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Why HD-DVD and Blu-ray Are DOA 289

Posted by Zonk
from the that-was-quick dept.
mikesd81 writes "Slate has up an article on why both new DVD formats are effectively dead on arrival. Article author Sean Cooper cites internet movie and cable on demand services, the price of new hardware, and the inexpensive cost of newer hard drives as the reasons behind his argument. The article goes on to say buying movies online isn't there yet. Titles in standard-def are few, in hi-def fewer still. With five times the visual information of a standard-def flick, an HD download of The Matrix, were it even available, could take all day over the average broadband connection. But consumers are demanding change, and change will happen fast." From the article: "On iTunes an album costs about 10 bucks--as much as $8 less than some CD retailers charge, partially because of the reduced cost of getting music to buyers online. Look for the same savings when it comes to downloading movies. And then there's the fact that hard-disk storage capacities are pushing ever upward while size and price drop. In a few years, you'll buy every episode of The West Wing on a drive the size of a deck of cards rather than on 45 DVDs in a box the size of your microwave oven." Phil Harrison is already saying the PlayStation 4 won't use discs.
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Why HD-DVD and Blu-ray Are DOA

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  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:50PM (#16874240) Homepage Journal
    I don't see his logic. Americans might demand faster connections and more storage space, but they're not going to get it before the Blu Ray and HD DVD player become mainstream. It's a matter of timing - there's no way the cable and phone companies are going to upgrade everyone from 1.5Mbps (an average connection speed now) to 100Mbps (the minimum required to download a 10-15GB Hi Def movie in under an hour) before the HD players become popular.

    No matter how much people might ask for it, there's no way it could possibly happen fast enough. If he was arguing that this next generation of video players will be the last to use physical media, he would have a decent argument, but it will easily take at least 5 years to upgrade our telecommunications infrastructure to the point needed to quickly deliver HD content.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DocBoss (956304)
      Well according to this link we will start seeing 100 mbps downloads much sooner than that.
      http://www.isp-planet.com/cplanet/tech/2006/prime_ letter_060703.html [isp-planet.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pudro (983817)
        That would be awesome, but it doesn't change the fact that most people (outside of /.) will still prefer discs to whatever horribly DRMed form of downloadable content that the movie industry decides to use. As long as they can take that BD into the next room or to a friends, thats what they will want to do. If they can't do that, then they would rather just have DVDs. Most people don't want their computer right by their TV, or to have to run cables between rooms from one to the other. And by the way, decent
        • by bizard (691544) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:56PM (#16876512)
          Right now I have a 6Mbit connection. I have purchased a few movies from the iTunes store and begun watching them about 1 minute after pressing the buy button. The files are betweeen 1 and 1.5 GB. So yes, rental scenarious are good enough right now _and_ you don't have to decide what to watch the night before, you can watch as it downloads.

          That being said, I believe that it has been taking roughly 45-50 minutes to download the entire movie. I could essentially handle double the file size and still watch immediately but 10 times the file size would mean waiting.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jmorris42 (1458) *
        > Well according to this link we will start seeing 100 mbps downloads much sooner than that.

        Well reality says otherwise. I have 3Mbps ADSL now, can soon get 6. Period end of story. BellSouth won't be upgrading their plant here in the forseeable future. They only installed DSL because the State told them to make it available in every parish seat. Outside those towns it doesn't exist, even when towns are bigger than some parish seats. Cities do pretty much all have DSL. We also have cable modems as
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Qzukk (229616)
      there's no way the cable and phone companies are going to upgrade everyone from 1.5Mbps (an average connection speed now) to 100Mbps (the minimum required to download a 10-15GB Hi Def movie in under an hour) before the HD players become popular.

      And they're certainly not going to do it unless they're allowed to charge both the user and Apple's store for the same bandwidth. And the movie producer and director. And the lead actors and actresses. And I hear they even want to charge the janitors as well, ever
    • YEs but you also have the fact that people are also not willing to upgrade their TVs, DVD collections, and anything else they need to either.

      People tried to upgrade CDs (remember audio DVDs and Minidisk) The market said screw you and jumped to MP3 around 10 years later. I suspect the same will happen

      • by Splab (574204) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:09PM (#16874592)
        Yeah, the only way to succeed is to make something that seems better than DVD's - the reason I dropped my VHS collection for DVD's was the storage space. The reason people drop CD's for mp3's isn't quality, but ease of use. Blu-ray and HD-DVD has afaik nothing that gives the user any advantage - either in terms of usage or storage. They are doomed...
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:59PM (#16874422) Homepage Journal
      Just as an aside, if you discount dialup, the average downstream speed is WAY higher than 1.5Mbps. The slowest cable modem services are around 768kbps (not even sure if any of those are still active) and everyone and their mother that's using DOCSIS seems to give you at least 4Mbps now, typically 5Mbps. Satellite is from about 512kbps up to about 1.5Mbps (peak.) DSL is frequently 3Mbps (or more!) now and is pretty much always at least 1Mbps.
      • by Skye16 (685048) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:09PM (#16874600)
        Slowest around here is 320kbps. Midrange is 3.0mbps/320kbps. Max is 5.0mbps/768kbps. Max is about 70$ a month. Midrange: 40$. Slowest: 30$.

