Blue Ray vs HD DVD

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Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Bilnick » Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:04 pm

Well it appears Blue Ray will be the winner of the HD media battle.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2008-02-14-high-def-dvd-blu-ray_N.htm

Unfortunately it appears the better format will lose.

Oh well, at least I should be able to snag a bunch of cheap HD DVDs
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Goofydoofy » Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:45 pm

Beta all over again!
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Ranjaling » Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:59 am

Bilnick wrote:Well it appears Blue Ray will be the winner of the HD media battle.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2008-02-14-high-def-dvd-blu-ray_N.htm

Unfortunately it appears the better format will lose.


Not all HD-DVD's had dual format (w/dvd version on flip side) so while that point would seem to be a plus factor, I don't really see the pro's to it as nobody is gonna buy the HD formatted movie to watch the standard definition flip side instead.

HD-DVD did have better in-movie features (profile 1.1), but Blu-Ray has now started implementing the same features in their discs, which started with Resident Evil: Extiction. Personally, I never watch extras until after the movie but /shrug.

As far as quality of picture & sound, they are dead even but HD-DVD is not really a better format considering the facts below.

Comparisons

Transfer speed
Whereas HD DVDTM. has a maximum data transfer rate of 36 Mbps (megabytes per second), Blu-ray Disc ®. BD-R (writeable Blu-ray Disc®. media) performs at 72 Mbps. Blu-ray Disc ®. media's ability to move more data more quickly will be critically important when high definition recording enters the equation. If you look at the swelling popularity of Digital Video Recorders (DVR) and the eventual need to offload high definition content from your DVR, Blu-ray Disc®. media is far better equipped to handle these space-intensive operations while keeping recording time to a minimum.


Capacity
Although Blu-ray Disc®. media and HD DVDTM. each use blue laser technology, storage capacity is significantly greater with Blu-ray Disc®. media. Thanks to a more narrowly focused laser and its unique cover layer structure, a single layer Blu-ray Disc®. can store up to 25GB of data whereas a single layer HD DVDTM. can only store up to 15GB. The math carries over to dual-layer discs, giving Blu-ray Disc®. media a maximum capacity of 50GB versus 30GB for HD DVDTM.

The benefits of capacity are fairly obvious. Greater capacity means that longer films and more episodes of a TV show will fit on a single disc. Greater capacity also makes Blu-ray Disc®. media better equipped to grow and evolve with the needs of its user. In other words, a blank Blu-ray Disc®. media will be able to store more of your high definition content than will a blank HD DVDTM. Blu-ray Disc®. recording is possible now using select Sony® VAIO® notebook computers and recorder/players for the living room are expected soon.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Bilnick » Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:04 am

Disc size doesnt really matter because a HD movie only needs about 25 GB of space anyway. For PC applications sure, the extra capacity is a plus, but for movies it is a non factor. The HD DVDs I own generally have more features than the Blue Ray despite the increased capacity of the disc. Seasons of TV shows wouldn't fit on one disc anyway, so it is really a difference of getting 3 Blue Ray discs instead of 4 or 5 HD DVDs for that Season 6 of "Friends".

The same thing with transfer speed. HD DVD had enough transfer speed for HD movies. Again for PC applications faster is better, but you only need so much for a movie.

I could really care less about bit rate and disc capacity as long as picture quality was identical, and it is. There is no difference in PQ between HD DVD and Blue Ray. (at least as far as my eyes can see)

Correct.... not all HD DVDs were dual format, but ZERO Blue Rays were dual format. It sure would be nice to buy a $30 dollar movie and play it in my HD player and my old standard DVD players, PC DVD player, minivanDVD player, etc without buying another disc, or renting and copying it. I bought Meet the Robinsons on Blue Ray...decent movie, but if the kids wanna watch it in the minivan on a trip, they are SoL, a dual format disc is a very nice feature. ALL HD DVDs should have had this feature, they screwed up big time. It is kinda like buying a PS3....you don't really buy it to play your old PS2 and PS1 games, but it is a nice feature to have.

