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DVD New Format update

BluRayvsHDDVD.jpgOh lord, where to start? The ongoing feud between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray just shows how much they care about money over consumers. In a repetition of the VHS vs Betamax war we're pitched in the middle wondering what we should buy, when and ultimately, why.

While I've not been writing the war has been pitching forth with both sides making noises of movement and little else, but out of that has some some interesting news, and here's some of the more interesting snippets.

If you were thinking of upgrading, or have DVD at home, some of this could well be worth reading...

Sony announces BluRay Disc Pricing

Sony plans to bundle DVD-UMD combo packs of the same movie together starting in the end of March, priced at $28.95 USD. The cost would be over 40 percent less than buying the discs separately, and the studio plans to do the same for Blu-ray discs…

…Sony said older titles would sell wholesale for $17.95 USD, while new release titles would sell for $23.45 USD. The studio has decided to not offer a suggested retail price, saying retailers could choose their own price structure and that the company believed in a free market...

...The prices are not far off from the prices of DVDs when they first were released in 1997, however the new release titles are at a 15 to 20 percent premium to what was charged for new-release DVDs.

What's with the bundles? Oh yeah, your UMD is going down the tubes!

Blu-Ray hardware, titles to hit stores May 23rd

Tuesday, May 23, because that's when you'll need to be on a 12-hour line at Best Buy to get your anxious little mitts on a Samsung BD-P1000 and eight critically acclaimed launch titles such as "Resident Evil Apocalypse," "XXX," and "A Knight's Tale"- with another eight classics like "Species" and "SWAT" to follow on June 13th. Also available soon after launch will be more Blu-ray hardware, including Pioneer's BDP-HD1, Sony's BDP-S1, and several BD-equipped Vaio PCs, also from Sony. As we'd heard before, the Samsung player will retail for around a grand, and Sony will be charging $23.45 for new flicks and $17.95 for catalog titles.

Actually that's not that bad, considering that when DVD's came out in...1997(?) they were priced around that same mark.

LG kills Blu-ray model, considers combo player

While Samsung backed down earlier this year on plans to produce a combo Blu-ray/HD DVD player, it looks like hometown rival LG is picking up that particular gauntlet, and may introduce its own dual-format player later this year. According to an internal memo sent by an LG executive to the company's US sales force, LG is dropping plans to introduce its first Blu-ray player, the BD199, which was originally planned for this spring (and which the company was proudly showing off at CES just two months ago) due to "uncertainty in this early stage of the market for pre-recorded high-definition optical discs." Instead, the company will consider developing a dual-format player, which could be available as early as the fall

Now I think this would be the way to go if you're wanting to adopt early but not get caught with the wrong format.

Primera's Bravo XR-Blu 50-disc Blu-ray burner/labeler

machine that can burn up to 2.5 terabytes or data unattended is worth at least a mention, no? We actually misspoke (purposely, to impress you) when we said 2.5TB - that will be the capability of the next generation of Primera's 50-disc Blu-ray burner/color labeler. This version is only a single-layer burner (Pioneer's new BDR-101A Blu-ray Disc/DVD Recorder), able to burn only half of the 50GB per disc possible with the upcoming dual-layer

That's massive! It's good to see that these guys are taking piracy seriously though. On one hand they lock people up, and on the other they sell stuff like this! Fifty discs at once? Sure officer, I was making fifty backup copies!

Samsung SH-B022 Blu-ray burner reviewed

the team at Germany's CT Magazine were able to get their hands on a Samsung SH-B022, and liked what they saw. The burner, which doesn't have AACS copy-protection, was able to burn a 25GB disc in about 43 minutes, and had no trouble playing a range of CDs and DVDs. The reviewers also found that the drive didn't generate as much heat as some other models they've tested; it reached a manageable 107 degrees after a burn. The final model is due out in April for about $500, and will include copy protection, along with the ability to write double-layer 50GB discs.

A slightly smaller model for the home market I assume, not for the mass production of...ermm...backups!

Pre-order your Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player
If you need one fast, this is the way to go...

for $500 now you can actually pre-order a Toshiba HD DVD player on Amazon (a HD-A1 to be exact)

HD-DVD Cases Totally Suck

The Inquirer points out that though Blu-Ray has a smaller and odd shaped design, HD-DVD is even worse. Better throw away those shelves you bought for $5 at IKEA, fool, because HD-DVD will not fit into standard DVD slots. The red casing has a weird red strip at the top which doesn't allow them to pile up nicely at all, let alone stack them or sort them.

