Microsoft will be supporting a number of new high-speed digital transfer methods in the next version of
Windows. The new methods will make use of a number of existing broadcast infrastructures–such as
cable, digital satellite, and the Internet MBONE (multicast backbone) to broadcast multimedia content at
higher speeds than currently available over the Internet. The broadcast concept, in which a large number of
clients receive the same data at the same time (similar to ordinary TV) will help to relieve the bandwidth
bottleneck that currently plagues Internet servers; unfortunately, it won’t allow the click-and-go
convenience that Web surfers have come to expect.
For 20 years, the Japanese have virtually monopolized all aspects of electronic imaging technology with
their CCD image sensors. But new image-sensor technology licensed to a California company may soon
NASA’s Jet propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed a new image-sensor technology called
active pixel sensors (APS) and has licensed it to Photobit, a camera-development company founded in
1995. The company claims that APS image sensors have significant advantages over the Japanese-built
CCD image sensors now used in almost all camcorders, digital cameras, and scanners. These advantages
include lower cost, lower power consumption, electronic zoom, pan and tilt functions, and easier
miniaturization for products that use APS.
Photobit plans to release its first APS product, a color imaging chip, in the first quarter of 1997.
The chip will have digital output and on-chip image command, control, auto-exposure, shuttering, and
other camera features.
But there’s no word yet on when APS image sensors will appear in camcorders. According to Carl
Zalvidar, Photobit’s Vice President of Marketing, “We’re hoping to work with American camcorder
manufacturers and Japanese companies that don’t manufacture CCD imaging chips because they don’t have
a vested interest in CCD technology.”
If you’ve been thinking about buying a camcorder or VCR from one of those Incredible Universe
superstores, think again. Tandy corporation, the parent company of Radio Shack and Computer City, has
thrown in the towel and said it is “exiting the Incredible Universe business.” The Incredible Universe was a
glorified warehouse operation consisting of 17 stores that competed with Wal-Mart, Circuit City and Best
Buy. But the Incredible Universe won’t completely disappear. Six stores are to be sold to Fry’s Electronics;
the other 11 either will be sold to other retailers or used for “real-estate purposes.”
Imports to Japan of video cassette recorders soared last October, while those of televisions dropped,
according to data released by the Electronics Industries Association of Japan (EIAJ). Production of TV sets
in Japan fell 2.0 percent last October to 642,000 units, and that of VCRs registered a larger drop of 20.5
percent to 875,000 units. VCR imports climbed 40.8 percent on the month and 76.7 percent on the year, to
total 472,473 units in October.
Exports of VCRs fell back to similar levels seen during the summer, after a very strong
September. A total of 550,780 machines left Japan during October, down 31.6 percent for the year.
America was the leading destination for Japanese machines, with 317,000 units shipped during October,
down 4.6 percent on the same period a year ago. Following the US was Hong Kong, the United Arab
Emirates, Canada, and Singapore.