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SONY, to Toshiba: "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE . . . I DRINK IT UP!" [Feb. 20th, 2008|10:30 am]
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[Current Location |Detroit, MI, USA]

HD DVD is the new Betamax.

Toshiba, the company behind HD DVD, has announced the end of the format.

Quoted from pcworld dot com:

Toshiba will discontinue its HD DVD products, it said Tuesday, handing victory to rival high definition disc format Blu-ray Disc.

The company will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders.

It will reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders to retail markets and aims to cease the businesses altogether by the end of March.

But the Japanese electronics giant pledged to provide full product support and after-sales service for owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.

Sony's Blu-ray will be the next format you, the consumer, will eventually have in your home, following the eventual large shift from DVD.

Upon first reaction, with regard to Toshiba's future as a company, I said to myself, "lol they're so screwed." Upon further reading, I noticed Toshiba is planning a joint venture with Sony on production of semi-conductors. Such business partnership can hardly be called a "corpse-hump." Also, I remembered that Toshiba sells a ton of other stuff, and then I went, "lol what was I thinking I so stupid."

Then I started to think about what actually was different between the two next-generation formats.

Comparison of HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray by cnet dot com.

From the link:

Blu-ray and HD DVD are rival incompatible formats, a situation that recalls the Beta versus VHS battle that stifled the early growth of the VCR and home-video market in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Despite an attempt to unify the two standards in 2005, the corporate godfathers of the two formats--Sony for Blu-ray and Toshiba for HD DVD--failed to come to an agreement.

What that means to you is that no standard Blu-ray player will be able to play HD DVD discs, and no standard HD DVD player can play Blu-ray discs (pricey combo players are the exception). If a movie comes out in one format, there's no guarantee that it will be available in the other. Certain studios could release movies in both formats, but you'll still have to be careful not to buy the wrong version of the movie. Adding to the frustration is the fact that the capabilities and features of the two formats are far more similar than they are different--as shown by the chart below.

Feature DVD HD DVD Blu-ray
Maximum native resolutions supported via HDMI EDTV (480p) HDTV (720p, 1080i, 1080p) HDTV (720p, 1080i, 1080p)
Maximum image-constrained native resolutions supported via component video1 EDTV (480p) EDTV+ (960x540) EDTV+ (960x540)
Disc capacity 4.7GB (single layer)

8.5GB (dual layer)
15GB (single layer)

30GB (dual layer)

51GB (prototype triple layer)
25GB (single layer)

50GB (dual layer)

100GB (prototype quad layer)
Video capacity (per dual-layer disc)2 SD: approximately 3 hours

HD: n/a
SD: approximately 13 hours

HD: 5.1 or 3.3 hours, depending on encoding method
SD: approximately 23 hours

HD: 8.5 or 5.6 hours, depending on encoding method
Audio soundtracks3 Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES Uncompressed linear PCM, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution, Dolby Digital, DTS Uncompressed linear PCM, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution, Dolby Digital, DTS
Manufacturer support (home theater)4 All Toshiba, LG, Thomson/RCA, Onkyo, Samsung Hitachi, Mitsubishi, LG, Sharp, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Philips, Thomson/RCA
Manufacturer support (PC storage)4 All Microsoft, Intel, HP, NEC, Toshiba Apple, Dell, BenQ, HP, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, TDK
Studio support4 All Paramount, Studio Canal, Universal, Warner (until end of May 2008), the Weinstein Company, DreamWorks Animation Sony Pictures (including MGM/Columbia TriStar), Disney (including Touchstone, Miramax), Fox, Warner, Lions Gate
Compatible video game consoles PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360 Xbox 360 (via external HD DVD accessory, sold separately) PlayStation 3
Player prices $99 and less $130 (Xbox 360 accessory); $150 and more (stand-alone players); $999 for combo player $399 (PlayStation 3); $499 and more (stand-alone players); $999 for combo player
Movie prices $6 and more (retail) $20 to $28 (retail) $20 to $28 (retail)
Number of titles available at the end of 2007 50,000-plus about 330 about 360
Players are backward compatible with existing DVD videos Yes Yes Yes
Set-top recorders available now Yes No No
"Managed copy" option5 No Yes Yes
Copy protection/digital rights management6 Macrovision, CSS AACS, ICT AACS, ICT, BD+, BD-ROM Mark
Region-coded discs and players7 Yes No (currently; could change in future) Yes

Sources include: thedigitalbits.com, dvdfile.com, blu-ray.com, Toshiba HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc Association, CNET News.com, Business Week, EngadgetHD, About.com, and Wikipedia


  1. Each movie studio may choose to implement the image-constraint token (ICT) on a disc-by-disc basis, which constrains or downconverts the movie's resolution to 960x540 via the component outputs (HDMI output remains at full resolution). However, most major studios--Sony (Columbia/Tri-Star/MGM), Fox, Disney, Paramount, and Universal--have publicly stated that they will not make use of ICT, at least initially. There are even rumors of a backroom deal among studios to withhold use of ICT on HD disc releases through 2010. If true, movies from those studios will display at full resolution via the component outputs.