HD DVD players have upgradable firmware via the HD discs themselves or via the internet, if you have a Blue Ray player other than the PS3 you are screwed for any features added in the future. It was stupid to release a format where all features of all movies wont work in all players.

The extra features HD DVD had arent huge things, little pop up factoids (they can be toggled off), director comments that pop up in a picture in picture, internet connectivity, etc. But none of my Blue Ray discs had these at all.

This is why I say the better format lost. Both formats have identical PQ, but HD DVD movies had enough extras to push it ahead of Blue Ray. Not to mention the HD DVD players cost quite a bit less.

Recordable media? Both formats are pretty expensive. Doesn't everyone just use DVRs anyway? Instead of copying a program from a DVR to a HD disc, I would think a more likely method of moving a program from one machine to another will be via the internet or home network.

In my opinion the main reason the Blue Ray disc won is due to the PS3. Sony screwed many loyal videogame customers by jacking up the price by including a drive that most videogamers don't want, but they sold enough of them to give Blue Ray a solid head start for the home movie battle. They basically sacrificed the videogame market for the HD home movie market, and it worked. The real question is whether Blue Ray can beat standard DVD. DVDs still sell over 90% of all movies. Until a Blue Ray disc is the same price as a DVD I do not think they will beat DVD. Who really needs to spend 25-30 dollars to see Napoleon Dynamite in HD, when an upconverted DVD looks pretty good???
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Ranjaling » Sat Feb 16, 2008 4:45 am

Bilnick wrote:Disc size doesnt really matter because a HD movie only needs about 25 GB of space anyway. For PC applications sure, the extra capacity is a plus, but for movies it is a non factor. The HD DVDs I own generally have more features than the Blue Ray despite the increased capacity of the disc. Seasons of TV shows wouldn't fit on one disc anyway, so it is really a difference of getting 3 Blue Ray discs instead of 4 or 5 HD DVDs for that Season 6 of "Friends".


25GB is for a 2hr movie so, yes, it does matter. I would much sooner have my Lord of the Rings, Titantic, and other movies that would exceed the 30GB cap HDDVD had on 1 BR disc rather than on 2 hddvd's.

Another thing is that Companies are already talking about adding Video Game demo's onto the discs that correspond with the film, or of upcoming game releases. This is something else that will eat up space.

Correct.... not all HD DVDs were dual format, but ZERO Blue Rays were dual format. It sure would be nice to buy a $30 dollar movie and play it in my HD player and my old standard DVD players, PC DVD player, minivanDVD player, etc without buying another disc, or renting and copying it. I bought Meet the Robinsons on Blue Ray...decent movie, but if the kids wanna watch it in the minivan on a trip, they are SoL, a dual format disc is a very nice feature. ALL HD DVDs should have had this feature, they screwed up big time. It is kinda like buying a PS3....you don't really buy it to play your old PS2 and PS1 games, but it is a nice feature to have.


Personally, I would not take my more expensive HD format discs into my vehicles to play and why would you elect to play them in standard format in your old dvd players elsewhere in the house instead of on the best format? Thats the whole purpose of buying it in HD in the first place.

HD DVD players have upgradable firmware via the HD discs themselves or via the internet, if you have a Blue Ray player other than the PS3 you are screwed for any features added in the future. It was stupid to release a format where all features of all movies wont work in all players.


True, up till now.. some newer model BR players have internet connectability for future firmware upgrades. Older players do not, I agree, it was stupid. Sometimes thats the price you pay for being first in buying new technology. Just like most early model DVD players won't play DVD-R's & VCD's or most early CD players won't play MP3's.

The extra features HD DVD had arent huge things, little pop up factoids (they can be toggled off), director comments that pop up in a picture in picture, internet connectivity, etc. But none of my Blue Ray discs had these at all.


Again, True, up till last month.. Disney and other companies are now using the same (profile 1.1) technology in their BR titles so most movies from here on out will have those same features.

Not to mention the HD DVD players cost quite a bit less.


Valid point, but it hasn't been that way from the start. HD-DVD's have had huge price drops mostly in the past year. Prior to '07 the players were extremely expensive in both formats.

