Archive for April, 2010

New Toshiba laptop adds Blu-ray support

Toshiba has this week announced a new laptop in its Satellite range that includes a Blu-ray Disc drive.

The Toshiba Satellite A660 has been designed with multimedia in mind, featuring not only Blu-ray support but also Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, which allows video and music to be streamed wirelessly to WiDi-compatible TVs. It’s the first laptop on the market to support this technology.

The A660 also includes HDMI output and DNLA functionality, in addition to a new feature called USB Sleep-and-Music. This allows the user to connect and listen to an external MP3 player through the speakers, even while the laptop is asleep.

Tech Radar has more details.

Blu-ray Disc Academy to showcase advanced BD applications

On 19 May the Blu-ray Disc Academy, founded by Media-Tech and DVD Intelligence, will take place in Frankfurt, Germany. It’s the first dedicated event to showcase the most advanced functions of Blu-ray Disc and BD-Live, and how to make use of them commercially.

The event will focus on the tools and applications that can be used to enhance content on the Blu-ray platform. For example, linking BDs to internet-based social networks, players communicating with other devices via WiFi, on-demand delivery of video, integration with mobile phones and, of course, the new world of 3D.

Speakers and companies showcasing their work include Todd Collart, Senior VP New Media at Deluxe Digital Studios, Sony, authoring solution provider Sonic Solutions, Paris-based authoring facility DVDpartners, California-based BluFocus (the company that oversaw Warner Bros’ biggest BD title to date, The Dark Knight), Czech authoring and post-production house Brickbox Digital Media, authoring solutions supplier Sofatronic, quality assurance leader Testronic and Hamburg-based enteractive, who will present the latest version of its BD-Live Video-on-Demand service ‘Videociety‘.

For more details on the event and to register, visit www.blurayacademy.com.

Release date confirmed for Alice In Wonderland

Alice in WonderlandDisney has announced that Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, will be released on Blu-ray Disc at the start of June.

Extra content confirmed so far includes a featurette called Finding Alice, which delves into Tim Burton’s vision for the characters, differences from the book and Disney’s version of Alice and how she evolves as both a character and actor as she takes an adventure through Wonderland. Meanwhile The Mad Hatter gives audiences a closer look at Johnny Depp’s transformation into the famous character, and Effecting Wonderland shows off the technologies used to create some if the film’s other characters, including Stayne, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Bandersnatch and the Red Queen.

Alice in Wonderland was a huge success in theatres, when it became the highest-grossing non-sequel opening weekend in history, the biggest March opening of all time, the biggest 3D opening of all time and the biggest IMAX opening of all time. For more details on the Blu-ray Disc release, head over to HeyUGuys for the press release.

Avatar Blu-ray sets sales records and wows reviewers

The Blu-ray Disc edition of Avatar, officially the most successful movie of all time, is finally hitting shelves across the world. Since its launch in the US and some other territories last week, it has become the fastest selling Blu-ray Disc of all time, beating The Dark Knight’s record to sell 2.7 million units in its first four days on sale. As it launches in the UK and other European markets, we take a look at what some of the first reviewers to get their hands on it had to say.

Any initial disappointment at the lack of additional content or 3D on this initial release has been blown away by the sheer quality of the audio visual experience. Director James Cameron stated previously that the decision to not include extra material meant that they could dedicate all available space on the Blu-ray Disc to recreating the film’s awesome visuals in the best possible way, and the decision looks to have paid off.

Ron Henriques from popular film news site Latino Review says “This 1080p presentation of Avatar is one of the best HD transfers I have ever seen,” and that “you can notice a lot more detail in the images than the original 3-D presentation in theatres.” HighDefDiscNews meanwhile gives it their perfect ‘5 Star Rating’ for video quality, while also noting that the THX Certified sound mix gives an “amazing audible performance that is well representing of the story’s sci-fi and ethereal nature.” Hollywood News puts it in less technical terms: “Wow. Really, wow. Just … unbelievable… to date, this is the best-looking Blu-ray transfer of a film I’ve seen, and man, it ain’t even close.”

Avatar is available to buy on Blu-ray Disc now in most European regions, with others to follow over the next two weeks. If you need a reminder of what to expect, here’s the trailer:

Lord of the Rings Trilogy: A giveaway

[tweetmeme source= “blurayreporter” only_single=false]

Thanks to our amazing Twitter followers, we have recently crossed the 1,000 follower mark.  To give something back to you all (alongside the weekly Blu-ray Disc giveaways of The Hurt Locker and Avatar…), we’ve decided to send out the recently released Lord of the Rings trilogy on Blu-ray Disc to one lucky follower.

You have two chances to win. For your first entry, simply retweet the following post on Twitter: Tweet this

For the second entry we want to try something a little different.  Head over to the superb film review site HeyUguys.co.uk to find the answer to the following question:

In the “New Robin Hood Featurette” posted by David on April 8, 2010, what does it say on the sword hilt roughly halfway through?  Leave a comment here with your answer.

Have fun taking part, and leave a comment at HeyUguys.co.uk to say hi for us!

We have featured this competition at:

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions
Loquax.co.uk

World at War given High Definition Make-over

After 37 years, the emotive WWII documentary World at War, produced by Jeremy Isaacs, is recieving a high definition make-over from FremantleMedia as it prepares is to be released on Blu-ray Disc. There was initial skeptism around the success of a revamp given the grainy quality of some clips, but despite this, work on restoring the documentary began with spectacular results.

