My choice in the HD DVD format war

April 7, 2006

hd movie titlesI’ve followed the hi-def DVD format war for roughly 22 months now and after all the posturing, rhetoric and fleeting dreams of unification we’re right back where we started from, with two formats. Its time to lay it on the line and state my case for which of the two competing high-definition DVD formats I’m backing.

I want to get one thing out of the way right off the bat, a dual-format player doesn’t solve the underlying problem, it only offers a temporary band-aid to the situation. Without a clear winner neither format will reach its full potential of replacing DVD and even SACD, DVD-A and Dual Disc. That’s right, there’s more at stake here than just prerecorded high-definition video.

The real goal here should be overwhelming consumer acceptance of one format over the other; this is what we need to end the format war. If either of the competing formats could say we have firm commitments from all studios to release their entire back catalogs and all new releases on our format immediately, there would be no format war. But as we all know this is not the case.

We as consumers are being held hostage in a sense. We deserve one disc that offers high definition movies and or high resolution music, but because these huge consumer electronics companies couldn’t see eye to eye (shocker) we’re left with a splintered assortment of may-haps for the years ahead.

Let’s take a stand and remind these conglomerates we deserve better. We don’t want this fractured un-format shoved down our throats, we want ONE high capacity format that can handle all of our pre-recorded needs with one disc. I want to be able to buy a HDTV/Hi-Res Audio disc knowing it’ll be around for years to come and that I won’t have to rely on a dual-format player to play it.

Whoa, ok taking a deep breath. Alright back to my case. Overwhelming consumer acceptance of one format is what will end this, not Toshiba’s or Sony’s graciousness. With the format war over; the media companies can get down to what they should really be doing, ramping up production for both HD movie and high-res audio discs. But first the format of choice has to rise to the surface. How will this be decided?

Let’s look at what generally moves a new format forward:

(1) Fills a Need
(2) Price
(3) Brand Recognition
(4) Ease of transition
(5) Accessibility, getting the product in front of people

For point (1), we only need look at the void left by standard definition DVD and the ever growing sales of large screen, high definition displays. Admittedly both formats win on this point alone, but anything better than DVD would by default.

As to point (2), no real question that HD-DVD has a huge advantage here, not only for early adopters but down the road as well. HD-DVD players will be as cheap as $500.00 at launch; it would be hard to describe the initial Blu-ray players at $1000.00 a bargain. Sure the first DVD players commanded a similar premium, but DVD’s acceptance wasn’t hampered by a format war. The manufacturers had a captive audience (ready to move on from VHS) and time was on their side.

Ok to point (3), consumer awareness is generally high on both sides with those who are tech-savvy to begin with, but HD-DVD has an advantage with folks who don’t spend their free time reading up on the latest and greatest electronics. I mean hey it’s called HD-DVD. What’s not to get? HD-DVD tells you what it is with its title alone, Blu-ray sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. Obviously you and I know what Blu-ray is, but will that typical Best-Buy shopper looking for a gift for their in-laws know what it is? Don’t discount this point. Easy, concise branding is paramount in marketing to the masses.

With point (4), the ease of transition argument might be obfuscated by point 3 (price) but that’s really not what were talking about. Toshiba is making sure to embrace both legacy disc formats with their first players (CD & DVD) and Sony is not. Oh wait, were you unaware that Sony’s first Blu-ray player set for launch in the United States doesn’t even play CD’s?

Both Sony’s BDP-S1 and Pioneer’s BDP-HD1 can’t play CDs although Samsung’s BD-P1000 will. Confused? I’m guessing the consumers will be as well. I find it odd that this isn’t more widely known, possible intentional omission from the marketing department? I’ll grant you that the ease of transition problems (if any) can easily be remedied by the manufacturers, but Sony’s first glaring omission in their 1k dollar player doesn’t exactly have me clamoring to give them my hard-earned dollars.

Lastly point (5), just getting the product in front of as many people as possible. Walmart is selling the Toshiba HD-D1, thats a lot of people.. (The D1 is an all black version of the HD-A1)

My Pick in the format war is…

This post may alienate a few of you, regrettable as that may be I feel to stand back and wait this out without as much as stating my case would do a bigger disservice to my readers. I say that because as I’m typing this I’m glancing down at the results of our little informal format war poll and I can see that Blu-ray has a small lead over HD-DVD.

I’m going with HD-DVD. Yes, yes I can hear the growls from the technophiles now, ‘Greenway must have gone off his rocker to support that loser format!’ But as I continue here hopefully you’ll at least see where I’m coming from, even if we still disagree at the end.

First make no mistake, I completely understand that Blu-ray is supposedly a technically superior format and to that I say, so what? The consumer electronics landscape is littered with the carcasses of technically superior formats. Let me name a few:

BetaMax (dead)
MiniDisc (dead, in the U.S at least)
SACD (dying, just wait)
Sony’s CD Root-Kit (not technically a format, but a debacle nonetheless)
Universal Media Disc (on its death bed)

See any similarities in those examples? Yes they’re all formats or technologies invented or pushed by Sony. I’m not advocating that Sony is inept or foolhardy with their developments, these are just a few of the examples that came to mind when I thought of CE failures. Obviously there are plenty of others.

But you say, Blu-ray holds more data! Again I say so what? Toshiba’s HD-DVD disc tops out at 30GB (dual-layer) and I submit to you that this is more than enough for high definition movies and surely more than enough for high resolution audio.

A friend of mine has a copy of a 1080i movie on his hard drive with a run time of 116 minutes; this particular file is 12GB. 112 minutes times 12GB comes in around 6GB per hour, which is more than enough to pack in even the biggest epic with menus on a single HD-DVD disc.

But Blu-ray has more studio support! Ok let’s see, HD-DVD has Warner, Universal, and Paramount where Blu-ray has Fox, Disney and MGM. Granted Blu-ray has some cross studio support as well, but again I say so what?

If you think for one second any of those studios won’t jump ship to whichever format is selling more hardware, I have a bridge to sell you. The studio support argument is a misnomer in my opinion. No* publicly held corporation wants to explain to their stockholders, yes we could have earned more on your investment but we were fighting a format war! *Hooray for gross generalizations

Lets get real. The studio support will go where the potential sales are. More xyz players sold means studio 123 releases titles for that format, although if Sony wants to be stubborn they can withhold MGM titles as long as they wish.

Others might argue, but Blu-ray is better for computers because we can store more files on the recordable discs! Recordable formats evolve from their pre-recorded counterparts, not the other way around. For example, the CD came before the CDR and the DVD came before the DVD-R. Computer platforms are much easier to update than stand-alone CE gear.

I have no doubt that if widely adopted, HD-DVD blank media storage capacities will increase accordingly. Although I will admit we may be limited to the initial format constraints for PC to HD-DVD player playback, but that doesn’t negate my point.

Let’s not forget about the Playstation 3 and its supposed killer app influence on Blu-ray. I still assert that stand alone CE playback devices rule the world of movies and music, not game platforms. The video game generation is aging and games do matter, but there is still a larger base of movie watchers than game players. And as long as that remains true, a game platform won’t tip the scales either way in mass acceptance.

Summary

In the end what it all boils down to for me is this: what do I want out of either format? I want to buy high definition movies and high resolution audio for playback on a single player, not two players or dual-format player. In addition I want to ensure the ones I do purchase are viable years down the road.

Which format gives me the best shot at accomplishing my goal? I believe HD-DVD does because I feel that the majority of other consumers with my needs will make the same decision, thereby pushing my chosen format even farther along. Any format with enough consumer support will force the studios and labels to get on board.

