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Warner Backs Blu-Ray. End Times For HD-DVD? 705

An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times reports: In addition to Apple, Warner Brothers is now going to throw its weight behind the Blu-ray format for high-definition disks. Warner has been the only major studio to publish its movies in both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats. Today, the studio announced that from now on, it would only issue movies in Blu-ray. Richard Greenfield, the media analyst with Pali Research, wrote that this marks the end of the format wars: "We expect HD DVD to 'die' a quick death.""
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Warner Backs Blu-Ray. End Times For HD-DVD?

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  • What's that sound? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:28AM (#21922374) Homepage Journal
    You could hear a high-def pindrop in here. I don't think anyone expected things to be over so quick. Does this mean there will be some good sales on HD-DVD players?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Adambomb ( 118938 )
      Now that would be a fun situation.

      Warner throws behind Blu-Ray, Retailers put HD-DVD stock on sale in response, manufacturers continue supplying to demand, suddenly HD-DVD has the significant market base, studios make play of "providing for the needs of all their customers", more expensive blu-ray dies over a long agonizing period.

      Conjecture without caffeine is wacky.
  • Next up... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:29AM (#21922378)
    Now it just has to take on the DVD. Good luck. I look forward to dragging my feet.
  • Dear Hollywood (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Landak ( 798221 ) <> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:30AM (#21922390) Homepage
    Do you perhaps think that the "Slow HD uptake" referred to in the article might be as a consequence of the overwhelming cost of, and over-restrictive DRM associated with HD video? Have you thought perhaps that for the vast majority of spice-girl-loving, Shrek-3 adoring consumers, DVD is more than "Good enough"?

    • Re:Dear Hollywood (Score:4, Insightful)

      by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:35AM (#21922438)
      I think it has very little (closer to nothing) to do with the DRM and more to do with DVD being "good enough"

      DVD is good enough for me. I've yet to impressed enough with HD to replace my tv or media and I have no intention of sitting at my PC and watching movies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nagora ( 177841 )
        DVD is good enough for me. I've yet to impressed enough with HD to replace my tv or media

        Indeed. I was in Curry's yesterday and walked around all their HD TV's, playing HD sources. Talk about unimpressed! What is the point? I have a 22-year-old CRT TV and the picture quality on it is not even apparently lower than most of the LCD/Plasma screens I saw yesterday and those that were better had such a small advantage that I'd have to win one for it to be worth upgrading.


        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Keep in mind that a lot of stores still aren't actually feeding their HD displays HD sources. Take a look at the back of the TVs and you'll find that quite a few Best Buys are still feeding a good portion of their HD displays via RF feeds. Sure, the nice showcase displays are being fed from HD sources, and many of the larger screens, too. But not all of them are getting HD sources--a lot are getting bottom of the barrel SD feeds.
      • Re:Dear Hollywood (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FatherOfONe ( 515801 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:53AM (#21922628)
        Yes and VHS was "good enough" for most people as well. Remember that a 25" TV was HUGE back then...

        Most people that have a good HDTV can tell a large difference in good HD content. Please note that I am not saying many of the movies that have come out on either format, but "some" of the movies there is a HUGE difference in quality.

        The fact is that Microsoft isn't a content provider and because of that they can't leverage any monopoly this time to win this format dispute. The real issue is all about Java on these players. I bet you can guess which player has Java and which one doesn't :-)

        The HD-DVD camp just pulled their talk tonight at CES and that comes as no surprise, also it now has come out that Universal has an "escape clause", so this could be over sooner than most thought. The only real question is "if" Microsoft wants to dump a LOT more money at Universal to try and continue this dispute. I would imagine that now it would take a lot more than 150 million.

        Again, don't get confused about any company caring about the consumer, Sony used the PS3 to cement Blu-Ray and Microsoft HATES Java and will do a lot to make sure it doesn't gain a significant foothold in the living room. At the end of the day I would much rather deal with Sony, because I can easily use someone else's player but if Microsoft controls the software in the living room then history shows we will be in for decades of crap.
        • Re:Dear Hollywood (Score:5, Informative)

          by Znork ( 31774 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @11:29AM (#21922978)
          "Most people that have a good HDTV can tell a large difference in good HD content."

