HD1080i De-mystify HDTV 1080i ::: know why before you buy

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lighting the room for HDTV

This comfort illumination approach actually works, but you need to attend to placement carefully, since backlighting the display will express every imperfection of a poor wall paintjob. Symmetry for this type of treatment matters, properly done there is proportional open wall space on all sides. I like the approach and its well suited for those that do not desire the HD screen to be so large as to take over the look of the room when its not in use, and conversely, totally invest its presence in the room when its in use. For a room with white/offwhite larger uncluttered walls, this is ideal.

See this and you will get the idea that generation 2 has some new ambient lighting features, with a full spectrum variable lighting capability. Make big seem bigger is the thinking , but when you see a movie with this, the difference between dark scenes and bright explosive high action scenes is furiously dramatic. This display should probably be installed by a professional with experience and the ability to hide all wiring for maximum value of wall mounting. For a freshly designed living space with a new wall paintjob, this Phillips product has the makings of a distinctive must-see option to consider. ( read: we do not own one, but we want one )

If your room has that clean scandanavian look like one of mine does, ( White/ Teak ) then this kind of display is stunning to consider, thinking that the HD screen is the source of nearly all light in the room when its on.

For a 1080p owner with an HD-DVD or Blu-ray player its really common to see people putting chairs at about 10 feet or less to the screen, its more detail immersive, and for us, its the ideal distance for game playing with the Wii. However many people have unmovable couches or room layouts that do not have chair placement fexibility. Hence a 42" screen is not as big of a feel to the room when its in use. Ambient lighting does make it seem larger, but at this time, its my opinion that 25-30 foot rooms can contain a 50-70" display without having a big black square occupy much attention when not in use. The Aurea is likely a perfect canditate for apartment dwelling people who desire their space to feel totally different during movie and tv watching experiences. It is designed for that, and when its on it will own the room, make you forget where you are.

Note: that Big is Good, and the 50" market is very strong. You can get an SXRD 50" for $1999 at 1080p and a very very strong picture intensity that suits all lighting conditions.

There are a couple different ways in general for a flat panel system to present itself in a room, split to Day and Night basically. Since most TV and Movie viewing is an evening light condition, the lighting in the room is under your control. lighting the wallspace to the left and right is good for keeping the room usable, a dimmer is a good idea for that if you have std incandescent. We dont, since our Green Thinking pushes the flourescent bulb that doesnt do dimming. For such a situation, lighting behind a planter that indirectly illuminates is quite good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

HD-DVD & Paramount

Paramount shook up the marketspace a bit by indicating a refreshed 18 month deal to do distribution in the HD-DVD format, that made some news.

People do not get that a big supply-side quagmire was caused in part by a Blue Laser shortage by supplier and patent holder http://www.nichia.com/ . Just look at the press, its all about lawsuits to firms trying to supply the gap. The "shortage" due to mfg yield and across the board costs did some 2006 damage, and revised deals, hammered Sony... on and on. The muck of all that is drying up now, enough for larger players to walk on anyhow, and this is making way for china and korea to push out mass market items.

Hence the $199 HD-DVD player is coming soon (A2 = $229 ) to a store near you. This is the price-point in my opinion that enables a critical mass of players, and therefore a demand curve for HD-DVD. Although its kind of a shame in a way that the PS3 and its player brethren did not gather more player coverage in HDTV equipped homes, it was in a way predictable that game engines would be purchase justified for media playabiliy and then in actual practice used mostly for games.

Here is the real rub in all that. VC-1 codec on HD-DVD is just too damn good, it has no filesize bloat for quality, so blu-ray claims of more storage area just doesnt hold water or matter, since it is not needed in a VC-1 authored 1080p. Although i have not got a fully produced VC-1 longform in house, i have made enough 1080p VC-1 to say without a doubt that 25 gigs is plenty enough. And to make matters worse for percieved price performance, my focus group could not tell any difference in the play of either HD-DVD or Blu-ray format for quality of image presented.

So... has Paramount pushed the HD-DVD adoption path? Perhaps, but really its more like they are following the smart road that is already there, with the coming season of inexpensive HD-DVD player availability, and the benefits of packaging that deal with some of thier titles.

Are HD-DVD's being ripped and burned into market by those scummy little copycat replication houses selling knockoff copies of HD movies? Not really. No impact from crackable DRM at this time, no issues with 2gig segment-splits or downloads of feature full length films either. All that noise was from a small crowd to a small crowd. Mom and pop middle-america has no interest in hacker antics or in massive downloading. They just want to see a movie, have it on a $199 player, and pay 25 bucks to own it. Merry christmas to whomever supplies that to them.

