Blu-ray vs HD DVD: final bonus round

Blu-ray vs HD DVD: final bonus round

Summary: Content is kingWarner Brothers decision to abandon HD DVD is the confirmation - for those who needed it - that Blu-ray has indeed won the battle for dominant high-def video format. Now only General Electric Co.

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Content is king Warner Brothers decision to abandon HD DVD is the confirmation - for those who needed it - that Blu-ray has indeed won the battle for dominant high-def video format. Now only General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures support HD DVD.

Warner owns one of the biggest movie libraries in Hollywood. Along with Warner Bros., most other major studios - Sony Corp., Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox - are committed to Blu-ray exclusively.

Hollywood wants to end this thing DVD sales have weakened and Hollywood suspects the HD format war is part of the problem. While Sony has provided Blu-ray promo dollars to Warners, the Wall Street Journal quoted Warner Chairman and Chief Executive Barry Meyer saying "This wasn't a bidding contest."

Blu-ray disks dominate sales in the rest of the world but the race was closer here in the US. In June I called Blu-ray the winner (see Blu-ray vs HD DVD: game over) and many scoffed.

The market trends were unmistakable: broader studio support; higher disk sales and rentals; more available titles. Yet Toshiba kept pushing despite the negative omens.

Who wins? Short answer: us consumers. As I noted last year

The biggest loser in this is Toshiba. They’ve put a lot of time and money behind HD DVD. Microsoft is also a loser, partly as a supporter and partly because their add-on Xbox HD DVD player sales will tank. The folks who bought one can’t be feeling too good about Microsoft’s judgement.

It is less clear how big a win for Sony this will really be. Why? Because HD picture quality doesn't - yet - justify upgrading a DVD collection with the new format.

Toshiba still has an opportunity: better Blu-ray players A new 50" Panasonic plasma HDTV with a new Sony BD-S301 Blu-ray player sits in the living room of Chez Mojo. The plasma is fabulous. The Sony Blu-ray player, not so much.

It takes about a minute to boot up Linux - longer than my notebook computer. Once a disk is on the tray, pushing Play doesn't close the drive. Physically pushing the tray is required. Loading the disk takes another 10 seconds. It has no memory for which disks have been recently played, so the FBI and Interpol warnings run every time a movie is loaded. This baby really cre-e-eps.

Blu-ray vs SD DVD picture But the picture is what you came to see, and the player doesn't disappoint. A recent high-quality DVD, like the Superbit version of The Fifth Element, gets a superb up-convert to HD. The really fine detail of a Blu-ray disk isn't there - it never was - but for this non-videophile the difference between this and the Blu-ray version of Live Free or Die Hard was small. I won't be buying a Blu-ray Fifth Element any time soon.

Older DVDs like the original Lethal Weapon can have a lot of film grain, but that isn't the player's fault. The added size and resolution makes source defects more obvious. Reviews of Blu-ray disks will tell you if the picture quality is compromised by source problems. If it is you'll be just as happy with the DVD version.

The Storage Bits take I expected Hollywood to dither longer while taking Toshiba and Sony for costly ride. Warner's early decision speaks to Hollywood's unhappiness with DVD sales.

While it will take a few months for Warner's decision to increase the supply of Blu-ray content, Toshiba should retire gracefully from the field of battle, cut its losses, and look at building the best Blu-ray players.

Sony has laid to rest the ghost of the Betamax failure. Now they need to do everything they can to ensure that Blu-ray is worth the money they are asking consumers to spend on it.

Comments welcome, as always.

Topics: Hardware, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Mobility

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173 comments
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  • HD DVD ....5,4,3,2,??? TKO

