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Media Entertainment

Popular HD DVD Disc Hits a Snag 286

An anonymous reader writes "Following weeks of headlines touting strong sales for Blu-ray discs, rival next-gen format HD DVD looked like it had its own success story in the making with this week's HD DVD release of the cult hit 'Children of Men.' The disc recieved a stellar review at High-Def Digest, and went on to out-sell the most popular Blu-ray discs on Amazon. But now comes word of apparent incompatibility issues with the Xbox 360 HD DVD player, with some (but not all) consumers reporting that even multiple returns of the disc are unplayable on the format's leading playback device."
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Popular HD DVD Disc Hits a Snag

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:03PM (#18574863)
    A lot of 1st and 2nd generation DVD players had occasional trouble with some DVD titles. Given the complexity of something like DVD, HD-DVD or BluRay it's really to be expected. Both the hardware and software is complex enough, and many Slashdoters know the difficulty of getting both new hardware and software to work together properly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
      yeah, I agree. It has to be really hard for a group of people to agree to a standard, and then stick to it. Especially when MS is involved.
      • In all fairness... (Score:2, Informative)

        by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) *

        The PS3's Blue-Ray player will not play in HD unless you have a 1080p or 1080i capable display. Since many displays sold until very recently were 720p max, especially projector systems, this puts quite a "ding" in the experience of the PS3's Blue-Ray playback.

        What the PS3 does for a system like that is drops back to 480p, which is for all intents and purposes the same as a standard DVD player running in progressive scan. Except that the disk cost $30 instead of $15, that is. These circumstances make the

        • ..except for 'very recently' replace with 'more than 5 years ago'.

          Any TV sold as HD capable should display 1080i - it's part of the minimum standards. In the EU the minimum allowed for 'HD Ready' is 1080i and 720p at 50 and 60hz with a minimum of 720 displayable lines. I'm sure the US has similar standards - and they've had mainstream years.
          • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) *

            (a) 720p is, technically speaking, HD. (b) InFocus, as of last year, was still selling projectors that were 720p max such as the model 5000 (feed them 1080i or 1080p and get garbage or nothing — no downscaling.) (c) standards, unfortunately, cannot be watched. What can be watched are implementations; and some implementations lack 1080i/p capability. The bottom line is, some hardware setups require 720p regardless of your preconceptions; and the PS3 refuses to do that. Because of these facts, standard

        • by ultramk ( 470198 )
          One of the reasons I'm glad my Optoma HD72 will downscale 1080p to 720p on the fly.

          M-
    • by Half a dent ( 952274 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:19PM (#18575101)
      My first DVD player refused to play The Matrix properly when it was released (quite common at the time). IIRC this was due to an interactive feature (follow the White Rabbit?) not being compatible with the firmware version of the player, looks like a similar story here.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SirMeliot ( 864836 )

        Yep I had that too.

        In the UK Woolworths sold a Samsung DVD player which was I think the first sub £200 DVD player you could buy in the high street. They sold a ton of these and were very good about taking them back again when they wouldn't play the Matrix.

        IIRC early PS2s didn't care too much for the Matrix either.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ncohafmuta ( 577957 )

        Perhaps the DVD player was IN the matrix, and so as to protect itself from being discovered by the humans, and giving them too much information, refused to play.
        Seems pretty logical to me.

        -Tony
      • The Matrix (Score:5, Interesting)

        by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @01:53PM (#18576583) Homepage Journal
        Actually, there was a fairly lengthy technical investigation, and it turned out that the Warner release of "The Matrix" was improperly mastered--it didn't actually meet the DVD standards.

        Annoyingly, Warner didn't bother to remaster it, which is the main reason why I never bought the DVD. Warner have generally done a bad job of DVD mastering over the years--consider also the initial Kubrick DVDs, the continuing lack of widescreen releases of many Warner movies, the crappy cardboard packaging...
        • Re:The Matrix (Score:4, Informative)

          by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday April 02, 2007 @02:27PM (#18577075)
          Actually, IIRC, the worst offender back in the early days of DVD was Polygram. Not only did their packaging suck, but quite a few of their titles (most notably "Kalifornia") simply wouldn't play on Toshiba DVD players or clones (because the Toshibas were strict about not playing improperly mastered discs).

