Industry Insiders Master Q&A thread IV: ONLY Questions to Insiders - Page 141 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #4201 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by littlesaint View Post

Your posts seem to represent a bit of a paradox to me. Everyone knows Sony's endgame is IP and licensing of the HD format for the future. To that end Sony has pretty much cannibalized their gaming division to subsidize PS3s and get BD players in homes. Smart on their part. Yet you criticize Toshiba for trying to do the same with their players. At this point it's convenient to label the PS3 a game platform, but when you want to trump HDM sales numbers, it's conveniently a BD player. So which is it? A game platform where subsidies are accepted, or a BD player leveraging subsidies to gain long term licensing, which would also have to legitimize Toshiba's subsidies?

This brings up another question in that while Sony is OK with subsidizing the PS3 to gain HDM market share, other CEs (including Sony) are holding margins on standalones to make money. Why? If the BDA is strong, and has its foot on the throat of HD-DVD PRG, why not subsidize now, saturate the hardware market and force the remaining studios to switch? Why keep margins high at the risk of dragging out the HDM uncertainty by keeping player cost high? If there truly is competition, and everyone is confident in Blu-ray, why is no one dropping below the $400 barrier to get the upper hand both in terms of sales and marketshare?

Either there isn't that much confidence in the Blu-ray platform longterm (outside of Sony), forcing CEs to maximize margins now, or the BDA is "in agreement on pricing" which means all the claims of market competition between CEs is not really true. If the CEs really want Blu-ray to win and aren't having their hand forced, this "catch-22" sales model doesn't make any sense.

Sony would have subsidised the PS3 regardless of whether it had Blu-ray or not so your point is moot.

As Amir pointed out earlier in the thread, there are three stages to a product lifecycle for something like DVD.

1. Direct profits off the player.

2. Profits off the chips inside the player

3. Indirect profits from royalties.

Toshiba have basically given up on stage one and two, where the BDA manufacturers have not.
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post #4202 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Maxpower1987 View Post

It's an agreement to end the war, so indefinite. What is the point in releasing on HD DVD if your move has killed it...

So, if the move does not end the war ... do they have an option to try the other side? Or do they just stop releasing in HDM altogether?
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post #4203 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 09:01 AM
 
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Now in other news.. Friday was my last day at Microsoft! Yes, that darn ice cream really got to me .

I must say this is a difficult departure. I love the company and the people I worked with from folks at the lowest ranks all the way up to Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates. Having worked at half a dozen companies over my 30 year career, Microsoft ranks at the top of class with unbelievably high percentage of smart, passionate and driven individuals. Fortunately, the departure is very much amicable on both sides.

As a way of background, I came to Microsoft as part of a start-up we sold to the company some 11 years ago. Having worked non-stop for over a decade, when the last set of re-orgs came about, I thought maybe it is time to take a step back and take a new perspective on life. My oldest son is already in college and the other two are a couple of years away. Making a long story short, I decided to pass on being part of the new structure and managing a large organization again.

So I spent the last three months thinking of new things and came up with two product ideas that most of us here would kill for. Alas, while they are very exciting to us enthusiasts, I'm not sure they are the kinds of businesses that Microsoft should be in. Boy do I wish sometimes that there were a lot more of us than there are. So I decided to take the ideas with me into retirement. And here I am.

I must stay it was great fun brainstorming and not worrying about managing multi-hundred person teams. The joys of the start-up came back after a decade of working for a big public company!

Of course, no sooner than I let people know that I am leaving Microsoft that folks started to approach me left and right with other opportunities on the outside. So who knows how long this will last. But for now, I am going to try to catch up on personal projects piling up like unpacking the Vudu ( ), completing the audio testing, finishing the woodworking projects frozen in time in my shop, going on a few photo trips, firing up the computer controlled smoker to make some great BBQ, and of course, spending more time with the family.

Now I know a lot of you are surprised by this news. But don't say I didn't provide some breadcrumbs that this was coming . Did anyone notice that my signature says retired? And that it does not mention Microsoft? Likewise, when I talked about our new vacation home, in reality that is our retirement home that we are remodeling. Can't wait to send the kids off and move there permanently and pick up fishing and farming full-time! NOT OK, so I am lousy in providing hints like this .

