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News in Brief

XBOX 360's HD DVD add-on for the shows some respectable numbers for an add-on. The NPD Group has released some attach rate numbers. Since being introduced, the HD DVD add-on has sold over 269,000 units. That means that 3.4% of Xbox 360 owners have the device attached to their console.

PARAMOUNT Home Entertainment France has agreed a DVD sales and distribution deal with French distributor Gaumont. PHEF will handle Gaumont's 800-plus titles on DVD, including upcoming releases 3 Friends, Enfin Veuve and Chrysalis. The deal, which gives Paramount a 10% market share of the French home entertainment market, has yet to agree in which high definition format Gaumont will release its titles. Gaumont has opted for Blu-ray technology in the past, while Paramount has recently agreed to a deal on HD DVD.

FOUR people were arrested on 16 December in the UK and 10,000 counterfeit DVDs seized in raids on three stalls at Western International Market in Middlesex and on two addresses in Berkshire following intelligence gathered by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). Three men and one woman were arrested and all have been bailed pending further investigations. Counterfeit DVDs seized included titles such as Bee Movie, The Golden Compass and The Assassination of Jesse James.

BESTDISC, a leading independent DVD manufacturer in Asia, recently opened a new facility in Taiwan focusing on BD-ROM, both single and dual layer, and equipped with quality control systems from DaTARIUS. Mastering , galvanic and replication lines were installed and optimized earlier this year.

BESTDISC, a leading independent DVD manufacturer in Asia, recently opened a new facility in Taiwan focusing on BD-ROM, both single and dual layer, and equipped with quality control systems from DaTARIUS. Mastering , galvanic and replication lines were installed and optimized earlier this year.

WAL-MART, which accounts for about 40 percent of all DVD sales in the US, has closed an online movie download service it launched less than a year ago. In a statement, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the company closed the store after Hewlett-Packard, which provided the software running the site, "made a business decision to discontinue its video download-only merchant store service." Launched in February, Wal-Mart's video download service initially included 3,000 films and television episodes for customers to buy and watch on their computers and in some cases a portable device. However, the movies do not work on standard DVD players or on the market-dominant iPod device from Apple Inc.

NEW figures show that 1 in 3 of HD DVD players sold in the US is the Xbox 360 HD add-on drive, which sells for significantly less than a stand-alone player, and plugs into the 360 over USB, using the console for processing.

PANASONIC has started shipping samples to personal computer manufacturers of what it claims is the world’s thinnest internal Blu-ray disc drive. At just 9.5 millimeters tall, it’s thin enough for laptop makers to fit it into their slim-line laptops without the need for a redesign. The slim design was reportedly accomplished by combining Panasonic’s own technologies such as the low-profile, 2-lens actuator and spherical aberration compensation mechanism as well as an optimized optical design for CD, DVD and Blu-ray disc laser. The new drive is capable of writing at 2X speeds on BD-R or BD-RE media and offers BD-R DL support. In addition, it will also read and write on the regular CD & DVD formats.

WHILE the DVD industry didn't have as good a year as last year, it still beat out bleak predictions. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the total US DVD sales and rental figures for 2007 came out to be $23.7 billion, a little more than 2% down from 2006. Some estimates had the decline as high as 5%. The total DVD sales tally came in at $16 billion, just slightly down from last year's $16.6 billion, with high-definition sales adding $300 million into the mix and the rental biz accounting for $7.5 billion. The figures were compiled by the Digital Entertainment Group on behalf of the studios.

MAXELL, a full line manufacturer of digital media products, has announced the introduction of a Blu-ray/HD-DVD lens cleaner at this week's CES. The lens cleaner features a patented wind funnel cleaning system held by Maxell. The system enables the disc cleaner to remove dust and dirt from the lens without using any chemicals. This cleaning system is made to keep the customers' viewing experience. Maxell's Blu-ray/HD DVD lens cleaner will be available in March 2008 for a suggested price of $24,99.

