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  1. #1
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    Default HD-DVD v Blu-Ray, is the battle over?

    With Warner Bros jumping sides to Sony and 75 per cent of upcoming high-definition releases on Blu-Ray, is HD-DVD a thing of the past?

    Times online:-
    I realise it’s considered gauche to question a gift, particularly one that comes in a big box. But for those of you who received an HD-DVD player this holiday season, it would be completely understandable if you packed it up and marched it back to the buyer and demanded an explanation.

    In fairness, the buyer probably had no idea the HD-DVD player would be obsolete by, oh, say, Christmas, 2008. The salesman probably made no hint to your well-meaning girlfriend that there is a winner-takes-all format war going on between HD-DVD (backed by Toshiba and Microsoft) and Blu-Ray (backed by Sony). Or maybe the buyer knew but figured it would be years before one technology proved the victor. After all, the Betamax player hung on for a string of Christmases before being pronounced dead in the late ‘80s. The good money would have suggested that HD-DVD and Blu-Ray could compete side-by-side for years.

    Alas, not so. That’s because Warner Bros., the movie studio behind Harry Potter, the sci-fi classic Blade Runner (a collector’s edition is on the new release schedule) and the high-def version of the remarkable BBC series Planet Earth, jumped sides last week to Blu-Ray, saying that from May it will only produce new releases in the Sony-branded format, signalling an early end to HD-DVD.

    The Warner Bros. decision “strengthens Blu-Ray’s hand considerably”, says Jim Bottoms, co-managing director of digital media consultancy Understanding & Solutions. If the Toshiba camp is to survive it will need to convince its remaining studio partners to continue supporting HD-DVD and hope to pull back to its side reluctant studios. The chances of this are bleak. As The Times reports, one of the remaining hold-out supporters of HD-DVD, Paramount, is also considering a jump to Sony.

    With the about-face, Warner now joins the Sony, Fox, Lionsgate and Disney studios as exclusive adopters of Blu-Ray. In the U.S. market, the world’s biggest, the Warner switch means 75 per cent of all upcoming high-definition releases will be exclusively in the Blu-Ray format, Understanding & Solutions calculate, all but sinking HD-DVD’s chances.

    “We should see an end to the format war within the year,” Bottoms declares.

    There’s no denying that consumer electronics format wars are a nuisance. The rules of engagement are particularly cruel for the buying public, asking them to make an expensive bet on a technology that could be obsolete in a few years time. They emerge with remarkable frequency: 78 rpm discs verses 45 rpm in the 1940s, 8-track verses cassette in the 70s, Betamax verses VHS in the 80s, digital audio tape verses the compact disc in the 90s. Not to mention, of course, the ongoing QuickTime verses Windows Media verses RealMedia struggle.

    The Blu-Ray verses HD-DVD tussle is particularly perverse. While the retail price continues to fall, high-definition players – which pack a sharper picture quality and cinema-like sound – will set you back, at a bare minimum, between £150 and £250 for the most basic machine, and hundreds more for a more kitted-out player. The average price of a high-definition optical disc, meanwhile, is around £25, a healthy premium over DVD prices. An aggressive format war would, in theory, push prices of both discs and players down as both camps try to win over a loyal base.

    But if the format war is hastily called off you can forget about a price reprieve. With just one horse in the race you arrive at a scenario that is just as bad as a nasty format war: collusionary pricing. If the studios decide to back just one format – in this case, Blu-Ray – a vital price stimulus will be removed from the market. Studios need to recoup development costs for the new technology and so will price their optical discs much higher than ordinary DVDs until that initial investment begins to pay itself off. In this very likely scenario, expect high-def discs to be priced well above £20 for the near term. Only when consumers begin to protest by defiantly plodding along with the same old DVD players will we see the next generation disc and player prices begin to fall.

    But for those of you now staring incredulously at your HD-DVD player, it’s too late. You’ve been drawn into this turf war under false pretences, thinking that on Christmas morning your flashy new player would be able to play all the Hollywood blockbusters on your wall-sized, high-definition flat-screen TV. Take heart: a new technology will emerge in the next few years. You won’t make the same mistake twice. Choose wisely.
    Are you a victim of this yet? Or are you feeling smug that you got Blu-ray in the first place? Or are you feeling smug that your waiting to see who wins in the end before you buy?
    What do you think of this news?

  2. #2
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    It's a tricky one this, because for most people DVD quality is quite satisfactory (at least for now). So it's only the rich and the techno-philes who will be affected by this.

