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News in Brief

DVD and VHS sales in Germany were greater than theatrical yields for the first time last year. Research outfit GFK says home video sales hit $1.58 billion versus the boxoffice tally of $1.09 billion.

Sonic Solutions has done a deal with Toshiba for Sonic MyDVD to be the DVD creation tool Toshiba’s new Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition notebook PCs, the Satellite 5205 and P25 series. MyDVD enables users to turn home videos, recorded television programs, music and digital photos into DVDs with motion menu backgrounds, animated buttons and slideshows.

SIGGRAPH 2003 (July 27-31), the 30th conference on computer graphics and interactive techniques, brought a total of 24,332 professionals from 77 countries to San Diego for the annual conference and exhibition. A total of 240 companies exhibited. Included in the conference programme were new sessions on immersive technology.

Sonopress a replication unit of Bertelsmann AG, made two appointments at its UK facility in Birmingham, which provides a total fulfilment service including storage, pick/pack/assemble and distribution. Liam Chivers has joined as Business Development Manager, concentrating on CD-ROM and Games Business.Julie Claire Norton has joined as an internal sales executive and will be working with selected CD Audio, CD Rom and DVD clients.

New from Kano Technologies is the K4Xtreme 4x DVD+RW/R drive. A complete storage solution, the fast new drive is available in an internal model for the PC, and external models for PCs and Macs. The K4Xtreme has a 4x write speed for both DVD+RW and +R media.

Zoran is due to complete in August its $358 million deal for the acquisition of Oak Technologies, which makes chips for high-resolution digital television and for digital imaging. Zoran’s chips are currently used in 1,500 different DVD models. The company notes that in the second quarter of its fiscal year Zoran saw 100% sequential growth in units shipped for this relatively low-cost product.

Expected in September, Toast 6 Titanium ($99) is being sneak-previewed in some publications and, according to early reports, the popular DVD burning software from Roxio, is a significant advance on the previous editions.

Single-chip solutions for DVD players are becoming popular due to relatively low prices that are already coming down and have dropped below $10. Taiwanese IC designer Sunplus Technology has started shipping a single-chip solution for DVD players that integrates servo and MPEG-2 decoder ICs, with which the company is hoping to grab 10% of the global market in 2003.

Sand Video, Inc., big in Advanced Video Coding/H.264 semiconductor video compression technology, is now pushing the SV-IP01, the first high-definition real-time AVC/H.264 decoder core. The core is also capable of decoding high definition MPEG-2 streams, thus supporting existing codec applications as well. The AVC/H.264 algorithm delivers between two and three times the compression performance of MPEG-2 for a broad range of consumer video applications such as cable and satellite TV transmission, set-top-boxes, DVD players and recorders, personal video recorders, digital cameras and camcorders.

Addressing the needs of the high-volume DVD playback market with its newest products, LSI Logic Corporation is talking up the single-chip the ZiVA(TM)-6 DVD player family of system processors. The ZiVA-6 family supports emerging DVD features, such as SACD (Super Audio CD) playback and a PCMCIA interface for wireless connectivity or Flash media support, bringing new content into one device in the living room.

Bridging the gap between the two leading DVD recordable format standards, Plextor, a leading developer and manufacturer of DVD and CD recording equipment, announced July 28 its first ever drive to burn DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, and CD-R/RW discs. It will ship in August. The new Plextor drive ($300) supports 8X DVD+R and 4X DVD-R Writing; 4X DVD+RW and 2X DVD-RW Rewriting; and 12X max DVD-Reading. The new DVD/CD burner also boasts high-speed 40X CD-R Writing, 24X CD-RW Rewriting, and 40X max CD-Reading.

Exatel Visual Systems, a provider of digital video solutions and hard disk-based personal video recorders, will demonstrate at the IFA (Berlin) CE fair in August a new Multimedia Home Center. It comprises a multiple-program HDD based PVR, DVD player, DVD recorder, digital set-top Box and networking support on a single compact platform.