    I originally thought that HD would have the "Tech" edge with Microsoft behind it. So I went with the X Box and well, now it is just easier to purchase a PS3 and end the issue. The main reason for that was the ol' "wait and see" and for the $$ of the xbox add on drive, not a lot lost. Certainly not the original $1100.00 that Sony wanted for the Blue Ray Drive. Just that alone SHOVED me right over to the HD DVD side.
    As usual with MS they just "Grabbed the ball" and forgot which game they were in. Certainly MS could have effortlessly done something along the way to assist Toshiba in upgrading "Tech" aspects related to the HD DVD's performance, creature comforts, whatever, just do something anything. It still takes more than just a stamp an at'a boy and their seal of approval to win the consumes. However I don't expect that MS knows much about that kind of thing, "competing". Just stop for 1 second and think what could have been if MS would have really "Got into the Game". But then again, Toshiba had/has/owns the HD DVD rights and Sony the Blue Ray. So what was MS supposed to do, their real talent is in swiping semi-finished products and duplicating them real fast so no one will notice(IBM, XBOX,..). These were already owned, to bad MS. If they would have just put some effort into developing a better HD DVD player and ++++ it would have been a "home run", but Microsoft was still looking for the "in zone". I expect that I will have to go out and REPLACE my HD with a BD look alike for my xbox in a couple months. sheesh, I cud'a had a iPod. Keep an eye on this one. I think that the HD issue may have got some attention at MS after all my bashing on them. The Zune has Unlimited potential, simply because of the networking capabilities. Think about the "updates" of software and applications that can be add in the future. The Zune is like a race car that was pushed out on the track with bare essentials just to get into the race. But the "vehicle" can be reformatted added to, dinked with, updated, all kinds of potential. Maybe after all MS has learned a little about the consume. Now can someone just <<PLEASE>> make some accessories to go with my ZUNE so I can use it!!! ;-) good day, God bless.
    mjr2.1@...
    • Don't count on HD-DVD's death yet

      Take a look at history and you will find that movie studios aren't the ones that decide the winner in a format war. Actually, in every cases it was totally irrelevant what format the big studios backed.

      In the end, it was PORN that choose the winning video format (VHS and DVD).

      As of today, the only HD format supported by the porn industry is HD-DVD. If I'm not mistaken, Sony has refused to license Blu-ray to the porn industry, and in the end that will hurt the adoption, even of all the studios backed the format.

      Also, most people are pretty happy with just plain DVD quality. Get a good upconverter and you get really good quality for less (both Blue-ray and HD-DVD disks cost double compared to a standard DVD). And BTW, the Toshiba HD-A2 player is the best upconverter in the market. At $99, even if the HD-DVD format dies, you aren't wasting your money.

      Now, if only someone would just create a hybrid player ....
      wackoae
      • This poster has it right!

        I think it's a little early to declare Blu-Ray the overall winner. Certainly, Blu-Ray got the early lead and has more integrated and free-standing units than HD DVD. But the adult film industry is the true kingmaker - a multi-billion dollar industry with millions of loyal users. So while Blu-Ray players will be the must-have item in lots of living rooms, HD DVD players may well sprout up in bedrooms.

        If Toshiba and the other HD DVD folks play their cards right, they won't lose a dime. There's no reason Toshiba couldn't produce both kinds of players - or a hybrid player for that matter. Blu-Ray owns Hollywood, no doubt, but they don't own the entire A/V universe.
        chas_2
        • That paradigm is dead

          The internet killed it. The Porn industry will have little to say in this contest.
          Tigertank
          • Agreed, but... there's hope as a data format

            LG has a dual format computer drive out now for a little over $200. Although it only writes to CD & DVD so far, there's another model that writes Bluray, and presumably one that writes HD DVD as well won't be too far off. If the HD DVD folks could bring the price of blank discs down to 1/5 to 1/10 that of Bluray, that could make HD DVD interesting to a lot of us.

            There are several new chipsets out for dual-format players, suggesting that $100 players may not be that far off. If those become common enough, HD DVD may be viable as a lower-cost medium for indy films and home movies (since camcorders are moving to HD resolution).

            Myself, I'll wait for either a reasonably-priced dual-format player or computer rewriter. I've got enough DVDs and laserdiscs to watch anyway.
            57ford
      • Not Porn

        Porn doesn't drive sales like it once did.
        tbcass
  • Just the opposite.

    I do own an HD-DVD player, but I don't buy Sony crap. I will not buy a BD player or discs. Oh, well, I still have my satellite HD DVR and Limewire.
    itpro_z
    • Agreed.

      I will [i]never[/i] forgive Sony for their [i]rootkit[/i] on Sony BMG music CDs. I will buy nothing from Sony, nor from anyone who does business with Sony in any way. Ever. If a store carries any Sony product, I inform the manager why I&rsquo;m walking out and will never return until they publically say that they&rsquo;ve dropped Sony. This goes for anyone else who does business with them. Yes, including movie theaters that show Sony movies.

