October 15, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

False starts in race to future of DVDs

Is all of this Blu-ray Disc versus HD DVD bickering much ado about nothing?

Many column inches and much screen space have been filled with discussions of a "war" between two rival next-generation DVD formats. On one hand, it's understandable: the opposing camps are manned by the world's leading technology companies and the biggest names in film and television: Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Dell, Intel, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, MGM and many more.

But more than 18 months after the launch of both formats, the question remains, should the average consumer care? Most would say, "not yet." Both sides are still engaged in a battle for consumer attention and dollars, while some are prematurely declaring victory. (Panasonic is the most recent to predict Blu-ray--which it is backing exclusively--will be the undisputed champion.)

There is no guarantee either of these formats will still be viable 12 months from now, so it's unclear why the casual movie fan would consider investing in either side at all--particular because the price of the players and discs are still relatively high. More importantly, many consumers think regular old DVDs are perfectly fine.

The studios and hardware makers on both sides are betting heavily on launching a new format, of course. But all the bickering and public posturing over the last year looks patently ridiculous when one considers how few discs and players these industry giants are actually arguing over.

Case in point: 300 is the fastest-selling next-generation title so far, according to Warner Bros., which says it sold 250,000 high-definition copies of it in the first week. (How fitting that the most successful next-generation movie thus far is about a group of warriors waging an unwinnable battle).

At an industry conference last week, representatives from Microsoft (HD DVD), Sony and Pioneer (Blu-ray), sniped at each other over the number of copies of 300 sold on each format. Blu-ray claims its version of the disc outsold HD DVD's by a margin of two to one in the first week. The breakdown was actually 65 percent Blu-ray, 35 percent HD DVD, according to a Warner Bros. representative.

But only when you consider that the studio sold more than 5 million copies of 300 on standard DVD does it become clear that all this posturing is over less than 5 percent of sales. On the hardware side, DisplaySearch said 5 percent of sales of standalone DVD players in September were either HD DVD or Blu-ray.

For now, both sides are priming the pump to create awareness for a technology that, currently, most consumers can't necessarily even take advantage of because they need a full high-definition (1080p) television to get the maximum effect of an HD DVD or Blu-ray movie.

"It's a different sell if you don't have an HDTV set yet," said Paul Erickson, director of DVD and HD market research for DisplaySearch. "Most of the appeal (of a next-generation player) will come from (having) 1080p. While that may be the standard in the future, 720p is still selling very strongly."

"DVD is a victim of its own success. It's a good technology."
--Josh Martin, analyst, Yankee Group

Luckily for the backers of both formats, high-definition TV sets are selling well these days. Eight out of every 10 TVs sold in the month of August were HDTVs, according to the NPD Group. And 1080p adoption is on the upswing as well; sales of 40-inch and larger LCD TVs that output 1080p resolution have increased more than 40 percent in the last year, according to data from DisplaySearch.

But NPD uncovered a very telling statistic in its 2007 report on high-definition video: 73 percent of current HDTV owners "are satisfied with DVD and don't feel the need to replace" their current players.

Ultimately, DVDs are good enough for most people. Most consumers probably already own a DVD player. If they don't, the average price is certainly more attractive than those of either HD DVD or Blu-ray players. Though prices of both have come way down in the last nine months, the average price for next-generation DVD players is $390 more than standard DVD players.

"DVD is a victim of its own success. It's a good technology," said Josh Martin, an analyst with Yankee Group Research. Plus, the step up to DVD from VHS tapes is not analogous to the step up from DVD to high-definition discs. "Next-gen isn't redefining, it's more tweaking of the technology. Content owners think it's a bigger leap, but consumers look at (a next-generation disc), and it's a disc, and it's not worth $600 or whatever" for the player to go with it.

Some would argue the biggest roadblock in Blu-ray and HD DVD's aspirations of becoming the standard in home video actually isn't the format competition--it's inexpensive, so-called upconverting DVD players, or standard players that have the ability to take regular DVDs and translate them into 1080p, the same resolution as Blu-ray and HD DVD. Though the studios and hardware makers will argue that it's just not the same as the movies recorded and played back in 1080p, it will be good enough for the average consumer.

