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HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Disappointing So Far 469

Posted by Zonk
from the such-short-lives dept.
Dster76 writes "Reuters is reporting that the new format wars are showing signs of underwhelming performance, both technically and financially. In fact, according to the article, the new formats are just not selling. Reuters chalks it up to a current lack of interest. They indicate that as more movies and players become available this autumn, sales should improve. Just the same, the current picture is quite sour." From the article: "'Neither format is selling well or at the level I had expected. I had expected early adopters to step up and other retailers have had the same experience,' said Bjorn Dybdahl, president of San Antonio, Texas-based specialty store Bjorn's. 'High expectations were set. At every meeting with Sony, every demonstration was spectacular,' Dybdahl said. 'Then along comes the first Blu-ray player from Samsung and that's when my expectations were hurt. When we put the disc in, all the sales people looked around and said it doesn't look much better than a standard DVD,' he said."
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HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Disappointing So Far

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@gmai l . com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:26PM (#16025675) Journal

    From the article, a quote: "Neither format is selling well or at the level I had expected. I had expected early adopters to step up and other retailers have had the same experience."

    I'm an early adopter, have been for a long time. I have always been willing, even eager to "step up" and pay the premium to get new (and great) technology early. Not so here. Another characteristic for early adopters is they tend to be more aggressive in research (those that aren't buying for status), certainly the case for me. The more I researched DVD both HD and Blu-Ray, the less interested I was. There was a certain promise of amazing high quality video, but NOT ONCE was I able to get anyone to give me a demo where I saw convincing evidence this was true.

    Add to that the war of the formats and the fact I have to replace movies I already own at outrageous new prices (yeah, early adopter), but each new format is providing a limited and only slightly overlapping selection... wtf? This was the same early problem with CDs. The difference here is, we already have a very high quality, convenient, inexpensive, long lasting option (regular DVDs), and there's nothing compelling in the new DVDs warranting the hassle, the expense, nor the "convenience" (which is less than existing DVDs).

    Then there's the specter of DRM and that it's not entirely obvious or clear to me or other early adopters what the final DRM landscape looks like. If we had to guess, it doesn't look hospitable (sp?).

    Here's another telling piece of evidence from the article, again a quote: "Often, it has something to do with source material. Sometimes the film itself is shot in a way that may emphasize a grainy look as opposed to a sharp picture," he said. This almost outright concedes the new "high resolution" exceeds what most media will be capable of providing... or, it's an excuse... neither gives me any warm fuzzies about my return on investment for new DVD formats.

    Early adopters like new technology when it's new and improved, and are willing to pay for it. In my opinion, someone(s) in some conference room took this thought and ran with it, not considering the early adopters might be a bit more discerning in their tastes. We're not your cash cow toadies.

    Maybe that's what's happened to their mysteriously AWOL early adopters... they're not early marks. Lesson learned (not).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm not sure what the problem is, but I dont belive its the source media's fault. I have a nice HD projector, and movies aired over my cable HD channels are spectacular. I would expect the same from these new formats, if not better because it shouldn't be compressed as much as a cable stream. If its crappy, welp, I won't be buying.
      • by dank zappingly (975064) on Friday September 01, 2006 @04:14PM (#16026495)
        I agree completely. It is most certainly not the source media's fault. When HD formats are discussed, uninformed journalists often make the comment that the current picture can't get any better because there is not enough information in the source material or somesuch nonsense. Movies currently are, and always have been created to be shown on a gigantic movie screen. It is at a way higher resolution than even the highest HD displays. Some people might argue that HD is not that much better looking, and they might have an argument, especially on smaller screens, but that is a different argument entirely. Obviously in older movies there may be the issue of damaged film, but as far as I can tell all the movies released are relatively new. It seems pretty obvious that something is being lost between the source media and the end display. Whether it has to do with bad transfers, bad compression, bad players, or crummy televisions is up for debate, but it is most certainly not from the source media. There have also been reports that samsung messed something up with their initial player, which seems to me to be a little more plausible than the original film from a movie made in the last decade or so not being clear enough.
    • by RsG (809189) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:37PM (#16025775)
      We've seen the same sort of thing happen to computer technology as well.

      If you're a gamer when was the last time you upgraded your graphics card? It's probably the newest part of your system, right?

      Now, when was the last time you upgraded your sound card? Probably never. Yet I do recall a time when decent sound was a big deal - I can still remember firs playing Doom with the chirping onboard speakers as a kid, and later being blown away when we got a new computer that had an actual sound card installed.

      Technology peaks. It happens. And when it does, all the early adopters in the world aren't going to make a difference. We aren't easy marks; we have to think there's something for us in the bargin if we shell out for a better system or part.
      • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:33PM (#16026226) Homepage
        are you implying that current DVD and SD displays are the "peak" of home theater technology?

        I think even discerning early adopters would disagree with you. Using your example it's like we have a chirping PC speaker now, and they're trying to sell us a sound card but all the sound card is doing is making chirps. They're not using the new tech to it's full potential, but we're still being asked to pay the price as if it was. I've seen TRUE HD content through HD cable as well as through examples of the WM9/VC1 codec on MS's website, I've played them through my HDTV and they look spectacular and I would be more then willing to pay $500 for a player that could bring that spectacular image to my DVD collection, unfortunately it hasn't happened yet, they've told me that's what their players can do but I don't see it yet. Blu-Ray is the worse of the two, it costs more and from the demo's I've seen it doesn't look much better then regular DVD, HD-DVD looks better but it doesn't even seem to be at the quality level of what I can get from a HTPC or HD cable. Then of course both formats have the issues of cost and the threat of not being supported if the alternative becomes the standard.

        If this were a game of hold'em it'd be like them asking you to go all in when all you've got in your hand is an Ace and a Two, sure it could go really well but it could also go really poorly. I think even the typical early adopters are holding on to their chips until they have a better idea how things might turn out.
        • by RsG (809189) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:49PM (#16026339)
          are you implying that current DVD and SD displays are the "peak" of home theater technology?
          For the average user? Yes.

          You may very well be correct in your assessment that they aren't using HD to it's full potential yet. If so, there may very well be a market when and if they do. I won't make a prediction either way, as I do not feel qualified.

          But for the average user? They jumped wholesale to DVDs, and it wasn't just the picture quality that did it for them. VCRs are an inferior technology on so many levels - from the need to rewind or fast forward if there is a specific part of the movie you want to see, to the noticable degredation of the tape after only a few years of regular use. DVDs were better in every sense of the word, and early adopters flocked to them, with the average users following shortly thereafter. That isn't happening this time.

          Now, will it happen if true HD becomes available? I can't say. But even if that does happen, it will not be on par with the shift from VHS to DVD, if only because it's an improvement in the area of picture quality alone, and not overall usability.
          • by RevMike (632002) <revMike@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @06:12PM (#16027283) Journal
            are you implying that current DVD and SD displays are the "peak" of home theater technology?