          Incidentally, for those who are interested, you can find a pretty good list of problematic early DVD's here [dvdreview.com].

      • by Malc ( 1751 )
        It wasn't anything to do with the follow the white rabbit feature. That was an InterActual DVD-ROM feature only available when played in PCFriendly under Windows. Set top boxes usually ignore the DVD-ROM segment of a DVD. I do recall that title had some other issues - perhaps a UDF issue or something? I remember problems browsing the disc under NT4. I think WHV did a run change after a while that might have fixed the problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by walt-sjc ( 145127 )
      So the question now is, can the people buying the movie get their money back? I know that most stores will not let you return opened music / videos / software - only exchanges for the same exact thing in case of bad media.

    • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @01:40PM (#18576355) Homepage Journal
      apparently, the mods today don't like sarcasm that has a point. Lets try again.

      MS is part of the group that created the HD-DVD standard. They were not part of the group that made the DVD standard. Titles that had problems with the DVD standard initially either were not from groups associated with the DVD standard, or they were stupid.

      Point is, I don't care if some DVD titles had problems with early DVD players. That is completely unrelated to whether or not it is ridiculous that MS can't follow the standard they helped create. Is MS-bashing cliche'? Sure. Does that mean that it isn't dumb that this is happening? No.
      • Damn straight!

        I've had my share of hardware+software trouble, but its usually when I'm trying to do something new or different, like trying to get Linux installed on some obscure hardware. Stuff there's not really manuals for... Things that aren't format standards that I helped create.

        Its not clear from the article whether the flaw is in the hardware or the disc, but this is certainly a HUGE screwup on someone's part. If the flaw does lie in the hardware, this could seriously hurt the HD-DVD format in th
    • by EtherMonkey ( 705611 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:30PM (#18577895)

      Given the complexity of something like DVD, HD-DVD or BluRay it's really to be expected.

      So, in other words, it's ok for me to pay $400 for a new, standards-certified, HD-DVD player and then $30.00 each for HD-DVD-labeled movies, but I shouldn't expect them to work together? And because I've probably owned the HD-DVD player for several weeks/months before coming to this sad realization, and because I obviously need to open the shrink wrap on the HD-DVD movie before attempting to play it, I cannot recover any of the money I've paid for this premium, standards-organization-certified, combination of player and media?

      Well, at least now that I own the physical media and therefore have legal license to play the movie, I can legally download a working, albeit lower-quality copy off the Internet. Oh wait, that's still illegal.

      Eventually, all the crap that the entertainment companies go through to implement copy protection, (a.k.a. DRM), is going to wind up frustrating even the most steadfast consumers of legally-aquired recordings, and they will be driven to pirate downloads as a matter of survival.

  • by bigtangringo ( 800328 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:05PM (#18574893) Homepage
    Meanwhile, pirates have probably ripped the disc and made it available online.

    No good deed goes unpunished.
    • Bug or Feature? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:09PM (#18574939)
      Well - the industry has realized that marketing expensive HD-DVD players is a nightmare, when an Xbox can do that and so much more at a much lower price. Making HD-DVD content unplayable on the Xbox is just another logical step (they have they own special logic). So the question is this - is it a bug, or a feature?
      • "is it a bug, or a feature?"

        It's called "shooting yourself in the foot". I don't plan to get any HD-DVD or Blue Ray for at least 5 years.

    • No good deed goes unpunished.

      Weird.. the first time I read that, I saw No good deed goes unpublished :~}
  • by jhfry ( 829244 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:09PM (#18574937)
    that broke.

    I hope it is, as that might finally make these coalitions focus on developing the better technology for delivering the content instead of protecting it.

