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Blu-ray still kicking hi-def format competition's tushy

Yeah, we actually used "tushy" in a subject line. We don't feel like it's used enough. That's not what's important, though -- the important news lies in reiterating the fact that Blu-ray is continuing to, uh, "dominate", the high-def movie format market. You'll recall that in January, sales of Blu-ray were 60% higher than HD-DVD sales. Eventually, the ratio 3:1 started creeping up and now, numbers were released for the end of February.

Blu-ray is accounting for 65% of the market as of February 18th and will probably get a nice boost in sales from the upcoming Casino Royale (because seriously, given the option, why would you ever buy that film on DVD if you've got a PS3 and HD setup?). So, Blu-ray has claimed another 5% of the market in the span of a month. Keep going, Blu-ray! Our PS3 games simply refuse to be put on HD-DVD discs! This is just a question because I'm not sure of something -- are HD-DVDs also "scratch-proof" like Blu-ray discs? It's an honest question... not being facetious.

[Thanks, Mark!]

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1. One thing that worries me...I've heard that this summer there'll be stand-alone HD-DVD players available for as little as $200. Again this is something "I've heard" so it might be BS.

I'm mostly renting my blu-ray disks from Netflix at this point, because I don't want to invest in a format that might not make it (I still have a stack of laserdisks in the closet).

But man, I watched a regular DVD movie the other night after a 6 weeks of watching blu-ray and it was AWFUL. I'm ruined!! (I only watch the high-def channels on tv these days, too.)

Posted at 11:51AM on Mar 9th 2007 by GRT

2. Yes Nick, that is a great point for Blu-ray: My games and movies won't be as scratched as my DVD collection.


GRT:

There is one $199 HD-DVD drive which you can use on your PC, it's the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive, and even so, it hasn't done anything for HD-DVD.

Anyway, I doubt TV players will reach $199. I mean, Toshiba's best player costs $999 or so, yet the cheapest is sold at a loss, and since they aren't a videogame company (much less a movie studio), I doubt they can recoup too many losses on movie royalties alone.

Since PS3 is gaining momentum again, let alone Blu-ray, the format war is almost over. Blu-ray on Mac and PCs is also coming real soon (on nearly every brand, not just Sony's), so couple storage, games, movies and music (singstar), and HD-DVD is cornered.

I'm glad the superior format is a winner. Blu-ray FTW

Posted at 12:17PM on Mar 9th 2007 by bootsielon

3. Finally ppl realise the potential of Blu-Ray FTW w00t

Posted at 12:30PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Shoaib

4. The day will come when you can pick up a Blu-ray or HD-DVD player for $200 stand-alone. But it won't matter much, because anyone you seriously thought HD-DVD had a chance (when PS3 comes with Blu-ray) was smoking crack.

Gee, I get a next-generation HD game system with internet capabilities and high definition movies for $600?

It's not that hard of a sale for the early adopters. As time goes on, you bet you arse that Sony and friends will compete with HD-DVD on price if HD-DVD makes that move to help sales.

Posted at 12:32PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Gamey McGee

5. Are HD-DVD's scratch proof?

My understanding (which is heresay and bits and pieces of info) is that Blu-Ray writes data closer to the surface of the disc, which makes it more sensitive to scratches and therefore needs a protective coating more than HD-DVD.

I've heard three thoughts about coatings on HD-DVD: 1) they don't have them, 2) they do have them they are just of a different brand/quality, 3) some have them it just depends on the manufacturer.

Unfortunately I do not know which is true.

Posted at 12:40PM on Mar 9th 2007 by HakFoo

6. Wii is outselling the PS3 right now but does that mean PS3 is doomed as a gaming platform.
This is just getting started. The sad part is that they could not reach an agreement so that there would only be 1 format. Sony's track record is not that great for introducing new formats. Time will tell. Both formats need to reduce player and disc prices so that it is not too much a premium over standard dvd.

Posted at 12:50PM on Mar 9th 2007 by RangerPrimeX

7. Wal-Mart already has HD-DVD players for $250. Saw one a couple days ago. HD, especially HD home video, has yet to become a commodity market, so at first player cost is not going to significantly affect format sales. High-def DVD enthusiasts are still going to purchase the players and format they consider superior.

