With greater clarity, better images, more vibrant colors and depth of image, HD is in many ways like seeing television with new eyes. It really makes a difference. For a show like Survivor which is set in exotic locales and emphasizes the beauty -- and occasional cruelty -- of nature -- HD is going to be a spectacular improvement visually.
Episodes will be available for $1.99 a piece, the same price you'd pay to download TV shows from iTunes, Amazon Unbox, or most competing services. The main difference is that Vudu provides a set top box and not just an internet download store. You can download programs directly to your box, but once they're on the box there's no way to transfer them to an iPod, computer or DVD.
Oh yeah, and the box still costs $400. Overall, I'm still unimpressed with Vudu. But the service does have one thing going for it. It's probably one of the easiest ways to buy online video from the comfort of your couch and watch it on your television set. No PC required.
Vudu is also starting to add high definition content today. You can now download The Bourne Ultimatum in high definition. Today's also the day that movie was released on DVD and HD-DVD.
Unfortunately, if you own an older HD DirecTivo, you won't be enjoying the new channels - you can only view them with one of the newer mpeg-4 HD receivers, like the HR20. If you think you're missing out, use your search engine to hunt down the DirecTV customer retention phone number. They'll usually upgrade existing customers for a minimal fee.
ReplayTV may still have some name recognition (the company was one of the pioneers of PVR technology along with TiVo). But ReplayTV PC Edition lacks some of the features of Windows Media Center, BeyondTV and SageTV -- notably HDTV support.
ReplayTV is working to catch up to its siblings in the PC-based PVR market. The company is seeking beta testers for a new HDTV capable client.
It looks like the beta will run through September. Testers will be asked to participate in online forums, answer weekly surveys, and of course submit bug reports. In other words, you'll be expected to work for your free software trial. Or you could just wait until ReplayTV releases a final edition. The current version of ReplayTV PC Edition includes a 30-day free trial, and I'm guessing the same will be true of the HD version.
Right now there's not a huge selection of content available in high definition. You can watch a whopping one episode each of Desparate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, or Ugly Betty at resolutions up to 1300x770.
You'll need a 2Mbps or faster internet connection, and even then you're not guaranteed crystal-clear playback. Just because the player supports HDTV resolutions doesn't really mean you're going to get HD quality over the internet. The faster your internet connection and the better your computer's specs (CPU, Graphics card etc), the better your results will likely be.
[via Lost Remote]
A $300 box could change that. If you look closely that the blurry pictures, you can see two CableCard slots, meaning you'll be able to record two shows at once, or record one and watch another. It's certainly not as pretty as the Series3, but you might be able to chalk that up to the fact that it's a demo unit. The remote control is also reportedly lighter and cheaper feeling than the Series3 remote.
It's not clear yet what corners TiVo cut to get the price down. Will it be THX certification? Some of the input/output features? Does it have a slower processor, and how will that affect broadband performance? We can't imagine that the cheaper version won't sport broadband features like TiVoCast and Amazon Unbox, since that seems to be where the industry is headed.
What do you think will be missing from the new HDTV TiVo? And how do you think TiVo will prevent this unit's sales from eating into Series3 sales? Or would you expect this to be the replacement form the Series3?
About 20 percent of Comcast's 25 million subscribers now have a high definition box, a personal video recorder, or both. Not that the two items are really related unless your a Comcast PR person touting the strong growth in sales of "new technologies." But Comcast doesn't break down the two figures separately in its financial reports, so that's about as specific as we can get.
About 38% of the company's digital customers (with video-on-demand, HD, and/or PVRs) are using high definition PVRs. That's about 5 million Comcast customers paying an average of $75 per month or more for video services.
Basically, they're billing it as "the world's first quad mode tuner."
It's capable of receiving all UK TV broadcast formats, including analog, Freeview digital, satellite and High Definition (HD) satellite.
It should be available mid-March, at around £180, and comes in PCI format.
The card is packed with the usual Hauppauge features, and will undoubtedly drop in price as the year rolls on -- but you should expect this kind of card to be the standard for a PC-based TV tuner/PVR in the UK in the very near future.
Wired has news that tomorrow the South Park episode "Good Times with Weapons" will be made available exclusively in HD on XBox Live Marketplace. "Good Times with Weapons" is the episode from season eight in which the boys purchase ninja weapons and are transformed through the power of their own imagination into anime warriors. Unfortunately for Butters/Professor Chaos, reality starts to seep in when he takes a throwing star in the eye. In true form, the boys don't try too hard to help Butters, though they do dress him as a dog so at least he can receive veterinarian care. Hey, it's better than nothing.
Also, if you buy an XBox 360 between March 20 and April 3, you'll get a free DVD copy of this HD episode. And don't forget that season eleven kicks off Wednesday night with the episode "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson."
More information can be found here on one of our sister sites. Thanks, Tucker.
On March 18 at 8 p.m., the National Geographic Channel will air a three-hour documentary on Galapagos, thirteen islands off the southern coast of South America that were central to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Put together from over 300 hours of footage shot over a three-year period, Galapagos is being lauded by National Geographic as the most in-depth look at the islands in over two decades.
The documentary will be presented in high def and will not only explore the various forms of wildlife, but also the surrounding ocean and the volcanoes that first gave form to the islands. If I sound like a commercial for the program, that's only because I live for any series having to do with the natural world. Galapagos is even more interesting because it's not only a remarkable ecosystem, but also the center of a time-tested theory about our origin that changed the way we see ourselves and the world around us.
TV Newser reports that NBC News will begin shooting in HD beginning sometime next year, and that NBC Nightly News will be going high def starting next month. The other major networks, including NBC, also offer select shows in the HD format, and some local news affiliates also broadcast in HD.
I don't consider myself a technophobe, but all this talk of high definition ties my head in knots. I actually found a decent primer for HD virgins like myself on CNET, which is worth checking out if you're interested in making the jump to HD, which involves a lot more than simply purchasing an HD or plasma television set.
I also know a lot of our readers rock the HD, so share your wisdom in the comments for those of us who aren't quite so hip to this crazy new technology.
[via Lost Remote]
So you love CNN but you wish you could get a better look at every wrinkle, crevice and circuit board in Larry King's face? Well, don't slit your wrists just yet, because CNN is going high def this fall. CNN-HD has already been picked up by DIRECTV, which will be launching one hundred new high def channels, most of them in the third quarter of 2007.
I don't own a high def TV set, but I have to ask if high def TV news is really what people want. I can understand wanting to watch movies in high def, and I'm sure nature programs and some animation probably look amazing with this technology, but does anyone really care what the news looks like? I've often wondered the same thing about Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, both of which are also now in high def. Unless they start adding explosions and lasers to those game shows, I'm content with watching them on my old TV.
Ah, technology. No longer will you have to go outside to appreciate the wonders of nature. Instead, the Discovery Channel is going to bring you the wonders of the natural world in glorious high definition starting March 25 with an eleven-part series, Planet Earth.
The program, created by the same people behind Blue Planet, is the result of 70 camera operators working for 2,000 days in 2000 locations using advanced techniques and technology. Discovery will also air behind-the-scenes footage after each episode and will provide extra content online. I'm guessing that after seeing the world in high definition your only recourse will be to track down Mother Nature and spit in her face in disgust.
The new episodes will start airing in syndication on September 16th. For the whole scoop on what's new and different, go check out the list.
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