    Myself, I've held back from buying any HD/Blue-Ray stuff because I'm not fussed about seeing Fantastic Four 2 or Doom in super-high resolution. Although they have released the Planet Earth documentary on HD now...

    Personally I'd like to have seen Blu-ray sink because 1) it's got a crappy name and 2) the Playstation 3 which uses Blu-ray is a bloody rip-off.
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  3. #3
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    One particular market hasn't yet committed themselves which will end the battle once and for all.

    How can I say this politely? Erm..... there isn't an easy way to say it but it's the errrrrrr porn industry. Porn decided the VHS/Betamax battle years ago. From what I understand though, that particular industry is leaning towards HD-DVD.

    But yeah, I'd love to see Blu-ray fail because it's in the PS3 too.
    Geoff

  4. #4
    Captain Tancredi Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by enzo1701 View Post
    From what I understand though, that particular industry is leaning towards HD-DVD.
    Or perhaps one could say that it dresses towards HD-DVD...

    I still haven't seen anything which has convinced me that I need high definition anything- the vast majority of my DVD collection is based on material derived from videotape and I can't imagine that either HD-DVD or Blu-ray can make it look much better. Not really being a film buff (or at least not a contemporary Hollywood film buff) I've no desire to see the latest films in miraculously high definition and pay a small fortune for the privilege.

    The other thing which could skew the UK market is of course what the BBC and 2entertain decide to do as there's a steady stream of demand for their output.

  5. #5
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    Well the BBC are going down the Blu-ray route by the looks of it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Gently View Post
    Or are you feeling smug that you got Blu-ray in the first place?


    This has been great news, from a personal point, and working in the dvd industry, from a professional one too. I decided to get in to the HD format after buying a 32" Sony Bravia last summer, and after some research, was sure that Bluray was the choice of the two. Firstly the PS3 is going to help so much in getting players in to people's homes, which is essential. Secondly, unlike Steve, I actually think it's got a great name, and the better of the two. From my experience, most people don't quite understand HD-DVD, some thinking it'll simply play in a dvd player on a HD telly, whilst others get it confused with Hard Disc Drives (HDD). Bluray is distinctive. It also has more capacity for storage, and has other advantages (quicker load up, and the universal ability to resume at the same point when pressing stop on the disc, something not all HD-DVD discs & players does).

    Add to that the fact that BD were outselling HD-DVD virtually all year, as a newer, more expensive (in general) format, led me to conclude it had a better future.

    And though it looks likely that Paramount may also jump ship to Bluray soon, the HD-DVD format doesn't appear to have much life left in it. Even before last week's changes, it appears that titles released on Warner on both formats, were selling 3:1 in favour of Bluray.

    I'd hesistate in saying that the war's over just yet though, who knows what factors could change (again), and one factor not being mentioned too much is that China (iirc) have developed their own format which quite closely resembles HD-DVD. As such a large global market, this could still be a factor in the way things progress.

    And of course, the biggest battle is still going to be convincing Joe Public to adopt the format(s), something I'm still not convinced about, especially as a large chunk of them are quite happy buying illegal bootlegs off scummy Chinese people in supermarket car parks.

    I honestly don't think the porn industry will play any role in this, this time, and as for the BBC, at the moment they've released in both formats, with their next announced release (Bleak House) due to come out on both too. Of course this might change with last week's news.

    Since buying the Bluray/PS3, I've found a new love of movies again (after years of concentrating on tv shows), as for me it really enhances the viewing experience, the pictures can be so good, with such rich colours.

    Bluray discs bought so far.....

    2001: A Space Odyssey
    Superman II (The Richard Donner Cut)
    Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
    Life Of Brian
    Spiderman III (for the g/f)
    Robin Hood S1
    Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky
    Last edited by Perry Vale; 10th Jan 2008 at 2:12 PM.
    “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.” - Gutle Schnaper Rothschild

  7. #7
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    Life Of Brian
    Spiderman III (for the g/f)
    Life Of Brian
    You bought Life of Brian twice?

  8. #8
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    I'm a very naughty boy!
    “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.” - Gutle Schnaper Rothschild

  9. #9
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    Interestingly, the Xbox 360 may be releasing a Blu-ray attachment. But before all Blu-ray supporters start cheering, MGM (owned by Sony) have also announced they'll be making their movies available to download on Xbox Live. In otherwords, Sony are going to start releasing products on Microsoft's HD-DVD console.
    Geoff

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    Well, it's been confirmed that Universal's exclusivity deal with HD-DVD has ended here......

    http://www.variety.com/article/VR111...goryid=20&cs=1

    and with Paramount reported to have a get out clause if Warners went BR only, HD'DVD's days certainly look numbered!
    “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.” - Gutle Schnaper Rothschild

  11. #11
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    The fat lady has sung......

