Deconstructing HD DVD


There’s a new article up by the Microsoft folks over at Xbox.com about HD DVD that I though I’d disect. So here it goes:

In fact, HD DVD is the official next-generation optical format from the same international organization, the DVD Forum, that created the ubiquitous DVD format used for digitally storing movies, games, PC data, and more. That also means the new HD DVD players will also play back all of your current DVDs.

First off, the DVD Forum did not create the DVD format, anymore than they created the HD DVD format. Basically, the DVD Forum is a standardization body there to make sure when someone says “DVD” they meaning the same thing as everyone else. The DVD Forum does not create technology.

Secondly, the statement above seems to suggest that if your new HD format is not DVD Forum sanctioned, your players won’t play DVD’s. This is false. BD players will play DVD’s.

Superior Quality

This article seems to be about why HD DVD is better than other solutions, be it DVD or BD. One heading they use is “Super Quality”. Hmmm. At first this made me think that HD DVD is supposed to be superior to its HD competitors. What they’re actually saying is that HD DVD is superior to DVD. Somewhat misleading.

“There aren’t any Blu-ray players available to test, but if you compare the requirements on paper it’s going to be a wash in terms of video quality,” said Albert Penello, Director of Global Marketing at Xbox.

This argument is misleading. While the codecs used are the same, Mr. Penello doesn’t take into account the higher disc capacity of the Blu-ray Disc (BD). If you have more space, it means that you can encode your video at a higher bit rate and thus higher quality. While this may not be too much of an issue with VC1, it certainly is with MPEG2, which takes a lot more space. People still don’t know how to optimize VC1 like they do MPEG2, so studios like Sony are using MPEG2 to begin with. The extra space will give their movies a higher quality.

HD DVD also offers new “twin discs” that have an HD DVD version and a DVD version on the same disc. This gives consumers an easy and affordable way to build their movie collection that will take full advantage of every TV in the house

The article neglects to mention that these discs (so far) are even more expensive than the regular HD DVD discs. That may be easy, but it’s not affordable.

“Now that both sides are laying their cards on the table, the word is getting out that HD DVD is the best value.”

HD DVD discs and BD discs seem to be priced about the same. How does that make HD DVD the better value? BD players will initially cost more than HD DVD players did, but that will change. Toshiba, I’m sure, wanted to release their players at higher price points because that’s what manufacturers do with new technology to help recoup costs. But they decided to come out on the lower end just to woo consumers during the first few months of the format war. So while Toshiba may have the edge here for now, that won’t last.

“Consumers are voting by buying HD DVD players and movies.”

This is misleading too. BD players and movies aren’t available yet, so how are consumers supposed to vote for those by buying them? Wait until a few months after launch and compare movie and player sales then!

“And since then, the industry momentum we’ve seen has been behind HD DVD.”

I wonder where they’re looking…

Sony, Samsung, and Pioneer separately delayed releasing their consumer Blu-ray players

Note true. Sony didn’t delay their BD player release at all. [Edit: Actually, they recently did delay it. Me bad.] They delayed the release of the PS3 (once). This argument is rather stupid anyway, considering that Toshiba delayed their players at least twice that I know of. That’s once more than Pioneer or Samsung.

The last question is around studio support. HD DVD is supported by leading Hollywood and international studios including Paramount, Warner Brothers, Universal, Studio Canal, and more. It’s expected there will be 150-200 HD DVD titles by the end of year.

Also misleading. Did you know that Fox, Sony, MGM, and Disney are behind BD but not HD DVD? And that Warner and Paramount also support BD? The only major studio supporting HD DVD but not BD is Universal, while there are three major studios that support BD but not HD DVD.

This article is a travesty. It’s full of misleading comments that may make people think things that are simply not true.

Xbox.com | E3 2006 – HD DVD Explained


Written by: Blackstaffer - News Contributor


  1. #1 by Stevie B on May 8th, 2006

    “Consumers are voting by buying HD DVD players and movies.”

    That bit made me laugh.

    Following that logic, I think it’s clear that the XBOX360 is the choice of consumers in terms of next gen console systems because that’s the one they’re already buying!

    Genius!

  2. #2 by Richard Lawler on May 8th, 2006

    Sony has delayed their Blu-ray player, it was originally listed on Sonystlye as shipping in June or July, but recently changed to August after the Samsung delay.

  3. #3 by Gary on May 8th, 2006 [ 1780 Points ]

    Yeah go Henning!!

    It’s a ridiculous article & unfortunately people will actually take it to heart.

  4. #4 by Henning on May 8th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    Thanks Richard, I didn’t know that. I’ll edit the article.

  5. #5 by Richard Lawler on May 8th, 2006

    They didn’t say anything I could point at as a direct lie, but they for sure didn’t tell the truth.