So there it is. My life an open book on AVS! Don't say I ever hide anything from you!
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post #4204 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdg345 View Post

So, if the move does not end the war ... do they have an option to try the other side? Or do they just stop releasing in HDM altogether?

Well we're talking hypotheticals here, if Blu-ray doesn't win the war, chances are the HDM market will be too small to justify releases on either. I don' think that is going to happen though.
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post #4205 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DTV TiVo Dealer View Post

Look we can all agree Warner's decision is a blow to HD DVD, but the format is still an excellent solution for every HDTV owner throughout the world. And BD equipment now costs significantly more and the replication still is more difficult to produce, particularly for any dual layer product.

The only BD equipment that costs significantly more is the replication lines which the consumer doesn't buy and all of the major replicators have already added BD50 lines (http://www.emedialive.com/articles/r...leid=11425#ixl) that get yields up to 80%* (*verified by Cinram International, January 2008) - this doesn't seem like any sort of issue that will affect the consumer in anyway nor does it seem to be affecting 6 of the 8 biggest studios on the planet.

Based on the content available and what lies in the future ahead, HD DVD is hardly an excellent solution for every HDTV owner throughout the world by anyone's standards. Neither format can be considered an excellent solution until all major studios are releasing content on it.

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Originally Posted by DTV TiVo Dealer View Post

The only reason other CE companies did not make HD DVD players is strictly because Toshiba is the only CE equipment manufacturer supporting the format.

In addition, we all know RCA Thompson and Onkyo/Integra have made HD DVD players. So other CE manufacturers are interested in the format.

I don't understand. It seems like a contradiction within two paragraphs. Aren't those players all Toshiba's players that you're mentioning? Even Philips now has their own R&D'd BD player coming out.
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post #4206 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:09 AM
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Quote:


Originally Posted by Merrick97
With all due respect, it is well known and universally agreed that replication is cheaper for HD-DVD but that made no difference in Warner choosing bluray over HD-DVD. To me that is all the proof that we needed in regards to blurays replication.

Dave and Max can you agree with me on this?


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Originally Posted by Maxpower1987 View Post

In a nutshell.


I agree as well.

David Vaughn Blu-ray Reviewer / Technical Writer Sound & Vision Magazine (Print & Online)

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post #4207 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxpower1987 View Post

In a nutshell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxpower1987 View Post

It's an agreement to end the war, so indefinite. What is the point in releasing on HD DVD if your move has killed it...

Max,

I have been told that there are performance clauses in the contract with Warner (and the same for Paramount with HD DVD). If these aren't met, the contract can become void.

David

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post #4208 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:16 AM
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has the bda made overtures to hd dvd to somehow expedite the end of this war or are they happy just letting it languish and die a slow death?
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post #4209 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hughmc View Post

I am a little confused on this. So less compression due to higher bandwidth wouldn't translate to better PQ? Or am I looking at this and saying it wrong?

Once you reach the threshold of the encode looking like the source, it looks like the source. By definition, more bits won't make something transparent MORE transparent.

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Also, isn't your response based on what we know and tech used as opposed to theorectical tech potential that hasn't been used?

We're still limited by 1920x1080 pixels using 4:2:0 sampling 23.976 times a second. There isn't anywhere for a lot of magical additional image data to go even if we could scan it in. If anything, improvements in scanning technology reduce noise more than anything else.
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post #4210 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Vaughn View Post

Max,

I have been told that there are performance clauses in the contract with Warner (and the same for Paramount with HD DVD). If these aren't met, the contract can become void.

David

You see, as a journalist you have much more freedom to talk about this stuff, I on the other hand have my hands tied behind my back.

Now that somebody else has mentioned it though - Blu-ray has to meet certain criteria in disc sales and player sales, but the targets are pretty low and Blu is way ahead of the game in both respects. So I don't see a realistic move to be made on this front.
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post #4211 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael Mullis View Post

Thanks to you both for the information.

bkilian, meet Smokey. Smokey this is bkilian. The goal is full certification of DivX before the Spring Update.

You guys work it out. I will supply the as-needed beer.

What's the scenario you're shooting for here?

