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post #1 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Cost questions dog Blu-ray DVD's lead
By John Borland
http://news.com.com/Cost+questions+d...3-5969815.html

Story last modified Mon Nov 28 04:00:00 PST 2005
Because Sony's Blu-ray disc technology appears to be the front-runner in the nasty fight to determine how the DVDs of the future are produced, movie studios and disc manufacturers are beginning to come to terms with the financial realities of the new format--as well as some troubling uncertainties.
For more than a year now, a bitter public relations war has been waged between supporters of Blu-ray and a rival Toshiba-backed technology known as HD DVD. Both are high-capacity discs that will support the distribution of high-definition versions of movies, with much better picture quality than what's possible with today's technology.
Blu-ray appears to have the lead, with most major movie studios saying they'll release films in the format next year. That's led to new concerns about mass production of DVDs in the new format. Since it represents a major break with past DVD and CD techniques, some worry Blu-ray will be expensive to support--at least in the short term--and could jack up prices for consumers.
News.context
What's new:
Blu-ray appears to be edging out its next-generation DVD rival, HD DVD. But some manufacturers say it will be expensive to produce.
Bottom line:

The debate over next-generation formats remains mired in politics and spin, but the real cost of discs and players will help consumers make their own decisions at the cash register next year.
More stories on Blu-ray
How much? No one can say for certain. But in at least one early test, according to a top manufacturing executive who asked to remain anonymous, a manufacturing line for HD DVD discs produced nearly twice as many usable discs as a similar line pumping out the Blu-ray format, over the same period of time. That translates into higher costs for Blu-ray producers. Moreover, component costs for Blu-ray can be nearly double HD DVD costs, because elements are still hard to find, the executive said.
That Blue-ray discs may start out pricey shouldn't be a shock. They face a classic curve for new technologies, which are initially expensive as manufacturers work with small numbers of orders and lean how to streamline the process. Sony also disputes those high-priced estimates.
"If there is a (cost) difference, that has yet to be determined," said Sony Pictures' Adrian Alperovich, the studio's executive vice president in charge of new business development. "There are (manufacturers) on both sides of the equation. If there is a difference in price either way, we think it will be minimal."
Alperovich argues that if there is a short-term price gap, the advantages of Blu-ray--mainly more capacity and flexibility for things like gaming--should outweigh that concern. But traditional engineering questions about Blu-ray have taken on a testier tone in this scrap.
Blu-ray's rival, the HD DVD format, relies on a reasonably well understood process. HD DVDs are constructed very similarly to existing DVDs, and the basic discs can be made with relatively minor modifications to existing DVD manufacturing lines.
Blu-ray discs, on the other hand, require completely different equipment. Most of the major disc replicators--the companies that make DVDs and CDs--now have a test line or two up and running, but hard data on production costs remains scant.