          You mean, some people _think_ they can tell the difference (notably TV salesmen and people who've bought a HDTV).

          I read a recent blindtest where three experts and a bunch of non-experts were tested for the difference between HD and non HD material on several LCD's and plasma displays.

          On the first test, 42 inch screen, 3.5 meters away (10 ft), they all guessed 720p. It was 480p. After much flipping back and forth, some managed to get it right. More tests and eventually getting down to 50" 2 meters (6 ft) away, and there were still some who couldnt even tell 480p from 1080p. Nobody could tell 720p from 1080p better than random chance.

          The fact is, such tests show that under normal viewing conditions most people simply dont have eyes and visual centers good enough to reliably notice the difference between SD and HD, nevermind deciding what looks best. You have to get up to 60-100 inch screens at a normal viewing distance to be able to reliably tell the difference; most people would be much better off getting a TV with better color and contrast ratio and simply slap a HD sticker on it so they think it's buzzword compliant.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheBracket ( 307388 )
            I have a 27" CRT that can do 1080i (picked it up for $200 in a sale). For normal viewing, I really can't tell the difference between 480p and 1080i - both look pretty good. Occasionally, HD content does look much better - mostly when watching televised sports (not something I do often!), but mostly I really have to look to see the difference. The only time 1080i really makes a difference is on my xbox 360, particularly for text rendering and small texture details on characters.

            I wouldn't pay thousands more
          • Re:Dear Hollywood (Score:4, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:18PM (#21924112)
            Completely true.

            I ran a little "experiment" of my own, which isn't really scientific but whatever. I set my HD TiVo to only output at 480p (which is the default) and showed a bunch of "HD" content on my 1080p-capable TV.

            No one noticed.

            And since it IS the default setting, I wonder how many HDTV owners with HD TiVos are staring at 480p content and thinking that it's amazing HD. (Besides, in most people's minds, HD=16:9. Get a widescreen digital SDTV, and people will swear it's HD.)

            Which isn't to say the HD TiVo wasn't worth it - it stores something like 180 hours of SD programming, and outputs in digital, which really does help the picture quality. (Plus it comes with a network adapter so I no longer have to hook it up to the phone.)

            The move from analog to digital massively improved the picture quality. The move from 480p to 1080i was completely unnoticeable.

            Well, almost. The network brand in the lower-right corner is a bit sharper in HD...

            (Which, I think, hints at the truth. The difference between SD and HD is only really noticeable in static imagery - once things start moving, the motion completely obscures the difference. And since I rarely watch TV shows of walls, there's really no point in HD.)
          • Re:Dear Hollywood (Score:5, Interesting)

            by earlymon ( 1116185 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:15PM (#21924666) Homepage Journal

            "Most people that have a good HDTV can tell a large difference in good HD content."

            You mean, some people _think_ they can tell the difference (notably TV salesmen and people who've bought a HDTV).

            Despite many agreeing with you, I cannot, because like so many things in consumer electronics, users are too often fooled into thinking they're assessing one thing when they're assessing another.

            To begin, "good HD content" is already qualitative rather than quantitative. HDLite seems prevalent on DirecTV - please see [] and [] (probably in that order). I'd consider it "good HD content" and appreciate it a lot compared to SD - but it's not highest quality HD, as might be found with the OTA ABC or CBS broadcasts. What we call HD Lite is more along the lines of what you get from good DV tape - which I'll admit might qualify as "good HD content" but isn't HD.

            Next - and I'm going to contradict myself a little bit w.r.t. the above paragraph and I'm ok with that - comes native resolution of the TVs themselves. My DLP has a native res of 1280x720p. The sign at the store calls it a 1080i set - because it accepts and converts 1920x1080i to native (all HDTVs convert whatever to their native formats) - so you have to beware of marketing crap. I haven't looked at the latest models, but most plasmas sold to the date I'd checked last year were native of 1024x768, and LCDs are very often 1366(or so)x768 native res. On those models, you're not going to get 1-to-1 mapping of HD anything without processing inside the TV - so like it or not, further signal degradation occurs in the format changeover.