Once the players come down in price, HD format will start to do much better since the media itself isn't a big jump from DVD. I've paid over $22 for only one title so far out of 10 brand new Blu-rays and that was Pirates 3 for $24 off amazon on release day. 7 of the 10 titles I got for less than $20. In comparison, I paid $19.88 for Transformers & Blades of Glory on standard DVD at Wal-Mart so paying $4-6 more for a better experience is well worth it. Getting the Blu-Ray players under $175.00 will be the key to making the media more of a success.

Recordable media? Both formats are pretty expensive. Doesn't everyone just use DVRs anyway? Instead of copying a program from a DVR to a HD disc, I would think a more likely method of moving a program from one machine to another will be via the internet or home network.


I don't use DVR, I use a DVD recorder to record programs instead. Eventually I'll use a BR recorder once the technology becomes more affordable and variety of HD programming becomes broadened.

In my opinion the main reason the Blue Ray disc won is due to the PS3. Sony screwed many loyal videogame customers by jacking up the price by including a drive that most videogamers don't want, but they sold enough of them to give Blue Ray a solid head start for the home movie battle. They basically sacrificed the videogame market for the HD home movie market, and it worked. The real question is whether Blue Ray can beat standard DVD. DVDs still sell over 90% of all movies. Until a Blue Ray disc is the same price as a DVD I do not think they will beat DVD. Who really needs to spend 25-30 dollars to see Napoleon Dynamite in HD, when an upconverted DVD looks pretty good???


I think the PS3 was a driving force in winning the battle but I believe Disney going exclusive was the biggest initial blow to HDDVD and its been on the downhill ever since.

I think DVD will still have the market for at least another 5 years but not because of price points necessarily, but because the majority of households still have non-HD televisions. Once more HDTV's make it out into the homes, people will want to buy the best media for them. Watching HD movies on standard TV's is pretty pointless.

People will want to experience HD and won't want to play VHS or DVD's on their new setups, they will want HD libraries, yes, even shit like Napolean Dynamite. Just like you wouldn't wanna buy a new 7.1 surround stereo system to hook up the old Phono to it so you can play Hall and Oates LP's instead of hooking up your iPod or CD player and hearing even the crappy stuff sound like "crap in concert".

The one single thing that I liked about HD-DVD over Blu-Ray format was the fact that there was no region coding on it. Sucks that BR has it but since I don't watch imported flicks, I could care less. For the consumer base that does though, they are losing out by HD-DVD being beaten.

Aside from the cost of the media players themselves, AT THIS POINT, HD-DVD is not the better format... a few months ago? yes, they were, because BR was dragging ass behind on features. That wasn't the medias fault though, that was lazy publishers and hardware manufacturers not putting out the same quality product across both formats.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Goofydoofy » Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:42 am

I think all movies should be banned to avoid these problems.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Bilnick » Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:55 pm

Personally, I would not take my more expensive HD format discs into my vehicles to play and why would you elect to play them in standard format in your old dvd players elsewhere in the house instead of on the best format? Thats the whole purpose of buying it in HD in the first place.


I still have not upgraded all of my televisions and DVD players to HD. So...if I want to watch a movie in the bedroom or on my PC it has to be DVD. I don't have all say as to who watches what on what TV, so if someone is using the HDTV I usually go elsewhere. If I am worried about my HD disc getting ruined, I can always copy the DVD side of the movie for a nickel or so. People seem to like backwards compatability when upgrading to new formats. I definitely don't have the $$$ to buy 3-4 new HDTV's and 3-4 Blue Ray players. For most rooms a SDTV and DVD player will be the norm for a few more years, at least in my house. It is simple really.. 2 formats on one disc > one format. It didn't cost any more for a Combo HD DVD. It was just a nice feature to have. It is a feature I definitely miss on Blue Ray.

I have watched movies longer than 2 hours on HD DVD, with extras even! Are there any HD DVD discs that need 2 discs to hold a movie? I don't think LotR has been released on either HD format, I thought they were comin out this spring on Blue Ray. (in typical LotR/Star Wars fashion too...release the theatrical versions first.....then 9 months later release the "extended cut" version so they can rip off fans twice) I am not sure exactly how the time of a movie relates to the size of the movie file. I do not think that there is a discrete ratio of time to file size. A 1 hour show could be 5 gb or 10gb depending on the compression/encoding from what I understand. Some early release Blue Ray discs were actually recalled due to poor transfer/encoding.

