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Sony Fakes Blu-Ray Demo? 305

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the please-ignore-the-man-behind-the-curtain dept.
twasserman writes "Lance Ulanoff of PC Magazine reported on Sony's recent event showing the new VAIO AR desktop with a Blu-Ray drive, observing that Sony faked the high-def demo by using a plain old DVD+R of House of Flying Daggers. Even before the rootkit fiasco, Sony has seemed increasingly desperate, but the general consensus seems to be that Sony is looking pretty sad and pathetic." Update 03:07 GMT by SM: Many users are calling shenanigans on this one since there were two laptops side by side, one with the Blu-Ray demo and another for comparison. Independent confirmation or negation has yet to surface, so take with the requisite grain of salt required when reading any news.
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Sony Fakes Blu-Ray Demo?

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  • Faked Demo? (Score:5, Funny)

    by deanj (519759) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:34PM (#15347453)
    A company faked a demo? I'm shocked....SHOCKED, I tell you!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:39PM (#15347484)
      The last real demo of a new product was Windows 98 at COMDEX on April 20, 1998. [google.com]
    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:01PM (#15347601)
      Well, you know the old saying: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo".
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:05PM (#15347616)
      I'm even more shocked! Press journalists are known to be corrupt and inept, but a blogger screwing up.... well that really makes you spill your cup of tea!
      • by Jim_Callahan (831353) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:29AM (#15348280)
        I agree, old chap. The GP surely owes me a new monocle.
    • by BigCheese (47608)
      They could get a new slogan out of this:

      If it's phony it must be Sony!
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:35PM (#15347457) Homepage Journal

    It sounds like Lance Ulanoff from PC Magazine is jumping the gun. According to notebookreview.com [notebookreview.com]:
    The premium model comes bundled with one of the first Blu-ray Disc (BD) movies, House of Flying Daggers, which Sony showed side-by-side tonight, along with the DVD version. Contrary to what some have said, the difference in quality is instantly noticeable
    It sounds like Ulanoff was in too much of a rush for a scoop and didn't realize this when he ejected what was very likely the comparison DVD. Don't let the facts get in the way of a good Sony bashing, though.

  • Too many holes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrEldarion (114072) * on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:35PM (#15347459)
    So, wait a second. We've got some guy on some site that has pictures of a DVD in a drive, and this is somehow proof that Sony faked the whole thing? Aren't there just a few holes here?

    1) Sony has the tech, why on earth would they resort to a DVD?
    2) Why would they use a DVD+R with no label when they distribute the actual DVDs?
    3) Why would Sony use a Verbatim DVD+R?
    4) How do we know that machine wasn't supposed to be running a DVD to compare to a computer next to it running Blu-Ray. (Quite coincidentally, there are no pictures of the disc from that machine.)
    5) How do we know the picture wasn't staged by someone anti-Sony?
    6) Howcome nobody else is reporting on this?

    I know Sony's no saint, but this just doesn't make any sense at all.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:49PM (#15347533)
      At CES, I know for a fact that the demos for Blu-ray were run off of hard drives, not off of blu-ray media. it was all smoke and mirrors. my company created content for one of the blu-ray demos, and it never showed on a real blu-ray player.

      But, I have to ask -- this is a surprise? this is something to be outraged at?

      Has the author never attended a trade show like NAB or CES? It's pretty much standard operating procedure for these shows to show off stuff that isn't yet finished - half the high end digital cinema cameras that are shown at NAB are wooden models, for crying out loud!

      If it's not shipping, it doesn't exist yet, as far as I'm concerned.
    • I don't know why Sony would want to use a Verbatim DVD+R for their demo, but I know I use Verbatim recordable media for integrity and reliability. I've still got circa 1997 2x CD-R Verbatim DataLifePlus discs that are still working perfectly. In fact, even with physical abuse, the discs have withstood the test of time, storage, and transportation for nearly a decade and have retained their resilliency. The only other recordable media I own that have proved nearly or equally as capable has been the Kodak DS

    • Re:Too many holes... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wdomburg (141264) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:56PM (#15347575)
      3) Why would Sony use a Verbatim DVD+R?