If Blu-ray is partially "scratch-proof" -- it can't be *totally* scratch-proof -- it likely has something to do with the depth through the plastic at which the laser focuses, that and the laser frequency. From what I've read, Blu-ray focuses very deep. HD-DVD focuses at about the same layer positions as standard DVD, which is why they've talked about doing Blu-ray/DVD hybrids or Blu-ray/HD-DVD hybrids on the same side of the disc, but HD-DVD/DVD hybrids have to be "flip-side" discs, as both use approximately the same layer position and laser frequency, and can't share a side. In that case, HD-DVD probably suffers similar issues with large, long, deep or circular scratching, but a little scuffing probably will play fine as with standard DVD, depending on how much the player in question over-samples and how much redundant data is on the disc.

What is killing me is the lone hold-out, Universal. For instance "Children of Men", something I'd love to have in HD, is going to be available as DVD (certain) and HD-DVD alone (maybe), DVD (certain) and HD-DVD/DVD flip-side hybrid (almost certain) only. As late as the end of January, Universal execs still insist they have no plans to support Blu-ray. Many studios are releasing on both and trying to devise hybrid discs. Of course there are studios that won't support HD-DVD, but when you look at the list, it's really no choice at all. If you choose Blu-ray, you lose Universal and their specialty films subdivision, Focus Features, and Weinstein (and I think the relatively new Weinstein Brothers presently distributes only through Universal, anyway). If you choose HD-DVD, you lose Disney, including major mainstream and speciality studios Touchstone and Miramax, Sony Pictures, including mammoth MGM/Columbia Tristar, and juggernaut 20th Century Fox. Come on, I'm supposed to lose these so I can get Universal releases?

I can of course buy a $200 HD-DVD drive for my 360, but I've heard, though not experienced, the quality is not so great. (Actually, what I've heard, and it may be biased, is that upscaled standard DVDs on 360 or plain 480p DVDs on PS3 look almost as good as HD-DVD via the 360 drive; possibly these reports are from component video users and not VGA.) And even though I have the best possible analog connection to my HDTV -- VGA -- 360 has no HDMI or other digital output. Even if I can get a $200 stand-alone HD-DVD player, I don't want another box, and another optical-out (I only have 2 optical inputs on my Onkyo receiver, so the stand-alone would have to have coax audio out) to contend with. I have too many boxes as it is. Even if I could get an HD-DVD of some kind, for 360 or stand-alone, for $100, I don't want to spend even that much *and* deal with yet another box just to get Universal releases in HD.

Why Universal continues to hold out, I have no idea. They are welcome to support both formats, as do many studios. It irritates me no end they for no obvious reason refuse; even if they believe HD-DVD is the superior format, they can't possibly believe it's *that* much better. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

And you know I'm stuck with "Children of Men", too, which happens to be released on my birthday. Do I buy nothing and hold out Universal will cave and start releasing on Blu-ray? Do I buy the DVD for now and likewise wait on Universal to give in -- but haven't spent extra money to buy the film twice? Or do I buy the HD-DVD/DVD hybrid, save some money, but unfortunately giving into the idea that eventually if I ever want to get Universal features in an HD format, I'm going to have to buy some sort of HD-DVD player. Annoying. (I know, it makes the most sense to just not buy it or buy it on DVD only, showing Universal that HD-DVD and it's hybrid format are not selling.)

Posted at 1:02PM on Mar 9th 2007 by san

8. Children of Men was an amazing movie, and sadly enough, I'm going to have to get my hands on the HD-DVD version simply for its HD source, which I will then convert and jab onto my PS3s hard drive. The screener already on there just doesn't look as good >.

Posted at 1:05PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Lemondish

9. Blu-Ray works the way it does because it uses that blue laser, which has a shorter wavelength and therefore the data is packed together closer, and although it is closer to the surface of the lens, its to limit an issue (which I won't bore you with specifics) called disc tilt. Due to the data being closer it has the protective layer, like you said, however with such a coating it makes it HIGHLY resistant to scratches and damage.

IMO, the only thing HD-DVD had going for it was its early head start, which I feel it didn't capitalize enough on. The public interested in HD tech knew the difference, and those few newbies were swayed by the inclusion of Blu-Ray in the PS3. The 360 HD-DVD did little to break out of that launch slump. From here on out Blu-Ray will become the leader, there's no doubt about that. After all, Sony Pictures now owns MGM, which combined, is about half of the colour movies ever made.

