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Old 03-09-2007, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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http://au.xbox360.ign.com/articles/771/771196p1.html

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Blu-ray vs. HD DVD
An in-depth, unbiased battle royale.
by Patrick Kolan, IGN AU


Australia, March 7, 2007 - The next big thing. Everybody wants to create it. Retailers want to sell it, and in theory at least, consumers want to sweep it up in their arms. But what happens when two competing technologies claim to be the one true future? It's almost as fractured and chaotic as worldly religion; on one side you have the HD DVD devout, and on the other sit the Blu-ray believers. Both are convinced that they are destined to rule.

Today, IGN settles things.

As consumers as much as journalists, we're peeved that the market is fractured. But it was practically inevitable. Choice is a boon for buyers, but unlike DVD which showed a massive leap forward in technological capabilities from VHS, the lines are a little more blurred (or, a fair bit sharper if you think about it). For many, especially those with smaller HD displays, the leap to a high definition movie format simply won't provide such an obvious difference as there was between VHS and DVD. Is the world ready to replace a cheap and easy, mainstream-friendly format for something unproven and expensive - albeit very geek sexy?

Forcing format evolution is something that gamers tend to experience more than most technology adopters. Every four years or so, a new era of gaming is rung in and the old format draws to a close. It's how our industry works, and development cycles have more or less adjusted to this.

However, VHS, tapes, CDs and to a lesser extent DVDs have all been bettered by newer devices that do the same thing, only faster, more efficiently, more easily - and at a price. HDD recorders have replaced VCRs, MP3 players have made CDs almost irrelevant, and now DVD is about to be superseded. Where should your money lie?

We've taken the two formats and broken them down into categories. The first broad view of each platform can be divided into short and long term considerations that you should consider before dishing out the dollars.


Two competing formats, but only one will reign supreme.



Short Term Considerations:

Price:
Blu-ray: When Blu-ray launched in 2006, the first players were incredibly expensive and limited in features beyond Blu-ray playback. They cost roughly US$2000 and only a couple of different brands hit the market. With the advent of the PlayStation 3 in NTSC territories late last year, Sony reduced its standalone player prices in line with the PS3's US$599 price tag. In Australia, only a couple of brands, including Samsung and Panasonic, offer Blu-ray players. These are priced around the AU$1500 mark. When the PS3 is released on March 23 in Australia at a price of AU$999, expect to see competing units reduce their prices.

Blu-ray films cost, at least initially, more to produce than HD DVD. Though Sony has denied this, the proof is in the shelf price, which is clearly higher than HD DVD in territories where both formats have been released. Expect this price difference to be reduced as manufacturing techniques are refined and the cost of raw materials is reduced. In Australia, the retail price for a standard 25-gig BD release sits between AU$30-$49.

HD DVD: Launching after Blu-ray in America, HD DVD had an immediate price advantage. The players sold for several hundred dollars less than the most inexpensive Blu-ray player, and initial film releases were slightly cheaper. This gave the format a head start, sales-wise in the market. However, this lead was short-lived as prices have since begun to fall on both formats, and the install base of Blu-ray owners has increased dramatically with the introduction of the PS3.

Right now, Australians can pick up an HD DVD player for as little as AU$1000, which puts it in the same price bracket as the PS3. However, Microsoft will be introducing its HD DVD player add-on at the end of March for a price of AU$249.95 - which, when coupled with a 20gig Xbox 360 at $649.95, places it slightly under the outright cost of a PS3.

Our choice: HD DVD

Image and Sound Quality:
As both formats offer basically the same visual fidelity, we will compare them together. Both Blu-ray and HD DVD use a new laser that reads from the surface of the disc at a shorter distance. This allows for a higher amount of information to be stored over a shorter distance on the information surface, allowing for HD video, lossless audio and potentially a bit of room for extras. Both formats also allow for 5 and 7.1 surround sound setups. When run through a quality HDMI cable to a large 1080p display, the result is an impressive step forward from DVD, which runs at a maximum resolution of 576p. Notice we said the word large - if the display is fairly small, say 36" or so, you might not notice much of a difference from a DVD. As the display gets bigger, and the number of pixels making up the image becomes more important, HD begins to truly shine over DVD.

