HD-DVD, Blu-Ray & You

With the Tuesday launch of the first HD-DVD players, the winds of change are upon us. Tech-geeks and casual consumers alike have clamored for high definition movies and now it appears they will soon have them. Of course, since Hollywood and money is involved, it can’t be simple.

Here’s a quick update/tutorial on what you, the movie fan, need to know about high definition discs and the format war that is now under way. I’m going to leave out specific details and technical jargon because it doesn’t really matter what color the laser is that will be reading your disc’s content. What matters is how this will affect your movies and your pocketbook.

First, it’s necessary to get the basics out of the way. The movies you watch right now on DVD are shown with a 480p resolution. You should look at the 480p number as a measurement of picture quality. HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies will be shown with a 1080i resolution. So that means that the picture quality from the high-def discs will be nearly twice that of current DVDs. See, you didn’t know this was also going to be a math lesson did you? It should also be noted that the two formats are incredibly similar and most people probably couldn't tell them apart if put to the test.

Two major companies (Sony and Toshiba) have created high definition discs that they feel should be considered the eventual replacement to DVDs.


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HD-DVD is the brainchild of Toshiba. They invented and developed the technology and have stood behind it as if it were their savior. Of course, if you’d put millions of dollars investing in something, you’d stand behind it too. It has about 15gb worth of disc space and individual movies will probably retail for around $29.99. HD-DVD players are showing up for between $500 and $800. You can already buy titles like THE LAST SAMURAI and SERENITY.

The Dude won’t be making an appearance on Blu-Ray

HD-DVD scored a big victory by having Microsoft back them exclusively, but missed a golden opportunity by not having the X-Box 360 come with a built in HD-DVD player. One will be available as an add-on before the end of the year, but by then, it’s already too late. I know it’s a cost issue, but I think it would’ve been better for them to eat a little bit of the cost to gain a potential victory later on.

Neither will Ms. Knightley in Pride and Prejudice


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Blu-Ray is Sony’s baby. It’s the format that everyone is waiting for, but unless Sony can get their act together before Christmas, the war may be over before they get there. And that’s what makes everyone nervous. They keep having technical problems and have yet to be able to prove they can manufacture the discs at any consistency.

You won’t see these lovelies on HD-DVD

Blu-Ray has exclusive studio support from…wait for it…Sony. Blu-Ray discs are expected to retail for about $34.99 and they will have 25gb worth of space. The players are expected to cost between $1000 and $1500. Prices will/could vary since nothing is official from the Blu-Ray camp.

The biggest advantage for Blu-Ray is the fact that the Playstation 3’s will be able to play Blu-Ray movies. This is pretty big because it’s going to put a Blu-Ray player into the homes of many people that aren’t early home theater adapters, thus making them Blu-Ray supporters by default. Second, it’s going to be an obvious solution to the price problem since the Playstation 3’s are expected to cost under $500. If the PS3 is as great as Sony claims it is, then this could be the deciding blow in the format war.

And no Seinfeld for HD-DVD


At the end of the day, the average consumer is going to have to decide whether or not to jump on the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray bandwagons. If you buy both (or the wrong one), then you’ll have to accept that one day you will have a $1000 paperweight and some $30 coasters.

Personally, I haven’t yet bought into either side. I don’t actually feel either disc will replace my beloved DVDs. I have this DVD player that “upconverts” standard 480p DVD signal into a virtual 1080p signal. Is it as good as a true 1080i signal? No. Is it close? Yes. Is it close enough to tide me over until a format winner is declared? I think so.

I think the wave of the future lies in the realm of the internet. I think studios will one day make high-definition movies available via the net and THAT will replace DVDs. But that idea is somewhat far off and I think DVDs have about five to ten really good years left before we can start making fun of people that still have DVD players.

Source: JoBlo.com



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