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Will Hybrid Players End the Format War? 279

Posted by Zonk
from the think-of-the-innocent-discs dept.
flyhalf writes "A new report says that hybrid players will force an early end to the HD DVD/Blu-ray format wars. Some of the projections seem optimistic: $200 hybrid players by 2009 and several manufacturers cranking them out. But reality will likely be different: 'standalone units of any format aren't selling terribly well. Recent research determined that 695,000 consumers owned either a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, but most of those are tied to a console — 400,000 of the 425,000 Blu-ray players sold by the end of 2007 were PlayStation 3s and 150,000 of the 270,000 HD DVD players were Xbox 360 add-ons.' Most importantly, consumers aren't early adopters: 'DVD players needed over a decade to supersede the VCR in the living rooms of the United States and there is little reason to believe that HD DVD and Blu-ray player adoption will outpace that of the DVD.'"
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Will Hybrid Players End the Format War?

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  • Sony = Duh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:47PM (#17756928) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, Sony has 400k+ blue-ray players available in the US in the form of PS3's at this point, all right; but first, not all of those have been sold...

    And second, Sony totally blew it when they built the PS3 Blue-Ray capabilities; it can't play 720p, only 480p or 1080p, which means that a very large proportion of in-place US HDTV sets couldn't use anything but 480p, which is pretty much the same as a progressive scan standard DVD in terms of resolution. Oddly, the PS3 will do 720p for games. Just not for DVDs.

    The reason that 720p is important is because for the LCD market, 1080p sets were rare until very recently. 720p was the top 'P' resolution available (it's actually the "middle" resolution in standard HDTV, 1080, 720, 480) though there are some uncommon ones and some variants, like 24 FPS stuff for 1:1 movie compatibility, and some TVs could scale 1080i down to 720p, or even display 1080i, just not 1080p.

    Third, Sony's balking at allowing prawn into the format (like they did for betamax), which is (IMHO) likely to deal them another severe blow. It seems like they have developed an unmatchable expertise at shooting themselves in the foot.

    • by Thansal (999464)
      I ofcourse can't find the links atm, however:
      PS3 DOES suppost 720p Tech Specs [playstation.com]

      What I think you are thinking of was the problem where it was downsampeling from 1080 to 480 instead of 720, and that was fixed in a firmware update.
      • by LionMage (318500)

        What I think you are thinking of was the problem where it was downsampeling from 1080 to 480 instead of 720, and that was fixed in a firmware update.

        Last I read on the subject [arstechnica.com], the firmware "fix" actually made things worse. This was covered previously on Slashdot, incidentally. (Sorry, don't have the link.) Anyway, last I checked, the PS3 can output 720p, but only if the source material supports that -- and right now, the only source material playable on the PS3 that outputs in 720p is games. Blu-Ray mo

    • Re:Sony = Duh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by LionMage (318500) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:02PM (#17757206) Homepage
      Just wanted to point out, you can set the PS3 to output 1080i (which apparently the PS3 can do easily enough since there is no scaling required for this operation). For users who want to play Blu-Ray movies, they can set the output preference to 1080i while watching movies, and 720p for games -- which is what the friendly ArsTechnica folks had recommended for a while now.

      Still waiting on a PS3 firmware update that lets users set separate preferences (in a rational way) for Blu-Ray playback and game play. I bought my Sharp Aquos LCD TV before the Aquos line started getting 1080p support; my TV is 720p native, though it does a good job with 1080i material. (The actual LCD panel supports 768 scanlines, so no matter whether I'm watching 720p or 1080i source material, there's some kind of scaling going on behind the scenes.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sony has refused to license Blu-ray to the adult industry. So basically they are chopping their own leg off...maybe both legs. Blu-ray will be the loser out of the gate before the race even starts.

      Case closed.
      • by drix (4602)
        All three legs, even...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by king-manic (409855)
        The Adult entertainment industry is much smaller and less influential then most nerds believe. The 6+ bil adult insutry is a myth. World wide I'd be surprised if it weighed in at more then 1 bil. Most of the big numbers were quoted from forbes who quoted AVN who was doing an interview with porn enterpanier of moderate fame who threw out huge numbers he pulled out his ass.

        They might have been a factor in the VHS/Beta wars but not the only one. And back int he 70's/80's the avenue for pornography were few so
    • by DrXym (126579)
      And second, Sony totally blew it when they built the PS3 Blue-Ray capabilities; it can't play 720p, only 480p or 1080p, which means that a very large proportion of in-place US HDTV sets couldn't use anything but 480p, which is pretty much the same as a progressive scan standard DVD in terms of resolution. Oddly, the PS3 will do 720p for games. Just not for DVDs.