        Maybe in urban or suburban areas you're right, but most of the country (area) isn't urban or suburban. Population wise, you'd probably have a majority in those areas, but my guess is you'd still have a sizeable percent who aren't in those areas and don't have those options. DSL is pretty much the same around here, with lowest being 768kbps and highest being 5.0mbps max, but they don't reach that for anywhere except maybe the house directly next door to the switching station. Wi-Max isn't available, and as the area is beset by mountains and valleys, I'm not sure how well it would work to put in any towers. Not having any cell phone service depending on which hill you're on or dell you're in doesn't help.

        I wouldn't find it to be much of a stretch that 1.5mbps is the average. Not everyone thinks they need the super fast speeds. Some just check email or sit on IM. I know so many families with the 320kbps/320kbps connection and it truly boggles my mind. But not everyone is willing to spend 70$ on internet on top of the rest of the TV costs and phone costs.

        So, that turned out to be exceedingly tangential. My bad.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          You're right on this. I currently use high-speed light. Which is cable internet that has a speed cap on it. You pay less per month this way, and still get pretty fast internet as long as you're not trying to download movies (meaning divx/dvd, you can still stream apple trailers). It kind of sucks when I want to download a new Linux Distro, but other than that the speed is tollerable. I don't want to pay $50 a month for internet, so this is next best option to dial-up. I know a lot of people who use th
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Moofie (22272)
            "I currently use high-speed light."

            Every physics teacher in the universe suddenly cried out in horror...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Achra (846023)
          Unfortunately, most of the USA doesn't have broadband. Once you get out of a city (any city - be it a city in the seattle metro area, or a city in TN) DSL becomes a non-option. Cable also becomes a non-option. What does this leave? Effectively: ISDN, Satellite, & Dial-up. ISDN is a non-option in most states, because of its prohibitively high price for what amounts to 15kb/s of total datarate. Satellite is even more inferior, for issues that have been discussed elsewhere - but can boil down to: Horrificl
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jZnat (793348) *
          We in the urban and suburban areas pay out the ass for a shit connection as well, apparently to subsidise the costs for giving the rural areas even crappier connections. I'm speaking as a person from Chicago, but I can't imagine it's any better in LA, NYC, or any of the smaller major cities in the US.
      • by Shawn is an Asshole (845769) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:10PM (#16874616)
        Satellite is completely useless for downloading. Every satellite provider has an "fair access policy" that will kick your connect to dial up speeds if you go over a certain quota. The quotas are very low, even on the most expensive plans. I was looking into that for a client. After googling for a day, I was unable to find a single review that wasn't negative.
      • by Eccles (932)
        My DSL is 768k. I could get faster, but $15/month is just too nice a price and most of the time the speed is good enough.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Don't know where you live, but I live in an urban area here in the U.S., not even in the boonies, and 1.5 Mbps is probably actually above the average here. When you factor in all the dial-up and DSL-lite (700kbps) customers, it way offsets the ONE way to get anything above 1.5 (the DSL "Xtreme" at 3mbps). There is a 6 mbps DSL service that's been PROMISED for years now, but still hasn't materialized.

        Makes me wish I lived in Sweden. Damn those lucky bastards!

        -Eric

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) *

      His prediction is 5 years too early

      Not really. iTunes television is taking off now. The technology may not have fully emerged yet, but it is being adopted by the public at an incredible rate. (I actually submitted a story about how "The Office" was saved from cancellation by the iTunes sales. Predictably, it was rejected.) Apples does not provide exact numbers on their TV and movie sales, but it's a pretty good bet that iTunes growth is outpacing Bluray and HDDVD adoption. Given that it took about 5 years f

      • I don't like it. It's basically a vertical integration of their player, music, and video using their proprietary file formats. I don't know about you, but I would rather buy a standard DVD that I can play anywhere. And why should I buy TV shows I already get and can record via cable? It may be taking off, but it still has a long way to go to reach cruising altitude not to mention the destination: my TV.
    • by CyberLord Seven (525173) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:03PM (#16874484)
      The phone and cable companies have been dragging their feet with regard to internet service which makes sense. They don't want phat pipes before they are allowed to charge both sides of the pipe. See their arguments against net neutrality for more.

      Is there any consumer backlash?

      No. Think back to when Coca-Cola changed the formula for Coke. People took to the streets and it hit ALL of the major news media in the US.

      People don't care. I think they don't care because what they have is fast enough. It's the same with DVD and Hi-Def. I already have movies in DVD format. I have seen one of my favorites, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in Hi-Def this summer and compared it, on the same television, to my DVD copy. Net result, I LOVED the Hi-Def image but I'm not going to buy the movie again in Hi-Def for the simple reason that there is no compelling reason to buy it in a lesser format.

      What I mean by lesser format is DRM.

