Friday, January 11, 2008

Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD...does it even matter?

There's a big battle going on between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD to see which format consumers will use to view HDTV movies in the future.

Blu-Ray now has more than twice as many major studios behind it and has a clear advantage. Sony, which lost VHS vs Beta in the '80s, looks like it is going to win a rematch.

Blu-Ray is Sony's baby.

But does it really matter which one wins?

In a recent USA Today interview, Microsoft head man Billy Gates believes that direct downloads over broadband are the future. His company's Xbox Live recently signed an agreement with ABC to allow customers to download ABC programming one day after it airs.

Netflix has plans to create a set-top box to allow customers to download movies over the internet instead of renting them in a store or via mail.

New Flash technology now emerging will allow people to store these HDTV films on a tiny high capacity hard drive, like the thumb drives some people wear around their necks now like necklaces. Some of the newer TV sets are already being made with USB ports in them.

You could, I'd imagine one day, download "Rambo 27" off the internet in high def onto your flash drive, walk over to the TV, plug in the drive and go. And, of course, these drives being smaller than HD-DVDs or Blu-Ray discs -- and with the ability, potentially, to house multiple movies on one drive -- could kill whichever disc format ultimately wins.

Gates seems to see it that way. He told USA Today he believes direct download over broadband, "over time will be the dominant way that people get their movies."

9 comments:

Clayj said...

In terms of picture and sound quality, no, it probably doesn't matter which format wins, HD-DVD or Blu-ray. Although I am an ardent HD-DVD supporter, that mostly has to do with the fact that I have about 30 HD-DVDs and two HD-DVD players connected to my Xbox 360 consoles. But when the HD-DVD format dies, as I think it inevitably will now that only two studios are supporting it, I'll just pick up a hybrid HD-DVD/Blu-ray combo player and start buying Blu-ray movies. This does not make me happy, since I will want to replace all of my HD-DVDs with Blu-ray movies, but I've enjoyed having HD movies on disc for the past year.

The main problem I have with downloading movies, even in HD, is that their use will be limited with respect to only being able to play them for a limited period of time, or not being able to play them on any player I want. I prefer to OWN my movies, not rent them, and I hate when my honest use is blocked by anti-piracy technology such as DRM. This is why I will always buy movies on disc if I can.

Clayj said...

FWIW, I've resigned myself to the fact that HD-DVD is going to die soon. Symbolically, I just ordered a copy of the Blade Runner Ultimate Collector's Edition on Blu-ray, even though I don't yet have a Blu-ray player. When I do get Blu-ray, I don't want to worry about not having my favorite movie available in the new format.

Clayj said...

PS (yeah, I know, this is three comments in a row from me): A big fat BOO to all of the major studios and electronics companies for not getting this whole Blu-ray/HD-DVD deal straightened out in the first place. We NEVER should have had two competing formats... in a format war, someone always loses. There are a lot of folks, myself included, who've made an investment in a format (HD-DVD) and now that format seems likely to go away. Toshiba, Sony, and all of the others should have come up with a single format so that none of us would get screwed.

Anonymous said...

Most people will continue to buy regular ole DVD's. Cheaper and when run through a good upconverted player are comparable to the HD counterpart. I don't understand why all the studios have jumped back and forth in the first place, they are fighting over like 10% of the market since DVD is the dominant format. Oh yea clayj, you still don't OWN the movie even if you buy it. You buy the license to be able to watch it privately. People have actually been sued for playing CD's loudly in their cars because it was a violation of the license agreement.

Clayj said...

Anon, I realize that I don't "own" the movie per se... but with a movie on disc, I can take it to my mom's house, or I can rip it for use on my iPod. If I download a movie for my Xbox 360, I can't do that. The only restrictions of having a movie on disc are legal, not technological. This is why I also buy CDs; I can rip them as many times as I like, in any quality I like, for my own use.

Anonymous said...

I had heard about 6 months ago that the adult film industry had picked HD-DVD. Supposedly this industry pulls some major weight as far as which format will live on. The adult industryin the past picked VHS and DVD.

My personal opinion is/was that HD-DVD would take off just because of the name. A nice, easy to remember acronym like VHS or DVD, not a proprietary sounding name like Betamax or Blueray. You can hear the name 'HD-DVD' without knowing anything about it and think to yourself 'this sounds like a DVD that has a high definition picture.' I guess time will tell though, as Sony mini-discs were supposed to completely replace CDs, and we all saw how that turned out.

Also:

"You could, I'd imagine one day, download "Rambo 27" off the internet in high def onto your flash drive, walk over to the TV, plug in the drive and go"

Or you could, I'd imagine today, download pretty much whatever movie you want off the internet, many in high def, load them on a flash drive or removable USB hard drive, plug it into the USB drive of your XBox360 (with winter update DivX support) and go. Of course thats all hypothetical.

Anonymous said...

To the poster of "I had heard about 6 months ago that the adult film industry had picked HD-DVD. Supposedly this industry pulls some major weight as far as which format will live on. The adult industryin the past picked VHS and DVD."

do some research before you post...
Bluray also signed an agreement with the adult film industry... your comment is now invalid...



and to CLAYJ, if you get a HD/Bluray combo player you dont need to replace your HDDVD movies with bluray counterparts... so dont complain about having to replace your limited, tiny 30 HD-DVD collection. that is just childish and tupid to spend more money on the SAME movie with barely any difference with the picture and audio... (however getting blurays to replace your regular ol' DVD's is one thing...)

DeeCee said...

What amazes me is that consumers will support and buy Sony's anti-consumer line. Every BluRay player has the "Sony Tax" built right in regardless who you buy it from. Once HD-DVD is "dead" the promise of managed copy will ring hollow and you won't be getting your HD movies on any device that the studios don't want you to have them on.

Let's not forget that none of today's BluRay profile 1.0 players (save the Playstation 3) can be updated to profile 1.1 or 2.0 which will add features to the viewing experience.

Anonymous said...

I honestly think that's why Blu-ray has won. The PS3's sheer worldwide numbers make it attractive to studios. They feel that the potential is there to reach more customers. I own a PS3 and can honestly say I've bought many Blu-ray movies due to the fact that it currently lacks many killer apps. This is why I'm growing to despise Sony. They create a product with a trojan horse type technology (The PS3 with it's Bluray). They hardly publish many quality exclusive titles in it's first year, yet promote Blu-ray movies in advertising for the PS3. I just want good games, and I know they will come, but for them to use their gaming console as a means to solidify a Blu-ray victory before they concentrate on the gaming aspect of the machine is highly arrogant. It seems like they wanted to get the PS3 into homes so they can tout the numbers in the face of HD-DVD, instead of actually caring about the gamers that perhaps bought the console to only play games...