A Peek Into the Near Future of Electronics TechnologyWritten by Terry Mitchell
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The other possible use of digital signals is channel compression, often referred to as "multicasting." Non-HDTV programming does not utilize entire width of a digital signal. Therefore, it is possible to compress two or more channels of programming into one digital signal. Satellite and cable operators do this all time with their non-HDTV digital channels, but this process is transparent so many people don't realize it. Many broadcasters plan to use their digital signals this way during times when they are not being used for HDTV programming. For example, some plan to air all news and all weather channels in addition to their regular channels of programming. TV recording and playback technology is changing as well. DVD recorders, which debuted about four years ago, have now become affordable to average family. A couple of years ago, they were priced above $1000, but now you can get them for around $250, in many cases. The main sticking point now with DVD recorders is that not all of them will record/play all three of competing formats: DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD+RW. They will have have difficulty gaining wide acceptance from public until one format is settled on or all recorders can record and play all three formats. One other hand, digital video recorders (DVRs) and personal video recorders (PVRs), just two names for something that is really same thing, seem to be gaining quickly in popularity. DVRs/PVRs utilize a hard drive to record programs, without need for discs or tapes. DVRs/PVRs with larger hard drives are becoming available and less expensive all time. These devices can record one show while you are watching another. They can record more than one show at a time. They allow you to watch part of a show that has already been recorded while remainder of that show is still being recorded. They allow for easy scanning, searching, and skipping through recorded programs and even allow you to skip commercials with one touch of a button. They allow you to pause live programs while you answer door or go to restroom and then pick up where you left off when you get back. With these devices, recording can be automatic, i.e., you can program them to automatically record every episode of your favorite shows, no matter when they air. You can also have them automatically find and record programs that match your interests. In addition, video can be automatically downloaded to device via a phone connection. TiVo, leading brand in industry, has announced that it will be teaming up with Netflix next year to allow downloading of movies on demand via a broadband internet connection (see my October 7 column for more details). DVRs/PVRs are becoming so popular that cable and satellite TV providers have begun including them as add-ons to their receivers, either at no extra cost or for a small additional monthly fee. About only shortcoming of DVRs/PVRs is fact that they can't play pre-recorded DVDs or tapes, so you would still need your DVD player or VCR if you rent or purchase movies. However, hybrid devices which combine DVRs/PVRs with a DVD player/recorder and/or VCR are now hitting market. Those devices would not only get rid of that problem but would also give you option of permanently transferring a recorded show/movie from a hard drive to a recordable DVD. Flat screen and flat panel TV technology is also starting to boom. Many people are confused about difference between flat screen TVs and flat panel TVs. A flat screen TV uses old cathode ray tube (CRT) technology for their picture tubes and are therefore bulky like traditional TV sets. However, they are different from traditional TV sets in that they have a flat screen. They deliver a picture that doesn't have as much glare as traditional, more round screens. Also, picture will look same to everyone in room, no matter where they are sitting. The picture on a traditional screen looks distorted when viewing it from an angle. Flat panel TVs, on other hand, utilize either liquid crystal display (LCD) or plasma technology instead of old CRT technology and are generally just a few inches thick. Many of them can be hung on a wall. In fact, flat panel TVs that are flatter than a credit card will be coming soon! What's difference between LCD and plasma? LCD is generally used for flat panel TVs with a display of less than 30 inches and usually has a brighter picture and better contrast than plasma. LCD is used for flat panel computer monitors as well. Plasma is generally used for flat panel TVs with a display of more than 30 inches and has a better color range than LCD. Plasma is becoming more common as TVs get bigger and flatter. Although I'm not so sure about this one, I will include "entertainment PCs" because of their tremendous potential to revolutionize home entertainment. The concept of "entertainment PCs" is being hailed right now by both Microsoft and Intel. In fact, Microsoft has developed a special operating system for them. They could be used as hub for all home entertainment and could enhance a family's experience of television, radio/music, and internet and actually help to combine all of these into one. They could be used to download content from internet and play it on a TV. They could provide such sophisticated TV recording interfaces that VCRs, DVDs, and DVRs/PVRs could all eventually become obsolete. In addition, they could be a better source for photograph and home video editing and processing than regular PCs. With that being said, I'm not so sure that people will be willing to accept PCs as a source of home entertainment. Bill Gates begs to differ and is willing to put his money where his mouth is. Obviously, not all of cutting edge electronics technologies mentioned above will meet with great success. Some of them might actually go way of Betamax, digital audio tape (DAT), and DIVX. However, many of them are sure to catch fire and become such an intricate part of our everyday lives that we'll wonder how we ever got along without them. Which ones will they be? Only time will tell.
Terry Mitchell is a software engineer from Hopewell, VA. He operates a website, http://www.commenterry.com, on which he posts commentaries on various subjects such as politics, technology, religion, health and well-being, personal finance, and sports. His commentaries offer a unique point of view that is not often found in mainstream media. Mr. Mitchell is also a trivia buff.
Burning Smells - Indication of TroubleWritten by Thomas Yoon
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Questions…and more questions… But that is way to troubleshoot. The more questions you ask, better you are at arriving at solution. You look at problem from all angles.
Give it a try! Ask questions, and more questions…
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