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Format war getting messier... Dell and HP side with Sony's Blu-Ray HD-DVD Technology

Format war getting messier... Dell and HP side with Sony's Blu-Ray HD-DVD Technology

 
Old 01-16-04, 12:09 AM
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Format war getting messier... Dell and HP side with Sony's Blu-Ray HD-DVD Technology

Reuters reports on the latest in the HD-DVD format war:
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - U.S. computer makers Hewlett-Packard and Dell said on Monday they would support a new DVD standard with much higher storage capacity which is being promoted by 10 electronics companies.

Dell and H-P, the world's largest personal computer makers, said they would support the so-called Blu-ray DVD technology, which allows for recording of up to four hours of high-definition television on a single disc.

"H-P believes Blu-ray Disc is the most consumer-friendly technology choice for the next generation of removable storage," John Romano, senior vice president at H-P, said in a statement.

Gerry Smith, vice president of peripheral development and procurement at Dell, said the technology was an obvious choice given the additional storage capacity offered and the broad support from consumer electronics and PC manufacturers and large entertainment companies.

Blu-ray is competing with another new blue laser-based DVD technology from Japan's Toshiba and NEC.

Blue lasers have a shorter wavelength than the current red lasers, which allows for a thinner light beam which can read and write smaller bits of information on a disc.

Among the 10 companies promoting Blu-Ray are Hitachi, LG Electronics, Philips Electronics, Sony and Thomson.

Although the support of the two main PC makers is a shot in the arm of the Blu-ray group, the rival technology from Toshiba and NEC won the support of the DVD Forum in November.

The DVD Forum is the alliance of some 220 DVD companies, including electronics and media firms.

The DVD industry has seen other format wars. There are five different rewriteable red laser technologies on the market, many of which will not play discs recorded with a competing standard.

Crucial in the blue laser battle will be the support of the Hollywood movie studios, which are expected to adopt just one standard for pre-recorded (read-only) blue laser DVDs.

"The BD-ROM (read-only) format, developed in collaboration with Hollywood studios and the IT industry, is expected to be available early 2004, allowing for BD-ROM products to be available by the end of 2005," the Blu-ray group said.
Some background:
DVD Forum Chooses NEC/Toshiba Blue Laser Technology
EETimes article: Forum sets course for blue-laser DVD standard
Afterdawn article on same topic
Is everyone really going to rebuy all their movies in HD-DVD?
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Old 01-16-04, 12:35 AM
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Some alliance. Welcome to VHS vs Beta round 3
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Old 01-16-04, 02:39 AM
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This make me VERY happy! I am pissed at the DVD Forum for caving under the pressure and selecting the other fomat that has less capacity! Luckily, just because the DVD Forum adopts one format doesn't mean the other won't be produced. I think we will get both formats and it will be a matter of which one offer the best quality that will win out (unlike the VHS/Beta format war). Since Blue-Ray hold a pretty good amount more space it should look better with less compression and more room for extras.
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Old 01-16-04, 11:28 AM
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Current DVDs have up to 4.7GB capacity on a single-layer disc and 9.4GB on a dual layer disc.

Blu-Ray discs have up to 27-30GB capacity on a single-layer disc, and 50 GB on a dual-layer disc.

AOD (Toshiba/NEC) discs have up to 15GB on single layer, and 30 GB on a dual-layer disc.

But the real question is, how much capacity is really necessary on each format for a quality HD presentation?

HD-DVD resolution is 1920x1080. Just as with regular DVD players there will be interlaced models with 1080i and progressive players with 1080p. AOD can hold that resolution at 19 mps while Blu-Ray holds it at 36 mps. So, Blu-Ray's capactity advantage isn't the deciding factor here. Not to mention, AOD players WILL be backwards compatible with our current DVDs, but Blu-Ray players will not.

Why did the DVD Forum choose AOD over Blu-Ray? From DVDtown:
AOD uses MPEG-4 compression to hold 4 hours of this resolution. The discs best aspect over its competters is they can be made with the same assembly lines as SD-DVDs while Sonys Blu-Ray discs will require expensive new assembly lines. HD-DVDs will be 20 percent cheaper then Blu-Ray with no disadvantage whatsoever in terms of prerecorded media. Both formats will hold 4 hours of 1920 x 1080 resolution. Blu-Ray does have a slight advantage in recording Blu-Rays can record 2 hours of High Definition while HD-DVDs can only record 1.5 hours. Though since HD-DVDs will be cheaper it kind of balences its self. They still have work on the copy protection system but we should get the first HD-DVD products in America by late 2005 - early 2006 area.
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Old 01-16-04, 11:35 AM
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If the studios back one format, THAT format will win. It's been stated that they intend to back one format only. What any PC manufacturer's decide to back is not relevant.

