Cutting Edge

CEA adopts new DTV standard

Adopted last week by the Consumer Electronics Association's DTV Interface Subcommittee, standard 861A defines a method for optimizing the picture quality of DTV by allowing DTV devices to determine a television's preferred format automatically. For example, set-top boxes or other devices will be able to tell whether they should send a 16:9 or 4:3 signal to the set.

More specifically, the standard, developed by CEA engineering group R-4.8 (Working Group 7), defines a method for sending digital video signals over the Digital Visual Interface (DVI) and the OpenLDI video interface. The new features will be available when enhanced versions of the DVI or the OpenLDI are adopted that are capable of carrying auxiliary video information, such as picture aspect ratio and native video format.

The CEA's DTV Interface Subcommittee has also placed a Request for Information (RFI) on proposals to enable the standard in consumer devices. Specific areas include carrying audio information, CEA InfoPackets (carried from the device to the monitor) and support of the component video pixel format. Details on the RFI are available at under "Tech Topics." Responses are due Dec. 21.

Thales sales in NY

The New York Association of Public Broadcasters (APBS) has selected Thales digital transmitters to provide transmission gear for the group's digital transition. Supplied by Thales Broadcast & Multimedia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Thales (formerly Thomson-CSF), the equipment includes the DCX Millennium, Ultimate solid-state transmitters and IOX NTSC transmitters. The nine stations in APBS are WCFE-TV Plattsburgh, WCNY-TV Syracuse, WLIW Garden City, WMHT Schenectady Albany, WNED-TV Buffalo, WNPI-TV Norwood, WPBS-TV Watertown, WSKG-TV Binghamton and WXXI-TV Rochester. The first installation is slated for next spring.

Quantel gets smart with Panasonic

Quantel's iQ system now supports video shot with Panasonic's AJ-HDC27v variable-frame-rate HD camcorder, enabling post-production professionals to work more easily with variable frame rates. When tapes are loaded, the iQ system can make speed changes automatically, allowing 720p clips to be used in HD or SD projects without preprocessing.

Microsoft intros Corona platform

Microsoft has begun beta-testing a Windows Media platform called Corona (named for the sun, not the beer). It will include a new player, A/V codecs and encoding improvements that will provide a 20% bandwidth saving in streaming at current quality levels.

Another new component of the platform is the Windows .NET server. Microsoft demonstrated its capabilities at the recent Streaming Media East conference in New York. A new feature is the ability to send a packet of content immediately to the client requesting the stream, eliminating the 10- to 11-second buffering delay that is currently part of the streaming experience. The burst content begins playing immediately as the remainder of the stream catches up behind it to create a seamless, delay-free delivery.

The Corona platform is expected to be rolled out piece by piece during 2002, with the entire system available by the end of the year.

Sony offers new DVCAM camcorder

Sony's DSR-370L EFP/ENG camcorder will be available next month for a price still to be determined. The camcorder has a three-chip 1/2-inch interline-transfer CCD and can also be configured as a studio camera when used with a CCU-M5A camera-control unit. Horizontal resolution is 800 TV lines, sensitivity is f11 at 2,000 lux, and signal-to-noise ratio is 62 dB. Fully loaded weight is 13.6 lb.

Pace, OpenTV sign deal

Set-top–box manufacturer Pace Micro Technology and OpenTV have formed a partnership that will integrate OpenTV's interactive-TV middleware and Device Mosaic application into Pace's Di4000 cable set-top. According to Alex Warnock, divisional director of broadband cable at Pace, the goal is to provide MSOs with another way to deploy interactive home gateways rapidly and cost-effectively.