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Old 08-23-2007   #1
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Default HD Disc Format War Heats Up For The Fall

Recently, major battles were fought in the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray HD disc format war. It began with an announcement that both Paramount and Dreamworks movie studios are going to exclusively release their HD titles on the HD DVD format. So far Paramount has pretty much sat on the sidelines of the format war, but with things heating up in the battle as the all-important holiday selling season approaches, they jumped off the fence and right into the middle of the fight.

Not to be outdone, Fox and MGM wheeled out the big guns by announcing their Blu-ray releases for 2007 which include big budget films well suited for high-definition Blu-ray including: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Live Free or Die Hard, Master & Commander, as well as many other titles.

The stakes are now higher heading into the holiday selling season, with Blu-ray pushing more and more quality titles while HD DVD having more affordable players. Critics say that the format war isnít good for consumers, but perhaps that isnít the case? Pressure for one format to win out over another is driving studios to roll out some of their best titles in the spirit of one-upsmanship. With more sexy titles luring consumers to buy new players, electronics companies will see sales increase if they can get players priced closer full featured DVD players, around $299 for the holidays. At this price point, mainstream American Costco and Wal-Mart customers are likely to start looking at one or both of the HD disc formats as a needed accessory for their new HDTV, especially when they see how much better both HD DVD and Blu-ray look as compared to HD from their cable box or satellite receiver. At this price, HD on a disc will pick up significant momentum.

Video game consoles will continue to drive both formats. Blu-ray has the clear advantage here as it is integrated into Sonyís Playstation 3 system. Microsoftís Xbox 360 can do HD DVD at a lower price but requires a separate drive. Both formats combined, and driven by the popularity of HD video game titles like EAís Madden Football 2008, will power more player sales that will in turn lead to more software sales, continuing to add fuel the fire.

When comparing the HD disc format war to the audio format war between SACD and DVD-Audio, it is important for consumers and early adopter enthusiasts to note that the battle for audio supremacy over the aging and under-powered Compact Disc never saw the quality of titles or supplemental material that we are seeing early from both sides of the HD disc war. Yes, Dark Side of the Moon, Kind of Blue, and Night at the Opera were good titles, but the movie titles are better already and arenít likely to dry up anytime soon as we saw with the failed D-VHS HD tape format.

For those with an HDTV who want the best possible video on their screen, right now it requires two separate players and isnít likely to change any time soon. Those playing the waiting game might want to stick their toes in the water this fall as the price to play is only a few hundred dollars plus a Netflix or Blockbuster account.

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Old 08-23-2007   #2
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Red face Re: HD Disc Format War Heats Up For The Fall

I don't know,
I just don't see Joe 6 pack buying into a new format while there are 2 incompatible versions & he can't get every movie he wants on either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray.

While I do see the formats being driven by the game consoles that is also not the way to get Joe 6 pack interested, Joe's not interested in playing games he wants to watch movies on his new HDTV.

I was hoping for a quick winner but that just isn't going to happen, & the longer it goes on the more the competitors are going to have invested & that will make them dig their heels in even deeper.

This war IMO is not good for the consumer.
I want to be able to buy any movie I want & have it play on my player (& No I don't want a universal player!).

Were these formats released too soon?
I mean what is the saturation of HDTV's 20%? & what is the saturation level of High definition discs (both formats) 5% of that 20%?
There is just not enough people buying either format for a decision to be made on a winner or a loser.
Even though Blu-Ray has been out selling HD-DVD 2-1 when you look at the actual sales numbers that's only what, a few hundred thousand units? That's not even a blip on DVD sales.
Only when there are enough sales that a 2-1 margin is in the millions of units will it start to influence the "suits" that have the power to end the war.

That being said, IMO This holiday season will be a BIG for all HD, HDTV's, HD disc players & HD service in the home (cable vs Sat).
I think this Xmas may start to show a trend, there will probably be as many high def players sold this holiday season as have already been sold since the format war started.
My reasoning is there is enough HDTV's in peoples houses that almost everyone has a buddy that has one & he has seen a football game in HD or some prime time shows in HD & that got him thinking, & with HDTV prices getting lower all the time (Vizio) old Joe might be thinking this year he'll give himself a HDTV for XMAS.
Hopefully at the same time he'll pick up a $299 HD disc player (which I think will be available in both formats) & the number of discs sold will start to add up.

