Toshiba HD-A1 vs Samsung BD-P1000, Round 1 - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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Old 06-17-2006, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Robert D
Was there any doubt the PQ on a 25GB disc using mpeg2 was not going to be any better than a 30GB disc with VC1. I mean common sense would dictate the answer.
Indeed! "You should get HD DVD because the Toshiba upsamples SD DVD better and the release titles on HD DVD look better than the release titles on Blu-ray?" Uh, really? Over and over, in thread after thread.

Please, can't we just wait until we've got VC-1 titles on Blu-ray (from say, Paramount or Warner) to do some REAL comparisons? Only THEN will we know. (Using common sense again, the studios will probably use the same compression setup for both HD DVD and Blu-ray, ie. they will look very similar, ie. only the player will be different, as it is today with DVD's....)

Getting really tired of this "HD DVD rules and will win because it's release titles are better than Blu-ray." All I say is, Time will tell.

(What I do agree in is Sonys arrogance in insisting that MPEG2 still is better than advanced codecs. Oh really? Well, either get BD50 out the door, which we know you have issues with, or jump to H.264!)

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Old 06-17-2006, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by nilsp
Indeed! "You should get HD DVD because the Toshiba upsamples SD DVD better and the release titles on HD DVD look better than the release titles on Blu-ray?" Uh, really? Over and over, in thread after thread.

Please, can't we just wait until we've got VC-1 titles on Blu-ray (from say, Paramount or Warner) to do some REAL comparisons? Only THEN will we know. (Using common sense again, the studios will probably use the same compression setup for both HD DVD and Blu-ray, ie. they will look very similar, ie. only the player will be different, as it is today with DVD's....)

Getting really tired of this "HD DVD rules and will win because it's release titles are better than Blu-ray." All I say is, Time will tell.

(What I do agree in is Sonys arrogance in insisting that MPEG2 still is better than advanced codecs. Oh really? Well, either get BD50 out the door, which we know you have issues with, or jump to H.264!)
Hey I agree encode the BD movies using VC1 and then a 25GB BD movie should look the same as it's HD DVD cousin or so close most couldn't see the difference. :) Also I think the Studios would love it since they only have to deal with one pass at encoding.

If VC1 is in the BD spec I don't understand why they are not using it from the get go.
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Old 06-17-2006, 02:18 PM
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Isn't it because they would have to pay MS a royalty to use VC-1 and it would kill them to do that?
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Old 06-17-2006, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by nilsp
Indeed! "You should get HD DVD because the Toshiba upsamples SD DVD better and the release titles on HD DVD look better than the release titles on Blu-ray?" Uh, really? Over and over, in thread after thread.

Please, can't we just wait until we've got VC-1 titles on Blu-ray (from say, Paramount or Warner) to do some REAL comparisons? Only THEN will we know. (Using common sense again, the studios will probably use the same compression setup for both HD DVD and Blu-ray, ie. they will look very similar, ie. only the player will be different, as it is today with DVD's....)

Getting really tired of this "HD DVD rules and will win because it's release titles are better than Blu-ray." All I say is, Time will tell.

(What I do agree in is Sonys arrogance in insisting that MPEG2 still is better than advanced codecs. Oh really? Well, either get BD50 out the door, which we know you have issues with, or jump to H.264!)
I have no bias. Have both the Toshiba and picked up the Samsung, but, all we can do is compare what is out now. Not what will be out eventually.
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Old 06-17-2006, 02:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nilsp
Getting really tired of this "HD DVD rules and will win because it's release titles are better than Blu-ray." All I say is, Time will tell.
Your criticism, like various others I've read in these forums, is baseless. Price and quality comparisons are quite relevant, if not everything. Larry
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Old 06-17-2006, 03:23 PM
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Baseless? I've got no problems with price and quality comparisons, it is the conclusion that "because the picture is as it is today, days before Blu-ray has even lauched, Blu-ray is doomed" I've got problems with.

And usually, when doing such comparisons, you compare similar products. Ie. when testing DVD players, you test the same title on all players in question. So wouldn't it be natural to hold of your judgement until we get say, The Last Samurai, on Blu-ray?

