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Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format war may be finished

  1. Jan 5, 2008 #1

    jtbell

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    The Warner studio announced yesterday that they will stop releasing new HD DVD discs at the end of May, and thereafter release on Blu-ray (and standard DVD) only. This will leave only two major studios still supporting HD DVD: Universal and Paramount.

    This apparently caught Toshiba (which makes most HD DVD players) and other HD DVD industry people by surprise. They've canceled HD DVD related press conferences and other press events scheduled for the beginning of the big Consumer Electronics Show which starts tomorrow.

    It's kind of amusing reading the hysterical reactions on AVS Forum, particularly in this thread. The HD DVD supporters are wailing and gnashing their teeth, and the Blu-ray supporters are gloating and saying "We told you so." :rolleyes:

    Although I've been watching HDTV for over two years now, I held off for a long time on buying into either format because I'm not a big movie buff, and I'm not into the current movie scene. I have a lot of DVDs, but they're old "classic" movies, German movies (my wife teaches German), TV-show reissues, classical music, opera, and railroad-hobbyist videos.

    Finally, at the end of October I bought a HD DVD player because I had a chance to get one really cheap ($99) in a pre-Christmas sale, and because the first season of Star Trek came out on HD DVD in November. I've since bought some other HD DVDs (the Harry Potter series, and some older movies like Casablanca and Forbidden Planet). Ironically, just before I came home and read about the Warner announcement yesterday, I had bought five HD DVDs at a "buy 3 get 2 free" sale at Best Buy.

    So now I know how the people felt, who bought into Betamax instead of VHS in the 1980s. I knew I was making a gamble, and there was a good chance HD DVD would lose, but I didn't think it would happen this soon. Oh well. At least I didn't pay too much for the player, and I can still watch my current discs on it until it dies. My first DVD player from
    2000 or thereabouts still works, so I'm optimistic about that. I'll probably even buy some more discs in the clearance sales that are sure to happen.

    When enough stuff comes out on Blu-ray that I really want, and prices of players get cheap enough, I'll go that way, but I'm in no hurry just now.
     
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  3. Jan 5, 2008 #2

    Janus

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    I've just recently gotten a HDTV, so up to now I haven't really paid much attention to the "format" wars and even just figured I'd wait until a clear winner was declared.

    Curiousity has gotten tha better of me however. Aside from the which studio is promoting which format, what exactly are the pros and cons of each format? IOW, what would make someone prefer one over the other?
     
  4. Jan 5, 2008 #3
    The main difference is storage capacity. Blue-ray disc can store up to 50 GB of data, and HD-DVD can store 30 GB. Currently that amount of storage is sufficient to store a movie in 1080p format (which is the maximum quality available)

    But in the next coming years, industry is pushing even a higher quality high definition format: the 1440p. HD-DVD wouldn't handle that, while the blue-ray would.

    Secondly, the mass production of blue-ray players pushed the industry to mass produce blue lasers which will find their way into numerous other applications. For physics geeks like me thats great. That's why I've supported BR since day one. In either case, I'm patient to wait until its price drops.
     
  5. Jan 5, 2008 #4

    Kurdt

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    I'm not surprised HD DVD seems to be losing for the reasons waht mentioned plus blu-ray has sony as its major proponent which is the biggest player i that market place anyway. In terms of the PS3 Xbox360 wars this will be an even bigger gloating point for the PS3 vanguard.
     
  6. Jan 5, 2008 #5

    jtbell

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    From a user's technical point of view, that's probably the bigggest difference. Another is that HD DVD can be more interactive via an Internet connection, with supplementary material on a Web site or server somewhere. Also, some people don't like that the Blu-ray standard is still somewhat of a "work in progress." They're afraid that newer "profiles" might make older players unusable.

    On the production side, it's cheaper to produce HD DVD because the technology is based on the original DVD standard. In fact, I understand that existing DVD manufacturing plants can be retrofitted to produce HD DVD without having to replace the equipment completely. This would have made it easier for specialist and hobby-type producers to release HD DVD.

    The common technology with standard DVD also means that HD DVD players can play standard DVDs (and usually very well), whereas Blu-ray players can't, if I remember correctly. Many people can simply replace their old DVD player with HD DVD. (I can't because I need to be able to play PAL DVDs from outside the USA.)

    HD DVD players have been less expensive than Blu-ray, especially in the last few months with heavy discounting. Many people say that Sony has been deliberately keeping prices of standalone players high so as to encourage people to buy the Playstation 3 which also plays Blu-ray discs. Some "purist" audio/video enthusiasts resist adding a game machine (a "toy") to their equipment racks, especially when they're not into video games.
     
  7. Jan 5, 2008 #6

    stewartcs

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    I remember the sales guy at Best Buy telling me this was going to happen and therefore should buy a Blue-Ray Player...I'm glad I took his advice.
     
  8. Jan 6, 2008 #7

    Kurdt

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    The PS3 plays DVD's as well or does it have to use a separate system to play them?
     
