Showing posts with label high definition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label high definition. Show all posts

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Heroes Do Blu

First Transformers and now Heroes is to receive the Blu-ray treatment!

Both franchises were HD DVD 'banner bearers' in the HD format wars! The war ended a few months ago and, with Sony's Blu-ray platter emerging victorious, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has, finally, unveiled the specifications for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of 'Heroes: Season One' and 'Heroes: Season Two', both due to hit store shelves on August 26th.

The wildly successful TV series will get the full high definition treatment, with video being presented in 1.78:1 1080p accompanied by a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.

Season One has been reduced from seven discs for the HD DVD release to five! Some special features, such as "Genetics Test" and "Mind Reader" games, have been removed. The special features are as follows:

Disc 1
* Artwork Presentation; Hero Connections
* 73-Minute Premiere Episode with Audio Commentary by Show Creator Tim Kring
* BD-Live Enabled
* Making Of
* Special Effects
* The Stunts
* Profile of Artist Tim Sale
* The Score
* Deleted Scenes

Disc 2
* Artwork Presentation, Hero Connections
* Deleted Scenes

Disc 3
* Artwork Presentation, Hero Connection
* PIP Cast Video Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes

Disc 4
* Artwork Presentation, Hero Connection
* PIP Cast Video Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes

Disc 5
* Artwork Presentation, Hero Connection
* PIP Cast Video Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes

Season Two comes on four discs, notably due to the writers' strike. Extras for this season include:

Disc 1
* Hero Connections - Bios, PIP Cast & Crew Commentaries
* Heroes Season 2 "A New Beginning"
* Takezo Kensei: Sword Saint
* BD-Live Enabled
* Hero Connections: Network
* My Scenes
* Deleted Scenes

Disc 2
* Hero Connections - Bios, PIP Cast & Crew Commentaries
* Genetics of a Scene
* Hero Connections - Network
* The Drucker Files
* My Scenes
* Deleted Scenes

Disc 3
* Hero Connections - Bios, PIP Cast & Crew Commentaries
* Tim Sale Gallery of Screen Art
* Hero Connections - Network
* My Scenes
* Deleted Scenes

Disc 4
* Hero Connections - Bios, PIP Cast & Crew Commentaries
* Generations Alternate Ending
* Inside the Alternate Ending of Generations
* Hero Connections - Network
* My Scenes
* NBC.com Featurettes

Given that Heroes includes BD-Live, I recommend that you watch this title on a PS3! For those who are completely unaware of what BD-Live is, it is a newly developed Blu-ray feature that enables you to access content via your internet-connected Blu-ray player. BD-Live can allow you to download a variety of up-to-date content (e.g., refreshed previews and exclusive special features) and also enable exciting next generation possabilities, such as ringtone/wallpaper downloads, peer-to-peer interactions, live events and gaming activities. BD-Live is showcased on Men In Black (Blu-ray).

You'll be able to pre-order Heroes S1 and S2 from my Blu-ray Shop and support my blogging. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Blu-ray) is available for pre-order now! Your support is very much appreciated and, most importantly, at no additional cost to yourself! Thank you.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Room With A VIERA

Last evening I attended an open evening at shop@Panasonic, located in Exeter's Harlequins Shopping Centre. Invited guests were privy to a captivating demonstration of Panasonic's latest, and finest, range of VIERA televisions and 10% discount off all products.

Here are my VIERA television recommendations for your delectation:

LCD

Panasonic TX-32LZD85
* Superb Moving Picture Quality with 100Hz Motion Picture Pro 2 and 24p Film
* 178° Wide Viewing Angle with IPS Alpha Full HD Panel
* 10,000:1 High Contrast with Intelligent Scene Controller
* x.v.Colour
* Smart Networking with VIERA Link and SD Card Slot (JPEG)
* V-Audio surround with BBE ViVA HD3D Sound

Panasonic TX-37LZD800
(Same specifications as TX-32LZD85)

Plasma

Panasonic TH-46PZ80B
* 100Hz Double Scan
* 24p Playback
* Full HD (1920x1080p)
* High Contrast Native 20,000 : 1
* 4,096 Equivalent Steps of Gradation
* 2 x HDMI
* 2 x Scart

When Panasonic first introduced their award-winning VIERA range of televisions, the aim was to give consumers the pinnacle of a viewing experience – an experience so real, so true-to-life, that viewers would unwittingly feel themselves to be almost part of the on-screen action. Now in 2008, the year of the summer Olympic Games, no other company is better placed and able to deliver every second of the action from the stadia into your living room than Panasonic.

Panasonic has been responsible for relaying the Olympics to our homes for the past 20 years. Since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Panasonic has exclusively provided professional broadcast cameras, editing consoles, monitors, and recording media to the international Olympic Broadcast Centres which beam images of the games around the world. 2008 will mark the first time that the entire production of an Olympic games will be done in High Definition – meaning that viewers will be able to experience all the events with unparalleled clarity and crispness thanks to Panasonic technology.

