Friday, January 06, 2006

DVDs: The Next Generation

     They’re heeeeere.  Well, almost.  With the rise of HDTVs and HDTV programming, there was one last shoe that needed to drop: HD-DVDs.  Looks like we’ll finally see them in 2006, but another VHS-BetaMax war looms.  
     First, the contenders: Blu-Ray, a 25 GB single-layer/50 GB dual-layer from Sony versus Toshiba’s HD-DVDs with 15 GB single/30 GB dual.  Beyond that, there are plans to go as far as 4-layer discs, adding to the fun.  The HD-DVDs read faster and are more in line with current DVD formats, allowing easier production from current equipment, but 30 GB may not be quite enough for HD-movies.  Be aware that along with the capacity for dramatically higher image resolution (supporting 1080p+), clarity, and audio, there will very definitely be stronger copy protection systems (“watermarks”) incorporated (boooo).
     Every major movie studio but Universal has announced their intention to release movies on Blu-Ray this year, with Universal expected to follow suit.  A couple studios, including Paramount, plan to release in both formats.  Keep an eye out on the porn industry; sad as it is, their backing will be a massive influence.  Sony’s PS3 will feature (of course) Blu-Ray, ensuring that millions will have the hardware to watch Blu-Ray movie releases.   However, Microsoft is backing the HD-DVD format full-force (they will add on an HD-DVD component to their X-Boxes this year) and with Apple sitting with Blu-Ray, it figures that MS will happily get dirty.  Word has it, the first shot has been fired: Microsoft and Intel leaning hard on PC producers to bundle HD-DVD drives into computers.  While it stands to reason that Sony and others will churn out Blu-Ray drives, it may get awkward for consumers if movie and computer media split down the middle.  
     All indications are that Blu-Ray is the better choice and should win out.  Still, it would be best for all involved to settle on a single format.  No one wants to pay hundreds of dollars on a technology that will go the way of the Laserdisc.  Head spinning enough?  Then I’ll leave you with this: the HVD isn’t more than 5 or 6 years off……

Sunday, January 01, 2006

In One Year and Out the Other

The obligatory retrospective for 2005…

  • Tom Cruise’s re-enactment of Rosemary’s Baby with Katie Holmes as the unwitting counterpart.  “Tom, I just saw Chris and he’s saying that smelly herb in the necklace you gave me for Christmas isn’t a good luck charm, but something called tanis root”  “Shh…Calm down Katie…. drink some of this tea the scientologists made up for you…”  

  • Favorite movie: Serenity.  Simply put, if you like sci-fi at all, this movie housed the last handful of Star wars and Star Trek movies.  Joss Whedon was forced to condense what he had in mind for 5+ seasons of Firefly into 2 hours, and the results were phenomenal.

  • Most Regretable Movie: Bewitched.  Say what you will about House of Wax or Deuce Bigalow 2, but if you didn’t know they were going to be atrocious from the first sniff, you got the lesson you deserved.  Wife and I needed to kill a couple hours one day before meeting friends, we figured a Kidman-Ferrell comedy might do the trick, but oh my.  Starts off fair, but then lands itself with House On Haunted Hill on my “almost decent-movies until the interns wrapped up the final 45 minutes” list.

  • Most powerful event: Katrina wiping out New Orleans.  Nuff said.  New Orleans v3.0 will be something to keep an eye on.  The city may just jump full on into an attempt to compete with Vegas.  

  • Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens

  • Favorite Surprise: SNL’s Lazy Sunday sketch (The Chronic-What!-cles of Narnia video), which immediately leaps into their all-time top ten.  Honestly, I’d peg it higher, but I don’t want to risk forgetting something.  If Nl wanted me to give them a second chance, this was a fantastic start.

  • Most Upsetting Surprise:  The wheels falling off The Chappelle Show.  I’d put in another Arrested Development mention, but it was coming for a while.  Dave Chappelle pulling out of his own show shocked as many people as it disheartened.  

  • Hooray for John McCain and the others in Congress who rightfully raked MLB over coals for their ostrich approach to steroids.  On the other hand, let’s hope it ends there and they don’t follow through on their threats to go after the BCS system.  They need to nail the NBA refs first…

  • I’m happy to see the 2005 year in music go.  Sadly, the music industry continues to battle its consumers rather than try to put out a good product.  IMHO, the popular music scene has slipped into garbage since its brief renaissance in 1992-6.  That Mariah Carey could come back and be the year’s biggest seller speaks volumes.  Sony’s despicable decision to load its CDs with autoexecuting spyware and malware left hundreds to thousands of unaware buyers vulnerable to hackers by opening up backdoors into computers.  Thank god for iTunes, because I doubt I’ll ever purchase another CD again after this.  

  • Most horrifying song of the year: My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas.  There was a time when this was a fantastic group, in the vein of Jurrasic 5, Tribe, De La Soul, and the Roots.  But then they sold their soul, brought in Fergie to get on MTV, and now this is what they’ve become.  RIP.

  • Most amusing: Jennifer Aniston hitting up every magazine cover and television spot she could to tell everyone that she’s tired of having to bring up Brad Pitt.  I’m sure that Jessica Simpson will be right behind her.