CONTINUED: Warner Bros. plays it neutral…
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HD is An Eyechart Test
The fact that most people who own HD sets are satisfied with standard DVD should not surprise any eye doctors. If you do the math (which one eminent TV Engineer has done), sitting the average 7-10 feet from a screen, before you can see the different between 1080i and 420p you need a screen at least 72". In one review (with ordinary and experienced viewers), using 50" top-of-the line 1080p LCD and Plasma screens, Blu-ray and HD were only somewhat better than upscaled (OPPO player) standard DVD - not really worth money, effort, and possibly choosing the "wrong" format. See <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/23/AR2007062300060.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/23/AR2007062300060.html</a>
Posted by jmb-lawyer (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I concur, mostly...
You're right with regard to the quality of a good up-scaling DVD
player -- the difference is marginal (except for titles, and large
patches of bright red which show artifacts). However, I think
that, more than anything the two factors that limit sales of HD
formats are: number of HD sets out there, and the cost of the
players. $39 for SD DVD, $199 for SD DVD upscaled to 1080p,
and $499 for HD (with a 50-50 chance that whatever you buy
will become unsupported in 6-12 months; and you can't trade
with your friends).

For HD disks to catch on, the technology either needs to become
so cheap that it's no different than DVD -- particularly if there's
2 standards -- and people have to have a set to play it on.
Further, nobody's going to invest in a format if it will be
obsoleted and there won't be a migration path to the other.

I don't think quality enters into it. It seems pretty clear that
historically, the quality of a technology has no bearing on its
uptake (ref VHS/Beta, Microsoft software, etc.).
Posted by FellowConspirator (397 comments )
Link Flag
My Experience Comparing SD and HD
Jmb-lawyer said: "... sitting the average 7-10 feet from a screen, before you can see the different between 1080i and 420p you need a screen at least 72"

I have a 42-inch 720p HDTV that I sit 12 feet from. I have Planet Earth on DVD, and I have it recorded in HD (from a Discovery channel broadcast). I also can compare many sports games in both HD and SD (the same game, that is). There is a very noticeable difference between the HD and the SD experience for both of these items (Planet Earth and sports programming). HD, at least at 720p, is certainly worth the additional expense .. for certain programming. Let me also add that I compared 720p and 1080p in the store at about 12 feet and could not detect any difference--making the decision to save hundreds of dollars easy.

Having said the preceding, let me also add that I have an extensive collection of DVDs. With the exception of Planet Earth, there are none that I have the desire to replace in high def. I watched an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (the old TV show from decades ago) the other night. I set the pixel size so the 4:3 formatted program actually filled the screen on my 16:7 widescreen TV. This chopped off the top and bottom a little, but what was most remarkable was that the quality of the picture was very good. Good enough that I couldn't care less it wasn't high def content. It just doesn't matter for this type of content. Planet Earth: Yes. If you see it you'd understand. But not most typical TV watching. Std def is good enough. And, I should add, that was on a non-upconverting player.

So, two things must happen before I'll invest in high def disks:

1. Settle the format war. I'd be happy with a truce where both sides agree that all future players will support three formats: DVD, HD DVD and Blu-Ray. There could be agreement to disagree, with there never being a clear "winner". Because that means the consumer is placed first, and is the ultimate winner (which is how it should be).

2. Sell high def disks at a reasonable price. I'm not paying $35 for something that's available in std def for $18. But I might pay $20 for it.

--mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Link Flag
That's not my experience
I have a 1080p 61" TV that sits about 12 feet from the viewers. Some friends came over and were watching a movie (sorry, don't remember what it was) on my system (which includes my HD player which IS an upscaling player). The movie was a SD DVD and everyone thought it looked great.

After the first movie finished, I threw in "Batman Begins" in HD DVD. Everyone's mouth fell open the instant the movie began and they started saying comments like "holy 'cow' that looks good!", along with several "one word" votes of approval.

Heck, I had noticed that the HD material off the air (or DTV) didn't look as crisp as the HD DVD, so I figured they must be using bandwidth for other channels and are putting out a fairly low bandwidth signal. I just recently fixed that problem: my TIVO was outputting in 480p instead of 1080i (highest it goes to) and the TV was upscaling! Once I changed it's output to 1080i, the picture improvement was dramatic.

