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Game over man!!! (Maybe)
February 16, 2008 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Has Blu-ray won the war? Toshiba has halted production of HD-DVD players and recorders. This on top of announcements by Netflix, Walmart, and Warner Bros. to not support the HD-DVD format. (It was less than a year ago that Walmart seemed to crown HD-DVD as their format of choice.) Now we can all break down and buy a Blu-ray player. Or can we?
posted by The Deej (121 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I don't follow this to closely, but wasn't Blu-ray supposed to be dead a few months or a year ago?
posted by delmoi at 12:24 PM on February 16, 2008


A competing format could come in at any time; there's not that much commitment so far by consumers. Personally, I saw the added experience in DVD vs VHS (MUCH greater video and sound quality, menus, ability to skip to scenes/episodes, the form factor allows me to store them without needing a closet) and just don't see much in the DVD vs Blu upgrade. The first-gen Blu players not working for the 1.1 and 2.0 profiles can't help.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:24 PM on February 16, 2008


Damn. I was really rooting for HD-DVD. Solely because 'Blu-Ray' is such a godawful name.
posted by Flashman at 12:36 PM on February 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'd say it was over once Warner Bros. made it's decision, and the HD-DVD press conference was canceled at CES.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:38 PM on February 16, 2008


I've never owned a Sony product that didn't break, and I've never owned a Toshiba product that failed to work for years and years flawlessly. Add in that every time Sony tries to force a proprietary format down the consumer's throat they fail and you can begin to see a little of my concern over the apparent BluRay win. But then the fact that I might need a video game console in my house (next to a handgun, something I try to think I'll never have in the house) and it feels like HiDef DVD viewing is still a ways off, unless oppo or Toshiba swithes into the BluRay camp.
posted by docpops at 12:38 PM on February 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


It should be noted that the last link's headline is somewhat misleading: while Blu-Ray profiles are changing, backwards compatibility is assured - meaning that newer profile disks will play on older players, but without new profile features (such as picture-in-picture). The basic content itself will still play fine, and players that can have their firmware upgraded will be able to play all of the content on new profile discs.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:38 PM on February 16, 2008


I have yet to break down and buy an upscaling DVD player. Maybe I'll look into Blu-Ray once its 2.0 features hit and the returns start looking less diminished.
posted by Iridic at 12:41 PM on February 16, 2008


What? You mean I have to delay acquiring a device that will obstruct my legitimate and legal media consumption with deeper-rooted DRM than ever before and allow my old rootkit-installing buddy Sony to continue automatically accusing me of theft every time I buy or watch a movie? Whyyyy, sweet heavens, why?

Of course, the sad part is that there are people who are going to buy three Blu-Ray players because of this.
posted by eritain at 12:45 PM on February 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


HD-DVD, we hardly knew thee.
posted by Brian B. at 12:45 PM on February 16, 2008


Much has been said at great length and with much emotion on many sites about the technical advantages/disadvantages of the two formats, so I'll avoid these issues here.

To me, the fascinating aspect of the HD disk formats, is that it was really an enormously high-stakes poker game being played ruthlessly by all of the biggest consumer electronics companies in the world (not just Sony, Toshiba, and Microsoft).

In the end, I think Blu-Ray won because of a flinch. After Warner announced they were going Blu-Ray, Toshiba, in a moment of shock, cancelled the HD-DVD press conference at CES. All the HD-DVD players went along with this. To me, this was their major blunder.

The whole world saw this flinch, and even though Toshiba fought valiantly after this with major discounting of the players, we all knew the battle was already over.
posted by eye of newt at 12:47 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


What exactly does this mean for those who only have just plain old DVD players? Does that mean that I'm fucked?
posted by sperose at 12:47 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nah, sperose: you're fine. Your DVD player will continue to play the movies you have and the movies you want for another 10 years, at least. This isn't as dramatic shift as VHS to DVD, for several reasons:
  1. The players are fully backwards compatible - they'll play the DVDs you have now, albeit at a lower resolution
  2. The consumer acceptance of HD video is taking a lot longer than DVD ever did. mostly because it's a two or three-part investment : you have to have a new HD screen, often an HD set-top box, and a player, so the investment is greater. In addition, the difference isn't as stunning, unless you leap from an SD set to 1080p,
So no, you have nothing to worry about. Eventually, having a large investment in DVDs is going to hurt a little bit, but that's true of every recordable medium over time, from LPs to laserdiscs.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:55 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


No reason to upgrade from a regular DVD player. By the time Blu-Ray Disc adoption reaches critical mass, the physical delivery mechanism for video will be virtually obsoleted by on-demand download.
posted by ijoshua at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


Damn. I was really rooting for HD-DVD. Solely because 'Blu-Ray' is such a godawful name.

I was the other way around: HD-DVD is A) unimaginative as hell, and B) incorporates a relative term, "High" which I always think of as a stupid thing to do in a formal name especially in the context of continuously advancing technology, where yesterday's "high" is today's joke. Blu-Ray is at least somewhat descriptive of the technological distinction.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blu-Ray is now officially the LaserDisk of the 21st century.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


This will just enable Sony to engage in more anti-consumer practices, so it makes me sad.
posted by grouse at 1:09 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


"HD-DVD" is awkward. Should have been called "HDV".
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 1:12 PM on February 16, 2008


Oh, please, God, not here, too. Everywhere else I have to listen to the breathless coverage of this non-issue from credulous journalists as though it were VHS and Beta all over again, when the better parallel would be the pitched battle between Data General and DEC for the minicomputer market. People are fighting over the best way to package up one particular kind of bits on plastic so that they can be shipped around by truck. In 2008. This post needs the batshitinsane tag.
posted by enn at 1:14 PM on February 16, 2008 [10 favorites]


amen grouse
posted by nj_subgenius at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2008


I guess this is about to go on sale.
posted by birdherder at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2008


I guess this is about to go on sale.

Costco has a Tochiba HD-DVD player for $129, including 2 DVDs.
posted by The Deej at 1:22 PM on February 16, 2008


So I guess I'll eventually end up buying a Blu-Ray recordable drive rather than an HD-DVD recordable drive for when I'm eventually bittorrenting > DVD resolution video and want to burn it. Good to know.

Other than that, this whole format war seems like the cliche of winning the Special Olympics.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:27 PM on February 16, 2008


This is ridiculous. Everyone I know who would be buying such players just uses cable's HD on demand, Amazon unbox, Vudu, iTunes, Xbox Live or the variety of services that package and deliver this.

Even among well-healed friends, who spends stupid money amounts money on shit like this (and I say this as someone who loves a good home theater), none have a HD or Blu-Ray collection like they had a DVD collection. I'm not talking about not buying as much because the selection is limited, I'm talking buying absolutely nothing outside of proof of concept Planet Earth discs.

