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Plug & Play      Volume 8     Number 4  Circulation over 1,500
Member & Registered Reader Issue. 

To our regular readers.   

In this issue: Become a Registered Recipient.

Well, it is now official, the most successful interactive television based
multimedia platform, CD-i, is reaching the end of the road.  
Philip's, have informed the IDMA, that in Europe they are unable to accept new
clients for CD-i players.  They have sufficient components, to ensure a supply
of players, for their existing accounts until mid 1999.
They also tell me, that they expect the same situation to arise in North
America, in the near a future.
As is their normal policy, Philips will continue to provide service support
for at least seven years.  

The problem it appears, is not that Philips will not manufacture the players,
but rather that they are running out of certain Microchips and other
components.  In fact, I am sure they would have been delighted to continue
manufacturing CD-i players until such time, that a DVD interactive format,
which could effectively replace CD-I, had become well established.  As CD-i
developers and their clients, are only to well aware, neither of the two
current choices DVD ROM or DVD video have all the capabilities to replace CD-
i.  
Still all is not lost; Digital Video Systems still have a considerable supply
of their Video Engine 200-CD-i players, available, both in North America and
in Europe.  (Now is the time when they realize how clever they were to make
their CD-i player PAL/NTSC switchable and use a voltage sensitive transformer
for its power supply.)
Also in this issue of Plug and Play, Panasonic, MTC & the IDMA preview a joint
venture to encourage CD-i Developers to try the M2 platform, which Panasonic
are promoting as the logical successor to CD-i.
So where do we go from here?
The real confusion, arises from the ever-increasing number of companies,
announcing DVD player with Interactive capabilities and Interactive players
with DVD capabilities.  The only feature these solutions appear to have in
common, is that none of them come from manufacturers who are members of the
DVD forum.  To be a credible platform it must come from one of the giants and
that effectively means, one of the DVD Forum.
The members of the DVD forum, basically control the DVD standards, and refuse
to consider a standard for Interactive DVD, assuring us that the current
standards will satisfy all out requirements.  This is very much like the
ostrich burying it's head in the sand, denying there is any need, while dozens
of companies are trying their best to satisfy that very need.
If we are going to have a worldwide standard that we can all develop to, then
the major manufacturers, who in fact are the DVD forum, need to regain
control.  The only way to do that is by agreeing to developing a single
international standard for Interactive-DVD backed by the DVD Forum, before
it's to late. 
Then there are, as they are referred to, ' Professional' versions of the
consumer DVD Video player appearing from most of the major electronics
manufacturers.  Unfortunately, each of these professional DVD players has
different capabilities and features.  So making a DVD title to play in a
Pioneer DVD professional player, using some of their special features, would
mean that this disc, would not have those special features if played in say, a
Philips Professional DVD player.  On the other hand, Philip's professional DVD
player also has many exciting and unique features, which would not work in any
other manufacturer's DVD player.
Does this remind you of anything?  It would appear to this ' non-technical
person' that the sanctity, of the DVD video standard, is about as sacred as
the CD-ROM standard we have battled with over the last decade.
Just as with CD-ROM, the developer is faced with the problem, that if they
produce a title, which is required to play on any DVD Video player, then the
features and capabilities become very limited.  Once the developer steps out
of the standard to take advantage of some of the other 'really neat ideas,'
the title becomes 'nonstandard,' and restricted to one manufacturers player.
The advantage, of utilizing a single manufacturers platform, such as Philip's
CD-i, was that one had the knowledge, that your title would play in any CD-i
player, anywhere in the world.  That was fine as Philips were the only company
manufacturing CD-i players, (except for a short period when Goldstar produced
CD-i players working in very close conjunction with Philips.)  However with
DVD Video players, there are a considerable number of manufacturers, several
of whom are making "professional" versions of their player, each with
different features.
In Europe when the King dies, and everyone knows who will succeed him, they
all cry,  "The King is dead, long live the King."  The end off CD-I, is more
like the death of the Dalai-Lama, we all set out to search the world for his
successor, or like the Pope, we all stand around and wait for a 'puff of
smoke'.