The format's backers at the Blu-ray Disc Association have repeatedly predicted that costs would come down quickly and be almost immediately competitive with those of HD DVD.
Yet one senior executive at a major disc replication facility said he has long been worried about Blu-ray costs.
"We feel that some of the (Blu-ray backers') statements are setting unrealistic cost and price expectations for the content owners they are courting," said the executive, who asked to remain anonymous owing to a close working relationship with Blu-ray companies. "They're right at the zero point in terms of operational knowledge."
Spin, or real concerns?
For the most part, things like the technical details of the manufacturing process, of video compression and of disc formats are irrelevant to consumers. But the prospect of a next-generation DVD format war, similar to the battle between VHS and Sony's Betamax in the mid-1970s, has chilled the industry. Analysts at Sanford Bernstein estimated that media companies could collectively lose as much as $16 billion over seven years if HD DVD and Blu-ray were launched without a clear favorite, because without a clear-cut winner, consumers would be leery of buying one or the other.
Blu-ray has more clout right now thanks to backing from studios such as Warner Bros. and Paramount, which have said they would release films in both formats. No Blu-ray backer has made the same gesture toward HD DVD.
Manufacturers have been testing both technologies in their labs for months and are now gearing up for actual production. Sony Pictures announced earlier this month that it had made the first "reference" disc of a Blu-ray movie, using a copy of "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." It's now being shipped to player companies for testing.
"The Blu-ray technology and process is new," said Lyne Beauregard, director of communications at Cinram International, a large disc manufacturer in Toronto. "If the format is launched and grows, there will be multiple generations of equipment. As we refine it and find efficiencies--that will lower the cost."
Cinram's Beauregard said her company had a single Blu-ray production line up and running, compared with 12 new DVD lines that could also do HD DVD discs. She wouldn't provide cost comparisons.
The disc manufacturing executive critical of Blu-ray said his company's production test lines showed that Blu-ray production was far less efficient than HD DVD. Component costs, for example, are higher because they use different materials than DVDs, including a high-tech film layer currently produced only by Sony.
"The difference is significant," the executive said. "Those are real costs. I don't think the price will ever equalize."
He also said that both sides' promises to make "hybrid" discs, with high-definition content on one side, and an ordinary DVD on the other, should be viewed with deep suspicion. Though it's feasible to combine the lowest-capacity HD DVD with DVD, Blu-ray and higher capacity HD DVD discs will be very expensive to meld with the standard format.
For now, since hard production data on the new technology remains scant, many of these comparisons rely on educated guesswork.
A recent white paper published online by Richard Marquardt, an engineer who served in top executive roles at disc replicators for years, predicted that retooling manufacturing plants for Blu-ray could cost up to $1 billion worldwide, while existing DVD manufacturing capacity could be refitted for HD DVD for less than a tenth of that.
"Already-beleaguered CFOs will be challenged to raise--and risk--this significant amount of capital," Marquardt wrote.
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His predictions were immediately challenged by Blu-ray supporters, who noted he is a close associate of Warren Lieberfarb, a Hollywood consultant who works closely with the HD DVD camp. In an interview with CNET News.com, Marquardt said Lieberfarb had asked him to provide his thoughts on the manufacturing issues, but that he had no personal or financial stake in either side.
The real cost and quality issues will be apparent only when both formats hit the market next year.
"If we had made the determination solely based on cost, we would never have launched DVD," Sony's Alperovich said. "And that's absurd."

Interesting. I wonder if this will be a hindrance for Blu-Ray to start launching Players and Movies next year. I for one am tired of waiting because Broadcast TV over Cable and Satellite are not adding any more HD content.
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post #2 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 05:09 PM
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The cost of pressing may be of concern to studio bean counters but is probably irrelevant to consumers.

Current DVD production is very cheap. The cases cost more than the product in many instances.

There are many PD titles sold for $1.00 in places like Wal-Mart.

Even if the cost of pressing doubles (an unlikely scenario), it is not clear what effect this will have on the consumer. Whether to charge MSRP of $1.00 or $6.99 or $29.99 for a DVD is a marketing decision in which the cost of manufacturing is nearly irrelevant.

I am sure that there are people who are fretting over this but the consumer has little to fear.
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post #3 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 05:25 PM
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rlsmith: agree, but will add that since almost all the studios have announced they will make titles in BR I would think they are not that concerned about it either.
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post #4 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paintit77
"We feel that some of the (Blu-ray backers') statements are setting unrealistic cost and price expectations for the content owners they are courting," said the executive, who asked to remain anonymous owing to a close working relationship with Blu-ray companies. "They're right at the zero point in terms of operational knowledge."
:D no doubt about it.

DVD's are about movies & people watch them in living rooms, how many people actually use their computer drives to sit and watch movies- Bluray's Andy Parsons
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post #5 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 05:46 PM
 
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$1 billion to refit plants is chickenfeed for a company like Sony therefore i don't see a problem, sometimes the cheapest option isn't always the best and extra capacity as offered by Blu-Ray discs will be needed, lets not forget when ordinary DVD was introduced Toshiba said the capacity was enough for a 133 minute movie and most movies are under 150 minutes in length buttttttttttt they are saying the same thing for HD-DVD and counting on most movies fitting into the 133 minute slot and we all know there are many movies such as Lawrence of Arabia and The Lord of the Rings films or Heat or The Godfather etc etc which are well over 133 minutes or 150 minutes and i personally think the extra capacity of Blu-Ray means we will be able to enjoy ALL movies upto four hours long with high quality audio ( possibly lossless ) the fact is HD-DVD would not have the capacity for great image AND sound quality for a four hour long film.....I hope Blu-Ray wins this format war.
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post #6 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 05:57 PM
 
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More anonymous source claims. Blah.