If you say Blue Ray is better fine, but I have yet to see one thing(from a playback/features standpoint) Blue Ray does better than HD DVD. Blue Ray equals HD DVD on many, but not all features. Blue Ray has the better selection of software, and thats why they won. Lets hope they can at least equal HD DVD sometime in the future, but I have my doubts. All I see from Blue Ray is its coming! next update! new spec!...Typical Sony BS. Promises they never deliver on.



Ranja...you really should get a DVR....once you have one you will wonder why you never had one before. Recording 2 shows while you watch a third, pausing a show you are watching, instant rewind ...all awesome features. I disconnected my DVD recorder when I got my HDTV and HDDVD player because I never used the recording feature of the unit. I will be kind of surprised if a recordable Blue Ray player is released for the home. If it does I bet there will be some massive DRM crap. More DRM I am sure is one of the reasons that the studios backed blue ray. I hate DRMs with a passion. Why Sony or Disney or Microsoft thinks they can tell me how I use my own movies is total BS. Lets hope the hackers crack Blue Ray now that it seems to be the dominant HD format. I thought both formats had been cracked, but copying HD movies was a little more involved than copying CSS encoded DVDs.

Oh...I want a 7.1 receiver for HD movies specifically. I don't know if any braodcasters plan on implementing 7.1 sound any time soon. From what I understand 7.1 has two rear speakers (both have the same sound coming from them though) that a 5.1 system doesn't have. A good stereo would be good enough for for playing CDs and ipods actually because I think they only provide 2 channel sound. In fact some new high end amplifiers use old vacuum tubes because audiophiles claim they sound better. There are many that still claim vinyl records produce the truest sound. I personally don't notice a difference, but I do not have any high end audio equipment.

I was hoping that HD DVD and Blue Ray would both survive, because usually competition is a good thing. One dominant format usually means less for the consumer. Blue Ray was forcing HD dVD to lower prices while the extra features of HD DVD was forcing the Blue ray movies to add more features. Oh well.

I am not convinced Blue Ray will ever beat out or have the success of DVD though. As music has already shown, downloading will be the winner.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Aithzar » Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:14 pm

Bilnick wrote:I am not convinced Blue Ray will ever beat out or have the success of DVD though. As music has already shown, downloading will be the winner.


Not for a while. The US is badly behind in the area of bandwith. There is a huge difference between downloading a CD of songs and downloading HD content. Until we see a large jump in speeds, the HD-DVD business should be fine. I'm just glad someone is pulling away as the winner of this format. Now I can start buying stuff without fear of the format phasing out. Come on Microsoft, make a Blu-ray add-on for the 360!


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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Worff » Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:45 pm

Downloading a normal 4.5gb DVD is painful but usually people shrink it down in viewable dimensions to reduce filesize for downloading. So you end up with a 1gb or less movie playing in a 500x200 window or something, rather than formatted for full screen. This is ok for watching on computer, but burning to a DVD to watch on a decent size TV it would look like shit.

I'm thinking similar methods will be used to make downloading HD movies less painful, but I'm sure it will be significantly larger file sizes even shrunk down. The first obstacle I see would be decrypting them and recompiling to play from any DVD... which would defeat the purpose of bothering to download the HD version unless you just watch it from your comp with an HD monitor and all. However, once affordable HD-DVD Burners hit the scene, it will be deja vu. I don't see that really happening until the battle is won between HD and BR tho, and a solid de facto standard is established.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Ranjaling » Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:28 pm

I still have not upgraded all of my televisions and DVD players to HD. So...if I want to watch a movie in the bedroom or on my PC it has to be DVD. I don't have all say as to who watches what on what TV, so if someone is using the HDTV I usually go elsewhere. If I am worried about my HD disc getting ruined, I can always copy the DVD side of the movie for a nickel or so. People seem to like backwards compatability when upgrading to new formats. I definitely don't have the $$$ to buy 3-4 new HDTV's and 3-4 Blue Ray players. For most rooms a SDTV and DVD player will be the norm for a few more years, at least in my house. It is simple really.. 2 formats on one disc > one format. It didn't cost any more for a Combo HD DVD. It was just a nice feature to have. It is a feature I definitely miss on Blue Ray.