I'm still kicking myself for not realizing that there MUST be something wrong with the TIVO because the HD DVD should not look that much better.
Posted by AnotherReader (30 comments )
Link Flag
well put
I know a number of people who think HD-TV = flatscreen. These are the same people who think DVD is HD because HD=Digital. In the 60s people wired a second speaker in paralell &#38; thought they had stereo. I'm not knocking these folks, just proposing that the illusion of something is as real to many people as the actual thing.
They aren't educated enough about HD to be too discriminating... that may not be a bad thing, because they are likely to be satisfied far more often than someone more critical. Still, I believe the HD war to be more about perception than reality - pun intended.
Posted by punterjoe (163 comments )
Link Flag
HD Player will lag HD TV
People will first buy their HD TV and then look to upgrade their movie player.

So, there is probably another 12-18 months before there is enough demand for either format for a commercial decision to be made by the studio until then it's just R&#38;D money and posturing.
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HDTVs have to come first because these are useless without them but I think it may take even longer than 18 months because the recording side is so far behind. Tivo has the only HD DVR out there and HD DVD recorders are non-existent. Without recording capability, content availability will seriously lag delaying their usefulness and any need to upgrade. Now if they release a reasonably priced HD DVR/DVD Recorder in the next few years, that could be enough to swing it.
Posted by MyLord (34 comments )
Link Flag
How Consumers Can Win This Format War
"'This is not a format war on technology, it's a format war on content, and no one's going to win,' said Yankee Group's Martin."

What Martin suggests is basically where we're currently at; and the market is being awful darned slow to decide. How about this as a third alternative (from the two Martin suggested):

The two competing format associations (HD DVD and Blu-Ray) get together and guarantee to consumers the following:

1. The studios can use whichever format they chose. One or the other or even both--the studios chose.

2. That the two associations will only allow the manufacture of player devices that support three formats .. forever: DVD, HD DVD and Blu-Ray. There will be no single-format (or dual-format, if DVD is included) players manufactured .. ever.

3. That high def disks will be sold for a reasonable price, consistent with that the consumers have come to enjoy for DVDs.

Do the preceding and everyone can win. But, that's the problem. The associations aren't so much concerned about winning as they are about the other side losing. The want total control. Until they're willing to give that up, there'll be a format war and I seriously doubt the market will decide to do anything, meaning the status quo (DVD rules) will remain.

--mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
By next year, the war will be an afterthought
I saw Crutchfield had the new Samsung universal player for $800. By this time next year, I bet it will be $400. With universal players, you won't have to worry. Unlike Beta and VHS, the medium is the same size, so universal players can and will co-exist. And with each side entrenched, this is the best outcome.

I, like most consumers, just want to push play.
Posted by i_am_still_wade (250 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tell me when they are under $100....
Because I don't invest in a player, I invest in the content. If you rent then more power to you but $400 for a player is STILL too high.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Link Flag
DVD is "Good Enough" is an excuse, not a reason
It is very likely if a single HD format was established at the beginning, many people would have already bought a next generation DVD player. The prices would likely have fallen even faster, as even more companies would be competing. And it is likely the next-gen discs would be cheaper as well if there were a single standard.

People don't wait because "DVD is good enough", people can wait because DVD is good enough and the high def content war is a disaster.

"DVD is good enough" wins when the alternative is a $500 next generation DVD player turned paperweight a year later.

A lot of people still remember BetaMax.

As for the WaPo article, I notice it used an Xbox 360 as the HD-DVD player, and a Sony PS3 as the BD player. I assume the test used a new, Xbox 360 Elite with the HDMI output, and the Accell device was an HDMI switchbox. However, realize two things with this configuration. First, the next-gen DVD players, and associated logic included with game consoles are not designed specifically to produce the best movie outputs. Second, switchboxes can sometimes affect the signal quality. This may have explained some of the video artifacts mentioned in the article.

As the comparison was with a top of the line SD-DVD player, WaPo should have used higher quality HD-DVD and BD players. The top of the line SD player may have features focused on movie presentation.

