Dave Dumps HD DVD


Yep, I’m putting my money where my mouth is – my HD DVD player is listed on ebay and my Netflix account has been updated (above). Toshiba may have purchased a $2.7 million Super Bowl ad spot, but that’s the last gasp of a dead format.

In this next-gen optical disc battle, HD DVD “bought” consumers by selling hardware at a loss while the Blu-ray camp “bought” the studios. I’m not discounting or dismissing HD DVD’s technology, but we’ve reached the tipping point in terms of studio support and content. HD DVD could have the best hardware in the world, but without movies it’s not very useful. The quicker the HD DVD camp throws in the towel, the better for everyone.

Interestingly, I’m going back to sitting on the sidelines. I’m not sure I care enough to pay current Blu-ray player prices (unless I “accidentally” buy a PS3), given the HD content I can TiVo or rent via my Xbox 360. Not to mention, 480p DVDs are often good enough. In fact, if the Toshiba HD-A3 booted faster and was slimmer I would have kept it around as an upscaling DVD player.

33 thoughts on “Dave Dumps HD DVD”

  1. Strangely, I am about to join Dave in his choice of formats – but only by proxy. I resent all “file format wars” and find the concept of anything proprietary abhorrent, but with my all time favorite game ( Metal Gear Solid ) about to be released on the PS3 the choice has been made for me.

    Of 10 million of us MGS fans worldwide, I imagine half have not yet purchased a PS3. So if there is to be a “nail in the coffin” for HD DVD, it will be the return of Solid Snake on BlueRay ONLY.

  2. I accidentally bought a PS3 a couple of months ago. That’s the only reason I would like HD-DVD to go away. Otherwise I never cared. The Netflix throttling and lack of Blu-ray availability has ticked me off. I’m hoping it gets better if Blu-ray becomes the sole format.

  3. I’m right there with you. I have my HD-DVD player for the Xbox 360 and it’s unlikely I’ll purchase any more titles for it, diminishing availability aside. For now, I’ll use it as an upscaling DVD player and I’ll continue to rent HD titles from Xbox Live. Don’t think I’ll invest in BR hardware for quite some time as the whole war has left a bitter taste in my mouth… and my wallet. ;)

  4. I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy a Blu-ray player right now.

    With all the 2.0 players announced at CES and the fact that almost none of the current players support DTS-HD (that is included on many discs) and the prices. It just seems like waiting is the right move right now.

    Of course that is easy for me to say since I already have a Blu-ray player. So if you can get a good deal on an older player, then that’d work.

    Ironically, after Toshiba throws in the towel I’m planning on picking up an HD DVD player. Mostly for nostalgic reasons, but also because I hope to get some good deals on movie that are currently HD DVD only.

  5. I received the Xbox HD DVD player for Christmas. My plan is to go ahead and grab the titles out that I want and use the drive for upscaling the movies I already own.

    I don’t plan on buying Blu-Ray, I’ll wait for downloads. I can already rent HD on the Xbox it is only a matter of time before you can buy on Xbox or elsewhere.

  6. I just might bid on your player. I feel like BD is winning but, I saw Stardust in HD-DVD and it looked awesome.

    Todd, I haven’t bought a PS3 either. Definitely looking into though.

  7. Come on people! Why have a physical format when downloading movies is the way to go – no fuss, no muss and it’s environmentally PC! Vudu rocks and is the format of my choice.

  8. I also have the HD-A3 (as well as a PS3), and I intend to keep it around for Netflix rentals of HD DVD movies for as long as Netflix supports the format. I knew when I bought the A3 that this could be an outcome, but since it was cheap I could take the risk.

    The HD-A3 is a really cheesy player, especially compared to the PS3. It takes forever to start. It takes forever to load discs. The onscreen menus are kind of clunky. The PS3 can do cool things like keep the soundtrack at normal pitch while fastforwarding; the A3 does none of this. When you skip around with the A3, it always takes a few seconds for the player to resume playback after you let go of the button. I’ve had plenty of problems with the A3 getting confused by less-than-pristine HD DVDs. One disc (in perfect condition) crashed the player solid on the disc’s intro, in the studio trailer.

    Worse, even though the A3 is billed as an upscaling player, the PS3 does a remarkably better job at playing back TiVoToGo content burned with Nero. The PS3 nicely deinterlaces this content; the A3 gives me windowblind effects. The side-by-side comparison is pretty obvious.