            Next, not all HDTV inputs are created equally. See [] if you're a satellite TV user (or want to check my references) and you'll see plenty of newbie posts answered by very qualified TV engineers telling that no, they're not crazy, for their set / brand / production run, the component inputs are noticably better than their HDMI inputs or no, they're not crazy, for the same reasons, the HDMI inputs are noticably better than the component inputs.

            Next, tuners. I have 3 ATSC tuners in my house, until recently, two were hooked to the same DLP HDTV - and just switching between the two caused guests - drinking beer and watching the game - to exclaim, "WTF did you just do?!?!?" So, even though the source could be qualified as "good HD content" the differences in h/w quality was easily observable by people with no vested interests in oooohs and aaaaahs of HDTV ownership.

            Next, cabling. Yes, yes, yes, anyone paying too much for cables is an idiot. Try it. 'Nuff said. Now add in store cabling (have you ever worked in a consumer electronics store?) and you'll know all bets are off for controlling that part of your experiment.

            Next, as you point out, color engines. Two HDTVs with same native resolutions? The one with the better color engine wins everytime - in fact, it's often been shown that given the choice between higher native res and color engine, spend the money on the better engine. My Helio Ocean phone with its 2 megapixel camera looking like crap (knew it before I bought it, didn't care) is an excellent proof point on this.

            Next, SD upconverters built in to HDTVs all vary - and there are some very scary good ones. Ditto on set-top boxes.

            Finally - the source material itself. Hitchhiker's Guide on HD (Lite) is better than on DVD - it's slight, but not subtle. I switched between the two without telling my wife what the switch was (to see if it was just my bias, as you suggest), and got one of those, "WTF did you just do?" moments again. Take something that really cared about HD during production and it's just no contest.

            So - there's a lot more to HD comparisons and good HD content and what to invest in the HDTV world than just what

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Puff Daddy ( 678869 )
          Gotta jump in here and say I don't think anyone is saying that there is no difference between DVD quality and Blu-Ray/HD-DVD quality. What I, at least one GP, and the seeming majority of Americans are saying is that we just don't care. Once an HD screen and an HD media player become cheap enough that I'll consider them next time I have to replace my aging equipment, I might consider buying an HDTV. I, and many, if not most, others, will probably never seriously consider buying a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player. Wh
    • Right? Interesting point. Most of the market where these HD playback devices would be popular are the same market that is partially alienated by the encumbrance of DRM. Too bad these things aren't like VCR's were in the day, then they would really have something to complain about, I.E 1080P HDMI in/out right on the back of the unit. I guess they took our rights to use technology away slowly so nobody noticed how much more restrictive the end-user's choices are.
      • Re:Dear Hollywood (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:54AM (#21922636) Homepage Journal
        Partly alienated? I own 400+ DVDs. I've never pirated a movie in my life. I have an HD capable TV, but I won't buy a single HD product until I'm 100% sure I can continue to easily copy it to my media server. I'll happily admit I haven't kept up to date with whether or not BluRay DRM is definitively broken in a way the mafiaa can't stop again or not. DVD is good enough for me to not invest a lot of time in figuring it out.

        If they stop releasing stuff on DVD before I'm sure, then I'll resort to torrents rather than jump onto a format thats too encumbered.

    • Ok, So here in Switzerland I can get the average DVD for around 14.99 CHF to about 24.99 CHF (MediaMarkt). I saw a blue ray movie and it was 44.99 CHF and could not believe it. Why in the heck would somebody pay nearly double the price so that you can see the butt pimple of an actor? Maybe one or two movies you want to see the butt pimple, but in general no way...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dogtanian ( 588974 )

      Have you thought perhaps that for the vast majority of spice-girl-loving, Shrek-3 adoring consumers

      Spice Girls were at their commercial peak 10 years ago- all the little girls who were into their music back then are now grown up and halfway through university.

      I've also noticed that "Backstreet Boys" and the like seem to crop up as examples of bad manufactured modern music, despite being phenomena of the late-1990s/early-2000s. Perhaps a sign that the Slashdot demographic is getting older (including myself, admittedly) and more out-of-touch? Not that I'm saying that a lot of current manufactured music

  • Hope it works... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elwinc ( 663074 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:30AM (#21922392)
    I hope the war ends quickly, and I hope blu-ray wins because blu-ray has a higher data rate (something like peak 48Mb/sec vs 32Mb/sec). Not to mention that blu-ray dual layer holds a whopping 50 gigs. But I'm not going to buy any kind of player until the war is clearly over.
    • Re:Hope it works... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Liquidrage ( 640463 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:45AM (#21922542)
      If storage size was all I cared about I'd agree with you. The DRM in blu-ray is less consumer friendly then HD-DVD. Not to mention I'd rather just about anyone control a standard for us then Sony. If HD-DVD was enough to give me HD movies, and it appears it was, I was hoping it would win out. But sadly the shifting DRM was probably why blu-ray's more appealing for the movie studios.