Also, the WaPo article incorrectly states an upscaling SD-DVD player is required to get the best picture from an HDTV. All HDTVs include upscalers to convert SD content to the HD display. Some HDTVs do a better job of upscaling than some upscaling DVD players (although the Oppo device is considered one of the best). The biggest problem is many people still connect SD-DVD players to HDTVs via a composite connection.

My personal opinions are based on the following: I can clearly see the difference between SD-DVD content played on my upscaling SD-DVD player (I do not own a next-gen DVD player) and HD content delivered by satellite (such as HBO in HD). I also was able to clearly see the difference between Blu-Ray and SD-DVD in a Sony Style store. The SD-DVD was a non-upscaling device, and the 50" SXRD HDTV upscaled the content very well. But the BD on a 70" SXRD HDTV was jaw-dropping.

If you go giant-screen, you should consider a next-gen DVD player. If you stay 50" or below, you can probably do find with a good quality SD-DVD player for now.

But the answer if we had a single standard would be, buy the HD device now.
Posted by meh130 (145 comments )
Reply Link Flag
DVD **Is** Good Enough .. Usually
I sort of agree with some of what Meh130 says, but not exactly. First, I find that for most programming, DVD is certainly "good enough". Sure, I can see a difference, but the improvement in the experience doesn't justify either wading into a format war, or the additional expense for player and content (something Meh130 ignores in his remarks).

Having said that, let me say that certain content is dramatically better in HD. Sports. I can't stand football or tennis or baseball in SD anymore. The difference is huge. And Planet Earth--obviously the producers of that wonderful show knew they were filming for an HD audience, and the difference between the two is not only remarkable (I own the DVDs and have recorded the HD broadcast), but also significantly improves the viewing experience.

But most viewers watching a TV show are focused on the dialog and the general content of the picture. They really could care less if they can see the pores on the face of the lead actor. That's why DVD is good enough--it's about the show, not the technology.

Having said that, let me add that if a given show was available for a reasonable price in high def, with no threat of a format way killing my legally owned content in the distant future, would I buy the high def media? Sure I would. Unless there was a compelling reason to buy DVD: Such as the ability to rip DVD content to a monster-hard drive so that I never have to touch a disk after purchasing it. That might cause DVD content to reign supreme if the studios push too hard with their DRM-infested high def disks.

--mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Know your topic before you post
"consumers can't necessarily even take advantage of because they need a full high-definition (1080p)"? ....All you need is a HD TV. It doesn't have to be 1080P. Eventhough it states on the the dvd boxes 1080P, it doesn't mean it was shot in 1080P. I have seen a 1080P and 1080i or 720P tv side by side with Blu Ray and there is no difference.

"Most of the appeal (of a next-generation player) will come from (having) 1080p. While that may be the standard in the future, 720p is still selling very strongly."? ....Standard dvds are only able to produce 480P, not 720P. You can buy an "upconverting" player but all it does it double the lines. (i.e. Garbage in garbage out)

Great info but make sure you know your topic before you write about it.
Posted by graviz (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think he meant that 720p TV's are still selling very strongly. The point was that you're not getting the full experience for all the money you'd be spending on HD-DVD or BD unless you had a 1080p HDTV.

I agree that it's a very insignificant point, but hey, you gotta fill in the article with a bunch of smart-sounding words, right? :P
Posted by Neo Con (428 comments )
Link Flag
To Edify You
Actually, upscaling players like the OPPO do not line double. You are correct, the material of a DVD is usually laid down in 480p. But, unlike analog, it is not a "fixed" image; rather the video is compressed using a codec (compression-decompression) algorithm.

The compression algorithm for DVDs (MPEG-2) is a mathematical representation of the pixels captured by the camera?s CCD that transfers the analog film to digital video. The capture is done at a far higher resolution that will be stored on the DVD (or even on the HD or Blu-ray). What MPEG does - and this is a gross oversimplification which make my engineer friends scowl - is to not send repetitive data. For example, in a talking heads interview the variation from one frame to another is small, so it discards everything but the changes. Also if two pixels in a frame are alike, it only send a "repeat" for the second pixel. Then it throws out information that cannot be seen by the human eye (or at least the algorithm is programmed to assume so) - this is called lossless compression. Finally, if in order to fit on a DVD it has to be further compressed, it does lose some detail (called lossy compression).

