CNET HD-DVD article rebuttal

April 27, 2006

HD-A1My in-box is full of HD-DVD related news, which is understandable as the formats launch has caused quite a buzz in the CE press. One particular headline that caught my attention was CNET’s “Ten ways HD-DVD falls short” by David Carnoy. I had to go over and check it out as I’ve been ecstatic with my HD-A1 for over a week now and I was quite curious as to the nature of these short falls.

David states “I’ve ordered my gripes from mildly bothersome to really irksome. And of course, feel free to add your own peeves”. Ok David I have some peeves, not with HD-DVD but with your “reasons” HD-DVD falls short.

Here are CNET’s ten reasons why HD-DVD falls short, with my rebuttal after each point. For brevity’s sake I haven’t included the entire text of CNET’s article just the main points.

1. Initial HD-DVDs are just rehashes of the existing DVDs

HTB: We had what, 3 titles at launch? I’m assuming you had the same amount. Are you basing this off those three titles? Warner Bros. has already stated (In several places) that Batman Begins would be their first title that really showcased HD-DVD’s additional content capabilities. Batman Begins on HD-DVD is slated for a May release.

2. Extra features not in high-def

HTB: Stab in the dark here, they weren’t shot in HD?

3. Player doesn’t do enough

HTB: It plays movies in HDTV, maybe I’m being overly simplistic but that’s all I ever wanted out of the format.

4. No 1080p output

HTB: To go with the handful of 1080p capable displays? Let’s be realistic, this is a $500.00 player as compared to Sony’s $1000 unit. The discs themselves are 1080p so it’s not as if you’ll have to replace your entire collection, when a 1080p HD-DVD player is introduced.

5. Component video can be flagged

HTB: This is not Toshiba’s requirement, this is a studio requirement.

6. Wacky audio

HTB: While I’ll admit it might not have been explained to the nth degree before launch, the oddities with HD-DVD’s audio playback are due to legacy support. When DTS-HD and Dolby Digital+ receivers make their way into the market, these issues (as minor as they are) will be rectified.

7. HDMI hiccups

HTB: You know I experienced some of these issues myself. That is until I thoroughly read the owners manual and realized I hadn’t actually selected HDMI as my default output.

8. Sluggish performance

HTB: I’m not particularly thrilled with the load time myself, but it’s hardly a deal breaker as far as I’m concerned.

9. The smaller the display, the smaller the difference

HTB: This stands true for HDTV in general, not just HD-DVD.

10. A dearth of discs

HTB: Point out a format that had a multitude of titles at launch, it certainly wasn’t CD or DVD. Even game consoles suffer from this syndrome. The titles are coming, patience grasshopper.

Closing Thoughts:

While the article does give a brief kudos to Toshiba for making an affordable HD-DVD player (especially if you compare it to Sony’s first offering) I have to wonder why all the downbeat nit picking? New formats are notorious for oddities and early adopter headaches. But I have to say as new formats go; I’ve experience significantly less trouble with HD-DVD than others.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under HD-DVD


Comments

  • B.Greenway

    Hi grovberg, fortunately now with the HD-A20 Toshiba has a $600 1080p solution as well and one at $999 with the HD-XA2.

  • B.Greenway

    Hi grovberg, fortunately now with the HD-A20 Toshiba has a $600 1080p solution as well and one at $999 with the HD-XA2.

  • Scott Brison

    As to your response on point (4) I think it’s important to look at the price point of the player versus Blu-ray, if 1080p output is such a must-have feature. Sony has a solution for you for an additional $500 over what the HD-A1 goes for. Obviously I’m not discounting 1080p but I think perspective has to be maintained with regards to price point.

    I personally don’t consider $500 an exorbitant amount for a new DVD format especially if you compare it with previous new-format launches.

  • Scott Brison

    As to your response on point (4) I think it’s important to look at the price point of the player versus Blu-ray, if 1080p output is such a must-have feature. Sony has a solution for you for an additional $500 over what the HD-A1 goes for. Obviously I’m not discounting 1080p but I think perspective has to be maintained with regards to price point.

