DVD-Audio -- the rival high-resolution multichannel format -- was the centerpiece of last year's DVD Entertainment Group (DEG) reception, but it received only a passing mention at this year's gathering. The trade group's Amy Jo Donner cited 40 DVD-Audio/Video players available from 10 manufacturers and said there are now 125 DVD-Audio titles, with two dozen recently announced. She also said the group expects to announce 225 to 240 more titles this year. Obvious by its absence, though, was any kind of comment on how the discs and players are selling, or what else the DEG plans to do to promote the format. Also obvious was the absence of any kind of enthusiasm for DVD-Audio. All of the signs early in this CES suggest that the momentum may be shifting decidedly to SACD.
-- Rich Warren and Michael Gaughn
Dolby Labs' technical rep Brent Butterworth shows off the company's BMW equipped with Pro Logic II surround processing.
Dolby Hits the Road
Dolby Labs wants to take you for a ride. It's encouraging car stereo manufacturers, and the automakers themselves, to incorporate its new Pro Logic II surround sound decoding/processing in mobile systems. At a morning press conference themed "Technology in Motion," Dolby announced a suite of technologies, centered around Pro Logic II, to sweeten the ride. They were shown to advantage in a customized 2001 BMW X5 3.01, which Dolby renamed an X5.1 -- one of Pro Logic II's chief features is the ability to process four-channel and even two-channel program sources so as to simulate discrete 5.1-channel playback. Dolby listed Alpine, Clarion, Rockford-Fosgate, Volvo, and Zapco as the launch suppliers for automotive Pro Logic II, with the Volvo XC90 SUV the first car to roll with the system.
Olympic Gold medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton makes the case for the TVGuardian anti-smut feature in Sanyo and Fisher products.
Big Brother is watching. Sanyo and Fisher inaugurated a crusade to protect you and your family from broadcast "smut" by incorporating a TVGuardian with a Foul Language Filter developed by Principle Solutions. Products with the feature include Sanyo's DVW-5000, a combination DVD player/Hi-Fi VCR to be available in May for $230, Sanyo's DWM-380 ($140), VWM-710 ($80), and VWM-410 ($70) VCRs, all available in April, and two Fisher DVD-based home theater systems, the DCS-TS750 ($350, available in May) and DVD-SL30 DVD ($150, available in March). The TVGuardian uses the closed-captioning signal on TV shows to detect profanity and other offensive phrases, and when it finds them it temporarily mutes the audio. Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton was chosen to promote the feature, and she came on strong decrying TV "filth" at the press conference.