Many inexpensive DTV sets and DVD players do simply line double. I agree that is not a very satisfactory way of improving an image for a 720p or 1080p screen. But players like the OPPO upscaling DVD Players (around $229) DO NOT line double. Rather they use complex code (often programmed into a chip)* to determine what needs to be added to come as close to the original picture had it been compressed to 720p or 1080p. Thus, unless detail has been sacrificed (yes in HD DVD or Blu-ray, action scenes do appear better ? but in my view not significantly), there is little difference at normal viewing distances.** (Indeed, close-ups in many movies look much better in upscaled DVD because they are not yet mastering for HD and who wants to see the broken blood vessels and pores in Tom Cruse?s face.)

BTW, I do disagree that 720p and 1080p are the same. It depends on the source material and the screen. I have a 720p 50? Samsung Plasma ? which I love. (You didn?t say how big your screen is.) But having spent hours comparing upscaled DVD, HD and Blu-ray in front of two high quality 1080p screens, I found a perceptible difference. Again, it might not be enough to justify spending the extra money. But if your eyes are good enough to see a difference between true upscaled DVDs and HD/Blu-ray, on a well-mastered DVD (which not all are) on a 50? screen, you should see a difference between a good 720p screen and a top of the line 1080p screen. I am going to set up a home theater in my basement using a with an 80+ inch screen, I am only looking at 1080p projectors. Then, as soon as the format war is over ? and the prices of the winner drops to DVD levels, I will probably buy an high-def player. But in the meantime, I plan to buy another OPPO upscaling DVD player.

*For a review of the low-end OPPO player see <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.hometheaterspot.com/fusionbb/showtopic.php?tid/138295/" target="_newWindow">http://www.hometheaterspot.com/fusionbb/showtopic.php?tid/138295/</a>
** For a ?taste test? between upscaled DVD, HD and Blu-ray see <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/23/AR2007062300060.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/23/AR2007062300060.html</a>
Posted by jmb-lawyer (6 comments )
Link Flag
Very little visible difference from 480P to 720P
I don't agree with your comments because when you view a tv program on 240 lines interlaced VHS image their is a huge difference when you go to 480i, but since DVD's can also output 480P when component cables are used, that image is pretty clear and very little visable difference can be een between those two images on screen sizes of 40" or less.
Of course as you blow the image up more, like a bigger screen does then more resolution will be needed to maintain the same image details.
So it's NOT garbage in, a SD DVD has 480P in, that not garbage, and when the lines are doubled it looks pretty great on most sets, exception being maybe a 61" Plasma.
Posted by AnthonyNYC (180 comments )
Link Flag
Enough with this already
Rhe formats are about 'Hawking' in the manner of new cars ... this is not serving essential needs ... DVD players now cost $25 and the content that can be played sells cheaply within a few months of release. Consumers with any savvy can see two (2) exhorbitantly overpriced Edsels right now ... both formats are severely flawed by "Form Factor" size (storage factors) and compatability/fragility in an era of Moore's law developments ...

Soon most people will want movies on an SD sized chip that they can insert in a photo/movie service type kiosk/machine and drop in a few coins to move the latest movie onto it .... the capacity already is here ... the will is not ... Blue Ray and HD DVDthe just reminds us all that greed is rife !
Posted by CanadianGeezer (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
While the two format companies are at war newer and better technology will come forward and make anyone that took sides regret it.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Link Flag
There is a certain limit to size as a factor in consumer acceptance.
There was nothing wrong with the Sony minidisc as a piece of
technology, but it turns out that people felt they were too small
and finicky to deal with. I can just imagine myself misplacing my
"zipdrive" keychain storage after I have paid to load it with content.
Look at cellphones: the tiny "stickphones" proved that making
something small because you can doesn't make it better. The
present disc format will be around for a while yet.
Posted by cjwall67 (68 comments )
Link Flag
I found his "300" example a bit interesting...
Mainly, because while you could buy "300" in JUST Blu-Ray, you could only get the HD version as a combo disk that cost about $9 MORE than the Blu-Ray disk.