  9. Jan 6, 2008 #8

    ZapperZ

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    I think I know what you mean. First of all, I'm usually one of those "early-adopters" in many of these things. I know I bought a CD player about 6 months after it came out (paid big bucks for it back then). I also bought a DVD player almost the very month it came out. Yet, I have held back in buying a high-def DVD player, even though I bought my first HDTV more than 4 years ago.

    Many people compare this to the VHS versus Betamax debacle, but I don't think it is the same thing. In that earlier contest, movies were being released in both formats, so the consumer made a choice not based on what is available. This is different in the high-def DVD case where many studios are exclusively releasing movies in one particular format.

    I think I would have already owned one of these things had it been available in both formats. I am still thinking of getting either the LG or the Samsung combo player that can play both, but these players are still more expensive than buying both players separately. But with Warner's announcement, I think HD-DVD will not survive that long unless there is a surge in sales within the next 6 months or so. I actually would have gotten an HD-DVD unit in the beginning because of the cost, but Blu-Ray has one formidable ally in its camp - Disney! If anyone knows how to market its products and has the resources to do it all out, it is Disney, and it has been going gung-ho in promoting Blu-Ray, even on its own via its "Blu-Ray road show". If there's anything that people in the entertainment industry knows, it is to not underestimate the Mouse.

    So unless things change, I see myself getting a Blu-Ray player within the next few months.

    Zz.
     
  10. Jan 6, 2008 #9


    PS3 will play regular DVDs, musics cds, and Blu ray cds.
     
  11. Jan 6, 2008 #10

    jtbell

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    That was definitely a factor in my waiting to go one way or the other. I have some of the Pixar animated movies in HD on my DVR and would love to have them on disc. But Star Trek won out, especially when I could get an HD DVD player so cheaply.
     
  12. Jan 6, 2008 #11

    Kurdt

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    I knew this GNW, my point was why does a blu-ray disc player not have DVD compatibility if the PS3 can play them. I was wondering if the PS3 had separate components for playing DVD's thus adding to the cost.
     
  13. Jan 6, 2008 #12

    According to this technology nerd forum blu ray players should be able to play regular dvds

    http://www.strikebang.com/showthread.php?t=815



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray_Disc
     
  14. Jan 6, 2008 #13

    stewartcs

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    My Sony Blue-Ray player will play regular DVD's and HD DVD (and of course Blue-Ray).
     
  15. Jan 8, 2008 #14

    Mech_Engineer

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    I plan to get a combo drive for my computer that burns and reads Blu-Ray, and reads HD/DVD/CD since my computer is used as the media center for the house.

    Blu-Ray will definitely be a valuable backup tool for me at 50gb a pop.
     
  16. Jan 8, 2008 #15

    mgb_phys

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    Blu-Ray itself cannot read existing DVds and CDs but almost all drives have a second head which can - it would be commercial suicide to do otherwise.

    From a technical point of view there isn't a lot to choose. Blu-Ray can hold more data but not enough that we aren't going to have to switch again for 2040p moview as soon as the industry decides it wants us buy all our old movies again.
    The differences were a lot more about industry politics. HD-DVD is based on Microsoft Codecs, Blu-Ray is based on Java - Sony weren't about to support a 'standard' controlled by MS and MS didn't like the idea of not being a monopoly controlling everyones TV.

    In the end both are probably going to lose. The H264 codec used by Blu-Ray allows a DVD quality movie to be packed into <1Gb which makes (paid-for) downloads practical. In fact MS (which supports the HD camp) have been accused of encouraging a format war in order to destroy both and open the way for (presumably MS based) downloads. Remember the winner to the SACD/DVD-A war was MP3 downloads.

    An interesting aspect is that Sony are assumed to bought into Hollywood in the 80s/90s to ensure it won the next format war by having control of the content. But illegal downloads have prevented this, Sony can't refuse to release the latest summer blockbuster on DVD to force everyone to but Blu-Ray when it is available on the net before it hits the shops.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2008
  17. Jan 8, 2008 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    One interesting note on this: The folks at the video store [a major chain] claim that Blu-Ray has defintely proven to be problematic as compared to the HD-DVD.
     
  18. Jan 8, 2008 #17

    mgb_phys

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    One problem users are having with Blu-Ray is that the standard is still changing - there are new features being added so if you have last years model and the movie studio added cool new 1.1 features to the disc there might be issues.
    It looks like the practical standard is basically whatever a PS3 will play since that is almost all of players in the market. There was this sort of problem with early DVDs.
     
  19. Jan 8, 2008 #18
    Wouldn't doubt it. It ALWAYS happens with new technology. That's why you should always buy 2nd generation or older. Same problems with the 1st wave of xbox 360 and ipods.
     
  20. Jan 8, 2008 #19

    Kurdt

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    The PS3 has updated however to the 1.1 standard through a system software upgrade.
     
  21. Jan 8, 2008 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Isn't this comparing first gen BR to first gen HD? It may be an indication that HD is a better technology; just like Beta was.
     
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