The format war wasn’t my choice, but hopefully my choice will help end it.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Blu-ray, HD-DVD


Comments

  • Rex

    What a great blog….

    I have a small dedicated movie/gaming room in my house. Stocked with mid priced equipment, we find it to be great entertainment and prefer this to a trip to the movie theater.

    I went out on a limb during the DVD / DIVX war and voted with my $$$. I voted for DVD and bought a first generation $500 Pioneer with limited features. I decided then on DVD because I thought the general public just didn’t want the hassles of DIVX.

    Sounds to me like there is some similiarity here. HD-DVD players will play standard DVD’s, CD’s, and HD-DVD’s with no hassles. Blu-Ray players will play Blu-Ray discs and…. games …. and they cost twice as much.

    I believe there are many more consumers that will buy a multipurpose platform for $500 than there are consumers that will pay $1000 for a single purpose platform.

    And since I can add High Definition movies to my XBOX 360 for only $200 you can probably guess how I’m going to vote this time.

  • Rex

    What a great blog….

    I have a small dedicated movie/gaming room in my house. Stocked with mid priced equipment, we find it to be great entertainment and prefer this to a trip to the movie theater.

    I went out on a limb during the DVD / DIVX war and voted with my $$$. I voted for DVD and bought a first generation $500 Pioneer with limited features. I decided then on DVD because I thought the general public just didn’t want the hassles of DIVX.

    Sounds to me like there is some similiarity here. HD-DVD players will play standard DVD’s, CD’s, and HD-DVD’s with no hassles. Blu-Ray players will play Blu-Ray discs and…. games …. and they cost twice as much.

    I believe there are many more consumers that will buy a multipurpose platform for $500 than there are consumers that will pay $1000 for a single purpose platform.

    And since I can add High Definition movies to my XBOX 360 for only $200 you can probably guess how I’m going to vote this time.

  • B.Greenway

    Hi Rob, at first I was a bit taken aback by your comments but as I thought more about it, I can see how you’d get that impression based solely off this post. However keep in mind this post was made April 7th, but one of my biggest complaints then remains true now.

    Blu-ray’s launch strategy of 500-600 dollar game consoles and 1K+ stand-alone players completely ignores those unwilling to invest 1k in a first generation player and those who aren’t interested in game consoles, no matter what they may offer in the way of BD playback. End result; the bulk of the people necessary to propel the format forward are left without a viable option for BD hardware.

    In the months since however I’ve mentioned several times how much I’m enjoying HD DVD and how dismayed I am at all the negative reports of hardware and software quality issues with Blu-ray. But aside from the negative reviews of others, I’ve been able to verify much of this first hand. I’ve yet to find any application or scenario where I can definitively point to Blu-ray’s superiority, to the contrary HD DVD has already enjoyed a significantly higher rate of quality transfers and owner satisfaction with the hardware.

    So with the benefit of months of observations of both formats, my stance remains the same. My choice for the next generation high definition optical disc format remains HD DVD.

  • B.Greenway

    Hi Rob, at first I was a bit taken aback by your comments but as I thought more about it, I can see how you’d get that impression based solely off this post. However keep in mind this post was made April 7th, but one of my biggest complaints then remains true now.

    Blu-ray’s launch strategy of 500-600 dollar game consoles and 1K+ stand-alone players completely ignores those unwilling to invest 1k in a first generation player and those who aren’t interested in game consoles, no matter what they may offer in the way of BD playback. End result; the bulk of the people necessary to propel the format forward are left without a viable option for BD hardware.

    In the months since however I’ve mentioned several times how much I’m enjoying HD DVD and how dismayed I am at all the negative reports of hardware and software quality issues with Blu-ray. But aside from the negative reviews of others, I’ve been able to verify much of this first hand. I’ve yet to find any application or scenario where I can definitively point to Blu-ray’s superiority, to the contrary HD DVD has already enjoyed a significantly higher rate of quality transfers and owner satisfaction with the hardware.

    So with the benefit of months of observations of both formats, my stance remains the same. My choice for the next generation high definition optical disc format remains HD DVD.

  • Rob

    It seems circular to say you want HD to win because you think it will win. If you are ever going to take a stand for the higher quality format, of course now is the time to do it. Jumping on the bandwagon has relegated the public to a lot of mediocre stuff- Windows and VHS are good examples.

    Things are definitely better, in business, politics, or life when the best side wins, not the side with the best promotion or marketing. If Blu-ray is better, let’s go that way.

  • Rob

    It seems circular to say you want HD to win because you think it will win. If you are ever going to take a stand for the higher quality format, of course now is the time to do it. Jumping on the bandwagon has relegated the public to a lot of mediocre stuff- Windows and VHS are good examples.

    Things are definitely better, in business, politics, or life when the best side wins, not the side with the best promotion or marketing. If Blu-ray is better, let’s go that way.

  • Ben Hobbs

    This all becomes far more interesting now that the xbox360 is getting a HD DVD add-on. Whilst the PS3 is being delayed (especially in Europe) the 360 has an install base of 7 million users, who can now pick up the option of playing High Def DVD’s for 20% of the price of a Blu-Ray player.

    Importantly Europe is likely to see High Def DVD’s from the Xbox 360 before the PS3 is even released, This in addition to the fact the PS3 isn’t going to be available over the Christmas period (at least in Eruope) is I think important.

  • Ben Hobbs

    This all becomes far more interesting now that the xbox360 is getting a HD DVD add-on. Whilst the PS3 is being delayed (especially in Europe) the 360 has an install base of 7 million users, who can now pick up the option of playing High Def DVD’s for 20% of the price of a Blu-Ray player.

    Importantly Europe is likely to see High Def DVD’s from the Xbox 360 before the PS3 is even released, This in addition to the fact the PS3 isn’t going to be available over the Christmas period (at least in Eruope) is I think important.

  • B.Greenway

    That’s a big unknown, no one knows for sure either way how consumers will choose or if they’ll even bother choosing at all.

  • B.Greenway

    That’s a big unknown, no one knows for sure either way how consumers will choose or if they’ll even bother choosing at all.

  • Vman

    Just a little thought.. nothing ground shattering, but i know i will have a PS3 which is blu-ray so thats covered and i am going out now to buy an HD-DA1.. got that covered .. isnt that going to be the case with most people especially the ones who read posts like this ?

  • Vman

    Just a little thought.. nothing ground shattering, but i know i will have a PS3 which is blu-ray so thats covered and i am going out now to buy an HD-DA1.. got that covered .. isnt that going to be the case with most people especially the ones who read posts like this ?

  • JT

    Great comentary Greenway. As an audiophile and videophile, and an early adopter of the Beta format,I am picking HD DVD to win. Not hoping they will nor blind to Blue Rays advantages. Sony has done it again in my opinion, and in certain areas never learns from prior mistakes.

  • JT

    Great comentary Greenway. As an audiophile and videophile, and an early adopter of the Beta format,I am picking HD DVD to win. Not hoping they will nor blind to Blue Rays advantages. Sony has done it again in my opinion, and in certain areas never learns from prior mistakes.

  • Adam

    I agree that people greatly over-estimate the effect that the PS2 had on the general public’s interest in or purchasing of DVDs. Especially in America. In Japan, it had somewhat of an effect since gaming is more mainstream and since VCDs were big there at the time but even that was only an initial/early effect that didn’t matter in the end.