Our choice: Tie

Added Features:
Blu-ray: Blu-ray discs are capable of running Java technology specially integrated for special features, such as displaying a pop-up menu while playing a BD-Video disc, and activating a keyword search. When connected to an Internet source, it allows for interactivity with compatible sequences in the films. These can theoretically automatically update with the latest information available on the fly.

In the audio department, connecting a Blu-ray drive to an AV centre via HDMI allows multi-channel data transfer. This delivers high-quality 7.1-channel surround sound with each channel offering DVD-Audio quality in surround sound, on par with the quality of the original, master audio source.

While Blu-ray drives are able to read DVDs without issue, some launch-era models could not read standard CDs. Unbelievably but understandably, the need for a laser that reads both the Blu-ray and CD formats would've further increased the price of the model, so was apparently deemed unnecessary for inclusion. Less forgivably, the Blu-ray drive in the PS3 doesn't currently upscale the quality of standard definition DVDs - this is something that the Xbox 360 is capable of, after the latest firmware update, and when connected with high-definition component cables.

HD DVD: Microsoft's decision to stick with HD DVD came down to features and abilities the format offered. Of these, 'managed copy' allows users to copy a movie to a PC hard drive so it can be beamed around the house. The iHD software has been touted as allowing a smaller video to be overlaid onto the main video screen - which is perfect for extra features. The format is also compatible with 'hybrid discs, meaning that owners of a DVD player will be able to buy a dual-format disk that can be played on an HD DVD player.

Something that, at least initially, HD DVD had going for it was ease of production. Creating an HD DVD is not markedly different from manufacturing a standard DVD. This means that for companies who wish to manufacture HD DVDs, there is no need to do a costly upgrade of their facilities. As it stands, it would appear from the number of studios backing Blu-ray, this upgrade hasn't deterred major support.

Our choice: Blu-Ray

Regions and Range:
Blu-ray: Unlike HD DVD, Blu-ray films are still bound by regions. This has been toned down from DVD's 9-or-so regions that divided the world and complicated purchases. Now, Blu-ray asks consumers to contend with just 3 - but it's still three more than HD DVD demands.



Region encoding for Blu-ray, as indicated by the image, is a step forwards from DVD, but behind HD DVD's region-free arrangement.



We consider this a cruddy move on the parts of the Hollywood film companies, and it is worth considering if you're the kind of person who loves importing superior releases from The States, or hard to get flicks from Japan. Where Blu-ray kicks into high gear is with their backing from those same Hollywood film companies. Read all about that in the 'Long-term' section.

A quick search of Amazon yields interesting results: 249 Results, with 171 currently available. March releases in the US are:

* Casino Royale (Sony)
* The Holiday (2006) (Sony)
* Hoosiers (MGM)
* Layer Cake (Sony)
* Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Fox)
* Big Fish (Sony)
* Chicken Little (Buena Vista)
* Eragon (Fox)
* Finding Neverland (Buena Vista)
* Rocky Balboa (Sony)
* Happy Feet (Warner)
* Incubus: Alive at Red Rocks (Sony Music)
* March of the Penguins (Warner)
* National Geographic: Relentless Enemies (Warner)
* The Pursuit of Happyness (Sony)


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HD DVD: First off the bat, this format has the clear advantage of being entirely region-free. If you buy an HD DVD from America, Japan, England, Portugal, wherever - it will play on your system. This is a major plus for the format and a boon for consumers since, theoretically, the time it takes for films to be distributed to retail in all territories should be noticeably shorter.


According to Amazon, searching for HD DVD titles yielded 234 Results, with 156 currently available. March releases, based off the US release date:

* Children of Men (Universal)
* Digital Video Essentials (DVD International)
* Happy Feet (Warner)
* March of the Penguins (Warner)
* National Geographic: Relentless Enemies

It should be noted, in the case of HD DVD, March is a light month compared to April, which sees an increased number of releases coming, more in line with Blu-ray's numbers.