I mean really, it is spend $300-400 on a player like this or $1,200 for a capable HTPC that can deliver any HD video ever made. Why have a disc collection when this can be better centralized on servers. Sorry I realize that not everyone lives in a metropolitan area with broadband, but people who are earlier adopters of such technology usually do. They're willing to pay a premium and they want more functionality than just better resolution. I think that's going to be in the hardware and user interface, not necessarily in the content.
posted by geoff. at 1:28 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Here's how you knew Blu-ray would win: Enderle said last year HD DVD had already won" - John Gruber
posted by ardgedee at 1:28 PM on February 16, 2008


"HD-DVD" is awkward. Should have been called "HDV".

Yep. HD-DVD is dead because it's called HD-DVD. How many people buy those things, not realizing they won't play in their regular DVD players?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:30 PM on February 16, 2008


I'm so tired of being jerked around by the industry and having to buy the same movies over and over again that I've just given up and am now ripping my family's DVDs and downloading the rest. And docpops is right-- everything Sony I've ever owned has broken (television, playstation, dvd player), whereas my 18-year-old Toshiba television is still alive and well and sitting in my living room. I do not want to buy a new television. So I will just continue to watch whatever I want to want on my Mac and Sony can take their Blu-Ray and shove it up their ass.
posted by astruc at 1:30 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't follow this to closely, but wasn't Blu-ray supposed to be dead a few months or a year ago?

Yep. A few months ago the rumor was that the Taiwanese are producing a 99 dollar HD-DVD player and that Target or Wal-Mart would start selling them by the millions. Well, it turned out not to be true. In the meantime HD-DVD's biggest backer, Warner, dropped them and Blu-ray just won.

As far as the big DRM nightmare, well, DVD is chock full of DRM. The main difference as I see it is that bluray hasnt been cracked yet. So pining for the days of DVD are just being silly. I think if you want Hollywood's wares then you have to play Hollywood's game. You dont have a fair use right to download torrents of movies just because you paid to see it in the movie theater or because you have Cory Doctorow-level of self-important and entitlement. Hell, Im not defending the studios but this tempest in a teacup over copy protection as being something new is getting old.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:32 PM on February 16, 2008


So I guess I'll eventually end up buying a Blu-Ray recordable drive rather than an HD-DVD recordable drive for when I'm eventually bittorrenting > DVD resolution video and want to burn it. Good to know.

Why do that? Run an HDMI cable (or coax or Cat-5) from your computer to your video screen. Cable runs are not that hard to do, and while it may seem daunting, trust me, it is so much easier to just have to run the video from your computer. HDMI over Cat5. Of course I'm sure coax or fiber would preferably over twisted pairs ... but if you run any kind of modern line through your house it should be able to carry the video.
posted by geoff. at 1:36 PM on February 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Neither of them won the war because they're fighting the wrong war. They are entirely missing the big picture. Once bandwidth catches up, there will be no need to have physical media. Everything is moving towards wireless, grid computing, and hosted services. There's a reason why there's no optical drive or ethernet jack in the MacBook Air (unfortunately, it's about 5 years too early). There's a reason why it's called the Air. There's a reason why there's no DVD/Blu-Ray drive in the AppleTV. I have a feeling that before Blu-Ray is able to take off completely we'll just be downloading all of our content wirelessly wherever we happen to be. When we want it, where we want it, and how we want it. Who buys CDs anymore? There's a whole new generation that has never bought a CD in their life. The same is true for DVD. Physical media is dead, we just need the tech (bandwidth/infrastructure) to catch up.
posted by afx114 at 1:36 PM on February 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


the .iso format still works for many
posted by matteo at 1:37 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


....or what ijoshua said.
posted by afx114 at 1:38 PM on February 16, 2008


The Bush tax rebates may not do much to stave off recession, but I'm willing to bet they'll be the best thing that ever happened to Blu-ray.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:46 PM on February 16, 2008 [7 favorites]


While I'm annoyed that Sony forced this format war on the public, and ultimately won blackmailed the industry into supporting their proprietary and inferior format, as others have noted upthread this isn't as big a disaster as it might have been.

With blu ray players hovering around the $300 mrk, it's worth it for some users to buy one I imagine, but only with the understanding that the days of removable media are just about done. Currently, the vast majority of conumers who want to want to watch a movie must drive to the video store, browse the shelves, choose a few movies, and then wait in line to pay for their rentals and return home. This ignores other niche models such as Net flix and stealing content offer the Internet.

The content delivery model of the next decade will look nothing like this, and instead will very much more resemble Apple's model. Your entertainment system will have a media centre which will download the selection of your choice from your service provider. Ther will be tiered payment system in place depending on the level of use desire. Charges will range from a few dollars for a single limited-time use, to perhaps $10 for DRM-free recording capability.

I have two up converting DVD players, one running to my projector which displays a 72" picture in the main theater, and the other hooked up to a 32" 720P LCD in the bedroom; both via HDMI. I find both those images more than adequate, and will likely skip the Hi Def box generation altogether, while the new content delivery systems roll out.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:50 PM on February 16, 2008


Both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray were concocted by consumer-electronics companies desperate to come up with the next must-have gadget, now that the DVD market is basically saturated, in cahoots with movie studios that hate DVD because it is so easy to copy.

In fact, the studios are not especially keen on either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, and want to move to online distribution, but haven't quite figured that out yet. They viewed both DVD successors as stopgaps with better copy protection. The improved picture quality is just the bait to get customers on the hook—providing a better product is not the goal, it's solely to get you using discs that are harder to copy (they imagine streaming signals will be harder still, hence the enthusiasm).

HD-DVD was slightly slower out the gate because it shipped with all the bells and whistles that will eventually appear in Blu-Ray Profile 2 or 3 or whatever; Sony rushed Blu-Ray out lacking many of the originally imagined features specifically so they could have their launch announcement first. This delay may have been what sank HD-DVD. The studios' complete lack of interest in either disc format as a way to provide a better product makes me suspect we might not see a lot of Blu-Ray discs with the fancier features.

The studios extracted all kinds of unseemly deals (at least from the HD-DVD camp, presumably from Blu-Ray as well), and I wouldn't be surprised if Sony really bent over and took it from WB to get them to abandon HD-DVD.
posted by adamrice at 1:50 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank God my VCR is still working.
posted by JanetLand at 1:50 PM on February 16, 2008


damn dirty ape: I think it's been done. It's an updatable system, so maybe they re-fixed it? The DVD DRM wasn't nearly as obnoxious, AFAIK.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:52 PM on February 16, 2008


Color me skeptical about the whole "digital download" revolution. First off, Joe Sixpack isnt setting up a streaming windows media server to watch movies. He's often confused by the play button and dvd startup menu.

