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Home Electronics Industry News -- July 2003

NOTE: This page is an archive for previously posted news stories from July 2003 - Since most of the links are now inactive, they have been removed. However, the headlines and summaries are still posted to historically document the news headlines from the dates listed.

Sony's Big Slide
From decreased sales of video games, PCs, and Televisions, to "bombs" at the movie box office this Summer, it hasn't been a good year for Sony. In fact, Sony isn't alone as other consumer electronics manufacturers are also experiencing downturns. For a comprehensive analysis on this, check out the above report from Stereophile Magazine

Video Rentals Bounce Back
No matter how you slice it, DVD appears to taking over the universe (well, maybe not WHOLE universe, but it sure seems like it!) as the now-preferred method of viewing movies at home is beginning to dominate the video rental market as well as the movie sales market. The end of VHS seems to be getting closer as DVD movies now account for 60% of the total video rental market, bolstered not only by brick-and-mortar rental outlets, but also by successful internet DVD rental services, such as NetFlix. For complete details on this trend, check out the above report from Stereophile Guide To Home Theater

WB To Expand HD Lineup
The TV broadcast networks continue to increase their commitment to HDTV as the WB increases its HDTV program lineup for Fall 2003. All WB/HDTV programs will be broadcast in the 1080i format. The WB may not have as strong a ratings presence as NBC, ABC, CBS, or FOX, but it is definitely ahead in HDTV technology over number four, FOX, which doesn't plan to broadcast an HDTV schedule until Fall 2004. For more details on WB's anticipated HDTV broadcast schedule.

Super Audio Forum
When DVD-video was introduced industry leaders got together to form the DVD-Forum to insure that certain standards and a unified marketing approach was adopted to promote the DVD format. However, although both SACD and DVD-Audio have great potential, the two fledgling high-end audio formats have been floundering in the marketplace for the past several years due to a lack of a unified approach to standards (such as hybrid CD specifications) and marketing practices. Recently the DVD-Audio camp got together to try to resolve these issues, and now the SACD camp appears to be doing the same. Better late than never. For more details, check out the report from Stereophile Magazine.

Yamaha Launches New 7-Channel Digital Home Theater Receivers
It seems that improvements in home theater receiver technology is making its way to the market almost as fast as new PCs as Yamaha has just announced two new 7-channel AV receivers to hit the market in September 2003. The RX-V1400 and RX-V2400 will incorporate several cutting-edge features including a built-in parametric equalizer that will automatically adjust for room acoustics for optimum sound, upconversion of composite and S-video to component video output to insure optimum video compatibility with digital TVs, and more flexible multi-zone audio/video functions. Watch for more news and/or a review on these units later as they arrive on store shelves. Meanwhile, check out the above report from Audio Revolution.

EMI To Release First DVD-Audio Title...
Monday, July 28th, record giant EMI is jumping on the DVD-Audio bandwagon with its release of the legendary Beach Boys album "Pet Sounds", remastered in full 5.1 DVD-Audio and DTS surround sound. While this announcement should spark great interest amongst audiophiles, it seems that the record companies are still hedging their bets on the new high-end audio formats by releasing a majority of DVD-Audio and SACDs as remasters of familiar material with a built-in audience, rather than generating excitement about new-fresh material that may be somewhat of a gamble. For more details on the "Pet Sounds' release and related info, check out the above report from Audio Revolution.

New Pioneer Plasma TVs Show 1B Colors
How many colors is enough? Pioneer answers this question by introducing a line of Plasma TVs which can reproduce up to 1-billion colors, with the aid of new technology. In addition, the 50-inch PDP-5040HD and the 43-inch PDP-4340HD are fully integrated with built-in HDTV tuners, audio amplifier, speakers, and a swivel stand.

Brought to you in living ... HD?'
The continuing transition from analog to HDTV is often compared to the transition from B&W to Color, but there are significant differences between the two transitions. For one thing, many consumers don't understand what the dramatic difference is between analog and HDTV as compared to the visual impact of the difference between B&W and Color.