This was interesting:

Quote:
He also said that both sides' promises to make "hybrid" discs, with high-definition content on one side, and an ordinary DVD on the other, should be viewed with deep suspicion.
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post #7 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxyMulder
$1 billion to refit plants is chickenfeed for a company like Sony
Except Sony is not funding any of this. They expect the replication industry to make this investment while offering price caps for BD production that can not be met by these companies. Translation: regardless of cost, the supply may not be there for volume production of BD titles.

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lets not forget when ordinary DVD was introduced Toshiba said the capacity was enough for a 133 minute movie and most movies are under 150 minutes in length buttttttttttt they are saying the same thing for HD-DVD and counting on most movies fitting into the 133 minute slot and we all know there are many movies such as Lawrence of Arabia and The Lord of the Rings films or Heat or The Godfather etc etc which are well over 133 minutes or 150 minutes and i personally think the extra capacity of Blu-Ray means we will be able to enjoy ALL movies upto four hours long with high quality audio ( possibly lossless ) the fact is HD-DVD would not have the capacity for great image AND sound quality for a four hour long film.....I hope Blu-Ray wins this format war.
Well, some math would be good here :).

Advanced codecs at 12 mbit/sec should produce exceptional picture quality (>D-VHS). This is 5.4 Gigabytes/hour. So even a 3 hour movie will only take 16 Gigabytes which leaves plenty of space in HD-DVD-30 for lossless audio and all the extras you can dream. And if the movie is shorter, it fits on HD-DVD-15 which costs very little compared to DVD.

On BD side, you only have 25 Gigabyte with hopes and dreams for 50 one day. And frankly, when 50 happens, the cost may be so high as to not be useful to any studio. Indeed, other than one studio, none of the others have ever expressed a need beyond 30. Just because something can be made, it doesn't mean it will get used if the economics are not there.

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post #8 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 07:30 PM
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Hey, that was post 2000 and I wasted it on repeat the same old message for the hundredth time. Shoot! :)

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post #9 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm
Translation: regardless of cost, the supply may not be there for volume production of BD titles.

Amir
the supply MAY not be there? your use of qualifiers lately has been a bit much


bd 50 may never come to pass
bd 50 may never be cost effective
warner may not support bd with parity
warner may only use bd9
BD quality may not be as good as DVHS
BD-J may require the blood of your firstborn son

and on and on and on. Seriously, as an executive, you think MAYbe you can stick to posting things you can stand behind - this is the kind stuff we expect from anonymous posters like myself, not you. BD has enough acknowledged challenges without resorting to this.

Besides, if the supply of BD discs is not there then the format fails, so why bother posting this in the first place? And are you saying CINRAM is lying to their shareholders in public statements?

It's a lot like saying, "Toshibas manufacturing plants MAY get hit by asteroids, and if this happens it MAY delay their launch." And can you prove to me that asterdois are not going to hit their plants?? Hmmmmmmmmm??



Now the bit about HD-DVD being enough for movies - Based on everything the encoders have said here, TRUE (which is why I would buy it in a heartbeat IF/WHEN all the studios support it)
THe bit about only one studio caring about BD50 - False - Disney specifically cited this in their initial siding with BD which is why HD45 was pulled out of thin air. Unless you are accusing Disney of lying as well.
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post #10 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Semblance
More anonymous source claims. Blah.
Quote:
Component costs, for example, are higher because they use different materials than DVDs, including a high-tech film layer currently produced only by Sony.
"The difference is significant," the executive said. "Those are real costs. I don't think the price will ever equalize."
How reliable is this anonymous source if they appear to know nothing about the MEI spincoat top layer?

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post #11 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm
On BD side, you only have 25 Gigabyte with hopes and dreams for 50 one day. And frankly, when 50 happens, the cost may be so high as to not be useful to any studio. Indeed, other than one studio, none of the others have ever expressed a need beyond 30. Just because something can be made, it doesn't mean it will get used if the economics are not there.
And what are the economics? Not everything needs to be Wal-Mart bound.

The best non-SE Star Wars remains a $200 LD Trilogy box set. That was NINE CAV discs. At the time they said LD's were $8 a disc to make!

If it can distinguish itself and support the premium, a 50GB disc would have a market and someone will exploit it.

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post #12 of 21 Old 11-28-2005, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomopolis
the supply MAY not be there? your use of qualifiers lately has been a bit much
I can't help the nature of the business. BD is a lot of theory that has to be proven. They have replaced proven methods with things that have to be made to work. This in my book, makes them a "may be".