Panasonic make it easy to become an M2 developer.
Most of our readers will remember, that as part of their efforts to make M2 a
user friendly multimedia platform, Panasonic commissioned Multimedia
Technology Center, to produce an M2 version of their popular CDMotion
authoring system.
Some of you have been working with the beta version of this software for some
time and it is now ready for release.
Panasonic, MTC and the IDMA are working together, to find a way for our
Developer members to be able to experiment with M2, make simple demo programs
for their major clients, and in general get familiar with this new technology.
The IDMA firmly believes the simplest way to achieve this objective is for MTC
and Panasonic to loan developers the authoring system and an M2 player,
complete with demonstration disc, free of charge.  The loan period should be
long enough for the developer to familiarize themselves with CDMotion for M2
and produce demonstration titles for their best customers.  The association is
also pressing for a very special price for CDMotion for M2 and a demo M2
player for any, registered readers who wish to become M2 developers.

Details of the special offer will be in the next addition of Plug and Play and
this is one more reason why you should definitely become a registered
recipient right now.



Registered Recipient 
It is my understanding, that in some states, Spamming is now illegal, and I
don't want to go to prison.
I am sure, that most of you find at least one small item of interest, and
learn something to your benefit, from each issue of Plug and Play and will
want to continue receiving it.  However, it only takes one person, to complain
that they are being Spammed, and I would be in trouble.
Therefore, as proof that you really want me to send you Plug and Play, I have
decided the safest way is to make a token charge of $10 per year, to become a
registered recipient of Plug and Play.  This represents less than 50 cents per
issue.  Of course, to take advantage of the special offers, we are
negotiating, such as the WebDVD developer Kit, Panasonic M2 starter kit, and
the low-priced VideoCD players we mentioned in the last issue of Plug and
Play, you will need to be a registered reader.
As a further incentive, all the registered recipients of Plug and Play will be
eligible to receive $50 of the registration fee for the annual summit meeting
in Dallas.
Paid up member of the IDMA will become Registered readers, automatically.

So, if you are not a member of the IDMA, then please do one of the following
if you wish to continue receiving Plug and Play.
To become a registered reader of Plug and Play:
1) Send an e-mail, to IDMA1999@AOL.com, with a credit card number, expiration
date, name, and telephone number.
2) If you prefer, you may fax the same information, to [440] 349-3311.
3) If you wish to send this information by mail, or if you wish to send a
check, 
My address is Interactive Digital Media Association.  5623 Spring Grove Drive,
Solon. OH 44139 USA.
Please remember the Interactive Digital Media Association is a nonprofit
association and relies on the support of those we are trying to help.
Please note.  If you live outside of United States, you do not need to become
a registered reader, unless the country you live in has 'anti-spam' laws.
However you may still send $10, to help pay the associations expenses, if you
wish.


Panasonic Launches Smallest and Lightest Portable DVD Player
During March, Matsushita Electric Industrial (MEI), will launch the second
generation of it's portable DVD player with built-in LCD in the Japanese
market.  Weighing under 2 pounds with 5.0 inch diagonal, wide-screen (16:9
aspect ratio) LCD monitor and battery, the new model portable DVD player
Panasonic DVD-L50 will be smaller and lighter than the current L10.  The newly
developed lithium ion battery (optional) used in the L50 not only helps keep
the weight down, but also allows for 3 continuous hours of playback (1.3 times
the playback time of L10). 
The L50 will be released in the USA later this year.




Special deals for Plug & Play Readers.
As a result of the positive reaction to the special 'offers' on VideoCD five
disc changer and the portable DVD player featured in the last issue of Plug
and Play, Panasonic's Home and Commercial Products Company has decided to
include the very popular portable VideoCD player the SL.-VP.  57. This time
however they are restricting the offer to Panasonic Home and Commercial
Products Company VAR's. 
Special limited time offer on Panasonic Sl-VP 57 professional portable Video
CD player.

Purchase 50 units and receive 4 additional units free or:
Purchase 100 units and receive 10 additional units free
Offer details:
*       unit price based on quantity purchased (reference VAR price sheet).
*       offer only applies to orders received February 22 through March 26, 1999.
*       Order can not be split (single shipment to one location).
*       All product must ship by close of business March 26, 1999.
*       Free UPS ground shipping for orders of $3,000 or more.
To place an order, send purchase order by fax to (201) 392-6005.

If you are a PHCC. VAR. keep in mind that Panasonic also has the special offer
on the 
L-VM500 VCD Changer.

If you are not an existing 'PHCC' VAR 
If you are interested in becoming one, or if you are already a VAR and do not
have the latest VideoCD VAR price list (dated October 15, 1998) you can call
Ellie Rakoski at (201) 392-4493 for assistance or to place an order.  


