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Next DVD Format War Still Wide Open 253

Posted by Zonk
from the going-to-have-to-buy-fifth-element-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite the wishes of partisan players like Sony and Toshiba, many consumer electronics manufacturers are opting to support both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs in upcoming media players." From the article: "Consumer electronics maker LG Electronics and PC maker Fujitsu-Siemens both said on Thursday they would keep their options open after computer giant Hewlett-Packard said last month it would back HD DVD as well as Blu-ray. Bjorn Sehrm, senior director Digital Home of Fujitsu-Siemens, told Reuters: 'We are planning to put both in. We don't take a stand in that fight, and actually we're very sorry that fight is happening.'
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Next DVD Format War Still Wide Open

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  • Toshiba pushing HARD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dsginter (104154) on Friday March 10, 2006 @08:53AM (#14890149)
    I was just driving around in the metro Detroit area only to notice that Toshiba is going promos for HD DVD at most of the electronics joints. They are spewing this stuff over the local radio stations so I stopped in.

    Most consumers seem to be blown away. I think that being first to market ("later this month") will be a big win for HD DVD.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday March 10, 2006 @08:54AM (#14890156)
    If you're only going to support one, people will not buy 'til they know which format is going to win and wait it out before buying a $1000+ piece of electronics that is obsolete in a year when the war is over.

    By supporting both, you can convince people to buy, because no matter which format it's going to be, you will be able to play it. If they cannot see where the balance is going, they will not buy at all. Not having something is still better than having something that has no support anymore in a year.

    Thus the strongest pushers in one or the other direction, insisting on supporting only one format, are not going to sell many of their players.

    And, in turn, of their consoles. Sony will most likely only support BluRay in their PS3. If BluRay loses the format war, this would be a serious blow to their sales.
  • by ursabear (818651) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:05AM (#14890222) Homepage Journal
    Danger: what follows is strictly opinion. Thank you.

    I think the new generation of what becomes the evolution of the digital versatile disk [wikipedia.org] will have to pass the BetaMax test. Most folks who have the money to purchase "the next big technology" of video interaction have either experienced or heard about the VHS vs. BetaMax battle. Without exception, the people to whom I have spoken (about next-generation "DVD") have said, "I'm waiting until the dust settles, and then I'll start thinking about buying one of the new-technology devices." The second thing they have said (again, without exception) is, "I hope the players will play my stack of old-format DVDs."

    I have the strong feeling that the manufacturers and implementers will fight it out, and the consumer will watch and wait. Whomever wins out will get the lion's share of the "going forward" business.

    Something that is very important to me: I hope that the "battle" will be short-lived. Here's to hoping that once things settle, the economies of scale and availability will make the next generation DVD-type disks (and players) quickly affordable.
  • by elrous0 (869638) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:07AM (#14890238)
    you can't buy these superior Xvid files, because none of the companies that sell TV shows are willing to sell such a great product.

    No, you can't buy them because you studios can't put any kind of DRM on Xvid files. That makes it a no-brainner for them.

    No DRM = No studio support. End of story

    -Eric

  • Re:Who wins? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SeeMyNuts! (955740) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:09AM (#14890245)

    Another concern is that newer media formats might not have the life cycle of CD and DVD. CDs are still useful and have been around a couple of decades, CDs are scratch tolerant, etc. DVDs still work, but are more fragile. How well do Blu-Ray and HD-DVD stand up?
  • Let the fight go on! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Captain Zep (908554) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:16AM (#14890286)
    The longer this format war lasts, the better.

    Benefits of new format:

    1. Higher resolution (which hardly anyone will even notice - certainly not the majority of people who don't have huge displays).
    2. Erm, that's it really.

    Disadvantages of new format:

    1. Another new player to have to buy.
    2. Excessive DRM which means that just because a disk used to play is no guarantee that it will next time you try it (due to inevitable bugs in mandatory firmware upgrades, if nothing else).
    3. Risk of irreversibly trashing your player if source disk has broken new firmware (mandatory install, remember).

    If people start buying these things in droves, then the studios will be able to stop DVD production, and force the rest of us to use them too if we want any new content.

    But, a combination of lack of clear benefits, together with excessive DRMing, and lack of a clear format winner, will hopefully mean that these players will be ignored and flop. In which case the studios aren't going to stop making DVDs even though they'd like to.

    If they do take off, I can't wait for the first mandatory firmware upgrade that breaks a whole bunch of players. I'd love to see the studios explain what they are going to do about that.

    Unless the DRM is removed (which isn't likely), then the only interest I have in this technology is watching it fail as a film format, then become available as a cheap data storage format for computers. Shame really, cos I like films.

    Z.

  • by Benzido (959767) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:19AM (#14890305)
    I think Sony's Playstation team is deliberately holding up the PS3 launch because they aren't at all sure Blu-ray will win. PS3 will certainly die if it has a completely unwanted component that makes up for a third of its cost.
  • by FlyByPC (841016) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:22AM (#14890319) Homepage
    We have the technology to build drives that support both, but this will result in more expensive devices, especially given that both formats require different physical lasers. I for one won't be buying one until it's clear that it will support any new media -- and it will probably take a lot longer for drives to drop to the magic price point where Joe Sixpack will buy one, if they have to include support for two physical formats.