    I personally don’t consider $500 an exorbitant amount for a new DVD format especially if you compare it with previous new-format launches.

  • grovberg

    I know I’m late to the party, but the thing that struck me most (and what the author is trying to say when he looks to the studios) was that most of the legitimate problems mentioned in the article are problems with this specific player or specific discs, not the HD-DVD format. And yet the title of the CNET article implies that the entire format is flawed because of this one player and three discs.

    I must also agree with point 3 that I wasn’t really looking for my HD-DVD player to wash my dog or take out the garbage. Playing movies in Hi Def is pretty much what I look for in a Hi-Def movie player.

  • grovberg

    I know I’m late to the party, but the thing that struck me most (and what the author is trying to say when he looks to the studios) was that most of the legitimate problems mentioned in the article are problems with this specific player or specific discs, not the HD-DVD format. And yet the title of the CNET article implies that the entire format is flawed because of this one player and three discs.

    I must also agree with point 3 that I wasn’t really looking for my HD-DVD player to wash my dog or take out the garbage. Playing movies in Hi Def is pretty much what I look for in a Hi-Def movie player.

  • B.Greenway

    I’m still trying to master the art of inflecting tone into text and suspect I will be for the rest of my life.

  • B.Greenway

    I’m still trying to master the art of inflecting tone into text and suspect I will be for the rest of my life.

  • Eudaimo

    Hi, just responding to note that I didn’t think your tone wasn’t civil, and hope I didn’t comme across as uncivil myself! Just wanted to offer my thoughts.

    I enjoy your blog!

    Best.

  • Eudaimo

    Hi, just responding to note that I didn’t think your tone wasn’t civil, and hope I didn’t comme across as uncivil myself! Just wanted to offer my thoughts.

    I enjoy your blog!

    Best.

  • B.Greenway

    PhillyRampage,

    I’d be really surprised if the add-on went for $100.00, but then again I was surprised at $500 HD-DVD players, anything’s possible.

  • B.Greenway

    PhillyRampage,

    I’d be really surprised if the add-on went for $100.00, but then again I was surprised at $500 HD-DVD players, anything’s possible.

  • B.Greenway

    Hi Josh,

    I’m confused by your comments. upconverting DVD player? You are aware that both 720p and 1080i are HDTV formats right?

    The overwhelming majority of “1080p capable” displays on sale right now (this will slowly change) do NOT accept 1080p signals, they de-interlace 1080i sources internally.

  • B.Greenway

    Hi Josh,

    I’m confused by your comments. upconverting DVD player? You are aware that both 720p and 1080i are HDTV formats right?

    The overwhelming majority of “1080p capable” displays on sale right now (this will slowly change) do NOT accept 1080p signals, they de-interlace 1080i sources internally.

  • Josh

    Toshiba doesn’t get it. Period. With all this talk of 1080p and HD-DVD having the ability to output 1080p, why wouldn’t they include that capability? I can’t believe it. Isn’t HD-A1 just a DVD player that happens to play HD-DVD, then? If so, why in the world would anyone want to pay $500 for an upconverting DVD player? Oh, and I’m sure the salespeople at Best Buy are saying “get the most out of your new HDTV and buy this HD-DVD player.” Isn’t it confusing enough for the uninformed?

  • Josh

    Toshiba doesn’t get it. Period. With all this talk of 1080p and HD-DVD having the ability to output 1080p, why wouldn’t they include that capability? I can’t believe it. Isn’t HD-A1 just a DVD player that happens to play HD-DVD, then? If so, why in the world would anyone want to pay $500 for an upconverting DVD player? Oh, and I’m sure the salespeople at Best Buy are saying “get the most out of your new HDTV and buy this HD-DVD player.” Isn’t it confusing enough for the uninformed?

  • PhillyRampage

    Nice response btw.

    I was just wondering if you heard the rumor about the HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 will cost $100? Comments?

  • PhillyRampage

    Nice response btw.

