Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The slow sad death of HD-DVD

Cara started it all.

We had talked about spending less on birthdays - not going too crazy... then I opened up her gift which was a Toshiba HD-DVD! Wow. Being the greedy little man that I am (and after Kreitner alerted me to a $99 HD-DVD player opportunity), I took back the player and bought a Playstation 3 with a Blu-Ray player on it.

Ya know - so I would be format neutral (or a "Neutie" as I prefer to be called... well, not prefer really... ya know... just so people know that I don't care who wins the format war... but with a cool sounding nick name... "Neutie" is cool... right?).

Anyway, a major blow against HD-DVD came in the form of Warner Bros. choosing to go exclusively with Blu-Ray... then yesterday, what I feel might be the final breath... Netflix dropped HD-DVD.

Netflix - the largest corporation for renting DVD-movies... dropped the format completely. The discs in rotation will be phased out within the month (due to handling, it seems discs get replaced monthly).

That kills things for me. I was not out buying movies - I only rented Blu-Ray and HD-DVD's... now, I almost have zero need of my player. I own perhaps 10 discs (with 5 free ones coming)... and probably won't be buying more in the future. In fact, I really look to Paramount and Universal to jump ship within this month as well.

Poor HD-DVD - it really did not deserve to lose! Some people even believe the quality HD-DVD delivers is superior to Blu-Ray (I have not seen this, only read)! If that is true, this is a real disappointment.

A moment of silence... for a lost war.



Kern said...

I always hate format wars like this because for the longest time the poor consumer is the biggest casualty. The problem with new formats like these are that they need early adopters to make it a success; to show studios that the public is clamoring for their movies to be released in glorious HD. Unfortunately, most people have the common sense reaction of not wanting to budge until an actual standard is declared.

I've read tons of stuff about both formats, and it seems both have their good points(HD-DVD for enhanced features, BD for sheer storage space) but as we've seen in the past, better isn't always going to determine the winner in these lopsided Darwinian contests...*cough*Betamax!*cough*

I guess in a way I'm just happy that there is an emerging winner so I know what to buy next. I know people say downloads are the future, but I'm not betting on that until we start seeing more fiber optic internet piped into people's cribs for the sake of speed and better quality.

RIP HD-DVD...we hardly knew ye.

Damfino said...

To be honest, I am shocked Blu-Ray won.

I jumped in because it was cost effective for me... would not have done it without Cara's gift.

LOST on Blu-Ray is simply amazing. If you do buy - check it out.


Deric said...

What the DOUBLE-H?!?!?!

Here I am, relaxing on the beach, not a care in the world, looking at old links that I need to delete, when I come upon the Damfinoblog!! I had totally written off the blog and gone on with my life with the small twinge of the passing of something loved! Then I see that it's back.

It's like a beloved puppy that, though run down while chasing errant squirrels, mysteriously gets up and runs back to lick your face.


OK. Format wars. I can't say I'm too suprised. Sony was ready. Sony learned it's lesson from Betamax, and knew what it had to do to win the format war. In everything Sony did in consumer electronics, from PS3 to toasters, Sony was laying the ground work for a protracted format war. It also knew from its expirience with Beta that the industry can pick a winner, but the loser can still survive for quite a while. So their strategy was not so much to win with total output (as was HD-DVD's strategy), but to create an atmosphere of a presumtive winner.

In otherwords, it didn't matter if Blue-ray was actually winning, as long as you (the consumer) thought they were.

Look, HD-DVD still has a long potential life as a data storage format. There are certain non-pop-consumer applications for which HD-DVD is the best product, and it may live a long happy life there.

But Blue-ray set up a presumption of inevitability that was hard to counter. I read a very exhaustive paper on this in one of my favorite journals. If you look at the two formats, they are still a tie, but HD-DVD has never tried to call a winner, while the consortium behind Blue-ray has often sent out repeated and exhaustive press releases stressing each victory of Blue-ray. It is a press war in which Sony has actively tried to influence the coverage of the format wars and play up their importance to the consumer so the consumer feels that they need to make a choice. In reality, there is no reason why the two cannot co-exist. The base technology is virtually the same, and though some hardware change would be needed, it is mostly an issue of software. It was only Sony's stance that this MUST be a war that forced the two sides apart.