Secondly, if it does come down the wire it'll be a locked down tivo-like device with storage. You'll pay for the movies but wont own them. When the device dies or when you switch providers you'll lose everything. The nice part about discs is that they are easy to use, easy to get, and ignoring cory doctorow - you actually own them. You wont own digital downloads, thats for sure, and no one will even let you back them up. You wont be able to bring them anywhere either. Lend a movie to a friend or rent them? That's not the ownership society digital download model!
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:58 PM on February 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


Why do that? Run an HDMI cable (or coax or Cat-5) from your computer to your video screen. Cable runs are not that hard to do, and while it may seem daunting, trust me, it is so much easier to just have to run the video from your computer. HDMI over Cat5. Of course I'm sure coax or fiber would preferably over twisted pairs ... but if you run any kind of modern line through your house it should be able to carry the video.

Right now my video screen is actually the same as my computer screen, but that's what I would do if I had a real video screen.

But I do burn downloaded DVDs because all those 4 GB files fill up the hard disk.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:00 PM on February 16, 2008


I would consider possibly paying a bit to get a higher-definition imagination, but mine seems to be top of the line already.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:03 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Currently, the vast majority of conumers who want to want to watch a movie must drive to the video store, browse the shelves, choose a few movies, and then wait in line to pay for their rentals and return home. This ignores other niche models such as Net flix and stealing content offer the Internet.

Which you'd kinda have to do in order for that to hold any water, on account of Netflix kicking Blockbuster's ass. It doesn't seem the brick-and-mortar model is what customers want at all, and so that's not what the majority are seeking out.

That said, I think the death of removable media is far off, despite Apple's increasingly aggressive push in this direction. For a number of reasons, not least of which is that people don't want to have to buy a whole bunch of new shit. It's taken this long just to start phasing out DVD in a major way; I expect it'll take longer to sell the world on pure digital delivery, especially since Apple's model really isn't all the way there yet.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:04 PM on February 16, 2008


What sank HD DVD was the Sony brand name, couple with the fact that they own a motion-picture studio, and thus gained the backing of more studios. Additionally they gamled heavily when they bundled Blu-Ray with the Playstation, but this risky ploy paid off big time, as it quicky allowed them to constantly crow about Blu-Ray's higher adoption-rate, which was entirely achieved by blackmailing gamers into buying their technology. Technology-savvy early adopters almost exclusivey chose HD DVD, as it was the superior format, but this fact was ignored by the media.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:04 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Technology-savvy early adopters almost exclusivey chose HD DVD, as it was the superior format, but this fact was ignored by the media.

Man. It's deja vu all over again.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:08 PM on February 16, 2008


Color me skeptical about the whole "digital download" revolution. First off, Joe Sixpack isnt setting up a streaming windows media server to watch movies. He's often confused by the play button and dvd startup menu.

That's why AppleTV is the darkhorse in this whole thing. You just browse the movies, download, and play. Tailored for Joe Sixpack. The problem with AppleTV is that it's about 3-5 years too early, which is why people blow it off. With Take2 though, things are starting to fall into place.
posted by afx114 at 2:08 PM on February 16, 2008


Whatever, as long as it can be ripped to divx and downloaded from a torrent, I'm happy.
posted by puke & cry at 2:08 PM on February 16, 2008


I have a huge pile of CDs that sit in a closet, because I've dumped their contents to my media server so that I can stream them on demand to my SqueezeBox player in the living room and push them to my iPod for the car.

So I don't care whether the music arrived on CDs, or I bought it from iTunes and stripped out the DRM so it could play on my SqueezeBox, or I recorded it myself; ultimately the format of deliver was just a means to get it into the system I use for music self-distribution.

I assume the same thing will be true soon enough for video in this household. I have a trusty old DirecTiVo that handles all my television viewing, and a cheap DVD player for the DVDs I have, and the only reason I don't strip off the DRM and put my movies on my media server is because I haven't found a device that does it as conveniently as my SqueezeBox does audio. I think that the day I can dump my DVDs into my computer, strip 'em of DRM and the push them to a standalone TiVo, I'll have everything I need. Maybe I can do this now and just don't follow the CE space closely enough.

Once I've gotten that system going, I don't really care whether it's HD-DVD or Blu-Ray or anything else, so long as I can get it into my computer and strip the DRM from it. For me, the players themselves are of very little interest.
posted by davejay at 2:09 PM on February 16, 2008


The vast majority of consumers still use the rental-store model, kittens. The relative success of models like Net Flix is not disputed in my post, which is why I brought them up. The content delivery model is changing, and their model will also disappear as result of this. Sending a disc through the mail already seems positively antediluvian.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:11 PM on February 16, 2008


Color me skeptical about the whole "digital download" revolution. First off, Joe Sixpack isnt setting up a streaming windows media server to watch movies. He's often confused by the play button and dvd startup menu.

That Joe Sixpack is retirement age. Joseph Sixpack III was born with DVDs and the internet and has already successfully combined them.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:13 PM on February 16, 2008


This is ridiculous. Everyone I know who would be buying such players just uses cable's HD on demand, Amazon unbox, Vudu, iTunes, Xbox Live or the variety of services that package and deliver this.

Everyone I know who would be buying such players and/or have do none of that, and their net savvy.

There are a lot of people in the world with a lot of different ways of doing things.
posted by juiceCake at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2008


While I'm annoyed that Sony forced this format war on the public

Why blame Sony and not Toshiba? Ah yes, because this is the internet, where all the cool kids know Sony suck.

(seriously, does anyone want to present the case against Sony in non-rant-on-Boing-Boing form?)
posted by cillit bang at 2:21 PM on February 16, 2008


I don't know that it's really a relative success when Netflix is making more money, PB. Sending discs through the mail may be less technologically groovy than watching films via download, but it does seem to appeal to more people than renting from a store, which you posited as the dominant model. If it is, the numbers aren't bearing that out.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:21 PM on February 16, 2008


"I've never owned a Sony product that didn't break, and I've never owned a Toshiba product that failed to work for years and years flawlessly."

Oh, it's anecdotal evidence time.

In my first job out of college I did tech support for a company that provided warranty support for Toshiba (among others) and Toshiba was the worst of all of them as far as getting a warranty claim processed. Some customers went several months without their computers because Toshiba refused to fix them under warranty. As phone techs, we dreaded taking a Toshiba call, because it would either a) take months to resolve or b) be an angry customer who'd been waiting months for a resolution.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:31 PM on February 16, 2008


I has nothing to do withthe Internet and cool kids cillit. I've sold electronics for 17 years and any dislike I have for Sony is based on years of exerince dealing with theircorporate culture. My hi-def CRT monotoris a Sony Trinitron as an example.

To answer your question, Toshiba was the major stake-holder in the development of DVD. They hold many key patents in that arena. They then also were the major inovator in the development of HD DVD . But Sony simply refused to go along, because Sony will never buy into someone else's technology. Almost every Sony product is always proprietary to them, incompatible with other brands and more expensive. Just lke Blu-Ray.

The same thing happened with DLP and LCD projection technology a few years back. DLP outperformed LCD in ever respect, but Sony once again refused to make it, as it would have meant putting a Texas Instruments logo on their sets, something they would never do, as they are the most arrogant company on the planet.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:32 PM on February 16, 2008


"Even among well-healed friends..."

