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Blu-ray: The Future Has Been Delayed

50°
325w ago - Hot on the heels of last week's report from ABI Research noting that many consumers may not see the picture quality difference between Blu-ray and standard DVDs comes the latest Blu-ray sales figures from NPD Group. And they're not pretty.

According to NPD, sales of Blu-ray standalone players plummeted 40 percent from January to February, then rose a scant 2 percent from February to March. The general consensus was that once Toshiba dropped its support for the HD DVD format early this year, sales would increase.

In fact, sales of Blu-ray standalone players remain so low that NPD has not yet released actual numbers, for fear that it would be easy to identify individual retailers. The research group will start to give actual figures later this year, said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD.
The end of the format wars clearly did little to boost Blu-ray's prospects. Like others, Mr. Rubin said the much cheaper upconverting standard DVD players are winning consumers' hearts and wallets.

The price of upconverting players is hovering around $70. And this week, Amazon is giving them away for free when consumers purchase certain Samsung TVs. The result: a 5 percent uptick in upconverting DVD player sales in the first quarter of 2008, compared to same quarter a year ago, and...
 

Excited about HD Blu-ray? What about 4K Red-ray?

400°
326w ago - Since the high definition format war has been decided and Blu-ray is slowly but surely moving into more and home homes, video enthusiasts may be looking for the next thrill: Red just announced its Red-ray player, the only "Beyond HD" playback device we are aware of - supporting movies with a resolution of up to 4096 x 2048 pixels.

Have you ever wondered why Blu-ray players are marketed as "Beyond HD" devices? This phrase has always bothered us as one of those deceiving marketing phrases. High Definition is defined as 720p, 1080i and 1080p resolutions (1280 x 720, 1920 x 1080i, 1920 x 1080p pixels) and since Blu-ray reaches up to 1080p, it is 'just' HD.

If you want to go "beyond" HD you will have to increase the specifications of the standard and especially its resolution. RED has done just that and has become the only Beyond HD company we know of.

RED just announced its Red-Ray player, a media playback device for DVDs and DL DVDs holding content 4K (4096 x 2048), 2K (2048 x 1024) and regular 16:9 4K (3996 – 2160) formats, as well as 1080p, 720p and regular DVD (480p). Blu-ray discs and HD DVD discs are not supported, while you can play videos from SD and Compact Flash memory cards. The player is expected to debut sometime in 2009 and of course it will not be cheap: Pricing has not been...
 

Microsoft Predicted to Back Away from Vista

100°
326w ago - When it comes to technology debacles, every major company has a few (remember the Newton?), but right now one of the top spots has to go to Windows Vista, Microsoft's clunky operating system that has IT shops and consumers desperately clutching at XP for as long as they can.

Jason Hiner over at Tech Republic thinks there may be a light at the end of the Vista tunnel; he predicts IT shops and consumers will have a chance within the next year to upgrade to a cleaner, more modular version of Windows Vista under the Windows 7 moniker.

It won't be a completely new OS but rather a more streamlined version of Vista. He also suggests the pricing for consumers will be lower in an effort to win back those who are turning to Macs.

This could be another step by Microsoft toward shedding cumbersome release cycles and creating software that can be updated every year or so via a subscription model. Hiner lays out a nice case, and as a consumer who once was stuck with a laptop running Windows ME, I have to hope that before the third strike (Vista being the second), Microsoft can score a hit.
 

AMD leads Formula 1 Supercomputer Championship

50°
327w ago - Appro said it has started with the installation of a new AMD Barcelona B3-based supercomputer at the Renault F1 HQ in Enstone. Appro won the contract in early March, just before the new racing season started: The system not only highlights the increasing investments in computer design and simulation in Formula 1, but also stresses the rivalry between AMD and Intel in this small but very prestigious market segment.

Formula 1 is a serious and very cash-heavy business. Sports car manufacturers such as Ferrari as well as mainstream companies such as BMW, Renault or Toyota leverage their successes in this racing series to transfer technology and enthusiasm into their commercial lineup.

The top teams invest several hundred millions of dollars per season to be able to stay on top. Lots of that money goes into the design and development of racecars that are being fine-tuned for each racetrack. Supercomputers are increasingly important for teams as racecars are fine tuned for each racetrack and more simulations are likely to result in a better setup of a car.

The ING Renault F1 Team recently decided to buy a 36 TFlops system consisting of 1024 sockets (Socket 1207+) for AMD quad-core Opteron processors, resulting in 4096 K10 cores being deployed. Overall, Renault acquired eight Racks, each with 128...
 

Mobiles: Gaming on the go!

50°
327w ago - Mobiles are getting more powerful and sophisticated, and so are the games you can play on them.

No more Tetris or Space Invaders. Soon even old shooters Doom will seem outdated, as phones are able to handle better graphics and bigger levels.

Here are some games we reckon are worth a look. You can download them from your mobile provider if available.

Pro Bike Racing

If you've ever felt the need to hurtle round a track at speeds around 200km/h while on your mobile phone, then Pro Bike Racing could be the title for you.

While the controls seem too awkward to begin with, they eventually become easier to use, and are kept at a very user-friendly level. Combine this with the racing line provided on the two lower levels and in no time you'll be speeding around the track in both single-player and championship mode, with both modes allowing you to unlock more tracks, bikes and riders.

The graphics and overall package are a little basic for the mobile gaming genre, especially for a Gameloft title. This isn't a true 3D game and the tracks may have plenty of bends but they are all flat. That being said, all the animations are rather clean and it keeps in line with the tone of the game by keeping it simple and fun to play.

Brothers in Arms: Art of War
 
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