So you would instead watch a new HD movie you bought in the bedroom on the standard side because the kids might be watching spongebob on the HDTV instead of waiting till you can enjoy the best version of the movie? Not many people are gonna turn right around and watch the same movie again for at least a few months so that would just be cheating yourself out of the experience, and the reason you bought the HD movie in the first place.

I have watched movies longer than 2 hours on HD DVD, with extras even! Are there any HD DVD discs that need 2 discs to hold a movie? I don't think LotR has been released on either HD format, I thought they were comin out this spring on Blue Ray. (in typical LotR/Star Wars fashion too...release the theatrical versions first.....then 9 months later release the "extended cut" version so they can rip off fans twice) I am not sure exactly how the time of a movie relates to the size of the movie file. I do not think that there is a discrete ratio of time to file size. A 1 hour show could be 5 gb or 10gb depending on the compression/encoding from what I understand. Some early release Blue Ray discs were actually recalled due to poor transfer/encoding.


There is a discrete ratio of time to file size (uncompressed that is). Compression causes loss of quality the more it is compressed. Try compressing a long movie from a dual layer DVD and burning it onto a single layer DVD and look at the difference.

Blu-ray also has an advantage in raw capacity (50GB vs. HD DVD's 30GB), and while that hasn't made much of a difference in the vast majority of titles, the special features of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, for example, were in HD on Blu-ray, but only in standard-def on HD DVD. We can only expect more of this as high-def special features, which demand much more capacity on the disc, become more prevalent.


If you say Blue Ray is better fine, but I have yet to see one thing(from a playback/features standpoint) Blue Ray does better than HD DVD. Blue Ray equals HD DVD on many, but not all features. Blue Ray has the better selection of software, and thats why they won. Lets hope they can at least equal HD DVD sometime in the future, but I have my doubts. All I see from Blue Ray is its coming! next update! new spec!...Typical Sony BS. Promises they never deliver on.


I'm not saying it's a better format because of the features, thats a whole different issue. I'm talking about the raw stats of the media itself. What studios and hardware manufacturers DO with that product, has nothing to do with my comparison/opinion. Is "300" better to buy on HD-DVD than on Blu-ray? Probably so, but again, that's because of what the studios did on one format but were to lazy to do on another.

Saying one HD format is better than the other because it had more features, when the features are available on both formats, but simply not implemented on one at the time, doesn't make sense.

Obviously price points of the hardware and, for people like you, the fact that standard video was put onto the flip side made HD-DVD have 2 extra points of draw to it.

Ranja...you really should get a DVR....once you have one you will wonder why you never had one before. Recording 2 shows while you watch a third, pausing a show you are watching, instant rewind ...all awesome features. I disconnected my DVD recorder when I got my HDTV and HDDVD player because I never used the recording feature of the unit.


That's what my dad keeps telling me but with Sat TV already costing me $70 a month, charging consumers yet another $6.00 a month for having DVR is just bullshit. They can keep their DVR recievers.

I was hoping that HD DVD and Blue Ray would both survive, because usually competition is a good thing. One dominant format usually means less for the consumer. Blue Ray was forcing HD dVD to lower prices while the extra features of HD DVD was forcing the Blue ray movies to add more features. Oh well.


If all the studios supported both formats then I would have too but having it split like that was only hurting consumers at this point.

I am not convinced Blue Ray will ever beat out or have the success of DVD though. As music has already shown, downloading will be the winner.


Your probably right. DVD had a great 12-13 year run and still has life left in it. I think what will keep HD physical format alive though is that it helps drive the economy (sales in retail, rentals, used sales) and also collectability. Most people like to actually have "something in hand" for what they pay for. You can't take your HD downloaded shit over to your buddies house and watch it, or loan a few movies out to your family, when they are stuck on your DVR.

