Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How "Transformers" movie is helping to kill technology

The new "Transformers" DVD hits store shelves today and for us tech gurus -- or geeks, depending on one's point of view -- it's not exactly a great day.

If you have a shiny new Blu-Ray player or a Sony PlayStation3 just waiting to see Michael Bay's hit movie in splendid high definition, you're out of luck.

"Transformers" is being released by Paramount only on the HD-DVD format. The company stopped releasing Blu-Ray discs in August. That also means "Shrek The Third" will not hit stores in Blu-Ray format.

Paramont is in the minority here, as most major studios are supporting Blu-Ray. Some major retailers are stocking only Blu-Ray players and Blu-Ray is all you can rent from Blockbuster.

But just when Blu-Ray gets some serious momentum, the New York Times reports that Paramount received $150 million in financial incentives to get out of the Blu-Ray business.

What it does is make life tough for the consumer. There are a few next-gen DVD players that will do HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, but they cost around $1,000. Most studies show consumers aren't planning to buy a next-gen player yet anyway, and those that are, well, they're confused.

Both systems will deliver crisp clear HDTV signals. Blu-Ray will deliver better picture, however, and better audio. HD-DVD has better bonus features. But in the end, packaged media is on its way out. The future seems to point to digital downloads, something Microsoft is already offering via Xbox Live and Apple via its iTunes store.

DirecTV also plans to launch a "Download On Demand" service that will allow customers with broadband connections to download HDTV content. Many cable services also offer similar on-demand options.

But right now, nothing is better -- in terms of picture quality and immediacy -- than the packaged disc. You can buy or rent the DVDs before they hit cable/satellite PPV outlets or HBO. You can store them easily. The problem is this has become another Beta vs VHS war. I think Blu-Ray has the advantage, but the way things are going, neither format may win.


Charlotte Mortgage said...

I can't wait! I havent seen the movie yet....hopefully it's good.

mwilsonc said...

HD players are cheaper making it easier for people to convert. Paramount is trying to help HD DVD win the format war not hold up technology. They aren't the only studio only producing movies for one format.

Anonymous said...

I am going to continue to wait this one out; only because I've recently bought a lot of other equipment. That being said, your article is incorrect, Blue-Ray does not offer a better picture or sound. That's just not a true statement at all. Last week another blog stated that cloud seeding hasn't been done since the original trials in the 60's. Why dont the bloggers for the Observer actually investigate their topics before writing?

Anonymous said...

Damn Fanboys...

Why dont the Comment posters on the Observer actually investigate their topics before posting?

BTW... both formats will die to digital downloadable content... but atlease PS3 games like KillZone2 MGS4 and others will be amazing games to pl;ay since they use the Blu-Ray format...

unlike Micro$ofts decision not to add a HD-DVD player to the xbox360. talk aboput being 'behind the times' and "killing technology" M$ has been doing this for years....

vinny testacleverde said...

only a nerd would care. go get some pussy boys.

Michael said...

The statements about Blu-Ray vs HD DVD are way off base.

Blu-Ray does not have most of the major studio support - if anything, it's split at about 50/50 right now. HD DVD has Universal, Paramount (and Dreamworks), Warner Bros., Weinstein, New Line, etc. Aside from Disney, Sony and Fox (which has very very few releases out), Blu-Ray can't claim too many exclusives.

Blu-Ray does not offer a superior picture or sound. They do offer a higher capacity disc (currently, though the HD DVD camp is working on a 51GB solution), but more than 60% of the current Blu-Ray releases don't even use 25 GB. If anything, picture and audio quality are equal...nothing more, nothing less.

Another blogger was correct that HD DVD costs less, which is one of the reasons I bought into the format. You can get an excellent player for just over $200 online vs. more than $400 for a Blu-Ray option. The Blu-Ray spec is also incomplete and the current generation players will not fully work with newer discs once they are released. The HD DVD spec is final and (theoretically) any disc you buy in 2 years will work in an old player too.

Finally, you have to look at recent sales figures. Standalone HD DVD players have sold MORE than standalone Blu-Ray players. Sony counts every PS3 sold, which is not completely accurate...alot of folks probably don't even realize (or care) that their PS3 can play high-def movies. Take a look at the top sales leaders on see where HD DVD really stands.

A recent announcement has also shown that HD DVD is rented almost twice as much as Blu-Ray on Netflix. Blockbuster's decision to not carry HD DVD in stores has not really affected anything, and they have made some pretty poor decisions in the past. Several years ago, I was told by a manager there that they would never carry DVD as it is a niche market. Go figure.

I have no problem with Blu-Ray, and when I can afford a player will probably pick one up. However, I do take an issue with anyone that seems to think Blu-Ray is the end-all-be-all of high-def content.

In the end, this war will most likely be decided by the wallet...and HD DVD is leaps and bounds ahead of Sony in that department right now.

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Anonymous said...

Langston, I have to agree with most of your points and disagaree with some made here. Blu Ray to my eyes is visually superior to HD DVD. I have both, PS3 and Xbox 360 providing. I think Blu Ray does have the advantage now. I'm not so sure what happens in the future. I wish all studios would release on both formats.

Anonymous said...

Langston is a well-known Sony/PS3/Blu-ray fanboy and anti-Microsoft/HD-DVD bigot. (He even posted the other day that the PS3 is going to pass the Xbox 360 in sales. This despite the fact that the PS3 is absolutely getting KILLED in comparison to the 360.)

So of COURSE he's going to diss on the fact that not everyone is in love with Blu-ray. Sure, it does offer a theoretical advantage over HD-DVD in terms of maximum storage space, but beyond that, Blu-ray is in no other way superior to HD-DVD.

Clayj said...

Hmm. Seems like Sony is helping to "kill technology" all by themselves. They're selling their advanced chip operations, which produce the Cell processor used in the PS3, to Toshiba.

That's right: Sony, the source of Blu-ray, is selling the ability to produce the chips used in the PS3 to Toshiba, the source of HD-DVD. This is like Coca-Cola selling their secret formula for Coke to Pepsi and stopping their own production of Coke.

sildenafil said...

Hahaha, I loved the irony on the head line! It was really awesome. Hey, I think it is really stupid from Paramount not wanting to release the version in any other way than DVD!!! It's not counting us all, who want for even more modern ways to entertain!