Your friends have good surgeons?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:36 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


You seem to be confusing profitability with over-all volume, kittens. The coffee shop on the corner is far more profitable than the Starbucks across the street from it, as Joe owns the building, and has been a neighborhood institution for 40 years. Starbucks does a bit more volume however.

If you add up the total of all rentals from all video stores across North America, I think that you'll find that Net Flix has a small portion of that market. I could be wrong.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:38 PM on February 16, 2008


Yeah, I'm not a professional number-cruncher, and figures can be manipulated all kinds of ways. From what I'm seeing, though, online rental (of physical movies) seems to be outpacing brick-and-mortar rental. Unfortunately, it's difficult to compare the number of titles rented and have it mean anything, because Netflix makes its money off a flat subscription fee rather than on individual rentals. I guess you could compare the number of customers, but there again, a person can have a membership to a video store and rarely (if ever) actually use it. I'm looking at the profit margins because it's the only consistent standard I can see for all services.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:45 PM on February 16, 2008


I sell electronics for a living, kittens. I talk to consumers about these issues all day long every day, and I can tell you that for very consumer who has even heard of Net Flix, or who steals onlne content, there are literally hundreds who still rent movies at brick and mortar stores. Don't conflate your exposure to the Internet with the capability and understanding of the vast majority of consumers. When I am designing a system for a client, I have to educate them about these issues, and the end decision is almost always a high def PVR and an up converting DVD player

Oh, and what mr crash davis said about anecdotal repair history. The variation in repair historyis of major electronics manufacturers is usually within the margin of error of any survey conducted. Sony's problem is not poor quality contro,l or performance, as some would claim based on personal experience with a product failure. What annoys people who work within the industry about Sony are their expensive proprietary technologies, and their outright refusal to ever cooperate with others. This arrogance has cost them their place as the number one video manufacturer o the planet.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:54 PM on February 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


But P-Boy, why not tell those stories the other way round, with Toshiba and TI as industry strong-arming patent trolls and Sony as the maverick innovator doing its own thing? I think the answer is the workings of the electronics industry are far more boring than this, and the casting of Sony as a villain is the one meme people have found to latch onto.
posted by cillit bang at 3:00 PM on February 16, 2008


I believe you're missing the point cillit. Hd DVD would have launched years ago. All the manufactureres were on board, but it was Sony who refused to sign the agreement . They insisted on instaed developing a more expensive proprietary technology, because the never go along with anyone else, ever.

After Sony developed Beta they refused to license it to others. JVC then invented VHS and promptly licensed it, which is why they won that format war. Beta was superior to VHS, but Sony's greed was what prevented its widespread adoption.

As for TI , they took the opposite approach that Sony did with Beta. When they developed a cool new technology , they immediately made it available to all comers, but Sony simply eefused to market it, because it would have meant admitting that they didn't invent it. And they will simply never do that. They insisted on making LCD TVs, while everyone else switched over to the demonstrably superior DLP format, except them. This was about when consumers finally started realizing that Sony wasn't the be all and end all in electronics, and it has nothing to do with the cool kids on the Internet, who generally don't have any money, and sure as shit won't spend it anywhere as crass as a retail store. Sony TV sales plummeted as a direct result of this.a

Its part of a pattrn and their corporate culture. Got a Sony Camcorder? Have to use a Sony battery. Got a Sony Camera? have to use Memory Stick. Etc.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:23 PM on February 16, 2008


cillit bang: But P-Boy, why not tell those stories the other way round, with Toshiba and TI as industry strong-arming patent trolls and Sony as the maverick innovator doing its own thing? I think the answer is the workings of the electronics industry are far more boring than this, and the casting of Sony as a villain is the one meme people have found to latch onto.

Or, it could be that the do act like that, and it's obvious to anyone. A good example here is memory cards - everyone else on the planet has standardized to some form factor of SD, except a few high-end photographers still using Compact Flash, and Sony. Memory stick isn't a better technology, in fact, I'd call it inferior - and it certainly costs more (usually about 50% more, from what I've seen.) But they can stuff it down the throats of anyone using their technology, so they do.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:23 PM on February 16, 2008


I don't see physical formats going away for audio or video, ever. Enough people will always want to have a collection they can display and own, like with books. Enough people will always want to be able to sell, lend, or give away what they own. Enough people will want
higher resolution and easy portability. Enough people will want media that can't be disabled remotely (see Google Video and MLB).

Physical media will decline, yes, but not disappear.
posted by aerotive at 3:24 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


...Oh. Okay, "have even heard of Netflix" sounded like a dispatch from the Twilight Zone to me, so I clicked on your profile to see where you were, PB. How Netflix is doing in Canada, that I can't speak to. It may well be a very different scene there. I can tell you that in the US very few people who aren't timelost mountain men would be unaware of Netflix's existence. I'm not sure why there'd be such a disparity between the US and Canada, but it kinda sounds like there is.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:27 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm confused by this Sony = Blu-ray thing I'm seeing here to some extent and on other sites like a flood that threatens to drown everyone in the world. So LG, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung etc. had nothing to do with it really?

This villain dynamic is all to familiar as well, what with "evil" companies and all. Does this make Apple and Sun"evil" for supporting Blu-ray?

I thought Blu-ray was developed before HD-DVD or close to the same time but HD-DVD consumer players reached the market first. It all seems like plenty of companies have been involved on both sides. But apparently this is largely Sony's triumph/fault?
posted by juiceCake at 3:32 PM on February 16, 2008


...Oh. Okay, "have even heard of Netflix" sounded like a dispatch from the Twilight Zone to me

Not to me. I can probably count on one hand how many people I personally know who have heard of Netflix or any other similar service here in Toronto, but then I don't know the entire city, just a small number of the people here.

Again, there are so many people now that what we hear of, have an interest in, take too, etc. is well beyond the living in the mountains far away mentality.

We've got DVDFLIX and Zip up here. I've never met anyone who uses this type of service whatsoever.

Of course, I'm not surprised to hear that others do.
posted by juiceCake at 3:38 PM on February 16, 2008


Oh we're not as provincial as you might think, kittens. Canada actually has higher internet use than the U.S.. Because I work in the industry, I travel frequently to the U.S. on business, Info- Comm, CES etc. I also constantly interact with American supplier reps, read trade publications, and have a pretty good understanding of the North American market. I can tell you that at the last management conference I attended in October, every single manufacturer had a prototype media center they wanted us to assess. Ever single one.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:42 PM on February 16, 2008


Great, does this mean I can have 50gb archival-standard Blu-Ray discs now? You know, ones tested in environmental chambers according to some ISO standard? Because I have some nicely-sized projects that really need to sit on static media, rather than a spinning disk.
posted by adipocere at 3:42 PM on February 16, 2008


I always enjoy hearing about the imminent death of physical media. The iPod will kill CDs. Downloads will kill DVD and Blu-Ray. I can't see it happening, not yet, not any time soon. Sure, I might be wrong, but there are plenty of people who do not wish to trust the devices to store media indefinitely. People also know that the media they have now is going to be largely future-proof, so long as they retain the players. Even a brand new Blu-Ray 2 player will be able to play my CDs and DVDs.