Practially, what's normallly called a "Divx" fine is really MPEG-4 part 2 video and MP3 audio in a .AVI file. We've got rather more IP in there than Divx Networks does . Lots of those files made with non-Divx tools, typically via the open-source xvid codec.
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post #4212 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Vaughn View Post

Max,

I have been told that there are performance clauses in the contract with Warner (and the same for Paramount with HD DVD). If these aren't met, the contract can become void.

David

Thank you Dave, this makes more sense.
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post #4213 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Vaughn View Post

Max,

I have been told that there are performance clauses in the contract with Warner (and the same for Paramount with HD DVD). If these aren't met, the contract can become void.

David

Performance in terms of hardware sales? If yes, do they break down PS3 and Blu-ray stand-alone sales (with respect to Warner Bros. of course)?
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post #4214 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:27 AM
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For any blu-ray insiders...

Are the BD CE companies planning to do anything to respond to Toshiba's lower pricing of their hd-dvd players?

The BDA can tout their studio advantage but if nobody is buying the players, sales will continue to lag behind dvd. Everytime an hd-dvd player is sold, the blu-side loses a potential customer until that customer is again in the market for a new player (which prob won't be for another 2+ yrs).
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post #4215 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:30 AM
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[quote=Dahlsim;12814453What happened to the 1000 Indies and burn on demand hd dvd program that was announced some time ago?[/QUOTE]
Real Soon Now, I'm told. There's been months of furious technical work ongoing, even though there hasn't been a lot in the press about it recently.

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Also is it possible to have the 720p VC1 content on XBLM made available for ownership in a burn on demand scenario? I'm imagining users to be able to order a disk copy of a movie they rented for instance and have it burned on demand and shipped to them. Is this a viable scenario and would the on demand burn fall under the same exclusivity contracts as an hd dvd rom?

XBLM content isn't encoded to HD DVD specs (longer GOP, for example) and doesn't use HD DVD compatible audio, so it's not something that'd directly work in existing players. Download-and-burn HD DVD is an interesting market, though, even if it would requre another encode (really not that hard these days).

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The quality is not quite hd dvd / BD but it's often quite good especially for it's relative file size. The ownership model is what I'd like to see.

There's quite a lot we can do to push bitrates lower than they are today if needed (like getting full movies on DVD-9). The released tools have more focused on reducing the need for segment reencoding than on pushing bitrates below what's available on HD DVD.

That said, it's a nice thing that we do VC-1 for streaming as well, so we have a lot of low bitrate expertise we can apply to HD. With technologies like Silverlight, we're doing a lot more with HD (mainly 720p) at web rates.

Check out these clips:

http://www.microsoft.com/expression/...der&type=video

1 Mbps 960x540p24! I encoded them myself (oh, vanity!) using an earlier version of the VC-1 Encoder SDK. I think I could push them down to 800 Kbps with the release version and some new tricks I've been playing around with (I-Frame only DQuant!).
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post #4216 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benwaggoner View Post

Once you reach the threshold of the encode looking like the source, it looks like the source. By definition, more bits won't make something transparent MORE transparent.


We're still limited by 1920x1080 pixels using 4:2:0 sampling 23.976 times a second. There isn't anywhere for a lot of magical additional image data to go even if we could scan it in. If anything, improvements in scanning technology reduce noise more than anything else.

So are you saying that the additional bandwidth provided by the Blu-ray disc specification compared to the HD-DVD specification would not offer any advantages for VC-1?
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post #4217 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxpower1987 View Post

1. EU import duty on all tech made or designed outside of the 27 EU nations.

2. VAT levied by all EU nations is included in the SRP, that $300 doesn't include the local or state tax.

3. The price in the UK has always been higher for all technologies, did we get £50 HD DVD players when the USA got $99 players, I think not.

As for the tech side, it really isn't my speciality, so I will leave this to Talk or paidgeek if he comes back.

What if, say hypothetically, the same company charged over twice as much (including vat) for the same make and model of a product in one country as they did in another, and the product itself had things in place to stop you importing it. Would be totally okay within the law (not anti-competitive/price fixing or any bad stuff?)
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post #4218 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 10:58 AM
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On a completely different note.

Do any insiders have any idea when Warner might FINALLY announce many of the missing bluray titles?

I know it has been rumored that Batman Begins will come right before the Dark Knight.

