Tag Archives: DVD

RealNetworks Stick One to DVD Pirates

RealNetworks has announced it new US$30 RealDVD system, which allows users to legally make digital copies of any disc, including its artwork and extras. It seems unReal (sorry…) after the numerous battles with DVD pirates and the like, but fear not legal film fans…there are strict limitations in place.

Pirates all over the world will be going “AAArrr” over this, but in reality realDVD only lets you make a single digital copy of a disc. You can’t burn extra copies to DVD or even share the digital copy with another computer, unless you pay an extra $20 for an additional licence fee. Disc burning is not on the agenda, so put your cutlass away and take your parrot back to the pet shop me’ hearty.

Chris Renk, an attorney and shareholder with Chicago-based law firm Banner and Witcoff explained the law: “The application is actually akin to a license – very similar to what happens with iTunes…It doesn’t give you the right to rip onto a DVD itself,” he said.

It’s a bizarre setup, but it has the potential to work better than the numerous ‘underground’ DVD ripping tools around. Many of the peddlers of this software are facing law suits left, right and centre, such as the developers of DVD X Copy who recently got their comeuppance from the Motion Picture Association of America in 2004.

RealDVD is different due to its limited use restrictions, and because it features paid rights for the content.

“By buying the software, you’re actually paying a royalty for the use of the movies, and the rights that you get are limited by the encryption software,” Renk explained. “There shouldn’t be any real concern by the movie industry whatsoever.”

The burning question is: If I can find hundreds of free, albeit murky, DVD Copiers, why should I buy this?

“I don’t think it’s necessarily going to stop people from copying DVDs illegally,” Renk predicted, “but it will provide a legal method that will be quick, relatively speaking.”

With high-definition content becoming more common, ‘everyday’ DVD duplication may have a limited lifetime. Industry insiders speculate that HD-streaming solutions may be the smarter long-term business model that tech companies should adopt.

Jonathan Taplin, a clinical professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, enlightened us: “Probably Microsoft and Google are close enough to getting real deals with the content suppliers that they don’t want to p#ss them off on something like this, whereas RealNetworks has basically kind of given up on being a content supplier … and kind of has nothing to lose.”

Taplin believes the problem boils down to when and for how long the movies become available.

“Today, what happens is you have a release … usually after DVD,” he explained. “Then they take the rights away from them for six, nine, 12 months – so the stuff disappears while it goes into the HBO pay-TV window, which is just nonsense. You never can have a large library of on-demand content available anywhere the way you did with music,” he noted.

“They’re still locked in this old-fashioned windowing notion, and they’re just hurting themselves,” Taplin commented.

Toshiba Strike Back with Near-High Definition Quality DVD Player

After a right pounding from Sony?s Blu-ray DVD format in the high-definition war that ended in early 2008, Toshiba has set up shop in the standard definition DVD market. The company has launched a new up-scaling DVD player, the XD-E500, which promises to deliver as near to HD-DVD as you can get, without it actually being HD.

Toshiba?s new US$150 XD-E500 features Toshiba?s new eXtended Detail Enhancement (XDE) technology, which increases up-conversion from 480i/p to 1080p, and also offers three user-selectable picture enhancement modes ? Sharp, Colour, and contrast – to help refine the video quality, according to Toshiba.

Sharp Mode offers improved detail enhancement, taking it one step closer to HD, Toshiba boasts. Edges are sharper and details in movies are more visible. As opposed to traditional sharpness control, XDE technology analyses the whole picture and adds edge enhancement exactly where it?s needed.

Colour Mode ensures the colours stand out with improved richness, with blues and greens appearing more lifelike, according to Toshiba. Colour Mode combines the improvement in colour with the detail enhancement of Sharp Mode and is perfect for outdoor scenes.

Contrast Mode is designed to make darker scenes or foregrounds more clearly, without the typical ?washing out2 that can occur with traditional contrast adjustment.

In addition to XDE, the XD-E500 incorporates key features found on most up-converting standard DVD players, such as HDMI-CEC, DivX certification, JPEG capability, and MP3 and WMA playback.

“XDE offers consumers a simple solution to add on to their HDTV purchase. XDE works with existing DVDs to deliver a near HD experience with enhanced detail and richer colours. Toshiba is delivering to consumers what they want — a high quality experience at an affordable price,” noted Louis Masses, Toshiba director of product planning.

Toshiba will be hoping to capitalise on the customers who are still reeling from HD disc battle with Blu-ray, as most consumers haven’t jumped up to more expensive format yet.

“It’s an interesting time for the market,” Ben Bajarin, director of the consumer technology practice for Creative Strategies, said.

“After [Toshiba's] HD DVD finally phased itself out and we noted that Blu-ray was the clear winner, we saw a lot of consumers who were saying, ‘When’s the right time for me to buy … and if so, what’s the right price?’” he added.

Bajarin doesn’t believe an HD up-converting device is going to be a long-term solution.

“We’re at 1080p now, and that’s going to continue to go up. With educated consumers, one of the main reasons the Sony PS3 Blu-ray player is so interesting is that it can be updated with software – so as new standards come out, they’ll be able to update their PS3 Blu-ray player with software so that it’s consistent with what’s available on the market at the highest levels,” he explained.

“Consumers already know Blu-ray is the winner, so I find it hard to believe that consumers will go out in larger numbers and buy a device that’s not Blu-ray,” Bajarin said.