      The PS3 decodes Blu-Ray (and DVD) content in firmware. Firmware is updateable. Any problems you may consider exist in the firmware are entirely s

    • Re:You = Duh? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      the # shipped to north america (us+can+mex) in 2006 was 1 mil, estimated sold in US was ~490k
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070113/ap_on_hi_te/vi deo_game_sales [yahoo.com]

      refer to other posts about the 720p thing

      and now to the third..
      http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070112-8602 .html [arstechnica.com]

      if every statement you brought up is wrong, how is the post informative? more like uninformed...
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:52PM (#17757006) Homepage
    Why does everyone think people will rush out to buy players when there are only a handful of HD *movies* out on the market?
    • I know! I know! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:00PM (#17757144) Journal
      Why does everyone think people will rush out to buy players when there are only a handful of HD *movies* out on the market?

      Because they think we are all sheep who will do whatever we are told to do by our corporate masters?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by creimer (824291)
      The same reason that people by the "extended director's final final cut" six months after the standard release. It's one of the reasons why I don't rush out to buy DVDs anymore. I'm sitting on the fence waiting for deep discounts (i.e., less than $10 USD) or the extended version to come out. I'll probably wait until a combo player is available at the right price. I didn't get a DVD player for either the TV or PC until they were less than $40 USD.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by peragrin (659227)
        I know I did. I bought one of the first LOTR fellowship DVD's, but then waited. When all three were released I got waited a bit longer and got the extended edition boxed set.

        Now if I can just get a boxed set of all 6 star wars movies. I won't then feel guilty about tossing episode one onto the rifle range.
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      Why does everyone think people will rush out to buy players when there are only a handful of HD *movies* out on the market?

      The focus groups that aren't, the lower management trying to save itself, the "independent" studies that fake results to favor their sponsors, greed?

      They have no clue. It's truly marvelous how group think works. It's entirely plausible that you put 1000 very smart people together, and they come out with the most logic void solutions as a team.

      I think we're worrying too much though: they
    • Because the analog shutoff is only a year away?

      I'd bet that many, many people who will be gullible enough to buy a new TV due to the analog shutoff will buy a TV with HD capability; and of those, a large percentage will want to make sure they have media playback capabilities to match their screen resolution.
  • DVD players needed over a decade to supersede the VCR in the living rooms of the United States and there is little reason to believe that HD DVD and Blu-ray player adoption will outpace that of the DVD.'"

    After the key break on Blu-Ray.. I followed a link in the discussion to see what titles were out and had keys listed. For the most part, the list was short and contained movies over a decade old.

    It looks like the studios are just testing the waters and not yet dedicated to the format. Consumers are the sa
  • by tgibbs (83782)
    Yes, for me, hybrid players will end the format war...

          Oh, yeah, and a player price under $150.
    • The real clincher (I think) will be the first to get to affordable home archiving use. The first writer/media combo that is cheap enough to warrent the purchase for mid-income range families will be the one most likely to be widely taken up.

      I'll be waiting about another three years from now though, just to be absolutelly sure.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tgibbs (83782)
        I think home video archiving will always be a "niche" use. Most people have little interest in doing much home archiving aside from a few home movies and the like, and much of that can be done just fine with DVD drives. Just as with VCRs and DVD players, acceptance of HD disk formats will be driven by availability and price of prerecorded media and the price of the players. Eventually, of course, all computers will have some kind of recordable optical disk, but that will be driven mainly for the need for da
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:57PM (#17757094) Homepage
    The vast majority of people (in North America at least) are completely indifferent to this format war.

    People with HDTV represent a fairly smallish chunk of the population. The most of the rest of us neither have, nor are we looking to buy, HDTV. It's an expensive migration path with little perceived benefit for many people and very little in actual programming to use it -- most of what I watch isn't available in HD, and I wouldn't watch "Everybody Loves Raymond" in any definition.

    The ones who know how fraught with peril the technology is, are staying away -- that whole HDMI DRM debacle, not working with older sets, and whatnot conspire to make this stuff a bit of a joke at the moment. Most people I know own a plain old TV, in about the 20" range. And, most of them are very unlikely to care about HD unless it becomes exceedingly cheap and compelling to do so. For most people, a full HD set is just way too expensive to considedr.

    I'm sure the format war will sort itsself out, and it will be a good thing for the small amount of people with the displays to use this stuff. But, in the mean time, I bet a lot of people really could care less about this particular format war.

    Don't forget, DVD was a huge improvement over VHS, and it was compatible with existing displays. The next gen of DVD isn't.

