Technology just keeps surging forward, getting bigger and better all the time. But it's moving so fast that many people are starting to feel left behind in the race.
This decade alone has seen incredible changes and advances in entertainment technology and consumer communications. It's strange to think, but 10 years there was barely an Internet, let alone Internet cell phones or downloadable movies and video games. So many consumers – parents especially – can feel at a loss to understand what's happening in several different areas of the consumer electronics arena.
Blu-Ray DVD vs. High Definition DVD
Blu-Ray and High Definition DVD (HD) use more sophisticated lasers and software to read information on a disc. HD DVD was made by Toshiba, though recent market forces have ended its production. With the market now firmly behind the Blu-Ray format (manufactured by several electronics companies such as Sony, Panasonic, etc) look for sharp decreases in Blu-Ray player price later this year.
Blu-Ray and HD DVD players both play their own kinds of discs. They will not transfer conventional DVD's into a high definition format.
The coming change to digital broadcasting
Beginning February 17, 2009, under federal law all television stations in the United States will only broadcast digital signals. Cable and satellite television providers will in most cases translate signals for their customers' televisions, while televisions that use traditional antennae must acquire a converter box to translate the new digital signals. All televisions made since March 1, 2007 are already equipped for the change.
A digital signal or converter box will not upgrade televisions to receive the high definition television format. However, television owners can request government vouchers to pay for digital converter boxes to accommodate the change by visiting www.dtv2009.gov.
Playstation vs. X-Box vs. Wii
Video games have evolved from a fad of the 1980s into a permanent part of the entertainment landscape. Some industry experts even predict that video game production values and story quality will soon rival that of major motion pictures.
The three most popular forms of video game console are Sony's Playstation, Nintendo's Wii, and Microsoft's Xbox. They are all considered "seventh generation" video game consoles and feature state of the art graphics and software capability.
The current Playstation 3 offers updatable system software as well as a fully-functioning Blu-Ray disc player built inside. It can also play CDs and traditional DVDs and offers USB ports for information transfer. The Playstation 3's high retail $399.00 price has left it struggling to find an audience.
The current Xbox 360, sometimes described as "a computer hard drive for video games" and "the console of gamers," allows its users to play online via subscription service as well as by themselves. Its software operating system is very similar to that used by Microsoft-operating home computers. A USB port on its face allows users to play music, video, and show pictures in some formats. It typically sells for around $349.00
Finally, the Nintendo Wii features wireless controllers that respond to user hand and arm movements, allowing an unprecedented degree of interactive three-dimensional movement. The Wii has quickly risen to the top of the gaming console pyramid, with many stores unable to keep the console in stock.