Thanks to Panasonic HD technology and the highly developed motion technologies in our VIERA TVs, millions of people around the world will be able to follow the ceremony and the proceeding games as intensely as if they were there in person – without missing a moment!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

PS3 gets DTS-HD Master Audio next week

DTS-HD MASTER AUDIO NOW AVAILABLE FOR PLAYSTATION 3 COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM

ADVANCED CODEC RAISES BAR FOR HIGH DEFINITION ENTERTAINMENT

MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED BLU-RAY MOVIES / CONCERT VIDEOS FEATURING PREMIUM DTS-HD MASTER AUDIO™ SOUNDTRACKS AVAILABLE

PR for: DTS Corporate
DTS, Inc. (NASDAQ: DTSI) a digital audio technology company dedicated to delivering the ultimate entertainment experience, has announced that its DTS-HD Master Audio™ technology is now available for the PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) computer entertainment system. DTS-HD Master Audio is capable of delivering audio that is bit-for-bit identical to the studio master at super high variable bit rates (up to 24.5 Mbps on Blu-ray™ Discs). This bit stream is so fast and the transfer rate so high that it can deliver 7.1 audio channel, 96k/24-bit sound identical to the original studio master. DTS’ single-bit-stream codec design enables supremely efficient content programming and consumer playback. PS3 can be upgradable to decode DTS-HD MASTER AUDIO by simply downloading the upcoming firmware upgrade on April 15th, 2008.

“We are extremely pleased that Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) is adding the full spectrum premium DTS-HD Master Audio codec into the PS3 so that more than 10 million owners of one of the best selling computer entertainment systems can have the best sounding, most efficient and flexible audio technology available as well,” said Brian Towne, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Consumer Division at DTS. “DTS-HD Master Audio is fast becoming the must-have feature for high definition entertainment enthusiasts.”

"PS3 was designed to enable delivery of new and improved technologies like DTS-HD Master Audio," said Teiji Yutaka, Senior Vice President, Software Platform Development, SCE. "So we are delighted to be able to offer this capability to PS3 users."

About DTS
DTS, Inc. (NASDAQ: DTSI) is a digital technology company dedicated to delivering the ultimate entertainment experience. DTS decoders are in virtually every major brand of 5.1-channel surround processor, and there are hundreds of millions of DTS-licensed consumer electronics products available worldwide. A pioneer in multi-channel audio, DTS technology is in home theatre, car audio, PC and game console products, as well as DVD-Video, Blu-ray Disc and Surround Music software. DTS audio products are featured on more than 27,000 motion picture screens worldwide. Founded in 1993, DTS is headquartered in Agoura Hills, California and has offices in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and China. For further information, please visit www.dts.com DTS is a registered trademark of DTS, Inc.

”PLAYSTATION” is a registered trademark, and “PS3” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors which, if they do not materialize or prove correct, could cause DTS’ results to differ materially from historical results or those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements, including statements containing the words “planned,” “expects,” “believes,” “strategy,” “opportunity,” “anticipates” and similar words. These statements may include, among others, plans, strategies and objectives of management for future operations; any statements regarding proposed new products, services or developments; any statements regarding future economic conditions or financial or operating performance; statements of belief and any statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. The potential risks and uncertainties that could cause actual growth and results to differ materially include, but are not limited to, the timing, costs and attention attendant to the divesture of the non-consumer business, the transition to the next generation optical drives and consumer adoption of such technology, the rapidly changing and competitive nature of the digital audio, consumer electronics and entertainment markets, the Company’s inclusion in or exclusion from governmental and industry standards, customer acceptance of the Company’s technology, products, services and pricing, risks related to ownership and enforcement of intellectual property, the continued release and availability of entertainment content containing DTS audio soundtracks, changes in domestic and international market and political conditions, risks related to integrating acquisitions and other risks and uncertainties more fully described in DTS’ public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, available at www.sec.gov. DTS does not intend to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances arising after the date on which it was made.

Press Contact for DTS:
Mark Smotroff
e5 Marketing, Inc.
415 332 0718
smotroff@pacbell.net

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Get Your Motor Running - Gran Turismo 5 Prologue™

Additional special features included in the European release: 16-player online racing on PLAYSTATION®Network – a Gran Turismo first! 71 dream cars, High Definition graphics, new physics engine… and a TV channel

Tuesday March 11, 2008 – Attention all driving fans!! One of the games industry’s most legendary titles is about to make its PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) debut! That’s right - the real driving simulator that’s already sold almost 50 million units is back. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and Polyphony Digital are pleased to announce Gran Turismo 5 Prologue™, a prequel title showcasing the forthcoming Gran Turismo™ 5 for PS3, will be available both on Blu-ray Disc™ (BD) on Wednesday 26 March for €39.99 (RRP), and as a download from PLAYSTATION®Network on Thursday 27 March. Launching on the same day as the standalone BD version, a PS3 bundle will be available including a PS3 40GB model, a SIXAXIS™ wireless controller and a Gran Turismo 5 Prologue game, all for just €399 (RRP).

Gran Turismo on PlayStation® is one of the most successful global gaming franchises of the last decade – renowned for its realism, quality of design and in-car physics technology. Now, with the power of PS3 behind it, it’s going to be unstoppable. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue features 71 stunning cars – including vehicles by Lotus, Aston Martin, Subaru and, making another striking appearance, Ferrari - for you to race on six seriously realistic tracks: the Eiger Nordwand; the Daytona International Speedway; the London City Track; the Fuji Speedway, Suzuka and the High Speed Ring – all drivable in two layouts and all rendered in incredible High Definition graphics. There’s also all-new driving physics for the most lifelike driving experience ever and new, improved, opponent artificial intelligence for the toughest race challenge yet.

But that’s not all – for the first time in the history of Gran Turismo, you’ll be able to race online. Thanks to PLAYSTATION Network, up to 16 players will be able to go head-to-head on some of the world’s best racetracks – all you need to get racing is a broadband connection and a PS3. Once you’re up and revving, Global Online Rankings will leave the world in no doubt as to just who is the best at Gran Turismo.