I don't mind buying the combo disks, but NOT if they are going to charge the same as buying the HD disk AND the DVD!
Posted by AnotherReader (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do not buy either....
I agree with the summary in that becasue the two competing technologies are incompatible the consumer that chooses either side has a 50% chance of their investment in content becoming nothing more than $30 coasters.
I also agree that neither will really win this tug of war because while they are busy bribing studios to go their way other technology will come to market that will put both of these technologies to shame. Technology marches on and it doesn't wait for two bickering companies.

You best bet is to continue purchasing regular DVD's. If you rent but don't buy then go ahead and take a dip in the HD player pool but just purchase the least expensive player you can find because it will be outdated in a year.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Normal DVD good enough..maybe
Here's a twist, which most people don't consider. My father can
see the difference from VHS to DVD, but not much on the same tv
with a BR. He's in his mid-60's with the typical eyesight of
someone in that category. If you are limited physically, what's the
point? How many people can actually enjoy it, especially at those
prices? It's like audio systems that can extend the highs out near
to 20Khz or so, the upper hearing limit of average humans. But
even by the time you're in your late teens, research shows that
upper figure slowly creeping down. Pitty.
Posted by Rick Cavaretti (216 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree with you!
Yes, Most people can easily see the difference between VHS (250 lines) to DVD (480 lines), there is a clear doubling of visual quality, at least.
But after that it is only marginal improvement at current screen sizes. I believe the manufactures are playing the same old numbers game here, where mosre is presumed better and worth more money and worthy of an upgrade. People are just not falling for it as easy this time.
I would prefer a new HD disk that would use mp4 technology to encode say a movie in 720P quality onto the same DVD disk. No blueray laser needed.
The machines would cost the same $20 to manufacture, people can upgrade cheaply to new hardware, and we can enjoy 720P (HD) format on our TV sets, but problem with that idea is the same old DVD technology doesn't protect the content, so studios don't like that idea!
They want us to pay more money for better equiptment that basically adds the new technology to protect their content. Current technology can give us better images at current prices, but they don't care about giving us better quality in the end.
Posted by AnthonyNYC (180 comments )
Link Flag
The Studios have missed the train...
With AVI format the clear winner in terms of actual "titles" available in the "free" realm...why even bother with a technology that ties you down with huge handcuffs/leg irons? DVD's are great for burning a collection of TV shows/movies a person can record with a TV tuner card hooked to the satellite or cable boxes.

Maybe if the studios weren't so paranoid about "protecting" their product &#38; breaking copyright law because they have the money to do so by bribing law makers...this Blu-ray/HD-DVD "war" wouldn't be happening. Maybe if the studios &#38; hardware makers would put more money &#38; thought into DIVX...this "war" would be a footnote for stupidity in history.
Posted by furball123A (124 comments )
Reply Link Flag
People shouldn't buy either one...
People should refrain from buying in to either format until both sides can come together with one format that not only benefits the consumer (it should be a big benefit's for us first of all) and the electronics industry and Hollywood second.

If they expect us to risk our money on trying to decide which one will win they should have another thing coming.

Unfortunately for us consumers most consumers are like Lemmings and head right for the cliffs. Frankly, I don't think either format is a big enough advance given the risks, the costs or the benefits.

They also need to allow the consumer to make one legal back up of the disc. The price per disc should not be any more than a DVD.

Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why do I need another DVD tech to fight with?
Frankly, I love to watch movies, but as I spend time between
"regions" I hate DVDs. Until the almighty industry decides that
we DON'T need regions, I will keep my very small collection of
DVDs until they come up with a technology that's not "in my
face" to keep their silly control. I want to be able to buy them
where I want and play them where I want. I'm not going to
coddle to anymore of their region madness. I would buy many
more DVDs of any technology if I didn't have to fight with silly
technologies that block me from using them.

New DVD technology? If it's more of the same, I don't want it.
Posted by appledogx--2008 (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Don't Think HD DVD Has Region Codes
I've read here on c/Net that HD DVD does not have region codes. I've read on Wikipedia about region codes for Blu-Ray, however. So it sounds like you're in the HD DVD camp! ;-) --mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Just buy a multi-region player.....
My Denon player was easy to convert to multi-region. There are
plenty of other players out there that can do the same. On my
Denon I can also play NTSC or PAL discs. The hardware is out there
if you look for it. As for my Mac's...I just don't use the DVD player
built into Mac OS X. I use VLC and it is perfectfly fine for watching
just about any kind of video content.
Posted by aaydogan (123 comments )
Link Flag
No-One Invests in Confusion.....
The growth of formated discs (Blu-Ray, HDDVD) will remain static. When this format choice effects more than the movie(s) you choose then consumers will pay attention. Outside of that, no real value has been established.