Posted at 1:05PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Lemondish

10. "Due to the data being closer it has the protective layer, like you said, however with such a coating it makes it HIGHLY resistant to scratches and damage."

Ah, so technically it's the reverse of what I said, the laser has to focus *closer* to the surface. So the scratch-protection is a physical coating and is required or your BR discs would get trashed quickly. Hey, this makes me feel a lot better about buying movies for the kids on BR, because I'm sure they can find some way to destroy them, the casual leaving them out on the table data side down is not going to scratch up the disc.

Anyone care to try and account for the Universal's obstinate behavior? I mean, there are quite a few more movies available on HD-DVD than BR, but BR is consistently accounting for 60% of the market. You'd think they'd notice. Do they have some sort of entrenched business involvement with Microsoft or something?

(By the way, I used to believe HD-DVD and BR would be about the same, film transfer and encoding quality being equal, until I saw the difference. So I tend to agree that the more people who are exposed to BR via PS3 or other direct experience will note the difference as well, and BR's dominance will continue to grow until for a couple years it is the de facto standard, and then the only standard.)

Posted at 1:14PM on Mar 9th 2007 by san

11. HD-DVD would've had this market HANDS DOWN if they wouldv'e made one feature standard. Every disc should be a combo disc. (HD-DVD/DVD) This would've put Blu Ray to it's knees but they got greedy of course. I have 3 HD-DVD's that can only be watched on just one tv. I knew it when buying them but it is still just BS ya know? Just my opinion.

Posted at 1:28PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Virtua Fanboy

12. Don't forget X Boxes hd-dvd player does'nt have HDMI so they aren't getting a true HD connection.

Posted at 1:35PM on Mar 9th 2007 by dpmathws

13. Universal is actually the only thing HDDVD has going for it. It's an inferior format, that's undeniable. BRDs hold much more data, have faster seek times (specifically because the disc spins at a constant rate throughout - this is NOT true for CDs, DVDs and HDDVDs), and the cost isn't much higher than HDDVD.

The thing is, Universal won't bail on the format they've chosen until they KNOW they can't save it. They don't want to have to switch formats (or wait, maybe they do, knowing everyone will re-buy the movies on BRD later!?!?) because they've made an investment.

The fact that 1. the more expensive format (to the consumer) 2. that didn't have "DVD" in it's name to steer customers toward it 3. Launched months after the first format managed to SURPASS HDDVD's total sales in a few months is a huge feat. I think that the fact that that happens all but guarantees Blu-ray winning this war.

Posted at 1:44PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Stef Geiger

14. Why are people still in doubt about this?

OK, facts first.

- Blu-Ray and HD DVD use a LASER of the EXACT SAME WAVELENGTH (405 nm).
- The difference is in the focusing: Blu-Ray has a smaller lateral correlation length on the disc surface (it can read/write on a slightly smaller area than HD DVD).
- It is due to "simple" optics that Blu-Ray has the highest storage capacity (50GB Dual-Layer BD versus 45GB Tri-Layer HD DVD, with TDK already able to produce 200GB octal-layer BD, but those will take many years until they're out on the market)
- I always had the impression that BD actually had the information recorded closer to the surface, which is why the improved coating was necessary - as a result, they resist scratches a bit better than HD DVD and A LOT better than DVD.

It really is obvious which format is superior. HD DVD is very similar to BD, but inferior. HD DVD partisans may defend that HD DVD is cheaper to produce, but these savings in costs are not benefiting the consumer much either. I'd rather have Blu-Ray, thank you.

Posted at 1:56PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Bored

15. "HD DVD partisans may defend that HD DVD is cheaper to produce"

When you consider that VHS didn't vanish all that long ago, *any* disc-based format is dirt cheap to produce. They were dying to kill off VHS because although they had to sell them at retail for almost the same price (or less!) as DVD they were costing something like 10 times to manufacture.