      The other points have some validity, but different divisions of a single company don't stick to using in-house products. Even years before IBM spun off the drive division most of the drives they shipping in machines came from other vendors.
    • by russellh (547685)
      I've been responsible for a demo or two in the past and there is nothing like having things fall apart at the last second. If what we saw is true, I wouldn't doubt that there were engineers scrambling to save the demo. There could be many reaons for that. who knows.
    • by 4e617474 (945414) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:16PM (#15347690)
      So, wait a second. We've got some guy on some site that has pictures of a DVD in a drive, and this is somehow proof that Sony faked the whole thing? Aren't there just a few holes here?

      Come on, to prove he was on the level, he enlarged the photos!What more do you want?

      But seriously, I could go either way on this one. You raise good points, but let me play devil's advocate point by point:

      1) The whole idea was that working tech or not, there are so few Blu-ray discs to be had that it's hard to get one, even for an official demo.

      2) Even the biggest corporations come down to a couple of guys low on the totem pole sooner or later. When the job is "Take this cake and a couple laptops to a night club" there's no telling who they're going to send. A couple of guys with a deadline, an iso file, and blank media laying around isn't that big of a stretch.

      3) Again, it's a couple of guys. Maybe a couple of guys who heard Verbatim's don't make as many coasters.

      4) I doubt they'd want to do that. Can you really tell the difference on a notebook screen? And if both machines had the discs they were officially supposed to, I'd expect a standard commercial DVD. A DVD+R of a commercial movie is generally not legal.

      5) Okay, you got me. I might make a comparison to "How do you know it's not a government conspiracy" but anti-Sony sentiments are too widespread and getting faked photos onto a blog "expose" are too in vogue not to give that a pass.

      6) Like who? The mainstream press? They barely covered the rootkit, and that allowed undetectable arbitrary code on your home PC. Besides, the CIA director just left on bad terms, Bush is proposing to throw out the tradition of civilian leadership in replacing him, the NSA knows who calls your house (thanks in part to the new proposed CIA director), we're militarizing the Mexican border but cutting existing illegal aliens a yet-to-be determined amount of slack, and nobody knows how close Iran is to getting the bomb, and Britney Spears is pregnant again. It's not an easy time to break into the news cycle when there are no celebrities involved.
      • Can you tell the difference on a notebook screen?

        Depends - mine's 1920x1200, so you can definatly tell the difference between a (good) HDTV source, and a regular DVD.
      • A DVD+R of a commercial movie is generally not legal.

        While that's generally true, I think it goes without saying that the copyright holder of the movie is entitled to do whatever the hell he wants. I think it's safe to make the assumption that somewhere in the depths of Sony, there's a copy of HoFD without the CSS encryption. And I doubt the MPAA is going to go after what's probably it's largest producer if it turns out that's not the case..

        I hate Sony as much as the next /.er and at this point I'd bel

    • I'm not saying whether they did or not - it's really not a big issue - but most of your points really don't matter, either.

      The blu-ray discs may not be ready yet, which might lead them to using DVDs if there was a time pinch (which, incidentally, is exactly what the original author suggested). If that's what they did, they'd probably just use whatever was around the office, same as you or me - and that would just as likely be Verbatim DVD+Rs as any other brand. The DVD+R wouldn't have a label, obviously.

      The
    • 1) Sony has the tech, why on earth would they resort to a DVD?

      They may have been showing MPEG4 HD content from a data DVD+R. This would probably be easier and quicker to prepare than an actual Blu-ray disc.

      2) Why would they use a DVD+R with no label when they distribute the actual DVDs?

      They may have prepared particular scenes and removed the menus, etc.

      3) Why would Sony use a Verbatim DVD+R?

      I doubt the end of the DVD assembly line is anywhere near the Blu-ray development offices. Their secret
  • Poor Sony. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Freaky Spook (811861) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:38PM (#15347481)
    They are like M$, they can't do anything anymore without bad press.

    Perhaps we should start using $ony when having a whinge about them.

    You get what you give though.
  • by thib_gc (730259) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:43PM (#15347508)
  • As others on the Gearlog site have asked, why did he put a DVD+R in a cake? : p
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:49PM (#15347532) Homepage
    Dumbass journalist alert!!!

    Repeat after me: DVD is not HD.

    Would Sony use a burnt DVD for display ? Possible (hey, there's idiot students everywhere), but unlikely. Would Sony use a regular DVD for comparison versus Blu-Ray ? Certainly!