      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:46PM (#16875262)
        I'm all with ya on the "down with DRM", but you can't take a DRM high-ground whilst proclaiming the superiority of your DVD copy: DVD's have DRM too. Maybe not as strong as the new formats, but it's still present.
        • by Durrok (912509)
          Is it still DRM if anyone can copy it by putting it into their dvd drive and running it on a recent version of Nero?

          If the DRM no longer does it's job and even non-techies can get around it I don't think it's really DRM anymore. I think it's just obsolete software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't see his logic. Americans might demand faster connections and more storage space, but they're not going to get it before the Blu Ray and HD DVD player become mainstream.

      Look at ti this way. HD-DVD and Blu-ray provide more space for higher definition video and a few other features. Internet download movies currently provide convenience of acquisition and storage and potentially lower prices. The market is demanding the latter more than the former. Faster connections are becoming much more common, m

    • by Digz (90264)
      My cable company just sent me a letter telling me that my broadband is being upgraded to 10Mb in the immediate future - with no additional cost. It may not be as far away as you think.
      • by OakDragon (885217)
        My cable company just sent me a letter telling me that my broadband is being upgraded to 10Mb

        Is this Insight [insightbb.com]?

    • It's a matter of timing - there's no way the cable and phone companies are going to upgrade everyone from 1.5Mbps (an average connection speed now) to 100Mbps (the minimum required to download a 10-15GB Hi Def movie in under an hour) before the HD players become popular.

      Why do you need 100Mb/s? For reference, the speed of HD-DVDs and BluRay is 30Mb/s. Once you pass this, you can watch a HD movie as easily from somewhere on the Internet as locally. In the UK, cheap home Internet connections are 4-8Mb/

    • Forest thru the tress: I don't know about anyone else, but my On demand movies load almost instantaneously. I haven't bought a DVD in months. Why? Because I only ever really watch a DVD once before it goes on the shelf; On Demand makes more sense and it costs 3.95. Everyone here saying he's 5 years too early is just focusing on digital downloads from iTunes, et al, and not from Comcast or RCN or whatever. Sure, there will still be people who want to horde their loot, but there were also people who clung to
    • Early yes, but nowhere near 5 years. Let's be honest, if I spend the 5-10 minutes required for the various task involved, I could have a new, DVD-quality movie to watch every night of the week. Hell, with my broadband connection, I could do a double header every night, preceded by some catoons and a half-hour news segment (say, a Daily Show ep), and still have bandwith left over. I know this isn't Hi-def, but the installed base for that is ridiculously low, and most people will never notice anyway.

      Now
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by doctor_no (214917)
      Not only are downloads speeds an issue, even if 100Mbs speeds were available to every single household, imagine running a server & network that is going to serve 10-15GB movies at 100Mbs to tens of thousands of households and only charge $10-15 per movie. For a 10GB HD movie, you will need 10 terabytes of bandwidth for every 1,000 people downloading. Now imagine a big release that expects sales in hundreds of thousands or in the millions in the first week.
  • Umm (Score:5, Funny)

    by ReidMaynard (161608) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:52PM (#16874292) Homepage
    In a few years, you'll buy every episode of The West Wing..

    Oh God...make it stop...

    • by ettlz (639203)
      In a few years, you'll buy every episode of The West Wing..
      Oh God...make it stop...
      Look at it this way. By then the scenes will be so bloody dark you won't be able to watch it any way.
  • Vongo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:55PM (#16874350) Journal
    The article goes on to say buying movies online isn't there yet.
    I whole heartedly agree with that.

    Disclaimer: I haven't tried online videos through iTunes or any other service but I am a user of Netflix.

    I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial for Vongo [vongo.com]. It almost seemed too good to be true. And it was.

    The commercial lead me to believe that I was going to open an account on a site and that I would be able to pay $10/month and download any movie I wanted to my hard drive. What a naïve idiot I was.

    The problems I had with Vongo:
    • They needed my e-mail address just so I could download the client. So even if I didn't like it or join their service, they still had contact info.
    • You'll notice their site is in complete Flash--so is their client. And, much to my chagrin, all the movies are viewed through Flash & it's required. I had problems accessing the site with mozilla.
    • Not only are the files encrypted (this was expected) but they're of Flash quality meaning that they're bulky and low quality.
    • You don't get any movie you want, you get to pick from a selected list. But be careful, only some of those titles are free.
    • Of those select titles, the only one I wanted to see was The Devil & Danial Johnston. But when I wanted to download it, Vongo wanted $4 USD for it.
    • Two hours later, after D&DJ was finally on my laptop, I tried to watch it only to have a warning pop up informing me that once I started playing it, I had 24 hours to watch it before it deleted itself.
    I could continue bitching but I think you get the idea. I was dissatisfied with Vongo & and heavily recommend everyone to stay away from it. The fact that I have to read the fine print in order to understand how their service works should have been a big warning sign. But in my opinion, the free 14 day trial isn't even worth it.