My experience in purchasing BR discs is that they don't retail for much more than HD-DVD. I mean at discount -- online, or at Wal-Mart or Target-type store prices, or release-week discounts at those retail stores or at Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. -- I see bottom price tier of $19.99 for HD-DVD and BR, next tier at $24.99 for HD-DVD, $27.99 for BR, next tier, $29.99 for HD-DVD and $31.99 - $34.99 for BR. We buy quite a few standard-def DVDs for the kids -- kids of course can watch something over and over again for a week, then take a break, and then do it all over again a month or three later -- and will probably keep that up for movies almost strictly for the kids, as we only have the one BR/HDTV set-up (unless a BR/DVD hybrid format is offered, then I'd lean to that so we can get HD quality if we want it); we have DVD-only and standard-def small TV in the boys' room. As for movies my wife and I -- more likely just me -- wish to own, we're more selective, and if I'm already paying an extra $5 - $8 for an HD format, another $3 just doesn't bother me. I mean, I'm buying these to *keep*, to *collect*. I can't imagine too many other people quibbling over $3 for newer BR titles.

The player cost, of course, is another matter. But again I've heard that BR player quality is pretty excellent across the price range; it's just a features thing. That lower-cost HD-DVD players just don't decode as nice looking an image or sound as high-end HD-DVD player. Still, I read something recently, an interview with a Sony exec, that one thing that bothered Sony about DVD was that players became a commodity item too fast -- suddenly there were decent DVD players -- later, even progressive scan models -- flooding the market for $50 or $75, and Sony had little chance to make any money off the players. But the way he was talking about, it sounded like he was saying, we accept that this time and we realize we are going to have to rapidly drop prices on BR players to get them in the hands of people, to support the BR format.

I think BR is already the preferred future data format for many computer makers. That will probably help push the standard.

But, ahh! Universal. I've about decided what I'll do is just Netflix Universal titles on standard DVD, and for ones I wish to collect, I'll just wait until Universal craters and offers the BR choice. I mean, if I'm against their HD-DVD-only policy, I shouldn't support it by buying their DVDs or their HD-DVD/DVD hybrids; that's only promoting their continuation of HD-DVD-exclusive releases. I still say there must be some buddy/buddy relationship with Microsoft on this one, for them to be the only studio to entirely exclude BR.

Posted at 2:28PM on Mar 9th 2007 by san

16. "Blu-ray still kicking hi-def format competition's tushy."

It's like watching a three-man race in which one guy has already crossed the finish line, so people start watching the other two stumble and fall their way towards the finish line.

Congrats to those who support the Blu-ray format. It's just too bad no one cares.

Posted at 3:57PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Next-Gen-Gamer

17. #16:

By "no one", you mean "you." Common mistake, so we'll let it go.

Posted at 4:26PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Gamey McGee

18. Ill say this once... I do apologize for this guys... total flame bait coming up here. I truely do just want blu ray to bite the dust, hard, I want it to go the way of laser discs... Its Sony's damn fault we have two formats in the first place. They were in talks to combine the two formats into one superior format... but a short while in to the talks, they said "We're sorry the PS3 is too far in development to change anything at this point." that was some time back in 2005... what was the ps3 in 2005 other than non existant, hell they probably wouldnt have had so many issues developing it had they compromised, way to go sony! Assholes. I want one format thats it... not 2 or 3 .... 1

Honestly though, how does sony earn your loyalty so easily???

OK im done... Sorry guys had to let that out.

Posted at 5:24PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Darko

19. All I have to say is, If you hold out, you'll never get Universal Movies on HD. Just face it, war is not going to end at all. If they had done what they did with DVD then we wouldnt have this never ending war like DVD-RW and DVD+RW. It's never been fixed. My suggestion. Buy the LG hybrid.

Also my god, ps3 fanboys (bootsielon mostly) stop trying to protect your manhood by saying blue-ray is going to win. You're trying to defend your purchase. Even though no one said anything or even really cares, it's more annoying then anything.

Posted at 5:29PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Killer

20. Since each PS3 comes with a free Blu-Ray movie though I'm sure those count towards total Blu-Ray "sales" numbers. Yeah, the same might hold true for the free HD-DVD movie that comes with the 360 HD-DVD drive, but not everone who buys a 360 has to buy the DVD drive and get the free movie which is the case with the PS3. If you cut that out then I'm sure it's much closer in comparison to HD-DVD sales.

Also remember that Betamax was superior to VHS and look how that turned out. I have a PS3 and I'm not anti-Sony by any means, but when you look at their track record of Betamax, mini disc, UMD and now Blu-Ray, it's not like they have a great track record in terms of formats they've pushed. I think it’s still WAY too early to pick a winner in HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray.

Posted at 5:50PM on Mar 9th 2007 by Nick

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