    It's not like they have to fake it, they have the drive. They probably have demo content too. I'm pretty sure Blu-Ray video is encoded at a much higher resolution than boring old 720x480 Mpeg-2 DVD. Now maybe if our overzealous reporter had taken a moment to actually examine the demo and see the difference, maybe even chat with the Sony media monkey, perhaps he would have come up with a more valid article. Or maybe he did all that, but decided the notoriety of his lies would be a bigger hit.
    • Data is data.
      The video very well be high definition. They could have simply put a high definition data file on a standard DVD to show what it would look like.
      Still faked demo but not as bad as you are making it out to be.
  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:53PM (#15347560)
    Even if the reporting of the "faked" Blu-ray is a complete load of hogwash, it doesn't excuse the fact that Sony bootlegged a movie. Would the MPAA like to find out about that? If that much is true, and if there was no proof of an original DVD of the film anywhere to be found, then what's to say that Sony haven't image tweaked the burnt DVD+R to a lower encoded video quality, in order to help with their performance? Did anyone see the original blu-ray disc of the movie?
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:14PM (#15347676)
      The US DVD distributor for House of Flying Daggers is Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; the US theatrical distributor is Sony Pictures Classics.

      Somehow, I'm not sure "bootlegged" is the right word for Sony making a copy of this film.
      • Somehow, I'm not sure "bootlegged" is the right word for Sony making a copy of this film.

        They own the copyright, but would they still be on safe legal ground if they violated the DMCA to make the copy?
        • Not really, since we can probably see that even though Sony's right hand seems to operate independently of it's left, the DMCA does *not* really restrict your rights to your *own* work. To quote from it directly:

          `(A) to `circumvent a technological protection measure' means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological protection measure, without the authority of the copyright owner;

          Without the authority is the key
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:55PM (#15347571)
    So, I work on Blu-Ray players(not for Sony), take that for what you will.

    Aside from the article submitter trolling, I would like to state that Blu-Ray is more than just a laser. It's an entire format complete with a software virtual machine.

    When we test content it comes on a DVD-R, we're testing layouts of files, VM access, decoding, video quality etc.

    Now I don't know what was at the booth, but it is certainly possible that they were showing off their software Blu-Ray player with the content burned onto a DVD.
    • This is the kind of thing I was thinking. As fun as it may be to say "Sony is evil again!", there is no reason why this couldn't be a normal Blu-Ray title that was just edited. You could take a DVD edit out a certain chunk of the title and then it would fit on a CD without having to compress it more. This could easily be the same thing (especially if you cut out all the extra languages, special features, etc).
    • Now I don't know what was at the booth, but it is certainly possible that they were showing off their software Blu-Ray player with the content burned onto a DVD.

      Which would definitely constitute a rigged demo. We've had the ability to play high-bitrate movies from hard-drives for years, so why does anybody care about Blu-Ray? Because it's a removable optical media with enough capacity for full-length high bitrate movies. So if that's not what they were demoing, it certainly was a rigged demo.

      • but the disc itself plays no part in the quality of the image (assuming of course that it meets the basic requirement that it's possible to pull the data off it fast enough)

        In most cases, the only meaningful demo of BluRay is going to be quality based, and therefore the physical media is irrelevant, so I don't see how it's "Rigged" if it's still showing BluRay content.
        • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @01:49AM (#15348547)
          It all depends on what you believe the main contribution and technical risk of Blu-Ray to be. As I said, I don't think it's the codec, we have those coming out of our ears. If somebody showed up at a trade show to demo yet another video codec playing back from a hard drive nobody would even notice. Rather, I think the main question is who can really manufacture a high-capacity optical disc players and media, and do it cheaply. Sony's problems in getting this done are reportedly contributing to the delays and high cost of the PS3, which is intended to be the biggest-selling Blu-Ray player of the next few years. Yet if Sony is demoing Blu-Ray without a Blu-Ray drive, that implies to me that they aren't because they can't. Even if that's not strictly true, it looks very bad for them not to be able to demo their own technology.
  • by atomic-penguin (100835) <.wolfe21. .at. .marshall.edu.> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:55PM (#15347572) Homepage Journal
    In other news, the Motion Picture Association of America takes on a legal battle against Sony. Sony allegedly made unauthorized copies of one of its own movies, House of Flying Daggers. Sony also allowed an unlicensed public performance of said film.
  • in other news (Score:4, Informative)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <<ude.ogacihcu.inmula> <ta> <egnardts>> on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @09:56PM (#15347574) Journal
    In other news, Gearlog fakes news story by not mentioning that the DVD+R was being used for a comparison.
  • by skayell (921119) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:13PM (#15347669)
    Faking a demo isn't really a problem at all. You just have to be smart enough NOT TO GET CAUGHT. I've faked dozens of demos in my lifetime (and, yes, I still sleep okay).