I'm also amused at people who live where high speed connections are nearly ubiquitous, and keep forgetting that close to half the households in the US don't have broadband. If you see South Korea drop physical media and go to download-only, well, the US might end up following suit, somewhere around 15 years later when our broadband penetration starts to catch up. You are not going to see the death of physical media until this changes. You might not see it even then.
posted by caution live frogs at 3:47 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh we're not as provincial as you might think, kittens. Canada actually has higher internet use than the U.S.. Because I work in the industry, I travel frequently to the U.S. on business, Info- Comm, CES etc. I also constantly interact with American supplier reps, read trade publications, and have a pretty good understanding of the North American market. I can tell you that at the last management conference I attended in October, every single manufacturer had a prototype media center they wanted us to assess. Ever single one.

That I don't doubt, and I certainly wasn't trying to imply that Canada was behind the curve. I just find myself wondering why such a service caught on here and not there. Maybe your video stories tend to be happier places...?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:55 PM on February 16, 2008


(That would be video stores.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:56 PM on February 16, 2008


The model I'm talking about doesn't rely on hard-wired broadband connections, caution. The prototypes boxes the reps were showing us at the private conference in October I just referred to were typically available in two builds, cable and satellite. Storage capacity was generally in the terraflop zone, and the potential for DRM-free recording capabilty was a given.

Well, except for Sony, naturally.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:57 PM on February 16, 2008


It sounds like you've been listening to too much third-hand drivel form your esteemed shop-floor colleagues, PareidoliaticBoy.

Mitrovarr: Memory stick isn't a better technology

Possibly now it isn't, but there would good arguments for it at the time. CompactFlash and SmartMedia take up huge amounts of device space, and the former has an awfully fragile connector. There was a pressing need for a new format, and various companies introduced proprietary formats that they hoped would become the next standard. The only difference is that Sony's lost and SanDisk's won. And Sony are rolling out SD to their products now, albeit slowly.
posted by cillit bang at 3:57 PM on February 16, 2008


Anywaze kids, it's been fun, but I have to get the ol' Ski Doo out of the storage igloo, and then head out across the frozen tundra to the polar bear ranch, and feed 'em some walrus and salmon.


posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:02 PM on February 16, 2008


I would be much more persuaded by the whole "We'll all just download movies!" crowd if the US's internet infrastructure wasn't such a fucking mess. The telcos aren't willing to spend the dosh to overhaul their systems (despite having been given billions of federal dollars back in the 90's to do exactly that, the thieving fucks) to provide the kind of service seen in, say, South Korea, and the net as it stands is already having issues moving around the gigabytes of movies and mp3s and whathaveyou that are already being sent and received.

The idea that we'll just have everything downloaded is appealing, sure; the Steam service for videogames has come from its janky-ass origins a few years ago to become a solid piece of software and a quick, reliable content delivery system. But as it is, Steam only has to move video games around- and I'd bet that most people own fewer video games than movies and have use patterns for video games that are more supportive of occasional downloads. Recent trends in storage space are encouraging; I'm currently sitting about three feet away from a half-terabyte external HD that cost $120. But until we've got a more robust internet backbone, downloading everything instead of buying physical media is a fantasy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:04 PM on February 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don’t leave Microsoft out of the blame for the format war. They were opposed to Java as the chosen interactive platform for the Blu-Ray Disc, and allied with Toshiba.
posted by ijoshua at 4:09 PM on February 16, 2008


Neither of them won the war because they're fighting the wrong war. They are entirely missing the big picture. Once bandwidth catches up, there will be no need to have physical media.

Bandwidth isn't going to catch up, at least not in the US. The big cable providers, which account for a large portion of US broadband (and are the only choice for broadband in many areas), are currently trial ballooning the idea of tiered pricing to kill any HD movie download services that might compete with them. They will not let internet replace TV. They have the money and political clout to make sure of it.
posted by Potsy at 4:15 PM on February 16, 2008


Bandwidth isn't going to catch up, at least not in the US. The big cable providers, which account for a large portion of US broadband (and are the only choice for broadband in many areas), are currently trial ballooning the idea of tiered pricing to kill any HD movie download services that might compete with them. They will not let internet replace TV. They have the money and political clout to make sure of it.

It would be interesting to see where these companies sit on the "evil" company gauge.
posted by juiceCake at 4:21 PM on February 16, 2008


If you have arguments, please present them instead of making personal attacks. You asked a question, and I sincerely attempted to answer it to the best of knowlege and ability.

Whioch of those facts are you disputing?

Are you saying that Beta wasn't superior to VH, or that Sony did license it or that JVC didn't invent and lcence. m Are you saying that DLP didn't have higher black levels, contrast ratios, dynamic range of color, less SDE, and higher resolution than LCD? Are you saying that Sony brand batteries, accessories, and the like are usually not more expensive than other brands? Are you saying that all manufacturer's except for Sony didn' t abandon LCD micro-display devices in favor of DLP?

Because that isn't third hand drivel from the shop floor. I don't even work in a retail environment. I work in A/V systems integration, typically at the corporate and government level. I'm not being condescending and discourteous to you, I wen out my way honestly answer a question and 'd appreciate a minimal level of respect for the effort.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:23 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oops. Hit post instead of preview. The above was directed toward cillit bang.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:25 PM on February 16, 2008


[Sony to Toshiba] "Hey, that looks pretty good! [grabs it] Now make yourself some, dickweed!"
posted by Flashman at 4:30 PM on February 16, 2008


Storage capacity was generally in the terraflop zone

...
posted by enn at 4:32 PM on February 16, 2008


PG, that's a fantasy we live pretty much every day.

We get most of our TV from iTunes. And sure we have a Netflix account, but in practice, it's just a slow download through the mail.

We don't have the fasted broadband we can get, but an hour TV show doesn't take that long to download. We just queue up what we want to watch before dinner, eat dinner (while it downloads, and settle down to watch whatever we want.

People will be buying and renting movies on discs for a long time...but hell, my local rental place still had VHS tapes last year. I don't hear anyone saying "screw that I'll just get a tape!".

I think the critical thing is that the cat's out of the bag...and we will see less and less use of physical media and more and more downloads. (just look at CD sales.)
posted by device55 at 4:32 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought that the big deciding factor was which format would allow porn.
Does Blu-ray have porn?
posted by Balisong at 4:34 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to hear Blu-Ray mentioned as a transition point towards online distribution.

