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DVD Truce Between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD? 255

An anonymous reader writes " Reuters is reporting that Toshiba and Sony are in talks about reconciling the two next-generation DVD formats. Ideas floated in the article include a unified DVD arch which could use "Blu-ray's disc structure and HD DVD software technology" (Sony's idea) or "HD DVD disc structure and employing Sony's multi-layer data-recording technology" (Toshiba's idea)"
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DVD Truce Between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD?

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  • by pholower ( 739868 ) * <longwoodtrail AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:59PM (#12303648) Homepage Journal
    This article although informative, didn't do the best job in technical explanations, that is when I spotted the following line... A PC maker, for example, would not have to equip its computers with hard drives compatible with both formats.

    I didn't realize the hard drive had to be made to be compatible. I guess speed could somehow come into play, but no, never mind, they don't know what they are talking about.

    "It could take both camps some time to develop products based on a new standard, which leaves the risk of development delays for Sony's next-generation game console," Goldman Sachs analyst Yuji Fujimori wrote in a note to clients.

    Does this really matter? Couldn't Sony still release their next PlayStation with BlueRay discs as their format? I mean, they did use UMD for the PSP, and they isn't a common format. If you know more about this let me know, but this to me would mean it could prevent more illegal copying of game discs.

  • smart move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blackomegax ( 807080 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:59PM (#12303654) Journal
    well, it looks like they got smart all of a sudden, because, unlike dvd+ and dvd- R and RW...bluray and HDdvd are so far apart you practically need 2 drives for total support..

    not to mention the COST of bluray media...yeouch.
  • by kc01 ( 772943 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:59PM (#12303656)
    Good deal- Perhaps Sony's learned lessons from "Beta" and "Memory Stick".

    Without standards, there's no volume.

  • Too late? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrRay720 ( 874710 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:02PM (#12303679)
    So they've got to:

    Sort out the details
    Get out a new spec
    etc. etc.
    All before the impending releases of if nothing else the PS3 and XBox2, never mind the PC & TV players?

    Why do I get the feeling that this is a token gesture never intended to resolve the disputes, but instead to allow them to look back later and say "well we TRIED to get a common format but everyone else was in too much of a hurry!" If they were really serious about a common format, they would have done it long before now.

    Deceipt at it's best!
  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:04PM (#12303690) Homepage
    I clearly do not fully understand how anti-monopoly laws work, but aren't competing companies prohibited from doing exactly this? Instead of each company selling it's product and letting the market decide which is better, they're working together to restrain the industry and keeping products that might benefit the consumer off the market. Isn't that collusion? Isn't it illegal?

    Someone please explain why it's not, I really would appreciate it (not kidding here, genuinely cuious).

  • The best hybrid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by silid ( 733394 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:05PM (#12303696)
    why not just use Blu-Ray technolgy and HD-DVD name (silid's idea)

    Lets have one technology and an agreed royalty share - an effective buy-out. At least this way it will save millions in marketing in a format war, and both groups get a degree of guarenteed success.

    and more importantly will allow me to enjoy the format sooner as i won't have to wait for winner.
  • Wasted R&D? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PornMaster ( 749461 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:06PM (#12303707) Homepage
    Even if they end up using a hybrid of the two, the R&D isn't wasted. Along the way, both companies have learned a lot, including finding out a lot of things that *didn't* work.

    A lot of R&D is failing and figuring out why.

    It's not like we're talking about Xerox PARC, where Corporate wasted the opporunity to commercialize the wonderful things which were developed. A compromise on the new DVD format will still bring both companies/consortia licensing revenue.

    Which, of course, begs the obvious question -- if they're both contributing IP, will they both be charging royalties and price the technology too high?
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:10PM (#12303754) Homepage Journal
    "...A PC maker, for example, would not have to equip its computers with hard drives compatible with both formats."

    I didn't realize the hard drive had to be made to be compatible. I guess speed could somehow come into play, but no, never mind, they don't know what they are talking about.

    Since when does that stop anyone from doing a thorough analysis? Unless they're implying, to allow PC's to have a DVD drive would require the installation, on the HD, of some DRM thingy, which would sit not at all well with myself or pretty much anyone else who understands the implication.

