Sunday, July 31, 2005

Blu-Ray: The future of High Definition mind melting.

Are yall ready for the Betamax - VHS war again? How about Minidisc - CD war? Yep, that time has come again. Well at least in part. Sony (yes, im a sony salesman so im partial) has released the future of high definition viewing pleasure. A conglomerate called the Blu-Ray Disc Association (BDA) [] which includes the founders, Sony, as well as support from your favorites like apple, HP, and a number of big hitters in the audio/video as well as computer foundations. Where the problem comes in, and reason we have not seen this on shelf's already (its been out in japan for about a year or so) is because of Toshiba, the founders of another format called HD-DVD refuse to let it be the big market. Both sides of the battle, as to spare consumers another huge battle (only us geeks have to deal with it) are trying to come to terms as to which one to release and in force. My preferences come to Blu-Ray like many geeks because of its greater advantage on the tech side. HD-DVDs main support is its "cheaper". If your interested in seeing the tech side, and a nice little graph showing some of the differences go here. If you know anything about media in this nature, you can see very quickly its advantages. I have personally seen a DVD playing off a Blu-Ray player on an HD tv, and I was just floored. It was like being in a 3D theatre. I worry about the movie theatre industry with the release of this on the mass market because of how simply amazing it is. Now, you start wondering, ok, well im not a geek so all those numbers dont mean anything to me. Well there is a lovely link provided here that will take you to a forum discussing the differences, and to save you the net account cost, here is a condensed version:

Backed by:
Sony, Dell, Apple(as of today), Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Mitsubishi Electric, Philips Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, TDK, and Thomson Multimedia.

Advantages: Getting the early start, Blu-ray has enjoyed more mindshare than HD-DVD, as well as a conglomerate of powerful backers that rivals President Bush's "coalition of the willing" in size and scope. Technologically, the biggest edge Blu-ray appears to have over HD-DVD is that it offers 30 percent more capacity and is designed for recording high-def video. Rewritable BD-RW discs, with similar features to Panasonic's current DVD-RAM discs, can play back content while recording to the disc at the same time. Also, Sony owns Columbia Pictures and recently bought MGM, which gives it a leg up on releasing content. And PlayStation 3 certainly will carry a huge chunk of clout in the marketplace.

Disadvantages: Real or not, the biggest knock against Blu-ray is that the discs--initially, at least--will be more costly to produce than HD-DVD media (Sony claims otherwise). Until recently, the other knock was that unlike DVD-HD, the Blu-ray spec did not include support for more advanced video compression codecs such as MPEG-4 AVC and Microsoft's VC-1, in addition to the MPEG-2 codec. But the Blu-ray Group recently announced support for those codecs, so they're now on even ground on that front.


Backed by:
Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo, and Memory-Tech. Microsoft is also supporting HD-DVD in its next version of Windows (support for Blu-ray is on the table).

Advantages: The name itself, HD-DVD, is far more consumer-friendly than Blu-ray. HD-DVDs carry the same basic structure as current DVDs, so converting existing DVD manufacturing lines into HD-DVD lines is supposedly simple and cost effective. Memory-Tech, a leading Japanese manufacturer of optical media, stated that producing HD-DVD discs would initially cost only 10 percent more than for existing DVDs and
that it could quickly bring the cost down to match that of standard DVD.

Disadvantages: HD-DVD simply can't boast the same storage capacity as Blu-ray. It's confusing, but it appears that the rewritable HD-DVD-RW will go up 32GB, while the recordable HD DVD-R discs will only be single layer (15GB). The other downside is that with Sony holding the rights to Columbia Pictures and MGM movie and television libraries, there will probably be a hole in HD-DVD's content offering--don't expect to see MGM/UA's James Bond movies on HD-DVD, for example.

Now to follow the last point on this, notice how it talks about movie holdings and how HD-DVD wont have many top movies, thats another downfall as pretty much every major film industry company has backed Blu-Ray. In a war on formats, thats huge. Here are two articles talking about Hollywood (PC WORLD Click Here) and Fox Studios ( Click Here) backing the stronger format. After that, I hate say anymore so leave it into your hands to figure out which format you think is better.

Happy hunting.