    It’s pretty clear the Toshiba HD DVD players were intended to do only one thing – meet a price point.

  9. Accidentally by a PS3, I thought up scaling DVD was good until I started watching Casio Royal on Blu-ray, it’s night and day!

  10. Have fun with Profile 2.0 movies on your 1.0/1.1 player – or get suckered by Sony into a PS3.

    Studio support along with planned obsolesence will not win this foprmat war.

  11. I have the same HD DVD as Dave and will keep mine – it plays HD and reg DVDs really great. As for BR – when the prices dip to below $200 I will probably bite but that will be a long time.

  12. Michael, I have read HD DVD menus are better than BluRay ones. I don’t know why you are calling them clunky. I have tried them and they seem next gen to me. Way better than DVD.

    PS3 is 400
    A-3 is 130

    Why not compare the $400 HD DVD to the $400 BluRay?

    Also all HD DVD player can do PIP commentary while others have already mentioned the profile issues with BluRay.

    About Warner going to BluRay. Well at least the best Warner movie is still an HD DVD exclusive. Batman Begins. :-)

  13. The last Engadget HD podcast (thanks Ben!) had a few interesting points to make re. the format war. One is that Warner is now delaying HD DVD releases (until the announced BR only switch) by three weeks from the BR releases. And if you look at the HD DVD release schedule for the coming months, looking only at HD DVD only exclusive titles, its really anemic. Even if Universal for example is still in the HD DVD camp, unless they start releasing a bunch of HD DVD content, this game is over.

    Ditto I’ll be sitting on the sidelines for a while. I want the players to boot faster, load disks faster. And they need to resolve the 2.0 profile and HD audio issues. And get cheaper. With little reason to move, you’re still better off sitting on the sidelines for a while. I’ll live with the Apple TV HD rentals for a bit…

  14. @Adam –

    I should have been a little more clear about the menus on the HD A3. The menus that actually come with HD content are just fine and competitive with anything BR has to offer.

    I was more talking about the menus and prompts generated by the device itself. For instance, the setup menus, and the indicators which appear in the corner of the screen when you work the trick-play controls on the remote. The PS3 offers a more attractive and streamlined UI. For instance, when fast-forwarding, the PS3 actually tells you how fast it is currently advancing – 1.5x, 10x, 30x, etc. It’s just a nicer user experience.

    Perhaps it’s unfair to compare a $170 player (the price I paid for my A3) with a $500 PS3 (the price I paid for mine). But then again, Toshiba is the only game in town for HD DVD players, unless you get an Xbox 360 – in which case the comparison with PS3 is *very* fair. On the BD side of the fence, you actually can shop around for players and that situation will get even better shortly.

  15. Responding to comments about download vs. physical media. I’ll be sticking with physical media for a while, I’m sure. I already prefer downloads for my music – I buy most of it from iTunes – but for HD films I go with Blu-ray.

    The main reason is quality. *None* of the download services even come close to the quality of Blu-ray. Not by a long shot. Do NOT be fooled by claims of ‘1080p’ (I’m looking at you VUDU), as that’s just one piece of the puzzle. In fact, 720p downloads from iTunes and XBox may well look better thabn 1080p from VUDU. Why? Bitrate.

    Blu-ray has a maximum transfer bitrate of 54Mbps. 40Mbps reserved for video. 8Mbps reserved for audio. The other 6Mbps is for other data – subtitles, BD-J, etc. (This is one advantaged of BD over HD DVD – HD DVD has a max bitrate of 36Mbps, BD is 1.5x faster.)

    VUDU, as an example, says they can do real-time streaming of their HD content with *4*Mbps. And that’s everything, not just the video. They use the same H.264 codec used on many BD titles. (BD, like HD DVD, allows MPEG-4/H.264, VC-1, or MPEG-2.) No studio compresses their BD 1080p content as much as VUDU does – because it causes a visible drop in quality.

    Yes, VUDU may look better than SD content, but it can’t match BD. Considering VUDU claims to get by with less than have the bandwidth as DVD (10Mbps), even given the codec advantage, an upconverted DVD may look better than VUDU on some content – especially high-action. VUDU is encoding 1080p, DVD is 480p, which means VUDU gets MUCH less data headroom per pixel to encode.