    I was just wondering if you heard the rumor about the HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 will cost $100? Comments?

  • B.Greenway

    Hi Eudaimo,

    As Jules said in Pulp Fiction: Well allow me to retort.

    Firstly I thought my tone in the post was rather civil, if it came across as otherwise, it wasn’t intentional. I’m merely offering what I feel are real world answers to some of these statements.

    As to your response on point (1) Some research would have found that those features are forthcoming (no hoping necessary) Batman Begins was specifically mentioned as Warner’s first disc to showcase the new interactive content. I think it was presumptuous to assume that we’d see this new interactive content from day one.

    Maybe it’s just my personal inclination or overall tolerance with new formats but I don’t make habit of critiquing an aspect of a product that was never implicitly promised. Interactive content is a supported feature of HD-DVD but obviously not included on every release.

    To your response on point (2) “Extra features not in high-def” We’re not necessarily talking about the film at all. Many of the “extra” features we’re accustomed to seeing on DVD aren’t derived from the film itself but secondary cameras or even worse camcorders.

    It’s these segments I was referring as possibly not having been shot in HD. I don’t know again, I find it very hard to critique HD-DVD based on what the studios did or didn’t do with the extra footage on a handful of early discs. It seems to me this point is clouded by the relatively small number of titles on hand.

    To your response on point (3) The original point was “Player doesn’t do enough” I stand by my original response. And again take a look at the competition; Sony’s first Blu-ray player doesn’t even play CD’s… This is a “HD-DVD” player and well, it plays HD-DVD’s… If we really disagree here then so be it, I’m perfectly comfortable with folks expecting new players to handle all of their legacy requirements, I just don’t fall into that category.

    As to your response on point (4) I think it’s important to look at the price point of the player versus Blu-ray, if 1080p output is such a must-have feature. Sony has a solution for you for an additional $500 over what the HD-A1 goes for. Obviously I’m not discounting 1080p but I think perspective has to be maintained with regards to price point.

    I personally don’t consider $500 an exorbitant amount for a new DVD format especially if you compare it with previous new-format launches.

    With your point (5) I’m not even really sure how best to answer that one, but to point out that some of these critiques will apply to both HD-DVD and Blu-ray. My concern is that without Blu-ray titles to compare them to its easy to believe that these issues are HD-DVD specific, when they are actually high definition DVD specific.

    Yes I realize the author does mention that “Blu-ray discs carry the same restrictions” But the article isn’t titled “Ten ways High definition DVD falls short” it is a point made in an article specifically about HD-DVD, when the underlying problem effects both formats.

    While we’re on the subject of HDMI and DRM, I never for one second expected the studios to allow free-for-all 1080i output via component. Again maybe some of my problems with the article are based on real world expectations and not day dreams of what could be.

    On your point (8) I suppose I have realistic expectations that a disc with 3 to 4 times the amount of information of DVD, shouldn’t necessarily load up as fast as a DVD.

    And lastly to your point (10) If I’m not mistaken its still April, and Amazon lists over 10 titles available right now, with more being announced almost daily. It seems to me the hang up is with day/week of launch more so than the first month.

  • B.Greenway

    Hi Eudaimo,

    As Jules said in Pulp Fiction: Well allow me to retort.

    Firstly I thought my tone in the post was rather civil, if it came across as otherwise, it wasn’t intentional. I’m merely offering what I feel are real world answers to some of these statements.

    As to your response on point (1) Some research would have found that those features are forthcoming (no hoping necessary) Batman Begins was specifically mentioned as Warner’s first disc to showcase the new interactive content. I think it was presumptuous to assume that we’d see this new interactive content from day one.

    Maybe it’s just my personal inclination or overall tolerance with new formats but I don’t make habit of critiquing an aspect of a product that was never implicitly promised. Interactive content is a supported feature of HD-DVD but obviously not included on every release.

    To your response on point (2) “Extra features not in high-def” We’re not necessarily talking about the film at all. Many of the “extra” features we’re accustomed to seeing on DVD aren’t derived from the film itself but secondary cameras or even worse camcorders.