We do Ad-hoc stuff based on interviews. Anecdotal reactions:

Is there any such thing as format or brand loyalty? Sorry , focus group responses are near zero brand-centric. They are price-performance and content-centric at a 90% confidence level across all demographics. Blr-ray claims of better in the eyes of the customer doesnt seem to matter to actual real people confronted with a choice... hence the choice is a filter: can i take this home and play it?

Technology responses were:
NO tech issues or need for tech awareness.
http://www.thelookandsoundofperfect.com/ Click on HD-DVD interactivity on the left.
The groups as a whole didnt care much about the "extras". The size of the Pause and Play buttons mattered. Biggest gripes: enforced trailer play at load, universally hated. ...when in the mood for action thriller, they dont want a face full of chickflick or shrek.

A crappy movie story in pristine 1080p will not compete with a slightly fuzzy broadcast copy shown in a 720p plasma screen of a great filmwork. Good news for the great feature film biggies, since interest in well produced bigbudget stuff is very high, they still rule even when the box office is also the local bestbuy & wallmarty shelf-space, refreshing the demand for HD format re-releases. Some offers are actually pretty good.

Bottom line of the moment seems to be ease of use, availability and pricepoint.

Fore me personally, I love the "extras" and rich feature-set. I would like a really good slo-mo option, not all players seem to manage that.

The Blu-ray camp has to get off the highhorse here and stop being so self-absorbed, see the pricepoint situation unfolding and cost-enable the distribution. In all honesty the Paramount thing is just a case of being smart in the moment, and not as a tech thing at all, its in the numbers on main street america. People arent going to go HD-DVD because of paramount, they will be looking at Paramount films because the player has the right price and it had a couple of thier films bundled in the brick-and-mortar holiday deals.

Once the high-end geekweenies and techsavvy market-buys approach saturation (soon like about now actually), the paradigm shift to mid-upper class buy-patterns will clobber all the crap decision-making that got a nod in last years boardrooms. All that self-serving attitude will dissappear with the bottom line. Anyone who has not re-written the margin profile for a line item or product will be in trouble. Know this for sure ... marketing quality will be the means to the next moves, and content producers should be the winners in the next round.

Monday, August 27, 2007

This is JOOST for you

The Venice project (Baaima N.V.) of a time gone by has been on my watch list since day 1. Now its called JOOST. It is IPTV to your computer, through the web, hassle free. If there is any DRM in it, it is user-transparent. Its fun. So its not HD yet, but at the moment i cant write alot about HD content since there is such a short supply of it. Its basically 800x600 but scales nicely.

I fully expect these IPTV types to offer an HD premium service for the likes of me at some point, so i pay attention to whatever is out there that actually works.


.... go there and download it, its fast and free.

Joostâ„¢ the best of tv and the internetIf you need an "invite" token because of locale or circumstance, click the button to the left, because you should see it. I recommend that you have a good internet connection that does 800kbps or so and a nice big screen, nVidia 7600GT DVI.

I have tested nearly all the download and on-demand players out there, even the ones that make you pay before they prove anything to you ( or fail miserably with windows DRM errors ). I know this stuff well now. I have followed Joost since day 1 and it stands out as the easy best-of in every regard... hence Joost is the top of my I Like This Stuff list.

Sci-fi, the brilliant lunacy of LEXX, it is a click away.There are dozens and dozens of categories though must be a few thousand videos, movies shows and whatall stuff in there. Check out LX.TV also, my pals in NYC doing a great job there.

Note - Broadcast TV digital resolution is actually a bit LESS than the resolution delivered by JOOST, so if you play this full screen on an HD TV you will quickly forget you are on a web connection. Someone in the room tried to use the TV remote to turn up the volume... (chuckle) it took a couple of minutes to realize that the sound control was on the PC connected to it. There's your proof.

See a Brightcove Stream by ALL Things Digital with JOOST:

ON DEMAND web delivered tv is here its better than much of what cable is doing right now ( though i expect that to change- Comcast has started loading up its free on-demand library with fresh stuff )

There are caveats. They have great deals with high quality distribution like Warner and National Geographic, but those licenses are regionalized, meaning you dont get everything available globally just yet. Its just my humbe opinion, but if you are aware enough of what the state of the art is you will find JOOST heading there at every turn. You Tube proved that first-to-market is not required for critical mass acceptance ( take that AOL, Yahoo etc ), just make it easy and fun and it will get there by word of mouth, and social network adoption. Click the Invite, go for it. - Ad delivery is lower right of screen in a small clickable, and segement interstitials that generally are less than 30 seconds. Go Army, Nike, no problems with that.