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Old 06-17-2006, 03:35 PM
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I just have a strong feeling that the same titles on the two formats will look the same. The artifacts that plagued both SDDVD and all HD we have had till now( except Dtheater) are gone. The transfer ,source elements ,title availability, cost of titles and players are probably going to be the thing.

The best HDDVDs I've seen so far have no artifacts so they are what we have been wating for. I bet we aren't going to hear that one is so much better than the other in IQ that that will sway even us nuts.



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Old 06-17-2006, 03:35 PM
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nilsp, no one has said anything bad about Blu-ray in this topic yet. Please don't ruin this topic... Any ways, thanks for the good reviews Andrew P and BigMikeATL. I am interested in adding a Blu-ray player on my shelf next to my HD-A1, but I really am leary about purchasing anything made by Samsung. It will interesting to see what Sony, Panasonic, and Pioneer deliver.

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Old 06-17-2006, 03:53 PM
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Unfortunately, we couldn't get any HD DVD movies, but I did get to try the Samsung player today with DVDs and the Sony Ruby (VW100). It was pretty much test disks. One thing we found is that the player will do 1080p60 to the HDMI input on the Ruby, but wouldn't allow any 1080p to the DVI input. It looks like it is one of these "smart" devices that figures out what can be supported or not (even though it is often incorrect because the receiving device doesn't give the right answers) and won't allow 1080p to even be tried if it thinks it isn't supported. Based on what I saw from test disks I would say that people who are interested in the image quality of DVDs would be best off using a player other than this Samsung. A $200 Oppo would probably beat it pretty easily. I don't know if a $100 HDMI DVD player would beat it or not.

As far as the HD-A1, I think it is very respectable for DVD playback as far as capabilities (just the slowness and such on the downside). I'm sure there are better solutions that cost more (like a 480i player to a scaler), but for most people into HD I think using the HD-A1 for DVD playback makes sense and don't feel the same way about the Samsung after the problems with test stuff I saw.

I authored a DVD disk for BluRay with HD content just like I have for the HD-A1 (other than using the BluRay option in the special ULead software version I used). The Samsung wouldn't play it. Not sure if it has to do with copy protection or something else, but since I personally consider the ability to burn HD clips on DVDs to be one of the best surprises of HD DVD and one of my favorite features, I hope that others can find a way to author these for the Samsung so that they work for it or for future BluRay players.

I hope that the Sony or Pioneer are better as far as DVD issues and allowing 1080p to be tried to an input it isn't sure about. I may get a Samsung, but would just use it exclusively for BluRay HD content and not for DVDs unless I was in a mood of not caring about the image quality for one of those and just doing it for convenience.

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Old 06-17-2006, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew P
I wanted to add my thoughts as I was able to get my hands on a few BD movies today. My thoughts are very similar to the original poster with the exception of the follwing:

1. Build quality-The Toshiba has the edge here. While the Sammy looks more futuistic it is lighter and has a cheaper feel to it. It definitely is not in the same build category.

2. While the Toshiba is slower in loading discs by about 10-20 seconds, I feel that the Sammy is more sluggish in responding to button presses. I do have the never firmware on the Toshiba. Both players have been glitch free to this point. I never had an issue with HD DVD, but I did upgrade the firmware anyway, so maybe a light edge to the Sammy since it doesnt need a firmware upgrade.

3. Picture Quality- Id give the edge to HD DVD so far. In general, the picture seems more 3d and sharper. There are a few bad HD DVD transfers though. Same with The Fifth Element. But my overall opinion after 20 plus HD DVD movies and 4 BD movies is that the BD titles are a slight notch below.

I realize that the same movies are not available for both, but its a general feel that I get. BD movies look good at times, but it seems to be inconsistent throughout the movie.

Conclusion- We all know that price is a factor and based on that fact I cannot reccomend the Sammy at this time. It just doesnt provide anything additional for 2x the price. Most importantly the picture quality is slightly lower (possibly at best equal to) HD DVD.