In fact, in the article I read, it explained that the HD-DVD consortium early on thought that a duel format standard system would be best, and they worked with that idea back in the late 90s development, until Sony let it be known that they would not allow duel formatting in their devices, nor would they release licences to allow manufacturers to produce duel format players. That created a war when one was not needed. All because Sony was scared of a future war and the posibility that they could lose it.

Damfino said...

Mr. Gourd,

Good to see you are, in fact, alive.

Bravo on a very informative post! I was under the impression that Blu-Ray and HD-DVD's had completely different lasers that read the information (not to mention burn it) and that was problematic in the reading process to combine. LG cracked it with their dual format machine.

Regardless if Sony declared themselves the winner all along (and I would argue HD-DVD sure as hell did some touting as well), they are soon to be the official winner... and I suppose that is good.

So- with all of your reading, I am betting you have yet to invest in HD at all.... eh?


p.s. The blog is alive only in the sense that I am posting when I feel and only posting on certain things... but it is nice to be adding more to my bloggy story!

Deric said...

The news of my demise have been mostly exaggerated.

I am a BIG proponent of HD, but I am an even larger proponent of feeding and clothing my child, so quite unfortunately I am not fully in the HD realm. My 16 year old brother though forwent a car so he could buy a 42" Plasma HD TV.

I envy HD, and pet the screen when I go over to friends who have fully invested, but I have had a hard time justifying the cost. Including my Netflix movies I probably watch about 3 total hours of TV per week. Like I have not been impacted by the writer's strike at all because I don't watch anything. I watch all my TV shows when Netflix delivers them to my door.

My interest was more in terms of my tech investments. I wanted to ensure I invested on the "winning" side. What I found out is that you are right that there are technical barriers to HD-DVD and Blue-Ray compatability, but those two different lasers for instance (both blue light lasers by the way) are not the most expensive part of the machine in terms of manufacturing. As LG (and other Chinese makers not availible in the states) has proven, the duel technoloy is totally compatable but as soon as the Sony consortium let it be known that they would not cooperate in duel technology, each side intentionally created players that were exclusive. It was part of the initial design, so future inovators had to overcome design roadblocks in technology configuration to create duel-read players.

What's really sad is that the HD-DVD/Blue-ray "war" completely stifled inovation in the next technology. Neither technology is current with the latest in data-compresion technology (discs that have an entire season of a series on one disk), and there is no investment in the "next thing" because of waste coming from the current conflict (subsidising production costs to ramp up market share for instance).

SO I have very mixed feelings on this subject.

Sheriff officer Greg the Bunny said...

I picked up an HD-DVD A2 player at the 11/7/07 Wal-Mart $98.00 price point. So I haven' invested too much in the war. I just received my 5 free hd-dvd's from Toshiba (Hulk, Troy- the director's cut, The Italian Job, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Freighteners) Plus I bought Batman Begins when I bought the machine. I was given Shaun of the Dead by a "friend" of mine...Jed...I was given "300" and Bourne Identity from a guy who bought the A3 machine and already had the 2 movies "in the box" and I bought Hot Fuzz from Amazon. So I have about $50.00 total invested in the player and films.

Like Jed said Netflix droping hd-dvd has killed it for me. I was enjoying watching all the hd i could desire and was also waiting for a "cheap" combo player to show up to go format neutral. It still seems I'll be waiting till xmas 08 to try to get a blu player that has all its shit together, 5.1 analog outputs (I have an old non-hdmi receiver) internal high-def audio decoding, dual tuner video...etc.

I feel that the blu people will not feel the need to price drop since their main rivals have been put down. Blu is now not fighting hd-dvd (a weak opponent) but DVD the 800 pound champ. Blu boys are all full of themselves now...they had better hope joe 6 pack doesn't find out about high-def light downloads from their cable co./ Apple/ Microsoft, PS3....or the vicotry could be short lived.


Damfino said...

Amen brother... I say they better do some major price dropping to get everyone in line!

Well - also, DVD looks pretty awful on a brand new HD LCD! Or whatever joe public is buying.

I wonder how Apple TV reboot sales are going... hmmmmm.

Kern said...

I have a Denon upconverting DVD player, and it upscales the 480p to 1080i pretty well, so most of my stuff has looked pretty good.

Point taken though. Most regular players would likely look like shit on there.