Also, who do you think provides a lot of the parts Dell and HP use in their computers? Yep, Sony, Hitachi, etc etc.

More info.

http://www.audioholics.com/ces/ces20...2004_day3.html

I don't really care who "wins" as long as the studios don't cave and support multiple formats. I think AOD has other advantages over Blu-ray though. Mainly ease of manufacturing, backward compatibility and the disks don't have to be in those stupid cartridges.
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Old 01-16-04, 11:48 AM
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Originally posted by Dammit

More info.

http://www.audioholics.com/ces/ces20...2004_day3.html
Excellent link, thanks.
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Old 01-16-04, 01:04 PM
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Originally posted by vivarey
Not to mention, AOD players WILL be backwards compatible with our current DVDs, but Blu-Ray players will not.
I hear this ALL the time and it is a comment that is not true! The players that will be made with Blue-Ray technology WILL be compatible with existing DVD's. They just will have a second laser pickup to do so just like the early DVD players that had dual pickup (one reading DVD's the other reading CD's).
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Old 01-16-04, 01:32 PM
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I'm more concerned with the cartridges that Blu-Ray will use. For those that haven't seen it, it's just like a larger version of Sony's Mini-Disk that never took off and every bit as stupid. I had one of those things and the metal cartridge doors break very easily, the disks still get dirty (and how are you supposed to clean them?) and aside from being plain unnecessary, it will no doubt add to the manufacturing cost which will be passed on to us. And how will it play a standard DVD? Will you have to go buy some type of cartridge to put your old DVD's in when you want to play them?

Sorry but my Mini-Disk experience has completely soured my opinion of such a contraption. Give me a bare disk any day.
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Old 01-16-04, 01:43 PM
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Originally posted by Frank S
I hear this ALL the time and it is a comment that is not true! The players that will be made with Blue-Ray technology WILL be compatible with existing DVD's. They just will have a second laser pickup to do so just like the early DVD players that had dual pickup (one reading DVD's the other reading CD's).
Well, I was talking about format specs, strictly. Not to mention, the red+blue dual-laser concept is still under development. Some, but not all, blu-ray drives may have dual lasers. But the implementation and practicality of that (as Dammit points out) is more the concern. I'd much rather adopt a blue-laser format that can read standard DVDs on-the-cuff. Blu-ray cannot do this. I also take it price is not a factor for you, since Sony's format will undoubtedly be much more expensive (both for the hardware and media).
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Old 01-16-04, 05:33 PM
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Originally posted by Dammit
I'm more concerned with the cartridges that Blu-Ray will use. For those that haven't seen it, it's just like a larger version of Sony's Mini-Disk that never took off and every bit as stupid. I had one of those things and the metal cartridge doors break very easily, the disks still get dirty (and how are you supposed to clean them?) and aside from being plain unnecessary, it will no doubt add to the manufacturing cost which will be passed on to us. And how will it play a standard DVD? Will you have to go buy some type of cartridge to put your old DVD's in when you want to play them?

Sorry but my Mini-Disk experience has completely soured my opinion of such a contraption. Give me a bare disk any day.

blue ray will not be using cartridges. and the players will be backwards compatible.


read this, a great article from the digital bits, and it has pics.

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articl...04/report.html
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Old 01-16-04, 06:55 PM
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Originally posted by Sathlin
blue ray will not be using cartridges. and the players will be backwards compatible.


read this, a great article from the digital bits, and it has pics.

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articl...04/report.html
Althouth the article is biased towards Blu-Ray, it does present a very good argument for their format. It's definitely enough to get excited about Blu-ray. This is the first I've heard of it not requiring cartridges for read-only discs. Also, they say backwards-compatibility will be up to hardware manufacturers - whether that means dual lasers or not is unclear. What's interesting is how they are designing these to be HD recordable from the beginning. I'm not quite sure how I feel about that, especially with the increasing popularity of PVRs. But I can only imagine the price of these units when they come out.