    I don’t mean to pick on VUDU, I just recall more of their claims off the top of my head. XBox 360 and Apple TV have similar issues, and I expect any HD downloads from Amazon Unbox to face the same problems. They can’t match BD quality without using the same bitrates since everything else is the same – same content, same codecs. (Well, they may go 720p to save some bits, instead of 1080p.) But those downloads would be unfeasibly huge.

    The larger your TV, the more noticeable it will be. So I’ll stick with the higher quality option until technology makes downloads more feasible without sacrificing too much quality – better codecs and/or higher speeds.

    But there is a secondary reason too – sharing. I regularly lend out DVDs to friends, and I expect to be doing more of that with Blu-ray as well over time. The legal download services are tied to an account, or even a single device, even when I’ve purchased the title. I don’t like that – I’d rather have the discs which I can lead.

  16. Damn, where’s the $400 million article I was looking for. ;) Found one and updated the post. Of course “bought” could also be replaced by “is” to some extent given the consortium’s DNA.

  17. Keep in mind Warner has repeatedly denied they were paid to go Blu, and the various articles I’ve seen claiming $400-$500 million trace back to one main source – when any source is given. So far I haven’t seen anything other than rumors, which Warner denied, that they were paid.

    But we know that Paramount and DreamWorks Animation were paid $150-$180 million in marketing and promotional consideration to jump to HD DVD.

  18. The whole format war is bullsh*t. They should have decided/agreed upon a format from the get go. They know consumers don’t like competing formats when it comes to their video/music fix (tape vs CD, DVD vs DIVX, etc.) so why did they think this crap would fly?

    Blu-ray is such a pile of garbage, technically speaking, and they’re just now getting picture-in-picture decoding support, as well as requiring their players to have an ethernet port for updates. HD-DVD has had that since the launch, and hasn’t had to push out minor revisions to their spec (breaking revisions, might I add) like Blu-ray has had to.

    But of course, you’re right, whoever has the studios controls the world. And when Disney jumped on Blu-ray, I silently commented to myself that the war was over; Blu-ray would eventually win.

    So now I’m stuck with an HD-DVD add-on drive for XBox360 which will shortly become worthless (well, maybe not worthless for the five HD-DVDs I own. But for future titles– worthless.)

    Also, those stating that the XBox360 HD-DVD player “upscales” for you– it’s the same exact decoding engine as if you stuck the DVD in your regular XBox 360 drive. No difference whatsoever. And the XBox360 is a pretty poor DVD player; run any serious interlacing, pulldown or color tests on it and it fails miserably.

  19. Nicholas – From a technical standpoint, Blu-ray is the superior format. It has more storage, higher bit rates, more powerful programmability (BD-J is more powerful & flexible than HDi), and a lot more growth potential for the future.

    If you go back to the roots, and I’ve been following the development of the next-generation discs since before they were BD and HD DVD – when there were multiple proposals – the format war is really due to Toshiba, with assistance from Microsoft.

    Early on there were a number of proposed next-generation disc formats from various groups – Toshiba, Sony, Pioneer, Warner, etc. The leading proposals ended up being from Toshiba, Sony, and Pioneer. Sony already had a commercial blue laser data storage system which provided a technical basis for their system. Pioneer joined up with Sony and formed the core of what became the BDA.

    Toshiba and NEC teamed on AOD, which became HD DVD, and both camps extended invitations to the industry in general to join.

    The industry very, very clearly preferred Blu-ray. Toshiba and Microsoft already had a close working relationship, and together they developed iHD (now HDi) for AOD. Toshiba also got Sanyo to join the AOD camp, but that was about it. Everyone else joined the Blu-ray camp.

    The Blu-ray consortium decided to base their technology on established international standards. BD-J is based on the MHP/GEM standards used on millions of set top boxes world wide – they also form the basis for the OCAP standard for cable in the US, and the ACAP standard for broadcast ATSC interactive content.

    TDK brought their hard-coat system which allowed BD to dispose of the caddy system used on Sony’s commercial systems and the first blue-laser home recorders sold in Japan – the proto-Blu-ray systems.

    The Blu-ray camp repeatedly extended invitations to Toshiba to join and to avoid a format war. But Toshiba declared that they would take AOD to market and compete with BD in a format war, confident they would win. Why? Money. And lot of it.