Compression artifacts seem to come and go in the video quality, the stereo sound is generally excellent. Buried inside Joost code is all kinds of special extras, some are turned on, that can let you chat, there is a Speex codec in there so i'm guessing the future holds a lot of connected multimedia social features. Personally i would like to see something like playlist bookmark because there is so much stuff in there i would like to quickly get back at another session.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


we had to wait for August 22d, after the CD is released.
Ok so it isnt really great HD quality, the audio kind of blown out and its a very edgy edit of live stuff ( my style for such stuff is to feel raw with it ) , so with caveats galore,

DOWNLOAD a 90 meg 720p VC-1 file

of "Van Nuys" Live by SIXX AM Live at Crash Mansion in downtown Los Angeles

If you click the picture it may launch the windows media player and attempt to stream. If you are able to get a stream from this, then add comment & tell me - i have a beta testing position for you in a very cool new thing. ( comments for this post will not be publicly posted, so its ok to leave your email and contact info, thanks )

The bottom end ( subwoofer ) was 10,000 watts and shook both the camera and my eyeballs. The lead singer is James Michael and such a versatile live performance should get credit, (SIXX:A.M.) new band worth following. I was house photo/video for this show & made friends with the band, they are donating 25% of proceeds of a book to Covenant House in LA for runaway kids. Nikki Sixx and Pearl Aday ( meatloaf's daughter ) are featured. They are good people regardless of your opinion of Motley Crue. I save this for documentary reasons since it was the very first song on this stage in a production performance. A virgin moment for Crash Mansion LA

REDUX: thanks to all that know me and asked for a true 1080p VC-1 of this video. I will render it out 1080p 6 mbit vc-1 and send you link by email. The news here is that SIXX AM will not tour this CD, so this footage may well be the only performance video there is. I was hoping they would do at least a small tour so i could multi-camera shoot this properly, but alas, this is not to be.

( Again- thanks to all who renewed my faith in the value of pixel-for-pixel 1080p by contacting me on that. I do very much appreciate that you are out there and care. )

You can read the entire article on the Press Event this came from at National Writers Syndicate.


MTV Senior Exec Peter Baron - Billboard Mag editor Tamara Conniff - NIKKI SIXX - Jim Richards, Clearchannel Rock Programming ( photo by Jeff )
The Nikki SIXX , SIXX AM event was in support of Covenant House / Running Wild in the Night, a benefit for runaway teenagers in greater Los Angeles & the video was for Crash Mansion LA and benefactors to that cause. On that note, another edgy edit of a song from that event.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Internet Movie downloads - DRM for the masses

DRM = CRM without the love.

Digital Rights Management & Customer Relationship Management.

My experience was a total failure in a situation free of human assistance., here are real situations, both involve Windows Media Player DRM deployments by 3rd party movie download vendors, Amazon UNBOX and STARZ: Vongo.


This all happened on a nice clean auto-update enabled WINXP setup. After buying the clip, it tells me i need a one-time install of a player. Fine... i started clicking, downloading, accepting, nexting and clicking, and yet more this and that... until

Hmmm. Would i like to run system diagnostics?.

No. i want to see my downloaded movie. I wall all good with this unbox right up to the last moment of high expectation that i would see something.

I had to download an application and apparently that was not enough, and now it wants to run amok in my stuff? My suspicions were that it was about to check working codecs in this system and possibly break an otherwize perfectly running setup. I edit HD video and author video from my own camera, i can't have my system develop new problems.

This extra diagnostic to download is all about DRM and preventing me from doing anything i'm not supposed to do or have, without warning me what that might be. Everything I saw was not real helpful about what it will do to me in the process.

So i allowed it to diagnose anyhow, mostly so i could tell you about it, and praying that it wouldnt do something without asking. Well that was a misguided hope. It was not just troubleshooting. It was Patching. Patching WHAT? Stuff that it just downloaded or stuff that was already installed by other applications? It did not report findings and ASK permission. Bad Move. "Diagnose" means find out something. This is what i saw:

Ahem. Troubleshooting?

Eventually after all that, it did a patch to something but it failed anyhow in a forever loop of telling me a DRM problem exists. Click and click and it left me short $2.99 and with a lame link to customer support. In all fairness to Amazon, i stopped there and gave up, even though the system persisted in trying to help me become a happy DRM-enabled Unbox user. Uninstalled that one and ....