    Despite what interest a format may generate in the short-term by being related to another popular device – that ultimately never matters in the end. People buy a game system to play games and a stand-alone video player to watch movies – that’s just the way it is. Think about it: the average housewife, family, or even you don’t want to have to use the PS3’s boomerang controller/whatever to view movies, you don’t want to have to share such a system with others in the household. If you want to play Killzone 2, while your kid sister wants to watch HD Finding Nemo or your dad/whoever want’s to watch HD Band of Brothers – then it creates an immediate motivation to end the BS and just buy a stand-alone player.

    Heck, most of the time – if you buy a PS3, you’ll keep it in your room anyway where the HD function doesn’t generate any interest from anybody except maybe you – and in the short term only – because you bought it to play games anyway. Besides, even if your PS3 is in the living room – people without your same interest in videogames/PS3 already – will basically ignore it anyhow due to the perception that it is basically just another game machine. I mean, how often did your Mom, Dad (or other person with their mainstream tastes) turn on your PS2 to watch a DVD movie back in the day? Probably never.

    At the end of the day, people buy devices for their primary advertised function only. Just look at how UMD discs have now almost completely failed. Now suddenly the PSP is just a gaming device and nobody cares (except maybe those nuts that invested alot in that movie format).

    Beyond that this situation is different from the PS2 and DVD situation furthermore. DVD was THE long-awaited solution to out-dated VHS. It received a huge marketing push by every retailer, store, and entertainment brand in the country (whether they were personally invested in the format or not) due to this. It filled a wide-spread need and did it in a way that was simple and relatable to anyone. Then soon enough, it was very inexpensive as well.

    With HD/Blu-Ray we have a situation that is more akin to the release of laser-disc. The HD format is something that is primarily of interest only to videophiles and home theater enthusiasts. The average person could care less, since their happy with the picture quality of DVD and would never dream of re-buying their entire collections AGAIN…especially for a visual improvement that isn’t THAT much of a jump or that at the very least, requires an expensive and well-calibrated set. Now that may change over time as the average family is forced to upgrade their TVs due to wear and tear or the demand of TV broadcasting technology…but to say that that is a ways off is an understatement.

    The only thing that will decide the HD disc war is the amount of initial stand-alone players sold within the first year or two of both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD being out. If one greatly outsells the other for whatever reason (usually price matters here) – then it’s over. If neither outsells the other – then both formats will end up being more like laserdisc then ever. Only gaining acceptance with the niche crowd of home theater enthusiasts and never being embraced by the mainstream.

    The mainstream needs time to accept a new format, especially so soon after have finally fully embraced and entrenched themselves in DVD. Unless HD discs were some miracle-worker things that projected a 3D image around the room or sucked your body straight into the movie (which they are not) – then they won’t draw the average consumers attention for quite a while. And by that, I mean years not months.

    I’m not a supporter of either camp. All I really want is a swift and complete decision to one side so that it’s over and home theater enthusiasts like me can get on with our lives. Among those enthusiasts who would most support and buy the formats in their first two years – each side has different advantages that will come into play. Price seems like the most obvious thing that will matter most. Then availability, variety, and quality of content (certainly the first of two to more fully embrace non-typical movies like Asian action films, porno, etc will have an advantage). And then finally, (for the mainstream primarily) probably marketing and the push for sales of a given format in popular local stores like Best Buy or Walmart.

    Honestly, if I had to place a bet now – I’d say HD-DVD for the win due to the price issue but the next two years will most-likely be a battle too close to call – since it seems that sooner or later both sides will be offering or willing to offer the same level of quality at very similar price points.

    As I am, sort of, forced to choose now (since the formats are basically out and since I’m an HD lover who desperately wants a DVD upgrade) – I also choose HD-DVD. The reasons for this are price (as much as I love it, I’m sick of spending money on my HD rig – so price has become a big issue for me), the fact that it’s available this very second (and the fact that a stand-alone BR player at $500 dollars is quite a ways off), and also since I can see that (going forward) all things in terms of quality/availability between the two formats will basically be equal.

  • Adam

    I agree that people greatly over-estimate the effect that the PS2 had on the general public’s interest in or purchasing of DVDs. Especially in America. In Japan, it had somewhat of an effect since gaming is more mainstream and since VCDs were big there at the time but even that was only an initial/early effect that didn’t matter in the end.

    Despite what interest a format may generate in the short-term by being related to another popular device – that ultimately never matters in the end. People buy a game system to play games and a stand-alone video player to watch movies – that’s just the way it is. Think about it: the average housewife, family, or even you don’t want to have to use the PS3’s boomerang controller/whatever to view movies, you don’t want to have to share such a system with others in the household. If you want to play Killzone 2, while your kid sister wants to watch HD Finding Nemo or your dad/whoever want’s to watch HD Band of Brothers – then it creates an immediate motivation to end the BS and just buy a stand-alone player.

    Heck, most of the time – if you buy a PS3, you’ll keep it in your room anyway where the HD function doesn’t generate any interest from anybody except maybe you – and in the short term only – because you bought it to play games anyway. Besides, even if your PS3 is in the living room – people without your same interest in videogames/PS3 already – will basically ignore it anyhow due to the perception that it is basically just another game machine. I mean, how often did your Mom, Dad (or other person with their mainstream tastes) turn on your PS2 to watch a DVD movie back in the day? Probably never.

    At the end of the day, people buy devices for their primary advertised function only. Just look at how UMD discs have now almost completely failed. Now suddenly the PSP is just a gaming device and nobody cares (except maybe those nuts that invested alot in that movie format).

    Beyond that this situation is different from the PS2 and DVD situation furthermore. DVD was THE long-awaited solution to out-dated VHS. It received a huge marketing push by every retailer, store, and entertainment brand in the country (whether they were personally invested in the format or not) due to this. It filled a wide-spread need and did it in a way that was simple and relatable to anyone. Then soon enough, it was very inexpensive as well.

    With HD/Blu-Ray we have a situation that is more akin to the release of laser-disc. The HD format is something that is primarily of interest only to videophiles and home theater enthusiasts. The average person could care less, since their happy with the picture quality of DVD and would never dream of re-buying their entire collections AGAIN…especially for a visual improvement that isn’t THAT much of a jump or that at the very least, requires an expensive and well-calibrated set. Now that may change over time as the average family is forced to upgrade their TVs due to wear and tear or the demand of TV broadcasting technology…but to say that that is a ways off is an understatement.

    The only thing that will decide the HD disc war is the amount of initial stand-alone players sold within the first year or two of both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD being out. If one greatly outsells the other for whatever reason (usually price matters here) – then it’s over. If neither outsells the other – then both formats will end up being more like laserdisc then ever. Only gaining acceptance with the niche crowd of home theater enthusiasts and never being embraced by the mainstream.

    The mainstream needs time to accept a new format, especially so soon after have finally fully embraced and entrenched themselves in DVD. Unless HD discs were some miracle-worker things that projected a 3D image around the room or sucked your body straight into the movie (which they are not) – then they won’t draw the average consumers attention for quite a while. And by that, I mean years not months.

    I’m not a supporter of either camp. All I really want is a swift and complete decision to one side so that it’s over and home theater enthusiasts like me can get on with our lives. Among those enthusiasts who would most support and buy the formats in their first two years – each side has different advantages that will come into play. Price seems like the most obvious thing that will matter most. Then availability, variety, and quality of content (certainly the first of two to more fully embrace non-typical movies like Asian action films, porno, etc will have an advantage). And then finally, (for the mainstream primarily) probably marketing and the push for sales of a given format in popular local stores like Best Buy or Walmart.

