Friday, November 16, 2007

Why I think Blu-Ray should win...


Saw this post over at, thought it's pretty funny. Here is the title: "Why my wife thinks Blu-Ray should win..."
Here I slightly modified the subject (me instead of the wife in that post) in the sentence as my title.

Here is the ORIGNAL POST:


Sort of a different topic, as most of the posts anymore here are along the lines of "omg brd 4 the win!! down with hddvd it sux! Lol!!11" :-)

Coming from someone who DOESN'T CARE about the format war, who barely understands anything about resolution, bitrate, lossless audio... My Wife. She represents to me 80% of the consumers out there trying to get a grasp on the emerging HD technologies and what her Husband and his geeky friends like to call "the format war".

Background: This is meant to be a neutral topic as I was an early adopter of HD-DVD (1st week HD-DVD released the A1 I bought it), soon after we bought a XA2 early in 2007 right after release. As 1stQ 2007 went by, titles that HD-DVD studios had announced weren't anything we cared for, and Blu-Ray had a TON of titles we wanted to see. We sold the players, and bought a 60GB PS3 to play Blu-Ray discs.

After comparing the formats for 18 months now, this is what she has to say about the comparisons that we all make such a big deal about, and why she thinks Blu-Ray may have the edge in this "war".

- Studio Support:
Warner has most of the titles that we watch, and the studio which has a lot of her favorite movies that women and typical consumers seem to like. Harry Potter is coming this Christmas, thats a plus! Disney has to be the key here as well, she DOES recognize how much better most animated titles look in HD and the new Disney relases on Blu-Ray always seem to make it to the top of our Netflix Queue.

- The Discs Play (Translation: Coating on the Discs):
I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how many HD-DVD movies we had sent to us from Netflix that had just the SLIGHTEST scratch that would make the player lock up halfway through the movie. 75% of the discs we rented had some sort of minute defect that made the movie unplayable, HUGE deal when you're in the middle of the movie and it stops suddenly.

- Blu-Ray cases look prettier than the red HD-DVD ones
If you've ever had a relationship with a woman, you'll understand this...

- Retailer Support
She said that she has seen much more advertising in large retail stores. Not just Best Buy, Circuit City, etc... But stores that SHE shops at on a normal basis. Target, Wal-Mart (until recent days), Sears, etc....

- The Name
She's been back and forth on this one... But according to her Blu-Ray sounds like a much "higher end" technology than "HD-DVD". HD-DVD acccording to her sounds like an extension of the current DVD format that doesn't offer as much in the way of "breakthrough technology".

Things that she is NOT happy about:

- Price
$599 for a PS3. I could've "waited a few months" and pick up an HD player for $99 and we could've "saved all kinds of money"! She does take into consideration the fact the I do actually use the PS3 for games nowadays and that buying a 360 then an HD-DVD player wouldn't been a more expensive option... (Elite model we're talking about here!)

- Me
$25-$35 a movie, one per week, hundreds of dollars lost on early technology (XA2, PS3)

Ahh the price of being an early adopter... At any rate, thought I'd start the topic and hear how YOUR spouses/girlfriends are taking this whole "format war" and what they're opinions are. I give them a lot of credit for seeing this whole thing on a much broader sense than most of us :-).



So here is my version - Why I think Blu-Ray should win...

1. From the disc authoring ponit of view, blu-ray offers much better option than HD-DVD. Both technology offers two levels of authoring, one standard, one advanced. The standard authoring mode for BD is called BDMV, and for HD-DVD is just called standard authoring... BDMV pretty much has all the new feature the high definition media (HDM) offers, mainly the pop-up menu, while HD-DVD's standard authoring mode only offers DVD level of authoring which means NO pop-up menu! This is a huge differentiate already. Then for advanced authoring mode, BD has BD-J, HD-DVD has the so-called advanced authoring. Both offer PIP commentary, yet due to limited memory HD-DVD has, a pathetic 64MB cache, when in advanced authoring mode, you have to give up the PCM track, while this is NOT a issue for BD-J. So if you get a crappy mp3 track and want to clean it up a bit and maybe mix a surround track or those impossible decoding multi-channel aac tracks, you always have the option to render them as lossless PCM, you CANNOT stick this track into HD-DVD, while this is NO problem for BD-J.(This is why we never see a single HD-DVD with the pop-up menu and PCM at the same time!) Plus not to mention the constant worries about the 64MB overflow graph, if you have lots of features you want to add, this 64MB quickly runs out! (That's why Transformers HD-DVD doesn't inclued a DolbyTrue HD track)... And then we have the bitrate limitation, BD gives 48Mbps for total data and 40Mbps dedicated for video, HD-DVD only gives 30Mbps for total data and upto 29Mbps dedicated for video. So if you have lots of angles or want to do seamless branching, it's definitely better to have more bitrates for video. (yes, I'm crazy about angles and seamless branching...)