And then there’s Gran Turismo™ TV – a dedicated online channel available exclusively from PLAYSTATION Network and packed with some of the greatest content that motorsport has to offer.

And, when you’re done watching live coverage, you can take a more sedate browse through the Gran Turismo museum, where you’ll find virtual exhibits on the history of many of the world-class car marques that have starred in Gran Turismo.

Key Features:

The first ever Gran Turismo title with online racing: drive online against up to 16 other Gran Turismo aces
Race a total of 71 stunning, high-performance cars
Race the Eiger Nordwand, the Daytona International Speedway, the London City Track , the Fuji Speedway, Suzuka and the High Speed Ring - and then race them in alternative layouts
All-new physics engine means true next-generation vehicle handling
All-new and improved opponent AI opponents for a nail-biting race experience
Access to Gran Turismo TV : a world of great motoring TV programming online
In-game museum featuring the history and heritage of the top car manufacturers
My Garage - a personalised homepage feature with calendar, clock and map & weather of major race circuits worldwide
Quick Tune facility allows you to adjust power, tyres, suspension and more
All in stunning High Definition at 1080p
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Additional Features for Europe:
Drift Mode – The player’s drifting technique is measured based on drift angles, racing lines, and speeds within evaluation zones located at various turns on the course.
In Depth Car Tuning – Players have the ability to adjust the vehicle’s performance, including power, tyres, suspension and the ability for quick tuning whilst racing.
Two-player Split Screen Racing – Allows players to race head-to-head offline.
New Race Events – Online racing fans can join in on a new set of scheduled events and time trials.

The complete Gran Turismo 5 launches in 2009. Until then, there’s enough ultra-realistic, high-speed racing in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue on PS3 and it’s out now! To find out more, visit www.granturismoworld.com.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Warner Bros. Do Blu Only

The news Blu-ray supporters have been waiting for! Reuters confirms that Warner Bros. is to back the Blu-ray format exclusively!

"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger. We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most importantly, consumers," Warner Bros. Chairman and Chief Executive Barry Meyer said in a statement.

From Michael Bay on Blu-ray/HD DVD and Transformers

Director Michael Bay posted this message on the Official Michael Bay Forums:

"Well another studio down. Maybe I was right? Blu-ray is just better. HD will die a slow death. It's what I predicted a year ago. Now with Warner's down for the count with Blu-ray. That makes it easier for Wal-Mart to push Blu-ray. And whatever Wal-Mart pushes - wins. HD better start giving out those $120 million dollars checks to stay alive. Maybe they can give me some so I can give it to my Make-A-Wish charity, just to shut me up. Have faith people Transformers will come out in Blu-ray one day..."

Personally, I can't wait for Batman Begins, The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix trilogies! Where Warner Bros. leads, other studios will, ultimately, follow! Warner Bros. will continue supporting HD DVD until May 2008. However, after that time, the studio will be exclusively Blu. To read the full article, please click here.

Incidentally, whilst on the subject of Blu-ray and Reuters. Reuters has republished a post of mine, via BlogBurst, here.

If the Blu-ray Macworld rumours are correct, this will be a great month to go Blu!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

I Do Blu

Since Sony's PS3 opened my eyes to the joie de vivre known as Blu-ray, I've been smitten!

Whether it's watching Spider-Man scale the heights of a New York skyline or Spielberg's majestic encounter with visitors from a distant star, Blu-ray excels.

Now a proponent of Blu-ray, here are my aStores, which feature my recommendations:

I Do Blu Shop UK
I Do Blu Shop USA
I Do Blu Shop Canada

Sensing the need to step up promotional efforts behind the Blu-ray Disc format heading into the critical holiday selling season, a group of hardware manufacturers and studios have pooled their resources on a "multimillion-dollar" television, print and online advertising campaign, billed as the largest for the format so far.

The effort, called "I Do Blu," quietly kicked off its prime-time TV portion with a spot on "Dancing With The Stars," and will continue through the Super Bowl.

Companies backing the project include hardware manufacturers Sony, Panasonic and Philips, and Blu-ray-backing studios include Walt Disney Studio Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Lions Gate and Warner Home Video. While they declined to reveal the exact size of the budget, they say it is the largest to date for the Blu-ray Disc format.

"Before we were really targeting the early adopter [with Blu-ray] but now the time is right to really go broad," said Rich Marty, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment new business development VP. "The [PlayStation3] is coming out at $399 now, and while some of purchasers will be into games, we believe a lot more of them will also really be into movies."

"There are 35 million HDTV sets out there in U.S. homes now, and they need to be informed that if they want to maximize their high-definition movie playback, they really need a Blu-ray player," said Lexine Wong, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment marketing VP.

The ads don't focus on any particular brand to remain fair to the three supporting equipment manufactures.

"It was agreed that we can get a bigger and better message out there if we all do this together," Marty told TWICE. He added that some companies were invited to participate but opted out at this time.

Movies featured in the 30-second TV spot include some of the biggest releases of the fall, including "Spiderman 3," "Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer," "Live Free or Die Hard," "Ratatouille," "Wedding Crashers," the "Harry Potter" series, "300" and others.

HD-what?

Friday, 12 October 2007

The Blu-ray Dream Machine

After 5 years my ageing, but trustworthy, Toshiba SD-520 multi-region DVD player finally stopped working on Tuesday night! Sony's PS3 (60GB Premium Version) price cut, announced on Wednesday, couldn't have been better timed! A backlog of Doctor Who DVDs and a desire to indulge in Blu-ray eye candy notwithstanding!

