Attitudes from the Editor
Are we getting closer to agreeing? It doesn't look that way. At a recent manufacturer's new product line show, the subject of digital video connections was raised. The host declared 1394 nearly dead, and talked about the benefits of DVI, but avoided the controversies this format has raised, including recordability. A year or so ago it seemed to many in the consumer electronics world, at least within the journalist pool, that IEEE 1394 (FireWire) was set to become the digital standard for passing digital video and audio from set-top box to TV and elsewhere. Both Mitsubishi and Sony had backed FireWire and designed TVs featuring this new input. Mitsubishi offered a model with an integrated high-definition tuner with FireWire output to connect to its digital VCR. That, plus the implementation of Mitsubishi's NetCommand system allowing products to "talk" to each other, led me to believe FireWire would take us into the next generation of digital ease. Then DVI surfaced. Though many of its benefits seem to favor the broadcaster and content provider, it started gaining supporters among television manufacturers. Televisions with DVI inputs were in all six major line shows Dealerscope attended this year. Some products are incomparible in some ways with other products the companies currently offer. To whom is the manufacturer accountable: its customers or entertainment corporations?
SonicBlue's current battle with Hollywood seems to be going well. Courts again have given the company a break regarding its ReplayTV's ability to skip commercials. Hollywood isn't willing to acknowledge that perhaps its business model should evolve. In mid-April, the Motion Picture Association of America lent its support to cable operators' selectable output control—the ability to turn off home network connections at will. The Home Recording Rights Coalition immediately jumped, saying the MPAA and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association "are betraying assurances recently given to the Congress and to consumers." The HRAA warned that by allowing such abilities in cable set-top boxes, they "could deny high-definition television viewing to certain customers, as well as eliminate home recording." Such anti-consumer abilities are also a potential problem with satellite high definition set-top boxes.