According to company sources, Cinram’s takeover or WAMO has hiked its share of the DVD replication market in North America from 14% to 35%.

Pioneer has begun construction of fourth plasma display panel (PDP) line and is soon to complete its third PDP line. Company broke ground July 1 on its fourth PDP production line, which will have a 250,000 unit yearly capacity, in Kofu, Japan. The firm plans to begin volume production at the line in the spring of 2005. Pioneer is about to complete construction of its third PDP line next month.

In the UK, Columbia TriStar has followed Warner with a new approach to DVD rentals. New terms come into force Sept 8 and a press release reveals both rental VHS and DVD will carry a £30 trade price tag. Retail copies are £8.84 and £13.61 respectively. CTS says it is introducing a 'pro rental' policy, a new business model in a non-window environment.

EZQuest is shipping its new Boa FireWire and USB 2.0 4x DVD+RW/-RW external drives. The drives are compatible with DVD+, DVD- and all CD media -- and they are complete solutions for creating video, photo and music discs, and for backing up and archiving data. The FireWire version comes with Pixela IMX authoring software for encoding iMovies to MPEG 2 and burning DVDs, and Charismac software for burning CDs and DVDs.

Bankrupt German television group KirchMedia said July 23 that it has received several offers for its massive film rights library and will decide within the next two weeks whether to begin sales negotiations.

Taiwan-based MET Technology has introduced two own-brand consumer-use DVD recorders – the CyQ’ve PV 2400i and PV2400ie – with suggested retail prices $829 and US$711 respectively. Products support the DVD+R and DVD+RW formats. The PV2400i is priced higher as it features an IEEE 1394 port and 5.1-channel output.

Traditionally busy for rental dealers, summer in the UK – with the hottest days in 50 years – is proving too hot and customers are staying away in droves, according to independent analysts MRIB. In general, it seems rental business is down 10% or so.

New release of Formac's Devideon DVD authoring software detects and incorporates chapter marks inserted in iMovie 3 editing software, and claims to be the first to support Pioneer’s A05 as well as A06 mechanism. Concurrent with the release of the new software, Formac has also lowered the price for its complete hardware/software DVD Authoring package to $300, including the FireWire-based DVD-R/RW & CD-R/RW combo drive.

Taiwan-based CMC is to expand monthly blank recordable DVD disc capacity to 16 million units this month and to 30 million units by December. With new capacity, the firm expects to challenge Ritek for the lead among worldwide recordable blank DVD disc makers, according to company chairman Bob Wong. Earlier, the company said it would expand monthly capacity to about 10 million units in the fourth quarter from six million in the second quarter. Despite skyrocketing capacity, prices for DVD discs from leading manufacturers should be maintained at around $1.20 through the rest of the year, Wong projected. Ritek said it would expand its monthly recordable DVD disc capacity to 20 million units by year-end.

British police have arrested a market operator at a notorious London street market after FACT uncovered a booming trade in counterfeit DVDs. The swoop followed a four-month investigation into illegal trading and involved most of FACT's senior investigators and 85 police officers. The market operator, aged 71, was arrested alongside three traders, two of whom were Chinese. They had been under investigation for more than a year regarding the importation and distribution of counterfeit DVDs.

On Wall Street the initial public offering window for tech companies has opened again. Two consumer electronics companies, Digital Theater Systems and InterVideo, which makes DVD software, sold 47% and 33%, respectively. Digital Theater Systems and InterVideo are both profitable operations.

Federation Against Copyright Theft's Spencer Mott is to depart the thief-catcher agency after more than two years with the trade body. He is to join games publisher Electronic Arts as its European IP security manager.

Worldwide revenue at Blockbuster stores open for at least one year inched in the company's second fiscal quarter stood at revenue at $275.1 million, up about 44% from $190.3 million a year ago.