Almost everyone I know (except for hard-core collector types) stopped buying DVDs and physical several music years ago. I only know a couple of people who even use online purchasing with any frequency. The studios think that they are tightening their grips, but all they are doing is turning people towards live shows and personal "sneakernet" music trades. Friends generally serve as the best media filter, after all, and having someone hand you a hard drive full of music is even easier than wading through loads of downloaded crap.
posted by mazatec at 4:39 PM on February 16, 2008


The big cable providers, which account for a large portion of US broadband (and are the only choice for broadband in many areas), are currently trial ballooning the idea of tiered pricing to kill any HD movie download services that might compete with them.

And then the phone companies will (Verizon already is) put out fiber to the home and the cable companies won't exist anymore.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:41 PM on February 16, 2008


On the other hand, in response to device55's comment, I do know several people who use NetFlix on a regular basis. I guess that's good for the studios (as long as they come to realize this eventually); they would probably prefer that people pay each time content is viewed, so rentals could be a step towards this.

Still, large volumes of free content beat rentals anyday.
posted by mazatec at 4:44 PM on February 16, 2008


Bah, I was hoping for HD-DVD, since its region free, and option AACS, not as evil as BD thing. But people don't care, they buy DRM, they buy region locked crap etc etc... Oh well..

Not that I am going to buy either. :)
posted by lundman at 5:12 PM on February 16, 2008


And then the phone companies will (Verizon already is) put out fiber to the home and the cable companies won't exist anymore.

Sure, and then they will try tiered pricing.
posted by delmoi at 5:58 PM on February 16, 2008


PareidoliaticBoy: I realise my comment was a bit harsh, and I apologise.

Are you saying that DLP didn't have higher black levels, contrast ratios, dynamic range of color, less SDE, and higher resolution than LCD?

But how does that lead to your conclusion that Sony "refused to make it, as it would have meant putting a Texas Instruments logo on their sets"? Maybe they thought DLP being ahead was a short term blip? Maybe they were too heavily invested in LCD to try dabbling with DLP? You just seem to ascribing bad motives to Sony whenever they do something you disagree with.

Are you saying that all manufacturer's except for Sony didn' t abandon LCD micro-display devices in favor of DLP?

Can you expand on what you mean by this? Because on the face of it, several manufactures seem to have stuck with LCD for as long as Sony.
posted by cillit bang at 6:46 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whatever guys, your arguments are irrelevant to me. I'm in the terraflop zone.
posted by blacklite at 6:47 PM on February 16, 2008


Storage capacity was generally in the terraflop zone...

But can they do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs?
posted by There's No I In Meme at 7:15 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Bandwidth isn't going to catch up, at least not in the US. The big cable providers, which account for a large portion of US broadband (and are the only choice for broadband in many areas), are currently trial ballooning the idea of tiered pricing to kill any HD movie download services that might compete with them. They will not let internet replace TV. They have the money and political clout to make sure of it.

That's unbelievable. The RIAA and the cable companies finally found a way to keep people from downloading movies and music: make the internet itself prohibitively expensive. Brilliant, in a very evil sort of way.
posted by Avenger at 7:33 PM on February 16, 2008


Suck Phony. What these dipshits don't know or refuse to acknowledge is the preferred format for HD content is VC1-encoded WMV over BitTorrent and/or USENET. Either adapt to make money off downloadable content that can be played from HTPCs/media servers or die like LaserDisc, fuckers.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:17 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]



Storage capacity was generally in the terraflop zone...

But can they do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs?


HAH. You try typing behind a separated shoulder and muscle relaxants, on a borrowed Blackberry, and see how much sense you make.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:44 PM on February 16, 2008


Your apology is noted and accepted cillit bang.

Perhaps the market is different in the U.K, but over here, in North America, all RPTV micro-display manufacturers, except for Sony, ceased production of new LCD rear-projection displays 2 product cycles ago. Prior to that however, those makers with their feet in both camps had pretty firmly abandoned LCD, at least two product earlier. Companies such as Matsushita and LG were able to successfully transition from LCD to DLP, and increased their market share, and profitability, as a result.

But not Sony. Sony alone continued to make new LCD RPTVs , but they didn't really ship anything new, and the "new models" weren't upgraded or changed at all. ( Hitachi also grudgingly produced a new LCD product cycle, but never actuly supported it)

Sony then instead went and threw most of their their R&D efforts into LCOS, while DLP was readily available to them at low cost. This, at a time when their competitors were outperforming them in every picture-quality category, while also offering far lower prices. Nope, Sony bet the farm on giant $20,000 RPTV displays with marginally better brightness and aperture ratios instead. Other than hubris, which is all I'm accusing them of, what else explains such

But because of all the R&D dollars they had futilely invested in their Qualia light engine , Sony simply couldn't afford to abandon the rear-projection market while the rest of the industry gravitated toward flat panels. So, in typical Sony fashion, they trade-marked the process, called it SXRD, and then claimed that no one else had it. Well, of course not, because no one else had trademarked that particular series of letters. Never mind that Philips brought LCOS to the market sooner, or that JVC also had LCOS chips, and their sets cost half as much.

As a result of this blunder, Sony lost their position as the number one video brand, and they also lost their entire market share in Plasmas. Instead they simply rebranded Pioneer's panels and doubed the price. We all know how well that trned out.

Now they are firmly behind in flat panel R&dD and their LCD panels are made in Korea by their "partner" Samsung. Not that they will ever willingly admit this.

That Sony fired their Japanese chairman, and replaced him with a foreign-born CEO is pretty revealing. That they are the first major Japanese electronics firm to ever do so , and that they then then hired DRM dragon Sir Howard Stringer is perhaps one clue about their justifiable desperation.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:41 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


In fact, the studios are not especially keen on either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, and want to move to online distribution, but haven't quite figured that out yet. -adamrice

It's my impression that the Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD war ended quickly because the HD piracy curve was lightyears faster than that of DVDs -- time was running out to legitimize a new set-top box platform before it was already made obsolete.

DVDs rose to popularity in an environment where computer-to-TV was rare and bandwidth speeds were prohibitively slow. Ten years ago, you really had no choice but to buy a DVD you liked -- the burners and media were slow and expensive and the technology for easy piracy was absent. Since then, high-quality piracy of DVDs has become a one-click affair, whether through downloading or renting+ripping.

This was still the case one year ago, with DVDs being the only game in town. Over the course of 2007, however, the first pirated HD material began to appear. Some was captured over-the-air and some came through the successful cracking of HD media's DRM. Mid-year, however, these files were still quite large and CPU-intensive.

In the past six months, the technology around HD piracy has streamlined dramatically. Where at this time in 2007, you had only DVD images to choose from, you can now get 720p HD versions of new released sized to fit on the same 4.6 gigs as a DVD movie. Those who download literally now have the choice between burning low-res DVD or high-quality HD on the same media. Sure, the HD version won't play back on a set top box, but even a decently equipped 5-year-old computer with a gig of memory and a decent video card can send a 1080p signal over a DVI to HDMI cable and play back movies that blow away any DVD.