            For the average user? Yes.

            You may very well be correct in your assessment that they aren't using HD to it's full potential yet. If so, there may very well be a market when and if they do. I won't make a prediction either way, as I do not feel qualified.

            But for the average user? They jumped wholesale to DVDs, and it wasn't just the picture quality that did it for them. VCRs are an inferior technology on so many levels - from the need to rewind or fast forward if there is a specific part of the movie you want to see, to the noticable degredation of the tape after only a few years of regular use. DVDs were better in every sense of the word, and early adopters flocked to them, with the average users following shortly thereafter. That isn't happening this time.

            Now, will it happen if true HD becomes available? I can't say. But even if that does happen, it will not be on par with the shift from VHS to DVD, if only because it's an improvement in the area of picture quality alone, and not overall usability.

            This is "the lesson of the iPod" all over again.

            Digital music, in the formats and sample rates that the vast majority of people use, is far inferior to best recorded sources, and inferior to the basic and ubiquitous CD. Digital music is successful because it is convenient to carry around an entire record collection. The iPod is the most successful digital music player line because it is easy to use, especially coupled with iTunes and the iTunes store.

            Cable TV offered the convenience of more channels and not having to struggle with an antenna. Cell phones offered the convenience of making and receiving call anywhere. People buy laptops now because they can carry them around their house rather than sit at a desk.

            In the end HD and all its accoutrements won't be rapidly adopted because they don't offer any increase in convenience. If people cared about quality, we'd still have big movie theatres playing 75mm films, but people preferred more choices and more show times.

            • by jchenx (267053) on Friday September 01, 2006 @06:58PM (#16027504) Journal
              In the end HD and all its accoutrements won't be rapidly adopted because they don't offer any increase in convenience. If people cared about quality, we'd still have big movie theatres playing 75mm films, but people preferred more choices and more show times.

              I have to grudgingly agree with you. When I got the new HDTV and programming, I was stoked. For a long time, all I would watch were shows in HDTV, because of the amazing clarity. I bragged about it to all my co-workers and friends, and it was always the guys that were in envy.

              Of course, my wife barely even notices the difference between HD and SD. It basically looks the same to her. And that's quite amazing, because SDTV on an HDTV looks even crappier than normal. Our old SDTV upstairs still gets a lot of use, because it's more than good enough for her.

              Now, try getting her to notice the difference between regular DVD and a high-def DVD (Blu-ray or HD-DVD)? Might as well give up now. Or she may notice a small difference and just not care.

              However, what she DOES love is the DVR functionality we got a few years ago. That's definately a sign that convenience > quality for many folks.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Caiwyn (120510)
            Parent post is one of the best comments I've ever seen on this issue, and something I've argued for a long time now. So many people forget that the convenience factor is so important in driving future technologies. This is the same reason why SACD and DVD-Audio haven't taken off; they do not surpass the convenience factor of the CD, and the improvements in quality aren't particularly noticeable. This comes as a surprise to some people, until you realize that the CD's strength was in the convenience of in
        • by amuro98 (461673) on Friday September 01, 2006 @04:01PM (#16026420)
          I think "peak" is the wrong word here. I think of it as "delta", as in the difference in performance between the old version and the new version.

          When comparing VHS to DVD, the delta in picture quality and sound was VERY large. Just about everyone could appreciate DVD as the superior medium, and the market migrated accordingly.

          However, the delta between DVD and these new formats isn't quite as pronounced. Yeah, I'm sure many here could see the difference, but believe me, not everyone can. Plus throw in the fact you need to own a HDTV, and it's just not going to matter to the majority of the market at this time.

          To go back to the soundcard comparison, everyone will agree that a sound card will give you better sound than the PC's onboard speaker. But does that mean that everyone here can appreciate the difference between, say, the SB-AWE32 and AWE64? Or, how about the differences between the first and second generations of the Audigy? Would you bother upgrading your Audigy to the Audigy2 (or whatever it's called)? Probably not. The delta between the two isn't worth the extra money.

          Video cards still make pretty large strides each generation. Most probably don't upgrade every day a new card comes out, but can agree jumping every 2 or 3 generations is a good idea if you're serious about cutting edge games.

          The only way you're going to get people to upgrade is to convince them that the delta is worth the cash. Otherwise, if they won't buy because their current equipment is "good enough."

          Of course, issues like: format war, uncertain DRM, expensive players, sub-standard movies, etc. doesn't help things any. After all, it's usually the early adopters who convince their non-early-adopter friends to go buy the thing after seeing it in action at the early adopter's house :-)
          • by webrunner (108849) on Friday September 01, 2006 @05:15PM (#16026987) Homepage Journal
            Someone else has mentioned this but it bears mentioning again -
            The biggest jump in overall desirability between VHS and DVD and Tape to CDS wasn't the quality, it was the usability.

            DVDs and CDS (generally) don't need to be flipped, don't get all messed up with the tape, aren't wiped out by magnets, are sturdier, last longer, have instant seek instead of being a purely linear format, take up less space in multiples, and don't need to be rewinded.

            If it was just a higher quality but still on tape, it wouldn't have caught on as well as it did, I don't think. And what we have now is a higher quality but still on disc. Other than picture and sound quality there is no additional benefit, and this is why people just simply aren't caring about HD DVD and Blu-Ray.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eravnrekaree (467752)
        I disagree with this. The difference is very noticeable between HD and regular TV. A much crisper or realistic picture. I do think there is a real reason to upgrade.

        I think at this point players are just too expensive. And they need to come out with a player that plays both DVDs and HD-DVDs, and which sells for $99. Then it wil take off. Once more movies are released for HD-DVD, we will begin seeing more sales. Also, this stupid format war also is slowing things down. Most people dont want to be stuck with
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gr8Apes (679165)
      I too tend to adopt early. Bought my HDTV at the end of 2000. What did I get for my trouble? A really really sharp TV that doesn't interface with many HD components anymore, as that abomination known as HDMI came out afterwards. But, that aside, DVDs provide pretty darn sharp pictures on this TV, as does HD OTA content. Matter of fact, when watching either, it's hard to discern quality differences without pausing the picture. (Broadcast HD is by far better on stills) Considering that OTA HD is higher qualit
      • Yeap, I think we are in the same boat. You want to hand my that paddle? I bought my HDTV in 2001. I don't regret it for one second, but the best part for me has been the 52" 16:9 picture ratio instead of the HD aspect. Granted my tv is going on 6 years old now and starting to show its age, but I'm not about to replace its not compatable with HD-DVD.

    • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:43PM (#16025836) Journal
      Important to remember these new HD formats were never about bringing something new and amazing to the consumers. Its simply that the DVD market is saturated and since everyone (who wants one at least) already has one these hardware guys are seeing thier sales drop-off. These new HD formats are just about trying to get people to buy more stuff. They need sales and if everyone already has thier product then nobody buys. So they had to relese a new product and try to convince consumers of why they needed to buy more stuff. They have failed pretty miserably to date on convincing people to give them more money.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gstoddart (321705)

        Important to remember these new HD formats were never about bringing something new and amazing to the consumers. Its simply that the DVD market is saturated and since everyone (who wants one at least) already has one these hardware guys are seeing thier sales drop-off.

        I believe you are entirely correct in that assessment.

        I was an early adopter of DVD (got mine in '99 as I recall) because at the time it was a huge improvement over VHS, and I couldn't see spending money on any more VHS while I slowly build my

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by delete (514365)
          I was an early adopter of DVD (got mine in '99 as I recall)

          Beware, you should now expect a flurry of posts from Slashdot'ers who feel it necessary to inform you that they owned a DVD player several centuries before you.
      • by RyoShin (610051)
        If the companies are looking to release a new product, they should strive for a better, cheaper stand alone DVD Recorder. These are still fairly expensive when compared to a VCR.

        I've also noticed that a lot of the DVD Recorder units are big and bulky. They can also work towards making them smaller.
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        Its simply that the DVD market is saturated and since everyone (who wants one at least) already has one these hardware guys are seeing thier sales drop-off.

        Well, true, but it's also a significant point that these are HD formats. The TV industry seems to be doing pretty well right now. Everybody I know has their eye on SOME kind of TV lately, be it plasma, LCD, or what-have-you. The government is actually fuelling this fire with the promise that, sooner or later, everybody will be forced to upgrade to a

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Omestes (471991)
          There is a hug difference from "keeping your eye on" and actually purchasing. I DO have my eye on a nice huge LCD (meh to plasma) television, a $4000 gaming rig, a nice new stereo, a new car, etc ect... How many of these will I purchase in the next year, probably none of them, since most of them are just status items, and don't serve for much more than to impress my neighbors in the "See my shiny bling!" way. Perhaps if our economy returned to Clinton Era (mid 90's) levels, then these gadgets will switch
        • The TV industry seems to be doing pretty well right now. Everybody I know has their eye on SOME kind of TV lately, be it plasma, LCD, or what-have-you.

          The Wikipedia article on HDTV says that by the end of this year, 10% of US TVs will be HDTVs.

          Ten percent. Real soon now.

          When VHS and DVD launched, everybody had an SDTV. But Blu-Ray and HD-DVD have nothing to appeal to 90% of potential (US) customers. And they have to split the potential market they do have between two incompatible formats.

          You do the math.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by garcia (6573)
        These new HD formats are just about trying to get people to buy more stuff. They need sales and if everyone already has thier product then nobody buys. So they had to relese a new product and try to convince consumers of why they needed to buy more stuff. They have failed pretty miserably to date on convincing people to give them more money.

        I liken these two formats to LaserDiscs. They were out there, they were superior to tapes, but they were large, clunky, and no one really adopted them except those that
    • by popeye44 (929152) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:50PM (#16025895)
      When he speaks of convenience I can't but help think he means broken kicked in the ass and left in the gutter encryption that is on dvd's. No one reasonably geek would have a device that it takes 3 seconds for their 2 year old to kill the only disk they have and be forced to buy another. I backup dvd's religously as I have a 5 and an 8 year old. While they do not fubar my movies much they fubar theirs like mad. "imagine if you will your 5 year old walking into the room with the dvd held correctly in the center by his finger.. and the underside of the dvd having peanut butter and jelly on it.."

      I have no desire or intention to pay for anything more than once. Taxes are bad enough at doing that why should I buy a player that only makes it harder for me to escape that idiocy? Better quality? Well I have a 42in plasma.. and yes it looks great with hdmi connections and Hi Def... but there's not enough hi-def content for me to appreciate it fully yet. Dvd's look good and i'm happy with them so far. I still don't have a compelling reason to buy anything incrementally better. I'm not paying for a screwing regardless if your a hooker in Mexicali or Sony in Japan.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pope (17780)
        Sounds like you need to give the kids access to an HTPC rather than backing up their DVDs! Rip/compress to had drive, come up with an easy interface and a waterproof keyboard, and blammo, no more sticky discs.

        Of course, back when I was a kid, we didn't have VCRs, let alone purchased movies, so I really cannot symapthize ;) I learned very quickly not to use crayon on my books because I simply wasn't getting another one.
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Here's another telling piece of evidence from the article, again a quote: "Often, it has something to do with source material. Sometimes the film itself is shot in a way that may emphasize a grainy look as opposed to a sharp picture," he said. This almost outright concedes the new "high resolution" exceeds what most media will be capable of providing... or, it's an excuse... neither gives me any warm fuzzies about my return on investment for new DVD formats.

      Well, I've seen clips shot with a $1200 HDR-HC3 th
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Friday September 01, 2006 @04:04PM (#16026443) Homepage Journal
        Agreed. I think it's a deeper problem than that, though. Filmmakers, from the local guys doing commercials to the big Hollywood releases, have become accustomed to the level of detail that a person can see in an NTSC broadcast, and basically aim for that as their output. (Well that, and 35mm theatrical film.) I'm not talking about just postproduction decisions, but actual artistic/compositional choices. You put the actor a certain distance away from the camera, because you want people to be able to see their expressions clearly in the desired output format. You use certain makeup/costume techniques, because you assume that people can't see it. Etc., etc.

        Even if you hand a director a HDTV camera and tell him to shoot the thing in HD, it may well end up that the ultimate product doesn't benefit from the additional resolution, or it could even be worse: you might start seeing visible makeup, or clogged pores, or set issues; because the director is 'thinking' in standard-def, the additional information might end up just being extraneous and confusing. The new output format requires a rethinking of the whole process.

        It's not until enough people have HDTVs that the people actually making the content will think in those terms when they're working, but people aren't going to get HDTVs until there's really well-designed content for them to watch.

        So you're correct that it's a chicken-and-egg situation, or rather a solution seeking a problem that people don't realize they have and/or don't care too much about. HD content can be pretty amazing when it's done right, but there's really not too much of that out there. The stuff I've seen in HD that's really impressive are mostly recordings of actual events (e.g. sports) where the more detail you have, the better it gets; but that more=better isn't always true with other content, unless that level of detail has been anticipated and planned for through the production process.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Botia (855350)
      I couldn't agree with you more. I'm an early adopted, especially with graphics stuff. I had a digital camera back when people didn't know what they were. I had a DVD player back when DVD's came in CD cases. I had been looking forward to the new DVD format but it has been so severly screwed up with DRM's, format wars, pricing, lack of contect, etc. that there's no way I'm going to buy one.

      Give me a format that I can copy it to my computer by dragging and dropping. Then let me play it on my XBox 360 over
    • by ayjay29 (144994)
      >>each new format is providing a limited and only slightly overlapping selection... wtf? This was the same early problem with CDs.