Nevertheless, I dont think anyone has asked about specific titles in quite some time!

Blurays: 115
HD-DVD: 12- YES I will be keeping them so I can own a piece of history
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post #4219 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Bloggs View Post

What if, say hypothetically, the same company charged over twice as much (including vat) for the same make and model of a product in one country as they did in another, and the product itself had things in place to stop you importing it. Would be totally okay within the law (not anti-competitive/price fixing or any bad stuff?)

If you are referencing the Lik-Sang case, then Sony were well within their rights to get the court injunction.

That is my final say on the matter.
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post #4220 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrick97 View Post

On a completely different note.

Do any insiders have any idea when Warner might FINALLY announce many of the missing bluray titles?

I know it has been rumored that Batman Begins will come right before the Dark Knight.

Nevertheless, I dont think anyone has asked about specific titles in quite some time!

Soon enough, patience...
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post #4221 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

So are you saying that the additional bandwidth provided by the Blu-ray disc specification compared to the HD-DVD specification would not offer any advantages for VC-1?

No, and generally not for H.264 (unless it's a case where the loop filter was causing softening). BD was originally spec'ed to be MPEG-2 only, and has bitrate and capacity appropriate for MPEG-2 HD. It was overkill for advanced codecs (and underkill for MPEG-2 on BD25). IIRC, VC-1 and H.264 were added pretty late in the BD process once it was clear that a HD DVD 30 with VC-1 would actually have more runtime than a BD-50 with MPEG-2.
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post #4222 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benwaggoner View Post

Check out these clips:

http://www.microsoft.com/expression/...der&type=video

1 Mbps 960x540p24! I encoded them myself (oh, vanity!) using an earlier version of the VC-1 Encoder SDK. I think I could push them down to 800 Kbps with the release version and some new tricks I've been playing around with (I-Frame only DQuant!).

It would have been more informative to link to here:

http://on10.net/blogs/benwagg/VC-1-f...p/Default.aspx

Y'all are subscribing to my RSS feed, right .
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post #4223 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:08 AM
 
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Thank you for the kind remarks everyone. It is much appreciated.

As to questions asked, no I am not retiring from AVS. Long before my job had anything to do with these topics, I was here learning from people and posting from time to time. It would be fair to assume that I will post less on the format war. I just have less passion in arguing about it than I used to.

Just to be clear, HD DVD was always a hobby of mine so my decision didn't have to do with managing that group, but the other 90% involved in managing everything else I do and working in a big company.

As to going to blu side, there is no chance of that. And I don't say this to put that format down. But rather, that would be another big company job and it wouldn't interest me.

Finally, with regards to my age, yes, I am younger than many who retire. However, I am also a lot older than many would guess from my pictures or seeing in person. As a funny story, when I started to teach at the college, I would walk into the classroom and everyone would think I am just a student and would carry on talking and such. So much so that I would get strange looks from students when I ask them to sit down so that we could get started. Problem was so bad that I grew a mustache and wore glasses on purpose just to look older! That worked but a few years ago, I thought looking younger would not be a bad thing ( ) and shaved the mustache. Now it is fun to play the game of “how old do you think I am!”
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post #4224 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxpower1987 View Post

Blu-ray has to meet certain criteria in disc sales and player sales, but the targets are pretty low and Blu is way ahead of the game in both respects.

That's great news. With the Warner announcement bound to increase hardware sales rather than decreasing them and upcoming exclusive titles like "The Dark Knight", "10,000 B.C." and possibly "I Am Legend" if they extend the theatrical window long enough, it sounds like Blu should more than surpass any software quotas too especially if they're already "ahead of the game"

Are Paramount's targets for HD DVD also "ahead of the game"?
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post #4225 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:32 AM
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OK, back from CES, trying to get caught up, will respond to a slow of (in some cases) old posts.
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Originally Posted by Ian_S View Post

How far along the optimisation curve for BD-J are we

Quite early. There's lots of optimization to be done, both on the implementation side (meaning firmware updates can improve already released models) and on the authoring side. Newly-added test discs will also help improve compatibility (meaning fewer firmware updates as new titles are released).
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and are big steps more likely to come from code improvements or new silicon.

Both.
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If the latter, are the forthcoming players for 2008 on the 'better' silicon or will it be the wave after that which will benefit most?