  • by James A. Y. Joyce ( 877365 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:13PM (#12303781)
    In order to download a movie "instantly", you need a lot of bandwidth. To download a 1Gb movie in 1 second requires an 8Gbps connection. This is not going to be available affordably to the average person within the next 10 years, at least. As is, it costs maybe $20 a month to get an 8 megabit per second connection, and everyone knows it takes a very very long time to overhaul data transmission infrastructure.
  • Better solution. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:18PM (#12303829)
    Let's let the Chineese come up with a OPEN solution that doesn not belong to anyone and has no royalties attached to it.

    i'm betting THAT one would be accepted by everyone within minutes.
  • by JadeNB ( 784349 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:22PM (#12303854) Homepage
    Perhaps not immediately, but within a few years a system will exist which will allow the streaming of any movie ever made via broadband instantly. Why would you want to bother keeping an anachronistic collection of shiny discs, when you could have anything you want, instantly.
    Because, as we've seen, the trend in streaming media is towards temporary ownership. Sure, with DVDs, my ownership options are (supposed to be) limited -- I can't copy it, &c. -- but at least I have it forever (or at least as long as the media lasts). I'm sure still more restrictions will be in place with these new discs, but, judging from the previous market failure of `temporary discs', at least I will still have them forever.

    With streaming media, it seems likely that we'd see a `pay-per-view' set-up. Besides that, what about out-of-print movies? If I buy a DVD and the manufacturer stops printing those DVDs, I can still watch it -- but what if I want to stream a DVD no one wants to host? We could lose a lot of important movies this way.

  • by mrRay720 ( 874710 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:23PM (#12303865)
    Prices are not even remotely linked to media costs/capacity! DVDs cost LESS to make yet sell for MORE than VHS. CDs cost LESS to make yet sold for MORE than audio tape.

    If they want to charge you a lot for it, they still will. You erally think the scum will say "oh, since it all fits on one disc now instead of 4 saving us $0.40, we'll only charge you $20 instead of $100?"

    HAHAHAHAHA! Not likely. Saddam becoming the next Pope was a much safer bet than that. Reality is that what you'll hear from their mouths is "BluHDRayDVD is 100x better, so we'll charge you 2x as much. You win by a factor of 50, aren't we kind?"
  • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mandoric ( 55703 ) <mandoric@sover.net> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:26PM (#12303900) Homepage
    XBox 2's already confirmed for plain DVD-ROM; given Sony's insistence on Blu-Ray hardware with HD-DVD software for any compromise, one can assume that the PS3 will ship with the physical drive it's always been planned for, and differ only in firmware and player app if a deal is made.

    Of course, given that the XBox 2 will begin its lifespan with multiple versions (with hard drive and without) and Sony chose a new CEO from the evil^Wmusic side of the business while simultaneously demoting Kutaragi, it's possible that later packages (for XBox) or corporate skulduggery (for PS) could lead to a change---this change would just, in either case, be a poor business decision.
  • by MarkGriz ( 520778 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:28PM (#12303922)
    "However, just agreeing on a common standard does not collusion make."

    Right. The first step is to hammer out the details of the DVD format.

    Fixing the prices on the DVDs will have to wait until next year.
  • online content (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:29PM (#12303930)
    When you get your content, or your applications, online, you are then at the mercy of:

    1) He who controls where the content or apps are stored, controls YOU.
    2) Your connetion (being up or down, or slow, or high latency)
    3) Security issues

    But, if you like all that, feel free to check out the Phantom gaming system; you'd probably like it. :)
  • by mzwaterski ( 802371 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:29PM (#12303933)
    Wow, you are pretty impatient if you need the movie to be there in 1 second!

    Seeing as the movie is at least an hour long, why are you in such a rush? If movies could download in 1 minute, I'd be pretty satisfied. Thats only about 133 Gbps if I did my math correct for 1 GB of data.

    But in reality, who needs it to be there in a minute anyway. As long as the system is decent enough to stream starting at any point in the movie you choose, you really only need to be able to download 1GB in 45 minutes (a little buffer time is always good). By my math thats about 3Mbps. HEY, I have one of those...

