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News in Brief

PRODISC TECHNOLOGY, a leading producer of optical discs in Taiwan, will float up to 606 million new shares to be issued in installments over a year to raise additional capital from target investors, according to a decision made by the company's board of directors on 21 October. The sales price per share was tentatively set at NT$3.3, however, the actual prices should not be lower than 80% of the reference price of NT$4.1, or roughly NT$3.28, the company noted.

TECHNICOLOR Creative Services was selected by Sony to be one of the first development facilities of UMD video discs for Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP). Technicolor recently complete six of the first European UMD music releases for Mute Records, these included Goldfrapp - Supernature and Depeche Mode – Playing The Angel. Both Goldfrapp and Depeche Mode are releasing new albums that have been critically acclaimed and their release on UMD video is further evidence of the growth of the format in the music market.

GLOBAL physical music sales in the first half of the year fell by 6.3% in retail value to $12.4 billion, and by 6.6% in units, compared to the same period of 2004. There has been a small decline in DVD music video sales, which fell 3.1% in value and 1.6% in units. Despite falls in continental Europe and Asia, DVD music video sales value grew in parts of Latin America, UK (18.3%), US (3.7%) and France (3.9%). Globally DVD music video accounts for 7.2% of sales value approximately the same proportion as in the first half of 2004.

TOSHIBA will demonstrate its prototype HD DVD player at CEATEC JAPAN 2005, Asia's premier international exhibition of high-technology and electronics. The demonstration will feature HD DVD players hooked up to digital LCD TVs from Toshiba's "Z1000" series, brand new high definition TVs that are all set to debut in the Japanese market in late October. The Toshiba booth will also feature HD DVD discs and notebook PC integrating a slim HD DVD read drive.

AT THIS year's Digital Hollywood in Santa Monica, California (September 19-21), CyberLink Corporation is showcasing advanced HD DVD content playback utilizing its PowerDVD software on a powerful Intel platform from the Intel Pentium D dual-core processor, dual-channel DDR2 memory, PCI Express(a), and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connectivity.

SINCE Japan appears to be withdrawing from the DVD business, says Taiwanese analysts, Microsoft is turning to Taiwan, planning to set up a Windows multimedia technology center there to promote the FVD, Taiwan-made high definition DVD disc format. The Taiwan government industry research institute, ITRI, is in on the action, signifying a determination to make Taiwan The DVD/FVD disc shopping destination.

IN-CAR entertainment specialist Designer Vision said it has been appointed by Renault to supply rear seat entertainment solution for its new Laguna. The solution will be designed and manufactured by Designer Vision specifically for the new Renault Laguna and will comprise of high-quality TFT monitor, integrated DVD player as well as other multimedia functions. The vehicle is to be launched worldwide from September 2007.

ACCORDING to research quoted by DisplaySearch CEO Ross Young, the share of TV sets sold with HDTV resolution in Japan exceeded the North American share for the first time in Q2 2005 due to Japan's strong flat panel adoption and higher bit rates. Global HDTV shipments rose from 8% of total TV shipments in Q1 2005 to 11% in Q2 2005, and they are projected to reach 39% worldwide in 2009, with North America, Europe and Japan all above 60%.

AT THE recently-ended Internationale Funkaustellung (IFA) 2005 show in Berlin, Toshiba stated that up to three 15GB data layers can be incorporated into each HD DVD disc. Toshiba stated it will offer HD DVD versions in 15GB, 30GB and 45GB storage capacities. In the future it will be possible to store up to 90GB of data on an HD DVD, using three data layers, the company added. Although Toshiba has recently admitted that it may delay its HD DVD launch until 2006, Mark Knox, an HD DVD advisor for Toshiba, was quoted as saying that reports of the format's delay are greatly exaggerated and that a 2005 launch is still a possibility.

UK ONLINE DVD rental service Video Island has announced that it is has acquired Brafilm, the largest similar offering in Scandinavia. The announcement follows on from the UK acquisitions of DVDs365 in June 2005, and in August 2004. Through the acquisition, Video Island has secured the No.1 position in three markets - UK, Sweden and Norway. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

WORLDWIDE portable media player (PMP) shipments are to reach 7.5m units by 2009, according to a report from market research firm In-Stat. In order for the PMP market to reach beyond early adopters, several issues must be addressed. These factors include high price points, digital rights management (DRM) issues, and perhaps most importantly, the increased availability of video content from download video service providers. Early adopters will remain the primary market for PMPs this year. The mass market is not yet willing to pay the hefty price tag for PMPs, which is approximately €320 to €400.