Vitec Encoder/Editor Software & Panasonic DVD-Ram Drive
Those of you that visited the Panasonic booth at COMDEX saw a demonstration of
the new LF-D101 DVD-RAM drive.
Now VITEC's MPEG Toolbox-2, the first integrated MPEG-2 software
encoder/editor for Windows 95, 98 and NT environments, is ready and fully
compatible with the LF-D101 DVD RAM drive. 
MPEG Toolbox-2 maximizes the high capacity of the LF-D101 by converting large
AVI video files to smaller MPEG-2 files.  It also provides extensive MPEG-2
editing capabilities that enable users to copy video segments stored on a
rewritable DVD disc and paste them into a new file without having to re-encode
the entire file. 
Toolbox-2 converts AVI into MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 audio, video, system and program
streams at variable or constant bit rates.  With the high capacity that the
DVD-RAM media provides, users can often select lower compression rates which
generally translates into higher quality videos.  Because the media is
rewritable, MPEG-2 video archives can be re-used, for many years. 
VITEC's plug-and-play software package comes bundled with its award-winning
Multimedia Video Clip MPEG-2 "SE" Editor.  Video Clip opens MPEG-2 files,
copies and pastes video segments to be edited in a draft file, displays a
preview of the edited film and generates a new MPEG-2 sequence. 
MPEG-2 videos edited by Video Clip are standard; they can be played back at
full-screen on a video or VGA monitor by any of the numerous MPEG-2 decoders
on the market. 
With a removable, rewritable storage capacity of 2.6GB per single-sided disc
(5.2GB per double-sided disc), and a storage cost of only .008 cents/MB, the
Panasonic LF-D101 drive is ideal for video production.  The drive has a data
transfer rate of up to 10.5Mbps -- twice the transfer rates, and a 120ms
average seek time. 
To further enhance performance, the drive includes a 2MB cache buffer. Support
for CD technology simplifies the decision to upgrade to the Panasonic DVD-RAM
because users will be able to read data and video clips that were previously
recorded on CDs. 
Fully compliant with the DVD Forum DVD-RAM standards, the LF-D101 drive can
read from discs currently accepted by CD-ROM, CD Audio, CD-R, CD-RW and
VideoCD drives, as well as PD, DVD-ROM, DVD video, and DVD-R drives.  The
Forum-approved DVD-RAM technology also provides a proven growth path -- next-
generation media will provide a single-side capacity of 4.7GB; ultimately,
15GB capacities (double-sided discs) will be available. 

Contact:  Vitec Phone: 408-752-8483 web site:  http://www.vitecmm.com
Panasonic Phone: 408-945-5600 \web site:  http://www.panasonic.com/oemdvd-ram

Letters from our readers.
One of our Dutch members has sent us this price guide for the cost to master a
DVD in Europe:
  50 Copies about $ 56 per disc.
100 Copies about $ 28 per disc.
250 Copies about $ 12 per disc.
1,000 copies about $ 4 per disc.

US, Replicators are invited to send 'Budget Prices' as a Guide.  No names will
be published.

New Version of Spruce's DVDMaestro DVD Authoring System

Spruce Technologies has unveiled DVDMaestro, Version 1.3. The new version of
Spruce's DVD authoring software increases flexibility for the user by adding
segment-based re-encoding, audio sync for concatenated files and support for
the Joliet specification. 
The new DVDMaestro Version 1.3 adds a timesaving and quality-enhancing
segment-based re-encoding feature. Now a user can easily return to completed
segments of a title at any point during the authoring process and make
quality-enhancing changes without having to re-encode the entire title. 
Another new feature automatically handles audio synchronization for
concatenated files.  On many systems, the audio portion of video files can
stray from the video timing when multiple files are combined into one.  With
automated audio sync, DVDMaestro eliminates these errors and saves users the
time consuming process of manually synchronizing audio elements.  DVDMaestro
Version 1.3 is the first DVD authoring system to provide complete support for
the Joliet extension to the ISO-9660 file system.  Joliet allows for long file
name support in Windows 95 and Windows NT. 

DVDMaestro Version 1.3 is available immediately to registered DVDMaestro and
DVDStation users. DVDMaestro Version 1.3 will also ship with all new systems. 

Contact:   Spruce Technologies   WEB SITE:   http:\\www.spruce-tech.com



If for some reason you do not want any more copies of Plug  & Play, just send
me an e-mail telling me to stop.  

If you wish to join IDMA, just ask for a membership application.


Thanks Kinetic!

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