An interesting statistic that we saw at the recent Blu-ray launch showed a list of the top 20 DVDs sold in America over 2006. Of those, 18 also came to Blu-ray, while a meagre 4 or 5 made it to HD DVD. This is arguably one of the biggest strengths that Blu-ray has - studio support. The number of releases might be similar between the two formats, but delve deeper into the "quality" of the films on offer, and it's a different story. HD DVD seems to have an abundance of documentaries and similar content, while Blu-ray is focused more on feature films. Which would you prefer to watch?


Our choice: Blu-ray

Availability:
Blu-ray: Right now, the following companies are currently, or have optioned the rights to, produce Blu-ray-capable devices:

* Apple
* Dell
* Benq
* HP
* LG
* Panasonic
* Philips
* Pioneer
* Samsung
* Sony
* TDK

This is purely a numbers-based issue; however, having more companies backing your format means your product will be more widely available. It's a simple enough equation, but it can make a huge difference to the number of products on store shelves - and therefore in the mind of shop-smart consumers.

HD DVD: Looking scant by comparison, for HD DVD, supporting manufacturers include:

* Microsoft
* Intel
* HP
* NEC
* Toshiba

This is a telling figure for HD DVD. Although many PC-component manufacturers have supported HD DVD, the consumer electronics and entertainment hardware companies are clearly siding with Blu-ray. Again, if the hardware isn't available to consumers, they won't be buying it. With the Xbox 360 positioning its drive as an optional add-on, adoption numbers haven't spiked in the same way Blu-ray adopters have. Having said that, the number of buyers who use their PS3 as a Blu-ray player is open to debate.

Our choice:
Blu-ray


Microsoft's HD DVD drive add-on for the Xbox 360.



Long Term Considerations:

Studio Support:
Blu-ray: What's the point of owning a particular format if your favourite films won't see the light of day on it? Since Sony own a number of film companies, these are already on board. Additionally, the following companies and their smaller arms have given their backing to the format:

* Sony Pictures
* MGM
* Columbia TriStar
* Disney
* Touchstone
* Miramax
* Fox
* Paramount
* Warner
* Lions Gate
* Roadshow (for Australian releases)

HD DVD: studio support includes:

* Paramount
* Studio Canal
* Universal
* Warner
* The Weinstein Company

However, many of the studios backing HD DVD are doing so very carefully; ensuring their releases are across both formats and, due to the format's ability to be printed with standard DVD on one side, shipping with two viewing options for those without HD DVD players. This bet-hedging is indicative of how unsure these studios are of the viability of both formats, but there is a clear tendency towards supporting Blu-ray first and HD DVD as a fall-back.

Our choice: Blu-ray

Storage Size and Implications:
Blu-ray: Currently, Blu-ray discs come in two flavours - 25GB single layer and 50GB dual layer. The larger size is around 70% larger than a dual layer, 30GB HD DVD. However, the dual layer size comes at a cost to both the consumer and the company. This will eventually be offset by cost-reduction techniques - cheaper material, more efficient production and greater numbers actually being produced and sold to the end-consumer.

HD DVD: Right now, HD DVDs are available in both 15GB single layer and 30GB dual layer discs. This is a smaller capacity compared with Blu-ray, and when storing space-intensive, 1080p resolution visuals and lossless audio, it doesn't leave a lot of room for extra materials at the same level of quality. That said, being able to be printed on both sides means that two markets can be sold to with one item, making it a very flexible, if crowded, disc.

Our choice: Blu-ray



The PS3 plays Blu-ray discs out of the box, but is priced considerably higher than competing game platforms without this feature.


Future-proofing:
Blu-ray: With the extra storage that Blu-ray discs offer, there is no question that the format allows for more HD content to be stored on the disc. By incorporating the technology into PS3s, Sony has ensured that the technology will make its way into homes regardless of whether there is demand at this moment in time.