Also, they seem to be mistaken when they compare HD-DVD (AOD) and Blu-ray - regarding disc capacity, picture quality, and compression. I want to make this very clear: HD-DVD (AOD) discs hold less but don't suffer as a result. Comparing the capacity of Blu-ray and AOD is like comparing apples and oranges. They use completely different codecs. Read this quote from the DVD Guru:
Blu-ray has made it clear that they are only supporting MPEG-2 as the video codec (at a data rate of 24 Mbps - the same as D-VHS). AOD (HD-DVD) will use a new high efficiency codec, specifically either H.264 or Windows Media 9, which can achieve a superior picture quality to Blu-ray at data rates of 10-12 Mbps.

So what does this mean: It means that even though a dual layer AOD disc will be only 30 Gbytes (compared to Blu-ray's 50 Gbytes disc), the AOD disc will actually hold more audio/video playtime!! So why doesn't Blu-ray adopt a high efficiency codec as well ... that is a very good question ... one reason would be that the already released Blu-ray recorders support only MPEG-2 video - so if Blu-ray switches to a more advanced compression scheme future pre-recorded movie titles won't play on the current Blu-ray recorders. As an aside, you will noticed that the other Blu-ray companies have not released Blu-ray recorders and in fact are waiting until the application layer is finalized for Blu-ray first - although my sources say that Sony (who is the is the defacto head of the Blu-ray consortium) is holding the line on MPEG-2 video compression to the dismay of several of the other companies.
Note that AOD can achieve Blu-ray quality at data rates of 10-12 Mbps, but has the capacity to run at 19Mbps. I'm not anti-Blu-ray, but it seems more and more like AOD is protrayed negatively for no reason (for example, in the digital bits article).
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Old 01-18-04, 01:48 AM
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I've used literally thousands of Sony Minidisks since 1996...and have never had one of them break in any way.

This is a terrific format to protect the HD-DVD disk.
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Old 01-18-04, 03:41 AM
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In my opinion Blu-Ray would have been cool had they not shackled it with MPEG2. Blu-Ray with H.264 would have been SWEET. Alas that's not likely to happen. I'll side with the lower production costs which will win out with Hollywood. Profits have to come somewhere and the additional expense of Blu-Ray is not going to make matters any easier.
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Old 01-18-04, 10:45 AM
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Originally posted by hmurchison
In my opinion Blu-Ray would have been cool had they not shackled it with MPEG2. Blu-Ray with H.264 would have been SWEET. Alas that's not likely to happen. I'll side with the lower production costs which will win out with Hollywood. Profits have to come somewhere and the additional expense of Blu-Ray is not going to make matters any easier.
I agree. It also seems that the reason The DVD Forum went with AOD is the fact that existing production lines will not have to be changed to accomidate new production lines. Basically they are thinking of the costs to manufacturer's. The disc manufacturer's will not have to bankroll new production lines ( as is the case with Blu Ray) and they will not push the extra expense onto the consumers. This means that players and the discs will not be extraordinarily more expensive ( as would be the case with Blu-Ray - do you really believe that the extra expense will be shouldered by the manufacturer) than current DVD's. This could lead to AOD having an eventually easier transition into the mainstream and not being a niche product forever. I'm sure Sony or Hitachi are also one of the primary manufacturers of the manufacturing eguipment for Blu-Ray and are looking for a profit when it comes to that aspect of their business.
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Old 01-18-04, 11:01 AM
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Here is some background info from the official Blu-ray website. They talk about a comparision between the differences of DVD and BR, but some of the information sounds pretty interesting. Specifically, were BR would only have one injection molded substrate instead of two like dvd (good-bye to any possibility to dvd rot?) and a hardened coating to prevent abrasions and allow the disc to be cleaned with/o the fear of it being scratched.

http://www.blu-raydisc-official.org/...ata/tech01.pdf
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Old 01-18-04, 12:57 PM
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But if the studios dont pick Blu-Ray wont we get into the situation where some films are on one format and all films from the Sony owned studios are on the other.

I can see the advertising now "Spider-man 3 only on Blu-Ray"
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Old 01-18-04, 02:44 PM
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Originally posted by Dazed
But if the studios dont pick Blu-Ray wont we get into the situation where some films are on one format and all films from the Sony owned studios are on the other.