      If there's a silver lining here it's that I think winning this race is meaningless. I don't think blu-ray is the next DVD. Laserdisc maybe.
      • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:54AM (#21922644)
        The DRM in blu-ray is less consumer friendly then HD-DVD

        the drm in BOTH is totally unacceptable to me.

        runnable code?? in a VIDEO disc?

        oh please!

        come back (vendors) when you have learned your lesson. we don't want no stinkin' "revoke lists" and all that java crap going on.

        a/v players should JUST relay a/v bits to the display/speakers. and that's ALL.

        in that respect, they both got it horribly wrong. so I boycott and will never buy bd/hd discs. buying only tells them that you approve and I will never approve of this. vote with your dollars.

      • Re:Hope it works... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Mordaximus ( 566304 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:58AM (#21922680)

        Not to mention I'd rather just about anyone control a standard for us then Sony.

        Good thing there is also Hitachi, LG, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung and Sharp then I guess. You do realize that Blu-Ray isn't a 'Sony' format?

  • I knew it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:31AM (#21922398)
    I knew that $199 HD-DVD player with 10 free HD-DVDs from was too good a deal to be true. But I got suckered into it anyway and bought myself one for the holidays. Betamax all over again.

    I figured with HD-DVD players so cheap, they couldn't help but beat Bluray, with their absurdly overpriced players. Apparently I was duped by a dumping strategy - clearly they knew their market position was about to slip off a cliff and they decided to flood the market with cheap players.

    I am boycotting further purchases of any high def DVD products for the next few years. This experience has left me utterly disgusted. Move piracy, here I come.
    • Re:I knew it... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @11:39AM (#21923074)

      This simply is not worth worrying about. I picked up the exact same deal as you and am happy. Just remember:

      * The format war is *not* over because a couple of 'experts' say so
      * Until the war is over, don't build a large library (rent)
      * The cost of the player for a few years use is modest
      * Amazon started selling discounted Bluray players with the same 10 disc offer a couple of weeks after the HD-DVD offer, so it is not part of a dumping scheme by either format.

      In the short term you get to enjoy 1080P video and TrueHD audio now for a low price. I see a lot of postings here about there not being a significant difference between SD and HD discs, but I see a huge difference. I was sceptical before I got the player, but now I am a believer and have no buyers remorse even *if* HD-DVD goes away after a few years.

      In short: Don't worry, be happy.

      • by Mex ( 191941 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @03:21PM (#21925356)

        NO! Don't be a pawn! Do not wait for these wars to be over! You are essential to success! Be a soldier, mister! Drop down and give me 20 (dollars) for your old movies that you had to buy again!

        Only YOU can decide who wins this war!

        - This message brought to you by the MPAA. Buy more movies plz k thx bye
    • Re:I knew it... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:22PM (#21924742)

      This experience has left me utterly disgusted.
      If you can get so emotionally worked up over a $200 purchase, why did you spend so much in the first place?

      Look at it this way. You got ten movies that will play forever, you got a very good upscaling DVD player, and you got an opportunity to buy a bunch of films in the very near future at fire sale prices.

      Also, don't expect HD-DVD to entirely die out so quickly. Toshiba will still be making players and recorders for a good while longer -- the standard may even manage to live on as a drop-in replacement for DVD+Rs. Furthermore, HD-DVD is supposedly compatible with China's new CH-DVD [] standard. After cheap upscaling DVD players start to flood the market with HD-DVD compatibility mode, you won't have to worry about your collection being unplayable in the future. Don't minimize China's influence here, after all, old Chinese (S)VCD's are still playable on every new $30 player, some 10 years after they were obsoleted by DVDs.

  • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:35AM (#21922442)
    This thing of thinking one agreement will stop conflict has been done before.

    There is one player left who will likely fight on, that being microsoft. They absolutely don't want blu ray to succeed, because that means they lose another round to Sony.

    Should be fun seeing how they react.
    • I'm hoping that if bad feelings between movie studios and Microsoft are the result, that perhaps Vista SP2 will loosen up on all the DRM crap. I'm sure that at least some of the deals they made with the MPAA to include system-slowing device polls in Vista might be lifted if they don't have as many people to keep happy.
    • by vodevil ( 856500 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:40AM (#21922498)
      Microsoft shouldn't care too much if blu-ray succeeds. The VC-1 codec that most blu-ray movies uses needs to be licensed from Microsoft. Money in their pocket either way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrXym ( 126579 )
      There is one player left who will likely fight on, that being microsoft. They absolutely don't want blu ray to succeed, because that means they lose another round to Sony.

      Microsoft only has itself to blame if HD DVD fails. They could have bundled the HD DVD drive into the 360 (e.g. the top end "Elite" model), or promoted the external add-on more but they didn't. I suspect they know the format was doomed and didn't want any of their IP to get dragged down with it. Microsoft also have ambitions with downloa

  • It's possible yet HD DVD might make some studios play musical chairs. But failing that I think the writing is on the wall for the format. HD DVD owners should probably take heart that there are going to be some excellent firesales and at least Toshiba and probably others are bound to produce hybrid players that play both titles for some time to come.
  • About time... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:42AM (#21922510)
    I was wondering when this was going to make it to the front page. I've had an HD DVD player for the past few months, along with about 20 movies for it (half are HD DVD exclusives). I've been perfectly pleased with it, and I'm not particularly bitter about being on the "losing" side of things. Eventually I'll pick up a BD player, once the prices come down a bit more, and hopefully once they sort out their profile issues (c'mon, the ability to do PIP was only recently added, 1-1/2 years after the format came out). And I'm still hopeful that dual-format players will be available for a while to come, especially since there aren't too many hardware differences between the two formats. I think the most sensible thing for the HD DVD consortium to do would be to drop their licensing fees before too long, specifically to allow hardware manufacturers to add HD DVD capabilities to their players for little extra cost. Of course, there are still two studios that are HD DVD exclusive at the moment, and I'm sure Toshiba/MS/et al are going to try to fight it out till the bitter end. Oh well, c'est la vie.
  • by yeremein ( 678037 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:44AM (#21922534)
    Screw HD-DVD too.

    I'm holding out for Gamma-Ray.
  • Not likely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:54AM (#21922634)
    Studios forget their history rather quickly. Back when DVDs where first coming out Circuit City came up with a competing format called DIVX (no, not the video codec, they just stole the name). The idea was that DIVX players could play DVDs, but also DIVX discs which were "enhanced" DVDs which you'd buy for cheap but then have to rent to play. Studios just loved the idea and a number like Fox, Paramount, and Dreamworks decided to release only on DIVX. Well as it turned out, that didn't matter. Consumers didn't like it, so they didn't buy it. DIVX died and it cost Circuit City a couple hundred million for their trouble.

    So just because some studios are initially backing Blu Ray doesn't mean anything in the long run. They'll release their movies for whatever format consumers decide to buy, or they'll go out of business.

    Also please remember we are a long, long way from any sort of critical point in the HD format move. It is going to be much slower than DVD, which wasn't all that fast. See with DVD, there was a reason for everyone to upgrade. Even if you had a small, crappy, TV, DVD was still better. The picture was generally better even on poor sets, but picture quality aside the other features were more important. No degradation, no rewinding, instant seeking, special features, smaller size, all these things added up to something that was worthwhile for everyone to purchase, regardless of what they watched on.

    Not so for HD formats. The only benefit is image quality (and possibly sound quality for the few titles mastered with the new formats). Well, this means that the only people who are going to notice a difference are those who own HD TVs, which aren't all that many people at this point. Even if you do own an HD TV, the gain is marginal. No new features or anything, just a better picture. That's nice, but not a big deal especially since upconverting DVD players give an amazingly nice picture and since not all discs come from a high enough quality transfer to really look nice.

    So it is a good while yet before there starts to be a critical mass of HD formats and there's any sort of victory in the HD war.