The biggest advantage the Sammy has is more studio support, but until Fox or Disney announce release dates this is a moot point. If you have the money to burn (or love the Sony titles) then get the Sammy, but otherwise I suggest that you wait for the next BD player release.
Alright… after spending several days with the Samsung player and several different Blu-ray discs, I feel I’ve got an excellent grasp on what you can expect from this player and the format in general for the next few months. Old readers of DVDFile might remember that I used to be one of the site’s main reviewers for DVD content, so I do have a bit of a background here. I’m going to focus on what I viewed to be the best looking of the BD titles I viewed in addition to a title that hasn’t been covered elsewhere: XXX. This is a title that provides for a longer running time than most of the early BD titles (123 minutes) and also contains lots of movement to test MPEG2’s abilities.

The short of it is that I completely agree with Andrew P and, by extension, BigMikeATL. Blu-ray, as it exists today in both hardware and software, is a good, but not great format. I’m starting to see a bit of a pattern with these early BD titles as they generally are shorter films with bright, colorful cinematography. Those are the conditions under which MPEG2 BD looks its best. While I was initially questioning what the early adopter appeal of films like Hitch or 50 First Dates could be, now I can understand it.

Let’s start with SD ability as it compares to the Toshiba. Again, I put the player in the very good but not great slot. I think the Toshiba still presents a slightly sharper picture overall when compared to the Samsung. But the Samsung is very much improved over their older models. So if you owned an 841, 850, 941, or 950, you should be happy with the improvement that the BD-P1000 provides. However, those previous models provided an option to pillarbox 4:3 material and zoom 4:3 letterbox images, neither of which is possible on the 1000. So the Toshiba gets a point on that, but the Toshiba also lacks the ability to zoom 4:3 letterbox material, so shame on them both. But overall, advantage Toshiba on SD DVD presentation.

For BD ability, I’m now going back to my XXX disc and BD in general. Had this format and these titles launched in early April, I would have been happy. Unfortunately for Blu-ray, HD-DVD launched in mid-April and did two things to impair BD: They’ve gotten more titles out to consumers and they’ve provided an HD experience that is better than BD. Now the difference isn’t huge, but it should be noticeable, even to people who might not normally see these kinds of things. Sorry to have to say it, but BD is an unimpressive format in the shadow of HD-DVD. Had they happened in reverse, HD-DVD would have had to work hard to impress upon people that buying their player (even at half the price of BD) was worth the effort for the slight improvement they offered. Now, BD is in a position to justify a premium for a product that is slightly inferior to what is already available. When I first cracked open the HD-A1 in April and popped in that Last Samurai HD-DVD, I was wowed with what I thought to be the best HD image my television had ever produced. The HD image was smooth and rich with a sharpness and depth I’d never experienced. Most of the HD-DVD titles released thus far (with a few now famous exceptions) have this “pop†that takes them out of the realm of what I would consider normal HD. The Blu-ray discs I’ve sampled thus far, while they’ve looked good to even great, have all lacked that “pop†and instead generally look a lot closer to good OTA HD broadcasts. If you were to show me the XXX BD and tell me it was a Showtime broadcast, I wouldn’t hesitate to think you were telling me the truth. But I would never believe that about most of the HD-DVD titles out there right now.

The sad truth is that MPEG2 just isn’t cutting it against VC-1. Now while it’s difficult to impossible to be able to judge the quality of one film in one codec against a different film in a different codec, I can stack the deck to try and approximate a decent comparison. I compared XXX BD to Unforgiven HD-DVD. Unforgiven is 10 years older than XXX, so this should have been a slam dunk for image quality in favor of XXX. Guess what, the VC-1 Unforgiven consistently outperformed the MPEG2 of XXX. Just look at chapter 4 of Unforgiven. All of the characters are sharply in focus, while the intricate detail in the background wallpaper is consistently resolved. XXX, by contrast appears somewhat soft and lacking in dimensionality. In all of the BD titles I viewed there’s a consistent soft, yet noisy quality to the images that appears as a mixture of natural film grain and digital noise. Fine details, such as rocks on the ground or wall textures, are often seen flickering slightly, which is often annoying.