To my knowledge all new players announced are on substantially better-optimized silicon than the earlier models. Mandatory BonusView support pretty much ensures better-performing hardware than most of the current models.

- Talk

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post #4226 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by The Baron View Post

Isn't the only reason Hardware prices haven't fallen much on the BDA side because the CE's are trying to relive the glory days of DVD? (Charging inflated prices for big profit margins)

In the absence of Toshiba's pricing tactics we'd have seen high-def optical player prices declining at the same rate as we saw with VCR's, CD's, and DVD (starting prices around $1K with 30-40% annual price drops), which appears to model early adopter behavior well. Toshiba's pricing accelerated this somewhat, but as we've seen the Blu-ray vendors chose for the most part not to match Toshiba's pricing. It's clear, however, that consumer adoption relates to price, so I have no doubt that we'll continue to see entry-level pricing decline while features improve.

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post #4227 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Talkstr8t View Post

In the absence of Toshiba's pricing tactics we'd have seen high-def optical player prices declining at the same rate as we saw with VCR's, CD's, and DVD (starting prices around $1K with 30-40% annual price drops), which appears to model early adopter behavior well. Toshiba's pricing accelerated this somewhat, but as we've seen the Blu-ray vendors chose for the most part not to match Toshiba's pricing. It's clear, however, that consumer adoption relates to price, so I have no doubt that we'll continue to see entry-level pricing decline while features improve.

sorry if this seems antagonistic, but from my purely consumer perspective with nothing to gain but delivery of high def media...

doesn't this fly in the face of what is proclaimed to be the end goal, ie, widespread mass-market adoption as quickly as possible before the HDM boat sails off? starting at 1500 and maybe 30-40% per annum reduction in hadware, doesn't it take a number of years before you reach the level of mass market adoption and therefore be stalling the market as is argued about the format war?
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post #4228 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by TomsHT View Post

In a recent news article from CES it mentions the transfer of movies from the PS3 to a PSP and that these will be placed as second copies of the movie on the BR discs. I would like to ask how much space this will take up on discs?

I don't know what data rate is used, but by way of a thumbnail sketch let's start with a two-hour movie on DVD averaging 5Mbps (number sourced from DVD Demystified), which would be 4.5GB. Cut this in half to reflect AVC vs MPEG2, then cut it by 62% to reflect PSP's 130,560 pixels relative to DVD's 345,600 pixels, and you end up with about 0.85GB (or just over 3% of a BD25). I suspect the real number is lower, as a quick search suggests that 1.5Mbps is considered overkill on the PSP, and I calculated assuming 2.5Mbps.

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post #4229 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mproper View Post

I have a question for BD insiders regarding profiles.

After 2.0 is out, is the format then considered "complete" (for lack of a better word)?

I'm sure if there was a 2.1 or a 3.0 in the works, we'd have heard about it, but just curious if there have been any rumblings about more profiles in the future beyond 2.0.

The format has been considered "complete" for some time now. Profiles 1.1 and 2.0 were finished long ago, it just takes time for all the supporting infrastructure (silicon, player designs, test discs, content, etc.) to be in place before players actually reach retail shelves.

There is no meaningful work underway for features related directly to pre-recorded content playback. There is ongoing work on other capabilities related to high-def media, such as AVCHD and recorders. This could be considered analogous to DVD players adding support for DVD+/-R, mp3, network playback, etc, which is to say these capabilities aren't used by content coming from the studios, but provide ways for the player manufacturers to continue to innovate with new features.

There is a Profile 3.0, but it's strictly for audio players.

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post #4230 of 4687 Old 01-15-2008, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jdg345 View Post

I would also like to follow up on onanie's point here as it leads me to another question: Even if replication costs are pennies higher for Blu-ray in a year as compared to HD DVD today, don't Studios see that as significant lost profit when there are millions of discs being produced? Coming from the financial side of things, I would think even a few pennies per disc would be significant, no?

A few pennies in higher replication costs can be more-than-offset by value-added content taking advantage of the extra capacity. For instance, putting an iPod version of the movie or a PC or PS3 game on the disc would result in higher sales (or perhaps a higher list price), greatly overcoming any marginally higher replication costs.

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