It's also going to be a HUGE year for content.
Next month DirecTV will be rolling out 100 HD channels (YEA!! ) I believe Dish will have about half that amount by the end of the year & cable will have no choice but to follow.
This Xmas will be a perfect HD storm, Affordable HDTV's & finally a boatload of content.

Xmas 07 & 08 will be the ramping up seasons, Xmas 09 may be the deciding year on who wins the format war.

But what the hell do I know!!
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Old 08-23-2007   #3
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Default Re: HD Disc Format War Heats Up For The Fall

I don't know where you've been, but Costco and Amazon have had a Toshiba HD-DVD player with 5 free discs for under $250 for months. The cheapest Blu-ray player is almost twice that. Admittedly the sub-$250 Toshiba doesn't do 1080p. That costs about $100 more.

And I'm sorry I don't agree about the quality of the HD disc releases to date. There's been not much all that compelling when I look through the titles. Losts of blockbuster. But a cinema bust.
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Old 08-24-2007   #4
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Default Re: HD Disc Format War Heats Up For The Fall


My definition of a present is something you want but wouldn't buy yourself as either it is too expensive and/or you don't really need it.

If this fits many others idea, then the sales of the new players will really take off for the holidays in this and subsequent years. I am a little concerned about the studios change in policy. Making there movies available in only one format means we will need two high def players to really reap the benefits and enjoy all the content. I have both formats, so for me it's no big deal, but for most people getting into the HD disc world, this makes the leap much harder to take....

When two movies that would make you buy a player are each only in opposing formats, which one do you choose??

My guess is for most people, it will be neither.

I wish one format would bow out and the war would end, but alas I am smart enough to realize this won't happen any time soon....
Ken Taraszka, MD
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Old 08-24-2007   #5
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Default Re: HD Disc Format War Heats Up For The Fall

How about the major hardware companies come out with combo players that emphasize their format similar to the LG model but at about $500 to $599. I think at that price many more enthusiasts would jump in and buy a player and start racking up disc rentals and purchases. I usually am an early adopter but was burned by investing in The old laser disc format and don't want to get burned again. I don't plan on buying one or the other and getting stuck when One format wins out and I don't want to have to have two disc players in my system. It is killing me to have to wait for a format winner but I don't plan on purchasing both unless there is a reasonably priced dual format player.
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Old 08-24-2007   #6
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Default Re: HD Disc Format War Heats Up For The Fall

Unfortunately, being a format war, both sides will never give their full support to a combo player. The only way I see that happening is if there is a stand-off.

The current LG combo player lacks support by HD DVD and is hit or miss when playing software titles as to which ones will play correctly. Also, previous reviews of the player have shown that the quality of the audio and video processors in the unit are subpar.

The expensivity of the players in both formats, the lack of quality movies, and the idea of being stuck with choosing the wrong format if one does happen to win (ie LaserDisc), I think has the majority of consumers waiting it out.

The manufacturers have not been able to convey to the consumers the profound audio/video quality difference between SD DVD and HD DVD/Blu-ray. And to truly get the impact of either format the majority of interested consumers would still have to buy a new receiver to decode the Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master HD soundtracks and get a new HDTV (again) that supports the acceptance of true 1080p signals and HDMI 1.3 for DeepColor in addition to the Blu-ray/HD DVD player.

Why would any consumer want to spend that money and then deal with the frustrations of the supposedly seemless, single cable HDMI connection?

I don't like to rag on the companies but I think that totally screwed up. The timing of the technologies doesn't work for consumers. DVD came about and then the need for HDTVs took off and thus perpetuating the need for HD Content from cable and satellite providers. BUT it seems backwards to then release a high-definition technology that requires you to purchase a whole other home theater setup.

CRT TVs lasted a long time for consumers. They finally make the leap to an HDTV and now you are telling them that "oh, sorry but that 6 month old HDTV won't display the true compabilities of these next-generation formats." Thank you very much, I think I'll stick with DVD. At least that format works with my equipment.
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