      I was an early adopter with CDs (showing my age here). I bought one of the first Phillips players (I still have it). I got a free CD with it, "The Pure and Perfect Sound of Phillips Compace Disc", and a catalog with all the CDs currently available, three on each page, with a colour photo of the cover, and paragraph review of each album, there's under 100 in the catalog.

      When
  • What a shocker (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:27PM (#16025685)
    DVD was a huge step up from VHS tapes. HDDVD/BR offer nothing truly substantial to make people want to buy them plus most people don't have an HDTV to take advantage of the extra resolution.
    • And they take something away in the form of vastly increased DRM (HDMI, disc encryption) and you get to pay the development costs in the price of the products. Yay!
    • To summarize... (Score:5, Informative)

      by dch24 (904899) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:48PM (#16025874) Journal
      • Due to the Image Constraint Token (ICT) your new HD player will not play your movies at full resolution. (Because the HDTVs sold to date mostly have component inputs, and no HDMI input)
      • There are only a few titles in each format, and no guarantee that all titles will become available in one format (until the format war is over)
      • The AACS DRM offers features like remotely blacklisting your player, which will immediately brick it when you play that new movie. Why would I buy this? No, I'm not a pirate; this feature is not a feature at all.
      • Demos at the store have been disappointing at best. The improvement over DVD is pretty slim.
      • I'd rather wait for the price to drop on 1080p players. I know that a 60Hz 1080i can play a 24fps 1080p movie. But what if I want to watch a 60fps 1080p movie? See point above about your computer being better than your DVD player for this.
      • This article [slashdot.org] points out that your computer will probably out-perform any DVD player you can buy
      • BD-R and HD-DVD-R are available but still pretty expensive. This might not seem like a factor at first, but remember that the big pirating outfits are not using recordable media. The early adopters will. Case in point: I work with an independent movie studio and they want to show their previews in HD when they travel. What they do right now is bring a nice powerful laptop with the movie on the hard disk. How is a player going to compete with that?
      • by zerocool^ (112121)

        (Because the HDTVs sold to date mostly have component inputs, and no HDMI input)

        I'll go one further. Unless your HDMI input and your TV and your cable and your output support HDCP encryption, you get nothing, and must down-convert to Analog.

      • I'd rather wait for the price to drop on 1080p players. I know that a 60Hz 1080i can play a 24fps 1080p movie. But what if I want to watch a 60fps 1080p movie?

        Blu-ray and HD DVD do not allow 1080p60; it would require the decoder chips to be twice as powerful.

        This article points out that your computer will probably out-perform any DVD player you can buy

        Not in HD, where PC playback is being held back by the DRM morass.
      • by cheinonen (318646)
        Due to the Image Constraint Token (ICT) your new HD player will not play your movies at full resolution. (Because the HDTVs sold to date mostly have component inputs, and no HDMI input)

        Quick, name one player that uses ICT? Anyone? That's because the studios agreed to not use it for quite a while (2010 or 2011 I believe), and even then they still may not. If you were an early adopter with only component inputs, but then you'll probably have something new with HDMI inputs, but this isn't a valid reason sin
        • Re:To summarize... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dch24 (904899) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:36PM (#16026253) Journal
          Quick, name one player that uses ICT? Anyone? That's because the studios agreed to not use it

          You misspelled "disk." The player is required to support ICT as a part of the AACS spec. If the studios want to release a few unimportant disks with ICT turned off to sucker us in, they might find we will not buy in.

          but when the source is 24 fps

          Cable and broadcast HDTV already support 60fps. I would think you would understand, since you own a 1080p HDTV. If you already own a player, fine. I'm going to wait for one that can decode 1080p60. Your computer can already do that.
    • by cbreaker (561297)
      In terms of video quality, a DVD didn't really offer up that much of an improvement over DVD. DVD helped with longer-lasting quality video (10 year old VHS tapes show their age) and better sound, but besides the random-access nature of a DVD (which really, how many times do you jump back and forth during a movie?) I don't find it to be that big a deal over VHS.

      Now, HD-DVD/Blu-Whatever, they promise up to 4x the resolution of normal DVD's/VHS, which is damned significant. If you can't tell the difference
      • Now, HD-DVD/Blu-Whatever, they promise up to 4x the resolution of normal DVD's/VHS, which is damned significant. If you can't tell the difference between HD and SD, you either need a new TV or new Eyes, and you definately didn't notice any difference between VHS and DVD.

        Ever think that most people can tell the difference between SD and HD, but simply don't care about the higher definition? There's a lot of things that I'd rather be doing than watching tv, especially if it requires a tv that costs more tha

  • Disappointing (Score:2, Informative)

    by neonprimetime (528653)
    It was disappointed in the article format. Here's the Printer Friendly version [reuters.com]
  • No selling points (Score:3, Informative)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:32PM (#16025732) Journal
    There's no guarantee that you're decoding to full res, that your player WILL EVER be able to decode to full res, that full res is even WORTH watching, and that you ever really OWN the content you bought.

      Why would anyone buy this stuff? There's few positive selling points about it. Movies are on DVD for as long as anyone can foresee, and computers can record on these formats and play on setops. What are the market-accepted details for the new formats? Nobody can decide.

      Peh, I'd love to see the capacities go up, but DRM fouled both these formats. Nobody's going to wipe the stink off them, and so we must let them die. Perhaps a company will simply go for capacity and format without mucking around with anything else.
  • The Mess (Score:4, Insightful)

    by in2mind (988476) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:33PM (#16025735) Homepage
    Neither format is selling well or at the level I had expected. I had expected early adopters to step up and other retailers have had the same experience

    Yea.Early adopter.They expect them to buy a player each - One to play HD-DVD;Another to play Blu-Ray; And then they will keep the user guessing as to which one will become the standard.

    They created the confusion.They are paying for it.Why should consumers too?

  • Too much confusion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:34PM (#16025741) Homepage
    Consumers have a tendency to stay away from confusing markets. Nobody wants to buy something only to find out that they "got ripped off".
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:34PM (#16025749)
    If the PS3 fails to ignite blu-ray sales, Sony is going to have to back down and start licensing the blu-ray technology to manufacturers of hybrids (Samsung was originally contemplating [dlmag.com] such a player, but rumor is that Sony refused to licensed blu-ray in a hybrid player, which is already leading to some legal headaches [geekyblogs.com]).

    Sony are control freaks and absolutely obsessed with their own proprietary formats (no matter how many times this has burned them). But if they don't blink on this one, it could take BOTH formats down.

    -Eric

    • by cptgrudge (177113) <cptgrudge&gmail,com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:39PM (#16025795) Journal

      But if they don't blink on this one, it could take BOTH formats down.