  2. Video capacity will vary depending upon the type of encoding used. Discs encoded with MPEG-4 or VC-1 offer more compression and, therefore, more video per gigabyte (standard-definition or high-definition) than those encoded with the older, less efficient MPEG-2 codec.

  3. Nearly all HD DVD and Blu-ray discs offer one or more of the new, higher-resolution audio soundtracks, but the ability of players to deliver them varies widely. All current standalone HD DVD players can decode Dolby TrueHD and deliver it via HDMI as uncompressed PCM that most HDMI-equipped AV receivers can handle; or via multichannel analog outputs. Some Blu-ray players can do the same, but some cannot as it is not required by the Blu-ray specification. If the player cannot pass the full resolution of the soundtrack, it will pass a lower-resolution "core" surround soundtrack that's equal to or slightly better than standard Dolby Digital or DTS. There are currently players available in both formats capable of passing DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD in bitstream format, but not all players can do this.

  4. Manufacturer and studio support is subject to change. With the exception of Sony's devotion to Blu-ray and Toshiba's to HD DVD, other manufacturers and studios can (and already have) switch sides, or they can support both formats. Also, the depth of support for companies aside from Sony and Toshiba has yet to be determined; for many of them, "supporting" one or both of the formats has been limited to issuing press releases or scheduling future product and/or movie releases that remain theoretical until they are available for purchase by the public. Meanwhile, Microsoft's support for HD DVD does not preclude Blu-ray compatibility for Windows; Blu-ray discs will be usable with Windows XP and Windows Vista PCs through the use of third-party software and hardware.

  5. Managed copy refers to the ability to make an HD DVD or Blu-ray movie viewable via a home network or a portable video device. The details haven't been worked out yet, leaving managed copy as more of a theoretical option than a usable feature for the foreseeable future.

  6. It is likely that HD DVD and Blu-ray will feature additional copy-protection methods (including Macrovision or other protections for analog outputs) than the ones listed here.

  7. As of spring 2006, HD DVD discs and players are not region-coded, but that could be changed at any point in the future--for example, the appearance of region-coded discs and a firmware upgrade for the hardware needed in order to play them. Blu-ray discs are coded to three regions (roughly, the Americas and Japan; Europe and Africa; and China, Russia, and everywhere else not included in the previous two regions) that are far more streamlined than the nine-region DVD system. That said, HD DVD and Blu-ray players should honor the nine-region system when playing standard DVDs--so don't expect to play out-of-region discs.

So yeah, like there wasn't much of a difference between HD DVD and Blu-ray.

But . . .

Blu-ray apparently had more storage capacity. Of all the majority of similarities, I believe this difference to be the key. Blu-Ray basically doubled the storage capacity of HD DVD on their optical discs. If I'm Time Warner, or any media company, for that matter, and I have a choice of support of a format that gives me a maximum of 8.5 hours of HD content, when compared to 5.1 hours for HD DVD's choice, I'm going with more.

From other reports, I see the HD DVD systems had more user-delight features from the start, such as a picture-in-picture ability to see a director or actor comment about a movie while you play it, but other reports around the news services tell me that such functions can be programmed into future Blu-Ray releases.

The death of HD DVD actually holds some significance for video game system producers Sony and Microsoft.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 uses HD DVD format as an add-on . . . merely an accessory. Lucky bullet dodged for Microsoft, since a dead format fused into any hardware is about as lovely as drinking spoiled milk. However, later, there may be some gaming marketplace trouble.

Sony's Playstation 3, on the other end, standardized with Blu-ray format. Not only did Sony's PS 3 standardize the technology, but it totally pushed into 2.0 Blu-ray format for the PS 3. 2.0 Blu-ray happens to be the most current format with which Sony plans to head into the future. What Sony did . . . it placed every egg in their video game console war on the most cutting-edge technology, fused it into their console, and, well, has produced a system that is a better Blu-ray player than the majority of non-gaming Blu-ray players currently on the market. In sum, Sony's risk now pays a huge reward in 2008, as Sony can market their PS 3 as not only the best gaming system . . . but also the best component to play the format of the future.

One might say, "wow, Microsoft is so screwed, lol" . . . but again, the same thing applies for Microsoft as it did for Toshiba.

But . . . what about Wii?