I went to the Next One VONGO.
I liked it, but long story short, it failed also with a windows media DRM error.
They didnt warn me that Windows Media was the player, or that 300kbps was the best speed i would get, untill well after the SignUp and Pay Process was completed. Bad Move. So i surfed the interface and picked out a movie. click download. A small popup outside the vongo player was all i got, & that said all my efforts were not going to result in a download. Vongo had an error.
... yet more frustration, i finally resort to asking vongo screens for help...

Apparently the WMP is in need of some unique key or something. The Next screen says click in Internet Explorer only - now i know its vongo relying on Miscrosoft for way too much. If you plan on using Vongo then try this click: ( it should ask for a user / and password )

.. So i did. WMP pops up.. it is yet another window ...

and Windows Media player refuses to do anything. Clicked The Web Help button...that provides a very cryptic windows web page full of geektalk and error numbers that indicate my sound device is disabled or doesnt work, which is untrue... and identifies a multi-step system check that i would have to do. Apparently it cant deal with my system and i have to technically intervene. If that link above works for you then maybe Vongo will work for you also, but that should have been a test provided right at the start, and now i'm unsubscribing and clicking whatever escape path i can find. * REDUX: Microsoft must have found my article, they removed the geek page it launched. All you get now is "You've encountered error message C00D11B1" ( what can i say - this site gets a lot of reads )

NOT a good user experience at this point. A WINDOWS DRM FAILURE. I suspect that if you have even a tiny issue you are not going to succeed. So i updated yet again my windows Media Player and it says it's fine. Hello? I had planned to report on how the state of Web enabled movie downloads was progressing... but i cant right now, and it cost me 13 bucks to make this report.

End result of DRM encounter... BAD USER EXPERIENCE WITH THE PROCESS. I will not be giving it a second chance or re-attempt the effort since there is so much great stuff elsewhere. Take a lesson you guys, a DRM problem should not result in persistent sequential points of possible failure, AFTER taking all my info and Card, as it did for me. This is a two part sucker punch you do not want any customer to encounter. One Click Fix. work on that one ok?

Know why before you buy.. if you read this then you now know AMAZON UNBOX and VONGO are really WINDOWS DRM , but the technical why is still fuzzy. i will see what i can do.

Other things...

Resolutions: 1680 x 1050 pixel display.
You can get a decent personal sized LCD at 24" or more from BEST BUY for just under 300 bucks at this resolution. So i tried it. Its very good, be sure to have a nice nVidia graphics card, since it's Pure Video chip does a clean enough scaling job for regular DVD and 24p stuff. Played my 720p files very nicely. Played Apple and Windows Media files at both 1080 and 720p just fine. I was suprised, since the next aisle over had an Apple Monitor of the same size for huge #$$ and didnt look any better at all to me. Its the same old story where 1366 at 1 megapixel is less dots than 1680 which is less than 1920 at 2 megapixels. More is better.

FCC and 700mhz.
There is a new wireless option on the horizon.
Cisco and the like, are trying to get some of the freed-up from analog ( 2009 ) 60mhz or so of space in the 700mhz bands for local wifi channels that may well support some HD video speeds & internet service. It can easily do 10 miles line of sight. I Hope the FCC lets it happen, but this is complex, since it requires 2-way unique transmission. Some of this could leapfrog the 3G cell issue. We could all be talking thru the web on skype-like enabled iPhone type devices that can download an HD Movie and play it into the HDTV thru Bluetooth or something similar. Sound like a dream? yup, but it is quite do-able by these players and honestly would become the mobility and convergence we want anyhow. Worth doing for sure, but way down the road.

I cant wait to get the heck off of comcast and on FIOS TV. .. sorry comcast but your comcraptastic compression is so blocky that having a 1920x1080 TV is nearly pointless. May as well look at a 1366 x 768 for all the mpeg2 blocks i see... only ESPN and DISCOVERY / MOJO are clean. Might just be my location.... DIRECT TV claims to be better at HD, launched a new satellite to do it, but they are about equal at the moment for quality ( down the street ).
Saw FIOS TV somewhere else, and it killed me. I MUST HAVE THIS, no-brainer, if its in your area... get it.

PS3 withouthout the "e-motion engine"
My Verdict: the 80gb PS3 is probably the one to want, it actually uses the cell processing to get everything done and the newer system is better. Give Sony some more time, they have a real-time OS ( operating system ) to finish tuning for all this and that takes a lot of effort. I worked an operating system in the past and know that optimized code and process bloats can and do get found and tuned up. Same thing for the Red Ring of Death in the XBOX 360... this too will pass, it's a great gamer engine.