      I don't see any problem. Keep your fingers crossed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xugumad (39311)
        The post's marked funny, but no, seriously, if both formats flop, it isn't a big issue. Upscaled DVDs are just fine for me, thanks, and I imagine a lot of other people too. Not only that, but I'd be amazed if they don't try the launch again a few more years down the line, hopefully with better formats...

        Heck, we may never see another format like DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, because we'll all download movies over ultra fast broadband, but I'm a believe it when I see it kinda guy on that front.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by WillAffleckUW (858324)
      If the PS3 fails to ignite blu-ray sales, Sony is going to have to back down and start licensing the blu-ray technology to manufacturers of hybrids

      They've already been forced to license it in China, due to widescale piracy of the tech. At least, according to Fortune [fortune.com] and the Wall Street Journal [wsj.com]. Showed up in an interview with the Scottish CEO of Sony and then followup articles in the WSJ.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord Apathy (584315)

      I think sony is going to get handed their ass on this one. Sony doesn't have a good track record when trying to release a competing standard. Betamax vs. VHS anyone? PSP against the Nintendo DS? From what I read most of the DVD manufacturing companies would rather go with HD-DVD than BR. because they don't have to reduce their manufacturing lines. They can just up grade the equipment that they make DVD's on. Where with BR they will have to buy all new equipment, buy it from Sony that is.

      Another thi

  • Quoted For Truth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:34PM (#16025753)
    "When we put the disc in, all the sales people looked around and said it doesn't look much better than a standard DVD"

    The important part: "...doesn't look much better..."

    I would be the first to agree that HD does look better. But does it look better enough to toss my current DVD player and TV? Is it worth the headache of the format rivalry and all the DRM connectivity issues that I'm not sure a new set will be compatible with in two years?

    No.

    I'll continue to sit on the sidelines for a while longer.
  • It's still too confusing to decide which format will be supported by the most releases, what tvs/monitors display the content best, and where to find current content... how many movies are out now anyway? 3? I am still miffed they are confusing consumers with 480, 720 and 1080 both "i" and "p." let alone tv resolutions vary in between each and up and down scale. I wish I was getting off-topic, but it is all so closely related it's frustrating. ug!

    I wonder how this is going to effect the PS3 as well. It's al
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:35PM (#16025764)
    I can't imagine why folks are not rushing to this.

    DVD's look great on screens up to 55".
    DVD's can be backed up and are very cheap.
    DVD players are dirt cheap.

    HD/Blu ray are
    1) expensive
    2) heavily drm'd
    3) havn't chosen the best movies to start with.
    4) Not that much better on the screens joe average can buy.
    5) DO NOT EVEN WORK CORRECTLY on HD MONITORS if they are more than about 7 months old (downsample if the player doesn't detect a secure connection to the monitor)

    I can't imagine why consumers are not flocking to these--

    • by ILikeRed (141848)
      But they have DRM, and DRM, and... encrypted DRM in the cables, and uh... DRM!

      Everybody should want one!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by 787style (816008)
      To be clear, DVD's look pretty good on my 110" tv.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by aiken_d (127097)
      Argh, I hate misinformation. If you don't know what you're talking about, why post?

      There are plenty of reasons not to buy HDDVD/Bluray. But you're way off base here, with the exception of DRM, which is as much a philosophical argument as anything. Let me count the ways that you have erred:

      1) Standard DVD's look like crap on 55" screens. This is subjective, sure, but if you really believe this, you will *never* need HD because you're blind. Standard DVD's leave tons of compression artifacts in dark scen
      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:59PM (#16026406)
        LoL... "Looks like crap on a 55" screen." Spoken like a true videophile. DVD's look great on HD monitors at 720p. HD is *very* marginally better. To most people I know, the quality difference worth about $50 bucks.

        2) $500 is very expensive. A person making a great living pulls in about $4k after taxes. So there went 1/8 of your monthly income for a player (vs 3 hours). If you are making a managerial or doctor's salary then cool. I also don't drive around a dodge viper (only about 3x a normal car price in its day) or wear armani suits (about 7x a decent suit). And HD/blu ray are no where near better a DVD than a dodge viper/armani suit are than their counterparts.

        3)I paid about $1,200 for a phillips 57" HD monitor with tuner. It is a great monitor. When I can get a bluray or hd player for $99, then I'm there. I agree, average joe can get a crappy monitor for less. I agree videophile can get an EXCELLENT monitor for about $2800 (plus 600 service plan plus 340 taxes plus 120 delivery and setup or about $4000 total with misc cables and crap). I looked long and hard at the $2800 level which IS better (and DVD's look great on that format). I love the look and form-factor of 57" LCD screens. But I don't want to eat dog-food when I retire to have one. And I think they will drop by over $1000 in the next 12 months to a more reasonable $1,800 for the same quality.

        4) As the other person already pointed out- businesses make promises all the time that they do not keep- the capability IS there. They will use it before 2010 if they can get away with it.

        I agree with all your other points about why no one wants it.

        ---

        There is NO point in being a first adopter these days. Used to be, that gave you a BIG edge over everyone else. You might be 12 to 24 months ahead of them and be "cool" for a long time. These days- if something is going to be successful it is probably ubiquous within 6 months. Why keep paying a 10x premium? I purchased 80% of my dvd library for about $5 to $7.50. As a result, I have 99% of what my friend's have AND then I have a bunch of stuff they can't afford because they are all paying $20.00. (Why pay $80 per xfiles season when THIS week you can now pay $20 per season! ($180 total)).

        There is such a huge glut of entertainment now- I can't possibly watch or keep up with it. So I fell behind and noticed how much money it was saving me to be just 3-4 months off the leading edge. So then I pushed it to 6 months and the savings were even bigger. Now i push it to 6 months + next major holiday nad the savings are almost always 60% or more vs what my bleeding edge buds pay.

        It would be *different* if HD/BLU was NIGHT and DAY, hands down, fabulous, life changing, emotion wringing, bud attracting (hey let's all go over to Maxo's house- he has HD/BLU!) better. But it is not.

        It's a teensy bit better for normal people and MUCH more expensive AND heavily laden-- no CRIPPLED-- with DRM format which was stupid and gives us 50/50 odds of picking the format which will have the movies we want.