The industry is still waiting for consumers to purchase televisions capable of using their HD players. The sets dropped to more reasonable prices in 2007. The players only became more affordable in the past six months. They truly risk losing hold of the non-downloadable media market for HD before even the sets hit critical mass. Nobody that waited for DVD burners to fall in price is going to go through the same process for HD when they have a usable alternative (an old PC) sitting in their basement or closet.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:19 PM on February 16, 2008


Tell me which one the most porno sells in - that should easily predict the winner *

(* Unfortunately thanks to the internet, doubtful this matters - and frankly DVD-quality porn is scary enough, I definately do NOT need to know how soon those pimples are about to pop...)
posted by jkaczor at 10:21 PM on February 16, 2008


NetFlix: I just find myself wondering why such a service caught on here and not there.

From my understanding, NetFlix is extremely, closely tied to the US Postal Service and got special deals, dedicated processing centers, etc.

Doubtful they could get that in Canada as Canada Post is not quite as progressive.
posted by jkaczor at 10:30 PM on February 16, 2008


Nope, Sony bet the farm on giant $20,000 RPTV displays with marginally better brightness and aperture ratios instead. -PareidoliaticBoy

I purchased my Sony KDS-A2000 in 2006 and haven't regretted it for a moment. I looked at DLP, Plasma and LCD and for the price, the Sony had the most pleasing picture I had encountered. The Samsung 120hz LCD TV + Blu-Ray demo at Best Buy playing Pirates of the Caribbean is all one needs to see that thinner, newer and "higher" definition is not necessarily better -- the system makes all of the special effects look like they came from a cheap TV movie.

(* Unfortunately thanks to the internet, doubtful this matters - and frankly DVD-quality porn is scary enough, I definately do NOT need to know how soon those pimples are about to pop...) -jkaczor

HD porn is truly horrific. If it one day becomes the only viewing option, it may push society back over a "Summer of Love"-type tipping point where people are overwhelmingly compelled to shag in real life.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:37 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not really AV-savvy here, but I was under the impression that the initial requirement prior to getting any real use out of what Blue-Ray or HD-DVD offers over standards DVDs is a television with a 4-figure price tag. So that really discounts the idea of some surge for either. I think it's still more likely people will just avoid both the way they did LaserDisc.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:39 PM on February 16, 2008


I haven't seen anything that would compel me to upgrade from a 42" EDTV and a standard-def DVD player yet. Do you really *want* to be able to see skin pores in a closeup?
posted by mrbill at 11:11 PM on February 16, 2008


I haven't seen anything that would compel me to upgrade from a 42" EDTV and a standard-def DVD player yet. Do you really *want* to be able to see skin pores in a closeup?
posted by mrbill at 2:11 AM on February 17


i wasn't convinced until I saw some footage from a cable-cast HD movie** on my father-in-law's recently-purchased Pioneer 42" Plasma display.

Even the non-geeks in the room were, like, "Wow."


**Unfortunately, the movie was "Herbie Reloaded." Years from now, admitting this is going to be only slightly less-embarassing than, say, admitting you lost your virginity to your sibling...:)
posted by I, Credulous at 11:37 PM on February 16, 2008


I haven't seen anything that would compel me to upgrade from a 42" EDTV and a standard-def DVD player yet.

Clearly, you've never seen Planet Earth in HD.
posted by Jairus at 12:00 AM on February 17, 2008


The redesigned KDS series LCOS display you purchased was definitely a good choice Vulcan Mike. That is, after Sony lowered the price 40%, dropped the XBR designator, and reduced the ridiculous form factor by removing those atrocious "elephant-ear" speakers. But they still wrecked it, by employing a silver bezel instead of black. Sony's insistence on using silver bezels on their displays until the current product cycle is, another example of their overweening emphasis on marketing. Instead of addressing real consumer benefits, such as the improved picture quality that black bezels provide, Sony insisted on distinguishing their "brand identity" by using silver. Don't get me started on Sony's glowing blue logo on last year's XBR flat panel LCD displays.

That said, I can't think of any LCD display I was recommending in 2006 in such a size. Samsung and LG had finally produced 42" and smaller LCD panels with 8ms response times and reasonable black levels, but the best PQ was still to be obtained with the Tier One brand plasma displays. For the same investment at the time, I would instead have purchased LG's 60 inch plasma. Better yet, for a few dollars less, I'd have opted for Hitachi's 50" directors series plasma instead and moved my viewing position a bit closer. No lamp to replace, deeper black levels, and a broader dynamic range of colour. Plus the ability to hang it on a wall or use the really cool power-swiveling base. Not to mention the crucial WAF, or wife acceptance factor.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:50 AM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


PS3s are looking good if all this is right. The only future-proof player on the market, and a reasonable games console thrown in for free...
posted by Phanx at 1:14 AM on February 17, 2008


So who will be the target of the inevitable class-action lawsuit? Sony for obsoleting early-adopters' HD-DVD hardware? Or Toshiba for leading their format to failure?
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 1:58 AM on February 17, 2008


Do you really *want* to be able to see skin pores in a closeup?

I've been to movies in movie theatres and watched films, which have a very high definition and the closeups never bothered me. I'm not sure why they'd bother me on an HD set then.
posted by juiceCake at 7:51 AM on February 17, 2008


Beta wasn't superior to VHS

This is a hobby horse that gets trotted out all the time, but I rarely see any facts to accompany it. In what way was Beta superior to VHS? Inititally there was a slight resolution advantage for Beta, but that quickly disappeared. VHS had superior recording times. VHS had the cost advantage for manufacturers, and of course licensing magnified this advantage for consumers. So what, in your opinion, made Betamax better?

higher black levels (that would be lower, lower is better) terraflop zone

I work in A/V systems integration, typically at the corporate and government level.

To me it sounds like you deal an lot with the marketeers, and less with actual engineers. Sony isn't an evil company because they don't offer your favorite technology in their products. They are not at the optimal point on the price / features graph for me most of the time, but they don't have a problem finding a market. Just as Apple finds a market for their devices based on level of brand loyalty and integration.
posted by betaray at 9:53 AM on February 17, 2008


Technology-savvy early adopters almost exclusivey chose HD DVD, as it was the superior format

I fail to see the technical superiority of the HD DVD format, especially given that both formats support the exact same codecs.
posted by zsazsa at 10:17 AM on February 17, 2008


Well, the big advantage to HD-DVD was that it wasnt region controlled. This alone makes it superior in some people's books.

Blu-ray discs have the data .1mm from the surface so scratches are much more problematic. To combat this they have developed a scratch resistant layer, but we havent seen this battled tested yet. HD-DVD is .6mm from the surface just like the DVDs youre used to.

HD-DVD is cheaper to make because its a close cousin of DVD. Supposedly building a fab for this would be cheaper and the savings would be passed onto the consumer.

HD-DVD's spec also requires some kind of network connectivity with the player. This way players can get updates or download added content (like an xbox360 or wii). This is not true of Blu-ray, but the new profile requires this (I think) as well as PIP which only HD-DVD had.

It has a less goofy name?