I most certainly couldn't justify a PS3 purchase at launch! £424.99 was far too high an entry fee! However, the new price, £349.99 (including two selected video game titles) while stocks last, is a veritable bargain! Why? The key selling point is Sony's ongoing firmware update strategy (combined with technological trimmings)! And this month is no exception to that rule!

Not satisfied with adding standard definition DVD upscaling for HDTV. This month's firmware update will usher in Blu-ray Profile 1.1, which includes upgraded interactivity featuring true video picture-in-picture playback, and improved DVD player performance (the 40GB model ships with the latter). Future updates purportedly will be headlined by the highly-anticipated DTS-HD Master Audio upgrade!

Such firmware-based scalability arguably puts the PS3 at the forefront of Blu-ray playback and no other standalone Blu-ray machine can compete at this price point! I can't comment on the intrinsic value or merits of Microsoft's external HD DVD drive for Xbox 360.

Throw in PlayStation 2 backwards compatibility, SACD playback and MemoryStick / SD / CompactFlash connectivity (options only available on the 60GB model) and gadget-geeks (myself included) have an all-in-one multimedia hub worthy of the 5 stars awarded by T3 magazine!

My advice is to invest in the 60GB model, HDMI 1.3 compliant cable and Sony Blu-ray Remote, because the 40GB is nowhere near as good value by comparison! And, while you're at the checkout, be sure to grab a copy of the amazing Spider-Man Trilogy (Blu-ray)!

Friday, 5 October 2007

New PS3 for the masses?

New PLAYSTATION®3 Model to Take Holiday Season by Storm

Aggressively priced hardware and a terrific software line-up make for an unbeatable combination New 40GB PS3 at €399


London, 5 October 2007 – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced details of its exciting new PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) model that will launch throughout the SCEE territories on 10th October 2007 at the highly attractive price of €399.

Providing an incredibly appealing entry point to the world of High Definition gaming and entertainment for the holiday season, the new PS3 brings the next generation of interactive home entertainment to homes all across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Australasia.

Along with an ever expanding line-up of PS3 titles (a total of 65 titles tracking across all genres by Christmas), the new PS3 is equipped with a 40GB HDD and includes all the features central to the High Definition entertainment experience; true next generation gameplay, stunning High Definition Blu-ray Disc™ movies, SIXAXIS™ wireless controller, Wi-Fi and HDMI connectivity, all powered by the Cell Broadband Engine™, the digital heart of PS3.

As with the 60GB PS3, the new PS3 features upgradeable firmware allowing new features and functionality to be added to the system as time progresses. A recent firmware update, for example, enabled PS3 to upscale DVD’s played on the system to full 1080P High Definition.

The introduction of the new PS3 has been determined following user feedback from thousands of existing PS3 owners as well as research into future potential PS3 owners. The new model features two USB 2.0 ports rather than four and no longer includes the multi memory card port.

The new model is no longer backwards compatible with PlayStation®2 titles, reflecting both the reduced emphasis placed on this feature amongst later purchasers of PS3, as well as the availability of a more extensive line-up of PS3 specific titles (a total of 65 titles across all genres by Christmas).

The existing Starter Pack*, comprising a 60GB PS3 with extensive backwards compatibility, an additional SIXAXIS wireless controller and two first party titles will be reduced in price to €499. Remaining on sale while stocks last, the 60GB model represents outstanding value for the keen gamer wishing to upgrade to the High Definition capabilities of PS3.

“The introduction of the new PS3 has been the result of extensive research into the entertainment needs and preferences of the next generation of PS3 owners,” said David Reeves, President of SCEE. “It has allowed us to deliver an extremely advanced, yet incredibly affordable High Definition gaming and entertainment system, configured to the needs of the next generation of European PS3 owners. PS3 has always been the device of choice for the discerning gamer and entertainment seeker, and the new PS3 is more than ever the perfect High Definition entertainment system.

*In the UK and Ireland, the Starter Pack will be replaced by a separate in-store promotion on the 60GB PS3.

PLAYSTATION®3 40GB Specification
Product name PLAYSTATION®3
CPU Cell Broadband Engine™ Processor
GPU RSX™
Sound Dolby 5.1ch, DTS 5.1ch , LPCM 7.1ch, AAC,
others *1 *2
Memory 256MB XDR Main RAM, 256MB GDDR3 VRAM
HDD 2.5” Serial ATA 40GB
I/O USB 2.0 x2
Communication Ethernet x1 (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX,
1000BASE-T)
IEEE 802.11 b/g Included
Bluetooth 2.0 (EDR) Included
Wireless controller (Bluetooth) Included
AV Output
Screen size 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
HDMI OUT x1 *3
AV MULTI OUT x1
DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL) x1
BD/DVD/CD Drive
(Read Only) Maximum Read Speed BD 2x (BD-ROM)
DVD 8x (DVD-ROM)
CD 24x (CD-ROM)
Dimensions Approximately 325mm (W) x 98mm (H) x 274mm (D)
Weight Approximately 5 kg

*1 A device compatible with Linear PCM 7.1 Ch. is required to output 7.1 Ch. audio, supported by Dolby TrueHD or a similar format, from the HDMI OUT connector.
*2 This system does not support output from the DTS-HD 7.1 Ch. DTS-HD 7.1 Ch. audio is output from a 5.1 or lower channel.
*3 "Deep Color" and "x.v.Color (xvYCC)" defined by HDMI ver1.3a are supported.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Elite Launch

Xbox 360 Elite launches today! It may lack the razzle-dazzle of a true next generation console release (this is a marketing relaunch). But, is significant in so much as Microsoft can now begin aggressive price reductions, in earnest and much to Sony's chagrin, and introduce the feted Falcon - the internal codename for their updated Xbox 360 motherboard housing smaller, cooler, 65nm Xenos and Xenon chips - and improve product reliability!

The "red ring of death", as it's known to gamers, has fuelled consumer anxiety and resistance since the Xbox 360 debuted, overheating, in holiday 2005. Subsequently the console has attained the brand diluting reputation of an alleged 33% hardware failure rate. With the benefit of hindsight it appears that I was wise to cancel my pre-order!

The Elite includes a 120GB hard drive, a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port, a high-definition cable, and a premium black finish for the console, wireless controller, and Xbox Live headset.

A welcome iterative upgrade, the Elite still falls short compared to the PS3's multimedia credentials! The form factor remains unchanged, the Falcon isn't in mass production yet, and there's no Wi-Fi or HD DVD out-of-the-box. And, perhaps a deal breaker for some, US-based gamers are already reporting that the Xbox 360 Premium console is now sporting HDMI too!

This calls into question the Xbox 360 Elite's desirability and value. However, I'll leave that vexing conundrum to you and daydream about playing Virtua Fighter 5 (Xbox 360) on a redesigned machine using 45nm chips. Have a good weekend y'all.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

"PS3 Starter Pack" confirmed for Europe

PS3 STARTER PACK ANNOUNCED FOR EUROPE

Santa Monica, 12th July 2007.
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced the availability of a high value Starter Pack for PLAYSTATION®3, comprising a PS3, two first party games and two SIXAXIS™ wireless controllers, at €599.

Rolling out across the SCEE territories from 13th July, and in all territories by 1st August, the new Starter Pack represents exceptional value for money as an entry point into the exciting world of High Definition interactive entertainment with PLAYSTATION 3.

The choice of first party games available in the Starter Pack will vary to suit the interests of entertainment enthusiasts in each country, but will include million sellers such as Resistance Fall of Man™ and MotorStorm™; titles specifically chosen to demonstrate the stunning graphics and enhanced gameplay of High Definition games on Blu-ray disc.

With an additional wireless SIXAXIS, motion sensitive controller provided for head to head and multi player gaming, the Starter Pack is sure to appeal to those seeking to enhance their entertainment experience with the best of 21st century technology.

“With sell through of over 1.2 million units in the SCEE territories to date, PLAYSTATION 3 has proved to be an instant and huge success”, said David Reeves, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

“The exceptional value of the new Starter Pack will bring the excitement of PlayStation® gaming to a much wider audience. Add to this a stellar lineup of software titles for the second half of the year and we are confident that this amazing value Starter Pack will encourage many more keen gamers to join the PLAYSTATION 3 community”.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Black Box

Microsoft Unveils Xbox 360 Elite

Premium black console includes 120GB hard drive and line of new accessories.


REDMOND, Wash. - March 27, 2007 - Microsoft Corp. today announced the upcoming availability of Xbox 360™ Elite, a new model of the video game and entertainment system that will include a 120GB hard drive, a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port, a high-definition cable, and a premium black finish for the console, wireless controller and Xbox LIVE® headset. Xbox 360 Elite has enough space for a library of Xbox LIVE Arcade games and thousands of songs, as well as downloadable high-definition TV shows and movies available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace. The new 120GB hard drive also will be sold as a stand-alone accessory to give current Xbox 360 owners greater choice and flexibility in their games and entertainment experience. Additional Xbox 360 Elite accessories, such as the black Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit and the Xbox 360 rechargeable battery, will be available separately. The Xbox 360 Elite and its accessories are expected to begin arriving in U.S. stores on April 29.

"Today's games and entertainment enthusiast has an insatiable appetite for digital high-definition content," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "Xbox 360 Elite's larger hard drive and premium accessories will allow our community to enjoy all that the next generation of entertainment has to offer."

Distinguished by its black finish and signature metallic detailing, Xbox 360 Elite will have an estimated retail price1 of $479.99 (U.S.)/479.99 euros/349.99 pounds, and will come packed with components and accessories for the ultimate high-definition entertainment experience.

· Xbox 360 Elite console. The console is equipped with a premium black finish and three powerful core processors capable of producing the best in HD entertainment (up to 1080p), 16:9 cinematic aspect ratio, anti-aliasing for smooth textures, full surround sound, HDMI output and DVD playback with upscaling capabilities right out of the box.

· Xbox 360 120GB hard drive. The 120GB detachable hard drive allows gamers to save their games and store television shows, movies, music, pictures, trailers, levels, demos and other content available from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.3 The hard drive is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $179.99 (U.S.)/179.99 euros/119.99 pounds.

· Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (black). This award-winning, high-performance wireless controller, now in black, features the Xbox® Guide Button for quick, in-game access to friends and music. It has a range of up to 30 feet and a battery life of 30 hours on two AA batteries. It is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $49.99 (U.S.)/44.99 euros/32.99 pounds.

· Xbox 360 headset (black). Now available in black, the headset lets gamers strategize or trade taunts while playing games and send voice messages to friends on Xbox LIVE.

· Xbox 360 HDMI cable. New to Xbox 360, HDMI allows consumers to get HD video (up to 1080p) and multichannel surround sound, all from one cable.

· Xbox LIVE Silver Membership. With this, gamers can chat with friends online, collect achievements and gamerscores, send and receive voice and text messages, and access Xbox LIVE Marketplace content such as game demos, HD movies and TV, as well as the best in downloadable games from Xbox LIVE Arcade.

· One-month subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold. An Xbox LIVE Gold Membership provides a complete online entertainment experience. Those who subscribe to this premium service can engage in competitive online multiplayer matches, tailor their matchmaking via feedback and accomplishments, chat with more than one person at a time, and take advantage of unique privileges in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and Xbox LIVE Arcade.

The following accessories for the Xbox 360 Elite console will only be sold separately:

· Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit. Complete with a charging cable and a black rechargeable battery pack, the Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit allows gamers to recharge their Xbox 360 Wireless Controller without interrupting their gameplay. it is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $19.99 (U.S.)/19.99 euros/14.99 pounds.

· Xbox 360 rechargeable battery (black). The rechargeable battery pack provides more than 25 hours of gameplay per charge. It is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $11.99 (U.S.)/11.99 euros/9.99 pounds.

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox LIVE online gaming network and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 has a catalog of more than 160 high-definition games and is available in 37 countries. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

The Xbox 360 Elite should appear on European retail shelves as early as the summer.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Paucity of Emotionless Euro PlayStation 3 Pre-orders

This week's posts have been dominated by PlayStation 3 news!

Online rumbles suggest Sony's dominance of the lucrative console market is at end with the launch of PS3 permeate the blogosphere. This is purportedly indicated by low consumer demand due to the availability of the next generation console on Amazon.co.uk, Play.com and Gameplay (the latter two only offer expensive pre-packed bundles). Given the price of the PS3, GBP 425, it's hardly an impulse buy compared against Wii.

Anyway, I'm keen to share the following news directly from SCEE Press Office, which may add further salt to the wound:

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Announces Hardware Specification of PLAYSTATION®3 for Europe

London, 23 February 2007 – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced that PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) to be launched in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Australasia on 23rd March 2007 would utilise a new hardware specification.

The European PS3 will feature the Cell Broadband Engine™, 60 GB hard disc drive, Blu-ray Disc player, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, SIXAXIS™ wireless controller. It also embodies a new combination of hardware and software emulation which will enable PS3 to be compatible with a broad range of original PlayStation® (PS) titles and a limited range of PlayStation®2 (PS2) titles.

“PS3 is first and foremost a system that excels in playing games specifically designed to exploit the power and potential of the PS3 system,” said David Reeves, President of SCEE. “Games designed for PS3 offer incredible graphics quality, stunning gameplay and massively improved audio and video fidelity that is simply not achievable with PS and PS2 games. Rather than concentrate on PS2 backwards compatibility, in the future, company resources will be increasingly focused on developing new games and entertainment features exclusively for PS3, truly taking advantage of this exciting technology.”

Some additional PS2 titles will become compatible on the PS3 system through regular downloadable firmware updates, which will be made available through the PLAYSTATION®Network, from http://www.playstation.com or via PS3 game discs, with the first update planned for the launch date of the 23rd March 2007.

Users will be able to check whether their titles are compatible with PS3 at http://faq.eu.playstation.com/bc. This site will be available on 23rd March to meet launch day.

1. A device compatible with Linear PCM 7.1 Ch is required to output 7.1 ch audio, supported by Dolby TrueHD or a similar format, from the HDMI OUT connector.

2. This system does not support output from the DTS-HD 7.1 Ch. DTS-HD 7.1 Ch audio is output from a 5.1 or lower channel.

3. Usability of all storage media types is not guaranteed.

4. Certain PlayStation 2 format software titles may not perform properly on this system. Visit faq.eu.playstation.com/bc for the latest information regarding compatible titles

Legal Notes:

l Storage media (“Memory Stick”, SD memory card, and CompactFlash®) are sold separately.

l “Dolby” is a trademark of Dolby Laboratories.

l “DTS” is a trademark of DTS, Inc.

l Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. is an authorized licensee of the CompactFlash® trademark.

l HDMI, the HDMI logo and High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.

l “Blu-ray Disc” is a trademark.

l The Bluetooth word mark is owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such mark by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. is under license.

l “Memory Stick” is a trademark of Sony Corporation.

l “Super Audio CD” is a trademark.

l “PlayStation”, “PLAYSTATION” and “PSP” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Also, “Cell Broadband Engine” and “RSX” are trademarks of the same company.

So, is the backwards compatibility 'issue' going to affect your purchasing decision? Limited PS2 gaming is not a "deal breaker" for me as I sold mine to a friend a couple of years ago. And Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3) is no poor man's Gears of War (Xbox 360)!

Please comment and I'll post a follow-up in a few weeks time.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

PS3 Pre-order Tuesday at Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.co.uk is, again, taking PlayStation 3 (60GB Premium Version) pre-orders! As a long time Sony fan (a friend even coined the term Sonyman back in the 1990s when I briefly defected back to Sega Dreamcast), I've decided I'd like one too!

For me the primary reason for purchasing a PS3 from Amazon.co.uk is to take advantage of its Blu-ray credentials and Casino Royale is the perfect inauguration. Generally Blu-ray hardware costs in the region of GBP 1000 and the PS3 GBP 425 is excellent value in comparison.

Don't forget to grab a HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) capable.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Pre-order your PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system unleashes a brilliant, high-definition entertainment experience with its Cell Broadband Engine that delivers a gaming experience that is beyond what you know today. Its built-in Blu-ray Disc drive delivers a whole new generation in high-definition gaming and unmatched digital media storage. Whether it’s gaming, Blu-ray movies, music or online services, PlayStation 3 will change your digital life.

Gian Luzio, head of games for Play.com, has revealed that they have taken 6 times more pre-orders for the PlayStation 3 than for the Xbox 360, and 15 times more than the Wii.

Play.com is offering one bundle, including first-party titles MotorStorm, Resistance: Fall of Man and Genji, for GBP 524.99.

Play promised they will deliver all pre-ordered PS3 units on launch day (unlike when the 360 and Wii were launched): "We have taken the necessary steps to ensure that customers will only be able to pre-order the system up until Play's allocation has been reached".

"We will always want more consoles to satisfy customer demand, however, we are satisfied that Sony are doing all they can to fulfil demand," Luzio said.

He added that the inclusion of a Blu-ray player in the PlayStation 3 will have a massive impact on the retailer's business.

"Figures from the United States show that Blu-ray movie sales are outselling HD-DVD by a factor of 2:1 since the launch of PS3 and we have similar sales expectations".

Not only Play.com is having so many pre-orders, according to Sony: "With an unprecedented day one shipment of 1 million machines into Europe and a software catalogue of over 30 titles available at launch, retailer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive".

The PlayStation 3 is due for launch in Europe on March 23, priced at GBP 425 / EUR 599 for the 60GB model.

Amazon UK is now taking PlayStation 3 (60GB Premium Version) pre-orders!

Amazon US now has restocks of PlayStation 3 (60 GB Premium Version).

Grab one whilst stocks last!

Monday, 12 February 2007

Blu-ray Bond

First 500,000 PS3 Registrants on PLAYSTATION®Network to be Rewarded with Casino Royale on Blu-ray

London, 12th February 2007 – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) announced today that, in addition to the extensive line-up of games, the first 500,000 purchasers of PLAYSTATION®3 who registered on the PLAYSTATION®Network would receive a Blu-ray disc movie of Casino Royale, starring James Bond newcomer Daniel Craig.

Casino Royale, which has already grossed more than $560 million at the box office worldwide, and has established itself as the most successful Bond film of all time will debut on a 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray disc encoded in MPEG-4 AVC. With a ground breaking collection of added-value features in 1080P High Definition visual quality, and with uncompressed audio features for the best possible audio experience, Casino Royale not only demonstrates the exceptional visual quality of Full 1080P High Definition movies on Blu-ray disc, but is the perfect vehicle to highlight the broader entertainment credentials of the PLAYSTATION 3 system.

Explaining the offer, Darren Carter, VP Brand and Consumer Marketing said, “The PLAYSTATION®Network unlocks the broad range of interactive entertainment features of PLAYSTATION 3. It’s easy to set up, offers free online gaming, has great tools for staying in touch with friends and family, and includes a wide variety of content for download through the PLAYSTATION®Store.”

“All this, and more, will enable users to experience a whole new world of interactive entertainment, and that is why we are offering the phenomenal incentive of Casino Royale, on Blu-ray disc, to PS3 owners who register on the PLAYSTATION®Network. Casino Royale not only makes the most of the features and capabilities of the Blu-ray format, but is one of the most exciting and entertaining movies to debut on Blu-ray this year.”

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Power of 3

Sitting down at my Apple Computer (not just any computer per se) I was delighted to receive the following juice from SCEE Press Office:

PLAYSTATION®3 Launches Worldwide in Early November 2006

Tokyo, March 15, 2006 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced today that it would launch PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3) in early November 2006 in Japan, North America and Europe simultaneously. With a monthly production capacity of one million units, SCEI will push forward a powerful product launch to spread the platform rapidly throughout the world, together with a strong and attractive lineup of PS3 game titles.

PS3 incorporates the final specifications of BD (Blu-ray Disc), and with the overwhelming computing power of PS3, it enables to playback BD software at a high bit rate. With a maximum storage capacity of 50 GB (dual layer) and robust security, BD is a highly anticipated storage medium that delivers digital entertainment content such as games and movies at an unparalleled level of image quality.

PS3 is compatible with a vast lineup of television sets currently out in the market, from standard-definition TV to full high-definition TV.

Users can also connect PS3 to high-speed broadband network through Gigabit Ethernet and comfortably enjoy a wide-range of rich and exciting content and services over the network.

SCEI, together with the support and cooperation of game content creators around the world, will strongly promote the creation of a new world of computer entertainment available on PS3.

PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) Continues to Evolve Expanding the World of Portable Entertainment With New Peripherals, Features and Services

Base Model to Become Available in North America and Europe
Tokyo, March 15, 2006 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced today that it will continue to further expand the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) platform with new attractive accessories, features and services responding to active demand throughout the world.

Since its launch in Japan in December 2004, North America in March 2005, and in Europe in September, 2005, PSP® has already shipped more than 15 million units worldwide establishing its position as a new handheld entertainment platform around the world. With its overwhelming power, unparalleled in handheld systems, PSP® has gained huge support from a broad range of users.

To accelerate further penetration throughout the world, a new Base Model in black color will become available in Europe from March 22, 2006, and 199 Euro/199US$ respectively in North America end of March 2006. SCEI will also introduce Ceramic White for the base model of PSP® (PSP-1000 CW) at a recommended retail price of 19,800 yen excluding tax (20,790 yen including tax) for the Japanese market.