    Honestly, if I had to place a bet now – I’d say HD-DVD for the win due to the price issue but the next two years will most-likely be a battle too close to call – since it seems that sooner or later both sides will be offering or willing to offer the same level of quality at very similar price points.

    As I am, sort of, forced to choose now (since the formats are basically out and since I’m an HD lover who desperately wants a DVD upgrade) – I also choose HD-DVD. The reasons for this are price (as much as I love it, I’m sick of spending money on my HD rig – so price has become a big issue for me), the fact that it’s available this very second (and the fact that a stand-alone BR player at $500 dollars is quite a ways off), and also since I can see that (going forward) all things in terms of quality/availability between the two formats will basically be equal.

  • Mike

    Great blog.

    I’m one of those aging video gamers at 35.

    I’m looking to buy a PS3 when it allegedly launches in November (Sony initially said this spring at the E3 show, but that’s another topic). I’m looking to buy a PS3 for gaming, not watching movies, in fact I couldn’t care less if it didn’t play hi-def Dvd’s. This is why Sony cannot get the PS3 to launch in time, by trying to force a Blu-ray format into every PS3. Sony keeps shooting themselves in the foot time after time. Why not launch the PS3 like the Xbox360?, with a future ad-on for hi-def dvd. No sir, Sony tried to do too much too fast.

    Sony deep pockets? Last time I checked the company is in huge trouble, laying off workers for the first time last year with even greater cuts to workers in the future just to keep the company in the black. Appointing their current CEO, a fellow from Britain? With no real business education?? Are you kidding me? I thought this was GIANT SONY OF JAPAN. Sony is on thin ice and if this Blu-ray tanks only the PS3 console will save them.

    I’m betting the HD-DVD format will be standing after the dust settles. You have to look at it from the average-joe perspective: price ($500 at launch, surely models at 1/2 that price by year end), available movies (Warner, Paramount, Universal), picture quality (hi-def is hi-def). The mass market will determine the winner not the video/audiophiles of the world.

    Look at MP3’s, this is the sound quality accepted by the masses today…need I say more? So sad really.

  • Mike

    Great blog.

    I’m one of those aging video gamers at 35.

    I’m looking to buy a PS3 when it allegedly launches in November (Sony initially said this spring at the E3 show, but that’s another topic). I’m looking to buy a PS3 for gaming, not watching movies, in fact I couldn’t care less if it didn’t play hi-def Dvd’s. This is why Sony cannot get the PS3 to launch in time, by trying to force a Blu-ray format into every PS3. Sony keeps shooting themselves in the foot time after time. Why not launch the PS3 like the Xbox360?, with a future ad-on for hi-def dvd. No sir, Sony tried to do too much too fast.

    Sony deep pockets? Last time I checked the company is in huge trouble, laying off workers for the first time last year with even greater cuts to workers in the future just to keep the company in the black. Appointing their current CEO, a fellow from Britain? With no real business education?? Are you kidding me? I thought this was GIANT SONY OF JAPAN. Sony is on thin ice and if this Blu-ray tanks only the PS3 console will save them.

    I’m betting the HD-DVD format will be standing after the dust settles. You have to look at it from the average-joe perspective: price ($500 at launch, surely models at 1/2 that price by year end), available movies (Warner, Paramount, Universal), picture quality (hi-def is hi-def). The mass market will determine the winner not the video/audiophiles of the world.

    Look at MP3’s, this is the sound quality accepted by the masses today…need I say more? So sad really.

  • B.Greenway

    Joe,

    The not playing CD’s thing was Sony’s first stand-alone Blu-ray players, not the PS3 to my knowledge.

  • B.Greenway

    Joe,

    The not playing CD’s thing was Sony’s first stand-alone Blu-ray players, not the PS3 to my knowledge.

  • Ben Hobbs

    I think people are overestimating the impact that the PS2 had on DVD sales, I have never seen anyone own a PS2 purely to watch DVD’s – In fact I can’t ever remember anyone using their PS2 to do that – Yeah I can just imagine my mum sitting down with a PS2 controller and trying to work out what button does what.

    Microsoft have a vested interest in seeing Blue-Ray die, or at least relegated to just the PS3. I’m personally a little bored with waiting for so long, we’ve had High Definition TV’s for years now, they are supposed to be the hard part.

  • Ben Hobbs

    I think people are overestimating the impact that the PS2 had on DVD sales, I have never seen anyone own a PS2 purely to watch DVD’s – In fact I can’t ever remember anyone using their PS2 to do that – Yeah I can just imagine my mum sitting down with a PS2 controller and trying to work out what button does what.

    Microsoft have a vested interest in seeing Blue-Ray die, or at least relegated to just the PS3. I’m personally a little bored with waiting for so long, we’ve had High Definition TV’s for years now, they are supposed to be the hard part.

  • BILL

    I personally feel HD-DVD will win. I am not one to jump on sony’s bandwagon for blu-ray. I will not ever pay 1000 for a dvd player 500 yes not 1000. I had betamax loved it and it was far better then vhs. I am tired of getting products new to the market by sony only to have it die. Such as mindisks which i have as well.

    I do not see the ps3 making the case on which format wins. I have an older xbox and a ps2 i don’t use either to watch movies on never have. I bought it for games only i have a very nice dvd for my movies.

    One thing i do like is the HD-DVD player will play all my current dvd’s that is a VERY BIG PLUS FOR ME.

  • BILL

    I personally feel HD-DVD will win. I am not one to jump on sony’s bandwagon for blu-ray. I will not ever pay 1000 for a dvd player 500 yes not 1000. I had betamax loved it and it was far better then vhs. I am tired of getting products new to the market by sony only to have it die. Such as mindisks which i have as well.

    I do not see the ps3 making the case on which format wins. I have an older xbox and a ps2 i don’t use either to watch movies on never have. I bought it for games only i have a very nice dvd for my movies.

    One thing i do like is the HD-DVD player will play all my current dvd’s that is a VERY BIG PLUS FOR ME.

  • Joe

    One question… if PS3 says it will be backwards compatable with PS2/PS1 games, wouldn’t that make it able to read cds and dvds? PS1 games are all on CDs, and PS2 games are all on DVDs…. so if Sony says that PS3 will be FULLY backwards compatable, it will have to be able to read those formats… Tell me where I’m mistaken? I just don’t get it?

  • Joe

    One question… if PS3 says it will be backwards compatable with PS2/PS1 games, wouldn’t that make it able to read cds and dvds? PS1 games are all on CDs, and PS2 games are all on DVDs…. so if Sony says that PS3 will be FULLY backwards compatable, it will have to be able to read those formats… Tell me where I’m mistaken? I just don’t get it?

  • B.Greenway

    Henning,

    I feel like I’m repeating myself here but I’ll bite again 🙂

    I just don’t feel like a studio or two will make or break the deal either way before the formats have even launched. If enough players get sold on either side, the studios won’t ignore that potential revenue. Again we’re talking about publicly traded companies, they have to answer to stockholders not technophiles.

    I still contend that with HD-DVD players costing $500 less than Blu-rays initial offerings combined with that fact that they’ll have a 6-8 week head start on the Blu-rays players and 6 to 7 month head start on the PS3 all things aren’t ‘equal’. $500 is a lot of money to me, maybe I’m in the minority here <– sarcasm for the win.