    Finally, it is entirely possible neither format will win. It may be that dual format players become the norm and both formats continue to survive. This is rather feasible since both formats are on the same size disc, both use AACS encryption, both use the same video and audio codecs and so on. Indeed, there's a couple of companies working on dual format players right now. So it very well could work out that both formats continue to be released by different studios.

    But to say that this is the end of the format wars is just wishful thinking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It is going to be much slower than DVD, which wasn't all that fast.

      Wasn't DVD the fastest that any consumer electronics device/format has ever been adopted? I seem to recall seeing that a few places.
    • Re:Not likely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @12:55PM (#21923870)

      So just because some studios are initially backing Blu Ray doesn't mean anything in the long run. They'll release their movies for whatever format consumers decide to buy, or they'll go out of business.
      This isn't "some" studios. This is "almost all" studios. Paramount and Universal are the only major studios left supporting HD-DVD (minor: Weinstein, Focus). Contrast that with Sony Pictures, Buena Vista, Warner, Fox, and New Line supporting Blu-ray (minor: Lionsgate, MGM, Screen Gems, Searchlight, Miramax). Even prior to this change, Blu-ray movies were outselling HD-DVD movies 2:1 - this move will probably push that to 3:1 or further. (In other countries besides the US, the ratio is even higher. Up to 9:1 in Japan, I believe.)

      Finally, it is entirely possible neither format will win. It may be that dual format players become the norm and both formats continue to survive.
      I agree with your first statement but not your second. HD-DVD is pretty much dead at this point - there is much more hardware support, much more studio support, and much more retail support for Blu-ray.

      Blu-ray's biggest threat now is digital distribution. Sadly, what's holding this back is the cluelessness of media corporations. Remember how horribly the music studios handled music distribution online? Yeah.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @11:08AM (#21922772) Journal
    BlueRay, HD-DVD, whatever. The genie is out of the bag. Torrents pouring video all over the planet, used DVD sales, online video, youtube, etc. BluRay is not going to dominate anything. IT's just goign to be another niche in the panoply of video standards. The point is that with ubiquity, things get consumed in different ways by people at different times and places.

    The BR/HD devices may well take over where obese supine consumers mindlessly suck the tit of the Culture Industry in their overstuffed barcaloungers in the family "Enertainment Center". There, picture quality in a darkened and directed room makes sense. But that is only one particular consumption ritual practice. There are many others. My typical practice is watching video in tiny stuttering windows online, because I can watch one thing, check my email, and work on a project at the same time, or in short sequences. A friend of mine is the same, yet he uses a video projector as his screen. Parties at his place are great - watch online video? Sure. DVD? Sure. Dance Dance Revolution? WTF? Oooh, OK - why not... Wii? OK - but only after we watch that online video of the guy's head exploding. And freak out your sister with the goatse guy.

    Betamax and VHS were such a pitched battle because there were no other options. Now, I can't get a cup of coffee without some giant flat panel telling me how white my shirts should be, and then I go to work, and some knucklehead sends me a link to a youtube video of the longest fart EVER, or I visit my brother and his 5 jillion channels of TV pumped all over every screen in the house, etc. etc.

    In the early 1980s, there were fewer options, so there was more at stake in a format. Now, it's just another fish in the sea. And with bandwidth increases and everybody and his ugly cousin getting in on the online video action thanks to Flash video, I think it may well be that BR or HD will be the LAST disk format...


  • Studio Support (Score:3, Informative)

    by Verxion ( 169051 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @11:27AM (#21922960)
    Seems to me no one has mentioned something which to me says a lot:

    "For a long time, Hollywood was lopsided in favor of Blu-ray: 7 of the 8 major movie studios (Disney, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) supported Blu-ray, and 5 of them (Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) release their movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. Only Universal was exclusively HD-DVD. Now that is rapidly changing what with HD DVD exclusive converts Paramout and DreamWorks Animation, and Warner Bros now for Blu-ray." (this from [])

    So in summary, we have:

    HD-DVD Exclusive:


    Bluray Exclusive:

    Warner Bros

    Not mentioned in the article above, I believe Universal Studios is actually HD DVD exclusive, but rumours seem to indicate that they aren't that way by contract, so they COULD jump ship. Further, New Line Cinema is owned by Warner Bros, so it would stand to reason that they will end up Bluray exclusive.