    Cheers
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Here is why HDTV is too expensive. First you have to buy the TV. Then you have to buy the BluRay or HDDVD. Then you have to buy movies for HDDVD/BluRay, Then you have to subscribe to even more expensive cable/satellite services. With DVD you could buy the player and a couple movies, and see results. Not so with this HD stuff. If you buy the TV, but stick with the old content you won't see any difference. If you get the new player, you can't see and difference unless you get a new TV.
      • Don't forget that over-the-air HD is now being broadcast by a ton of stations around the country. That means free HD content (minus cost of antenna), no need to sign up for cable / satellite. Also NetFlix now rents Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. This is great because the average retail price of a BR/HD movie is WAY higher than a standard DVD movie. See Terminator 2 where you can get the DVD for $9 or the Blu-Ray for $20. That's why I just rent them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Daemonstar (84116)
        Two things you forgot was a (possibly) new entertainment center and sound system for the new HDTV. If I'm going to go out and buy a HDTV, it's going to be a lot bigger than my current one and won't fit in my existing entertainment center. Even if I hang it on the wall, I still have to have a place to put the receiver, game consoles, and maybe movies.

        Another expense is possibly getting a new sound system. My current one only has composite for my DVD/VHS and consoles, and it doesn't support any digital
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      DVD was a huge improvement over VHS, and it was compatible with existing displays. The next gen of DVD isn't.

      Sure it is. You won't get much, if any, noticable improvement on a standard display, but they're absolutely compatible.

      But don't let facts get in the way of a good rant...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)
      The vast majority of people (in North America at least) are completely indifferent to this format war. People with HDTV represent a fairly smallish chunk of the population. The most of the rest of us neither have, nor are we looking to buy, HDTV. It's an expensive migration path with little perceived benefit

      The geek's perception of the home market is dim:

      The Retail Advertising and Marketing Association estimates 2.5 million people will buy new televisions before Super Sunday, an increase of 47 percent fr

  • No! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:59PM (#17757138)
    But hybrid players will reduce the carbon emissions of traditional players.

    In fact, I predict we will look back on the age of gasoline-powered DVD players and laugh.
  • by stokessd (89903)
    why would I want to see a crappy movie really well? Maybe I'm just getting old, but there hasn't been much lately that has made me want to go to the movie theaters. I could be wrong, but even the latest epics (LOTR, and Potter) aren't available in High Def.

    The content people want to see in the new format will drive the market. While there are 7 movies available, people aren't going to pony up $100 per movie for a player.

    Frankly the format will go nowhere until Ishtar is available on it...

    Sheldon
  • stale numbers (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dr Kool, PhD (173800)
    Sony shipped one million PS3s in the year 2006 alone. Source:



    That's at least one million Blu-Ray players in the USA. I have a PS3 and I watch Blu-Ray more than I play games thanks to NetFlix's Blu-Ray inventory.
    • source (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dr Kool, PhD (173800)
      Oops, not sure what happened. Here's the source:

      http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid= 22051 [gamesindustry.biz]
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Sony SHIPPED one million players, but a) lots of those are still on shelves, b) lots of those will never be used to play a movie, and c) most of the people who have a PS3 do not have a HD display. Also as a contributing factor, d) HD movies cost more.

        Not only are all 1,000,000 PS3s not in the hands of consumers, but lots of those consumers give not one tenth of one fuck about HD video.

        • by powerlord (28156)

          Sony SHIPPED one million players, but a) lots of those are still on shelves, b) lots of those will never be used to play a movie, and c) most of the people who have a PS3 do not have a HD display. Also as a contributing factor, d) HD movies cost more.

          Not only are all 1,000,000 PS3s not in the hands of consumers, but lots of those consumers give not one tenth of one fuck about HD video.

          a) I find it hard to believe that stores would re-order units if they were still sitting on shelves, so while I will grant y

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            The Blu-Ray consortium only has to present numbers of potential users to Movie Studios to say why they should support their format instead.

            I'm not sure that's true. We know for sure that DVD will not be dropped any time soon, so for any title to be placed in an HD format, the studio has to believe that they will get enough additional sales, and still not harm sales of the number of DVDs they have actually produced.

            At some point in the next few years (assuming congress doesn't let it be pushed back again),

    • by metamatic (202216)
      Shipped != sold.