    Again with the PS2/PS3 and market saturation, of those 100 million PS2’s I wonder how many are still used daily? Surely PC games and the Xbox have lured away some of those gamers. Of the 120 million+ DVD players sold I wonder how many of their owners have abandoned DVD for a better format? ehh none I’m guessing as one doesn’t exist, yet…

    Trust me, I get the fact that game consoles are a big deal, I’m a gamer myself (PC games) and there may come a time where game consoles decides our next movie format, I just don’t think that time has come yet.

    Time will tell, I promise not to gloat (too much) if I’m right, and if I’m wrong at least I took a stand and made my case where others played it safe from the sidelines.

  • B.Greenway

    Henning,

    I feel like I’m repeating myself here but I’ll bite again 🙂

    I just don’t feel like a studio or two will make or break the deal either way before the formats have even launched. If enough players get sold on either side, the studios won’t ignore that potential revenue. Again we’re talking about publicly traded companies, they have to answer to stockholders not technophiles.

    I still contend that with HD-DVD players costing $500 less than Blu-rays initial offerings combined with that fact that they’ll have a 6-8 week head start on the Blu-rays players and 6 to 7 month head start on the PS3 all things aren’t ‘equal’. $500 is a lot of money to me, maybe I’m in the minority here <– sarcasm for the win.

    Again with the PS2/PS3 and market saturation, of those 100 million PS2’s I wonder how many are still used daily? Surely PC games and the Xbox have lured away some of those gamers. Of the 120 million+ DVD players sold I wonder how many of their owners have abandoned DVD for a better format? ehh none I’m guessing as one doesn’t exist, yet…

    Trust me, I get the fact that game consoles are a big deal, I’m a gamer myself (PC games) and there may come a time where game consoles decides our next movie format, I just don’t think that time has come yet.

    Time will tell, I promise not to gloat (too much) if I’m right, and if I’m wrong at least I took a stand and made my case where others played it safe from the sidelines.

  • henning

    Out of the six major studios:

    Five major studios support BD.
    Three major studios support HD-DVD.

    Unless this changes, BD will win.

    100 million PS2’s versus 127 million DVD players? Sounds like an argument FOR the influence of the PlayStation, if you ask me. Let’s say that means in the next-gen war, 100 million PS3’s get sold. That’s on top of all the other standalone BD players out there by Pioneer, Samsung, Sony itself, etc. That’s a HUGE installed base. That’s a big BD win. Though you protest that you include this in your calculations, I don’t think you give it the weight it deserves.

    Great article, BTW! 🙂

  • henning

    Out of the six major studios:

    Five major studios support BD.
    Three major studios support HD-DVD.

    Unless this changes, BD will win.

    100 million PS2’s versus 127 million DVD players? Sounds like an argument FOR the influence of the PlayStation, if you ask me. Let’s say that means in the next-gen war, 100 million PS3’s get sold. That’s on top of all the other standalone BD players out there by Pioneer, Samsung, Sony itself, etc. That’s a HUGE installed base. That’s a big BD win. Though you protest that you include this in your calculations, I don’t think you give it the weight it deserves.

    Great article, BTW! 🙂

  • B.Greenway

    Brian,

    Looks like Target will be selling the discs, and even though they dont list the players yet, I cant see them selling the discs and not the players.

    http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/sr=8-14/qid=1144603051/
    ref=sr_8_14/602-5722801-9814249?%5Fencoding=UTF8&asin=B000ENC6XW

    And as mentioned before Walmart will be selling the players (04/21/2006 ) and discs (04/18/2006).

    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=4790608

  • B.Greenway

    Brian,

    Looks like Target will be selling the discs, and even though they dont list the players yet, I cant see them selling the discs and not the players.

    http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/sr=8-14/qid=1144603051/
    ref=sr_8_14/602-5722801-9814249?%5Fencoding=UTF8&asin;=B000ENC6XW

    And as mentioned before Walmart will be selling the players (04/21/2006 ) and discs (04/18/2006).

    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=4790608

  • Brian Hoyt

    To followup on my comments. I don’t know that in this case the entire sales of PS3 + Blu-Ray must be greater than HD-DVD. I think the key is from launch date (this summer) to Christmas of 07. In that time frame I would be willing to bet the the PS3 in worldwide sales will outsell HD-DVD players. That is where the tipping point may be.

    It seemed that DVD’s really exploded in popularity once they made it to Wal-Mart and Target. I am now wondering if in this calendar year will we see either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray stand alone players at those stores? I can guarantee the answer is yes for PS3. Maybe MS having a 360 HD-DVD add-on will swing the pendulum as well or the computer drives. All I know is the next 18 months is going to be a bloody mess in the consumer HD space. Circuit City’s Divx will look like a bad dream compared to all this.

    Of course this all goes out the window if the PS3 doesn’t launch in US this year or it costs more than $500, both of which are still real possibilities.

  • Brian Hoyt

    To followup on my comments. I don’t know that in this case the entire sales of PS3 + Blu-Ray must be greater than HD-DVD. I think the key is from launch date (this summer) to Christmas of 07. In that time frame I would be willing to bet the the PS3 in worldwide sales will outsell HD-DVD players. That is where the tipping point may be.

    It seemed that DVD’s really exploded in popularity once they made it to Wal-Mart and Target. I am now wondering if in this calendar year will we see either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray stand alone players at those stores? I can guarantee the answer is yes for PS3. Maybe MS having a 360 HD-DVD add-on will swing the pendulum as well or the computer drives. All I know is the next 18 months is going to be a bloody mess in the consumer HD space. Circuit City’s Divx will look like a bad dream compared to all this.

    Of course this all goes out the window if the PS3 doesn’t launch in US this year or it costs more than $500, both of which are still real possibilities.

  • shakazolo

    My comment about being paid was sarcastic. I appreciate your explaination, but I don’t think anyone really believes that you are being paid.

    Ok, so we agree on most points. From what I can see, it boils down to your position about branding potential and mine about market saturation. Only time will tell on this…..

    Just to note, I happened to mention this at a party last night and of the people listening, most agreed that HD-DVD, while descriptive to people who know about this stuff, was actually less attractive than Blu-ray. These were all laymen and their comments were that it was a bit of a mouthful and had little meaning to them.

    Lastly, I actually want HD-DVD to win. I abhor Sony products as much as I do Bose and other marketing focused manufacturers. I prefer brands that actually deliver on quality without the hype and bloated overhead (except Apple, who I will follow blindly into the apocalypse). But i will buy whatever comes out first and integrate them for my clients, who could care less about price.

  • shakazolo

    My comment about being paid was sarcastic. I appreciate your explaination, but I don’t think anyone really believes that you are being paid.

    Ok, so we agree on most points. From what I can see, it boils down to your position about branding potential and mine about market saturation. Only time will tell on this…..

    Just to note, I happened to mention this at a party last night and of the people listening, most agreed that HD-DVD, while descriptive to people who know about this stuff, was actually less attractive than Blu-ray. These were all laymen and their comments were that it was a bit of a mouthful and had little meaning to them.

    Lastly, I actually want HD-DVD to win. I abhor Sony products as much as I do Bose and other marketing focused manufacturers. I prefer brands that actually deliver on quality without the hype and bloated overhead (except Apple, who I will follow blindly into the apocalypse). But i will buy whatever comes out first and integrate them for my clients, who could care less about price.