Music and HD movies are a whole different monster because of size. Much easier to have the capacity to store 500 songs than it is 500 HD movies @25GB each. It will be 10 years out I bet before HD DD becomes a widely accepted, and practical thing.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Bilnick » Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:07 pm

Aithzar wrote:
Bilnick wrote:I am not convinced Blue Ray will ever beat out or have the success of DVD though. As music has already shown, downloading will be the winner.


Not for a while. The US is badly behind in the area of bandwith. There is a huge difference between downloading a CD of songs and downloading HD content. Until we see a large jump in speeds, the HD-DVD business should be fine. I'm just glad someone is pulling away as the winner of this format. Now I can start buying stuff without fear of the format phasing out. Come on Microsoft, make a Blu-ray add-on for the 360!


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Except you can already download HD movies on the Xbox 360 (they fit on a 20 gb hdd even!). Nexflix has an online movie viewing service (not sure if it is HD). Apple is releasing a HD download service. It is here. I do not know how successful any of these services are, but all of them are expanding thier offerings, so I am guessing they are doing ok. The same thing is happening with video games. It is only a matter of time before the only way to buy a PS4 or Xbox 720 game will be to download it. The Nintendo WiiWii will use cassette tapes.


If all the studios supported both formats then I would have too but having it split like that was only hurting consumers at this point.


How many more "buy a player get 7 free HD DVDs" deals do you think the consumer will see when it is down to one format? The main reason I bought a HD DVD player was because it was so cheap and had a nice 7 free package. There are tons of buy one get one free deals all the time on the HD discs (both HD DVD and Blue Ray). My guess is that those deals will go away. Maybe we will begin to see bargain bin HD movies....but I will not hold my breath waiting for the "Roadhouse" Blue Ray to be in the 8.99 bin at Wal Mart.

There is a discrete ratio of time to file size (uncompressed that is). Compression causes loss of quality the more it is compressed. Try compressing a long movie from a dual layer DVD and burning it onto a single layer DVD and look at the difference.


All DVD, HDDVD, and Blue Rays are all compressed already. I think both formats use the same compression methods, and there are multiple compression methods available, MPEG 2, MPEG 4 and whatnot. It is getting over my head now though. From what I understand 2 hours of MPEG 2 video is around 25gb, but other compression methods that both Blue Ray and HD DVD use will double the length of video for the same amount of space. 4-5 hours should fit on a 30 gb disc, obviously even more would fit on a Blue Ray. Maybe Lucas will release all three original Star Wars movies on one disc....ya right! TBH I really know very little how compression and codecs encoding etc works.

If my kids were watching Meet the Robinsons on Blue Ray, yeah I would watch my movie on another TV if I had both the SD and HD version on one disc. If thier disc had both formats I would boot them though. :) I really like the combo disc feature, I will miss it. I do not expect Blue Ray to ever have that feature, but I hope I am wrong.

Saying one HD format is better than the other because it had more features, when the features are available on both formats, but simply not implemented on one at the time, doesn't make sense.


Well lets see them implemented and maybe I will change my mind on which format is better. My 3:10 to Yuma Blue Ray (released in Jan 2008) does not have as many features as my Bourne Ultimatum HD DVD. From what I have seen so far this is typical. I would not say the PS3 network is better than Xbox Live because the PS3 is going to have "Home" in fall 2007 (haha). Home sounds cool, but lets see em actually do it. Until Blue Ray actually does more than HD DVD my opinion will remain.

Sony finally suceeded on forcing one of thier proprietary formats on the public......lets see how it plays out.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Serano » Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:58 pm

Goofydoofy wrote:Beta all over again!


No. Betamax and Blueray are both Sony formats. They spearheaded both.