      The article's numbers are for how many players people have actually bought.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KKlaus (1012919)
      Thats, uh, a pretty authoritative source... :D

      But also, that's not a million ps3's in households, thats a million ps3's in stores. That's a fairly large and important difference, but even if it wasn't, 1 million is probably about 1 percent of US households. That's similar to the market share of, say, the Opera browser. Ask the average joe what he thinks about Opera, and he'll have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Point: HD capability is still basically below the radar and the format doesn't r
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:01PM (#17757162)
    From the article:
    Recent research determined that 695,000 consumers owned either a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, but most of those are tied to a console--400,000 of the 425,000 Blu-ray players sold by the end of 2007 were PlayStation 3s and 150,000 of the 270,000 HD DVD players were Xbox 360 add-ons.

    25,000 people bought standalone BluRay players.
    120,000 people bought standalone HD-DVD players.

    I think the peeps have spoken and shown that if Sony wasn't bundling BluRay in with PS3s that almost nobody would be getting one.

    Keep in mind too that all 150,000 people who bought add on HD-DVD players made an optional decision to buy that drive. 400,000 people who bought PS3s got a BluRay drive because you can't get a PS3 without one.

    HD-DVD is winning the "format war" and it's only the PS3 that is so far making BluRay appear to even be in the race. I'd love to see disc sale comparisons because that will give a truer indication of who is in the lead than player numbers. It's a reasonable assumption that everyone who has an HD-DVD player is buying discs for it because the decision to buy that player was 100% optional and it's also a reasonable assumption that many people own the PS3 and don't have a single BluRay disc.
    • by guidryp (702488) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:24PM (#17757518)
      http://www.eproductwars.com/dvd/ [eproductwars.com]

      From the looks of things it is extremely close, Blu Ray is coming on strong recently.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)
      HD-DVD is winning the "format war"

      HD-DVD players sold: 270,000
      Blu-Ray players sold: 425,000
      DVD players sold: ~180 million.

      I don't think it's HD-DVD that's winning the format war, there.
    • Keep in mind too that all 150,000 people who bought add on HD-DVD players made an optional decision to buy that drive

      We can make a stronger statement than that, since the XBox360 HD-DVD drive is not used at all by games. So, all of those were bought for watching movies.

      So, the numbers break down as follows: 25k definitely bought Blu-ray players for movies. 270k definitely bought HD-DVD players for movies.

      Of the 400k PS3, certainly some were bought for movies, or will be used for movies in addition to

      • by powerlord (28156)

        Note that many of the PS3s went to people who camped for them at launch. I think it is a good bet that these were gamers, not movie buffs. People that eager for a movie player would already have been in the 25k who bought stand-alone players.

        Not necessarily true. Consider that a stand-alone player is more than a PS3. I know of a least one (anecdotal tale), where a person I stood in line with told me that all the doctors in the hospital where she works bought PS3s to use as Blu-Ray players. Also, it might

  • by webrunner (108849) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:01PM (#17757164) Homepage Journal

    'DVD players needed over a decade to supersede the VCR in the living rooms of the United States and there is little reason to believe that HD DVD and Blu-ray player adoption will outpace that of the DVD.'"
    In fact, there's every reason to believe that adoption will be significantly slower. Most people switched to DVD players because they had better features, not because they looked better. No tape jams, no rewinding, skipping ahead in a movie, special features, etc.

    Plus, we've reached a place where the average person has DVD collections - they didn't so much for VHS tapes. Nobody ever bought season box sets of tapes en masse before DVDs, now they're suddenly saying "buy them again!"?
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      In fact, there's every reason to believe that adoption will be significantly slower. Most people switched to DVD players because they had better features, not because they looked better. No tape jams, no rewinding, skipping ahead in a movie, special features, etc.

      You know, the improved picture quality in DVD was a huge reason to purchase it when I did. And, everyone else I know jumped because of the same reason.

      One friend held out saying his S-VHS deck gave as good quality as DVD. Then he saw DVD and had

      • by AuMatar (183847)
        Personally I don't know anyone who jumped on DVD due to picture quality. Everyone I know who did it did so because they were tired of having VCRs break (too many moving parts) and rewinding tapes all the time.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        One friend held out saying his S-VHS deck gave as good quality as DVD. Then he saw DVD and had one in a very short time. I would definitely dispute that picture quality wasn't a factor in the success of DVD.

        Anyone who REALLY cared about picture quality already had a Laserdisc player, which STILL has superior picture quality to DVD in many cases (mostly due to shit transfers and/or low bitrates.) The only reason people went to DVD's superior picture quality is that they could do so cheaply.