    Oh, and one more thing, there was a freaking client application that was set to default start when Windows starts as a service on my laptop. Annoying and invasive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by double07 (889350)
      I feel for you man... but I've recently signed with a couple of online movie stores once called http://thepiratebay.com/ [thepiratebay.com] and the other called http://isohunt.com./ [isohunt.com.] Both of these stores are fantastic, not only was the sign up free but I can download all of their movies for free also! Choices? often I can decide if I want the high quality DVD version or a small version they seem to call a "Rip". They also don't have any DRM and I'm free to put it on my phone or iPod if I choose. Recommended: 10/10
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:55PM (#16874352)
    "In a few years, you'll buy every episode of The West Wing on a drive the size of a deck of cards rather than on 45 DVDs in a box the size of your microwave oven."
    Where can one find these microwave ovens that are only 3" x 7.5" x 11" (the dimensions of The West Wing complete series boxset)?
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:08PM (#16874582) Homepage
      How about the fact that I can deliver you the same full set of DVD's on a laptop hard drive SMALLER than a deck of cards right now and have room left over for a few other feature movies

      Mpeg4/Xvid/Divx can do it now. You cant buy it legitimate because those formats don't have 600 pounds of DRM encryption on them but the technology is here right now and better than what he "envisions" maybe he should get out and actually look at what people are doing right now.

      Cripes I have well over 300 movies in DVD quality and 10 full TV series on my Media portal box right now (Yes series the size of Babylon5 and the Simpsons) and still have room for way more.

      His tommorow was here yesterday... it's the idiots at the movie companies and record companies that are keeping out of the hands of joe sixpack.
      • Tired of waiting for working video editing in linux.....

        Wholly crap me too... Right now it's the biggest bug in my ass any why I'm starting to dislike Linux...
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:26PM (#16875986) Homepage Journal
        Not only can Xvid/ffmpeg allow you to take that whole box set of The West Wing on a 2.5" laptop hard drive, if you want, it could just as easily give you high definition movies-on-disc, using the DVD technology that we have around right now.

        The studios want everyone to believe that to get HD, we have to mess around with an entirely new disc format, but that's bogus. Using the much better compression technologies available today, we could squeeze a highdef movie onto a dual-layer DVD.* Heck, with some DVD players, it would probably just require a firmware reflash to be able to play them. The entirely new disc and drive mechanism is there to purposely break forwards-compatibility.

        But, because such a format wouldn't offer the studios total control over your living room, it's never going to happen as long as the movie studios have any say in the matter.

        * Apple's page says H.264 can compress 1920x1080 down to around 8Mb/s [apple.com], so given a DVD-9 capacity of around 6.8E10 bits, that's about 140 min of video. This is comparable to MPEG-2 SD video, which is allowed at up to 9.8Mb/s [wikipedia.org] by the DVD Video specification.
    • by MS-06FZ (832329)
      Oh, getting a small microwave oven is easy. The only question is, what do you put in it?
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:58PM (#16874402) Homepage Journal
    an HD download of The Matrix, were it even available, could take all day over the average broadband connection.
    Doesn't anyone else remember marking a slew of downloads from a BBS, FTP, Usenet, or even the old Napster back in the day? You'd start your dialup modem chugging away and go off to school, work, or sleep while it ran. Same crap, different scale.
    • Doesn't anyone else remember marking a slew of downloads from a BBS, FTP, Usenet, or even the old Napster back in the day? You'd start your dialup modem chugging away and go off to school, work, or sleep while it ran. Same crap, different scale.

      Not only do I remember that but I still use BitTorrent in the same fashion. I don't gobble up bandwidth and I'm fine with getting a fairly high quality video of unlicensed anime in about a day or two. It's kind of the same crap except it's much nicer to the rest

    • by westlake (615356)
      Same crap, different scale.

      a very different scale, when you begin talking about 18 to 50 GB per disk.

      and a very different market. the trend in HDTV sales is to very large screen projection and theatrical digital sound even at entry level.

    • by Malc (1751)
      For a small number of people. We're not talking niche markets here. We're talking mainstream. When you make it effortless and require no technical understanding, then it might be accepted by the mainstream. I'm technical, but I can't be arsed to go through the effort it takes to get movie downloads on to my TV in the living room. Setting it up is one thing. Finding the media is another - I've stopped downloading music because it's generally too crap or too much effort for me. Oh, and I'm not giving i
  • HDs vs Optical Disks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689)
    Hard Drives have moving parts
    Optical Disks don't
    Which is more reliable?

    That said, the summary is a bit misleading.
    Here's the full quote:

    "In a few years, you'll buy every episode of The West Wing on a drive the size of a deck of cards rather than on 45 DVDs in a box the size of your microwave oven. If you think that sounds far-fetched, consider that shortly after releasing a comprehensive, eight-DVD New Yorker collection (since updated to nine discs), the magazine released the same collection on an (admitted
    • Hard drives are hermetically sealed.
      Optical discs get chewed on by pets and children, and left out on scratchy coffeetables.

      I have a whole bag of unreadable otical discs. Still looking for a way to recycle them.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      I could buy the DVDs, buy a portable hard drive and still have ~$150 to spare.

      I've considered retrofitting a DVD player whose drive failed with a removable hard drive bay, formatted to look like a very high capacity DVD, containing ripped tracks from an entire series accessible through remastered menus.