I can see the advertising now "Spider-man 3 only on Blu-Ray"
I doubt it, since the studio would face huge losses in DVD revenue for the film... which they pretty much count on these days. If anything. Blu-ray could go the way of Minidisc-- successful in a niche market as high quality recordable media. Blu-ray recorders are already out and being pushed for their high capacity data storage capabilities.
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Old 01-18-04, 05:44 PM
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Originally posted by vivarey
I doubt it, since the studio would face huge losses in DVD revenue for the film... which they pretty much count on these days. If anything. Blu-ray could go the way of Minidisc-- successful in a niche market as high quality recordable media. Blu-ray recorders are already out and being pushed for their high capacity data storage capabilities.
Or it very well could go that way just like DVD-A and SACD. So who'll be the first to release a universal HD-DVD/Blu-Ray player?
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Old 01-18-04, 07:36 PM
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AOD uses MPEG-4 compression to hold 4 hours of this resolution.
Actually, I think the final video-codec contenders (for AOD) are VC-9 (Microsoft WM9) and AVC (H.264.) AOD also permits MPEG-2 video, but it's hoped that studios will use the more advanced codec to release AOD content.

The MPEG technical committee considers AVC (H264) superior to MPEG-4. Microsoft claims WM9 is superior to MPEG-4, though I'm not sure what kind of rigorous testing Microsoft used to make those claims. (Microsoft also claims WM9 achieves AVC's compression-efficiency, at much lower computational cost.)

If you're computer-whiz with your PC/Mac, you can get high-definition demos of WM9 from http://www.wmvhd.com. You need a very fast PC (or Mac), high-resolution display (1280x1024 or better), and a powerful graphics-adapter (64MB or more).
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Old 01-18-04, 11:10 PM
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Originally posted by Freud
I've used literally thousands of Sony Minidisks since 1996...and have never had one of them break in any way.

This is a terrific format to protect the HD-DVD disk.
Jesus man. Do you ever take them anywhere? I've had far fewer than you and probably 20% eventually had the metal covers start to fall apart. I had one come apart inside the player which required me to take the player apart to get the disk out. No thanks. Sticking media with moving parts into a player with moving parts is a bad idea.

At least they seem to have figured this out as they've made the cartridges no longer needed for read only disks and are attempting to do away with them for writeables as well.
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Old 01-19-04, 01:31 AM
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Originally posted by Freud
I've used literally thousands of Sony Minidisks since 1996...and have never had one of them break in any way.

This is a terrific format to protect the HD-DVD disk.
Agreed. I've had a few MD recorders since 1998 and have not had one problem with dirty discs, scratches, broken sliders, etc. Having the disc encased in a hard plastic case is much better than having the surface of the disc exposed to fingerprints, dust, dirt, scratches, etc.

But alas, Blu-Ray will not support a cartridge. It'll just be a disc, like current DVD.

Neither solution is perfect, but the higher recording capacity of Blu-Ray (2 hours instead of 1.5 hours of HD-TV) means that most films won't even fit on an AOD/HD-DVD. So it won't work as a home recording format. And then, my friends, it dies.

Hopefully this WON'T be like the VHS/Beta war where the lesser technology (VHS) wins out. The Blu-Ray test that I saw was phenomenal. I haven't seen AOD yet, but I've seen some MPEG4 HD tests and the results were not good.

Of course, they still have a few years to work out the glitches.

I'm just hoping that the studios don't take sides using differing technologies. If that happened, the studio with the more in-demand films would win out.
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Old 01-19-04, 02:22 AM
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Originally posted by jough
the higher recording capacity of Blu-Ray (2 hours instead of 1.5 hours of HD-TV) means that most films won't even fit on an AOD/HD-DVD. So it won't work as a home recording format. And then, my friends, it dies.
I'd hardly say AOD will die if it doesn't work as a home recording format. The LARGE majority (I'd say 95% or more) of the current 80 million DVD players in American homes can't record a damn thing! And personally, that's how I like it. With the price of hard disc space dropping like mad, it will much cheaper (and sensible) to digitally store TV shows and other HD-broadcast programs on a DVR or home theater PC. I can't imagine having to buy expensive recordable DVD media to record all the junk I store on my ReplayTV. Not to mention the other advantages that come with using DVRs (pausing live TV, commecial skip, etc). And this, in my opinion, is one of Sony's big mistakes with the Blu-ray format. In 2 or 3 years, people will be storing and transferring their digitally-recorded TV shows from one format to another, and from one device to another (e.g. PDA, laptop, etc). They don't want to be locked to one particular format or device. Keep in mind Sony is working on copyright issues and encryption technology as we speak.

I say leave the recording to other, more specialized, components.

Last edited by vivarey; 01-19-04 at 02:27 AM.
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