    • by drix (4602)
      I second that.. convenience is totally underrated when it comes to the factors driving DVD adoption. I was stunned when my girlfriend couldn't see the difference between VHS and DVD, or distinguish between 128kb MP3 and FLAC. "Oh sure I can tell the difference now, but I never would have noticed if you hadn't pointed it out." I know it's a hard sell for the /. crowd but a lot of people don't care about audio and video quality that much. Or at least, not nearly enough to justify the $3,000 investment that it
      • by AuMatar (183847)
        Its not a hard sell at all to some of us. I've had people point it out, and I still can't tell the difference between mp3s and cds. They sound just as good to me. I don't have a HDTV for much the same reason- I can only see a slight difference between standard TV and 1080, and that slight difference isn't worth money for. I might pay an extra 5 bucks if you showed me an HDTV and a regular TV of the same size, but no more. Its just not worth it to me.
    • Well, at least those DVDs will play in the next-gen players, often with upsampling.

      I still have a VCR hooked up, for Just in Case scenarios. The DVD player has been turfed though, and replaced by a 360 w/HD-DVD add-on.
  • Is it just me? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@SLACK ... com minus distro> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:01PM (#17757170) Homepage
    Or is anyone having a hard time getting all excited about this debate? It's like they're not playing nice together solely to drag up media attention ... oh ... wait ... I see what they're doing :-)

    Crap + Higher Resolution == Shinier Crap.

    Only a small niche of humanity actually require fancy technology to be entertained. Remember that people used to see "live performances", and later on "black and white" programs on the over-the-air TV, etc...

    The sooner they realize this the better. Maybe then they can focus more on script and acting lessons and less on CGI and camera resolution.

    tom
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      The sooner they realize this the better. Maybe then they can focus more on script and acting lessons and less on CGI and camera resolution.

      The whole thing (like most everything) is about money.

      Even buying a one-off render farm for $2-5 million dollars for one movie is cheaper than one brand name actor.

      Its even more interesting when you follow the money more closely. The script gets little attention to the money scheme. The difference is if the script is based off of another already known and popular forma
  • doomed for failure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by osho_gg (652984) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:01PM (#17757174)
    High definition video formats such as HD-DVD and Blu-ray are doomed for failure from the beginning, IMHO. Apart from DRM, HDCP, different formats, expensive players, expensive media, limited availability of titles and the ongoing war between the two formats: the main reason for its failure is that for most customers it doesn't deliver anything. Most of the customers out there have 27" or smaller non-HD sets - the different in quality between DVD and HD-DVD/Blu-ray is negligible. DVD was so successful because it provided better picture quality for everyone - no matter what is the display. DVD picture was consistently better than VHS for all customer's displays, had superior navigation capabilities and was more reliable/long-lasting than the tapes (which deteriorated after multiple use/got tangled in player etc. etc.). Also, DVD manufacturing was much more cost-effective and that savings were passed on to customers (albeit a bit late).

    Still, this war is going to be long and hard-fought. Ultimatley, both camps will lose to online video content delivery. And, just like for audio, online content will be of lower quality than the one on optical disks of various kinds; and still it would be the winner. MP3, AAC, WMA are all lossy compression format which are lower in sound quality than CD (let alone DVD-Audio, SACD etc.) but they are winning more than anything because of the content delivery innovation and content mobility.

    There will be one saving grace for HD-DVD and Blu-ray though and I think that will be computers and gamers use. This format will be more popular for people to back up their data on due to their larger size. It will also work well for releasing games for consoles with amazing amount of data to create more real-world-like experience.

    Osho

    • both camps will lose to online video content delivery. And, just like for audio, online content will be of lower quality than the one on optical disks of various kinds . . . MP3, AAC, WMA are all lossy compression format which are lower in sound quality than CD . . . but they are winning . . . because of the content delivery innovation and content mobility.

      I think you're right on the money. Doing the same old thing better only gets you so far; doing something new, as the Wii is demonstrating, changes

    • The main reason i will not buy HD DVD or BR is they are loaded down with DRM crap. If they were not and i could copy disks, and I could get a driver and a HDDVD or BR recorder for the computer, that wasnt loaded down with DRM, i might consider it. I think consumers would be smart to avoid this until the DRM shit is removed from the players. The high capacity disks might be useful on the computer if they would sell a recorder that was reasonably priced. I think as well, if they werent shooting themselves in
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      Most of the customers out there have 27" or smaller non-HD sets - the different in quality between DVD and HD-DVD/Blu-ray is negligible.

      Actually, its zero. DVD resolution is SD. Content scaled to 480 scan lines is as good as the scaler, that is it.

      I embraced the DVD thing. Smaller form factor, no rewinding. Still frames. Higher resolution, better sound. I was happy.

      Well, what happened?