    At this point, it LOOKS like a pretty lopsided situation to me. Add in that while supposedly HD-DVD players (and PCs with HD-DVD in them) have outsold bluray players, (again supposedly) bluray titles themselves seem to have outsold HD-DVD, especially in non US markets.

    I have been reading about this since the news broke yesterday on places like [] and [] and it really sounds like even the HD-DVD diehards (for the most part) are conceding victory to bluray.

  • Age-old question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rydia ( 556444 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @11:42AM (#21923108)
    If a company wins a format war and nobody cares about it, have they really won anything?
  • Blu-ray titles take 10 spots on the Amazon DVD bestsellers list atm, including the top four. There are _no_ HD DVD titles in the top 25. The bestselling HD DVD title is #35. (Behind 4 more blu-ray titles on the way.)

    I know hating on Sony is de rigeur here. Sorry.
  • Not there yet. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @12:33PM (#21923614) Homepage

    I'd been hoping we'd skip HD and Blu-Ray and go to one of those higher-density mediums one hears about on Slashdot every few weeks. Both formats still require too much compression.

    We're not there yet. We're probably there when we get 2K high images at 72FPS without compression artifacts. Somewhere around 72FPS, the annoying strobing on pans disappears. Or, in other words, football games finally look right. Football games are hard because the background is moving, there's action moving in different directions, and viewers care about the detail. The motion compression algorithms can't really handle that situation.

    The digital cinema industry has a standard [] for this. They have two formats, "2K", which is simply 1080p, that is, 1080x2048 pixels, and "4K", which is 2160x4096 pixels. They define two speeds; 24FPS and 48FPS. Color depth is 12 bits. Compression is JPEG 2000. Maximum image data per frame is 1,302,083 bytes (which is actually smaller than you'd expect). Audio is sampled at 96KHz with a depth of 24 bits, and is not compressed. There are 16 audio channels. That's the Hollywood/SMTPE definition of a "movie" in the digital era.

    In actual practice, most films now being distributed digitally are going out in "2K" mode, at 24 FPS,with 8 audio channels. The spec has headroom to double each of those numbers.

    A 2-hour movie at all the highest ratings is about 500GB. So that's what needs to be delivered to the consumer. Neither HD nor Blu-Ray can do that yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The consuming public has no need for what is essentially a studio master uncompressed copy. What is suitable for public exhibition is not the same as what's suitable for buying at Wal-Mart. Those 2k exhibition copies cost thousands of dollars, don't they? I would think that 1080p DV with MP4 compression or equivalent would be plenty for movies. For sports and other things, even true 60fps is better than nothing. Perhaps a standard with 75 fps at 720p resolutions would be better for sports broadcasts and hig
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Doppler00 ( 534739 )
      I know most of my friends still don't care about the difference between DVD and HD quality, how on earth are you going to convince people that they need 2160p and 48 fps? I think trying to standardize long term on 1080p for everything is going to be hard enough.
  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:15PM (#21924096)
    I have spent a couple of months optimizing code for HD decoding, and mostly the format doesn't really matter:

    Both use the same codecs, they support the same resolutions, and the maximum bitrate is more or less the same (30 vs 40 Mbit/s for HD vs BR).

    The one important difference is that a "full HD" 1080x1920 BR frame will always be encoded as four quadrants, each at 540x960.

    This does lead to marginally lower compression rates, since you get more borders, but the great benefit is that you can have multiple CPU cores (up to 4) work in parallel on each of the parts!

    You can of course do the same with a multi-core decoder for HD-DVD, but only by starting each cpu/thread at a different key frame, and since each 1080p picture requires 2 Mpixels, it is far too easy to trash both the TLB tables and the L2 caches when doing the motion compensation step which normally requires multiple source frames to be available to generate each target frame.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by h4rm0ny ( 722443 )

      This is interesting. It's an area I know little about. Isn't the decoding of the content off-loaded to the graphics card normally, and doesn't this mean that a quad-core CPU doesn't help?

