Print 34 comment(s) - last by xphile.. on Jan 10 at 9:11 PM

Toshiba brings out a 1080p HD DVD player at a more palatable price

The high definition DVD war is just starting to hit its stride with the announcement of second generation players from Samsung and Toshiba. Toshiba fired the first salvos with its second generation HD-A2 and HD-XA2 players. The former has a $499 price tag and supports 1080i/HDMI 1.2 while the later rings in at $999 and supports 1080p/HDMI 1.3.

Samsung then returned fire with its $799 BD-1200 Blu-ray player. The player features 1080p, HDMI 1.3 and the new Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) processor for enhanced image quality.

Toshiba is now looking to ruffle a few feathers with a new $599 HD DVD player which slots in between the low-end HD-A2 and the high-end HD-XA2. The new HD-A20 supports full 1080p resolution, but features the more limiting HDMI 1.2 interface.

Compared to HDMI 1.2, version 1.3 of the spec adds 10.2Gbps single-link bandwidth, support for the xvYCC color standard, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio support and automatic audio syncing.

While the new HD-A20 will become the lowest-priced stand-alone 1080p player on the market, the move is sure to disappoint more than a few people -- specifically those who just paid $500 for the 1080i HD-A2 just a few weeks ago.

The HD-A20 will first become available for the United States market in the spring of this year.

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er hm
By ElJefe69 on 1/9/2007 7:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
I think what these 1080p claims are lacking is how many frames per second and at what quality. So far the less lossy compression techniques have no possible way of fitting on a hd-dvd disk, hence, that is why people dont want to bother with them.

RE: er hm
By Zurtex on 1/9/2007 8:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Aren't a lot of HD-DVD disks dual layer making them 30 GBs, aren't all Blu-Ray disks still single layer making them 25GBs?

I might be way out here, neither of these players I've ever seen in a shop in my country yet.

RE: er hm
By Exodus220 on 1/9/2007 8:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
I recently read that the new 007 Casino Royale movie will take up the full 50gig Blu-Ray disc, so it looks like they are not just single layer.

RE: er hm
By ViperROhb34 on 1/9/2007 9:26:17 PM , Rating: 2
Im not claiming to be any kind of expert, but I also have heard it depends on video format.. Sony had been using a format that took up more space then what HD-DVD is using. I'm not sure not sure what format Bluray movie disc putter-outters are using now ( yes thats real technical terminology ) but in the beginning Sony was definately using a format that took up more space and wasn't even as high quality as HD-DVD.. As far as now.. I'm not certain is they've gone and agreed on another standard for the Bluray that takes up less space and has a HQ as what HD-DVD is using..

RE: er hm
By masher2 on 1/9/2007 9:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
> "Sony had been using a format that took up more space then what HD-DVD is using..."

Sony had been using the old MPEG-2 codec, as opposed to HD-DVD's use of VC-1. This left Blu-Ray titles with less storage, and a more inefficient codec to more quickly fill up that size-- not a good combo.

VC-1 BD titles are starting to come online so its not a problem for the long term, but all the early BD releases have poor image quality.

RE: er hm
By therealnickdanger on 1/10/2007 10:43:19 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't say "poor" image quality, just not ideal. Based upon ~100 Blu-Ray titles, here's a breakdown of codec/storage used:

(these are all approximations)
BD discs exceeding 25GB of content: 19%
BD titles (main movie file w/audio) exceeding 25GB: 15%
BD titles encoded with MPEG2: 65%
BD titles encoded with H.264: 13%
BD titles encoded with VC-1: 22%

There are close to 200 BD titles now, and I've been reading that H.264 AVC and 50GB discs are supposed to be more common, but I don't have a complete list as of now...

RE: er hm
By Xeronix on 1/9/2007 9:31:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah they are using VC1 a Microsoft standard, which is what HD-DVD uses, before they were using MPEG2.

RE: er hm
By xphile on 1/10/2007 9:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps this post will help you follow all this better. Several of the ones Ive read in this thread dont seem to contain fully factual information.

Both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats can and will use VC-1 at any time. Sony have evidently just started to do so, but until very very recently encoded all their movies in Mpeg2.