ALBERT Penello, group marketing manager for Xbox hardware indicated at the CES show that Microsoft could consider making a Blu-ray accessory available for the Xbox 360 console even though it remains a backer of the HD DVD format. "It should be consumer choice; and if that's the way they vote, that's something we'll have to consider," he said when asked if Microsoft would support Blu-ray if HD DVD failed.

TOSHIBA has unveiled its new Qosimo G45-AV690, a notebook featuring a HD-DVD-RW drive. The device enable backups of up to 15GB. It also offers a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor, 3GB RAM, two 160GB hard disks and a 1900x1200 resolution display.

SONY has announced that the newest Blu-ray movie releases will include a special movie version for the portable PSP. After inserting the PSP into a Playstation 3 the lower-resolution version will be copied onto the PSP's Memory Stick.

SPEAKING at CES, Kevin Morrow, Marketing Director of Samsung’s HD players, said the format war was not over. “There are still a number of companies involved and will continue to support HD DVD,” he said. “There is still that market segment that is not going to go away immediately, and I don’t know if it ever will.” He added that the PC market with installed HD DVD drives is far greater than the market for HD players and as such the HD DVD format cannot be ignored. LG is the other manufacturer offering a dual-format player.

NEW Line Cinema, a sister company of Warner Bros, confirmed that it will go exclusively Blu-ray, effective immediately. New Line so far only released one HD DVD title, Pan's Labyrinth. They have cancelled all of its upcoming HD DVD releases. HBO Home Video, another Warner company, has also confirmed that it will exclusively back the Blu-ray format.

A NEW KODAK Professional Grade CD-Rs and DVD-Rs provides safe storage for up to 100 years. These media are designed for professionals such as photographers, musicians, physicians, law enforcement officers and administrators who store their work on discs. The discs combine superior recording quality with durability that will protect images, sound and data for 100 years. The advanced discs are manufactured using a patented, oxidation-resisting gold metallurgy process. This produces enhanced electrical properties, long archival life, significant reductions in error rates and the fastest write speeds available in archival media.

RITEK, one of the world's largest producer of blank optical discs, has obtained OEM orders for blank HD DVD-RW (rewritable) discs from Toshiba, with shipments to begin in the first quarter of 2008, according to Chinese-language newspaper Economic Daily News (EDN). Ritek declined to disclose the order volume and value. Toshiba will bundle three HD DVD-RW discs with sales of its latest Qosmio series notebook PCs. Ritek took 26.1% of the global output of blank HD DVD discs in 2007, the largest around the world, EDN cited data from Japan-based consulting firm BOC as saying.

ACCORDING to the Blu-ray Disc Association, the Blu-ray camp believes that by CES 2009 the format's installed base could hit 10 million, triple the current size. The Association claimed that around 3.5 million Blu-ray players had been sold to customers so far, with 3 million of those being Sony PlayStation 3 consoles. The group believes thing are looking up for 2008 and that research has led them to believe that the "format's installed base" will swell to ten million with software sales topping the one billion milestone.

A MAN in northern England who sold copied games, films and music to fishermen in exchange for a box of crabs has been fined £3,000. 61 year-old George Clarke approached the fishermen and offered to sell them his counterfeit discs for cash. Clarke's premises were searched by police officers where three computers and over 200 discs containing illegally copied games for PC, PlayStation2, PSP and Xbox were seized.

MACROVISION has called on the services of Jean-Claude Guerrero, director of BuzzyBiz communication agency, to represent Macrovision in France where he will be responsible for the company's communication as well as the commercialisation of its products and services in the Entertainment sector. Guerrero replaces Stuart Mansfield who left to pursue personal projects.

THE companies of the HD DVD Promotional Group issued a statement in response to the decision by Warner Home Video to exclusively back the Blu-ray format: "While Warner's decision is a setback for HD DVD, the consumer has benefited from HD DVD's commitment to quality and affordability -- a bar that is critical for the mainstream success of any format. We believe widespread adoption of a next generation format will ultimately be determined by the consumer."