      Are there any rippers that can deconstruct a DVD into a DVD Studio Pro project file and assets?
    • Hard Drives have moving parts
      Optical Disks don't
      Which is more reliable?

      well the disk itself has fewer moving parts, but surprisingly, hard drives are more reliable. But I don't think HDDs or optical disks are the future of transportable storage.

      It's only a matter of time before someone figures out how to manufacture USB stick with permanent contents for cheaper than flash memory. I mean, if you don't need to be able to change the contents ever, that's gotta significantly reduce the number of transistors r
    • How many DVDs do you own? Picking a random DVD from your collection, when was the last time you watched it?

      I stopped buying DVDs (with a few infrequent exceptions) when I realised I had about 100 of them and most of them were watched less than once a year. Now I just rent (fixed monthly fee) and if I want to watch a film again then I just rent it again.

      I really don't care about HD-DVD or BD. The quality is better, but not sufficiently better to justify the effort of upgrading my equipment. What woul

    • by AusIV (950840)

      Hard Drives have moving parts
      Optical Disks don't
      Which is more reliable?

      I'm not sure what you're getting at. Usually things with moving parts are more prone to failure, however my computer has a 40 GB drive in it that I purchased in the late 90s. It has been used regularly ever since, and still works fine. I can't think of any CDs or DVDs I have from the same period that are still functional - they've either been scratched or lost. I've had a lot more optical disk "failures" than I've had hard drive failu

    • by Dare nMc (468959)

      Why would content providers ever bring the price of a HD based product anywhere close to that of a comparable bundle of optical discs? My answer: They wouldn't. It'll always be a premium product

      $130/400Gb = $.30 [outpost.com] if you pay $1000 for a blue-ray player compared to even a write once hard disk, and blue ray disks were free it would take 400 disks before you would break even. with them currently more like $1/MB for the blue ray disk...

      makes alot more sense for blockbuster to be replaced with a atm, inside walm

  • 2 1/2 hours (Score:3, Informative)

    by bigpat (158134) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:02PM (#16874470)
    With five times the visual information of a standard-def flick, an HD download of The Matrix, were it even available, could take all day over the average broadband connection.

    A full length HD format movie would be around 5 Gigabytes, according to this article [yahoo.com]. So considering my download of the 1 Gigabyte Battlefield 2142 demo took about 30 minutes last night over my basic $34.95/month FiOS connection, that means it would just take about 2 1/2 hours to download a full length movie. Theoretically less than an hour with the faster service offerings. I really don't see the problem with that. Netflix takes a day or so to get your movie and it is very popular. I could see just leaving the computer on over night to get the download and watch the movie the next day. A torrent like download could even distribute the load.

    The only thing holding back distribution over broadband Internet is the studios. If the studios allow distribution like this, then there is a big enough market out there to make this work.

    • by Anubis350 (772791)
      and at that speed, you could probably start watching the movie a few minutes after starting the download and watch it to the end without interruption. There's no need necessarily to let the *whole* movie download before you start, just enough that you won't end up paused half an hr in because you caught up to the download :-P
    • by rjstanford (69735)
      A full length HD format movie would be around 5 Gigabytes

      A current DVD holds over 7GB, but doesn't hold a sufficiently high quality HD movie to make people happy. Article or not, if we could have simply added a new decoder to existing hardware and been blessed with 1080p HD goodness, we would have done.
      • Maybe he'a planning on taking the 15GB movie and running it through a 2:1 lossless compressor twice? Heck, with an 8 pass, you could get it down to 60MB, and...oh, right. ;-)
      • You can fit an HD movie on a normal DVD with H.264 or similar CODECs. EVD does this. There isn't much point though; if you're going to break backwards compatibility then you may as well have a more major upgrade.
    • by Malc (1751)
      So, 90 minute movie = 5GB, right?

      90 mins = 5,400 secs
      5GB = 5120 MB = 40,960 Mb

      Therefore your bitrate is 7.6Mb/s. That's in the realm of MPEG2 rates for DVD. AVC and VC-1 codecs should use half that. However, that's at standard def, not 1080p. NTSC 480p has 337,920 pixels. 1080p has 2,073,600. That's 6 times the amount. I suspect your 5GB download isn't quite up to the same quality as HD or BD discs. It certainly won't offer anything else secondary video, alternative language audio, etc. BTW, MSFT's
  • by night_flyer (453866) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:03PM (#16874480) Homepage
    which customers? Most people I know are still watching a 30" (or less), 5 year old TV.
    We are just now looking into an HDTV because the prices are coming down to a reasonable range...
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:03PM (#16874502)
    But just because they don't offer enough extra. I have an HDTV and really, it's amazing how good DVDs look on it. I have HD cable so I've seen full HD content. Is it better? Yes. Is it an amazing step up? Not so much. Regular DVD movies look pretty good. Well, that's really all that they have to offer.

    When DVD came out, it's easy to see why it took over. Not only is the picture better, and even on low end TVs, but the sound is better and supported surround, you can seek instantly, quality doesn't degrade over time, there are extras, the disc is much smaller and so on. Basically DVDs provide a big upgrade to anyone. Even if you are watching an an old 20" TV, DVDs provide extras and a picture that doesn't get worse, in additon to a better picture quality to start with.