I’m also curious about how many of these initial discs are truly 1080p. I saw more stairstepping and artifacting throughout one viewing of XXX than I have in 2+ months of HD-DVD viewings. Here’s a few moments for reference… at :38 the tail of the Revolutions logo there is some pretty good banding visible. Right after that, serious jaggies on the XXX logo that starts the film. At 32:08, look at the grill of the car for more jaggies while 10 seconds later, at 32:18, you’ll also get some pretty good stairstepping at the base of the balcony. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it), these artifacts don’t appear on the SD Superbit version of the film when viewed on the Toshiba A1. More surprising, they also don’t appear when the Superbit DVD is viewed on the Samsung BD-P1000. The banding was visible on the Superbit, but it was much less severe than the Blu-ray banding.

Essentially, from what I’ve seen so far, visually Blu-ray is, at its best, all of the worst qualities of HD-DVD right now. If you’re someone who was bothered by the HD-DVDs of The Fugitive, Full Metal Jacket, and Perfect Storm, you’re not going to find a ton to like in some of these early offerings. Again, they can look really, really good, but they don’t consistently look great. How much of this is a byproduct of the Samsung player is unknown until other players make it to market but a few things are pretty clear…

Sony, as a company, has a lot riding on the success of Blu-ray. With as much at stake as they have, these titles needed to raise the bar over what we’ve already seen. But because as a company they seem to be more focused on their royalties and the ability to cross promote, they have succeeded in being the second to market with the second best product. Here’s an example of what I mean… The XXX disc has a selection in its menus for “Previews.†These are the SD MPEG2 trailers for Stealth, Into the Blue, and SWAT. So there’s approx. 200-250MB taken up by Sony trying to get you to buy other Sony products. With that space, Sony could have instead done a few other things. Why not include the XXX trailer and the Rob Cohen commentary? Why not use that 200MB to try and eliminate that banding at the beginning of the movie? Instead, Sony appears to have needed that space to get you to spend more money rather than providing us with the best product to entice us to spend more money. Compare that with the Warner and Universal titles, which are not only visually more impressive, but also packed to the rims with bonus content. Universal certainly didn’t need to include all the stuff from the more expensive 2 DVD Cinderella Man, but they did and provided an excellent value on that disc.

Sony has two things that have to happen and happen fast in order for Blu-ray to really make this a good race: They need to implement the advanced video and audio codecs and they need to get 50GB discs working. They have to do both of these and they have to do them fast. With only 50GB and still working MPEG2, they’re probably going to be able to equal or hover slightly below HD-DVD as it exists now. With newer codecs but only 25GB discs, they’ll be able to match HD-DVD visually, but will have a 5GB disadvantage. Only with both of these in existence will this format even have a chance. And they need to do this much sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, by the time the Sony player launches in mid-August, there are going to be maybe 30 titles available, while HD-DVD, by that point in August, will be sporting double that and could be up to as high as 75 different titles.

A few of the quirks about the Samsung BD-P1000 that I haven’t seen mentioned yet are the resolution and audio settings. On the video side, I’ve had a few instances where the resolution would change on the player without me having to select it. It switched from the 1080i that I had set it to to a very much inferior 720p setting that softened the picture even more that I found it at 1080. I’ll be curious to see additional comments as the player becomes more widely available and whether the player switching itself from 1080 to 720 happens with others. On the audio side, I’m running the player HDMI to a new Denon 3806 HDMI in. Unfortunately, there seems to be something bungled with how the player handles the bitstream vs. PCM tracks. To play the Dolby 5.1 track, the player has to have the digital out in the player’s menu set to “bitstream.†However, if you select one of the Sony uncompressed 5.1 tracks from the menu, it will only play back in 2-channel PCM. Selecting PCM from the player menu will output 5.1 PCM via HDMI, but then converts the Dolby tracks to 2-channel PCM. So you could potentially have to change player settings depending on the disc and soundtrack you want to hear. Can anyone else using their player via HDMI confirm this behavior?

