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  #1  
Old 01-05-2008, 05:59 PM
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HD DVD dead?

Kind of surprised I haven't seen a thread here yet, but the writing may well be on the wall for HD DVD:

Yesterday Warner announced/confirmed that it was going Blu-ray exclusive.

The HD DVD PRG canceled it's CES press conference scheduled for tomorrow.

Today New Line confimed that it too is going Blu-ray exclusive.

So in the wake of that news, and because due to the Sage HD extender replacing my HTPC (which was also my DVD player), and with Best Buy offering five BDs free in-store with an BD player purchase (in addition to the 5 free via rebate from the BDA), I figured it was a good time to "go purple" as all the kids are saying these days.

Great theory, but the end result has me more frustrated than the format war in general. Why's that? Because my search for a BD player reminded me why I don't like BD in the first place. First there's BD+ which I just have philosophical problem with.

However there's a more practical problem, BD is still half-baked. Firstly there's three "profiles" (1.0, 1.1, and 2.0), 2.0 basically matches current HD DVD functionality. Unfortunately there are no profile 2.0 players, and I think only 3 profile 1.1 players (the Panny BD30, the Samsung combo, and the PS3). Well I just don't want a PS3, so I figure I'll get a standalone. Apparently the Samsung and LG combos are sketchy so those are out. The BD30 gets a lot of praise on the web, it's profile 1.1 and "supports" all the new audio formats, it's got fast loading and all. But a bit of reasearch and you realize that if you don't have an HDMI 1.3a reciever with HBR decoding, your SOL as Panasonic decided to remove HD audio decoding in their "upgrade" of the now discontinued BD10(a).

So I search and search, and what do I find, not a single player available will decode all the HD audio formats, and none (as near as I can tell) of the profile 1.1 players will decode any of the HD audio formats.

There's the Sharp HP20U, at least that will decode TrueHD, so it supports everything but DTS-HD MA, something right up there with HDMI 1.3 on the worthless meter, but as with HDMI 1.3 something some companies are determined to sell us.

So I cruise over to Best Buy, figure, I'll get a Sharp and my 5 free BDs, and go purple, not a bad thing. But the parking lot is full, which made me realize that I really didn't want a Sharp, I want a nice player that will decode (internally) all the new audio formats, made me realize that, in reality, there isn't a single Blu-ray player worth buying today, every single one of is either broken (many early players have trouble with Java discs) or missing something significant (profile support or audio decoding). Even the $1500 Pioneer Elite HD1 lacks support for TrueHD or DTS-HD MA.

So the last few days have reacquainted me with just how much of a cluster this whole situation is, and waiting for CES next week to see if anybody announces one.

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  #2  
Old 01-06-2008, 01:14 PM
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I agree totally...............
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  #3  
Old 01-06-2008, 01:44 PM
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I was thinking about this today as well. I actually had a combo drive on my wish list for when they dropped below $300 to throw in my main system which was supposed to happen late this year, but now I'm not sure if it'll be worth it.

It really is a mixed bag even without HDDVD in the picture. If you get a drive for your computer, which could theoretically future-proof yourself against the profile issues, you have to deal with crappy integration and a 3rd party app to play things outside of SageTV. If you get a stand-alone, you run into the issues you've stated, and have to pay a huge price to get a player that could be obsolete once they start releasing profile 2.0 discs.

I'm currently looking at the holiday '08 timeframe now for an upgrade. Hopefully by then, this crap will have sifted out. Or maybe Vudu will release a software version that can plug into Sage or something else and render the whole thing moot.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crashless View Post
I was thinking about this today as well. I actually had a combo drive on my wish list for when they dropped below $300 to throw in my main system which was supposed to happen late this year, but now I'm not sure if it'll be worth it.
Problem is, at least with my current hardware, it's well over $500 to upgrade my HTPC to play BDs, and even then, it would be inferior to even the sad standalones available.

Quote:
It really is a mixed bag even without HDDVD in the picture. If you get a drive for your computer, which could theoretically future-proof yourself against the profile issues, you have to deal with crappy integration and a 3rd party app to play things outside of SageTV. If you get a stand-alone, you run into the issues you've stated, and have to pay a huge price to get a player that could be obsolete once they start releasing profile 2.0 discs.
Frankly I don't care about Profile 2.0 at all, I couldn't care less about web features, special features, interactive menus or any of that. DVD's menus are annoying enough. Miraculously HD DVD has managed to create menus that are less annoying than DVDs, but still first thing I do with near every DVD I buy is rip the main movie to my server. I'd prefer no menus, no special features, VHS was kind of nice in that regard, just play the movie.

