Keith Furman


Keith Furman is managing partner for Escapeway, an online-based entertainment company. He has more than six years of experience in the technology industry.

China Plans to Jump into the Next-Generation DVD Battle

China is developing its own entry into the next-generation DVD battle. According to the country's official Xinhua news agency, the country is developing a DVD format based on HD-DVD that it plans on introducing by 2008, about 1 year after HD-DVD will likely be declared dead in the market. Although the new format will be based on the HD-DVD format, it won't be compatible with other HD-DVD systems, according to Lu Da, deputy director of the National Disc Engineering Center in China.

DirecTV Introduces "TiVo" Replacement
It's no secret that TiVo's days partnering with DirecTV are numbered, and now DirecTV has launched a $30 million ad campaign to promote its TiVo replacement. DirecTV's new digital video recorder (DVR) is powered by software from NDS, which--like DirecTV--is owned by News Corporation. The DVR was slated to be released in June but was delayed and will finally ship later this month.
Yet Another Memory Card Format Is Launched
It's probably been at least a few weeks since a new memory card format was last launched, but have no fear: Sony has come to the rescue. Adding to the dizzying array of memory card formats, the electronic giant has teamed up with SanDisk to introduce the Memory Stick Micro--aka M2--card format. The format is aimed at mobile phones and will compete directly with miniSD cards.
LG Media Center Extender Now Shipping 15

At the International CES 2005 last January, Microsoft and LG showed off the first consumer-electronics appliance to use Microsoft's Windows Media Center Extender platform independent of a PC. It's been 9 months since the preview, and LG's product is finally shipping.

Forget Fancy Features, Give Us More Battery Life

As cell phone companies rush to add features to their mobile phones, they might want to consider the results of a new survey. TNS, a market information firm, talked to users in 15 countries and discovered that the most important feature users are looking for is longer battery life. Consumers have avoided using games, music, and video applications on their mobile phones because of battery-life concerns, according to the survey. Other important features that users are looking for include high-resolution photo and video, and additional memory.

AOL and Microsoft Embrace VoIP

Fresh off eBay's acquisition of VoIP giant Skype, other technology industry giants are unveiling their own VoIP plans. AOL will launch a new phone service called TotalTalk Net on October 4. TotalTalk will use AOL's IM client to provide phone service via the PC or home phone, as well as the ability to send and receive email and instant messages. The company will offer both a PC-to-phone adapter and a broadband router with phone adapter.

Verizon Launches TV Service

Watch out, cable and satellite companies: A new TV service provider is now online: Telephone giant Verizon has begun to take orders for a new product that will compete directly with cable and satellite TV. The company has started trials of its offering in a small community outside of Dallas, Texas. Residents of Keller, Texas, can order Verizon's new FiOS TV service, which also uses the company's new fiber-based network to deliver high-speed Internet, telephone, and other services.

PlayStation 3 Launch Target: Spring 2006 4
Microsoft might not have a huge head start with its Xbox 360 console in the next-generation game-console war, according to comments by Sony Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer. The recently appointed CEO confirmed that the company will launch the PlayStation 3 in the spring of 2006. His comments weren't a huge surprise, but the PlayStation 3's launch date has been rumored to be anywhere from early 2006 to 2007.
Xbox Live for Xbox 360 Pricing and Features Revealed
We've known some information about the Xbox Live service for Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 360 console for a while, but now the company has officially revealed the full details. Xbox 360 will include two new Xbox Live memberships, Silver and Gold. The free Silver membership will let gamers connect to the Xbox Live online community and create their own logon name, called a "gamertag," and personalized profile.
eBay Buys Skype
eBay has announced that it will acquire the company behind the popular Skype Internet-calling application for $2.6 billion in cash and stock. The deal could cost the company an additional $1.5 billion in 2008 or 2009 in performance-based incentives. eBay is buying the company, along with its 52 million users, to increase its offerings.
HP to Ship Smart TVs

At the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) trade show last week, HP unveiled a new lineup of TVs that will ship this fall, as well as new HDTV technology that it will offer next summer. The company unveiled three DLP microdisplay televisions that come in 50", 58", and 65" models. The 58" and 65" models will be available in 1080p resolution and come with a CableCard slot for receiving HDTV without requiring a set-top box from a cable company. The 50" and 58" models will be available in 720p configuration.

Samsung to Offer Dual-Format Next-Generation DVD Player 2
One company is still working toward ending the next-generation DVD format war, although it's doing so by offering both technologies--HD-DVD and Blu-ray--in one package. According to a newspaper report, assuming the two sides don't miraculously come to an agreement on a unified standard, Samsung will release a DVD player that will be able play both Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs.
Rio Closes Up Shop 8

One of the leading portable digital-audio player makers is closing shop at the end of September, meaning the industry will lose a company that helped start the market. In 1998, Diamond Multimedia, a company well known for video cards, released one of the first portable MP3 players under the Rio brand. It took Apple Computer's introduction of the iPod in October 2001 to popularize such devices, but Rio was there at the beginning. The company's current flagship products include the excellent Rio Carbon and Rio Karma devices.

Intel Creates Digital-Entertainment Platform Bundle 2
Coming soon to a PC near you is a new platform called Intel VIIV (Get it? 64, as in 64-bit computing). Building on the success of its Intel Centrino platform of bundled mobile technology, Intel is developing the new brand in hopes of bringing the PC, along with Intel's hardware technology, into the living room.
Microsoft Updates MSN TV 2 2
Microsoft has announced updates to its MSN TV 2 Internet & Media Player, which the company first released in October 2004. The product, which was formerly called WebTV, allows for viewing the Web, reading email, and linking to a PC for watching PC-based movies and listening to music.
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