    It's not worth the risk to release a format that is encumbered with complex copy protection schemes. They WILL get broken, and they WILL cause problems for consumers.
  • Most consumers do not have HD TV's and most consumers have more than one TV in their home therefore it will be a very long time before either HD movie format matters as even when the majority of consumers own at least one HD TV, both formats will be worthless when watched on the other TV's in the home. Discuss.
    • I HAVE an HDTV, and I still dont care... 480p is more than suitable for my 32" widescreen, I cant see the picture getting THAT much sharper... on a bigger screen sure...
      • Move to Europe. 576p DVDs as standard, anyone?
      • by Gulthek ( 12570 )
        I cant see the picture getting THAT much sharper

        Perhaps that's because you haven't seen it. It's not just a little clearer and sharper, it's *much* clearer and sharper.

        Anecdote: my wife and I watched most of 'Children of Men' on our Xbox HD-DVD player. It crapped out in the last ten minutes of the film and we flipped it to the DVD side so we could at least see the ending. The difference was amazing (in a bad way). It was like we were watching the video on youtube. Details that had previously been so clear a
        • And how big was the screen? And what was the viewing distance? I ask, because the angular acuity of the eye is limited, and if this is on a 32" widescreen, as the GP suggested, then at a viewing distance of, say, 6 feet or more (my TV is probably 11 feet from my couch), your eyes are probably incapable of seeing the difference between SD and HD content.
    • But the (quite small, so far) percentage of people who do have HD TVs also tend to have very large disposable incomes, and to spend a lot of it on media and entertainment, thereby representing a disproportionate chunk of video sales.

      I still think the whole thing is stupid and premature, but this isn't necessarily so just because most consumers don't have HD TVs yet -- with income gaps widening a lot of companies have the luxury of being able to completely ignore "most consumers."

      That said... I would hav

  • ...rival next-gen format HD DVD looked like it had its own success story in the making with this week's HD DVD release of the cult hit 'Children of Men.'


    If that's really the best news related to "HD DVD", it's probably time to put a fork in the tech anyway, regardless of the console playing stuff. "Children of Men?" Sorry, never heard of it.
  • Install anyDVD on your pc and rip the thing to a Hd Divx and play it on the xbox360 over the network. Then you dont have to fight the stupid DRM and other crap.

    Gotta love it that anyDVD now cracks HDDVD and BluRay :-) (crappy part is the drives for your PC are insane priced right now)
    • I wondered how well that actually worked. I've got the sd version, but since I don't own a br/hd drive I haven't bothered with the upgrade. Of course it doesn't help matters that the 1TB drives are about 6-9 months behind release schedule (origially due mid 2006, then 4Q 2006, then Jan 2007, then 1Q 2007...still waiting - though dell supposedly has oems). Where are you going to store all that content? And don't tell me to rip to DiVX again...I don't need yet another lossy-lossy conversion. I gave up on DVD
    • > drives for your PC are insane priced right now

      But the Xbox 360 drives also work. Much cheaper :)
  • I saw the movie (Score:2, Redundant)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
    I saw this movie over the weekend. It wasn't even that good. It might be the best thing available on HDDVD, but I wouldn't rush out and buy it. Personally I think they did a really bad job on a story with really good potential.
    • I saw this movie over the weekend. It wasn't even that good. It might be the best thing available on HDDVD, but I wouldn't rush out and buy it. Personally I think they did a really bad job on a story with really good potential.

      That's because the writers and the directors were far too busy trying to make some kind of idiotic political point that they forgot to make the story something entertaining. I saw it in the theatre, and couldn't get over all the obvious political evangelicalism they were performing.

      • Yeah, art should never include any kind of political message no matter how vague or realistic. I like my movies like I like my women - bland and opinionless.

        If you whiny fucking right wing lugnuts didn't love the torture so much in "24" I'm sure you'd crybaby about its political message this season, too.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Moofie ( 22272 )
          How did you get from "Person A didn't think this was a very good movie" to "Person A thinks art should never include any kind of political message" to "Person A is a torture advocate and probably eats babies"?