  6. #6 by Henning on May 8th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    Yeah, that’s why I had to say things like “misleading”, “neglects to mention”, and “seems to be”, etc. I’m sure the BD side of things will come out with similar pieces. I hope I catch them too. I’m kinda biased…

  7. #7 by Hiro on May 8th, 2006

    Any Sony NEVER mislead the consumers do they?

  8. #8 by Henning on May 8th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    So you’re saying it’s okay?

  9. #9 by Gary on May 8th, 2006 [ 1780 Points ]

    Nobody said Sony never misleads consumers. :?

    The HD-DVD article on Xbox.com is misleading & distorts the facts. That’s what this is about.

  10. #10 by Hiro on May 8th, 2006

    Not saying its ok at all, but it would be different if it was the other way around.

  11. #11 by Henning on May 8th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    In the gaming world Sony gets a lot of flak about inflated promises while Microsoft gets off pretty scott-free. I like to point out that Sony’s not the only guilty party.

  12. #12 by Black Guy on May 8th, 2006

    A couple of things:

    HD DVD players & movies r in fact available. iSaw them yesterday @ my local Best Buy and also featured in various electronic store advertisments in the Sunday paper. The sales rep @ BB said they’ve received 30 units last week which sold out rather briskly; including the movies. iDidn’t care enough to find out, but if this is true and there r similar levels of momentum @ other retailers, then maybe the article may not be that outlandish in its claims to this regard after all.

    Both formats r capable of 1080p. No movie created today or in the immwdiate future will b large enought to exceed the capacity of HD DVD. The advantage of the additional storage will b more practical for other applications such as additional featurettes & contents for movies and seasonal shows like sitcoms which usually ship on a large # of DVDs. BR and HD DVD are using the exact same core technology standards for audio/video. One will not have superior a/v over another. The HD player iSaw @ BB topped out @ 720p, but the HD DVD standard is capable of 1080p.Toshiba, the manufacturer of the player, has stated that future versions of the player will feature 1080p support. It was probably a matter of costs that factored into the decision to handicap the system @ 720p.

    Anyway, does anyone really care about either of these formats? We have 2 incompatible formats offering something similar with two different groups of very powerful and influential companies supporting each. Everybody that thinks PS3 is going to finalize the victor of this war is smoking crack & must check themselves into rehab ASAP. There is a very real possibility that BR could loose and it should b kept in consideration when adopting this product via a PS3 or a standalone player. There have been formats wars in the past in which seemingly superior technology looses or is relegated to a niche market. After viewing the HD DVD on a awsome Pioneer plasma coupled w/ a Harmon Kardon sound system and amp, iWas not motivated to pick one of these up. The quality of the presentation is superior to DVD which could b attributed in many ways to it being on a $10K TV and $5K audio equipment. But IMO, it may not b enough to court the general masses. U watch a DVD on that equipment and it will look strickly different than when viewed and heard on the little clunker – relatively speaking – that u may have @ home.

    To the author of the article, if u’r going to dissect a bash someone’s writing, at least have u’r eggs straight as well. Yes its disgusting that the article is polluted w/ so much misleading quotes but u’r responses became diluted when u began doing the same thing. I’m mean that respectfully of course…. And its just PR & marketing. @ least they didn’t say it was capable of 4D visuals @ 120fps on dual 1080p outputs. Now which worse. Pampering or outright lying; if u can even call it that.

  13. #13 by Henning on May 8th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    I got one fact wrong which I quickly corrected. What’s your problem?

  14. #14 by Black Guy on May 8th, 2006

    Whats u’r problem? U always act like a female when someone catches u’r mistakes? iExpected u to act a little more mature than that especially since iTried to b respectfull about it. And no u got more than one fact wrong, u got multiple wrongs… get it straight.

    What my problem? Ppl like u’rself who are:
    1. An arrogant person who goes into an outburst every time something he likes is questioned.
    2. A person who has an undying urge to sway everyone that is not a believer of the belief system they have towards a game or system or every piece of hardware.
    3. A person who is zealously committed to their particular narrow area of interest. In this case the PS3 and Ken K w/ all the crap that comes out of his mouth.

    Should iKeep going? iGot plenty more.

  15. #15 by WonderSteve on May 8th, 2006

    I favor Blu-ray. I hope HD-DVD lose.

    They both will just look just as great on screen.

    The main reason is because Blu-ray has more space. They are both knocked down by DRM anyways. I can definitely use the 50GB or 25GB per disk for files. If we use HD-DVD, we would eventually have to upgrade sooner. HD-DVD’s current laser also can’t go beyond two layers anyways. Everyone would have to swich players

    And Black Guy..calm down.

  16. #16 by Henning on May 8th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    Strange answer “Black Guy”. You’re the one blowing off the handles and saying I made mistakes. Name one that’s not corrected already.

  17. #17 by Gary on May 8th, 2006 [ 1780 Points ]

    The games people the games…….

  18. #18 by Matt on May 8th, 2006

    The more space issue has been resolved by HD-DVD. They are triple layering discs and it works. This means that a single HD-DVD can hold 45 gigs of data compared to 50gigs. They storage issue doesn’t exist anymore. (please don’t argue over 5 gigs, it will never matter).