  • B.Greenway

    Hi Tom,

    Pooh-Pooh videogame players? I said “The video game generation is aging and games do matter” meaning more and more gamers are moving into the age bracket where they can afford games/consoles on their own. “games do matter” could hardly be considered pooh-pooh’ing.

    Ignore the power of the PS3? I just said in an earlier comment “Absolutely the PS3 will be a force to be reckoned with” again I’m confused as to how that sounds as if I’m totally discounting video games and the PS3.

    You mention that the PS2 sold 100+ million units worldwide, very impressive. Guess how many stand alone DVD players have been sold since launch, 127 million as of January 2005.

    http://www.dvdinformation.com/News/press/CES010605.htm

    I find it kind of ironic that “Betamax” has become a synonym for flop…

  • B.Greenway

    Hi Tom,

    Pooh-Pooh videogame players? I said “The video game generation is aging and games do matter” meaning more and more gamers are moving into the age bracket where they can afford games/consoles on their own. “games do matter” could hardly be considered pooh-pooh’ing.

    Ignore the power of the PS3? I just said in an earlier comment “Absolutely the PS3 will be a force to be reckoned with” again I’m confused as to how that sounds as if I’m totally discounting video games and the PS3.

    You mention that the PS2 sold 100+ million units worldwide, very impressive. Guess how many stand alone DVD players have been sold since launch, 127 million as of January 2005.

    http://www.dvdinformation.com/News/press/CES010605.htm

    I find it kind of ironic that “Betamax” has become a synonym for flop…

  • Tom Franklin

    You can Pooh-Pooh videogame players all you want, but the PS3 will tip the scales in favor of Blu-Ray. The PS2 has sold 100+ million units worldwide (and the PS3 will achieve similar market penetration).

    I had a stand alone DVD player and when I bought the PS2, I only used the PS2 as my DVD player (and later the Xbox after I sold my PS2). I am 38 and there is no way I am going to buy a stand alone player when I am purchasing a PS3.

    Also, when little Johnny wants a PS3 and the parents are told it is also a HD player to go along with that HDTV they just bought, there is no way in hell they are going to buy an HD-DVD player because they won’t give two craps about any of these issues.

    Ignore the power of the PS3 at your own peril! Buying HD-DVD? You’d better buy Betamax insurance!!!!

  • Tom Franklin

    You can Pooh-Pooh videogame players all you want, but the PS3 will tip the scales in favor of Blu-Ray. The PS2 has sold 100+ million units worldwide (and the PS3 will achieve similar market penetration).

    I had a stand alone DVD player and when I bought the PS2, I only used the PS2 as my DVD player (and later the Xbox after I sold my PS2). I am 38 and there is no way I am going to buy a stand alone player when I am purchasing a PS3.

    Also, when little Johnny wants a PS3 and the parents are told it is also a HD player to go along with that HDTV they just bought, there is no way in hell they are going to buy an HD-DVD player because they won’t give two craps about any of these issues.

    Ignore the power of the PS3 at your own peril! Buying HD-DVD? You’d better buy Betamax insurance!!!!

  • P. Dalas

    One thing that was not mentioned, that may play a deciding role in this debacle (so long as HD-DVD can survive a couple of years) is the location of the data layer on the disc. The HD-DVD’s information layer is in the same place as current DVDs, near the top of the disk. The Blu Ray layer is extremely close to the bottom of the disc. The reason a DVD can play when it is scratched is that the scratch is on the bottom of the disc, and the laser is focused on another part of the disc, which allows it to continue reading the data. However, if the scrach is closer to the focal point of the laser, then it is harder for the player to read the disc. In the case of the Blu Ray disc, the likelyhood of scatches affecting playback are stronger. So survivability of the disc will be a factor in a year or two. No one wants their disc to stop playing after a few months. Blu Ray discs, however, are supposed to have an ultra strong scratch resistant layer at the bottom, so we will have to see how it works in the real world.

  • P. Dalas

    One thing that was not mentioned, that may play a deciding role in this debacle (so long as HD-DVD can survive a couple of years) is the location of the data layer on the disc. The HD-DVD’s information layer is in the same place as current DVDs, near the top of the disk. The Blu Ray layer is extremely close to the bottom of the disc. The reason a DVD can play when it is scratched is that the scratch is on the bottom of the disc, and the laser is focused on another part of the disc, which allows it to continue reading the data. However, if the scrach is closer to the focal point of the laser, then it is harder for the player to read the disc. In the case of the Blu Ray disc, the likelyhood of scatches affecting playback are stronger. So survivability of the disc will be a factor in a year or two. No one wants their disc to stop playing after a few months. Blu Ray discs, however, are supposed to have an ultra strong scratch resistant layer at the bottom, so we will have to see how it works in the real world.

  • B.Greenway

    EnergyGuru

    I definitely wont be waiting for a higher end unit, 499.00 is all I want to spend, I don’t really want to even spend that much, until one side croaks. But I’ll probably give in on the HD-A1 especially if I can find one of those bundled deals with a free movie or two.

  • B.Greenway

    EnergyGuru

    I definitely wont be waiting for a higher end unit, 499.00 is all I want to spend, I don’t really want to even spend that much, until one side croaks. But I’ll probably give in on the HD-A1 especially if I can find one of those bundled deals with a free movie or two.

  • B.Greenway

    shakaZOLO

    How much is HD-DVD paying me for this? Hmm the format war has been on-going for over two years now; I first mentioned it back on July 12th 2004, that first post called for unification, as well as almost every other post since.

    April 7th 2006 (this post) was the first time I picked sides… surely if I was a corporate mouthpiece for Toshiba they would have instructed me to start the propaganda campaign a little sooner, as both formats are less than two months from launch.

    I really don’t think the case could be made both ways. I really feel this will be decided much faster than some are willing to admit; now when I say decided I don’t mean Sony throwing their arms up and declaring we give! we give! I mean a market saturation of (insert random number here) players sold.

    I have no idea what that magical number is but once its reached by either side, it will be hard to justify keeping around the format that finished in second place.

    As far as your point on features not included yet, if you’ll notice I mentioned “I’ll grant you that the ease of transition problems (if any) can easily be remedied by the manufacturers” we fully agree on this point, but that will never change the fact that Sony’s first player to market wont even play a CD.

    Sure maybe their 2nd 3rd 4th and every player on will, but not that first player their brining to market. It strikes me odd that in a format war they wouldn’t want to offer every feature people have come to expect in a 1k disc player.

    You make mention that Sony is probably trying to get those features incorporated as fast as possible. Maybe they could just ask Toshiba how they did it. I kid!

    Yeah, hey listen I reserve the right to change my mind in a heartbeat. What would it take to change my mind? Player sales, that’s it. If Sony sells 2 million players the first month vs Toshibas 250k I’d have to be a lunatic to not step back and re-evaluate my choice. But at $500 vs $1k I just don’t see it happening, I think Sony made a mistake pushing the premium product first. Any other time that’s a perfectly acceptable strategy, but not in the middle of a format war.

    You know, here’s my problem with dual-format players. Let’s say 1/2 of the movies I buy are Blu-ray and 1/2 are HD-DVD, all’s well and good for a year or so as the format war plays out. Then suddenly two months after it’s decided either side wins, my dual-format player dies. I’m stuck with half a video collection I can’t watch.

    I would probably have to wind up either trying to sell the useless discs off at a huge loss, or go and try to find that formats player used on ebay, and eventually go through the whole thing again. Nah like I said dual-format players are a band-aid in my opinion. I want a clear hands down winner.