Damn! I have a wall lined with Ikea bookcases for DVDs...not only do I have to buy new hardware and discs, but new furniture too?

Playstation 3 hands-on....is 1080p gaming in the cards?

Gaming site Kikizo claim to have gotten some seat time with a PS3 development kit running on near final hardware and have found out some very nice tidbits of information from three separate (unnamed) developers.

Among other things, they note that the hardware designs we've seen will likely change before launch, native 1080p games with full effects are unlikely, and that launch games are being designed with a 10x DVD drive in mind. There is also much praise for Sony's machine, with developers noting that it will probably be capable of handling more effects and geometry than the Xbox 360. These statements aren't surprising, 720p will likely be the sweet spot for gaming this generation, anything more than that increases memory needs to an almost impossible level, but the PS3 should be able to scale to match whatever your TV accepts just like the 360.

Wow...sounds really nice. I can't wait for one...my PS2 makes horrible noises spinning discs now and I have to bounce it on the table to get it to play. The clock is ticking my friend...

Initial HD-DVDs to be 1080i

Turns out that while the HDMI spec does support it, the first HD-DVD discs on the market will be 1080 interlaced, not progressive. Everything we've read so far on Blu-Ray indicate that they will be pressed at 1080p, which when you consider graphics capabilities of a related Sony product (the Playstation 3), that's not surprising. The real question is: do you continue to hold off on an HD-DVD player or is this not a deal breaker? The player will support 1080p so the next iteration of discs will "catch up". There also aren't that many HDTVs that can accept a 1080p signal just yet, so the whole point may be moot.

Oh more confusion to the buying puzzle! So the HD-DVD players may not be progressive, but Blu-Ray will. Isn't this really by the by because Blu-Ray will be punted with PS3 and therefore mass distributed automatically?

HD movies two months after theaters

The COO of News. Corp, Peter Chernin, indicates that Fox is working on a 60-day plan: 20th Century Fox movies hit HD releases within 60 days of the theater release.

Well that's good news. It may not be simultaneous, but at least it's close.

Only big companies' PCs will play high-def DVDs

PCs with expensive video-cards won't be able to play high-definition DVDs unless they're built by big companies like Dell and Sony. PCs you build or upgrade yourself with "HDCP"-compatible high-end video cards will be locked out of high-def DVD playback by the copy-restriction system on the discs.

HDCP is a system for crippling PCs so that they are incapable of copying some digital files. It is overseen by a licensing authority that controls whose HDCP implementations can play back files that are locked with its restrictions...

...We've been able to confirm that none of the Built-by-ATI Radeons support HDCP. If you've just spent $1000 on a pair of Radeon X1900 XT graphics cards expecting to be able to playback HD-DVD or Blu-Ray movies at 1920x1080 resolution in the future, you've just wasted your money.

NVIDIA, being a GPU manufacturer was unable to discuss the plans of board manufacturers. We contacted all six of NVIDIA's Tier-1 board partners. None of the GeForce 6 or 7 video cards available on the market, including the most recently released GeForce 7800GS, have HDCP support. So if you just spent $1500 on a pair of 7800GTX 512MB GPUs expecting to be able to play 1920x1080 HD-DVD or Blu-Ray movies in the future, you've just wasted your money...

What?! So you're being forced to upgrade your video card too...what a money spinner this is turning out to be!

A New Twist In The HD-DVD Problem

A few months back you may remember this article I wrote about the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) coming in on the next generation of DVD players. This meant that if you have bought a digital television that doesn't have an HDMI input, which equates to practically all sets pre-2005 and many still on the market, a security measure forces the signal you see on your screen to be 'automatically downgraded' to be practically no better than current DVD rather than the higher resolution output of the new HD-DVD & Blu-ray formats.

Well if your one of those millions who think the studios are screwing you over, now comes a loophole for you to exploit and probably the most sane development in this whole argument. DVD File reports that in the March 2006 Issue of Nikkei Electronics Asia, an article indicates that the AACS standards are being implemented in Japan somewhat differently than in North America. HD-DVD discs sold in Japan and a few other unnamed countries will not impose the 'image constraint' security measure over analog component video connections until 2011.

The import market is going to be alive and well with the new format for some time!

New format players incompatible with early HDTVs

It has been confirmed that the AACS, which is reaching a status of near infamy itself now and is present in all HD DVD / Blu-ray players, will cause any video connection other than HDMI or DVI to be downscaled to something like a quarter of the resolution it is capable of. This means that early HD sets which use only Composite/Analogue inputs will have no chance of seeing the new HD disc in their full 720p/1080i/1080p glory. Whilst a bit of a blow for those first adopters, I'm thinking cheap HD TVs on ebay ideally suited for the Xbox 360.