    But, then, I'm female and we're used to faking it realistically.

  • by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:14PM (#15347677)
    Okay, I don't know why our poster thinks engaget is the "general concensus", perhaps he finds their comments section mentally stimulating (click the link in the headline and scroll down).

    Regardless if this was faked or not, I don't trust all these band-wagoning fools here or there. All you have to do is read my previous posts that were modded as troll, flame, etc when I predicted a fiaso with Sony's Blu-ray and PS3 releases. People saw big numbers, wanted big numbers, and completely forgot about Sony's failures in the past.

    Kind of reminds me of the idiocy supporting support for multiple wars a couple of years ago. People like to believe things and completely turn off the part of their brain that comprehends history's lessons.

  • Fake (Score:5, Informative)

    by CNERD (121095) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:23PM (#15347732) Homepage
    • Umm. Look further down that article and you can see a pic of the laptop w/ the drive opened and sure enough -- there is the DVD+R media that the slashdot article referred to!
      • The blue ray laptop is on the right, the DVD laptop is on the left. They opened the drive of the laptop on the left (you can see the edge of the table underneath the laptop).
  • New codecs like h264 can compress an HD movie and fit on a regular DVD.

    That extra will be great for backups..
  • As others have noted, it'd perfectly reasonable to think that Sony burned a DVD with a clip that used Blu-Ray's compression and bitrate setup. This leaves out the hardware portion of the demo, but would be a relatively fair comparison.

    Think of it this way: if you were doing a DVD/SVCD comparison, you could run both off of CDs -- you'd just encode the MPEG2 file for the DVD demo and burn it to a data CD.

    Is it a *totally* valid demo? No. But it's not a particularly outrageous lie.
    • you'd just encode the MPEG2 file for the DVD demo and burn it to a data CD.

      You can encode a CD blank in DVD format. This is nonstandard, but it works, sort of. Most software players on computers will play the thing. A few standalone DVD players will play it, but most will reject the disk, hang, or crash. It tends to work on low-end DVD players that use computer drives, because those drives can crank up a CD to 48x or so and get the data rate of a DVD.

      Can you do the same thing to put HDTV on a DVD

  • Damn shame /. doesn't allow us to demerit its own postings when they are so bogus and designed to inflame and slander. These postings really undermine the credibility of /..
    • These postings really undermine the credibility of /..

      Hi! You must be new here.

    • I've been here a long time, and all these Sony bashing stories on the front page over and over are the worst I've seen. I'm beginning to wonder if they're sponsored. Slashdot has always been about low quality, but now I wonder about the integreity of the site. They've started posting nothing but hearsay of hearsay from blogs these last few days.

      Why not just add a 360 advertisement and write a fake PS3 review tomarrow? Don't laugh when it happens. I don't care if it's the 360 or the PS3 -- all this doe
  • Dumb name (Score:2, Funny)

    by misleb (129952)
    Blu-Ray? They were doomed to fail when the abandoned the much cooler acronym style of naming such as... HD-DVD. Didn't they learn their lesson with Betamax vs. VHS? What video store is going to advertise, "Rent Blu-Rays Here!"

    -matthew
  • FFS (Score:3, Funny)

    by kaffiene (38781) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:48PM (#15347847)
    Could Slashbots BE any more eager to make up bullshit to trash Sony with? Good to see /.'s editorial integrity is keeping to its... high... standards.
  • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @10:55PM (#15347872) Homepage Journal
    I mean, really! Was the demo to show off the technology and the HiDef resolution, or was it to showcase the underlying media technology? If the former, and the story is indeed accurate, then shame on Sony. Ah hell, based on the rootkit, their membership in the RIAA and MPAA, attempted hijacking and elimination of Fair Use rights and right if first sale, it's clear that Sony has no shame.