HD DVD: Although the size of HD DVD discs taps out at 30GB, that's 5GB more than the minimum Blu-ray size - which is what the vast majority of Blu-ray titles are shipping on. At the same time, being so closely associated with DVD may be holding back the long-term viability of the format. Bundling standard definition content on one side of a disk, and HD on the other, while guaranteeing some sales, also prevents companies from putting large amounts of HD features on the disc. It might also affect HD DVD player adoption rates in the short term, as few people see the need to fork out extra for a disc that can be played by either technology.

Our choice: Tie

The Future:

We have clearly tended to side with Blu-ray - at least for the foreseeable, vaguely predictable future for one very good reason - the format has a not-so-secret ace up its sleeve - Sony' PS3. If this console can break out of the launch-year rut that it is currently stuck in, it will unquestionably shift Blu-ray movies off shelves. They are definitely heading in the right direction - according to Nielsen US figures (see chart below), they are outselling HD DVD titles by almost 2:1.

Every potential buyer of a PS3 will become an instant Blu-ray player owner - which has been Sony's strategy since day-one. More than that, however; this has been Sony's greatest achievement with the original PS2 - making DVD the standard format by integrating it into the gaming field, demonstrating its advantages and then eventually lowering the price of the hardware to the point where it was broadly competitive and attractive to Joe Consumer.

This is a risky strategy that could explain Microsoft's hesitation to integrate HD DVD drives into their 360 console - why put all your eggs in one basket, after all? Microsoft has instead opted to keep the format at arm's-length until time has proven it successful. This, ironically, may also spell the format's long-term downfall since, under the guise of consumer-choice and flexibility, they are actually inadvertently crushing consumer confidence. If it isn't a standard feature, then why is it worth a dime at all? And if all manufacturers take the same wait-and-see attitude with HD DVD hardware that Microsoft has, then who's creating the drives? And who would bother to create publish for a format with no install base? Our concerns are clear.


This chart, courtesy of Neilsens, displays exactly how well Sony's new format is doing in compared to HD DVD.

Including a Blu-ray drive in every PS3 is a gutsy move by Sony, but it may be correct in the long-term. On the other hand, Sony is notorious for introducing formats that never quite make the distance. Let's take a little stroll down the lane of the format-damned:

* VHS vs. Betamax
* CDs vs. Mini-discs
* MP3s ATRAC
* DVDs vs. UMDs

And on the hardware front, there is no question that the PSP is getting trounced hands-down by the Nintendo DS. Each time Sony has introduced or adopted a format, they push it very hard internally, but consumers have ultimately made other choices at point-of-sale.

So what is our ultimate decision? Well, if you have a spare thousand dollars, a large 720p or 1080p display and a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound setup, then it may be worth your time and money to step into HD film territory. We'd put our money, long-term, behind Blu-ray - for all of the above reasons taken into consideration, especially the studio support it's garnering. As a guess, we would say that the format that goes into Christmas 2007 with the lowest price tag and widest range of movie titles behind it will become the format standard. As it stands right now, with Sony's PS3 about to enter PAL markets, and HD DVD drives not receiving the lion's share of shelf space, promotion or releases, we tend to think Sony may have gotten it right this time.


Jaws on HD-DVD? We're gonna need a bigger disc!
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Old 03-09-2007, 09:19 AM
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Unless I read it wrong, picking BD for interactivity was quite a bad choice. I have yet to see a blu-ray disc (not saying that there isn't any) that can reproduce the features as well as an HD DVD (then again i'm comparing apples to oranges in some cases).

iHD is great!

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Old 03-09-2007, 09:32 AM
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funny... You know Fox owns IGN right? Not saying it swayed their choice... but a lil odd no?
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Old 03-09-2007, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wreckk View Post

funny... You know Fox owns IGN right? Not saying it swayed their choice... but a lil odd no?