    The whole DVD+-RW thing was a mess, but at least they're relatively similar formats, and a drive supporting both can be made reasonably cheaply.

    The format war will fizzle -- but wouldn't it be better for everyone, including device manufacturers, if we skipped the nonsense this time?
  • Who cares? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DogDude (805747) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:24AM (#14890328) Homepage
    Who cares? And I mean from a consumer level, why should anybody care? Ultimately, you're going to put a shiny, round disc in your drive, and it'll play. It's that simple. I mean just a few years ago, there was much geek hand-wringing over DVD+R, and DVD-R, etc, etc. And the outcome was the same as it is with every piece of consumer electronics: the manufacturers just put the software for all of the popular formats in their products. It's not a huge deal for them either, since it's just another chip. It's not like we have 2" DVD's and 4" DVD's to worry about. If you go buy a new DVD player right now, the thing plays so many formats, I can't even keep track... DVD-R, DVD+R, 7.whatever gig DVD's, audio CD's, MP3's, CD-RW, etc.

    Please note, this post wasn't meant to discourage early adopters from buying now. Those of us without so much disposable income would very much like to see you early adopters keep buying so that we can buy when it's cheap. So remember, early adopters: if you don't have HD-DVD or whatever it's called TODAY, then you're not cool.
  • HD on Regular DVD! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by acomj (20611) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:31AM (#14890374) Homepage
    I got "step into liquid" because i like watching surfing. It came with a second disk, that was the movie in hi-def. Cool I thought, then after poking around the disk realized it was some windows media format that I can't play on my mac. But isn't the h268 codec good enough for hi-def movie on regular dvd?

    Otherwise the larger format should win! (1 season = 1 disk sounds good to me)
  • Re:Who wins? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Friday March 10, 2006 @09:31AM (#14890378) Journal
    If the new generation of disks really are yet more fragile, that spells bad news given the increased efforts to prevent legitimate backups. They'd love to see us buying the same movie three or four times because of damaged disks. No, thanks. I'll stick with DVDs until I can buy HD movies online.
  • by Mr. Funky (957139) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:04AM (#14890607) Homepage
    Buy a pile of PC's having DVD-RW drives on board of all flavors with all kind of OS-flavors, buy DVD-RW stand-alone drives of all flavors and keep them in good shape, ie. don't use them, keep them packed.

    Why ? Because there will be a day people cannot play that particular DVD-format because it has become obsolete. And if the content is very valuable (eg. family pics, movies, data) people will be willing to pay large sums of green to you if you are able convert it.
  • Re:Who wins? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zpeterz63 (851922) on Friday March 10, 2006 @10:30AM (#14890777)
    This is a very good point and one that I have wondered myself. With the increase in data density, a scratch is really going to be very bad for your media.

    What I was wondering is if perhaps vendors could use the high capacity of this new generation of optical media to put a redundancy on the disk. I know that this would cut down on the maximum capacity of the disk, but, as far as I'm concerned, the current data capacity works just fine in 90% of all cases. Adding a data redundancy (perhaps at a reduced quality) would be a good way to help protect media from crippling scratches and the like.

    The first question that would pop into my mind about making a redundancy such as this is "how is it going to be accessed on the fly?". My solution would be if hardware manufactures supporting a caching feature for the redundancy so that it can be accessed from the memory if a disk read fails to keep up.

    I know that this will probably not happen, but I still think that this would be an extremely good use of the extra data capacity of these disks. I would feel a lot more comfortable knowing that not only was my media protected my a new extra scratch resistant polymer, but also a redundancy in case I'm actually able to scratch the thing. I consider myself an expert in the field of scratching CD/DVDs.
  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:14AM (#14891049)
    "We are planning to put both in. We don't take a stand in that fight"

    While including both isn't supporting one over the other, if they really don't want to influence the outcome, they should offer PC's with neither, either, and both, and let consumers decide.

    By standardizing on both, they can affect the format war by pushing us towards a permanent lock-in on both standards. If people's PC's have both players anyway (without an option to save money and only get one), they might as well buy disks of either type, right? They can play them. Then they're never going to want to upgrade to new equipment that won't play all the disks they already own...

    Supporting both is not an entirely neutral position. There are a lot of comments here about people waiting for someone to win the format wars before they buy. No one's ever going to win if consumers end up forced to support both formats if they want to support either.

  • by sailracer6 (262434) on Friday March 10, 2006 @11:50AM (#14891356) Journal
    I'm dead serious -- I'm not implying that it will get used, but there's certainly enough talent out there that an open-source video disc specification could be authored. Just as some DVD player manufacturers began to support Divx video playback in their machines, it might get included and gain some mindshare.

    Really, why not? There's already an open video codec (Theora) and people around here seem to have a pretty good idea of what they want (no DRM, as high-definition as possible).

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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