      I got a nice HDTV, and DVD quality simply does not cut it anymore.

      An upgrade in formats is needed and welcome, the pro
  • I'm a Slashdot nerd and I haven't heard any compelling reasons why I should upgrade to a HD DVD or Blu-Ray.
    Hell, I've barely heard any mention of them outside of Slashdot.

    I would imagine Joe Average has barely even heard of them.
    That could be part of the reason behind the slow sales.
  • Buying a duel format player would just be a waste of money. Afterall, the real winner of the format war is going to be media-less digital delivery. With respect to movies and TV shows, there's nothing wrong with the current DVD format. So both HD-DVD and Blu Ray are going to be losers as far as the living room is concerned. I think there's a good chance that HD-DVD will be adopted by computer users for storage and PC games, while Blu Ray will live on for PS3 games. The only reason I don't think Blu Ray will
    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Buying a duel format player would just be a waste of money. Afterall, the real winner of the format war is going to be media-less digital delivery.

      You really think so? The media companies would love it if that were true. But it seems like, unfortunately, real-world customers are still obsessed with buying things. Even worse, after they buy them, they actually expect to be able to own them ... they're still ranting about all these so-called Fair Use rights and what-not. Media-less delivery will never tak

  • Is was my understanding that Sony won't license blu-ray to anyone making a dual-format player. I'm not sure if HD-DVD is the same, not that it makes any difference. I assume there's currently no legal way to manufacture blu-ray without a license. Of course, I suspect companies aren't supposed to make region-free players, but they still do...

    I agree with the post to an extent; I only brought a DVD-RW drive when I could get one that did plus, minus and ram formats in one unit, and cost less than $80, and coul
  • The format war isn't over until there is one format.

    And I still won't buy it.
  • by RyoShin (610051) <`tukaro' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:20PM (#17757472) Homepage Journal
    DVD players needed over a decade to supersede the VCR in the living rooms of the United States and there is little reason to believe that HD DVD and Blu-ray player adoption will outpace that of the DVD
    Not only will HD/BR adoption not outpace DVD adoption, but it will lag tremendously behind it.

    I'm not certain why this is hard for a lot of tech sites, as well as the companies that pushed these technologies, to figure out. The reason the DVD is widely accepted now is because it offered a multitude of benefits over VHS:
    1) Larger storage capacity
    2) Instant skipping
    3) Smaller
    4) More durable
    5) Cheaper to produce
    6) Higher quality
    7) Longer lasting

    The only thing that HD/BR have over DVD is an even larger storage capacity and higher quality, the latter of which most consumers can't even make use of right now. They keep all the problems that DVD had, such as possibility of scratching and moving parts. The only reason they were pushed out was to sell more HDTVs, as well as to give movie companies better DRM.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: HD/BR are just bumps in the road. The next turning point in terms of mass media storage will be flash memory.

    Something the size of a mini-DVD (think Gamecube games), but likely squarish (like a floppy). It will have the internal flash memory inside a thin-but-durable plastic shell. Small pins slightly inset on one side are what transfers the data.

    A storage system like this will be cheap, modular (only need a certain capacity? Save money and just buy that capacity), and durable. From there, it's just a matter of choosing a compression format for films to make standard. The lack of moving parts (aside from what is used to eject it/hold it in place) will make for less failures.

    All that's needed for this to happen is for the companies to toss BR/HD to the wayside, come up with a good format standard across ALL studios, and then wait for the price of flash memory to drop more.
    • Not only will HD/BR adoption not outpace DVD adoption, but it will lag tremendously behind it.

      Meh.. I dunno. I can see adoption going faster than DVD's. When BD/HD drives get cheaper (everybody gripes about the prices, but for the first year, DVD players were $700+) and burners/readers for the PC become more common (remember the first DVD burner for $1500? - somebody's got a BR burner in the $800 range already, expected around $500 by April or May), adoption will speed up. My prediction? Next year around this time: burners $250, players
      Plus, in way less than 10 years, digital tv's will begin

      • Doh.. damn HTML characters.. That middle part was supposed to read:

        My prediction? Next year around this time: burners $250, players < $300.
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      5) Cheaper to produce
      6) Higher quality
      7) Longer lasting


      Funny how that when media gets cheaper to produce, higher quality and longer lasting that the prices go up, demand goes up, but supply is never in agreement with demand or price.

  • by Badmovies (182275) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:24PM (#17757526) Homepage
    I think the problem for new technology is overcoming the hill of an established format. In the case of CDs, this was pretty simple. The quality improvement from tape to CD was dramatic and reached the level of what consumers expected. DVD did this too, being much higher quality than VHS and more portable (the latter is one reason LD never reached critical mass).