2. Blu-ray has more studio support than HD-DVD, almost all the movies I want are in blu-ray exclusive. The only movies on HD-DVD really may finally force me to become format netrual are Universal's Bourne Trilogy and the Matrix Trilogy I got on the price mistake deals from Circuitcity back in June. (I'm only willing to pay $150 for HD-DVD hardware, could be used as an inexpensive upconversion DVD player, save the BD drive's life on PS3.)

3. Blu-ray movie cost is signicantly cheaper than HD-DVD's. There are just so many blu-ray movie sales going on recently. My blu-ray movie collection has been increasing exponentially over the last and this month. I originally had only 2 movies prior to October, but now I have 24!Surprised I don't mind people saying that the discount on Blu-ray movie is just the marketing strategy that SONY wants to beat HD-DVD software on sales number on a weekly basis by droping the price whenever there's a hit title released exclusively on HD-DVD such as Transformers and Shrek 3. The average price of BD movie I got is around $10-13, which is a very reasonable price. While look at the HD-DVD, even if they have a sale, they only have very very limited choices, usually no more than 15 titles, and the price is about $15 each. Many people make a big deal, thinking that it's the hardware price hinders more high definition players being sold, especially Blu-ray player sells double the price as HD-DVD player. But I believe the real spending starts after having the hardware, it's the $30 tag on high definition media in stores that scares most people away. Well, you might argue that you never buy any disc, only rent, but still I see lots of people buying dvds in stores (at regular price). From my Blockbuster (online and in-store) and Netflix renting experience, the quality on the rented discs is pretty bad, which may cause the hardware to fail earlier than expected. That's why I prefer buying disc rather than renting, just wait for a deal, and buy a bunch. It also fulfills my collection desire...

4. Hardware wise, blu-ray player has lots of manufacturers, including SONY, Samsung, Philips, Sharp, Pioneer, Panasonic, etc... While HD-DVD has only one manufacturer - Toshiba, or LG, if you want to count dual format player... (If looking at DVD players, Toshiba and LG are hardly the main stream brands...) The beauty of having lots of different manufacturers is that it's less prone to have the same problem that might never solved in this generation and maybe carry on to the next generation hardware since everyone understands the specifications a little bit differently (someone might even understand it wrong). So if Samsung's player has some annoying problems, you can always switch to SONY, and vice versa. While in HD-DVD player, you only have Toshiba, if they make a design flaw in their product line or maybe one particular function/feature that bothers you, you are pretty much stucked.

5. Blu-ray is for my Dad! Blu-ray still has the region code (A, B, and C), region A has North America, Central America, South America, Japan, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Quote form wiki:" This arrangement puts the countries of the major Blu-ray manufacturers (Japan, Korea, Malaysia) in the same region as the U.S., thus ensuring early releases of U.S. content to those markets, whereas they weren't before." Thus blu-ray movies have lots of subtitle/audio options, Chinese is one of them. Almost 2/3 of the blu-ray movies in my collection have Chinese subtitles. So now my dad can enjoy these movies! DVDs and HD-DVDs are more for the US market, only a tiny fraction of them include Chinese subtitle, the only option to get Chinese subtitles is to download from internet or decrypt the DVDs and put the translations... These practices either takes time or too much energy... Some new HD-DVDs incorporates the internet function, which one of them is downloading subtitles/audio track for the disc, I don't know how well this is gonna work out...


There is a third thought on the format war recently being popular - Blu-ray and HD-DVD neither will die, coexist is the future, just as the war between DVD-R and DVD+R. A strong reason is that both technology use 405 nm blue-violet laser, thus unlike Betamax vs VHS which has a different physical form, Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs can be used in the same drive. I think this is quite possible, but even if they coexist, I still prefer blu-ray, the better technology, just like I prefer using DVD-R for all my video archives currently.

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