GM To Offer Panasonic DVD-Video Systems In 20 New Models
Home Theater takes to the road in a big way as GM offers DVD systems in more motor vehicles than ever. Mobile video seems to have captured the hearts and pocketbooks of many middle-class and upscale consumers, especially for keeping the kids entertained on those long road trips. I guess, "Are we there yet?" will soon fade from our traveling lexicon. Instead of taking in the sites while traveling, we will be glued to the video screen (except for the driver, hopefully!) For more info, check out the above report from Audio Revolution.

CENTRIS Study Reveals: Sixty Million...U.S. Households Can Watch a DVD Movie
DVD didn't even exsist in 1995, but since its introduction in the U.S. market in 1997, over half of the U.S. population can now watch a DVD movie, whether on a DVD player, computer DVD drive, Sony Playstation2, or a portable unit. So, when are the rest of you getting your DVD player?

Dolby Shows Tapped for Emmys
The impact of Dolby Digital surround sound is finally being recognized by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as several TV programs, including The Sopranos and Alias are nominated for Emmys for their excellence in sound.

Hitachi Expands DVD Product Line To Include New DVD-RAM, DVD-R Recorder
Hitachi introduces its latest DVD Recorder. The DVRX5000U records in the DVD-R/DVD-RAM formats, which is also used by Samsung, Toshiba, and Panasonic. Its DVD-R recordings are playable in most DVD players, but the re-writable DVD-RAM recordings will only play in other DVD-RAM compatible DVD Recorders and a few DVD players made by Panasonic.

DVD-Audio Hybrid Discs Still Vaporware
While a growing number of SACD's are now hybrid discs that can be played on any CD player, the DVD-Audio camp is lagging behind in coming up with a usable hybrid disc format. By implementing a hybrid disc strategy, DVD-Audio disc sales would greatly increase and the expense of manufacturing would go down, because there wouldn't be a need for separate DVD-Audio and CD discs. For more info, check out the above report from Audio Revolution

Cable's HDTV offerings Vary Widely
HDTV is now available in many markets on local cable systems, making HDTV programming accessible to a large segment of the public. However, there are many inconsistencies regarding programming offerings and subscriber rates that are making program providers and consumers uneasy about participating in such service. For more info, check out the above report from USA Today.

Vinyl Record Day Returns
Fans of vinyl records will converge on San Luis Obispo, CA on Saturday, August 16, 2003. In addition to celebrating the "ancient" analog LP, attendees will be able to see exhibits of classic album cover art and check out classic phonograph players and more. For those of you that dismiss the continued fascination with Vinyl records by some, just keep in mind that Vinyl Record sales topped the sales of both SACD (Super Audio CD) and DVD-Audio discs combined this past year. For more info on Vinyl Record Day, check out the above report from Stereophile Magazine

Panasonic Raises Its DVR Storage Bar
One of the more popular cofigurations in the growing number of DVD Recorders on the market is the DVD recorder/DVR hard-disk recorder combo unit. This allows the user to store video, temporarily, on the DVD recorder's built-in hard drive before having to copy it onto a DVD. In addition, these units also allow simultaneous recording of video on the hard drive while the user is watching a DVD movie. In order to stay ahead of its competitors (such as Pioneer and Toshiba), Panasonic announced that its latest generation DVD recorder/DVR combo will include an impressive 120GB hard drive. For more information on this and more news on DVD recorder product trends, check out the above report from CNET.

Denon HTiB: 2 Speakers, 5-Channel Sound
Are you one of those consumers that would like the advantages of home theater surround sound, but are intimidated by having to install all the speakers and extra components? If so, then Denon may have the answer. Its new D-M71DVXP home theater-in-a-box system has the requisite DVD player/receiver combo, but only has two loudspeakers and a subwoofer. By incorporating Dolby's new Virtual Speaker technology. This system has the ability to "project" a 5.1 channel surround sound image with just two front main speakers (and subwoofer).

Runco Releases Newly Designed Generation of Integrated Plasma Displays
Runco has always been in the forefront of video projector technology, however, in recent years, has also jumped on the Plasma screen bandwagon with impressive displays. Its latest plasma monitors include new image processing circuitry that improves shadow detail and smoothness. For more specifics, check out the above report from Audio Revolution.

