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Hands-On: Windows Media Player 12's Surprising New Features

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321w ago - Though many previously bundled applets now will ship separately to Windows 7, Windows Media Player remains part of the core OS. Windows 7 will ship with Windows Media Player 12, which includes some surprising new features.

The UI itself is brighter and lighter than WMP11. Some buttons and toolbar items have been moved around, but the experience should be pretty familiar to users of version 11. What does represent a big change is the removal of the Now Playing button, which in WMP11 switches to a view showing the current playlist.

This is because WMP12 completely separates library management from what's currently playing, with two distinct player modes; Now Playing view, and Library view. Library view contains all the library manipulation features that should be familiar from WMP11. Now Playing view contains the current playlist, visualizations, and videos.

There's also a new taskbar miniviewer that works with the new Windows 7 taskbar, and WMP12 includes support for Jump Lists.

Aside from the split between Library and Now Playing, the basic operation of WMP12 is the same as in version 11. There are plenty of small refinements, like automatic previewing (hovering on any song plays a 15-second preview of the song), and the Library view now shows all media types in the tree simultaneously...
 

Blu-ray Surpasses 30% of all DVD Recorder/Player Shipments

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321w ago - We knew Japan was warming up to Blu-ray, but apparently those tepid desires have morphed into infernos of passion.

According to new statistics loosed by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), Blu-ray Disc recorder / player shipments hit a level of 138,000, or around 107 times more than the shipments posted a year ago.

Moreover, those shipments accounted for 31% of "overall shipments of DVD equipment on a volume basis."

Unsurprisingly, BD equipment -- coupled with flat-panel TVs -- were the two biggest drivers of consumer electronics shipments in Japan this year, with visual equipment shipments rising 8.2% year-over-year.

Blu-ray and HDTV: a match made in heaven. Or Tokyo.
 

Analyst Drops Blu-ray Player Sales Prediction by 25 Percent

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322w ago - The entertainment industry in general has been fortunate to avoid a lot of the economic strife other industries such as the housing market are enduring.

For the Blu-ray format, this is the most important holiday season yet where HD DVD is officially off the radar and titles are being released at a fast and furious pace.

With this in mind, Parks Associates earlier this year predicted 5 million Blu-ray players would sell globally in 2008, up from a combined 1.6 million combined HD DVD and Blu-ray players in 2007. At the time it appeared the economic climate would not affect the forecast.

In an email to BetaNews, Parks Associates has revised down their estimates by 25 percent, or 4.3 million worldwide and 2.2 million stateside, citing a softening of player sales that began in September. This is the month when player sales should have increased as holiday "deals" and revised pricing began to pop up at various retailers.

Taken at face value this news is depressing to Blu-ray adopters and those still on the fence. But there's one important missing piece of information in these estimates that will dramatically boost Blu-ray player sales.

The estimates do not include PlayStation 3 sales.

Now granted, most PlayStation 3 consoles moved this holiday season...
 

Rumor: Samsung Blu-Ray Player to Hit $149 on Black Friday

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323w ago - Reports indicate that the Samsung BP-1500 Blu-ray player, which usually sells for $400, will go on sale on Black Friday for just $149.

To quote: You might want to hold off on buying a Blu-ray player for a few weeks, because thankfully, finally, seriously, and almost too-latedly, Blu-ray players will soon drop into truly affordable territory.

A source close to Ultimate Electronics has told us to expect the Samsung BD-P1500 – usually about $400 – for $149 on this particularly welcome and poignant Black Friday.

Ultimate Electronics is a primarily Midwestern chain, but look to be offering this deal in cooperation with Samsung – in other words, it's probably not the only place you'll see stupidly cheap Blu-ray players come November 28th.
 

Player-Controlled Mech Spotted on Tabula Rasa Test Server

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325w ago - It's a long time since the first sighting of a Personal Armor Unit on Tabula Rasa - and that one was disassembled.

Now, on TR's public test server, the first prototype mech has been unveiled that players can test-drive. PlanetTR.com board poster RWScissors has bagged a couple of screenshots of the stompy vehicle in action.

The original plan for PAUs called for one specific type per tier-4 class. It's not yet clear whether the developers have stuck to this plan or revised it, though the hint given by new lead designer Susan Kath of 'a cool new system to allow you to customize your mechs through a type of alternative advancement' may suggest the latter. The possibilities have Tabula Rasa players very excited, if unsure about the exact role the mech is meant to play.

For the immediate future, the best source for definitive information on the PAUs must surely be Dev_Ridout, who's going to be doing a podcast with PlanetTR any day now.
 
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