Quote:
Seriously, as an executive, you think MAYbe you can stick to posting things you can stand behind - this is the kind stuff we expect from anonymous posters like myself, not you. BD has enough acknowledged challenges without resorting to this.
A "challenge" means something is difficult and not come to pass. How else do you want me to address a "challenge"? I try to give them the benefit of doubt that they can “may be†overcome their challenges.

Quote:
Besides, if the supply of BD discs is not there then the format fails, so why bother posting this in the first place?
I have never said BD will fail. I have said they have a lot of "challenges" :).

Quote:
And are you saying CINRAM is lying to their shareholders in public statements?
Of course not. But they have full rights to be conservative. And at the same time, not foreclose business on BD side in the eyes of investors. The key is not to listen to PR (which BD promoters constantly do) but look at their actions which speak volumes here: 1 experimental BD line versus 12 lines ready to make HD DVD. If you believe their public stance, this is one hell of a position against BD. If you all think the world is going toward BD and they are thinking the same, why invest in a single line?

Quote:
It's a lot like saying, "Toshibas manufacturing plants MAY get hit by asteroids, and if this happens it MAY delay their launch."
Actually, I think Palladin has been predicting this for months :).

Seriously, I don't say something unless I know there is some reason for that outcome. If you have some reason for the said asteroid hitting Toshiba and have the credential to be exposed to such information, then there would be good reason to at least consider what you say.

Quote:
And can you prove to me that asterdois are not going to hit their plants?? Hmmmmmmmmm??
Yes. You know about the hardcoating BD has had to develop for their discs? Well, HD DVD doesn’t need that. Not to be outdone though, Toshiba has developed a special coating for roofing material that protects their factories against asteroids :). The coating costs a fortune unfortunately but I hear (from BD promoters) that cost means nothing these days and some magical person will pay for it in the supply chain. So they are going to deploy this no matter what and protect their building! :D

Quote:
Now the bit about HD-DVD being enough for movies - Based on everything the encoders have said here, TRUE (which is why I would buy it in a heartbeat IF/WHEN all the studios support it)
Glad you agree with my reasoning here :).

Quote:
THe bit about only one studio caring about BD50 - False - Disney specifically cited this in their initial siding with BD which is why HD45 was pulled out of thin air. Unless you are accusing Disney of lying as well.
Actually, you just gave the specifics on my data point. The only studio has been Disney. And guess what: if they want to put out any titles next year, they have to use BD-25. And with them going with lower capacity now, who else is left that is demanding, and is willing to pay the higher production cost (which includes authoring)? And if they really want BD-50, then don’t count them providing any BD content when PS3 launches.

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post #13 of 21 Old 11-29-2005, 02:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm
Advanced codecs at 12 mbit/sec should produce exceptional picture quality (>D-VHS). This is 5.4 Gigabytes/hour. So even a 3 hour movie will only take 16 Gigabytes which leaves plenty of space in HD-DVD-30 for lossless audio and all the extras you can dream. And if the movie is shorter, it fits on HD-DVD-15 which costs very little compared to DVD.
Amir
If what you say is true i would accept it as i actually like Toshiba as a company better than Sony ( and their DRM crap ) but do you know for sure that 12mbit/sec is enough to produce exceptional picture quality and stand up to scrutiny on a large projection screen and what codec are you talking about and what about the four hour long epics will they fit on HD-DVD and still have room for lossless audio and extra's ? I would be more than happy if what you say is true as i really don't like Sony much as a studio but deep down i'm thinking after all i have read on the subject that Sony has the better product and forgive me for asking but i was under the illusion that 50gigabyte double layer discs were going to be available from day one of the products release is this not happening now ?

I know the windows media player high definition discs use lower bitrates and the picture quality still has faults in it which is why i question the 12mb/s that you are talking about but who knows until we see the product in the flesh.
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post #14 of 21 Old 11-29-2005, 06:43 AM
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Quote:
1 experimental BD line versus 12 lines ready to make HD DVD. If you believe their public stance, this is one hell of a position against BD.
hey I thought some said some time ago you don't buy HD-DVD lines but new faster DVD lines so there is 0 cost for HD-DVD.
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post #15 of 21 Old 11-29-2005, 08:35 AM
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Foxy

Amir's talking about VC-1 the soon to be if not already" SMPTE standard. It's a High Efficiency (HE) Codec. It should look as good as 25Mbps MPEG2 at 12-15Mbps. Good stuff.