That said, I do care about Profile 1.1, not because of the features, but because some of the non 1.1 players are know to have horrible load times on Java discs, I mean how can 2:00 to 2:30 load times be even remotely acceptable.

And here's what really frustrates me, it seems like Blu-ray CEs are trying to "force" us to a) buy more-expensive-than-necessary players, and b) replace our pre-pros with HDMI 1.3 w/ HBR decoding pre-pros. Panasonic removed decoding of advanced audio from it's newest player

Sure I could wait and get a Denon or Marantz, but I'm not spending more than my AVM-20 on a movie player, nor am I going to replace my AVM-20 just because the studios and CEs want to force unwanted codecs and unwanted interconnects, and unwanted bitstreaming on us.

At least with HD DVD, if I wanted to I could get a 100% fully-featured player for under $500. It's really sad that no CE can match that with a Blu-ray player for under $2k.

Quote:
I'm currently looking at the holiday '08 timeframe now for an upgrade. Hopefully by then, this crap will have sifted out.
I'm "hoping" someone like Panasonic will anounce a player at CES with support for decoding all the new audio formats, at a reasonable price.

Quote:
Or maybe Vudu will release a software version that can plug into Sage or something else and render the whole thing moot.
Problem with that is I refuse to buy DRM-incumbered media, and I can't stand the Pay-Per-View model.

Of course that does remind me, XstreamHD is being launched at CES. Guess Tuesday will be in interesting day. If XstreamHD offers some Netflix-like model, that could be very interesting.
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  #5  
Old 01-06-2008, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
I'd prefer no menus, no special features, VHS was kind of nice in that regard, just play the movie.
I can understand that feeling, though lately I've really started to enjoy some of the featurettes included in DVDs.

Quote:
I mean how can 2:00 to 2:30 load times be even remotely acceptable.
Agreed, it's unbelievable to me that anyone felt it was OK to release a product that performed that way, given what they're trying to replace - instant on/play devices in VHS and DVD. They should be embarrassed.

Quote:
And here's what really frustrates me, it seems like Blu-ray CEs are trying to "force" us to a) buy more-expensive-than-necessary players, and b) replace our pre-pros with HDMI 1.3 w/ HBR decoding pre-pros. Panasonic removed decoding of advanced audio from it's newest player
...snip...
I'm "hoping" someone like Panasonic will anounce a player at CES with support for decoding all the new audio formats, at a reasonable price.
What is with that anyways?
Step 1: Tout amazing new audio formats available on disc.
Step 2: Never release players capable of playing said formats.
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit!

Quote:
Problem with that is I refuse to buy DRM-incumbered media, and I can't stand the Pay-Per-View model.

Of course that does remind me, XstreamHD is being launched at CES. Guess Tuesday will be in interesting day. If XstreamHD offers some Netflix-like model, that could be very interesting.
I agree about purchasing to own any DRM incumbered media. I just don't understand why people are buying movies from iTunes for $9.99 in low resolution that don't work on anything non-apple. Idiotic IMHO. But lately, I've moved away from the purchase model anyways. I rarely watch a movie more than once, so it's much more cost-effective for me to simply rent movies. Therefore the trade-off of 'renting' a movie with DRM for the ability to have access to a much larger library of movies at little/no cost is a big seller for me.

I hadn't heard of XStream before. It looks really interesting, and I'm looking forward to their press conference.
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  #6  
Old 01-06-2008, 03:01 PM
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FWIW, it looks like it was probably good that I waited:

Panasonic intros DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player, adds BD-Live support