      Not meant as a challenge - interested in more information.
      • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @03:23PM (#21925370)
        Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) are very good at doing repetitive fp and fixed-point operations, and much less good a bit-twiddling. I.e. the motion compensation stage of video decoding, where you copy (possibly sub-pixel-located) source blocks into the target frame has been handled by graphics hw since the very first sw DVD players, like Zoran's SoftDVD which was the first.

        (In fact, SoftDVD was capable of handling 30 fps even without hw assists, running on a PentiumMMX 300 Mhz cpu, and without dropping any frames, but having the motion comp hw made it much easier to avoid drops. BTW, I did a very small bit of asm optimization work on that sw player.)

        High bitrate HD/BR video is encoded using the CABAC (Content-Adaptive Binary Arithmetic Coding) algorithm, which provides slightly better compression rates, but which is also particularly unsuited to a GPU: Each decoding step requires multiple if/then/else stages, just to decode a single bit of information. It is also completely serial, in that you normally cannot determine the context to use for the next decoded bit until you've finished the current bit and possibly even branched on the result!

        When you need to do this more than 50 million times/second, CABAC becomes the real bottleneck.


  • by Amigori ( 177092 ) <eefranklin718@yaho o . c om> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:20PM (#21924712) Homepage
    Fellow geeks, the only people who really care about DRM (on movies) is us geeks. Joe Sixpack just wants the disc to work when they put it in the player. Since we seem to debate DRM at least weekly, Here [] is a chart comparing the two plus SD-DVD. If you notice, ALL THREE have DRM. So the argument of HD-DVD having better/no DRM is pointless. Any of the formats can be DRM free if the author of the disc allows it.

    Notable facts:
    • DRM: AACS-128 on Both; BD+, ROM-Mark optional on Blu-ray
    • Larger aperture on Blu-ray, allowing for the higher capacity
    • 3 layer HD-DVD is v2.0 spec, 3 x 17GB = 51GB, currently unknown compatibility
    • Max bitrates (total, audio, video) are higher on Blu-ray
    • DD+ and Dolby TrueHD are mandatory on HD-DVD, optional on Blu-ray
    • HD-DVD is region free; Blu-ray has 3 regions; SD-DVD has 7 regions
    • Microsoft's HDi in HD-DVD vs. Sun's BD-J in Blu-ray
    • Stand-alone component manufacturers: HD-DVD: 5; Blu-ray: 5
    • LG has a player that supports both discs but is expensive
    • Blu-ray discs are hard-coated
    Most people I know that have an HDTV are quite satisfied with an upconverting DVD player and SD-DVDs. They're cheaper to buy at $BIGBOXRETAIL, look good enough scaled, and sound great. For most, DD 5.1 or DTS 5.1 are good enough for their setups. Even with the DD+/DTS-HD/TrueHD/DTS-HD Master, unless you have better speakers (think bought seperately, not a home-theater-in-a-box), you probably won't notice the difference in codecs.

    Also interesting to note how many geeks here are praising HD-DVD even though its an MS product. Isn't MS = Bad? Did I miss the MS = Good decision? Is it the lesser of two evils? Subjective, so you decide for yourself.
  • by 2ms ( 232331 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:34PM (#21924882)
    You people act like Warner is some kind of independent expert and accurate fortune teller. Of course they are going to say "We expect HD DVD to 'die' a quick death." That's what they want to happen because they are a Blu-ray only studio and they're obviously going to say it is going to happen because the more people say that then the more likely it is for it to actually happen.
  • by stickyc ( 38756 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:10PM (#21926910) Homepage
    It's disappointing that studios are willing to choose the quick payola for format exclusivity over long term customer satisfaction. As broadband and storage tech gets cheaper and more pervasive, you can bet more and more customers alienated by choosing the "losing format" will turn to solutions that require less financial commitment and even provide a little spiteful satisfaction. Namely illegal downloading. Sure, Comcast can try to throttle downloads and Microsoft can try to DRM-lock their OS, but there will always be a way around these draconian restrictions and they seem to be getting more consumer friendly, rather than less. The record labels are slowly learning, but at least their follies aren't costing the general music consumer money (I'm talking about obsoleting an entire format, not DRM-crippled/rootkit costs). November 2007 numbers indicated 750,000 HD-DVD players, that's a whole lot of pissed off customers.

May all your PUSHes be POPped.