So on a 30GB disc we'll have 6gigs left over for audio. I'm not sure that many studios will be going lossless. That's a heavy bitrate price to pay for a weaker of the A/V equation in the typical consumers eyes.
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post #16 of 21 Old 11-29-2005, 08:57 AM
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Until someone starts polling the target consumer audience then its all spin.

Who can deliver unadulterated 1920x1080 across RGBHV? Evidentally, nobody!
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post #17 of 21 Old 11-29-2005, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison
Foxy

Amir's talking about VC-1 the soon to be if not already" SMPTE standard. It's a High Efficiency (HE) Codec. It should look as good as 25Mbps MPEG2 at 12-15Mbps. Good stuff.

So on a 30GB disc we'll have 6gigs left over for audio. I'm not sure that many studios will be going lossless. That's a heavy bitrate price to pay for a weaker of the A/V equation in the typical consumers eyes.
From what I have read online lossless audio is a way's out due to the lack of support from current Audio Processors and Recievors. However, they could offer lossless as well as the ability to send audio over PCM Optical and Analog Coax. I for one am not going to rush out and buy a new Receivor just for Loss less audio especially when we don't have a unified format and the need to buy two different HD disk players. As far as BR offering Duel Layer Disks and recording, they don't really need to at this point. They have single layer disks from 20 gig to 27 gig. They could offer a Lord of the Rings film on a single layer disk with MPEG 4 All day long. I just don't see them offering a DL option at launch. Maybe in two or three years after they have perfected it. But as of right now, I think HD-DVD is winning the actual race in terms of capacity. BR does not have a working duel layer disk as of right now. Someone posted a thread on here that Sony has authored their first BR disk. It was a single layer 25 gig disk using MPEG2. I have recorded almost a terrabyte of HD to my computers. The average file size for a .TS file is 11 gig. I also have the Lord of the Rings. It is 17 gigs in its raw form with Commericials. Sony does not need a DL version. If they have the ability to offer a DL BR disk, they sure havn't demonstrated it. I frankly don't care. I just wish they would start releasing the damn things. I am tired of waiting. Broadcast TV Sucks other than Football and ABC, CBS, NBC and ESPN-HD (Sometimes) are not smart enough to offer all their games in HD. All they see are the costs, not the ability to use HD as a marketing stategy to get more veiwers.
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post #18 of 21 Old 11-29-2005, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomopolis
the supply MAY not be there? your use of qualifiers lately has been a bit much


bd 50 may never come to pass
bd 50 may never be cost effective
warner may not support bd with parity
warner may only use bd9
BD quality may not be as good as DVHS
BD-J may require the blood of your firstborn son

and on and on and on. Seriously, as an executive, you think MAYbe you can stick to posting things you can stand behind - this is the kind stuff we expect from anonymous posters like myself, not you. BD has enough acknowledged challenges without resorting to this.

Besides, if the supply of BD discs is not there then the format fails, so why bother posting this in the first place? And are you saying CINRAM is lying to their shareholders in public statements?

It's a lot like saying, "Toshibas manufacturing plants MAY get hit by asteroids, and if this happens it MAY delay their launch." And can you prove to me that asterdois are not going to hit their plants?? Hmmmmmmmmm??



Now the bit about HD-DVD being enough for movies - Based on everything the encoders have said here, TRUE (which is why I would buy it in a heartbeat IF/WHEN all the studios support it)
THe bit about only one studio caring about BD50 - False - Disney specifically cited this in their initial siding with BD which is why HD45 was pulled out of thin air. Unless you are accusing Disney of lying as well.
Its called speculation which is what everyone on this forum does everyday. Disney was sold a bill of goods just like the other BR supporter's including myself who thought that the 50 gig duel layer was going to happen. So far it has only materialized in spin and not reality. Again, that is why Microsoft and Intel have made arguments against the BR format, or are they lying too?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trbarry
The facts from both sides are extensively spin-coated. ;) - Tom
Makes you wonder if its a political/religiose race or something. Honesty is not part of this game, and will be yet another example of the consumer duping/fleecing by corporate America.

Who can deliver unadulterated 1920x1080 across RGBHV? Evidentally, nobody!
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post #21 of 21 Old 11-30-2005, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anomalous
Makes you wonder if its a political/religiose race or something. Honesty is not part of this game, and will be yet another example of the consumer duping/fleecing by corporate America.
And coporate Japan, and corporate Korea, and corporate fill-in-the-blank.
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