          I mean, wow. That's a really impressive set of assumptions you've got there...
        • Yeah, art should never include any kind of political message no matter how vague or realistic. I like my movies like I like my women - bland and opinionless.

          If you whiny fucking right wing lugnuts didn't love the torture so much in "24" I'm sure you'd crybaby about its political message this season, too.

          You call me a "whiny, fucking right-wind lugnut?" I could just as easily make a movie about a man falsely convicted of rape due to a feminist lying, who gets out in 10 years after being finally cleared.

  • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:20PM (#18575109)
    Not just XBox 360 Player that has problems...

    I know it is wild to assume that SlashDot would not mention this part, but it appears that some Toshiba based drives also have problems with this Disc.

    PS. I hate the HD-DVD DRM as much as everyone else, but if the DRM was to blame it would NOT be failing at the DRIVE level and would be failing at the player level where the DRM is processed.
    • Isn't the XBOX drive a re-branded Toshiba drive? If so, that would indeed make a whole lot of sense.

      Just a thought I felt I should throw in. :-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Isn't the XBOX drive a re-branded Toshiba drive? If so, that would indeed make a whole lot of sense.


        At the initial launch of the players they were all Toshiba, but I have no idea if MS has acquired any other suppliers since the launch. Also the model used by MS could be different even if they are all Toshiba; hence, why some users are not having problems and others are.

        This could also be as simple as a defective Disc that borders on the readbility requirements for a HD-DVD. Like others have mentioned, when
  • by mrycar ( 578010 ) <mrycar@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:23PM (#18575145) Homepage Journal
    As an owner of both Blu-ray and HD-DVD, I have found less issues with the HD-DVD format then Blu-ray. On my Blu-ray devices (samsung and LG) I have had issues with Crank and Speed. On the Xbox 360, no issues experienced. I have played Children of men in both my living room and bedroom xboxen with no issues. Checking blu-ray forums shows many disgruntled blu-ray owners. Personally, I dislike either format and would, and would do direct download of HD, if there was a thing as high-speed network connectivity where I live. disgruntled blu-ray owner.
    • by flynt ( 248848 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:52PM (#18575609)
      I have had issues with Crank and Speed.

      There are clinics to help you with that.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:33PM (#18575297) Homepage
    These "title-A-won't-play-on-brand-B" stories are common. But why? This is essentially a phenomenon of the DVD era. Or, rather, there are three phases to the history:

    Phase A: Pre-recordable-CD. Everything worked. An individual cassette jamming in a player? Sure. A bad pressing or a warped LP? It happened. A bad CD? Prior to copy protection, I encountered _maybe_ one in fifteen years of buying them. But an across the board disaster, like the latest hit title failing to play at all in a popular brand of player? Never.

    Phase B: Media incompatibility with recordable media. I've never seen a CD (one bearing the Compact Disc logo, not a copy-protected not-quite-CD) fail to play. But I've frequently encountered the burned CD-R that plays on some players but not all. The CD-RW that says it will play on "most modern" players, etc. And DVD's, hey, the instructions for burning System Restore disks on the computer my wife just bought say--WITHOUT EXPLANATION--only to use DVD+R's, "even if your DVD writer is capable of burning other formats."

    Phase C: Popular, commercial entertainment titles on mass-produced non-recordable media that fail to play in large numbers of popular, commercial players.

    Why is this happening? Are the vendors now just giving lip service to standards, and are unable to produce a title that will play on everything unless they procure everything and test on everything?

    Heaven help me if we ever have digital motor oil.
    • by illegalcortex ( 1007791 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:56PM (#18575685)

      And DVD's, hey, the instructions for burning System Restore disks on the computer my wife just bought say--WITHOUT EXPLANATION--only to use DVD+R's, "even if your DVD writer is capable of burning other formats."
      You may already know this, but the reason why is error correction. The DVD+R format is far superior to the DVD-R format when it comes to error correction. So if you get a scratch on a backup disc, you are much more likely to not lose anything if it's a DVD+R. It's probably they didn't want to explain error correction in an instruction manual written for people who would have just skimmed over it anyway. Any explanation for the masses would have just boiled down to "it's better, trust us."
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by greed ( 112493 )

        Is there really a difference in the error correcting codes written to +R and -R?