    HD DVD is based directly on DVD. Toshiba holds a lot of DVD patents, and they earn a lot of royalties from DVD – and HD DVD. If they joined the BD camp they’d get a much smaller piece of the licensing pie than they get with HD DVD. Toshiba felt that they could compete with BD, take the market, and make billions in the long run – and they were willing to start a format war to do so.

    Everyone else was willing to pool their efforts, and intellectual property, and take a smaller piece of the pie in the name of a single standard. Toshiba was not.

    Microsoft certainly encouraged them. Since MHP/GEM, OCAP, ACAP, and BD-J are all based on Java, which is like kryptonite to Microsoft, they wanted nothing to do with Blu-ray. Since HDi utilizes MS technologies they really pushed it.

    Very late in the game, just months before product launch, it looks like Toshiba blinked and looked at joining BD. But word is they insisted on massive changes to what was then a nearly finalized standard. They wanted changes to the disc, the inclusion of HDi, and basically to get more of their patents involved to earn more. If they have joined up years before with everyone else they could’ve worked it out, but coming in at the last minute and asking the group to throw away a couple of years of hard fought compromises to start over just wasn’t reasonable.

    The Blu-ray camp admits BD was rushed to market faster than they wanted to, because of HD DVD. They didn’t feel they could wait a year to bring players to market, giving Toshiba over a year to sell HD DVD. There was pressure from the BD-backing studios to get players out on the market to compete.

    But the stair-step profile system was setup as a logical progression to help cope with that. It is all backwards compatible. 1.1 discs will work on a 1.0 player, it is just the new functions that will be inaccessible. And a 2.0/Live disc will work on a 1.1 or 1.0 player with the same restriction. There was no ‘breaking revisions’. Any ‘breaking’ is NOT in the specs, they’re 100% backwards compatible. There have been issues, but those have been *implementation* issues from the vendors and NOT standards issues. DVD had similar issues. The only reason HD DVD has escaped from any real issues is that it is a monoculture – Toshiba is really the only vendor. They work with MS on the Xbox drive, and the Onkyo and RCA HD DVD decks were rebadged Toshiba units. The Venturuer looks like it may be a real 3rd party unit, but it accounts for very little of the market.

    In the big picture the BD Profile issue will be forgotten. How many people remember that early DVD players didn’t support DTS at all? Or that many of them couldn’t even handle dual-layer discs? And that quite a lot of them could never handle DVD-R, let alone DVD-RW, media? Those are bigger issues than PIP directors commentary not working on some players.

    Profile 1.1 has been mandatory on all players introduced since last October, and Profile 2.0 players will ship in increasing numbers this year. I expect that competition will force most vendors to make Profile 2.0 features standard.

    If Toshiba hadn’t been greedy we wouldn’t have had this format war. They could’ve joined with pretty much the entire CE industry in producing Blu-ray. If that had happened it probably would’ve been delayed a year and all BD players would’ve been at least Profile 1.1 from the start.

    The irony is that last time around, with DVD, Sony did the right thing. Sony and Philips had one proposal, MultiMedia Compact Disc, while Toshiba was part of the Super Density Disc consortium. It looked like a format war was imminent, just as with VHS & Betamax, but Sony and Philips agreed to drop their proposal and join the SDD consortium for the sake of the market and consumers, to avoid a format war. Instead of doing the honorable thing and following the example set by Sony and Philips the next time around, Toshiba decided to go to war. And that’s why we have this damn mess. It is all about money, and Toshiba wanting a bigger slice of the licensing revenue.

    Which is why I get so gleeful every time HD DVD/Toshiba gets kicked in the teeth in this war. It never had to happen, there were many opportunities to avoid this war, and it is their corporate greed that caused it. So they deserve to lose their shirts fighting it.

  20. Megazone,

    That was the most readable summary of HD disc politics I’ve read anywhere. Thank you for posting that.

  21. Michael, you’re welcome.

    It has been a long, convoluted path to get to where we are today. And there are other things I didn’t mention too. For example, many HD DVD fans like to make a big deal out of HD DVD being the ‘official’ successor to DVD, anointed by the DVD Forum. Ignoring for the moment that the DVD forum isn’t a magic entity, it is an industry consortium no more an authority than the Blu-ray Disc Association, there are interesting details.