In addition to improved picture quality, sound has also been upgraded, providing a fuller experience of how it felt to be on the front line.  Pete Kalhan, the company’s senior vice-president of home entertainment and archive said: “We’ve listened to it in a screening room and when you hear the Spitfires coming down, the sound whirls round the room, it really enhances the viewing experience.”

Another two hours of additional features are planned for the Blu-ray Disc set in addition to the 33 hours of current content and will be released in the UK in September.

For more information about this story please click here.

UK Blu-ray Disc sales rise again

New figures released by the British Video Association have shown strong year-on-year growth for Blu-ray Discs based on data for the first quarter of 2010.

The figures demonstrate the increasingly popularity of the BD format, which is currently driving growth across the home entertainment market. Sales of Blu-ray Discs are up 69.5% (up 50% in value) on the same period in 2009, reaching 2.7m units in the first three months of the year, taking the total number of Blu-ray Discs sold to 15.6m units since launch.

Hannah Conduct, Marketing Manager at the British Video Association, said:

“While it is extremely encouraging to see such strong growth in market volumes in the run up to Easter, the performance of Blu-ray is especially impressive. Growing sales show that the benefits of the format – higher picture quality, superior sound, and an ever-expanding range of titles – are better understood than ever before. The strong sales reflect consumer confidence in Blu-ray.”

The top three best selling Blu-ray titles of the quarter saw their Blu-ray performance average at 20% of the total disc sales with The Hurtlocker at 24% (Elevation Sales), Up at 17% (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) and 2012 at 20% (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).

The best selling Blu-ray Disc titles for Q1 2010 were as follows:

1. The Hurt Locker
2. Up
3. 2012
4. The Twilight Saga – New Moon
5. District 9
6. This Is It
7. Toy Story
8. The Taking Of Pelham 123
9. Inglourious Basterds
10. Toy Story 2

For more details, here’s the press release.

Sherlock Holmes arrives on Blu-ray with exclusive content

Update: We are now giving away a Blu-Ray Disc every Monday to our blog and Twitter followers. Last week, we gave away the full Lord of the Rings Trilogy on Blu-Ray disc. Today, we are giving away a copy of the superb Sherlock Holmes. To enter, leave a comment to suggest a new, modern day villain for Sherlock Holmes. Take inspiration from current events, perhaps merge two bad guys together or completely start from scratch. We want to hear your ideas!

For a second entry, simply retweet this post on Twitter. Click here!

Guy Ritchie’s re-make of Sherlock Holmes burst onto the big screen filled with special effects and adventure, defying critics to become one of the biggest films in 2009.  If you didn’t get chance to see it on the big screen, fear not, as it will be released on Blu-ray Disc this May promising optimum picture quality and exclusive special features.

The Blu-ray Disc will boast ‘Maximum Movie Mode’, where Guy Ritchie narrates between two oversized monitors, one showing the film, the other bonus content, including concept art and behind the scene footage.

For those who do not want to sit through the entire Maximum Movie Mode, ‘Focus Points’ are provided which highlight key insights into the making of the film including Ritchie’s personal approach to recreating Victorian London, entitled ‘Drawbridges and Dollies’.

A nod to the original characters is also made in the featurette entitled ‘Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented’ which sees the cast and crew chat about Ritchie’s take on this classic story. BD-Live functionality is also included, allowing users to access content via an internet connected Blu-ray player including video images, as well as related quizzes and multi-player interactive games.

Sherlock Holmes will be released on Blu-ray Disc across Europe this May and as you can see, it will be thoroughly worth the wait.

Sony confirms availability of 3D TVs and Blu-ray Disc Players in time for the World Cup

Sony this week announced that its first 3D TVs and Blu-ray Disc players will be available in stores this June, just in time for the FIFA World Cup. This year’s tournament is the first to be filmed in 3D by Sony and FIFA.

The first 3D TV to hit the market will be the HX800 series, designed to offer 3D cinematic capability with outstanding consumer value. Within weeks of the HX800 launch several additional models will be released. PS3 users are in for an extra treat as Sony will also launch four 3D stereoscopic PS3 game experiences through the PlayStation Network, available as a free collection to purchasers of BRAVIA 3D TVs.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Deep Sea Blu-ray 3D Discs will be also bundled with selected Sony 3D products. Additionally, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Blu-ray 3D will be sold separately at participating retailers.

For further details on the full Sony 3D range, read the press release.

Blu-ray Disc Association Announces Additional Format Enhancements

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has announced two new media specifications that use Blu-ray Disc technology to provide targeted functionality for commercial and consumer applications. The specifications for BDXL™ (High Capacity Recordable and Rewritable discs) and IH-BD (Intra-Hybrid discs) are expected in the next few months.

The BDXL specification, which is targeted primarily at commercial segments such as broadcasting, medical and document imaging enterprises with significant archiving needs, will provide customers with write-once options on 100GB and 128GB capacity discs and rewritable capability on 100GB discs. The discs reach these capacities by incorporating three to four recordable layers. A consumer version of BDXL is also expected, particularly in those regions where BD recorders have achieved broad consumer acceptance.

“Professional industries have expressed a desire to find optical disc solutions that enable them to transition away from magnetic media for their archiving needs,” said Victor Matsuda, Blu-ray Disc Association Global Promotions Committee chair. “Leveraging Blu-ray Disc to meet this need provides professional enterprises with a compact, stable and long term solution for archiving large amounts of sensitive data, video and graphic images using a proven and widely accepted optical technology.”

To view the full release please click here.


Blu-ray Disc Reporter


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