        The important difference is buffer underrun recovery. The +R blanks have a time-code in the groove that's pre-cast into the polycarbonate. -R blanks don't. So, in the event of a buffer underrun, DVD+R can accurately locate the last-time-written position and resume burning without a gap. DVD-R will have to have a gap, just like CD-R with buffer-underrun protection.

        For .ISO-type pre-burned image streaming, this isn't a bi

        • by illegalcortex ( 1007791 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @01:35PM (#18576289)

          Is there really a difference in the error correcting codes written to +R and -R?

          Yes.
          From http://adterrasperaspera.com/blog/2006/10/30/how-t o-choose-cddvd-archival-media/ [adterrasperaspera.com]

          As I said earlier, DVD-R sucks for data preservation for three reasons: inferior error correction, inferior 'wobble' tracking, and the fact its data writing methods look like an un-needed halfway point between CD-R and DVD+R. The wobble tracking I shall explain first, then the error corrections method, then the specifics of ATIP/pre-pit/ADIP optimum power settings.

          For a CD/DVD burner to track where it is on the disc, it uses three things: the 'wobble' of the data track (where it actually wobbles back and forth instead of in a straight line) to tell where it is in the track, the position of the track to tell where it is on the disc, and some additional information on the disc to tell where the track (singular, as CDs and DVDs only have one track, and it is written in a concentric spiral) begins and ends.

          This additional information on a CD-R is called the ATIP (Absolute Time In Pregroove), which contains how long the track is, where it begins, what the maximum and minimum writing speeds are, what formula dye it uses, who actually made it, optimum power control settings, and error correction data. The ATIP is stored as a frequency modulation in the wobble itself.

          However, since the wobble changes subtly to encode data, it is impossible to use with the small size of tracks DVD requires, as electric noise in the laser pickup and wobbles introduced by the electric motor spinning the disc, these could easily be read as frequency changes in the real track itself.

          On DVD-R, they tried to solve the problem with something called 'pre-pits' where spikes in the amplitude of the wobble appear due to pits fully out of phase with the rest of the track (ie, between two spirals of the track, where there is no data). This can be viewed as a simple improvement over CD-R as it makes it easier to track the wobble (since the wobble is constant except for the easy to detect and remove spikes).

          Unfortunately, this method as one flaw: due to electric noise in the laser pickup, it would be very easy to miss the pre-pit (or read one that wasn't actually there) if the disc were damaged or spun at fast speeds. The time to read a pre-pit is 1T (roughly .0000000038th of a second), which even for a computer can be easy to miss. DVD-R traded hard to track frequency changes for hard to read wobble-encoded data.

          On a DVD+R, however, they came up with a much better method. Instead of changing the frequency of the wobble, or causing amplitude spikes in the wobble, they use complete phase changes. Where CD-R's and DVD-R's methods make you choose between either easy wobble tracking or easy ATIP reading, DVD+R's method makes it very easy to track the wobble, and also very easy to encode data into the wobble. DVD+R's method is called ADIP (ADdress In Pre-groove), which uses a phase change method.

          With ADIPs' phase changes, the direction of the wobble changes and continues on going in the exact opposite direction (ie, counter-clockwise to clockwise, or the reverse). For example, if the wobble was 'going up', the phase change causes it to instantly reverse direction start 'going down' no matter where it in the wobble cycle. The phase change is very easy to detect, and also continues for a set period (in this case, one 32T section of the track, or 32 times longer than the pre-pit method of DVD-R).

          The state of the phase change (clockwise or counter-clockwise) encodes the individual bits in each block In essence, with the phase change method, not only do you have an easy way of tracking the wobble, but you now have an easy way of reading wobble-encoded data.