    AOD was proposed to the DVD Forum as a standard and voted on, and LOST, *twice*. It was only after the DVD Forum added three more voting members *and* changed the voting rules that AOD passed on the third vote, and became HD DVD. Oh, and who chaired the DVD Forum? Toshiba.

    Toshiba certainly hasn’t pulled any punches, or tricks.

  22. *sigh*
    – Toshiba HD-DVD drives can’t win because they take like 10 minutes to the start the hell up. They take so long that every person who tries it at my house ends up turning it off at least once thinking there is a problem. They are are not wrong ;). Because of that BS they are not even really worth keeping as a upscale player. WTF Toshiba, what braid dead Product manager or QA manager signed off on that release on all your stand alone players? Fire their ass.

    – You want to talk greedy? Lets talk Sony. They have consistently locked the market and done everything in their power to keep pricing artificially high. How telling is it that the Blue Ray player prices all went UP after the warner announcement at CES? Seriously Blue Ray keeps trying to bend consumers over and ass rape their wallets, it’s inexcusable and why so many people are perfectly happy to move back to the side lines for a bit…

    – The war ended to soon. This is demonstrated by Blue Ray prices going up again. The war is inconvenient in some ways, but it was the ‘only’ thing driving innovation and driving prices down. How quick will they care to patch when it’s just the BR camp working th market? Bet they start charging too, greedy bastards.

    – Ultimately Blue Ray has won and it’s time to list my player too. I don’t look forward to the next half decade of slow innovation (bit stream anyone) and high prices as Sony dose the money dance on HD-DVD’s grave. What does this mean for all of use long term though? bad things. They showed that by pandering to the IP groups and giving them what they want, more encryption mostly and dump trucks full of money, that consumer choice is easily limited, and so is market innovation. We literally won’t be able to vote with our dollars, because big media will choose the tech for us by dictating what can play where at a hardware level.

  23. Griffin – Where did you see Blu-ray player prices going up? I certainly haven’t seen that, I’ve even seen some pricing drop. There may have been some holiday sales that ended, but that’s normal for the start of January and just coincidental with the announcement, not related. But Blu-ray players are generally about the same they were at the start of the month.

    Also, blaming Sony for pricing is illogical. Sony has no control over LG, Samsung, Pioneer, or any of the other vendors who sell Blu-ray players. Sony only controls pricing on Sony players. So Sony doesn’t deserve blame, or credit, for any pricing changes on other players.

    And they have done nothing to keep pricing ‘artificially high’. Blu-ray components cost quite a bit more than DVD components. Component costs have been dropping, which is why player pricing has also dropped over time. HD DVD components are also more expensive than DVD components, though not as high as BD (HD DVD doesn’t require as much precision, one of the reasons it holds less data). The only reason HD DVD players are so cheap is that Toshiba subsidizes them – they *lose money* on each player sold. While Blu-ray players are not subsidized. That’s part of Toshiba’s effort to gain market share – sell the players at a loss to get more users.

    So there is nothing artificial about the Blu-ray player pricing… Well, let me amend that. Sony actually pushed BD pricing artificially LOWER with the PS3. Because the PS3 was also sold at a loss, to compete as a gaming console, for a long time it was the least expensive BD player on the market and it helped drive down BD player pricing. But there are now less expensive players available. Still, the PS3 is a good value as it will be upgradeable to BD-Live, and plays games, of course.

    Saying that the loss of HD DVD will cause the Blu-ray market to increase prices or stop updating is also illogical. Did that happen to CD? No. Did it happen to DVD? No. Why would anyone thing it will happen to BD? There is competition between BD vendors – increasing competition as more vendors are entering the market. And you can bet Toshiba will sell BD players once they give up on HD DVD.

    And a general comment just because I see this all the time:

    It is Blu-ray. Not Blue-ray or Blue Ray. Blu-ray. No ‘e’. And Blu-ray Disc is abbreviated ‘BD’ – not BR or BRD, or whatever. :-)

  24. Yes, definitely. I don’t remember reading that HDM history lesson before on your site.

    I never get tired of laughing at people say that CE companies “bend people over” like everyone doesn’t have a choice to buy a movie player.

  25. MegaZone,

    HD DVD would have been better for the majority of consumers.

    1. It is cheaper.
    2. It came out sooner.
    3. 1080i/720p is an option for those that don’t need 1080p.
    4. HDi is standard.
    5. Ethernet is standard.
    6. Upconversion is better.