  • B.Greenway

    shakaZOLO

    How much is HD-DVD paying me for this? Hmm the format war has been on-going for over two years now; I first mentioned it back on July 12th 2004, that first post called for unification, as well as almost every other post since.

    April 7th 2006 (this post) was the first time I picked sides… surely if I was a corporate mouthpiece for Toshiba they would have instructed me to start the propaganda campaign a little sooner, as both formats are less than two months from launch.

    I really don’t think the case could be made both ways. I really feel this will be decided much faster than some are willing to admit; now when I say decided I don’t mean Sony throwing their arms up and declaring we give! we give! I mean a market saturation of (insert random number here) players sold.

    I have no idea what that magical number is but once its reached by either side, it will be hard to justify keeping around the format that finished in second place.

    As far as your point on features not included yet, if you’ll notice I mentioned “I’ll grant you that the ease of transition problems (if any) can easily be remedied by the manufacturers” we fully agree on this point, but that will never change the fact that Sony’s first player to market wont even play a CD.

    Sure maybe their 2nd 3rd 4th and every player on will, but not that first player their brining to market. It strikes me odd that in a format war they wouldn’t want to offer every feature people have come to expect in a 1k disc player.

    You make mention that Sony is probably trying to get those features incorporated as fast as possible. Maybe they could just ask Toshiba how they did it. I kid!

    Yeah, hey listen I reserve the right to change my mind in a heartbeat. What would it take to change my mind? Player sales, that’s it. If Sony sells 2 million players the first month vs Toshibas 250k I’d have to be a lunatic to not step back and re-evaluate my choice. But at $500 vs $1k I just don’t see it happening, I think Sony made a mistake pushing the premium product first. Any other time that’s a perfectly acceptable strategy, but not in the middle of a format war.

    You know, here’s my problem with dual-format players. Let’s say 1/2 of the movies I buy are Blu-ray and 1/2 are HD-DVD, all’s well and good for a year or so as the format war plays out. Then suddenly two months after it’s decided either side wins, my dual-format player dies. I’m stuck with half a video collection I can’t watch.

    I would probably have to wind up either trying to sell the useless discs off at a huge loss, or go and try to find that formats player used on ebay, and eventually go through the whole thing again. Nah like I said dual-format players are a band-aid in my opinion. I want a clear hands down winner.

  • EnergyGuru

    Will you be getting the Toshiba player or waiting for a more high end player to come out?

  • EnergyGuru

    Will you be getting the Toshiba player or waiting for a more high end player to come out?

  • B.Greenway

    Hey Chuck,

    Why bother? I want to watch high definition movies on DVD, not sit around waiting forever for the “best” solution.

    It’s kind of like waiting for prices on video projectors to fall, if you wait on that magical price point you’ll never have one, because as soon as they hit it something you’d rather have will come along and you start waiting all over again.

    I guess the short answer to your second point is impatience. Yes MS offered an alternative some time back, and it hasn’t moved forward a bit since then…

    I’m trying to keep this real world not ‘what if’. The simple fact is Toshiba and Sony are the only two companies that have offered up a commercially viable format/platform that the studios have shown interest in. All the hardware in the world doesn’t mean poo to me if there aren’t movies to watch on the hardware.

    You think you’ll ever be able to rent movies for those FVD/EVD players, in the U.S?

  • B.Greenway

    Hey Chuck,

    Why bother? I want to watch high definition movies on DVD, not sit around waiting forever for the “best” solution.

    It’s kind of like waiting for prices on video projectors to fall, if you wait on that magical price point you’ll never have one, because as soon as they hit it something you’d rather have will come along and you start waiting all over again.

    I guess the short answer to your second point is impatience. Yes MS offered an alternative some time back, and it hasn’t moved forward a bit since then…

    I’m trying to keep this real world not ‘what if’. The simple fact is Toshiba and Sony are the only two companies that have offered up a commercially viable format/platform that the studios have shown interest in. All the hardware in the world doesn’t mean poo to me if there aren’t movies to watch on the hardware.

    You think you’ll ever be able to rent movies for those FVD/EVD players, in the U.S?

  • Kevin

    Nice article. I, too, was suprised by the lack of CD functionality.

    The only point I’d minorly disagree with you on is #3. While HD-DVD is probably more intuitivly easy to understand, it also 5 syllables compared to 2 for Blu-Ray. I do think that matters.

    As a side note, why can’t a large corporation with the scientific resources of Sony figure out that Blue is spelled with an “e”?

  • Kevin

    Nice article. I, too, was suprised by the lack of CD functionality.

    The only point I’d minorly disagree with you on is #3. While HD-DVD is probably more intuitivly easy to understand, it also 5 syllables compared to 2 for Blu-Ray. I do think that matters.

    As a side note, why can’t a large corporation with the scientific resources of Sony figure out that Blue is spelled with an “e”?

  • shakaZOLO

    How much is HD-DVD paying you for this? While I think your argument is succinct , it could easily be made for Blu-ray as well. If we put ourselves behind either format it will succeed. As to advantages, neither can be argued yet, since nothing is really shipping. Consumer demand will dictate features. Just as you say studio support will follow, so will CD and DVD support for Blu-ray. I can’t imagine the exects at Sony are sitting around saying “ha ha ha, we’ll not support CD and DVD – let’s show those bastards”. No, they are probably shitting their pants try to figure a way to get support as soon as possible.

    I personally think this will all come down to PR and marketing hype. People will be able to easily distinguish Blu-ray when they are bombarded with the media blitz during the superbowl and prime time (Sony = deep marketing pockets). HD-DVD is a descriptive name, but that doesn’t account for the success of Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. And Sony has the edge if they can get the PS3 out in a reasonable timeframe. The PS3 is a vehicle to market Blu-ray. It won’t be the platform of choice for most, but it’s another way to gain recognition.

    So, while I agree that it doesn’t matter which format has better technical stats, it does matter who will be able to sell more widgets. Sony has definitely failed in the past, but nobody can argue that they haven’t has some successes. For me, I’ll get a dual-format player (Arcam, Integra….let’s get a move on it) and let the cards fall as they may.

  • shakaZOLO

    How much is HD-DVD paying you for this? While I think your argument is succinct , it could easily be made for Blu-ray as well. If we put ourselves behind either format it will succeed. As to advantages, neither can be argued yet, since nothing is really shipping. Consumer demand will dictate features. Just as you say studio support will follow, so will CD and DVD support for Blu-ray. I can’t imagine the exects at Sony are sitting around saying “ha ha ha, we’ll not support CD and DVD – let’s show those bastards”. No, they are probably shitting their pants try to figure a way to get support as soon as possible.

    I personally think this will all come down to PR and marketing hype. People will be able to easily distinguish Blu-ray when they are bombarded with the media blitz during the superbowl and prime time (Sony = deep marketing pockets). HD-DVD is a descriptive name, but that doesn’t account for the success of Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. And Sony has the edge if they can get the PS3 out in a reasonable timeframe. The PS3 is a vehicle to market Blu-ray. It won’t be the platform of choice for most, but it’s another way to gain recognition.

    So, while I agree that it doesn’t matter which format has better technical stats, it does matter who will be able to sell more widgets. Sony has definitely failed in the past, but nobody can argue that they haven’t has some successes. For me, I’ll get a dual-format player (Arcam, Integra….let’s get a move on it) and let the cards fall as they may.