    Well the HD formats offer none of that. They can, in theory, offer better sound, but only if you have a system capable of the new formats (and I've yet to see a compatible receiver) and only if the disc has it and many don't since Dolby Digital and DTS are the formats that are actually used in theatres. So really you are down to better picture, and only for those that own HD sets which is still a small number of people.

    I just don't see there being the reason to upgrade. I'm not going to. Sure an HD picture is nice but really, I'm not unhappy with DVD. It looks good on my HD set. So I can easily see the formats failing for the same reason DVD-Audio failed: lack of interest. I mean DVD-A is better than CD in terms of quality. It's higher sample size and rate, as well as supporting surround sound. However do most people give a shit? No, not worth it to them. To the extent they replace CDs it's with MP3s which, while lower quality, are more convenient.
    • One of the things that surprised me when I upgraded to an HD connection was just how much "HD" content was really just upconverted "regular" video.

      There is very little programming that is really honestly truly 720p/1080p - but the stuff that is, is spectacular.

      I agree with you that a 480p DVD looks pretty damn good on an HD screen, but real shot-in-HD content is a whole lot better.

      What I'm afraid of with Blu-Ray/HDVD is a similar problem - is the content actually generated in higher resolutions, or is it ju
  • The Internet.
    The xbox 360 has what, a 20GB HDD? so it will be able to hold...1 HD movie (at Bluray/HDDVD quality), maybe a 3 or 4 if it's compressed more? And as mentioned, it lasts 24 hours, then it's gone. So if something comes up and you can't finish your movie, too bad!

    Cable on-demand.
    Instead of paying 3 or 4 bucks for a movie rental, which would display at full 1080p resolution, you get a compressed version for ~85 bucks a month (per Comcast pricing). Oh, and you don't really know if the movie
  • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:07PM (#16874572) Journal
    It was Napster that really drove broadband adoption for the masses. The ability to download a song in minutes instead of an hour put DSL and cable in high demand.

    Will HD video drive the next step and bring the US back into the lead for home internet access? IPTV and HD-on-demand will help drag broadband into the rural areas and increase connection speeds everywhere. Here's hoping he's right and the new HD discs are doomed to fail in favor of digital distribution.
  • Why would you bother downloading a 15GB movie when a 3GB movie looks fine on your computer screen and most TV sets? Even most HDTVs won't benefit from the information stored in a 15GB movie. How many people actually have sound systems that support 5.1, let alone 7.1?

    What I expect to see is tailored movie downloads that fit what presentation devices you have present. A simple web form can ask what type of: television, sound system, connection speed, timeframe desired, and storage desired that will select whi
  • HD download of The Matrix, were it even available, could take all day over the average broadband connection

    Well, much depends on the codec you are using. I'm not an expert, but a properly coded film can be HD without taking such a lot of space as a HD-DVD or Blue-Ray. Think H.264, or even XVid. And surely better methods will appear. I'm waiting to see in bittorrent the first 4Gb xvid files compressed from a Blue-Ray or HD-DVD. I don't think it'll take too long, and I guess the quality will be much better th
  • So I'm going to be able to download movies with my 2GB max usage per month am I? Let's see, I think it's around 700MB for the lowest quality movie isn't it? So I can get 2 movies each month, which won't even be in High Definition and feature no the deleted scenes / alternative endings. And since I don't even live in the US I'm not even going to be offered this service...

    Fuck that, I'll just get a PS3 and be done with it.
  • The "New formats mean pricey hardware" paragraph is ignoring history. New tech always starts out expensive and then comes down in price. I mean, come on, the first VHS VCRs were well over a thousand dollars.
  • "With five times the visual information of a standard-def flick, an HD download of The Matrix, were it even available, could take all day over the average broadband connection."

    First off, It is available though not legally(The.Matrix.1999.720p.HDTV.x264-THOR). Second off, thanks to the wonders of good video encoding its no larger than any other DVD - 4gigabytes. How long that takes is obviously a matter of what your connection is, but I see 6mbit as about the current standard for residential cable

    According
  • I'll wait for the day when you can buy the sum of Human Knowledge and Art on a Special Edition Crystal

    And then I'll leech it off bittorrent.

    • by pla (258480)
      I'll wait for the day when you can buy the sum of Human Knowledge and Art on a Special Edition Crystal

      Yeah, but you just know they'll release the "Super Deluxe Gold-Plated Crystal" version a week later, with all the extras and deleted scenes...
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:21PM (#16874814) Journal
    While it may be difficult to figure out where the money will come from, or how the DRM will work, the average joe bloggs and jane bloggs is already using digital on demand products, some via cable, some via the Internet (youtube etc.) and they are getting used to it. This is a critical factor in how visual data will be and is being used. Remember VHS vs. Betamax? The fact that GooTube is soon to be up and running will ensure that _EVERYONE_ knows about video via the Internet. The next logical step to take, even for naive grandparents, is "how do I watch all my favorite episodes of program x on the Internet?" or how do I get television on my computer?