If Bluray wins it will be the exact opposite of Beta.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Bilnick » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:38 am

article

The format war. It's over. Done. Break out the blue victory hats and Curaçao, right? Wrong. There won't be a Blu-ray victory party. Don't take my word for it? How about Sony Electronics CEO Stan Glasgow's? "From our perspective, the battle really begins now." Now that HD DVD is dispatched, the members of Team Blu-ray can start fighting standard-def DVDs, digital downloads, consumer apathy, the Chinese and—of course—each other. Here's the current state of Blu-ray, post-war edition:

Everybody Hurts
It's been discussed at length how brutal this contest was for Toshiba. But the Blu-ray members in the victory circle are licking some pretty serious wounds, too. Sony basically bet their entire company on the format—plowing over a billion dollars into the PS3 trojan horse, plus, as far as we know, another half billion on largesse for studios to put on Blu's stripes, for starters.

Chris Walker, Pioneer's senior product manager for Blu-ray told us he thought that the format war "affected Blu-ray prices substantially," and that "for a new technology to drop the prices by half within a year of coming out" seriously hurt everyone involved. People are still ready to complain about the relatively high price of Blu-ray players, but they are way lower than the manufacturers had planned, and now they can't recoup the high fixed development costs they would have with higher price tags during the first couple years on the market. DVD players were stratospherically priced for several years.

On the studio side, the drawn-out conflict was sapping both HD disc and DVD sales, as consumers waited for a victor and slowed down DVD purchases in anticipation. Everybody was losing, even the winners. It got so bad that we have reason to believe Sony didn't just urge Best Buy, Netflix and Wal-Mart to go exclusively Blu, but went so far as to ask Toshiba directly to please pull out.

Their pain, you're pay-ing
Point is, a lot of money was spent to hoist Blu-ray onto the winner's pedestal. Why do you care? Because it means manufacturers aren't rushing to drop player prices any further than they have already. Walker admitted the only reason players are as cheap as they are—calling $399 a year after the format's introduction a "bargain"—is because of the format war. Interestingly, Walker also told us that low hardware margins are part of the reason Toshiba mostly stood alone in standalone player production: "Why would Pioneer want to build one when Toshiba was selling them at $150?"

So, while Pioneer promises healthy competition between Blu-ray Disc Association members this year, don't expect it to be too healthy—the big price-killer among them is the PS3, ironically. The major force that drove down DVD-player prices years ago was the flood of cheap Chinese models at Wal-Mart, and the BDA is holding them at bay, refusing to license the tech to low-cost manufacturers for the time being. Piracy is implied as a concern, but the more obvious motive is to keep player prices as high as they can, while they can, to recoup the heavy losses incurred waging the format war in the first place. A $199 player with a Sony name on it is definitely at least a year away.

Spec Wars, SKU Times
We've already told you not to buy a Blu-ray player yet, citing the spec issue—if you buy a player without an Ethernet port, you're screwed when it comes to more updated specifications like BD-Live interactive content and picture-in-picture. But it's actually even crazier than we thought. When we finally see a geniune $199 Blu-ray player, it will more than likely be spec 1.1, so you'll get picture-in-picture, but there won't be any internet-fueled interaction, like that sweet-sounding AVP multiplayer game.

That's right, even after Blu-ray spec 2.0 players finally hit the market, new 1.1 spec players will continue to roll out as well, so the potential for consumer confusion will remain stratospheric. (Everyone should heed Sony CEO Stan Glasgow's own comment: "Any confusion curbs consumer demand.") See, the 2.0 spec is not mandatory for manufacturers, though 1.1 is. Consequently, the cheapest players we will see finally hitting shelves will be 1.1. Walker confirms that while he personally "would like to see BD-Live players only," even Pioneer "will be offering both types of players."

The different players will be labeled either "BonusView" or "BD-Live," not 1.1 or 2.0, which is good, because Glasgow doesn't "think consumers are that aware of 1.0, 2.0, whatever." Will they even know the difference between BonusView and BD-Live? Will they understand why a player they buy now won't access features on a disc they buy later, just because Sony says "that's the way it goes in the world"?

Content is King Queen
The spec issue is messy on the content front as well—and we're not just talking about clearly labeled discs. The 2.0 spec being optional on future players makes its feature set all the more frivolous—why spend a lot of money creating features only the richest Blu-ray users—a smaller fraction of an already tiny fraction—can access? For example, while Fox is definitely sporting wood for interactivity, others aren't as excited. Sony Home Entertainment biz dev VP Rich Marty told us it's "just the icing on the cake." Icing not everyone can lick.