          As I mentioned earlier, this wobble-encoded data includes error correction of wobble-en

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      I've never seen a CD (one bearing the Compact Disc logo, not a copy-protected not-quite-CD) fail to play. But I've frequently encountered the burned CD-R that plays on some players but not all. The CD-RW that says it will play on "most modern" players, etc.

      1. The pressed CD process predates the players. The burn process has gone through several stages of zoned/linear/faster burn processes which not only arrived later, but vary greatly in tolerances.
      2. Cost cutting. Both consumer burners and discs have been
  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @12:38PM (#18575379) Journal
    It seems, from reading through the forum postings, that some titles work, but the same title fails in a different drive, even if the drive is badged the same. Presumably the Xbox drives are made by different manufacturers and this is the source of the problem. Or possible the disks are pressed in different plants. Either way, that kind of inconsistency seems to be a good reason to avoid the whole thing.
  • Not a surprise to those of us that have followed the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD battle for a while. HD-DVD was rushed to market to compete with Blu-Ray. Their first significant demo in January of 2006 was an embarrassing failure with the disc failing to play. HD DVD Demo a Disappointment [slashdot.org]

    It is amazing the HD-DVD camp hasn't folded yet. Listening to the HD-DVD fans it is clear that rabid hatred of SONY drives their insistence that HD-DVD will win in the end.

    People where initially skittish of buy Blu-Ray until the Playstation-3 came out. People where initially skittish about buying a Playstation-3 until Blu-Ray prevailed (supply issues aside). As it becoming more and more clear Blu-Ray will win and win big (currently with a 4:1 sales ratio and GROWING) PS3 and Blu-Ray will now both feed into the success of the other. Sony took a gamble, but it appears to be one that will win big for them despite whatever people may think of their sales practices or DRM attempts.

    I for one hope hatred of SONY doesn't keep HD-DVD alive -- I would like to only have to buy movies (any movie I want) in one HD format.
    • by illegalcortex ( 1007791 ) on Monday April 02, 2007 @01:08PM (#18575867)
      Personally, I have favored Blu-ray due to the higher capacity. What becomes popular as a movie standard will also drive what becomes popular as a computer peripheral standard. I'd rather do my backups/offline storage to a higher capacity media. Sony has pissed me off in their treatment of the PS3, but I don't hold that against Blu-ray in general.

      But you have to admit, these are the same problems that happened with the first generation of DVD. There were certain discs that would blow up certain players. Manufacturers learned and they fixed them in the next generation. The xbox will probably be able to fix it via a firmware upgrade.

      Claiming that this is somehow a harbinger of doom for HD-DVD is doing just what you are accusing the other side of doing. You are letting your rabid hatred of HD-DVD shape your interpretation of something that's just history repeating itself.
      • Personally, I favored Blu-ray (or at least predicted it to win) because Sony owns a damned studio! Right off the bat, you know there's going to be content that will never be available on HD-DVD, and strong push from a least one major studio to get highly popular movies (like Casino Royal) onto Blu-ray.

        As far as disks that won't play, you're right. This does seem like a standard feature of every new technology, and I think Blu-ray has (or will have )some of the same issues. This is more of a problem for t
  • Usually I would agree with "haha" in the tag since hddvd is spawned by evil. But children of men is a both beautiful and intelligent movie - both traits are pretty rare and to have them in the same movie is pretty close to miraculous. The tag "sad" would have been more appropriate.
  • The first pressing of Chronos [highdefdigest.com] on Blu-ray had a similar problem with the PS3, but no one found that newsworthy at the time...
  • "...are unplayable on the format's leading playback device."

    'Leading' playback device....? Leading what...a pack full of dull witted MS beta testers with nothing more to do than count how many times a disc is ejected in a row? Please...

    Who wrote that crap? How about...'only' playback device in any quantity perhaps countable at this time. Or how about not even writing about the 'device' at all in such terms. Gonna be sick...

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