On the software side, a series of new PSP®Game are expected to be released from third party developers, publishers and SCE Worldwide Studios (SCE WWS) * around the world. Highly anticipated titles are such as DragonBall Z: Shin, Budokai (BANDAI CO.,LTD), LocoRoco (SCE WWS) and MIN-NA NO CHIZU (ZENRIN CO., LTD) in Japan, Field Commander (Sony Online Entertainment), Godfather (Electronic Arts) and Syphon Filter (SCEA) in North America, and Football Manager Handheld (Sega Europe) and Lemmings(SCEE) in Europe.

Since its launch, PSP® platform has evolved continuously with system software updates* adding new and attractive features such as internet browsing, playback and storing of high quality video. SCEI will further continue to update the system software and expand the world of entertainment with PSP®. As a next step, SCEI will newly add Macromedia® Flash® player and extend RSS Channel function which enable users to playback and save internet radio content and entertainment movies.

As part of SCEI’s passion to spread the entertainment world of PSP®. it has been introducing “PlayStation® Spot” * in Japan since February 2006. SCEI has now more than 150 locations at train stations, complex cafĂ© and games shops where PSP® users can easily enjoy various content such as trial game software for free of charge. SCEI will further extend its location base so that more PSP® users could have easier access to the “PlayStation® Spot”.

For expanding the potential capability of PSP® hardware, new camera (PSP-300) and GPS receiver (PSP-290) will be introduced from this autumn. By adding these new attractive peripherals, new features such as motion tracking technology of Eye Toy™, developing the new game titles by utilizing the video chat function, portable navigating system with GPS function are highly expected.

SCEI will also start a new download service offering selected popular PlayStation® format tittles from the past. By reviving software assets, users will be able to enjoy exiting PlayStation® titles anytime, anywhere on PSP®.

SCEI aims to expand the world of entertainment with game, music and movies in the mobile entertainment arena by offering new peripherals and the continuous system software upgrades for the additional features on PSP®. With PlayStation, PlayStation®2 and PSP®, SCEI will create and develop a new world of computer entertainment through the fusion of game, music, movies and broadcasting.

*) Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios *) For details regarding the system software update of PSP, please refer to our official website (http://www.playstation.jp/psp). *) Area (spot) in which multiple PSP users can enjoy trial version data such as game demo at the same time, using wireless LAN.

Product Information Japan Models: Product Name PSP®(PlayStation®Portable) Product Code PSP-1000 CW Color Ceramic White Recommended Retail Price 19,800 Yen Included PSP™ hardware AC adaptor (for PSP™) Battery pack (for PSP™)

US Models: Product Name PSP®(PlayStation®Portable) Product Code PSP-1000 Color Black Recommended Retail Price 199 US Dollars Included PSP™ hardware AC adaptor (for PSP™) Battery pack (for PSP™)

Europe Models: Product Name PSP®(PlayStation®Portable) Product Code PSP-1000 Color Black Recommended Retail Price 199 Euros Included PSP™ hardware AC adaptor (for PSP™) Battery pack (for PSP™)

Friday, 29 April 2005

Beast Machines

ars technica has an in-depth review of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. There's more to 10.4 than simply search. However, Spotlight's genesis can be traced back to BeOS BFS (Be File System). That's no accident. Whilst I await notification that Amazon UK has dispatched my copy (presumably after 6:00PM GMT), there's nothing to stop me from playing with the all-new QuickTime 7 is there?

The latest iteration of QuickTime has undergone an extreme and timely makeover. From improved sound controls to creating multi-channel audio support (up to 5.1 surround sound). It's a bind that Apple insists on charging for the glossy Pro version, but that didn't stop me in 2002. The Batman Begins/Dark Water trailers marked the occasion. Here's a screen capture taken from the H.264 High Definition edition of the fourth Batman Begins trailer. Divine.



You'd be hard pressed to get more 'bang' for your money from the relatively modest outlay of £206.99 RRP (Tiger, QuickTime Pro, iWork and iLife '05). A decade ago anyone interested in non linear content authoring would have had to remortgage or sell the farm!

Woolworths' Revenge of the Sith merchandise has marginally improved. A veritable glut of Republic Gunships has arrived, yet no sign of the coveted ARC-170 Starfighter.

Wednesday, 26 January 2005

Connect Four

The European release of Sony PSP will be supported by a new download service. The PlayStation-branded download platform will initially be used as a marketing tool to offer PSP users free additional game levels and upgrades. Music and movies will follow. I'm wondering if the service will be a retooled Connect? Connect has yet to emerge from the shadow of iTMS and iPod. The latter has displaced the Walkman and forced Sony to repackage existing hardware and software (VAIO Pocket Music Player) to very limited success.

Universal Media Disc (UMD) leads the HDD and Memory Stick Duo technological triumvirate. Whether or not consumers have an appetite for yet another optical format remains to be seen.

Sony has already confirmed that a browser, email client, word processor and spreadsheet update is in development for PSP. These applications were withheld from last month's Japanese release and may debut with the US and European launch. The XMB GUI looks intuitive and owes a stylistic debt to Mac OS X Aqua.



Whilst Apple and Sony are commercial competitors an alliance has been forged concerning high-definition DVD. Following the enigmatic appearance of Sony President Kunitake Ando, at Macworld, industry observers speculate that there maybe more going on than meets the eye!

After an exhaustive search on various forums, I've decided to order Sony's small wonder (it can serve as an external USB HDD/portable media centre and automounts on Mac OS X). And, as a fan of Capcom, I'm eager for a slice of Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower (incorporating characters from Darkstalkers and Vampire Savior arcade franchises).