Google Search on Blu-Ray

References: All of the above linked. I also gained much of my expierence with Blu-Ray and HD-DVD in company training at Sony (yes, much of this info was unbiased coming straight from toshiba) so could not provide a reference or link to it, sorry!


At 11:06 PM, Blogger Luke said...

Not convinced that 'Blu-Ray' is a less consumer-friendly label: sounds like the other camp clutching at straws. Anyway, just wanted to remind folk that you can use the class NetAccount for 203-related surfing - which includes following links provided on this blog.

At 11:24 PM, Blogger Chris said...

One of the deciding factors in the success of VHS over Betamax was the that VHS carried the adult film industry, where as Betamax (Sony) had been hesitant in allowing betamax to carry that genre of content. What i believe will be a driving factor will be the 'killer app'. In this regard I think that Blu-Ray has the advantage, considering that it's backed by the major film publishers and by the PS3.

Where HD-DVD may have specific applications where it would find its niche, I am going to place my money on BluRay being the entertainment industries choice when it comes to the next medium.

The overall quality of the product probably wont effect consumer decision, since if I recall, BetaMax was higher quality than the VHS format, and look where it sits. (feel free to correct me though).

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Nick Smiths said...

BluRay is definitly looking better, I have heard rumours of 200GB capacity. An important consideration could be backwards compatibility. The new format could mean that BluRay players and recorders (and the PS3) aren't compatible with current DVD discs. Just when consumers are getting used to DVD recorders, this comes along...

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Ahhh, the fabled 'killer app.'

I think that the analysis so far in this initial post and thread have hit things pretty much on the head. The wider initial coverage of Blu-Ray means that even if it wasn't the best product, it'd have a leg up in the market-place.

I will also note that dual-format DVD burners may be the best thing ever. I say this because it's always nice to be able to backup everything when told that your archive hard-drive has unspecified minutes to live. A CD-RW would have taken too many days to be viable.


At 2:42 PM, Blogger Spivey said...

In response to chris, I think the market has changed much from the betamax wars though. Betamax was better but lost becuse of support. I think that Blu-Ray even though it is backed by everyone would have a major stopping point in quality. The big thing in the audio/video industry right now is getting the best quality, thats all we would drive when selling tvs at sony, let the video speak for itself and tell them about the features. My best selling tv was a 42 inch flat screen lcd selling for a cool 10,000 US bucks. That burns a big hole, but it still couldnt stay on the shelfs becuse the picture was so stunning, people were taking out loans on thier houses, kids, and pets to pick this thing up. So i think it will be a major determination in this battle (sony has the upperhand since it exceeds by "30%" according to the first post)

In response to Nick, if you notice in the article and the blue-ray site, they are saying it will be backwards compatible (they would never get this on the market if it wasnt) so they will either have a second lazer, or an internal red lazer. From what I have read, there was never a plan to not have it backwards compatible becuse of how huge the DVD market is right now. (I have 200 dvds easy, so i would not be happy if they werent. Same with others i know.)

At 6:40 PM, Blogger Chris said...

betamax led the scene for several years, before losing out due to the length of VHS, (from what I've been reading last night), I doubt length and quality will come into it too much, because the quality to be taken from 20gig, is going to be astounding, that producing a display capabil of rendering it will be a long way out of the price range of even those who can afford the drives themselves. It will have huge implications for PVRs though, having maybe even a week of content recorded while you were on holiday and come back and watch the news from each day, or pick the movies you missed out on.

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Spivey said...

Just a correction being in the market. The displays are readily availble now. Any high definition will display the full potential of Blu-Ray. Some better than others for a price yes, but you can get into high definition with an incredibly high quality 42" projector for only $2000 US which in terms of TVs is fairly inexpensive. You can get cheaper going out of sony. The market is already flooded with these as they have been around since the early 90's. Basiclly everyone has just been waiting for DVD technology to catch up since satalites were already going to DVD, US broadcast media within the next 5 years says it will be broadcasting completly in HD. They have had HD PVR out for a while so thats where a run down will begin as you said. However, since this technology has been out so long, its long overdue for millions of households all over the world as i take it.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Vasya said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Vasya said...

Sony PS3 is using Blu-Ray for the large PS3 which will not only play games but do all sorts of other stuff. The point is Sony is making a gamble on it, thats an indication that Blu Ray is a strong contender to replace current technology.


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