    PS: lowercase b is bit, uppercase B is byte, your numbers would make more sense if you differentiated.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:45PM (#12304067) Homepage Journal
    I think memory sticks are a moot point; the non volitile memory card market has been fragmented for a couple of years now, with many standards. The readers are unbelivably cheap ($25 for a 8 or 9 in one reader) that it doesn't really matter. Most digital cameras (sans Canons) act as a USB keychain drive when attached via a usb cable anyways, and ( i think ) that's how most people transfer their files. My guess is that every major camera company could come up with their own memory stick standard and nobody would balk at it. CF seems to be the standard in high end cameras due to the 4-12GB options for professionals, but everyone else uses various options without much infighting between companies over standards. Compare that to a roughly divided video tape market with only two competing standards that aren't limited by physical size, and you're really comparing apples to oranges.
  • by Acoustic ( 875187 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:58PM (#12304198) Homepage
    Don't forget about MinDisc...
  • Re:Blu-Ray wins! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <wesley@felter.org> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:06PM (#12304289) Homepage
    Blu-ray requires the same royalty, since it includes VC-1.
  • by faust2097 ( 137829 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:14PM (#12304373)
    I'm still not convinced that we even need a next-generation format. HDTV is insanely scarce outside of the US [and most "HDTV" units already in the US are 480P EDTV anyway and most of the ones that actually are HD are rear projection units sitting in sunny rooms with the factory settings intact] and DVD is the most successful format in history. Obviously Hollywood wouldn't mind due to what I'm sure is much stronger DRM on new formats but we currently have two superior formats to CD and for consumers the convenience of lower-quality sound from digital files is winning out. Only a tiny percentage of audio nerds [and it's even a fraction of them because many audiophiles are terrified of any digital equipment] have bought into the new formats and they're people who ahve no problems with rebuying their favorite music over and over. The same may happen with movies.

    Look at Laserdisc - far better picture and sound than VHS, no rewinding and pretty good studio support for a while but the cost, convenience and durability advantages of tapes won out in the end.
  • by dunc78 ( 583090 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:33PM (#12304608)
    Well, I'd imagine it would be the MPAA and not the RIAA charging you for the movie. Also, are you going to watch the entire box of discs instantly or in super fast forward? If not, a pipe with enough bandwidth to support the data rate of the disc would be fine.
  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:34PM (#12304616)
    ISP's are notorious for overselling bandwidth though. An application like video on demand would have a lot larger userbase than the current Bittorrent downloaders do. The current ISP's will gripe and moan to no end if you constantly max out the 3Mbps connection. Imagine the situation if at least a quarter of their customers were using that much bandwidth. The infrastructure could never handle it.

    By that token, we are many years away from being able to reliably do video-on-demand to a large customer base.

    There's also the fact that people just are not going to pay per view for ever. The current model works for new releases, but for certain movies people want to be able to just buy and have a copy to watch whenever they want. That's not going to work with video on demand.
  • by izzo nizzo ( 731042 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:39PM (#12304678) Homepage Journal
    I am terrified of having to tiptoe around with my blu-rays in bubble wrap because I am sick of losing optical discs to a few scratches. Why can't they enclose them in something that isn't so damn fragile? The psp approach is far better in this regard. I hope to heaven that this blu-ray coalition will realize that these media shouldn't be disposable. And if I'm not mistaken, smaller resolution for the data means that even more minute scratches will ruin everything. Bring back the minidisc casing, that stuff is unbreakable. The ps3 could conceivably read both encased discs and naked ones, so sony could protect their games even if movie-sellers chose not to.
  • Re:smart move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:46PM (#12304743)
    Is it fair to judge Blu-Ray media prices now? I know there are some limited numbers of commercial products available (primarily in Japan), but it's hardly been exposed to mass production.
  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:03PM (#12304908) Homepage
    This is pure paranoia. The author obviously meant to write "optical drives compatible with both formats".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:11PM (#12305005)
    The trouble with HD-DVD is that its capacity is insufficient for 3 hours of true HDTV (in fact, its barely sufficient for 2 hours).

    Just a guess is that Hollywood would prefer to sell us HD-DVD's (you know, the ones we just bought in DVD format) in some intermediate format, and then in another 5 years, sell us the same movies again in yet a better format.

    Plus, it doesn't match up with expectations. If a CD holds 700M and a DVD (single layer) holds 4.7 G, then you expect the information density to increase by a factor of 7 with a new generation. Therefore, you'd expect about 30G from a new format.

    HD DVD just doesn't cut it. It doesn't work for data storage, it doesn't work for HDTV.

    I don't know anything about Blu-Ray and I frankly don't care. I just know that HD-DVD is too little.

  • Waiting... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:39PM (#12305318) Homepage
    Until a true 1080p TV costs less then a car, and the next generation media is under a dollar... why should I care exactly?

    99% of the 10% of humans that even have a computer, don't care about any of this until it's AFFORDABLE. By which time, the margins will be so low that none of this battle will matter. And I'd bet backups to IDE will still be cheaper TCO-wise.

    Also, a system with 10x the storage will be out in a year.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @05:27PM (#12307019)
    Generally you're right that a common standard isn't anti-competitive, but that's ignoring the implications of DRM.

    If the standard they choose contains a mandatory DRM system, and if competitors are required by law (under the DMCA and software patent law) to have a license in order to join the monopolized market, it is effectively, if not legally, collusion.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner