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.
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
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.