What also makes the future of console gaming a little more cloudy . . . January sales of Nintendo's Wii pwnted both Xbox 360 and the PS 3. About 375,000 Wii consoles moved in January of this year. 269,000 PS3s and 230,000 Xbox 360s were sold. Wii, however, isn't a player in the combo market of gaming and video watching. What could this mean . . . people just want to play games? Perhaps gamers don't really care about utility. After all, the best gaming experience tends to be available, over time, on a PC, despite the overwhelming popularity of gaming on non-PC-consoles.

As for Microsoft, I've read that they plan to branch into a greater presence in online content through Xbox Live. However, Microsoft really isn't stating anything, for sure . . . the company pretty much states "no comment."

That may be well and good, but Microsoft better have a plan. If Sony achieves similar online function with the PS 3 plus what is now the standard in next-generation movie-watching, the large Seattle company may find its Xbox 360 marketplace share rather eroded in a couple of years.

What Microsoft could also do is an out-source for a Blu-ray add-on, but chances are good that Sony would probably make it difficult in cost of business-to-business. Microsoft, in effect, possibly could be left without a functional next-generation movie player at its service. Of all this information, it looks like Microsoft will have to trust in superior game content as well as online content through Xbox Live.

In any event, Xbox 360, PS 3, and Wii are still very much alive . . . for now.

If you're looking for who really gets most negative effect, well, the consumers who bought HD DVD standalone technology are the pwnted. Anyone sitting there with an entertainment system featuring an HD DVD player is going to have to realize that the player and all their discs, from this Xmas, the previous Xmas, uh, heh, are now likely to become as useful as your parents' Betamax player, which is possibly sitting on a shelf in the garage. I mean, today you could head over to their house, grab that thing, hook that Betamax up to some TV, dust off that copy of The Karate Kid, pop it in, cross your fingers, and have some retro chuckles. One of your folks might even cook dinner, and maybe you and the elders can sit around with a rousing evening of laughs from an 8-track system. Anyway, most people probably put the obsolete systems and tapes out on the curb with the garbage, since most people just want the now. In other words, your HD DVD player is no longer the now.

Right now, however, the 'casualties' in this war are very small. Toshiba said their total sales were about 1 million units for the HD DVD. Reports differ on the total number of Blu-ray units, however. I've read anywhere from 3.5 million to 10 million with regard to Blu-ray. Of course, Sony's PS 3 unit sales should be included in the total number of Blu-ray units, since the gaming system has Blu-ray fused into it.

The question I now pose . . . will people jettison the highly-popular DVD format for Blu-ray?

Possible points to consider:

1. Is the Blu-ray the new standard of the likely for-years future? Well, if storage space was what Sony used to pwnt Toshiba's HD DVD, uh, the holographic storage currently in development from InPhase and Optware promises even more storage space.

2. How much does it cost? Most consumers will not pay 400-600 dollars for any form of Blu-ray. They won't mind the backwards compatibility of DVDs in their Blu-ray, but they will mind new releases jumping from 20 bucks to 26 bucks, 36 bucks, et cetera. I just bought a DVD of Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove for 10 bucks at a Kroger's. That's the kind of availability and pricing that most Americans want with regard to their movie purchases. If Sony and other companies produce affordable Blu-ray players with the 2.0 standard for maybe $100 bucks, then I guarantee the sales would skyrocket. Ditto with Blu-ray discs.

3. Where can I find it? This isn't much of a problem, since Sony and other companies will be able to get their wares into basically any electronics store, irl and online. People will go to those stores. Also, every production company will likely release movies in Blu-ray format in the near future. So there's a whole section that will be pinching into floor space currently dominated by DVDs and CDs. Anyway, they'll be plentiful, and I'm sure I'll have to stiff-arm at least three Best Buy employees telling me about the wonders of Blu-ray during the next visit to their store.

4. What is it? You can't be serious. Blu-ray whut? DVD huh? Well, if you didn't know what a DVD or a CD is, then how the hell did you get on the internet? You're reading this and are totally confused? Good grief, go to the kitchen and make yourself a sandwich. You must forget to eat often.

5. When is this HD DVD/Blu-ray thing dying? Come on, I already told you, like a million lines ago, it just happened in the last few days. Stop being stupid, HD DVD bye-bye. Hello Blu-ray for now. And yeah, Blu-ray is Sony's phoenix move from the ashes of Betamax, which is kind of an amazing story in and of itself. That answers the "who." And the "why" . . . you have money in your pocket. They wants it. They needs it. They gets it. ?!??! PROFIT! Capitalism!

Anyway, this is all SRS BSNSS to the entertainment industry as we know it. Also movie freaks, like myself. Also gamers, like ourselves. Also humans. And SPAM.


[User Picture]From: cobaltbluetony
2008-02-27 06:16 pm (UTC)

three weeks ago

me (age 34): So, it looks like HD DVD will be the new Betamax...

wife (age 26): Beta-whatnow???
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