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

News in Brief

SONY will be releasing The Benchwarmers for both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on July 25. Both versions will share the same extra features including deleted scenes, a pair of commentary tracks and four featurettes. Cover art should be available shortly. The standard DVD version will carry an SRP of $28.95, while the Blu-ray version will come a bit steeper at $38.95.

CINEMANOW has announced an agreement with Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Warner Bros, to offer select movies on a download-to-own basis through its Web site. The Buena Vista agreement, which begins June 6th, will coincide with the timing of its home entertainment window and will also allow on-demand viewers to move their content onto approved portable devices. The television and movie content from Warner Bros. Entertainment joins CinemaNow's expanding electronic-sell-through consumer offerings. Customers can choose to download legal, permanent copies of individual episodes or entire seasons of the WBTV content. All content will be copy protected by Microsoft's Windows Digital Rights Management (DRM) software.

A Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report stated that the DVD anti-dumping investigation pursued by the European Union (EU) is likely to be discontinued after the withdrawal of TDK from the market in the first quarter. However, the paper reported that no written notification has been received from the EU and that the case involving CD-R discs is still continuing.

DTS announces that the first European-produced HD DVD will feature DTS-HD Master Audio as the exclusive lossless sound format on the disc. The release, 2046, was presented at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival to the President of the Feature Films Jury. Laurent Villaume, CEO of QOL who replicated the disc, presented the new title to Wong Kar Wai, the director of film. Set in a futuristic Hong Kong, the romantic stars Tony Leung (Hero) and ZiYi Zhang (Memoirs Of A Geisha).

CMC Magnetics, the largest producer of optical discs in Taiwan, recently obtained certification from international vendors for 4x DVD-R DL (single-sided double-layer) discs, the first among Taiwanese makers and the second in the world next only to Japan-based Mitsubishi Kagaku Media (MKM), according to industry sources. CMC earlier received certification for 8x DVD+R DL discs, the sources indicated. MKM may release OEM orders for 4x DVD-R DL discs to CMC due to cost considerations. Currently in Taiwan, only CMC and Ritek are technologically capable of producing DVD+R/-R DL discs on a commercial scale, the sources noted.

SONY is ready for volume production of Blu-ray Disc pre-recorded discs, BD-ROM, which will be undertaken by Sony Digital Audio Disc Corporation (Sony DADC), according to sources in Taiwan's optical disc manufacturing industry. Belonging to Sony Corporation of America, Sony's US subsidiary, Sony DADC has three BD-ROM production lines with monthly capacity of 750,000 discs, the sources indicated. In light of the prospects of the BD-ROM market, Sony plans to increase Sony DADC's monthly production capacity to five million discs in the fourth quarter of this year, the sources pointed out.

NEW Medium Enterprises is exhibiting HD content on HD VMD at the Cannes Film Festival. HD VMD will be available to content providers for all popular video formats including MPEG1, MPEG2, XviD (MPEG4), DivX (MPEG4), H.264 (MPEG4), VC-1 (Windows), MP3, WMA , and DviD. Fuji Photo Film USA has announced that Fujifilm-branded Blu-ray media will be available in the US marketplace this June. The Fujifilm Blu-ray discs will be available with 25GB storage capacity, in both write-once (BD-R) and re-writable (BD-RE) formats, which can be used in Blu-ray drives with 1-2X writing speed. The Fujifilm high-capacity Blu-ray optical media will be available through key Fujifilm reseller partners.

SAMSUNG Electronics, in light of fast growing demand for DVD+R/-R discs in China, turned aggressive early this quarter in marketing DVD+R/-R disc under its Pleomax brand name in China by making its products extensively available through Orbbit, its China sale agent and lowering retail prices, according to industry sources. While 52x CD-R discs are still dominant in sales of blank optical discs in China, demand for DVD+R/-R discs began to grow rapidly in the third quarter of 2005, with Sony, TDK, Maxell and Philips accounting for an aggregate market share of 30-45%, the sources indicated.

SONY has announced that it is shipping single-layer, 25GB recordable media for use in Blu-ray drives. In addition, the company said that it is planning to follow this up with dual-layer, 50GB media in June. The BD-R (write-once) 25GB and BD-RE (rewritable) 25GB discs have suggested retail prices of $20 and $25, respectively. The dual-layer BD-R 50GB and BD-RE 50GB recording media will have suggested retail prices of US$48 and US$60. The discs use Sony's AccuCORE technology, which the company first developed for its regular DVD media. AccuCORE features include a hard coating that reduces scratches, a uniform and flat cover layer, and resistance to warping from temperature fluctuations.

ACCORDING to someone named Commodore4eva posting on the XBoxHacker BBS, there is now patched firmware available for some revisions of the console. The new patches are not for the technical novice, they involve flashing your drive, sector extraction and manually backing up your legitimate games.Tthe new patch is said to boot 'Xtreme' XBox 1 and 360 backups, works with originals, and will boot 'all' XBox 1 discs on the 360. If it works as advertised, it is quite the coup, but it may turn out to be a near miss like the last few, say experts. Either way, there are no links to the files, so don't click thinking you will get games for free, that isn't going to happen.

OPTICAL media that is handled extensively is far more susceptible to thin scratches and abrasions – damage which could lead to discs becoming unreadable. For many years now, German replicator CDA has offered a high quality protective layer on all its discs, as standard. But now, using the latest in polycarbonate material technology, CDA is taking scratch protection to the next level. Customers now have the option to specify up to three different grades of protection for the information side of discs, offering increased resistance to such damage.

ALREADY having started production of HD DVD-R discs in May, CMC Magnetics stated it is preparing for volume production of 30GB single-sided dual-layer HD DVD-R discs in the third quarter, according to the company. The company is already volume shipping single-sided single-layer 15GB HD DVD-R discs, and CMC plans to volume ship the 30GB discs in the third quarter, according to the company. Rival Blu-ray (BD) advocate Sony also debuted its BD-RE disc this month, with the retail price being set at US$20-25, following the launch of new series of BD-R discs from TDK and Matsushita Electric in late April.