Originally Sony released a press release stating that they believed that Mpeg2 had a superior overall quality at the higher screen resolution, and that they would use it because they could. They made the clear point that it would be impossible to fit a longer movie in Mpeg2 on an HD-DVD disc, which was why HD-DVD were releasing in the "poorer" VC-1 format as it had higher compression. It was all essentially used as a marketing tool to show how great it was having more capacity.

This then backfired when Blu-Ray Mpeg2 movies can in many cases in fact look crap by comparison to their VC-1 counterparts. Just because a format compresses an original down to a smaller size does not mean it is necessarily throwing away more of the information in the original. YOu can prove this yourself when considering that some file compression programmes give smaller final compressed file sizes than others, but both can extract back the same original files.

In fact in video compression some of the data is actually totally thrown away to get the smaller sizes, and the more modern VC-1 codec throws LESS data away while ALSO compressing more. So thats why it looks better there is more of the original information on decoding than even Mpeg2 can deliver with its bigger file sizes and less compression. Compressing less doesnt mean throwing out less info to do so.

But the real benefit of VC-1 is that it supports the compression of interlaced content without first converting it to progressive, making it more attractive to the broadcast and movie industries anyway. This is essentially the main reason it creates the better picture.

Although most people say it is a Microsoft product, there are actually 15 companies that jointly hold the VC-1 patent. Microsoft implemented it first (which confuses people into thinking it is their product) in Windows Media Video 9. VC-1 is however open to implementation by anyone, although theoretically there is a licensing fee to be paid to the MPEG LA, LLC. licensing body. It certainly wouldnt be enough of a cost to stop Sony using it. The real reason that Sony havent raced to embrace it is almost certainly that it was already well done and well supported by one of the major HD-DVD camp - ie Microsoft, and by HD-DVD itself. Seems like Sony are in a back-peddle on this aspect too, though it would also seem they are getting rather used to peddling backwards these days.

RE: er hm
By retrospooty on 1/9/2007 10:11:17 PM , Rating: 2
Sony entertainment made that movie and owns the rights to the DVD, therefore any claims about anything are likely total BS.

RE: er hm
By Symbyant on 1/9/2007 11:20:58 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, Sony did say it will take the full 50GB. HOWEVER...this is only because they are still using MPEG-2 to author their discs. MPEG-2 has a much lower compression ratio compared to even VC-1 or H.264. The only reason Sony and all the other Blu-ray partners are making such a big deal over 50GB discs is to convince everyone (i.e the consumer) that they need Blu-ray because it has a larger capacity than HD-DVD - one of the biggest benefits that the consumer would likely see over HD-DVD. Movies authored on both formats like MI:3 look just as good on HD-DVD as they do on Blu-ray and both also can fit HD lossless audio on them despite the smaller size of HD-DVD(however, I do not know if the HD-DVD version have fewer special features).

RE: er hm
By JNo on 1/10/2007 10:52:22 AM , Rating: 2
You are absolutely correct Symbyant so I don't know why some idiot marked you down.. (got Sony's blu cock up their bum?)

RE: er hm
By goodstuff on 1/10/2007 2:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
Blu-ray has 50GB dual-layer discs.

RE: er hm
By AlexWade on 1/9/2007 9:29:53 PM , Rating: 3
All HD DVD's use VC-1. VC-1 produces the best picture, period, and use far less space than MPEG-2 or H.264. A 30 GB disc is more than enough space for an entire movie and lossless sound. Several Warner HD DVD titles feature lossless sound, such as Batman Begins.

MPEG-2 can get close to VC-1, but it requires 50 GB. That is why earlier Blu-Ray titles looked really bad, such Fifth Element and House of the Flying Daggers. VC-1 makes the smaller space of HD DVD irrelevant. The main reason Sony doesn't use VC-1 is because MPEG-2 is cheap.

And this player also shows that HD DVD will be around at least until next year. The format war will be decided this year, and with combo players coming out, it is going to be a tie. Which is the best thing we could hope for. If it is a tie, Blu-Ray will not win by default, because the studios that support both will probably support HD DVD only just because it is cheaper. So, they both will be around.