On the other hand, things are mostly looking up on the new-release front for Blu—all of the major studios we talked to said that pretty much every major theatrical release will hit the format from here on out. It's the back catalog that's the prob, and it's going to be slow coming by most accounts. Not only will Universal probably take a very long time getting its current 150-disc HD DVD catalog out on Blu-ray, but other studios will most likely double dip, releasing the same movie a second time with better features and perhaps a cleaner transfer, before getting around to some of your favorite old chestnuts.

Speaking of Universal, we're currently looking at a months-long black hole of Universal, Dreamworks and Paramount's releases, thanks to their belated integration (or re-integration) into the Blu-ray fold. Not only will it be late spring or early summer before we see any of their flicks hit Blu, we're hearing that they might have trouble buying dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray discs to produce them on, because the more settled Blu-ray studios have already purchased the entire 2008 stock—not hard to do, thanks to the limited number of replication sites and lower yields. This means that they'll only have access to 25GB discs, which could mean fewer features and lower-quality video and audio.

If you don't think capacity is an issue—necessitating the dual-layer discs— a Disney spokesperson (not to mention Metal Gear guru Hideo Kojima) says otherwise: even 50GB isn't enough. Disney's upcoming Sleeping Beauty Platinum release is going to take up two discs: a 50GB double layer plus another 25GB one. While every release won't be a two-disc monster, the company tells us that "franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean or Narnia...also get similar kind of treatments." It also confirmed that, for the moment, Blu-ray disc replicators are "kinda limited."

The Real Enemy
Truthfully, these are all just minor issues. The biggest problem on Blu-ray's hands? DVD. It's entrenched, it's cheap, and for most people, it's good enough (especially upscaled on a 720p LCD from 8 or 10 feet away). Sony mouthpieces and execs laugh off the "threat" of video downloads, but they don't seem to laugh when you talk about the exact same content on DVD. Even while Glasgow assures us they "think [Blu-ray sales] can get up to DVD levels," he admits "there are some issues: upscaling DVDs is getting better and better." Sony continually must "convince people of the value of high definition."

In fact, everyone we talked to—in Hollywood or in hardware—emphasized the need to educate consumers about high def and convince them to make the switch. If it's so inevitable and obvious, why do they need to pour a load of money and ad time into it? Sony's major campaign for the entire year is "HDNA," all about educating consumers about HD.

The Sony brand might "hold up well during difficult economic times" but a recession will keep DVD looking pretty good to a lot of people, even ones who already bought an HDTV. Bundling players with HDTVs—which Glasgow said would happen soon—might spur adoption, but until the Wal-mart masses can easily (read: cheaply) adopt Blu-ray, it's not going to knock DVD players off shelves. That's several years out.

The Dim Light at the End of the Tunnel
Naturally, Blu-ray will only get better—the hardware will improve, the catalog will grow, the feature set will expand. Already standalone players load up much faster than craptastically slow players of yesteryear—one of Pioneer's new players, which will be announced shortly, already boasts a boot time of 14.8 seconds, nearly halving the time of the current fastest standalone player, Panasonic's BD-30, which stands at around 26 seconds. It's on those kind of things that Pioneer plans to compete on in the market, though it'll be asking a heavier price to get them.

Blu-ray will get cheaper though, slowly but surely. Competition between and among BDA members will nudge prices down to the $299 mark this year, and we'll see that mythic $199 mark within a year—with the Chinese cheap-player cavalry not far behind, ready to grind profit margins into oblivion. That's when we'll see mass adoption—when, from a consumer perspective, Blu-ray really "wins." Too bad, on the hardware side, there may not be any spoils left for the victors.
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Ceruis » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:52 am

huh? :stupid
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Re: Blue Ray vs HD DVD

Postby Bilnick » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:39 am

Ceruis wrote:huh? :stupid


What are you asking?

I thought the article was easy enough to read.
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