Week in Geek: Getting cranky!

By Jonathan Blum and Seth Elkin

Consumer High Definition cams a pain after all.
High-definition camcorders are starting to make their way into the consumer
market, and we think it’s interesting that all the Martin Scorsese wannabes
out there are finding out what TV sports producers already know: Shooting
and editing in HD is a big pain in the butt. The files are enormous, and
there are the sorts of standards issues on the consumer side that pros deal
with everyday. Not all editing programs support all the various formats. We
think HD camcorders will take their place in the consumer electronics
landscape. But quality consumer-created HD content is still a few steps
away.

Blu-ray discs get to 1 million. But it won’t matter.
There was a little news this week in the ongoing battle between
next-generation DVD standards, Blu-ray and HD DVD. The Blu-ray camp says
it’s the first to sell 1 million discs, and further says Blu-ray discs are
outselling HD DVDs by more than 2 to 1. Now to our eyes, Bly-rays look
better than HD-DVDs. And the spin the Blu-ray folks are hoping to put on
this is that they have the lead in the race for a dominant format to emerge.
But we don’t see it. There is simply not enough difference between the two
standards, especially in the eyes of the average consumer, for it to matter.
Forget the “Beta v. VHS II” hype you hear. This standards “battle” is much
closer to CD+r v. CD-r: just another inconvenience that consumer must
manage. Content producers should expect to be mastering their DVDs in both
standards with little trouble.

More TV news. There’s no news.
Samsung and Westinghouse rolled out their mid year TV lines this week, and
they’re not bad. Westinghouse has a very nice 42-inch LCD for about $1,400.
And Samsung is doing a nice job with its plasmas. But honestly, there isn’t
really any groundbreaking news with flat-panel televisions. Prices are
getting close to their end game. How much cheaper can these sets get?
Screens aren’t chips. Moore’s law does not apply. So maybe $1,200 is about
what you can expect to pay for a 42-inch LCD. If you want plasma, you’re
looking at around $2,000. Resolution is settled at about the 1080p standard.
And considering that most big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Circuit City are
having no luck selling televisions. This is probably where the TV market is
going to hover for a while.

In other tech news, the new T-Mobile Sidekick iD ships. Most mobile content providers ignore lower-end portable devices, but that’s a mistake. This is a well-done unit…New online audio production tools from Vocal Stream…First-ever online-only
presidential debate on tap…New peer-to-peer video from Joost…Is cable still cable if it gets into wireless service?…Wireless networks using backhaul services.

And finally . the end of the Internet.