      What they did was criminal. They must be run out of business through a Total Economic Isolation boycott. There is no other suitable penance.
      Joel R
      • Yep, that's an intellectual decision.... Not !

        I don't have BR or HD yet but this will assist my decision making; probably wait a bit. Might even get a PS3 given the price and included drive etc.

        Personally speaking I love Sony. Sure it costa a bit extra, but so does everything with a bit mor pezzaz and quality.

        As for the rootkit; everyone makes mistakes of judgement. Me included and I'll bet you do too.

        Get over it and enjoy the tecnology. Live it !!!
        johnmckay
        • BAD BAD SONY BAD

          I don't really care about what it's called, if its from SONY I will just stay with plain ol DVD formats.
          The_Quietman
        • Sony and quality.

          Definitely two words that should never find themselves in the same sentence. Sony's design quality is somewhat akin to the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, and their build quality slightly worse than that of the Hyatt Regency's skyways. I am, of course, referring to their upscale product lines. The regular consumer stuff is far worse.
          Dr. John
          • You are wrong

            My experience with numerous Sony products makes me totally disagree with you. I have never had a Sony product fail in any way.
            tbcass
          • I Second That....

            I, too, have never had any issues w/ my Sony products (PSP, PS3, and still rockin' w/ my same 6yr old Sony Walkman CD player--just to name a few). Sorry some of you haven't had great experiences; but you shouldn't go blanketing a statement as though all Sony products are lame because that's pretty unfair...

            Just my honest opinion though....don't bust me upside the head w/ a HD-DVD, LOL.
            ShevaBeba
        • You don't even know what intellectual means.

          Sony is a company with excellent products and a horrendous opinion of the average consumer. The rootkit is only a part of it.
          -They sell "MP3" players but don't want you to convert your own CDs to MP3, so no ripper is included.
          -They developed SACD which is a higher quality audio medium and released inferior recordings on them. When a group of disc producers wanted to label whether the audio source was high or low quality, Sony nixed it.

          Have fun with your Sony products and your forgive and forget attitude about mistakes of judgment. Remember that when Sony figures out a way to have you pay for every aspect of your product, such as paying every time you put your BluRay disc in your playsation3.

          As far as I'm concerned, it is not a mistake of judgment. It is a coldly calucuated attitude for which they happened to get caught. Enjoy!
          manualmilkman-zune@...
      • ok then,

        why not buy one of samsung's blu-ray players? or some other company?
        lostarchitect
      • You are an idiot

        And I'm sure Sony could care less about you.
        tbcass
      • Where do you shop?

        Surely this message is a joke.

        Where do you shop that doesn't carry Sony products of some kind? I'm having trouble thinking of a single store that doesn't. Maybe a gas station that doesn't sell DVDs? A liquor store?

        Every grocery store or general store I can think of sells at least some Sony products.
        toddc@...
    • Sony does make junk

      Sony TVs are pretty great, but anything they make with moving parts is a train wreck. I have 2 crappy PS2s to prove it.

      I have the HD-DVD add-on for my XBOX 360. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I don't buy porn, so I guess I'll look for a hybrid player.

      Oh, and I really like the HD-DVD interface, I hope they don't keep "updating" BR and making "old" players obsolete.

      Microsoft blew this. They could have dominated the film industry. At least it will make the switch to Apple an easier decision since their future computers and Apple TV will likely feature Blu-Ray drives.
      007baf
    • Love Sony

      I have 3 Sony CRT TV's, a 3 year old Sony HD LCD projection TV, A Sony stereo receiver (10 years old)a Sony DSLR camera,Sony DVD players and VHS players, boom boxes etc. Why? Not one Sony product has ever failed on me,and I do mean NEVER FAILED or broke. They just get old and I give them away.Anyone who says Sony is crap doesn't know what they are talking about.
      tbcass
  • I have both players

    I have both players and have had nothing but problems with the Bluy ray player. Blu ray is just not worth the money or the trouble at this point. Maybe in 2 or 3 years it will be woth a look but for now, its junk technology.
    Fritz_L