Ultimately, the potential is there for Blu-ray to succeed, but it is unclear when that potential might be approached. For all of the complaints about HD-DVD not being ready for primetime, I think that despite all of its faults, the bottom line is that HD-DVD delivered the big jump up in picture quality and interactivity that many of us were anticipating and has set the bar in terms of HD. Blu-ray, unfortunately, has failed to go “Beyond High Definition.â€

Cliff

Equipment list:
Toshiba 50†50H13 DVI in from
Denon 3806 HDMI out and in from
Samsung BD-P1000 HDMI out and
Toshiba HD-A1 HDMI out
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Old 06-17-2006, 06:37 PM
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Great Review Cliff, I think I will wait until other BD players come out.

Rob
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Old 06-17-2006, 06:40 PM
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Cliff,
wow.

great write- up and commentary. Much appreciated.
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Old 06-17-2006, 06:45 PM
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Great Review Cliff, I think I will wait until other BD players come out.

Rob
I dont think its the player.
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Old 06-17-2006, 06:53 PM
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This is an EXCELLENT summary of the overall first impressions of the two players compared so far. Great job Cliff!

Had to move my HT gear list to my profile so click below link to see it:

HT Gear list HERE
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Old 06-17-2006, 06:57 PM
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Cliff, that's good stuff.

The Blu-ray zealots who complained so triumphantly about the slow loading time of HD-DVD, the occasional freezes, and the marginal remote, now look pretty foolish.

I hope the HD-DVD zealots will temper their criticism at this time, because at some point Blu-ray may still become the better format.

But I wouldn't blame the HD-DVD dudes for a little gloating.

These are early times. The players released so far are just beyond beta models. The winner - if there will be a winner - hasn't been determined.
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Old 06-17-2006, 07:51 PM
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Best and most thorough review I've read/seen thus far.
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:07 PM
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Great review, Cliff.

Blu-ray better get it's act together quick, or it's going to be no contest.
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:08 PM
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A most excellent review, Cliff. Very much appreciated.

Makes you wonder why Sony decided to stick with MPEG2. Did they believe that because they were Sony, people would flock to the store to purchase their product regardless of its faults?

Hopefully they can get these things hammered out, though as a consumer, I wish they could have came together with Toshiba and iron out a a single High Definition optical disc format, saving their Blu-ray technology for gaming and data storage only.

It really appears now that they are hedging their bets on the studio support and the PS3 console.

I also wonder if those with non-1080p sets (like 720p sets) would even notice the quality differences that are attainable?
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:31 PM
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Thank you, Cliff, for someone finally taking the time and effort to review a title that challenges MPEG2...xXx; I would also really much like to see you take a look at Underworld Revolution as that would then challenge MPEG2 not only on fast-motion but also dark content, which as you noted, may not be the best content for MPEG2.

I cancelled my pre-order from BB prior to reading this and had been out and about looking to see if I could find a local BB stocking the player figuring I might walk out with one anyhow, but throughout the day I was pondering what I had read thus far about the player and the titles released and decided at best I would wait for the Sony and Pioneer offerings and at worst not pick up a BD player until 2G players hit the streets, assuming they removed all of the limitations presently found in the 1G players.

Now after reading your review, I feel better about my decision. Of course I could pick one up tomorrow (I found a store but the manager said come back tomorrow) but I have never been a fan of buying something knowing full well that I am going to abuse the return policy and just return it before the 30 days is up (I feel this drives up costs and skews buying statistics).

Thanks again and please, if you can, pick up Underworld in BD and let us have another one of your thorough reviews.
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:33 PM
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Nice review. Hopefully whatever is creating the less than HD-DVD results, whether it be the player or the disk authoring, can be resolved really quickly. I love my HD-A1, but if blu-ray ends up being the "winner" of the war then I would hope that it can provide equal quality and content.
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:51 PM
 
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Please, can't we just wait until we've got VC-1 titles on Blu-ray (from say, Paramount or Warner) to do some REAL comparisons?
You are assuming we will get VC-1 on Blu-ray. What if we don't? When (if?) they can make BD50 work well enough to produce in commercial quantities, MPEG-2 will likely be "good enough" to compete with VC-1 on HD DVD. Yet, here we are witnessing the launch of a format that one of the largest CE giants in the universe is betting their company on and we get less capacity than their competitor with a far less efficient video compression codec. Does this not strike anyone as almost suicidal from a business perspective? VC-1 is out there. Even H.264 is out there. Yet Blu-ray has chosen the worst possible circumstances to launch their format. The question, "why?" just seems an insignificant word when one stops to consider what the possible answers are.