IGN has been very HD-DVD slanted in the past. That's why I found the article so surprising.

Jaws on HD-DVD? We're gonna need a bigger disc!
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Old 03-09-2007, 09:43 AM
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If you consider that initial Sony titles now apparently (I am guessing here) could have been direct scans from printed film to 1080P, that is enough of a negative to hurt them badly, and it probably did.

As long as they get more serious about picking better digital masters, they seem to have done better. That film to 1080 scan has to stop until they can improve the technology of the scanners, and even then, the DI will always be better.
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Meridian View Post

IGN has been very HD-DVD slanted in the past. That's why I found the article so surprising.

Umm.... sure they haven't. If it's one thing about Fox's news and media outlets.... they stay true to their agenda.

Good catch wrekk!

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It should be called Violet-Ray

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Old 03-09-2007, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Meridian View Post

IGN has been very HD-DVD slanted in the past. That's why I found the article so surprising.

Patently false. IGN is a mouthpiece for Fox. Yeah I'm sure they're going to favor HD DVD a format their parent company doesn't support

Bob you stuck your foot in and didn't even know it.
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Patently false. IGN is a mouthpiece for Fox. Yeah I'm sure they're going to favor HD DVD a format their parent company doesn't support

Bob you stuck your foot in and didn't even know it.

You don't read IGN do you? I read it on a daily basis and I can tell you that they are very HD-DVD biased. They used to put out article after article bashing Blu-ray and supporting HD-DVD. Almost all of the stuff they put in their articles was M$ fud or way out of date.

This is the first article I have even seen on their site that said anything good about Blu-ray.

Jaws on HD-DVD? We're gonna need a bigger disc!
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Meridian View Post

This is the first article I have even seen on their site that said anything good about Blu-ray.

Gee Bob, you must not have looked very hard. How many of these blurbs trash Blu-ray?:

http://search.ign.com/articles?sort=...Reviews*7%3D18
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:52 PM
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Could you provide some links? I don't think I've ever read an IGN article that was anything more than apathetic towards HD DVD.

I view them like I view Bill Hunt's posts. Under the guise of neutrality in reporting there's a palpable Blu-ray advocacy undercurrent.
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Could you provide some links? I don't think I've ever read an IGN article that was anything more than apathetic towards HD DVD.

I view them like I view Bill Hunt's posts. Under the guise of neutrality in reporting there's a palpable Blu-ray advocacy undercurrent.

This is a question I've been meaning to ask for quite some time now: Is Batman Begins really your latest movie purchase?
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by patrick99 View Post

This is a question I've been meaning to ask for quite some time now: Is Batman Begins really your latest movie purchase?

Maybe you should PM him a question like that?

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Old 03-09-2007, 12:57 PM
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As a guess, we would say that the format that goes into Christmas 2007 with the lowest price tag and widest range of movie titles behind it will become the format standard

I think they got this right.

If both sides have over 400 titles available by Christmas that won't be as much a buying factor for new owners, price will trump it.

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Old 03-09-2007, 12:59 PM
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Kosty,

Quote:
As a guess, we would say that the format that goes into Christmas 2007 with the lowest price tag and widest range of movie titles behind it will become the format standard

I think they got this right.

The problem is that I am willing to bet that it will be a split decision, with HD having the lower price tag and BD with more titles.
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Old 03-09-2007, 01:01 PM
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Maybe you should PM him a question like that?

It seemed to me it was a fair question to ask in public.
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Old 03-09-2007, 01:03 PM
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The problem is that I am willing to bet that it will be a split decision, with HD having the lower price tag and BD with more titles.

I agree. But I think there is a critical mass factor involved. Blu-ray will certainly have more recent hit titles. But the strength of the HD DVD catalog titles will also be a strong factor for new owners.

There needs to be a full shelf of titles available, enough to rationalize the buying decision. I think both formats will have that by fall, in many cases, they both do now.

People don't know what studios movies come from. Price is the more critical factor for mass adoption.