RE: er hm
By Symbyant on 1/9/2007 11:29:06 PM , Rating: 2
What do you mean less lossy? Just because a movie takes up less space because it uses a better compression standard does not mean that it is more lossy. VC-1 has a much better comproession ratio than MPEG-2 meaning that it can encode the SAME amount of picture information in a smaller space. MPEG-2, which Blu-ray titles have been heavily depending on since its launch, is the lossier format as, for example, a 15GB MPEG-2 movie retains less quality than a 15GB VC-1 movie(which is why Blu-ray titles are using so much disc space right now). Granted this will change when Blur-Ray discs start supporting H.264 more. Both formats have their strengths and weaknesses and the war will not be over for quite a while.

forgot to add
By ElJefe69 on 1/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: forgot to add
By Exodus220 on 1/9/2007 8:14:55 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, it is called a PS3 and can be found at a number of stores currently for between $500-600. Heck, I just saw 6 of them at two different Target stores.

RE: forgot to add
By Brandon Hill on 1/9/2007 8:20:49 PM , Rating: 2
While PS3s can be had for $500, the PS3 is not a standalone Blu-ray player. If that were the case, there wouldn't even need to be a market for Blu-ray players from Sony, Samsung or Philips. We'd all just be using PS3s ;)

Likewise, the pricing on HD DVD and Blu-ray players will drop faster than does the price for the PS3, just like the PS2/DVD market relationship.

RE: forgot to add
By bplewis24 on 1/10/2007 12:57:31 AM , Rating: 1
If that were the case, there wouldn't even need to be a market for Blu-ray players from Sony, Samsung or Philips. We'd all just be using PS3s ;)

Like most of the guys over at avs forums?


RE: forgot to add
By Brandon Hill on 1/10/2007 2:14:34 AM , Rating: 3
Since when did the AVS Forum represent average consumers ;)

RE: forgot to add
By bplewis24 on 1/10/2007 1:47:09 PM , Rating: 2
They don't, they represent the more knowledgeable consumer. So if they accept the PS3 as a stand-alone product for their A/V setup, I would think the PS3 qualifies pretty well.


RE: forgot to add
By rykerabel on 1/10/2007 10:50:35 AM , Rating: 2
PS3 is a standalone Blu-ray player.

I don't need anything else but a monitor to watch blu-ray movies with my ps3, thus standalone.

RE: forgot to add
By ViperROhb34 on 1/9/2007 9:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah.. its kind of ironic.. when Xbox 360 had been out for 5-6 months it was still selling for over a grand on Ebay and hard to get.. I went looking for a Wii around Christmas ( this one month after PS3 release mind you ) and was at Walmart.. they had a PS3 sitting there.. I came back 6 hrs later.. and it was still there !! The guy told me that it had been there for 2 days.. and this is Christmas time !!

RE: forgot to add
By creathir on 1/9/2007 10:10:05 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is, the cost of entry is FAR too high.
Just think of this for one second. They are asking half a grand for a video game. Sure it plays BluRay, but what else? That is it. At least 500 smackers... for a video game. Imagine parents buying that for their 15 year old...
I don't see it happening. At least not in mass numbers...
If Sony wants to even stand a CHANCE of not becoming a flash in the pan, they MUST lower their cost of entry and assume they will recoup it in software sales, otherwise, the war has already been won by the 360 and the Wii.

- Creathir

RE: forgot to add
By ElJefe69 on 1/10/2007 1:05:02 AM , Rating: 2
I really do not think that many people have a TV capable of playing hd games or hd movies. It sounds odd but not so odd when you consider that the vast majority of people buying big flat panel tv's are 30-50 and the target audience for gaming is below 30. Not many people at my store want to both get a hdtv flat panel tv and game. those who game cant use their tv's to play their games.

Tech pages like this one are filled with wishful thinking people. Wii sold because it plays on what people own. xbox360 sold to gaming enthusiasts but the general public just isnt doing that as much as one who reads these pages would think. ps3 is marketed with an elitist look. It deserves that image. I think all of the spoiled brats were given the xbox360 already and that was enough. regular people are waiting to get a new tv and for prices to fall on the gaming systems.

