Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment.
The oldest of the "three screens" -- television – is generally far from the wisest. Sure, an endless array of set-top boxes and AV components packed with processors have appeared in the last few decades to use its screen as a surrogate, and now a high-definition, display for video games, PC content, Web pages, multimedia, videoconferencing and other entertainment. But while much television programming -- especially news and sports programs – has become cluttered with contextual trivia and tickers, the core TV viewing experience has remained stubbornly passive. Now, though, with backers citing the need to reclaim appeal from PCs and cell phones -- especially among multitasking kids, teens and young adults -- the first screen is fighting back.
Correctly recognizing that upconverting DVDs posed a serious challenge to high-definition discs, the backers of HD-DVD focused on the mandatory Internet connectivity of its players and support of it in some of its late content (the movie 300
was one of the best showcases). In HD-DVD's defeat, the Blu-ray camp has picked up the cause via BD-Live
, part of the Blu-ray 2.0 specification. A forthcoming title that will take advantage of the Internet connectivity is Disney's 50th anniversary platinum release of its classic Sleeping Beauty
. And it is not your wicked stepmother's princess.