        There isn't just ONE reason to crush the sellers on this- we need to crush them so bad, their entire departments will be fired and they will have to leave their respective countries in shame.
  • Diminishing Returns (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JBHarris (890771)
    Simple demand/supply says that you will not need an infinite supply of anything, and that also applies to technology. Diminishing returns says that sooner or later, people will have enough technology (Blu-Ray, XBox360s, Laptops, etc) and they will not want or need any more. Upgrades are in the same boat.
  • by caldroun (52920)
    The formats just came out, and the players are still expensive. Did they think that we would all run out and buy our movies again? Much less a player for $1000. Pfft. While we are still getting announcements like "Sony releases 2 more movie titles for Blue-Ray" tells me that they shouldn't be concerned about underwhelming performance yet...it is still NEW! Give me a reason to replace my ubiquitous DVD players.
  • Display requirements (Score:3, Interesting)

    by binaryDigit (557647) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:39PM (#16025794)
    When we put the disc in, all the sales people looked around and said it doesn't look much better than a standard DVD,'

    They don't mention exactly what they watched it on. If it wasn't some 1080p wonderdisplay, then it brings out what I think the major failing of these hd formats will be (at least this first gen). The great thing about dvd was that you saw immediate benefits both from the medium and the content on your _standard_tv_. You didn't need the latest lcd/dlp/plasma display to appreciate what you were getting. The jump from tape -> dvd was massive, both in quantity and quality of content and the convenience of the medium itself, and it was available to anyone. Now we have only an incremental increated in the convenience of the medium (saves having multi-disk sets) which really doesn't mean much for most viewers and the improvements in quality only applies to a much smaller audience.
    • by ianscot (591483) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:10PM (#16026037)

      The great thing about dvd was that you saw immediate benefits both from the medium and the content on your _standard_tv_. You didn't need the latest lcd/dlp/plasma display to appreciate what you were getting... Now we have only an incremental increase in the convenience of the medium (saves having multi-disk sets) which really doesn't mean much for most viewers and the improvements in quality only applies to a much smaller audience.

      When it comes to the new consoles, both MS and Sony have bet the bank on the television market being saturated with big HD sets that would justify an "investment" in a game console that would display in HD on them. In a few ways -- cost of game development, size of their potential market as you say here -- both companies appear to have lost track of the market, or to have projected it wrongly. Market penetration of huge HD screens just isn't there yet. Maybe it will be during the lifespan of these consoles, maybe not.

      Meanwhile a competitor that tries to jazz up the game experience on "your _standard_tv_" is out there, phrasing its admittedly not-cutting-edge technology in ways that DO mean something to most game players.

  • by ben there... (946946) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:40PM (#16025799) Journal
    I rent DVDs from NetFlix and take screen captures and short clips for one of my sites, and would love to use HD movies instead. For the same subscription price, I'd be getting 1920x1080 images instead of ~640x480 or 852x480, a huge difference for stills.

    But then again, I don't even know if I'd be able to take screen captures from a computer, with all the DRM they have.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sfeinstein (442310)
      Sit tight, the MPAA agents are on their way. They are your friends. Let them in when they ask politely.
      • Strange how all these other high profile sites do the same thing with no problems.

        I suppose I should have put a disclaimer that I was already aware of issues with fair use, editorial use, the percentage of a work that qualifies as fair use, etc.

        The only real problem is whether DRM prevents using them with programs that are capable of screen captures, or even with computers at all.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Unfortunately, not until VLC or some other open source player figures out the format and how to play it.

      What bothers me is that the "screencap" protection has actually gotten worse. In MacOS 9, you could take a screencap with a DVD playing and the DVD image would just be blanked out. In OS X, you can't take a screencap at all without quitting DVD Player. Which is a royal PITA when I want to take a screencap of something in World of Warcraft and I happen to have a DVD playing on the other monitor. Thanks
      • Wow, that's pretty rough. Windows is similar by default: with hardware acceleration enabled that part of the screencap is just black. But if you disable hardware acceleration for video, it works fine. Or use a different program besides WMP/WinDVD.

        Maybe Apple uses similar hardware acceleration for DVDs?
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:40PM (#16025800) Journal
    Oh, sure we're an impulsive crowd, but most are educated and realize when we've been snookered before.

    Did nobody in either camp stop and look at how they had royally screwed every early adopter of HDTV? The promise of content that never occured. The delayed, and delayed, and delayed rollout of OTA. The jumble of formats that caused event the best CE to falter under the load of options. The incompatibilities between components. The ubiquitous component interface that every early adopter had on their display sets which are now utterly obsolete due to the need for "content protection" - a perfectly good $7000 50RP set which may be relegated to 480p at the whim of the broadcaster. The promise of 20Mb HD that got chopped into subchannels to rerun Andy Griffith and the Golden Girls in SD simultaneously, at the expense of HD. The iron fist approach to preventing transferring DVDs to Media Servers.

    No, the industry has drawn a line, and the early adopters are on the other side. We're the ones who are most adversely affected by the content protection and market jockying. Don't come to me with your hand out for your improved shovel right after you run over my dog. The industry has, through their anti-piracy efforts, significantly alienated a large portion of their first-run consumers. They've managed to eliminate the initial cash infusion that covers the R&D part of the CE process, and now they're stuck with trying to add enough volume to get every household to buy the product just to cover the engineering costs.

    The early adopters want to buy this stuff, but we want to play with our new toys, not see how womebody else want us to play with them. Give us back our control, and we'll open our wallets. 'Til then, go fuck yourselves.
    • by HTMLSpinnr (531389) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:50PM (#16025902) Homepage
      I'm in the camp that got burned too - my Toshiba 34" CRT HDTV Monitor I bought only a few years back is useless w/ newer technology as it lacks any sort of digital input. I'm not anti-DRM, but I'm not going to spend alot for an inferior performance.

      Before I sink any money into either format, I'd want to see a clear winner, and something that wouldn't require me to upgrade my TV every 2 years to keep up with.

      Until then, my older Panasonic RP-82 works just fine w/ regular (or SuperBit) DVDs. I already get full resolution HD from my cable company.
    • by Darth Maul (19860) on Friday September 01, 2006 @04:17PM (#16026540) Homepage
      Excellent summary of my thoughts, too. I'm an early adopter. Bought a $1K DVD player when they first came out (still works, btw). But now my 34" CRT Sony HDTV (lacking HDMI input) will not play nicely with a new HD DVD / Blu-ray formats just because The Man is already assuming I'm an evil pirate? And I'm supposed to give them money for that "feature"?

      It is obvious that this new HD-DVD and Blu-Ray market is only to serve the media companies. They want two things 1) control over the content, and 2) consumers to buy all their movies all over again. Ok, so they're getting those two things with this new format. But what do we, the actual customers, get out of it? Nothing worth upgrading for.