Call it old, DVD is the staple that shows no reason to change. Opinion is not value.
Posted by disc man (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yawn. Quality IS incidental (to most people)
People (the "mass market") have repeatedly demonstrated that they don't care about quality. They're not agin' it, but they wouldn't cross the street for it either. That's why VHS dominated for decades. That's why there are more burger chains than steakhouses - or vegan restaurants for that matter. For the average consumer, convenience trumps all. As long as there is a "war", it will require making an informed choice, and having to do without the titles available to 'the other side'. People won't bother until the big media companies adopt one standard ...and then stop publishing to DVD.
...I say this as someone who still has a closet full of Laserdiscs, DAT tapes, and OS/2 discs among other artifacts. :)
Posted by punterjoe (163 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You to eh?
"a closet full of Laserdiscs, DAT tapes, and OS/2 discs among other artifacts" ... Totally true for so many of us unfortunately (I have far too mant dinosaur bones in closets and tucked away in boxes for the next garage sale) ...

Speed, Cost and Convenience will trump quality always ... Give me a kiosk that will fill an flahdrive or SD card with a decent quality Avi/Divx .... Hey I also eat fast food too!!!
Posted by CanadianGeezer (40 comments )
Link Flag
HD-DVD/Blueray are a joke, ripoff and infested with DRM!
The two formats will never "win"! I don't know why this issue always comes up. Nobody will care about the slightly better picture quality over regular DVD and believe me, nobody is going to give a damn about the "extra material".

DVD is good enough for the vast majority of the people. In addition, studios are charging a premium for BlueRay and HD content.

Many people predicted the fall of both of these formats years ago, before their debut. It's simply a way for the studios to try and cram more DRM restrictions onto the consumer.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HD DVD encryption is already cracked...
HD DVD encryption is already cracked...

Yet another reason not to buy Blu Ray.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
Studios should stay neutral, let the public decide the winner
I think the ending comment was dead on. The studios should agree
to stay neutral, and let the consumers decide which format is the
winner. - Within a year or two the studios should be able to see a
clear winner in the sales numbers or each format, and then they
can drop the hammer if they feel a need to.
Posted by skipperpma (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't see that happening....
The reason this war started was because of money (format royalties). At this point, a lot of money has changed hands and studios have been paid to back certain formats. They should have remained neutral... but now it's too late.

Personally, I like Blu-ray better because of it's game potential and storage capacity. (Whichever format wins is going to be cheaper and more common to buy for my PC.) As far as movies go, though, it doesn't really matter to me. I honestly can't tell the difference between the two even on a really good television.

Also, the reason I haven't bought a player for either format yet is pretty simple. I'm waiting for:

1) Players have to be &lt; $200.
2) One side has to clearly win or I have to get a player that will play BOTH formats for &lt; $200.

When those conditions are met, I will be putting my money down.
Posted by drfrost (467 comments )
Link Flag
How about PSP HD DVD's?
Since the PSP came out I have wondered why the DVD industy cant use the same type of media that it uses? I would think that a new HD DVD media built the same as the PSP game media would be a great way to market. It would seem to me that they would last longer and be more resistant to scratches and fingerprints as well as much more compac!
Posted by Balastrea (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HD-DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are already very scratch resistant.
To put them in a plastic shell is nothing short of pointless.
Posted by Tomcat Adam (272 comments )
Link Flag
History repeats - again?
Doesn't this resemble the format war over video tape formats? VHS won so big and bad that I can't even remember what the other format (spawned by Sony) is. I think the big problen with "Blu Ray" is name recognition. Presently we have TV and it is being improved to HD TV. Now we have DVD so the natural step up would be to HD DVD. Besides 'Blu Ray DVD' sounds funny and too hard to say. But, it could be a cool come on, "Wanna' see my BluRay?"
Posted by GEBERWEIN (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Give me all or go away
I'm giving the industry a choice to make.