    It’s these segments I was referring as possibly not having been shot in HD. I don’t know again, I find it very hard to critique HD-DVD based on what the studios did or didn’t do with the extra footage on a handful of early discs. It seems to me this point is clouded by the relatively small number of titles on hand.

    To your response on point (3) The original point was “Player doesn’t do enough” I stand by my original response. And again take a look at the competition; Sony’s first Blu-ray player doesn’t even play CD’s… This is a “HD-DVD” player and well, it plays HD-DVD’s… If we really disagree here then so be it, I’m perfectly comfortable with folks expecting new players to handle all of their legacy requirements, I just don’t fall into that category.

    As to your response on point (4) I think it’s important to look at the price point of the player versus Blu-ray, if 1080p output is such a must-have feature. Sony has a solution for you for an additional $500 over what the HD-A1 goes for. Obviously I’m not discounting 1080p but I think perspective has to be maintained with regards to price point.

    I personally don’t consider $500 an exorbitant amount for a new DVD format especially if you compare it with previous new-format launches.

    With your point (5) I’m not even really sure how best to answer that one, but to point out that some of these critiques will apply to both HD-DVD and Blu-ray. My concern is that without Blu-ray titles to compare them to its easy to believe that these issues are HD-DVD specific, when they are actually high definition DVD specific.

    Yes I realize the author does mention that “Blu-ray discs carry the same restrictions” But the article isn’t titled “Ten ways High definition DVD falls short” it is a point made in an article specifically about HD-DVD, when the underlying problem effects both formats.

    While we’re on the subject of HDMI and DRM, I never for one second expected the studios to allow free-for-all 1080i output via component. Again maybe some of my problems with the article are based on real world expectations and not day dreams of what could be.

    On your point (8) I suppose I have realistic expectations that a disc with 3 to 4 times the amount of information of DVD, shouldn’t necessarily load up as fast as a DVD.

    And lastly to your point (10) If I’m not mistaken its still April, and Amazon lists over 10 titles available right now, with more being announced almost daily. It seems to me the hang up is with day/week of launch more so than the first month.

  • Eudaimo

    Interesting post. With all respect, I’ll rebut a few points in your rebuttal.

    “1. HTB: We had what, 3 titles at launch? I’m assuming you had the same amount. Are you basing this off those three titles? Warner Bros. has already stated (In several places) that Batman Begins would be their first title that really showcased HD-DVD’s additional content capabilities. Batman Begins on HD-DVD is slated for a May release.”

    True, but Carnoy acknowledges this: “Hopefully, we’ll soon see some HD-DVD discs that actually show off some of the interactive features that Toshiba is touting.” To me he’s saying that it “falls short” so far.

    2. “HTB: Stab in the dark here, they weren’t shot in HD?”

    What do you mean “shot in HD?” Almost no movies were “shot in HD.” They were shot in film and converted to HD. The complaint is that while the studios paid to properly convert the feature, they did not do the same for the special features.

    3. “HTB: It plays movies in HDTV, maybe I’m being overly simplistic but that’s all I ever wanted out of the format.” Here, Conroy is not criticizing the “format,” but the players. The players lack the full suite of features that we’re seeing on later generation DVD players. Of course, feature laden HD Dvd players are probably on the way, but as Conroy correctly notes, if you’ve gotten used to playing SACD, DVD-A, Divx or a host of other formats on your dvd player, the currently available HD player will be a step down.

    4. “HTB: To go with the handful of 1080p capable displays? Let’s be realistic, this is a $500.00 player as compared to Sony’s $1000 unit. The discs themselves are 1080p so it’s not as if you’ll have to replace your entire collection, when a 1080p HD-DVD player is introduced.”

    Again, C-net is criticizing the players and not the content. “The high-definition video output of first-generation HD-DVD players is limited…” Which is true. As a result, it “falls short” as he says.

    5. “HTB: This is not Toshiba’s requirement, this is a studio requirement.”