      I'm usually first in line to buy new technology, but I'm completely skipping this round. Come back to me when I can download a movie for a few bucks, play it on my component-input HDTV, and keep the movie file around as long as I want to. Right now the pendulum is swinging way too far to the side of company greed, so I'll wait.
  • Wow, the Sony demo looked great, but when Joe Sixpack discovers he needs a $3,000 TV (Plasma, or LCD, by the way?) to take any advantage of his $1500 player (which may or may not still be around in three years, depending on which format wins) which will play a handful of titles, maybe three of which were ever recorded at the resolution he'll be watching at. There's a shock.
  • by Megajim (885529)
    This keeps being compared to the VHS-Beta conflict. We've already been through that and, as consumers, we learned from it. When CDs came out, there weren't competing formats. There were also no competing formats for DVDs (unless you consider DIVX [wikipedia.org] more than a blip). The VHS-Beta conflict was fueled by the fact that you could adequately use either format to record. Where's the fuel for HDDVD/BR? A smattering of random titles? I'm sorry, but it's not worth $500-1000 for me to see and HD version of "Sere
  • What do you expect? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sdo1 (213835) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:50PM (#16025897) Journal
    What exactly do you expect when a huge percentage of people who have HDTVs either aren't using them with high-def sources and/or they aren't but they THINK they are [webwire.com]? Yea, HD is great. I have a 50" first-generation DLP (720p). The picture is really good and regular DVDs can look great. But I have no desire to drop a grand (or even half that) on an HD video player right now, especially when I'd be buying movies for a second time (some a third time when I upgraded from VHS). Furthermore, the discs are locked down with DRM that isn't yet breakable. I'm not going to buy a new movie on an HD format if I can't down-convert it and burn it to DVD so I can watch on DVD players elsewhere in the house. Sorry. Those are my rules. If the content isn't portable, I'm not buying. Period.

    -S

  • No Shit? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Lord Apathy (584315)

    I've been saying that for 2 years. I was able to put a HD movie and a DVD side by side back then. I could barely tell a difference and that was only when I looked. Granted there are some programs that are breath taking in HD. Some of the PBS nature shows are like looking through a window. But I have yet to see a HD movie or TV show that has that level of effect.

  • by kirun (658684) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:54PM (#16025934) Homepage Journal
    Dear [electronics manufacturer],

    Wonder why [new format with uncertain future] isn't selling?

    Remember [format that flopped]? We do.

    Signed, the buying public.
  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@NOSpam.kc.rr.com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:02PM (#16025974) Homepage
    One of the things that really separated DVD from VHS was size and look. The DVD was futuristic to many, durability and very obvious image quality were bonus reasons to move to the new platform. It was similar to the move from Cassette tape to CD's, it was an obvious and cool transition, no more switching tapes for long movies, no more tapes stretching or wearing out and dvd's dont eat tapes like cassette decks. Dont forget there was also the early promise that the media would eventually be cheaper (even though it never happened)

    The only obvious benefit from HD-DVD and Blu-Ray is image quality, it doesnt really look different, its no more durable, and for most it just seems like a scam to get people to buy their movies over again.

    Increased resolution is a benefit but most people still dont have HD tv's and probably more than half that do only have them because there are very few tv's that arent HD for sale anymore. You can further reduce the total by subtracting the ones that dont know how to hook it up properly and arent recieving HD anyway most of them are now disillusioned by HD through their own stupidity. That leaves a very tiny fragment of a market that actually sees any advantage to HD formated DVD's. I do think eventually one of the formats will stick but they would be better off doing hyrid disks with one format on one side and standard dvd on the other that way they can snag the replacement buyers not just rely on folks willing to make an upgrade most see as not necessary.
    • by dch24 (904899)
      Hey, don't tell anyone, but...

      Dont forget there was also the early promise that the media would eventually be cheaper (even though it never happened)

      That will happen in just a few years when these HD DVD players start gaining popularity. Then hopefully you will be able to get new release DVD's for $5. Keep your fingers crossed, and don't tell the media execs you're waiting for it, or it will never happen...
  • Human Limitations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LoTechDave (999425) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:02PM (#16025978)
    The limits of humans' ability to perceive sensor information is fixed and while the DVD isn't perfect, the lackluster response of the HD-DVD & Blu-Ray in the marketplace is an indication that diminishing returns for entertainment-based technology are here. I think underpinning this issue is an unexcited general public that has been underwhelmed by the quality of recent movies. If a movie is crap, then seeing it in HD might allow you to say "I think he ate corn"
  • Unsurprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LParks (927321) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:03PM (#16025985)
    The lack of sales of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD is unsurprising.

    What does surprise me is that it seems both sides are mostly selling these products on higher quality video, rather than capacity.

    I look at the early releases for these two and only see movies.

    I can't really tell the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray or HD-DVD in terms of video quality, but I can easily tell something quantifiable like having one piece of media for a whole season of a TV show vs. 4 or 5 DVDs. That convenience is why I like single DVD games over 5 CD games for my PC.
  • HD, bah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alucinor (849600) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:06PM (#16026014) Journal
    HD makes no visible difference for me. I don't keep my glasses clean enough of spots for HD to matter. And I like big tapestries on my walls more than big screens. Watching DVDs on my 19" PC monitor is enough screen for me for the rest of my life.
  • by gsn (989808) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:10PM (#16026040)
    I don't think these guys realize that a large number of people who buy dvds are in college or recent graduates with student loans. I can't afford a 1000 buck player and a 1500 buck minimum HDTV and then the actual discs (the electronics would be more than a months stipend right there). The prices will eventually come down and this format war will resolve itself. Even then I will think hard about paying so much for to watch TV and movies and I will probably resist and dismiss it as too much of a luxury. I spent that much after saving for around a year and a half to get a very nice gaming rig but a PC does a lot more than a HDTV and HD player. Even if I did buy the HD equipment I'm certainly not replacing my dvds - they are good enough, and if DVDs remain significantly cheaper than HD content I will probably buy the DVDs instead.
  • EVD standard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alucinor (849600) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:11PM (#16026048) Journal
    I personally think China's EVD standard will become dominant -- not because consumer's will flock to it, though, but manufacturers. There is no copyright or other licensing to use it, and it's a freely published standard for high-def. No royalities, and it's codecs can even be implemented in Linux without legal issues.
    • Re: EVD standard (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:29PM (#16026196) Homepage
      I personally think China's EVD standard will become dominant -- not because consumer's will flock to it, though, but manufacturers. There is no copyright or other licensing to use it, and it's a freely published standard for high-def. No royalities, and it's codecs can even be implemented in Linux without legal issues.

      And, for that exact reason, it will never be allowed to be successful in North America.

      The content lobbyists will introduce a tarriff on foreign players. Then they'll say that even with the tarriff those players need to be outlawed since they probably encourage piracy by people. Afetr all, if it will play anything, then it will probably play pirated versions.

      It would simply be impossible for an unencumbered product, not championed by someone who is paying law-makers and lobbyists to be either distributed or become successful in the current climate.

      And, that makes me sad. Because (even though I'm not familiar with it) the product you describe may well be technologically superior -- or at least superior to standard TV stuff without the liminations of the newest stuff that Sony wants us to buy.

      Cheers
    • Re: EVD standard (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PCM2 (4486) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:36PM (#16026250) Homepage
      This is an interesting possibility, but history leans toward no. VCDs became the de facto replacement for VHS in Asia even while DVD took off among people who wanted higher-quality formats. VCD never went anywhere in the U.S., however, despite the fact that there are a lot of major metropolitan areas in the U.S. with thriving Asian communities where retailers do trade in VCDs. The download community is accustomed to the VCD format, but not retail consumers.