    If it is the latter and they were using a small amount of Blu-Ray-encoded/resolution files on DVD-R media with a custom build designed to recognize Blu-Ray content on a DVD due to what could be a scarcity of notebook form-factor Blu-Ray drives for the demo, then there isn't so much of a problem, except that if that were the case Sony should qualify the demo with "by the way, this is our software technology demo, using DVD-R media for this demo, blah blah blah" just to avoid the negative PR fiasco that you see here.
  • There's an easy way for them to prove it's true if it is, or fake if it's not. While there's still a 50/50 chance that the demo was a fake, all we have to do is ask "What's on the other disk". If it's only a DVD, it should be a real version of the movie, should it not? And if it's a BDRom, then that will come out too. We've seen one, let's see the other.
  • by JayBlalock (635935) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @11:09PM (#15347937)
    Sony has ZERO credibility when it comes to demos. The fact that so many people accepted this story pretty much proves it. They fake demos left and right. (remember the "PS3" demo from LAST E3?) And when you're a tech company, and people won't even believe your PR any more, you've got MAJOR problems.
  • by bi_boy (630968) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @11:29PM (#15348016)
    Found this as a comment on the site, who knows if its legit?


    Sony Responds
    Posted by: J Piazza, Sony Employee

    I would like to clarify this issue regarding the content that was shown last night at the Sony VAIO 10th anniversary event.

    The demonstration in question was a side-by-side comparison of Blu-ray Disc recorded content compared with a DVD recording of the same content. The identical notebooks were each playing the Sony Pictures release, "House of Flying Daggers"- one notebook showing the DVD format and the other showing the Blu-ray Disc format.

    The photograph taken by one of the reporters attending the event was of the DVD version used for demo. The Blu-ray Disc media had no label.

    I can attest that the disc in question was a Blu-ray Disc as I organized the event. The Blu-ray Disc media used, though not a final master, was encoded and displayed using Blu-ray Disc technology and rendered in true 1080p resolution. This resolution could not possibly have been duplicated using a DVD. I hope this clears up any confusion.
  • I'm Shocked! (Score:2, Informative)

    by beav007 (746004)
    Shocked I tell you! Shocked by the terrible example of reporting this is. There were not 2 computers side-by-side displaying Blu-Ray content, there were two computers side-by-side, one using Blu-ray and the other using standard DVD, to show the difference. *sigh*

    One of the replies to the blog:

    re: Update: Happy Blu-Day!
    Posted by: J Piazza, Sony Employee
    Tuesday, May 16, 2006 10:22 PM

    I would like to clarify this issue regarding the content that was shown last night at the Sony VAIO 10th anniversary

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:14AM (#15348218)
    Well that was the most obviously trumped-up story I've ever seen - what's next, Sony Tortures Kittens And Laughs Heartily?

    I'd say the anti-Sony cabal have jumped the shark with this one.
  • is slashdot and the Sony haters. I never even seen so many hate articles for Microsoft. Now we have articles that are worse than hearsay -- this is slander. I don't care how much you hate Sony, but be at least responsible about what you post here. How many Sony hate fests have we had here now in a week?
  • Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Runefox (905204)
    Even a DVD+R can hold HD data. It's not as though the media itself is inherently "high definition", it's the data held within that counts. The point is, however, that DVD+R cannot hold a feature-length film within its comparatively miniscule capacity of 4.7GB. The BluRay [wikipedia.org] disc, according to spec, can hold a standard of up to 33GB of data, which is plenty for feature-length HD content, and more than twice that of a standard single-layer HD-DVD [wikipedia.org] (15GB), which is also capable of holding feature-length video.

    It's
  • The purpose of the demo is to show what the improvement will be like with Blu-Ray.

    You can do that with a DVD! You only need a couple of minutes and can easily store that on a DVD. You use exactly the same codec as the Blu-Ray version, get the higher resolution, and allow people to compare. The Blu-Ray version will look better. Perhaps they are using a DVD for various reason. It's only a demonstration!

    Why are all you so naive!? They do this sort of thing all the time. Advertising dog food - The
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:50AM (#15348986)
    Well, let's put it that way, should Sony sink, I'd offer them a glass of water or an anvil, but still, even they should be tried by the same standards I want to be tried on.

    If someone claims a demo to be rigged, he should produce some evidence. Not the other way 'round.

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