    What it comes down to is: what does the consumer want and expect? Moving everyone from VHS to DVD took some time and that was making a change to a much higher quality and compact format (you cannot put 50 VHS tapes in a little wallet storage case). Nor can you jump to chapter marks on a VHS - more added functionality that people wanted. Also, the picture and sound quality was something you could enjoy without upgrading the other parts of your entertainment system. In the case of Blu-ray and HD-DVD, the high quality has extra costs. The television and players required to get the full effect are much more expensive.

    I wonder if the next format should not be based on discs, but more like flash drives with your movie. The great part about that would be plugging it into your "home entertainment hard drive" and installing the movie for future viewings. I love the idea of having all my films on a hard drive array, though it would be bad news for companies that make shelving. Of course, then some sort of offsite backup service will become important (if not mandatory).
  • Formats are irrelevant.

    Digital delivery is already here. (I downloaded my first HD movie on my 360 over the weekend).
    As I see it "on-demand" HD digital delivery is going to make this "format war" seem primitive.
    The entire concept of digital media burned into plastic already feels last-gen.

    Now as soon as someone figures out how to permanently save those digitally delivered
    HD movie 'rentals' onto external drives -- then things are really going to get crazy.

    • by burndive (855848)
      Now as soon as someone figures out how to permanently save those digitally delivered HD movie 'rentals' onto external drives -- then things are really going to get crazy.

      Burn them to HD-DVD-Rs!

  • by ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:34PM (#17757742)

    I think digital downloads will replace physical ownership of discs. It will be a few years before high definition televisions become mainstream affordable. Many people are still using dial up, but how many of them can afford a high definition plasma screen. A few people with high incomes who live in an area without high speed access may be screwed by this, but I think they are far and few between. Portable players will be much better served by a digital download to their hard drive or (more likely) flash memory.

    The high definition television downloads through the Itunes service and the Xbox 360 seem to be quite popular. I think we will soon see free downloads supported by ads within the content brought to the customer with torrents.

    My guess is the following schedule:

    first day: movie theatre release/network television debut

    three months: direct download for payment

    one year: torrent based delivery with advertisement for free (you download a television show with advertisements).

    Walmart will continue to sell DVDs until the number of people who can't download content is small enough to make it unprofitable.

    Sure the content industry wants the new disc standards for "unbreakable" copy protection, but I think they'll realize that downloads would make more sense.

  • by gsn (989808)
    Hybrid players are a nice idea but the format war will continue until one dominates in the long term because it will be cheaper for all involved, and there are pretty significant differences in the two formats, unlike the DVD +/- R/W fight. The unasked question is whether the end of the format war will boost sales? No. A lot of my friends got dvd playback for free when they both their PS2s. The PS2 cost 200 bucks a year after launch. That won't be happening anytime soon with any next gen player. The dvd wor
  • I know this is probably off-topic but has there been a clear winner in the old DVD format war?
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      The only competing DVD format worth mentioning died a long time ago (divx). The other DVD formats are now a non-issue anywhere outside of their current markets, due to the release of these HD formats.
  • From the summary (and TFA):

    DVD players needed over a decade to supersede the VCR in the living rooms of the United States

    Umm...no. DVD was finalized in 1995, and by 2002 DVD was outselling VHS. That's a lot less than 10 years. They probably mean that it took ten years for every home that owned a VCR to also own a DVD player. That's a meaningless statement.

    DVD was mainstream less than five years after launch and dominant in seven. It's the consumption of the media that is important, not the number of install
  • First off, the big players in this high-stakes format war, won't make hybrids. Sony didn't produce VHS machines for years and years, and it would just kill them to make an HD-DVD machine (they'd have to license Microsoft's codec, for one). Too much of their profit line depends on them dominating this format war. The same can probably be said for the HD-DVD big guns.

    Second, when DVD came out, only a few otaku actually owned much media -- sure you had some treasured Babylon 5 taped off the air, and the las
  • No, HD over IP will end the format war.
  • by IHC Navistar (967161) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:50PM (#17757974)
    Hybrid players will do the same thing for the format war that the Big Three video game platforms ave done for the video game industry: Change the game but not finish it.

