My Two Cents
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 16:49

Ultra HD BD players/discs arriving now, plus 3DTV declared “dead” by IB Times & good Star Wars/Trek news

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[Editor’s Note: Be sure to follow us on Twitter @thedigitalbits @BillHuntBits and on Facebook here and here.]

First things first today: We’re hearing from readers that Samsung’s UBD‑K8500 UHD Blu-ray player is now starting to appear for sale on retailer shelves – including Best Buy – in at least some places around the country. Additionally, Best Buy employees are suggesting in-store that the first UHD Blu-ray titles will start to become available tomorrow (2/11), probably from Lionsgate but maybe also from Fox.

Meanwhile, I’ve now received word from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment that the studio’s first round of UHD Blu-ray titles, including The Martian, Kingsman, Exodus, and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, will officially be available starting on Sunday 2/14 at Best Buy stores. Note, however, that it’s possible some stores will begin selling them earlier, or that some stores will not have their stock in yet by then. [Read on here…]

The larger point is that this week now, officially, marks the debut of the Ultra HD Blu-ray format here in the United States. Here’s Bits reader Ben McBride with the UHD BD player he picked up today at his local Best Buy store (Thanks for the pic, Ben!)...

Bits reader Ben McBride picking up his UHD Blu-ray player at Best Buy

Here at The Bits, we are currently awaiting our own Ultra HD Blu-ray review equipment and software. It’s my plan to publish a series of feature stories when that hardware and software arrives, to detail the user experience, and of course to begin reviewing the discs and the player in the days and weeks ahead.

Meanwhile... here at the site today, our very own Tim Salmons has just posted his review of Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak, which is now available on Blu-ray from Universal. Do give it a look.

In other hardware news today, the International Business Times has posted an interesting piece suggesting that 3D television is “officially dead,” as both Samsung and LG are cutting production of 3D-capable displays. Which is interesting, because Samsung’s UBD‑K8500 UHD Blu-ray player does support Blu-ray 3D. But Samsung has reportedly cut the 3D feature from all of its 2016 display models, and LG is only including it in its most expensive flagship models. Word from a Korean new site (ETNews) is that Samsung hasn’t ordered any new 3D glasses from its suppliers. So, this is certainly a bit of tough news for fans of 3D, and especially Blu-ray 3D. The good news at least is that many 2015 models of HD and 4K display do still support 3D, and many leading home theater projector manufacturers are still supporting 3D going forward, including Epson, Sony, Panasonic, JVC, and others. Also, many models of player will continue to support Blu-ray 3D software. So there will still be at least some options available to you. As I’ve said before, however, almost every manufacturer I’ve spoken with is continuing to work on autostereoscopic 3D display technology and will likely get back into the 3D game when it’s ready. But that day is probably still many years away, and possibly a decade. Anyway, you can read the IB Times piece here, and special thanks to my old friend Ed Peters for passing the link on to me. We were just talking about this very subject on the phone yesterday.

Now then, we do at least have two more positive things to mention to you all today...

There’s great news for Star Trek fans this week, which is that Bryan Fuller has officially been named as the show runner of the new Star Trek TV series that CBS is planning for their digital service in 2017. Fuller was most recently the show runner of the outstanding Hannibal, and his past work includes Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, and Dead Like Me. He also worked on Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for a number of years. Personally, I can’t think of a better person to take the reins of Trek. Now we just have to hope that CBS is serious about their commitment to reviving the franchise. You can read more here at Variety.

Finally today, while we wait for Disney’s official announcement of the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray and DVD, there’s this: Harmy has just completed his work on Return of the Jedi: Despecialized v2.5. You can learn more here and here, as it becomes available for download online in all the usual places. You can also see screen shot comparisons of all the different versions, including the new 2.5, here.

And that’s more than enough for one day, I think. There’s much to chew on there. As always, stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt (@BillHuntBits)


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