3, which may also affect the availability of its Blu-ray laser diodes, the paper said. Sony is currently the major supplier of laser diodes for Royal Philips Electronics, BenQ and Lite-on IT, the paper indicated.

GLOWRIA, Continental Europe’s leading independent provider of personalised on-demand entertainment, announces the launch of its own-brand Video on Demand (VoD) service to French consumers. This launch directly follows the deal with Neuf Cegetel to offer Neuf’s subscribers a white-label VoD service, through the set-top box, straight to their televisions. It is the only French company licensed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group to deliver ‘download to own’ programming in France. The service offers direct access to a large selection of films, available any time, anywhere, and for either 24 hours or unlimited viewing.

LITE-ON plans to work with Toshiba to launch HD-DVD players at prices less than US$1,000 in the beginning of August while aiming to ship 50,000 Blu-ray players per month before year-end, according to the Chinese-language Apple Daily.

PARAMOUNT Home Video is venturing forth into the HD DVD market with the release of 10 titles on the high definition disc format. The first wave of the Paramount High Definition-branded releases, debuting July 25, includes action adventures Sahara and Tomb Raider, sci-fi thriller Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. The second wave, slated to debut Aug. 1, includes Four Brothers, We Were Soldiers and The Manchurian Candidate. The first 10 will be rounded out by a third wave scheduled for Aug. 8 that includes U2: Rattle and Hum, Aeon Flux and The Italian Job. Each will be priced at $29.95 (£16).

THE DVD Forum has selected Film Grain Technology, the first tool of its kind formally documented in cooperation with SMPTE, for mandatory inclusion in HD DVD products. The technology, developed by Thomson's Technology division in collaboration with its Technicolor business, allows compressed motion pictures to be delivered more efficiently and improves their visual quality. It enables film grain, that is extracted before the content is compressed, to be faithfully re-created during playback.