    There are now three formats out: Standard DVD, Blu-Ray, and HD-DVD. If you bought a player that would play all three, why would you need to switch? Of course, in the future, DVD will definitely become obselet, since it is the only format that is not HD as Blu-Ray and HD-DVD already are. So, that leaves two high definition formats for 100% of the HD disk market share. If you start selling hybrid players that can play both of them, then what does it matter if you are buying Blu-Ray or HD-DVD? Unless you are a videophile or always have to have the biggest and best of anything in your neighborhood, it doesn't matter what format you use. So, if companies no longer have to worry about compatibility issues and the criticality of those issues in determining a commercially viable product, no one is going to back out and let the other take over. If companies realize that they no longer have to worry about getting customers to buy their products as a matter of life and death, then we will be stuck with the same problem facing video game developers: Platform contracts, format conracts, and proprietary content issues that just irritate the customer because they would have to buy multiple expensive platforms so they can play all the games they enjoy, not just be limited to a specific few.

    A hybrid player would further the multiple format problems that just flat out irritate users, since they would have to buy a hybrid player to be able to fully enjoy video media. If movie houses and studios got locked into contracts depending on what Sony will pay and what HD-DVD manufacturers will pay. If hybrid players come out, then good, I won't have to buy a different player for certain movies. BUT, then ALL players that you bought in the future would have to be dual format. The same thing can be seen in video media files: .avi, .wmv, .rm, .mpeg, .mpg, .xvid, .umd, .mp4... It's just another pain in the ass thing to complexify the problem. Sure media players can goup all of these into a single player, but the contractural and legal issue that arise, since these are proprietary formats, make updaes and compatibility a h uge headache and pain in the ass.

    They should do it like TV: "We're gonna switch from analog to digital in 2010. Do what you need to change. If you want something else, buy it, but it's you're problem.". There needs to be standard format for media, and someone needs to put practicalty above profits for that to happen.

    If you want to see what runaway formats can be like, just look at a complete list of Centerfire Rifle Calibers (Wikipedia has a short list). They all do the same thing, but everybody wants to make there mark on the industry.
  • $200 in 2009 for a dual format player? Come on now. If there is a dual format player by the end of this year for less than $300 I will be buying it, and I bet there will be.
  • I find it more likely a codec upgrade that provides HD resolution on a standard DVD (with graceful fallback) will become popular than a DVD-based solution. The HD/Bluray upgrade isn't as big when you think that DVD players are doing for $25 bucks, and for all purposes, look pretty good.

    This scenario is even more likely if online services and BW ramp up, but that's not likely to happen in the USA - but could happen elsewhere.

    As usual, it'll probably be the pr0n industry that decides..

  • If you look at how quickly movies were released on DVD, it was actually a fast process, and as a result, people started to buy DVD players. Now, the price wasn't $800 or $1000 for the cheapest player, it was closer to being $400 initially, and moving down to the $200 range within two years. As a result, the move to DVD was very smooth due to a reasonable price, even for the early adopters.

    Now, look at stand-alone players for the new formats. Can you find one for $400 right now? Of course not, unless
    • by cens0r (655208)
      I beg to differ. I bought a DVD player in 1997 and remember it costing about $600 and I didn't buy the top of the line player. It wasn't even a first gen player either because it supported DTS, which none of the first gen players did. It was more like a 1.5 gen.
  • As Leo Laporte pointed out, Sony already has decided to lose the war. It won't produce [gizmodo.com] Bluray porn discs, so the biggest video sellers will be using HD.
  • Updated numbers. (Score:3, Informative)

    by FatherOfONe (515801) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @06:03PM (#17759098)
    Just to be a little more accurate there are over 2 million PS3's shipped now, and around 1.4 million sold. There are less than 200k HD-DVD players sold.

    Now looking at those numbers it starts to look a little more bleak for HD-DVD as compared to Blu-Ray.

    This could explain the large number of Blu-Ray movies out this year vs HD-DVD. It looks like there are around 2X as many movies coming out for Blu-Ray as HD-DVD. That also isn't very good for HD-DVD.

    The price appears to be about the same now with a PS3 going for $500 and a HD-DVD player going for around $500, so the price advantage that HD-DVD had is gone.

    Recent data on Amazon show that Blu-Ray movie purchases has now exceeded HD-DVD as of Nov of last year and it appears that total sales will be greater for Blu-Ray than HD-DVD in less than a month (if it isn't already), adds to the near death nail for HD-DVD.

    Then you look at the content providers that are behind Blu-Ray and you start to see HD-DVD being killed off later this year.

    Did anyone notice the HD-DVD presentation vs the Blu-Ray presentation at CES this year? Yet another bad sign for HD-DVD.

    I will say that the pr0n industry picking HD-DVD will help it, but it appears that most pr0n is downloaded now, and the loyalty of that business isn't exactly as strong as say Disney.

    So I guess Microsoft better get use to having Java run on even more stuff out there.

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