    Why do you feel that Conroy’s criticism are limited to Toshiba? His complaint is that early adopters of HD DVD are at the studio’s mercy. That is true.

    8. “HTB: I’m not particularly thrilled with the load time myself, but it’s hardly a deal breaker as far as I’m concerned.” I don’t think it needs to be a dealbreaker. Conroy just points out that it makes current HD DVD players “mildly bothersome to really irksome.” If it bothered you, I think he’s right.

    “10. HTB: Point out a format that had a multitude of titles at launch, it certainly wasn’t CD or DVD. Even game consoles suffer from this syndrome. The titles are coming, patience grasshopper.”

    True, no format has “a multitude” of titles at launch, but as Conroy points out, HD DVD has FEWER launch titles than most. As he says “Originally, HD-DVD was supposed to launch with 30 discs, but that number shrunk to 4–and we ended up finding only 3 in stores the week of April 18. Any way you look it, that’s a paltry number. By comparison, DVD had at least 30 titles available within the first month of the format’s March 1997 debut.” Three discs IS pretty lame.

    Best,
    A reader.

  • Eudaimo

    Interesting post. With all respect, I’ll rebut a few points in your rebuttal.

    “1. HTB: We had what, 3 titles at launch? I’m assuming you had the same amount. Are you basing this off those three titles? Warner Bros. has already stated (In several places) that Batman Begins would be their first title that really showcased HD-DVD’s additional content capabilities. Batman Begins on HD-DVD is slated for a May release.”

    True, but Carnoy acknowledges this: “Hopefully, we’ll soon see some HD-DVD discs that actually show off some of the interactive features that Toshiba is touting.” To me he’s saying that it “falls short” so far.

    2. “HTB: Stab in the dark here, they weren’t shot in HD?”

    What do you mean “shot in HD?” Almost no movies were “shot in HD.” They were shot in film and converted to HD. The complaint is that while the studios paid to properly convert the feature, they did not do the same for the special features.

    3. “HTB: It plays movies in HDTV, maybe I’m being overly simplistic but that’s all I ever wanted out of the format.” Here, Conroy is not criticizing the “format,” but the players. The players lack the full suite of features that we’re seeing on later generation DVD players. Of course, feature laden HD Dvd players are probably on the way, but as Conroy correctly notes, if you’ve gotten used to playing SACD, DVD-A, Divx or a host of other formats on your dvd player, the currently available HD player will be a step down.

    4. “HTB: To go with the handful of 1080p capable displays? Let’s be realistic, this is a $500.00 player as compared to Sony’s $1000 unit. The discs themselves are 1080p so it’s not as if you’ll have to replace your entire collection, when a 1080p HD-DVD player is introduced.”

    Again, C-net is criticizing the players and not the content. “The high-definition video output of first-generation HD-DVD players is limited…” Which is true. As a result, it “falls short” as he says.

    5. “HTB: This is not Toshiba’s requirement, this is a studio requirement.”

    Why do you feel that Conroy’s criticism are limited to Toshiba? His complaint is that early adopters of HD DVD are at the studio’s mercy. That is true.

    8. “HTB: I’m not particularly thrilled with the load time myself, but it’s hardly a deal breaker as far as I’m concerned.” I don’t think it needs to be a dealbreaker. Conroy just points out that it makes current HD DVD players “mildly bothersome to really irksome.” If it bothered you, I think he’s right.

    “10. HTB: Point out a format that had a multitude of titles at launch, it certainly wasn’t CD or DVD. Even game consoles suffer from this syndrome. The titles are coming, patience grasshopper.”

    True, no format has “a multitude” of titles at launch, but as Conroy points out, HD DVD has FEWER launch titles than most. As he says “Originally, HD-DVD was supposed to launch with 30 discs, but that number shrunk to 4–and we ended up finding only 3 in stores the week of April 18. Any way you look it, that’s a paltry number. By comparison, DVD had at least 30 titles available within the first month of the format’s March 1997 debut.” Three discs IS pretty lame.

    Best,
    A reader.