Friday, October 17, 2008

Blur-ray Recorder, End of Firewire

Apple may not be keen on Blu-ray, but Amex Corporation has announced the Portable Blu-ray Super Multi Drive, a very sleek and sexy external Blu-ray player and reader. It supports both OSX and Windows XP, though note that the Mac OS doesn’t support Blu-ray playback, so the usefulness of the player-only version is rather limited.

The BDP-2 Blu-ray Player US$289.00
The BDR-2 Blu-ray Recorder US$389.00

An Intel Core 2 Duo and NVIDIA GF8000 Series or better is required. The text at the top says “New MacBook, Pro and Air.

Get this with Toast, and you’d be able to make Blu-ray discs.

Meanwhile, Steve Jobs has reportedly responded to a query about why the new MacBooks don’t have Firewire:
Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2.

It’s a good point. While HDV tape-based cameras require Firewire to transfer video, all the harddrive and chip-based cameras work with USB (as I’ve found with my new camera.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blu-ray licensing

Yesterday’s comment about Blu-ray licensing at Apple's MacBook announcement had me puzzled. What was this "bag of hurt" that Steve was on about? Is it the money that Apple would have to pay to put in Blu-ray hardware (and software that writes to Blu-ray?) Is it licensing issues for people writing Blu-ray discs? Or is it both?

Or something else?

Well I did discover that Roxio already has a Blu-ray plug-in for Toast that will write Blu-ray content to either a Blu-ray player, or even a DVD disc (I didn’t even know that you could put Blu-ray content onto a DVD!) Interestingly, it’s an additional $20 (ontop of the $80 for Toast.) I can't help thinking that one of the reasons they didn't just include it in the package was because of extra licensing fees they had to pay. At a guess, it sounds like if Apple added Blu-ray support to iDVD (iBlu-ray) would they have to pay $10-20 per machine for licensing too? That’s probably the kicker.

As to licensing issues for users, that’s probably only an issue for mass production (and that’s not Apple’s concern anyway.) But I did find out some interesting stuff about that too. A friend sent me this link to an article about Blu-ray licensing. The Ins and Outs of Blu-ray Disc Replication and Licensing by Hugh Bennett.

The interesting part of that article - and you have to get to the bottom to find it – is the summary of licensing costs for pressing a Blu-ray.

Quantitatively speaking, for 1,000 copies of a simple title, all these demands add at least $7.54 overhead to the price of a single disc (calculated as a one-shot deal). Based on my earlier examples, this works out to roughly $11-12 (SL) to $13-14 (DL) each for a finished product.

Note: for more info on licensing, see also: Blu-ray Disc Licensing for Small Publishers, Duplicators, and Independent Studios

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Apple MacBook's; no Blu-ray

Apple came out with new MacBook Pros, and MacBooks today. Built using a new manufacturing process, they feature a glass trackpad, LED-backlit display, new graphics chip, and a new mini display port. They don't include Blu-ray, but someone asked about that omission in the Q&A at the end:
"Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt. It's great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we're waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace."
-Steve Jobs

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nikon D90 review at DPReview has their review of the Nikon D90 up. They are a little concerned about the matrix metering and how the highlights tend to slip a bit more than they'd like, but otherwise they seem to like it.

Video get's a mixed review, with them noting it's hard to escape the impression that this is a first-generation implementation. After describing the problems of the rolling shutter, they go on to note:

The automatic exposure can result in rather 'stepped' exposure changes - the aperture is locked so the problem seems to stem from amplifier stepping. Color rendition is not as convincing as in stills recording, with the red channel appearing to clip in our bus sample. Autofocus is also only available prior to recording, using the less-than-spritely contrast-detect mode, so once the 'rec' dot appears, you'll be left having to focus manually.

The sound quality (11kHz Mono) - with no option for an external mic - was also criticized, and in the end they conclude that you shouldn't buy this camera for it's video capabilities (but then no one really ever thought that, did they?)

Really cheap Blu-ray players coming?

With Blu-ray players still hovering around $300 - and Apple still not supporting Blu-ray authoring *grumble* - I've been disinclined to jump on the Blu-ray bandwagon. But now comes rumors that a Samsung player may reach down to $149; at least on sale. That's quite something.

On the other hand, I'm still inclined towards the PS3 as the Blu-ray player of choice because you get a game machine, and it seems to be more future-proof than the stand-alone players.

Reviewers have taken a crack at deciding between the PS3 vs. standalone player before (note that the review is over a year old) and come away with mixed feelings, but at $149 vs $400, I'm suddenly remembering that the PS2 I own has a fairely heavy layer of dust on it.

So do I really care about future prrof players? About Profile 2 with support for secondary decoders, local storage and internet connections, or does all that not really matter if all I'm doing is watching a movie?

I guess I'll wait and see what the sales of Christmas bring...