Oh for god's sake, so even the equipment you've just bought for your next-gen systems may not even work?! What next?

Sony Pictures Blu-Ray titles won't down-res

By now everyone knows that if they don't have HDCP they might not enjoy High Definition DVD's in all their glory. What I don't think is as well known is the fact that it is still up to the studios. The studios will decide which movies to down-res over component and even then it will be better than DVD quality at 540p. They will also have to mark the DVD packaging so that you know before you buy.
That is the bad news, the good news is that Sony Pictures has announced that none of the movies that they own will exercise this right, which they refer to as a "Image Constraint Token". This of course doesn't mean that they won't ever use it, but instead will wait till analog piracy becomes a problem.

Actually I didn't know that there was going to be down sizing en mass.

Sony Pictures isn't the only one that won't down-rez

According to some well respected members of the AVSForum, Fox, Paramount, Disney, and Sony won't down-rez. The other studios have not made an announcement yet include Universal, Warner and Lions Gate. Insiders indicate a 50/50 chance that each will decided to cripple their movies over component.

I for one wonder if most people will even notice the down-rezzing. If you connect a 540p to most TV's it is detected as 1080i and the TV will indicate that the current resolution is 1080i. The player may indicate to them what it is outputting, but most won't notice if the player doesn't tell them.

Saved...thank you Studios.

Now, what the hell is going on again?! Ach, none of this really matters does it? After all, it now looks like HD-DVD is delayed.

HD-DVD movies: not coming soon

Warner Home Video -- the only studio that had set a firm date for a rollout of HD-DVD movies -- has now backed off and won't commit to a specific timetable. The company had originally planned to launch a slate of films...on March 28, and had even allowed major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy to take pre-orders. However, division head Ron Sanders now says "the outlook is tenuous -- we're still coming out with an initial slate, but we may be a week or two later; we just don't know."


Look, if you want some simple and unassuming advice, wait. That's it. Just wait. Bide your time to see who wins, anyway you'll probably end up with a player by default, either through a games console or new PC. Don't go and buy tons of gear yet, because one of these puppies will win, and it may not be the one you expect.



As if HDTV isn't confusing and intimidating enough for the average consumer... It almost seems like the industry is trying to sabotage the whole process. Your advice about waiting is dead-on.

The one thing I read recently (which you mention above) that REALLY made me angry was the fact that older (actually as recent as last year) HDTVs won't be compatible with the new hi-def DVDs!! >:-(

Nothing like punishing the early adopters that help to usher in new technology, eh?


I've been ignoring the format wars because:

A) I'll not be able to afford a player until they are sub £100
b) I'll not be able to afford a HDTV until they are cheap

However, I was under the impression that 'HDTV Ready' tellies only really means 720p in the UK (and Europe?) and that this is going to be the HD broadcasting standard. So is 1080 redundant for the UK? I'm asking out of ignorance here! :-)

Hey Vic, I know there was a lot to read, that comment was in there. I agree, it's either incredible short sightedness by the companies involved, or clever and controlled marketing.

It's not redundant if you're playing a 1080 DVD (whichever format), games console, or downloaded content on your machine. Sure if broadcast quality is lower that's all you'll need if you're only watching broadcast signals.

I am tired of how many ways of stealing our money they are inventing. I keep my old and crappy DVD until they release movies straightly from the net. So: I skip this bloody inventions.

And I am not drunk.


But if you have bought a 'hdtv ready' telly in the UK then it's only 720p. So your PS3 and high-def-dvds are only going to display at the lower resolution. Unless I'm picking this up wrong?

Sony: "the company believed in a free market..."

What? Region encoding to be abolished, then? Or do I smell bullshit?

Reminder: Gas prices trebled yesterday. Perspective needed in the industry, if energy prices keep on like this there will be no consumer spending on luxury items that could be obsolete as soon as they are purchaesd.

I've just seen this. At least someone is thinking about us poor folk. A CRT HD telly:


OK, it is only 1080i but it is under £500. Now I really am scratching my head!

Yeah we're not being restricted to 720 on the sets.

Lee - great point, the typical consumer for these products will suddenly change and not be able to afford them.

Oh, and yes the early signs are, if not abolishment, at least a huge rethink.

I can never keep up with all these technology developments. It used to be so easy.



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