1. Give me everything in one affordable quality player with all features supported, which supports all DVD, HDDVD and Bluray formats.

2. Go away and put an end to all HD formats.

I do not offer a third option.

Now, all you industry people, choose.
Posted by amigabill (93 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Upgrade our content for nominal fee
That's right, you heard me! Why should we consumers keep paying over and over for the same content, just packaged differently? If I owned Star Wars on VHS, I should have been able to trade it for DVD for 3$. Same with HD. Most people aren't pirates by nature -- they're driven to it by exasperation. Heck, just look at history: most (real) pirates didn't become pirates by choice.

Treat people fairly, and they'll be glad to upgrade to HD.

p.s. Same arguments go for LPs to tape to CDs to MP3s to MP4s to .... Congress needs to act, and restore some sanity to the entertainment industry.
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Upgrade our content for a nominal fee
I'm with dmm. I bought Beta because the format and results were superior. It lost. I bought a Rotel DVD Audio player. Not much content followed. What we need is a 300.00 player that upconverts regular DVDs to near 1080P performance. Later when there is a clear winner in the HDDVD/Bluray formats then we can add that player with even better upconversion for old DVDs and the new winner should cost no more that DVDs do now. Just say no to any disc that costs more than 10 bucks. Congress? NO! They will just tax the whole thing out of sight.
Posted by Iboughtbeta (7 comments )
Link Flag
Well written perspective
At Videography Lab we understand that the transition into HD is bigger than just HD, or content delivery, or type of broadband, or what type of device you use to generate and receive content. There are a lot of ducks that have to fall in line before a smooth well running system is achieved.

HD-DVD &#38; Blu-Ray should combine as did the competing vinyl record formats [33,45,78rpm] in the analog era. Than if you owned a record player you put whatever you wanted on it and it played. When stereo replaced Victrola the system remained stable . . . the sound just got a lot better.

Today consumers are stuck in an information squeeze play between all those "big companies" that you mentioned. They are all clueless about how to win in "the age of videography". We can help at www.videographyblog.com
Posted by videography (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'm Waiting.....
For the two sides to realize that it's going nowhere. Until then,
exactly as this article suggests, I am not sinking my money into any
one side because they both might lose. Or someone will come up
with a legit way to have a universal player, and then see ya later
Sony and Toshiba....
Posted by hsujim (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I have HDTv and regular old DVD 5/9
Why would I run an old DVD 5/9 technology on my shiny new t.v.?
Well first, all the T.V.'s in the size and model I wanted were HDTV so it was a value added feature, not a feature I was shopping for.
Second, I have no intention what-so-ever of becoming a Beta-max victim. That is, until they decide on the HD Media Standard I won't buy a player, burner, and hence movies in either HD or BR formats. Why would I want to? I can go to the casino and have fun gambling, when I buy electronics I want to be reasonably certain I can have an expectation of how long that item will be useful.
Posted by starcannon (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
DVD 1997-2001
Anyone remember the beginning of DVD? It took 4 years before
DVD eclipsed VHS in sales and it wasn't until 2003 that we saw DVD
players at $100 or less. VHS took almost 10 years to reach critical
mass. Seems logical that it'll be a whle yet before we see any mass
adoption of either format. The only threat I see to HD disc formats
is VOD or internet distribution of HD content. The format war
needs to end immediately if either camp wants to ultimately
Posted by luvmysubaru (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Problem With VOD
The problem with this idea is that you have to make it ownable. By that I mean you have to be able to burn a copy so it will be portable. If you can't take it over to a friend's house and watch it your looking at something that's doomed to failure. This is what sunk Divx. The concept backed by Circuit City in the early days of the DVD. If you have to pay for it everytime you watch it in a different location people won't go for it. You have to make it as acessible as VHS is now. That's the model people are used to and that's what they'll want to go with. Most company planners don't get that until they see their idea sinking. Like Divx. We'll see what they do. I'll bet when they try this concept they won't be letting you burn a copy for yourself. Hence it'll be as lame as this format war. In the end it's all about greed. Not serving the consumer.
Posted by cross platform (121 comments )
Link Flag

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