Discovery HD Theater Introducing New Programming Initiatives
The Disovery Channel's High Definition alter-ego is expanding its programming to include upcoming movie trailers and program previews in high definition, along with added specials. HDTV programming is expanding across the board amongst networks, cable, and satellite services. If you have access to HD programming in your locale, it may finally be time to consider HDTV. For more details on the Discovery Channel announcement, check out the above report from Audio Revolution.

Finally, A Purpose For Nanotech To Turn On Average Joe: Big-screen TVs
The television assembly line might soon be replaced by the television nursery as new nano-technology developed by Motorola will enable manufacturers to literally grow big screen TVs. Who knows, someday you might be able to bring home a small box from the store, add a little heat or sunlight and grow your own TV. If you think all of this is far-off science fiction, then you should check out the above report from USA Today.

NBC To Launch Bravo HD+ High-Definition Channel
HDTV gets another push in the right direction as the popular arts cable/satellite channel, BRAVO, is the latest to offer a High Definition version of its feeds. The service will begin on July 31, 2003.

"Voice of the Theatre" Returns
After concentrating mostly on PC speaker systems in recent years, Altec Lansing announces it will reintroduce its highly acclaimed A7 "Voice Of The Theatre" reference loudspeaker back into the consumer and professional market.

LG Unveils 71W-Inch Plasma-Display Panel
Plasma TVs keep getting larger and larger as LG Electronics (parent company of Zenith) announces a 71-inch monster to grace your wall, as well as a new lineup of smaller Plasmas and high definition projection TVs.

Four Companies Collaborate On High-Def DV Format
Your next camcorder might actually be able record in high-definition video as JVC, Sony, Sharp, and Canon team up for preliminary discussions on adopting new HD-miniDV camcorder format will include aspects of the format now in use by JVC's recently announced HD-miniDVD camcorder.

BMG Licenses CD Copy-Protect Technology
Copy-protected CDs are on the way in droves as BMG begins to copy protect CDs in Europe and Macrovision (famous for video copy-protection) and Sunncom tout their anti-copy systems for the U.S. market. The question is, with sales of CDs hitting rock bottom, why antagonize consumers even more?

Terk Introduces HDTV Reception Center...
Terk, one of leading television antenna makers, has announced a new presentation display to assist its retailers to better inform consumers on how to receive over-the-air HDTV broadcasts. Check out all the details on this from a report posted by Audio Revolution.

Nielsen Soundscan To Report Digital Download Music Sales
In order to adequately track use of downloads from digital music services, Neilsen, famous for its TV rating service, will be providing hard numbers to both the download services and the music industry regarding the impact of this growing phenomenon amongst music consumers and its effects on traditional music software sales. For more details, check out above report from Audio Revolution

Price War Breaks Out Between LCD and Plasma As the flat-panel alternative gains more popularity amongst consumers, both Plasma and LCD makers are aggressively competing for market favor. The benefit to the consumer: Lower Prices!

07/03/03 A Car Stereo That Can Kill You? Cool
I don't normally post news about mobile audio, but here is an off-beat story on the quest, by individuals and teams worldwide, to build the ultimate car stereo. This is definitely worth the read. Reported by CNN/Popular Science.

Mass Hysteria At RIAA
The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) plans to "put-the-squeeze" on "illegal" music downloads and file sharing by suing individual consumers for up to thousands of dollars for each unauthorized download of a copyrighted song or music file. This is no laughing matter. For more details, check out the above, alarming, report from Stereophile Magazine.

Coming Soon: A Horror Show for TV Ads
Major advertisers on hit TV shows may not be getting their money's worth, at least with the growing number of TIVO users. For more details, check out the above report from Business Week.

HDTV Update: FOX Finally Joins In
FOX has been the only major TV network not broadcasting any programming in HDTV, opting for its own standard resolution 16x9 widescreen format. However, in a recent turn of events, it seems that FOX, faced with a decided technical disadvantage, has finally had a change of heart. Check out my perspective on this issue along with links to related articles regarding FOX TVs recent HDTV announcement.

For additional News Stories check out my Home Electronics Industry News Archives.

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