Says it included internal decoding of TrueHD and DTS-MA, plus is BD-Live, so that may be the, thus-far-MIA "complete" BD player that should have been out a year ago.
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  #7  
Old 01-06-2008, 06:06 PM
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that is why I am holding off on a next generation player until all this gets figured out...and I am waiting for prices to come down too.
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  #8  
Old 01-06-2008, 06:50 PM
flavius flavius is offline
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If the industry wants to sell players, the price needs to be lower. Even with the format war being over essentially I doubt that people will start buying $400 players for their 720p TV massively ..
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  #9  
Old 01-07-2008, 04:57 AM
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now I have to break it to my wife that the X360 HD DVD drive she bought me is obsolete? shame this revelation didn't come out a month ago. and I was so hoping Sony's "better idea" would fall flat on its a$$. not that I like M$ all that much, but I don't like Sony very well after that CD protection fiasco awhile back.
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  #10  
Old 01-07-2008, 06:43 AM
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the sad part is we're probably the early adopters of technology... and we're all waiting on the fence to see what happens. This means joe average doesn't have a clue...
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  #11  
Old 01-07-2008, 09:07 AM
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I think HD optical will be doing good if it hits laserdisc like status. IMO if HD and DVD end up like LD and VHS, it will be a good thing.
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  #12  
Old 01-07-2008, 12:45 PM
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I'm neutral, since I got the LG Drive for the HTPC...but for the life of me I want HD DVD to win or at least hang. I don't know why. So far it's played the newest from both formats, I don't have any problems with PDVD 3516. I just watch the movie and I don't RIP (no room). It integrates into Sage fine...On Vista I don't need FSE, PDVD starts from a neilm menu item and runs full screen over Sage. The background is Sage's and my Harmony Exit button sends Ctrl-X to shut it down. I can't tell the difference between the audio tracks (tinitus) so 5.1 anything is fine with me. I just saw the blurb, but am not "into" the why's. Why is Warner's decision so big? Doesn't HD have Paramount and Universal?

P
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Old 01-07-2008, 01:27 PM
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An interesting tidbit an how this may impact the HD release of LoTR

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=10240
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  #14  
Old 01-07-2008, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polypro View Post
I'm neutral, since I got the LG Drive for the HTPC...but for the life of me I want HD DVD to win or at least hang. I don't know why. So far it's played the newest from both formats, I don't have any problems with PDVD 3516. I just watch the movie and I don't RIP (no room). It integrates into Sage fine...On Vista I don't need FSE, PDVD starts from a neilm menu item and runs full screen over Sage. The background is Sage's and my Harmony Exit button sends Ctrl-X to shut it down. I can't tell the difference between the audio tracks (tinitus) so 5.1 anything is fine with me. I just saw the blurb, but am not "into" the why's. Why is Warner's decision so big? Doesn't HD have Paramount and Universal?

P
Interesting, how do you handle the transport buttons? Do you have a separate watching profile for that purpose?

The Warner decision is big because they have 18% of the overall market. That made a huge swing away from HDDVD so it's more like 70% blu 30% HDDVD now. Not a good place to be.
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Old 01-07-2008, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polypro View Post
Why is Warner's decision so big? Doesn't HD have Paramount and Universal?
Basically I look at it like this:

Blu-ray had the momentum up until Paramount defected, from which point HD DVD has been hanging on. Basically it's been a stalemate since then.

Any switch, of any ("major") studio would have been news and tipped the balance, but Warner was the 800lb gorilla of HD movies, nobody else was even close, I can't find numbers but I'd guess Warner had a least 50% of either formats releases. Losing Warner is a big deal for either side, especially for HD DVD, and especially if Paramount's heart isn't really in it fighting for HD DVD.
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Old 01-07-2008, 02:07 PM
Polypro Polypro is offline
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Originally Posted by Crashless View Post
Interesting, how do you handle the transport buttons? Do you have a separate watching profile for that purpose?
Crash,

PDVD uses the MCE remote's commands natively. Other than the exit button, everything else just worked. You could borrow an MCE keyboard to teach a learning remote if you don't use the MCE hardware. (I use the MCE KB and a Harmony with MCE commands, for Sage).

Warner big, Got it, thanks

P
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Old 01-07-2008, 02:44 PM
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According to this: http://charts.highdefdigest.com/versus.aspx the top 10 high def optical sales are all Blu-ray. The top 2 highest HD-DVD's are both Warner*! So w/o Warner Bros the top selling HD-DVD seller (Bourne Ultimatum) is #39!

Those charts are amazon only BTW. Maybe online sales are Blu-ray heavy. But when you figure out label by label where each co stands its like this:

Blu-ray: Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Sony pictures, MGM, UA, Columbia, Tristar, Disney, Buena Vista, Miramax, New Line, Lionsgate

HD-DVD: Paramount, Dreamworks SKG, Universal, Focus Features, Weinstein CO

I realize some of those are defunct, or subsidiaries.



I wanted HD-DVD to win BTW, but the battle is all but lost.

*BBC's Planet Earth is distributed by Warner in the US.
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Old 01-07-2008, 02:47 PM
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Here's some commentary from Doom9 on the subject and I couldn't agree more...