    Also from your description it looks like Toshiba was willing to go to Blu-ray if they agreed to a few things such as HDi.

    Sure there are problems with HD DVD such as 30G instead of 50G discs.

    But for watching a movie in HD glory that 20 extra G does not matter.

    Or are you saying that movies like Batman Begins and Transformers look and sound like crap on HD DVD?

    You can’t complain about subsidized players when you also admit PS3 is subsidized also. PS3 is also competing with the non-subsidized 360 and Wii. This should not even be an issue.

  26. Adam:
    1. HD DVD is not really that much cheaper to manufacture, and that is short-term – and short-sighted. HD DVD doesn’t have much, if any, potential for growth. Blu-ray does. Remember there is more than just movies involved, just like DVD the next-gen discs will be used for many purposes, including data. Keeping commonality drives prices down for everyone. And there are other uses on the horizon. 3D TVs are already becoming available to consumers, and more and more 3D content is being produced. The industry is looking toward higher-density BD variants to carry the 3D media to the home in the coming years.

    2. Sooner doesn’t mean better. Were DAT, DCC, and Mini-Disc better than CD or CD-R? Pushing HD DVD out sooner was simply a tactic to try to gain an advantage in the war, it is was rushed.

    3. This is illogical. BD players support 720p/1080i, and 1080p. The lowest-end Toshiba players are artificially limited to 1080i for marketing – there is no real price advantage. Most of the Toshiba units share components, it is just marketing – much like Intel or AMD binning the same chip as different speeds and selling them for different prices. And which tack are you going to take? You’re arguing that mandatory ‘higher’ features are better in some cased, but here you’re arguing that a mandatory ‘higher’ feature is bad. You’re trying to play both sides to make your argument sound better.

    4. Says who? HDi was developed by MS and Toshiba (and a few others) from a collection of various standards and MS glue. The only place it is ‘standard’ is the DVD Forum, which made it the official interactive system for advanced content on HD DVD. As I said, the DVD Forum is just an industry group – just like the BDA. Blu-ray uses BD-Java – which is a a Java Profile. It is based on international standards such as MHP/GEM, which have immeasurably more support and usage history than HDi. BD-J is part of a large family of Java-based standards that are found on millions of set top boxes worldwide. HDi is found in HD DVD players. Which is more standard?

    Now, if you meant that HDi was ‘standard’ in all HD DVD players – sure. But BD-J is also in all BD players, it has been required since Profile 1.0. So that’s a wash.

    5. This is an advantage to HD DVD, no question. I do wish BD had required Ethernet earlier on instead of in Profile 2.0/BD-Live. Of course, so far the market has shown that HD DVD’s use of Ethernet hasn’t been a market factor in adoption. Also, a number of BD players do include Ethernet, even if it isn’t required. So you have the option of buying one with Ethernet.

    6. That’s just play hogwash. Several Blu-ray players include the Reon upconversion chip, which is consistently rated as *the best* upconversion you can get. Far better than Toshiba’s players. I think the Onkyo HD DVD deck used a Reon too.

    Toshiba apparently made overtures to Blu-ray at the last minute, after years of snubbing the BD camp and insisting the industry follow them instead. I don’t know if I’d even consider it a genuine gesture or an attempt to derail Blu-ray. Reports at the time indicated that Toshiba basically wanted Blu-ray to toss a few years of work and start over to include Toshiba patents. That’s not reasonable at all.

    Say you have 10 people and you all decide to plan a party together. Two different themes are suggested – 9 people like one theme, 1 person insists on using their idea. The 1 person refuses to give in, so the other 9 people get on with planning it around the majority theme. The night before the party the lone person comes to the group and says they’re willing to join up and help. Oh, but you need to change the decorations, and the catering, and I really think these items form *my* theme would be better than those items from *your* theme. So let’s start over! The other nine people counter-offer some smaller changes – at which point the lone person stomps off in a huff and accuses the nine of being uncooperative.

    You’re argument about quality is illogical. “If they’re not crap then they’re perfect.” BS. They look good – but they could look and sound even better with the higher bitrates and increased storage of Blu-ray. That’s a simple fact. Blu-ray also offers more room for HD extras, etc – see some of Warner’s dual-format releases where BD got extras in HD while HD DVD got them in SD to save room. Talking to studio people at CES they feel the capacity is an issue, and will increasingly be an issue.