    Link

    The movie studio breakdown is 48% BD to 52% HD-DVD. They are dead even for all intensive purposes. When it comes to content through backlogs of movies their is no winner. The Blu-Ray opening lineup of films SUCKS. Hd-DVD will have over 50 movies out when Blu-Ray is released.

    As for cost. The BD format is going to be more expensive. HD-DVD movies will be available for $24.99 to $34.99. Some movies will cost more. Blu-Ray movies are going to start from Sony at $34.99 and all other picture studios are charging $44.99. That my friend is a huge price difference. (Note that prices may change but these were announced by the studios)

    The dual disc (DVD/HD-DVD) is huge. Blockbuster can carry two formats without losing any floor space.

    Personally I don’t care who wins. I just hate when people back something because they like the company who is making it. Personally I think Sony makes a lot of crap. Their HDTVs are the best on the market but other electronics I really don’t like. (Don’t criticize me because I guarantee I have bought more Sony products in my 29 years than you can even come close to imagining).

  19. #19 by Henning on May 8th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    It might be 48% BD to 52% HD-DVD if you count all the small little studios. But it’s the major studios that make or break a format, and BD has much better major studio support.

  20. #20 by Super Slug on May 8th, 2006

    Henning – Seems to me like u’r the one that started shit. Dude was just calling u out on a mistake and he was cool about it. U’r the one that became confrontational by asking, “What was his problem?”

    Anyway, these two formats r very close in terms of the final experience they will deliver. What it will come down to are the quality of the players, content, and price. BR movies r going to cost significantly more than HD for only a 5GB advantage. BR does have major studio support but it gets hairy because most of those studios w/ the exeption of a few like Fox, r playing their hands in both formats. What r we suppose to use then to distinguish the two? More than likely its going to b the price where HD wins hands down. Like PS3, there r no inherent guarantee of success like all the little fanboys would like to believe.

  21. #21 by Henning on May 8th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    To be fair, he said I made multiple errors. And Fox isn’t the only studio only supporting BD. There’s also Sony/MGM and Disney.

  22. #22 by Super Slug on May 9th, 2006

    Man, U did make multiples. Let me show u few:
    1. The availability of HD DVD players & movies. They’re available now and I noticed u have corrected that.
    2. Superior perfomance of BR? They both use the same standards. 1080p capability is the maximum for both. Neither will have a distinct a/v performance over the other with the exception of disc capacity which are only a few gigs apart as mentioned earlier by myself and others. The extra storage is not going to make the movie look/sound better but it will allow content provides to include a little extra. However, this is 45+ GB we’re talking about here. Thats a lot of content to provide to fill that kind of space and it won’t be cheap for the provider or the buyer.
    3. Price. BR movies r suppose to cost close $50. About $20 more than an HD DVD. Matt’s ealier post breaks it down. From an exclusively price POV, HD DVD is the better value.

    I’ll stop there cuz I think u get the point by now. U were all over the MS article for the grossly misleading statements – in u’r opinion – but u didn’t do any better either. Like the man said, u got to know what u’r talking about b4 u start getting in some ass. And I think that was the point Black Guy was trying to make to u. And while I’m at it, that guy seems to participate here more than anybody else. He actually says some of the most sensible things than most others here. (Just thought I’ll through that out there.)

    If u r going to critisize a work, then u need to b able to take it when its dished out to u as well instead of becoming hostily argumentative. A while back u had a post in which u were soliciting ideas to stimulate activity in the forums. I didn’t respond to that but this is definitely not the way to encourage ppl to express their opinions. If u all u want r ppl to blindly lap up everything that is layed out, there is a site called ps3fanboy that is wholly dedicated to that. I got the impression that this site was a little bit above that level of blind fanboyism because I’ve seen comments/articles supporting all 3 platforms (obviosly PS3 the most but still).

    I’m not looking to fight u BTW; so don’t even start that crap that u pulled earlier. I hope we cool w/ that. Anyway, thats my $0.02. Peace.

  23. #23 by Henning on May 9th, 2006 [ 0 Points ]

    :) Are you guys are trying to pull a prank on me? I have another site, called HDBlog.net, where all I do is track stuff related to HDTV, including BD and HD DVD. I never said that HD DVD wasn’t available yet. That’s something you guys made up. I said BD wasn’t available yet! And that if you want to compare sales, to wait for the BD sales to come in first. At one point I clarified the wording, but I never changed the meaning.

    As far as BD movies costing $20 more than HD DVD movies, that’s false too. All indications are that BD movies and HD DVD movies will cost about the same. I even visited an online retailer that was letting you preorder them both, and prices were very similar.

    And where are the 45GB HD DVD discs? I haven’t seen one yet.

    My article is factual. I don’t know why you guys are getting on my back. This thread is now closed.

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