    By the time they start asking those questions, all the arguing will be nearly done. When there is a proven market for a product or service, every large corp. worth anything will trip all over themselves to sell it to the public, and will do so no matter what DRM hurdles are in the way.

    In the same way that YouTube and MySpace made headlines and garnered public attention, digital on-line on-demand video services will do the same.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:32PM (#16875040)
    ...and not worth the effort. 720p this. 1080i that. LCD. Plasma. DLP. Which one looks better. Which one has video lag. Is there still burn in. Who wants to deal with that to buy a fricken' TV set? I'm a technophile, and I can't be bothered with it unless my old, venerable 36" Wega CRT dies tomorrow. I hear people who say things like "standard DVD isn't good enough for MEEEE!" and I ain't gettin' it. It's your own fault if you've trained yourself to see the tiniest video artifacts. You've become the typo Nazis of the video world. Ah, who cares...
  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:45PM (#16875240) Homepage Journal
    What it will evolve to is Blockbuster simply copying a movie to a USB drive and lending you the drive. That way the store doesn't have to actually have any physical inventory at all. You bring the thumb drive home, play the movie - accounting for whatever DRM etc etc etc and then you bring the drive back to Blockbuster for wipe and a new movie. That way the bottleneck is eliminated.
  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:53PM (#16875378)
    I can cite the following reasons:

    1) It has far more movie studio support than HD-DVD. Particularly important is Disney's support, since Disney DVD's have always been very strong sellers to start with anyway. Can you imagine a Pixar movie released on Blu-Ray format? (big thumbs up)

    2) The storage capacity is larger (50 GB versus 30 GB), which means you can put more extra features on a single Blu-Ray disc than an HD-DVD disc.

    3) The arrival of Sony's PlayStation 3 means immediately the arrival of a large user base that can play Blu-Ray discs.

    4) We're still a long way from offering HD-quality video downloads over the Internet. It would require huge increases in download speeds, maybe as high as 50 megabits per second at bare minimum (the number of broadband Internet home users with anything over 10 mbps download speeds is still very small even in Europe and Asia).

    Yes, prices are high now, but I expect prices to drop rapidly during the course of 2007. Good quality standalone Blu-Ray players will probably cost around US$450 by the end of 2007, in my humble opinion.
  • by Nutsquasher (543657) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:04PM (#16875584)

    Both Blue Ray and HD-DVD have a lot going against them. Both formats are brand new to the consumer market. In quick summary, most people are going to wait 3-5 years before adopting either of these formats, if they take off. Buying one today means either you've got a lot of money to burn (paypal@dave-gallagher.net [mailto] please), or you're easily influenced by marketing.

    Let's look at the history [wikipedia.org] of DVD's:

    • DVD's were first starting to be sold in early 1997.
    • By 1999, DVD players were around $300 each. DVD sales were tiny compared to VHS.
    • DVD's and players increased on popularity by 2001, aided by the PlayStation 2 having a DVD-player built into it (at the time, a PS2 wasn't much more money than a sole DVD player). The format was being adopted rapidly by this point.
    • By 2002-2003, DVD's finally had surpassed VHS sales, 5-6 years after they first came out.
    • Now, in late 2006, it's tough to find a home that doesn't own a DVD player. Also:
      • You can buy DVD movies everywhere.
      • You can rent DVD movies everywhere (Netflix, BlockBuster, etc)
      • There are tens of thousands of titles available for DVD, including a vast array of Movies (previously available on VHS), and TV shows (many never available before on VHS).
      • DVD players can be bought for $50 or less. Almost all computers have one built in.
      • DVD movies can be had for $2 - $20. Some series and combo's cost more, obviously.

    Other notable mentions during this time period:

    • VHS degraded over time. DVD's don't (when stored right).
    • VHS has a much worse picture quality than DVD did.
    • Nearly everyone already owned a TV which would benefit from upgrading from VHS to DVD.
    • DVD's sounded much better. Some people bought high-end stereo systems, but most still use the speakers in their TV.

    This took from 1997 to 2006 to accomplish. It's almost a ten-year old format. To say either Blue Ray or HD-DVD will take off in a short period of time (1-2 years) is blasphemy. It'll take at least 3, but probably around 5 years, before either format becomes mainstream. IF either format survives, that is.

    Things going against Blue Ray & HD-DVD:

    • Extremely limited selection of titles. Think hundreds of them (if not only a hundred), vs. tens of thousands for DVD.
    • No rental outlets carry them yet.
    • Movie Players cost much more money than DVD players. $500+ if you buy a PS3, or Xbox 360 Core w/HD-DVD add-on.
    • These movies are priced more. The cheapest I've seen are around $25 each.
    • Most people don't own a TV that will benefit from the higher resolution of these types of media.
      • ...unlike upgrading from VHS to DVD, where everyone experienced an increase in picture quality.
    • High-end audio equipment is needed for many to take advantage of the new features to these discs. Again, most people don't have this.
    • Everyone just through out their VHS tapes and replaced them with DVD's. They may buy new movies on HD-DVD/Blue Ray, but good luck convincing them to re-buy Terminator 2 for the 3rd time.