Oh well, I guess this is all history now. I guess the upside is that all the competition from HD-DVD made Sony get off its ass and push out the new profile, but now the lack of competition will mean that progress on the standard will probably be much slower.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:30 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like Beta ( a Sony technology, BTW ) in head to head blind testing, HD DVD had slightly better picture and audio quality than Blu Ray. As damn dirty ape notes above however, the major advantage for consumers was that it was built on existing technology, and development costs were going to be far lower.

But lower costs and superior performance has never yet stopped Sony fans from ignoring the real world in pursuit of sheer brand egotism. Funny how angry they can get when presented with some simple facts. Admitting that their purchase decisions are based on brand loyalty versus performance is something that no Sony fan can ever bring themselves to do.

They are not at the optimal point on the price / features graph for me most of the time, but they don't have a problem finding a market. Just as Apple finds a market for their devices based on level of brand loyalty and integration.

As for betaray's passive/agressive assertion that my opinions are formed as result of marketing, as opposed to engineering, the facts are actually quite the reverse. I can't even print a quote without having the in-house systems-engineers go over the design. Your juvenile assertion that a 1/2 million dollar communication system for the RCMP 2010 Olympics Security, or the Control and Command Centre for the Provincial Emergency Preparedness Headquarters is being performed by an uninformed market-blind amateur is ludicrous.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, I have a dislocated shoulder, hence the many typos, and it's making me cranky, and really tired of being insulted for expressing an opinion based on two decades of intimate experience. I think I'll take a break from this site for a while.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:36 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just because Blu-ray beat out HD DVD doesn't mean that it will survive as the winner. I'm not saying that something else will take over in the immediate, I'm saying that plain ol' DVD might just stick around as the standard for a LOT longer than you think. Blu-ray might just be LaserDisc, again. ...but at least this time there is recordable LaserDisc (Blu-ray that is).
posted by tomplus2 at 8:41 PM on February 17, 2008


All this just shows that Bittorrent is *STILL* the best, most green, most economical, most egalitarian solution.

Personally, I'm willing to wait on upgrading players until movies start to be released on those planet Krypton / Fortress of Solitude crystals, myself.
posted by markkraft at 11:28 PM on February 17, 2008


the major advantage for consumers was that it was built on existing technology, and development costs were going to be far lower

How's that an advantage for consumers? The manufacturing costs are a tiny portion of the retail cost. You're just parroting a marketing line because it suits your "betaray" hate-on for Sony. The fact that you're apparently in a position of authority makes it even harder to respect you. I take back my apology. You're just an ass.
posted by cillit bang at 1:44 AM on February 18, 2008


Just had a thought here: If Blu-Ray is the new hotness and it is adopted by all, will that mean that I can FINALLY buy a goddamned dual-layer blank DVD for less than $10 each? Because that would be sweet. It would be nice not to have to shell out idiot amounts of money just to make backups of research data. Of course then I'll want a writable Blu-Ray disc to stope even that much more data, and be all pissed when it conveniently costs the same as the average price for a Hollywood movie release.

I can understand the issues with VHS and tape, maybe - those media types are not really useful as backups for any data other than video and sound - but the goddamn justification of pricing blank media suitable for data at 1000%+ markups, all in the name of stopping piracy, well, that pisses me off. Sometimes my disk is just a pile of research data, nothing more*.

(*except when it's pirated stuff, of course)
posted by caution live frogs at 12:03 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Having both formats in play at the moment I have to say that they both have their similarities and differences. The way the menus work and the way the in-movie menus work vary. Disc-load seems much longer on my HD-DVD. Of importance to me is that they both produce excellent images and sound.

I started with the PS3 connected via HDMI to a 1080p Plasma. This was great except for about a year I could only afford the occasional 2-for-1 BluRay sales. To buy a recent release was usually at least $30. Too much. As the format war raged in 2007 I slowly built a BluRay collection. Around Oct on slickdeals.net there was a great deal from Toshiba/BBuy. $175 for the Toshiba HD-A3 that came with a total of 10 free HD-DVDs. This was just another way to expand my collection economically. During post-holiday shopping the prices for "sale" HD-DVDs fell to an average of $13/per title. Now it seems inevitable that BluRay wins. Awesome! Prices drop. Collection grows (and I'm now all set for the bargain-bin sale as the format dies).
posted by HyperBlue at 1:39 PM on February 18, 2008


Oh, and just cause I enjoy the latest format doesn't preclude me from catching the occasional bit torrent or DiVX rip...It just means I'm willing to pay a premium when the content is of higher quality. For those who either 1) can't see/hear the difference in quality, or 2) just don't care that much then, well, the point is moot. Early adopters are the only ones at risk here anyway. Yep, I'd be pissed if I had paid $1000 for an early HD or BluRay model, but then I had $1000 to blow, and knew the risk so how bad can it really be?

Personally I recognized the value in the PS3 and took the plunge early. I'm not so pissed that someone can grab one now for $300 less than I paid in 06 because it is indeed an excellent, multi-functional media device.
posted by HyperBlue at 2:55 PM on February 18, 2008


Does this mean the AACS encryption key will soon be useless? Damn.
posted by grouse at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2008


Well, the big advantage to HD-DVD was that it wasnt region controlled. This alone makes it superior in some people's books.

Is Blu-ray region controlled?

I realise this is not very controversial, but I have to say it again - I hate region control. It has actually stopped me from purchasing more DVDs, because I tend to move between two regions frequently. I would love to buy more television series, but that means getting stuck in one region or another, so I just don't. And it makes downloading look much more attractive, even though I like having the physical DVDs (nice picture, nice extras, you can lend to your mother).
posted by jb at 8:08 AM on February 19, 2008


Yes, Blu-Ray is region coded. I've heard that Japan and the US are now the same region now, but your blu-ray bought in the US won't work in Europe. To be 100% fair the studios can encode discs with no region if they felt like it. Sony et al arent forcing it down their throats, arguably the studios have shoved it down Sony's throat.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:44 AM on February 19, 2008


Also I've heard that a region-free player will be impossible now because of how blu-ray uses regions (its part of their security model). Someone will probably come by and correct me on this, but I've heard this from a few different people.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:45 AM on February 19, 2008


"Just because Blu-ray beat out HD DVD doesn't mean that it will survive as the winner. I'm not saying that something else will take over in the immediate, I'm saying that plain ol' DVD might just stick around as the standard for a LOT longer than you think. Blu-ray might just be LaserDisc, again. ...but at least this time there is recordable LaserDisc (Blu-ray that is)."

here-here!
posted by I, Credulous at 9:46 AM on February 19, 2008


Clearly, you've never seen Planet Earth in HD.

My wife and I *have* said, during various Discovery and NatGeo specials, "I bet this would be amazing in HD" - but not amazing enough to justify a costly forklift upgrade of our current television infrastructure (two DirecTiVos, one hacked, two TVs, etc..)
posted by mrbill at 10:10 PM on February 21, 2008


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