There's a big push as well as demand for high definition capable hardware. The simple reason being that once you've seen HD done right then there's really no point going back to standard definition (SD).
Most places are now offering HD versions of movies and even video game trailers are usually transmitted in this format to provide users an actual feel of how it would render on the actual console.
My journey to build an HD record and playing rig (PVR) was fraught with a lot of frustration recently and that was because I simply refused to cannibalize my stock pile of parts and use the best of the best and purchasing expensive hardware was not an option. The reality of course is that high definition viewing requires computing power not just from the CPU but also on the GPU.
Video cards that support h.264/x264 aren't cheap but prices are falling. For laptops and netbooks however we're all stuck in the waiting room. That is, until recently.
Broadcom's Cyrystal HD running on chip as BMC70015 is one of the top contenders. Already there's been some scramble to get products out since May and adding to your long term view pleasure only costs $30 on top for the add-on video accelerator.
The other chip in the market is from Quartics via the QV1721. This is secret sauce since I first got wind of it only a few months ago and wondered which product would carry it. The estimated add-on price would be $20 accordingly. On another note, they also offer the QB7xx (51/61/71) which are PCI-Express (PCI-e) solutions for the rest of you PC users.
ZiiLABS is promoting its ZMS-08 chip with competing Blu-Ray capabilities. This Creative subsidiary will be going against some giants so it'll be tough unless they can provide a competitive price. I haven't been able to find a vendor they've already tapped but shipping volume is expected also in the first month of next year.
The other news in town would be the nVidia ION 2 chip which was said to cost from $50 to have. If you were luck enough to pre-order back in September then you'll probably be getting a $399 notebook come January 2010 (yes, chip released in Q4 2009 but product integration and all is something else).
Personally by just looking at specs I was more wow'ed by chip capabilities of Quartics. That being said, the first vendor that comes out with it is going to be high on my shopping list .... for 2010. Take a look at my other projects on the blog and there shouldn't be any questions what for :-)