  • chuck

    What I refuse to understand is why bother in the first place! MS has suggested a solution ages ago: standard 2-layer DVD with VC-1-encoded content. That or H.264/AVC and you’ve got a winner all around. This said I have really high hopes for South-East Asia: they already have two formats, FVD and EVD, both sporting multi-layer red-laser DVD, FVD has a bigger track, EVD – up to 10 layers. 10 * 4.5 GB = 45 GB, but the same red laser. FVD players are already in retail for some $150 in Taiwan, I’ve ordered one already.

  • chuck

    What I refuse to understand is why bother in the first place! MS has suggested a solution ages ago: standard 2-layer DVD with VC-1-encoded content. That or H.264/AVC and you’ve got a winner all around. This said I have really high hopes for South-East Asia: they already have two formats, FVD and EVD, both sporting multi-layer red-laser DVD, FVD has a bigger track, EVD – up to 10 layers. 10 * 4.5 GB = 45 GB, but the same red laser. FVD players are already in retail for some $150 in Taiwan, I’ve ordered one already.

  • Mike Weston

    Random thoughts…

    (1) The CD thing is news to me, and will surprise people, and not in a good way.

    (2) A related question: How good will the players be at being upconverting DVD players? People will be playing DVDs more than HD content for quite a while, and I for one only have one HDMI input on my TV.

    (3) I’m surprised you didn’t mention Microsoft as an advantage for HD-DVD. I’m not a big fan of Microsoft, but it should help HD-DVD.

    (4) But the biggest thing on my mind is not the price of the players, but the potential lost investment in the software. With something in the neighborhood of 800 DVDs, I shudder at the thought of not being able to play them. If you buy HD-DVD software and Blu-Ray wins, you’ll be screwed once your player dies, and vice versa. And if the discs sell slowly because people are worried about that scenario, it may not matter how well the players are doing.

    (5) On the whole, though, I was way more convinced by your argument than I expected to be. I didn’t vote for either format in your poll, but have been siding more with Blu-Ray due to its bigger capacity. But since this is probably the last physical format war, the winning format probably doesn’t need to last even as long as DVD has.

  • Anonymous

    Random thoughts…

    (1) The CD thing is news to me, and will surprise people, and not in a good way.

    (2) A related question: How good will the players be at being upconverting DVD players? People will be playing DVDs more than HD content for quite a while, and I for one only have one HDMI input on my TV.

    (3) I’m surprised you didn’t mention Microsoft as an advantage for HD-DVD. I’m not a big fan of Microsoft, but it should help HD-DVD.

    (4) But the biggest thing on my mind is not the price of the players, but the potential lost investment in the software. With something in the neighborhood of 800 DVDs, I shudder at the thought of not being able to play them. If you buy HD-DVD software and Blu-Ray wins, you’ll be screwed once your player dies, and vice versa. And if the discs sell slowly because people are worried about that scenario, it may not matter how well the players are doing.

    (5) On the whole, though, I was way more convinced by your argument than I expected to be. I didn’t vote for either format in your poll, but have been siding more with Blu-Ray due to its bigger capacity. But since this is probably the last physical format war, the winning format probably doesn’t need to last even as long as DVD has.

  • B.Greenway

    Hey Brian,

    You make some really good points. Absolutely the PS3 will be a force to be reckoned with, but I have to think that HD-DVD’s 6-7 month head start has to be factored in as well.

    I suppose another possible scenario is, HD-DVD does better than the analysts expect combined with the initial Blu-ray players selling less than expcted, they’ll still have a second shot with the PS3.

    I don’t know, I realize that game consoles are huge, but even if you combined all the playstations and xbox’s together would they out number DVD players?

    And if the PS3 is the ultimate gaming platform are you going to be able to pry the controller out of someone’s hand long enough to watch a move? Maybe if they promote it as an entertainment platform more than a gaming platform, maybe.

  • B.Greenway

    Hey Brian,

    You make some really good points. Absolutely the PS3 will be a force to be reckoned with, but I have to think that HD-DVD’s 6-7 month head start has to be factored in as well.

    I suppose another possible scenario is, HD-DVD does better than the analysts expect combined with the initial Blu-ray players selling less than expcted, they’ll still have a second shot with the PS3.

    I don’t know, I realize that game consoles are huge, but even if you combined all the playstations and xbox’s together would they out number DVD players?

    And if the PS3 is the ultimate gaming platform are you going to be able to pry the controller out of someone’s hand long enough to watch a move? Maybe if they promote it as an entertainment platform more than a gaming platform, maybe.

  • Ben Hobbs

    I have to say that I agree with you, Blueray is a cool name but it just seems to have so many technological hurdles to overcome.

    Consumers are getting used to being able to buy DVD players for reasonable amounts of money, a decent quality DVD player can be had for under $100, I’ve seen some DVD players selling for as little as $25.

    There’s no way people are going to take a gamble on buying a $1,000 machine that may well be obsolete within 12 months, some may spend the $500 for a HD DVD if it has a decent enough catalogue.

    The PS3 having a Blue-Ray player has no significance on the format war in my eyes, People who buy games machines buy them to play games with, especially in the first 6 months+ of release – after that they may take some time to appreciate other qualities.

    Its not about the studios, electronics companies or even software companies (Microsoft) – Its all about the consumers, the first to market, affordable HD player will no doubt win, on very much the same terms as VHS. Hell, it may not even be either of these formats.

  • Ben Hobbs

    I have to say that I agree with you, Blueray is a cool name but it just seems to have so many technological hurdles to overcome.

    Consumers are getting used to being able to buy DVD players for reasonable amounts of money, a decent quality DVD player can be had for under $100, I’ve seen some DVD players selling for as little as $25.

    There’s no way people are going to take a gamble on buying a $1,000 machine that may well be obsolete within 12 months, some may spend the $500 for a HD DVD if it has a decent enough catalogue.

    The PS3 having a Blue-Ray player has no significance on the format war in my eyes, People who buy games machines buy them to play games with, especially in the first 6 months+ of release – after that they may take some time to appreciate other qualities.

    Its not about the studios, electronics companies or even software companies (Microsoft) – Its all about the consumers, the first to market, affordable HD player will no doubt win, on very much the same terms as VHS. Hell, it may not even be either of these formats.

  • Brian Hoyt

    I agree with you about 90%. I am no fan of Sony recently or the PS3. The PS3 is still the unknown in all of this. The reason I think is price. Say the PS3 comes out at $500, possible given the market they are shooting for. If that happens it changes several of your points above. Also I can almost guarantee the PS3 will outsell all combined sales of HD-DVD players in the first year.

    The closest parallel to this is the PS2 and DVD in Japan. In Japan VCD and SVCD had a much bigger usage than in US and as a result DVD had a much slower uptake there. However once the PS2 came out the number of DVD players exploded almost overnight as a result so did the DVD market.

    Given all of that I just want one format. The actual film data will be almost identical on both formats, so really I just want HD quality movies.

  • Brian Hoyt

    I agree with you about 90%. I am no fan of Sony recently or the PS3. The PS3 is still the unknown in all of this. The reason I think is price. Say the PS3 comes out at $500, possible given the market they are shooting for. If that happens it changes several of your points above. Also I can almost guarantee the PS3 will outsell all combined sales of HD-DVD players in the first year.

    The closest parallel to this is the PS2 and DVD in Japan. In Japan VCD and SVCD had a much bigger usage than in US and as a result DVD had a much slower uptake there. However once the PS2 came out the number of DVD players exploded almost overnight as a result so did the DVD market.

    Given all of that I just want one format. The actual film data will be almost identical on both formats, so really I just want HD quality movies.