Quote:
If VC1 is in the BD spec I don't understand why they are not using it from the get go.
Kinda boggles the mind, doesn't it. People need to keep asking this question until there is an answer.

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Isn't it because they would have to pay MS a royalty to use VC-1 and it would kill them to do that?
Kill them (Sony) to pay a royalty or kill their format not to? Could anyone really be that stupid? No, I don't think it is a royalty issue.
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:53 PM
 
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I don't think Sony Pictures will ever use VC-1. They do not want to give MS any support as they are head to head competitors in the gaming business.

-Robert
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:06 PM
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That's an odd statement. Sony works with MS in other areas; Amir was talking about it awhile ago in relation to some PC things. Sony is obviously in competition with Toshiba in the home video format but they're working together on other projects, including things that will benefit the PS3. As much as we like to personify companies into real people, these companies are so big and have to work with each other on various levels that saying never is like painting yourself into a corner.
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:11 PM
 
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Thanks Chris. I think you may be correct. I would edit my post but since I almost never do so I just use this one to say I think you may be right. Lets hope so.

-Robert
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:13 PM
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I posted this in another thread, but no one seems to have picked it up.

If Sony does indeed have problems with the yields (not only on the 50s but alson the single layer discs) then they are going to be subsidizing every single disc until this is ironed out.
Let say it gets ironed out in Sept.
there is only a two month window there before they have to start subsidizing the PS3 hardware.

this just seems absolutely nuts to me.
Is this another Enron waiting to happen? Keep talking the stock up while behind the scenes running it into the ground?
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:20 PM
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I have been under the impression that Sony is committed to the highest quality picture and they believe that MPEG2 provides this at the proper bandwidths.

This is an old argument and I simply don't know what the truth of the matter is. I suspect we will find out.

I rather doubt that Sony would refuse to pay royalties to MS if they thought it was needed. They are a huge MS customer on the Windows front.
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:23 PM
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I agree with Robert, I think it would kill Sony to pay a royalty that is one of the reasons they did their own source coding for the Mini Disc and other such devices (that slip my mind at the present) .

And Cliff nice to see a well thought out review... And IMHO it just goes to show all the hype that SONY built up around itself... The True Start of High Definition... INDEED!!

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Old 06-17-2006, 09:23 PM
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Its amazing how this is becoming blu-ray is awful before its even launced and based on a few movies. I think hd dvd is doomed because the fugitive shows how awful vc-1 is. Maybe you havent read this review.

http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/50firstdates2.html

Now, this is more like it. '50 First Dates' is only the second Blu-ray title I reviewed following the somewhat underwhelming 'The Fifth Element,' and I wanted to do a complete 180 in terms of movie genre and style. Happily, this transfer proves that the Blu-ray format can deliver a picture as good as anything I've seen yet on HD DVD. Granted, this is not perfect demo material and is not consistently great, but in spots, it really holds its own with the best high-definition transfers out there.
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:29 PM
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kids....
as far as the best technology winning the war.....
remember betamax?
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinca1
Its amazing how this is becoming blu-ray is awful before its even launced and based on a few movies. I think hd dvd is doomed because the fugitive shows how awful vc-1 is. Maybe you havent read this review.

http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/50firstdates2.html

Now, this is more like it. '50 First Dates' is only the second Blu-ray title I reviewed following the somewhat underwhelming 'The Fifth Element,' and I wanted to do a complete 180 in terms of movie genre and style. Happily, this transfer proves that the Blu-ray format can deliver a picture as good as anything I've seen yet on HD DVD. Granted, this is not perfect demo material and is not consistently great, but in spots, it really holds its own with the best high-definition transfers out there.
Does this guy work for Sony?

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