First format to $199 players wins.*

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Old 03-09-2007, 01:04 PM
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kosty,

Quote:
First format to $199 players wins

I think so also.
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Old 03-09-2007, 01:07 PM
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Anybody else notice that the one of the shortest comparison sections was "Image & Sound Quality???"

That doesn't seem right

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Old 03-09-2007, 01:08 PM
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HD A2 MSRP should be $399 soon.

Street pricing for the HD A2 should be $324 by this summer and below that for the fall. If Chinese SoC players come this fall below that, then HD DVD is racing to that price point by 4th quarter.

$199 players go well with new $999 HDTV purchases.

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Old 03-09-2007, 01:09 PM
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Paramount's assessment is the fairest:

Quote:
Mandato went on to forecast that the number of high-def hardware units in homes by the end of 2007 will be a draw between the two competing formats.

On the HD DVD side, estimates are for 1.2 million stand-alone players and 500,000 Xbox 360 add-on drives. And for Blu-ray, Mandato is counting only 1.2 million of the 5.5 million PS3 units projected to be sold during the year, plus 500,000 stand-alone players, because his analysis suggests that just 22 percent of PS3 households purchase movies regularly.

http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/sh...ly_in_2007/512
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Old 03-09-2007, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by _Avarice_ View Post

Anybody else notice that the one of the shortest comparison sections was "Image & Sound Quality???"

That doesn't seem right

Well they assummed the specs say its even.

despite real world experience.

they also dedn't mention internet connections, networking storage support persistent storage and implementaion of iHD versus BDJ or BD-Live support.

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Old 03-09-2007, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by HPforMe View Post

Paramount's assessment is the fairest:

Their estimate for stand-alone BD players seems a little on the low side...

Keith Jack
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:31 PM
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Blu-Ray wins.....enough already! Sell your HD-DVD players and buy Blu-Ray. Blu has excellent studio support. Enough of this format war bs. I am sick of it.
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:40 PM
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Didn't you hear? Give it up already so that we can all go forward and actually get large adoption of HD. We ALL win (except of course if you work for Toshiba)
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:45 PM
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asj,

Sorry, wont happen, because I dont like being told what I have to do. If and when I buy a player I will choose the format I want to support.
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:49 PM
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Sigh..... I'm just trying to encourage people to pick the better format so there could be no stupid war. Saying bye-bye to HD-DVD will be MUCH easier than the other way around. I don't care who wins, but Blu-Ray has the edge. Simple. Why prolonge a war? .
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SED <--- Rules View Post

Blu-Ray wins.....enough already! Sell your HD-DVD players and buy Blu-Ray. Blu has excellent studio support. Enough of this format war bs. I am sick of it.

I hope your BluRay player looks good on your SED set
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:52 PM
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HD DVD: Launching after Blu-ray in America, HD DVD had an immediate price advantage. The players sold for several hundred dollars less than the most inexpensive Blu-ray player, and initial film releases were slightly cheaper. This gave the format a head start, sales-wise in the market. However, this lead was short-lived as prices have since begun to fall on both formats, and the install base of Blu-ray owners has increased dramatically with the introduction of the PS3.

This is written by a Blu Ray fan Boy.

Blu ray is the best Blah, blah, blah.
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:52 PM
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sed,

read your post - you declared a winner, and told people what to do. Exactly what a tyrant does - there was NOTHING "encouraging" in your post. It was an order.

In case you didnt catch it, and you obviously didnt, I was being sarcastic.

Quote:


Saying bye-bye to HD-DVD will be MUCH easier than the other way around

why in the world would you say that?
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:54 PM
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... wait, so it's unanimous then? All BD supporters agree that we should end the format war by HD DVD owners taking their players to the dump? That's a shock, but at least I'm glad that's settled.


I tell you what. If it really bothers you that much, I'll let you buy me a PS3 and replace all my movies for BD equivalents. I would rather just watch my HD DVD's, but I don't want to put any of you guys out, so I'll sacrifice.
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