Quote:
Following Warner's shift of allegiance, rumors of massive payoffs were not far behind. In fact, Warner is rumored to have received as much as $500 Million. And that is not all - the HD DVD camp had a big press conference planned for later today - apparently in anticipation to announce that not only would Warner give up Blu-ray, but that Fox would follow as well. But then Fox, for an undisclosed amount of money, reiterated their undying love for Blu-ray and Warner decided that going HD DVD would only result in a stalemate and instead went for what they think would end the format war. So, instead of holding a celebratory press conference, the whole thing has been postponed to an undetermined later date - and meanwhile Toshiba put out a press release that is reminiscent of what the BDA said when Paramount and Dreamworks jumped ship last year, noting that they are surprised with the decision and hinting that Warner might be in violation of certain contracts that bind them to HD DVD. Either way, it appears that this time around the HD DVD camp was outbid.

While Blu-ray backers undoubtedly have dipped into their champagne reserves since the announcement - I'd be cautious to call the war over. Pressure on HD DVD exclusive studios has certainly increased considerably - but Paramount and Dreamworks appear to be bound for at least 18 months, and prior to the two studios defecting, HD DVD only had one exclusive studio which kept reiterating that it was in for the long haul. I'd be surprised if Universal suddenly caved - and unless you can pick up the Bourne Trilogy in Blu-ray, this isn't over yet. And you have to wonder what happens if Sony's subsidies - which lowers the $4 replication cost of a BD-50 disc down to the $1.xx level of a dual layer HD DVD disc - run out - will we continue seeing new titles for $19.99 or will there be a price hike to Fox ($39.99 list price) levels followed by whatever decline the free market warrants over time (assuming that a single format will sway consumers to eventually upgrade). And even if the BDA could announce that Universal had joined up at their CES event tomorrow (highly unlikely but never say never), the more fundamental issues of Blu-ray all remain - former Warner Home Video Boss Warner Liebfarb made some interesting statements back in the day - many of which have since been backed up. What good will winning the fight be when in the end the winner cannot take on DVD? I'd consider it very unfortunate if the 'cheaper' format were beaten by a more technically advanced but more expensive format that then fails to get people onboard in the move to high definition packaged media - no matter how many Playstation3 consoles Sony will sell, a DVD replacement will need standalones and that's a category where the Blu-ray camp has failed big time so far.
I also recommend checking out the link to the WB statements because, even though it was said two years ago, no progress has been made in solving most of those issues.

I guess my point is just, if this really is the end for HD-DVD (which I don't believe) then it would be a very sad day. Ignore the hype, ignore the FUD, ignore the half-truths: HD-DVD is win-win-win for manufacturers (Cheaper Disc Production), Studios (Cheaper/Easier Authoring), and the Consumers (Cheaper Players/Movies) where as BR is a win for... well I'll let you decide that one on your own.

(Oh and about that 20 gig of extra space on BR discs. I wonder how big that redundant/unnecessary uncompressed PCM audio track is vs. the mathematically equivalent lossless version?)

Last edited by evilpenguin; 01-07-2008 at 03:06 PM.
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  #19  
Old 01-07-2008, 03:07 PM
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If HD DVD survives this move, it's a sad commentary on the state of HD optical. I'll just ditto the comments above, I think HD DVD is the better solution, they've proven it over the last year. But the Warner move is huge, Warner was probably the biggest HD DVD support, heck they are the biggest HD supporter period.

By most all accounts I've read, Warner wanted HD DVD to succeed, they wanted it to be the next format, so roll all that together, and it really makes it a huge hit for HD DVD.
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:44 PM
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Hi,

I went HDDVD last spring when they first came down to $299. BD was not a good choice for all the reasons stanger stated. On top of that they wanted a pile of money for a hobbled player. I have only purchased a couple of HDDVD's as we get most of what we want to watch from netflix. The netflix discs are often worse for the wear and they have given the player some problems, but overall I have been very happy with the player.

I have a slight bias against BD (ie Sony the rootkit people), but I had always planned on buying a BD player when they got the standards finalized and a player became available for <=$300. When the LG rom drive came out I figured that would be just the thing. With around 4000 posts on the AVS PDVD thread I figured that there was a lot of suffering there and that it was not ready for prime time. After reading stanger's initial post I am thinking maybe PDVD will be the way to go after all. At least the software can be updated as the standard changes and it should (eventually) be able to play any disc.

In any case, I dont think my HDDVD player will be a brick just yet.

Jesse
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