    From the HD DVD camp themselves – why did they work to create a 51GB three-layer disc? Because of pressure for more capacity. They even went back to the drawing board to bump it from 45GB to 51GB to get more space. But they still haven’t been able to bring it to market, and Toshiba indicated it may not work on early players.

    On the BD side there have been a few expanding capacity discs demonstrated. But the most interesting was a 100GB 4-layer version from Hitachi. They have it working on standard BD drives with just a firmware update. Some of the other variants required updated hardware.

    And I’m not complaining about Toshiba subsidizing their players. Just stating a fact that they are, and that’s why HD DVD players are so much cheaper. It has little, if anything, to do with any advantage to the technology.

    Recent reports indicate that the PS3 may be coming off subsidy and breaking even. Sony has reportedly managed to slash production costs on the latest models – partly by stripping out hardware – no more PS1/PS2 compatibility chips, reduced ports, etc, and partly by decreasing parts costs as BD components drop dramatically in cost, along with the Cell, etc. They’re reportedly close to break-even on pricing now.

    The XBox 360 was heavily subsidized for the first year-plus of its life too. Supposedly it has been subsidized on and off since, as pricing has been adjusted downward and then production costs catch up. So the 360 isn’t ‘non-subsidized’.

    The Wii, from what I understand, was not subsidized. But it is arguable if it competes directly with the PS3. Nintendo claims it doesn’t, that they’re going after a different market segment with the Wii. They bowed out of the high-end, massive power war that MS and Sony are in. And it seems it was a very smart move for them, the Wii is doing incredibly well.

  27. 1. Where is the proof that it is not much cheaper to manufacture? I have read that DVD manufacturing plants could be more easily turned into HD DVD plants because they use many of the same parts. Also the prices of the products have been consistently cheaper than Blu-ray.
    2. Sure sooner doesn’t mean better. But why wait for such a great product? HD DVD is a great product at an affordable price.
    3. You say it is a marketing tool to take out 1080p support. I say it is a marketing tool to say that you need 1080p.
    4. HDi works and works very well on all HD DVD players now. BD-Java will not work on all BD players. Again why wait for something that might marginally be ‘better’ or more supposedly ‘standard.’ I have read this is one of the reasons that Batman Begins and Matrix are HD DVD exclusives.
    5. That is why the PS3 is the best bluray player.
    6. Yeah I might have been wrong about that one.

    Saying all this. If you want all the movies in disc format get both now. There is not much difference between the two formats. Hell, Samsung and LG have figured out how to put them both in one box. And if HD DVD does lose eventually Toshiba will still support HD DVD.
    Hopefully by then BD 2.0 will be affordable. :-)

    Licensing fees do not make up that much of the manufacturing costs.

  28. Here’s the problem with downloads… size. The “HD” downloads available online are low quality at best, and the reason is simple. Let’s consider a BD-ROM I bought recently: “Lost: Season 3”. This is on six BD-ROM discs, like somewhere between 200GB and 300GB of data, and it cost me $39.95.

    First problem: I have cheap HDD storage here… I paid a bit over $200 for a 1TB drive. Now, there’s certainly a practical limit to how many separate drives you can physically deal with, but let’s pretend that doesn’t matter. So, my STORAGE cost is somewhere between $40 and $60 in HDD space, and that’s in addition to the content cost. History suggests downloads aren’t significantly cheaper than physical media, so I’m still expecting to have to pay ~$40 for the content. In this case, that’s doubling (or worse) the cost for that title. No good.

    Now, downloading… if you have high-end FIOS today, you can get this title in somewhere between 1-1/4 and 1-7/8 days… assuming the server can sustain a full 15Mb/s download. More likely, this will take much longer…. it would take me over 10 days here, ignoring for a moment the “Fair Access Policy” on most satellite systems. And realize, once EVERYONE is doing 200-300GB downloads, even once a week, you’ll see those secret download limits on your DSL, cable, and FIOS connections bubble to the surface. Your server doesn’t have that kind of bandwidth.

    Sure, if you think about your HDD and your network 10-15 years ago, it’s easy to see downloads will be viable, at BD/HD-DVD quality in the future. But not for awhile… one HD disc format has a nice big picture window of opportunity. Two do not.

Comments are closed.