      Technologies like this just don't seem to cross-pollinate from Asian markets into Western markets. Presumably this has to do with the Western media companies' loathing and distrust for Asian technologies, given the Asian markets' traditional indifference toward Western intellectual property standards.

      It seems likely that some format similar to EVD will emerge, however ... either that, or enough college kids with access to downloaded EVD images will drive some kind of market for DVD players that support the format (similar to how there is now a trickle of players appearing that support MPEG-4).

      P.S. This seems like a pretty good FAQ [digital-digest.com] on the various available formats, including EVD and FVD.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:17PM (#16026092) Homepage
    Records: Handel in Quad; John Rockwell; The New York Times February 19, 1973, p. 29

    'Music for Royal Fireworks' Sounded Better in an Early Stereo Version

    Whatever its ultimate artistic and technological merits may be, quadraphonic sound understandable has the classical-record business rubbing its collective hands together with glee. The classical repertory has its limits, after all, and the standard pieces have been recorded to death in stereo. Now, at long last, a new gimmick is at hand.

    Not only it is presumed that the American public will spend millions on equipment, but all the hoary old warhorses and hi-fi spectaculars can be done over again in four-channel sound....

    ---
    Truth in advertising... Rockwell acknowledges he was listening to the new release in "plain old stereo." A March 12, 1972 review by an audio reviewer, Don Heckman, listening in quad is, however, only slightly more encouraging:

    "Just what was there to hear on all this gleaming new electronic exotica? Ah, there's the rub. Until just a few months ago, quadraphonic disks were dominated by the sound effects of falling trees, puffing choo-choos and gurgling whirlpools... [now there are more and] in some cases the rewards can be quite spectacular... a room-filling, near-concert-hall effect.... Pop music programs like Joan Baez... [and] Barbra Streisand are straightforward presentations in which one is less aware of a four-dimensional effect than of a kind of opening up of the sound.... [In one track on a Vanguard demonstration disk] the organ sound is quite extraordinary.... Switched-On Bach will probably have its sales surge as listeners discover that it sounds even more fascinating when these weirdly-distorted and re-timbred snippets of Bach go whipping around four, rather than two speakers."

  • First there was:
    • VHS versus Betamax took a noticeable amount of time before one format won out.
    • With 12" video discs there were 3 competing formats. The Pioneer 12" Laserdisc won that and fairly quickly. DVDs killed the 12" Laserdisc.
    • CDs pretty much killed all but killed off vinyl record, but it took time.
    • DVDs killed VHS.

    Now we have the battle of the HD formats. This will probably be in length of time much like the VHS versus Betamax battle. And add to that the fact that not everyone will be jumping righ

  • Hah - I won't buy one of these HD DVD players until it will interface with my HD Radio! [hear2.com]
  • by markdj (691222) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:23PM (#16026136)
    There are two reasons for this: DVD quality and HDMI. The first has been expounded on at length. The picture quality is not that much greater than regular DVD. But no one seems to be talking about the HDMI problem. You need an HD TV to take advantage of the higher resolution, but few people have them and those that do have only one or no HDMI input. Because the studios are worried about copying they won't allow HD signals to be output over composite video. Only HDMI has the encryption to keep copying from happening. Many early HDTV adopters have no HDMI port and are not going to spend $thousands to buy another TV for marginal picture improvement. Those that do have an HDMI port have only one and that is being used by the cable or satellite box. HDMI switch boxes cost $300+ and have no remote! That's my situation. Only in 2006 have HDTVs with 2 HDMI ports become widely available and those are only the more expensive ones. So these new HD/Blu Ray DVDs are for new TV buyers and those TVs are still too expensive to kickstart the market.
  • MiniDisc vs DCC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:27PM (#16026185) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone remember the format war between DCC [wikipedia.org] and MiniDisc [wikipedia.org]? While each did get their adopters neither really faired well in the overall market, since nobody saw real reasons to adopt them.

    When people talk about BluRay vs HD-DVD and compare it to VHS vs BetaMax, I am not so sure, since at least video tapes had a reasons to be taken up. I really believe it is like MiniDisc vs DCC, since few people really care. Drop the DRM and the region encoding and I will be willing to consider them.
  • Popular Mechanics (Score:3, Informative)

    by _Shorty-dammit (555739) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:30PM (#16026202)
    Page 32 of the August 2006 issue of Popular Mechanics has a small story about comparing HD-DVD to standard DVD. Their three test subjects said that the picture from the standard (upconverting) DVD player was almost as good as the real HD-DVD player, but cost $420 less. If the picture's almost as good, why would they want to buy the HD-DVD player? Then I read it again and noticed that the test used a 42" plasma screen that was only 720p. Why even bother doing a comparison if you're not going to use a 1080i/p screen? You're just stacking the deck in favour of putting HD-DVD in a poor light. Standard DVD gets you 345,600 pixels. 720p gets you 921,600 pixels, 2 and 2/3 more pixels. A big step up, to be sure. Perhaps at a regular viewing distance it might not look *that* much better, and maybe that's what happened for the test subjects. But at 1080 you get 2,073,600 pixels! A full SIX times as many pixels as standard def. DVD gives you, and still 2.25 times as many pixels as 720p!! Why, oh why on earth would you do a test with a 720p rig?!? It won't tell you anywhere near the whole story. If you want to see how good HD-DVD is capable of being you need to be looking at the entire picture, not one that has been cutback in resolution by more than half. Seeing stuff like this, especially in something like Popular Mechanics, just aggravates me. It is going to make HD-DVD/Blu-ray that much harder to gain acceptance and start driving prices down. And that's bad for everyone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nattt (568106)
      Well, had a 720p and 1080p Plasma in the office, comparing some 4k video downscaled to 1080p, playback from uncompressed DPX over HDSDI. Simple fact was, you had to stand pretty close to the monitors to see the extra resolution of the 1080p, and overall, the 720p had better contrast and an overall better picture. There's no point in more resolution unless you do it right.

      With regards to Blu Ray - saw an instore demo, and it looked so awful, I'd prefer to watch a normal DVD. There were more compression artif
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:33PM (#16026219) Homepage

    One big problem with HDTV is now becoming apparent - the frame rate of movies is too low. 24FPS at 1080p with the screen in front of your face looks awful when the camera is panning.

    Sports, especially football, compress badly. Football is almost the worst case for motion compression - the camera is moving relative to the background, the players are all moving in different directions, their body parts are all in motion, there's lots of detail that's important to the viewer, and there's no central character that dominates the scene. Viewers are likely to rerun parts of the game in slow motion, which brings out all the compression artifacts. When you have a 50-inch screen in front of you, all those problems really stand out.

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