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7252172.stm

    Toshiba has said it will stop making its high definition DVDs, ending a battle with rival format Blu-ray over which would be the industry standard.
    Following a review of its business, Toshiba said it would stop production of HD DVD players and recorders.

    The HD DVD format has suffered as major US film studios backed the Blu-ray format, which is being developed by electronics firm Sony and partners.

    Analysts said the move would allow Toshiba to focus on other products.

    "It was an agonising decision for me, but I thought if we kept running this business it would have grave ramifications for the management of our company," Toshiba president Atsutoshi Nishida said.

    "We made a quick decision, judging that there is no way of winning the competition," he said.
    “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.” - Gutle Schnaper Rothschild

  12. #12

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    I look forward to seeing all the Who DVDs on blu-ray

  13. #13
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    Even the new series ones, Ralph?
    “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.” - Gutle Schnaper Rothschild

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Perry Vale View Post
    Even the new series ones, Ralph?
    Thats about all they're good for, looking at

  15. #15
    Pip Madeley Guest

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    Blu-Ray was always going to win, really. The PS3 is the major factor - nobody was going to buy a HD-DVD player when the Blu-Ray is bundled with the PS3 console. Plus there's the bonus of an extra 20GB per disc, although I can't see many releases using all the space. I can't see DVD disappearing for a long time though, the average consumer will be quite happy with the format for years to come (I won't be upgrading unless there's a real jump in quality, and that's not going to happen with the majority of archive TV).

    Although it's a shame HD-DVD didn't win, as it's a much better name.

  16. #16
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    I really still can't see the point. DVD is clear. Unless Blu-Ray has a longevity over DVD then what's the point in changing to Blu-Ray from normal DVD?

  17. #17
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    It's not as major a change as DVD was from VHS, but it is a significant improvement when it comes to films (particularly new ones). Obviously they benefit from better picture/sound (increased bit-rate, much higher resolution, therefore clearer). HD-DVD/Blu-Ray players also 'upconvert' regular DVDs, so in some ways they can improve the quality of those too.

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    Can you get more stuff on a disc? Could you get a whole season of classic Who on one Blu-Ray disc, for example?

    Si.

  19. #19
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    So what you're saying is that Blu-Ray has more room on each disc & can retro play DVDs.
    As for the better picture/sound bit...that's all down to the equipment the DVD is played on. The sound can't be any better than the TV/speaker set up it's played through.

    I can't see me getting any new equipment for some years to come.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Gently View Post
    I really still can't see the point. DVD is clear. Unless Blu-Ray has a longevity over DVD then what's the point in changing to Blu-Ray from normal DVD?
    You wouldn't see any benefit unless you have a flatscreen/LCD tv. Even then, only on a 32" or bigger screen. Most accounts/reviews say the bigger the screen, the bigger the difference you'll notice. I have a 32" Sony Bravia, and can definitely see a big improvement of HD over SD. LCD's have the unfortunate habit of showing up the faults inherent in SD pictures, as the increased resolution show up the limitations of the source picture. HD pictures are far richer/truer in colour than SD, and pictures are crystal clear, and sharp. You suddenly start to notice in SD a slight blur, and loss of definition in background pictures/scenes.

    I don't think it'll ever be as big as dvd, but pick up of it has already been good, seeing as it was launched under a year ago (and has already had a quicker uptake than dvd did at the same stage).
    “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.” - Gutle Schnaper Rothschild

  21. #21
    Pip Madeley Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    Can you get more stuff on a disc? Could you get a whole season of classic Who on one Blu-Ray disc, for example?

    Si.
    Your average DVD-R can hold two hours of standard definition video (aka Slow Play). Blu-Ray discs on the other hand holds 48 hours. The difference is huge, but a whole series on one disc would be mightily expensive. My question is what happens if you scratch the disc? Answer: you're buggered, and you'd have paid all that money out for it. So DVD does have its advantages over the newer technology (plus its cheap).

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pip Madeley View Post
    Your average DVD-R can hold two hours of standard definition video (aka Slow Play). Blu-Ray discs on the other hand holds 48 hours. The difference is huge, but a whole series on one disc would be mightily expensive. My question is what happens if you scratch the disc? Answer: you're buggered, and you'd have paid all that money out for it. So DVD does have its advantages over the newer technology (plus its cheap).


    Blu-Ray's just for people that have got nothing better to do with their money

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