    By the time it takes for Blue Ray/HD-DVD to catch on (3-5 years), if they catch on, there will be:

    • Xbox 1080
    • PlayStation 4
    • On-Demand HD Movies, over the net, delivered to your TiVo, Xbox 360, Apple iTV, whatever.
    • On-Demand HD Movies, through your TV provider.

    Neither format is proven (asides from looking and sounding good, with the right equipment), and the VAST majority of consumers won't see a benefit from either of them today. What has to happen for consumers to benefit is:

    • 1920x1080 P HDTV's have to come down in price, to the $200 Wal-Mart special range.
    • The players have to be had for $100 or less.
    • There needs to
  • "But consumers are demanding change, and change will happen fast."

    I disagree on both counts.

    Customers (on the whole) are content with the quality and convenience of the DVD distribution model, and will be for another couple technological generations at least.
  • What you must remember, the only reason that we are even talking about these new formats is because the MPAA wanted "enforceable" DRM built into the video media. The DVD format, while it can support HD video of 720p, the MPAA will not allow it, because of the lack of enforceable DRM.
    The only reason they developed the new formats to support the HD video was to convince the users they needed to have the new DRM enabled systems.
    A few notes:
    The early computer BluRay drives will not play the BluRay movies.
    Both f
  • by MrCopilot (871878) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:10PM (#16875692) Homepage Journal
    HD-DVD, BluRay Media & Players
    New Consumers, the ones who don't remember The Format Wars of Yore(TM) and who happen to be affluent, will pickup these devices and media but not in enough numbers to save the format. Kind of like the people who bought the UMD concept not remembering MiniDisc travesty.

    PS enthusiasts will buy the PS3 but not many movies. PSP rerun

    DVD is "good enough" for most consumers. Plus the selection will be 2 million DVD titles to 50 hdDVD and 100 BluRay.

    The only thing that may save them is the universal players that the 2 big players don't want.

    I have a 15yr old 32" TV and a 15 yr old 27" (oddly enough both Sony) in another room. One has a DVD, One has GameCube (soon to be replaced with a Wii) Both have cable boxes.

    On Demand Cable, On demand Gaming, On Demand DVD. Hmmm do I really need to overspend on a new HDTV and expensive as hell player plus overpriced new media, No thanks, If I want high definition I turn on the PC. where the HD media lives anyway.

    Here's hoping for a slow and painful death to both new Formats and perhaps one of the producers.

  • by larryj (84367) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:33PM (#16877114)
    Current numbers for Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD sales are available here [thedvdwars.com].

    I have no idea which of the two will survive (or if either will). It will probably be Blu-ray since I bought the HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360 this past weekend. I have a Panasonic 50" plasma (not 1080p, it's scaling to 720p/768p) but HD-DVD movies still look MUCH better than standard DVD. If it does die out, at least it was only $200. I'll enjoy Netflix HD-DVD rentals and a few purchases in the meantime.

    I've been doing some research the last few days. My understanding of the history is that HD-DVD was released first. Blu-ray (commonly referred to as 'BD' which is short for Blu-ray disc I suppose) has more storage capacity and everyone expected the picture quality to be better. But that didn't happen. The initial BD releases were very disappointing and many people felt that HD-DVD looked better. New releases are apparently equal in picture quality. I think a lot of this has to do with the available drives as well as the mastering process. HD-DVD jumped out to a pretty big lead (not that either has sold a lot) but with the PS3 coming out tomorrow, there will be a lot more Blu-ray owners.

    I'm curious to know how many 360 HD-DVD drives have already been sold and how it will continue to sell.

  • by MrJynxx (902913) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:02PM (#16877474)
    I actually just picked up an HD-DVD for the 360 on Tuesday. So far on my 47" old HDTV(purchased in 2003) it is displaying the movies beautifully!

    King Kong that came with it was pretty good. I REALLY noticed a difference when the scenes were in the forest or something with a lot of color. The colors and the brightness in the picture is much better. But I picked up Fast and the Furious Tokyo drift (ok ok, I know, terrible movie but the scenes in Tokyo was great) . And I could see a noticeable difference with the picture quality especially the reflection in the cars, etc.. It was like I was watching the movie through a window in Tokyo.

    And to think, I think my HDTV is kinda shitty now compared to what's offered now (projection, doesn't look as good as my other friends tv's)
  • by Skapare (16644) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:40PM (#16877906) Homepage

    But that's going to require a disk with 100 to 300 GB of data. Well, for movies I'll settle for the frame rate being exactly what the original film was shot at and let my display up-scan it to some integral multiple over 60 Hz. of course this means I'm going to have to find a display that good at a decent price.

    Sure, 720p and 1080i are a good notch above 480i. But it's not that good that I would be willing to buy into an HD media format for higher than what DVD costs today. When the HD media format gets down to this price, then why not. But until then, it's just not really worth it.

    But a 25 GB optical disk would be nice to hold a kick ass Linux distribution and a whole lot of music.

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