RE: forgot to add
By dubldwn on 1/10/2007 2:44:32 AM , Rating: 2
From today:
"More than a third of U.S. households owned a high-definition television in 2006 and some 55 percent are expected to own one this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association."

RE: forgot to add
By Aikouka on 1/10/2007 8:22:52 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think there's an issue with TVs, to be honest. I mean, Sony gives you composite cables with the PS3. Although, downscaling to 480i (I don't recall if 480p is supported through composite, if so let me know! :)) will usually provide horrid issues with text (as it also does on the XBOX 360 using composite with an SDTV).

The problem is the games. There really isn't a game that currently makes me want to buy the system. I mean, the XBOX 360 had DoA4 and I've always been a fan of DoA, but the PS3 has nothing that really interests me (R:FoM is supposed to be good, but I don't need yet another shooter when I have GoW and R6V to beat... still). Looking at upcoming games, it will probably be 2-4 months before there's at least a couple titles that everyone may be able to find one or two that they enjoy. I just hope Sony has a "hidden Ace" waiting in the wing to come out, because going 2-4 months with bad sales is going to hurt their quarter earnings!

RE: forgot to add
By rykerabel on 1/10/2007 10:59:19 AM , Rating: 2
I do think TV is an issue.

PS3 does 1080p for $500.
Cheapest 1080p TV is over $1500.

Consumers who are aware of 1080p are waiting and consumers who are clueless are buying into all the FUD about the PS3.

I bought my PS3 because it does full 1080p for the extremely low price of $600, but I don't yet have an HDTV to display it on since there are no 1080p of appreciable quality below $1,000 yet. Still looks sweet on my EDTV until then. Hopefully the 1080p displays will cost right by this summer.

RE: forgot to add
By ViperROhb34 on 1/10/2007 3:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
Where is a stand-alone Bluray player currently 600 ??

I've seen prices at retailers and I havent seen any near that.
a Search of Best Buy's Website;jsessionid...

shows the cheapest is 999 going all the way up to 1,400 !!

Xbox or PS3?
By Phlargo on 1/9/2007 11:00:57 PM , Rating: 2
I don't really care to buy either.. but honestly.. why wouldn't you just but a gaming system instead of buying a stand alone player - at least then you'd be able to do other things!

Hell, if I were that into HD-DVD, I'd buy an Xbox360 so I could play Gears of War... they have to make these stand alone boxes a lot more attractive to out pace the consoles.

RE: Xbox or PS3?
By ajfink on 1/10/2007 12:39:02 AM , Rating: 2
Gotta give the HD-DVD guys credit for this...I own an Xbox 360 and the first item on my Christmas wishlist was the HD-DVD addon. I know a couple of friends who were the same way. I'd like to know how many have been sold thus far.

No Fifth Element or Black Hawk Down on HD-DVD, though, which saddens me.

RE: Xbox or PS3?
By AlexWade on 1/10/2007 8:32:26 AM , Rating: 2
You don't want Fifth Element on Blu-Ray. It looked really on Blu-Ray.

RE: Xbox or PS3?
By therealnickdanger on 1/10/2007 9:46:28 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the SuperBit DVD of TFE on a good upscaler looks almost as good. They kinda screwed up TFE on Blu-Ray. I'm happy I got my HD-DVD add-on for my Xbox360, especially since they announced 300 more titles this year and a possible 51GB movie disc, making Blu-Ray's size advantage moot.

What's cool is that some of Blu-Ray's exclusives are actually only exclusive to the USA, you can get HD-DVD versions of such "exclusives" from other countries. You pay a bit more, but having Total Recall on HD-DVD is worth the $40. "Benny! SCREW YOUUUUUUU!"

When a fully-featured dual-format player hits the market for a decent price, I'll definitely snag one so I don't have to make sacrifices on movie selection. In the mean time, I'll hold out with the HD-DVD camp.

RE: Xbox or PS3?
By deeznuts on 1/10/2007 1:34:51 PM , Rating: 2
Estimates I have heard was 200k. With 200k HD DVD standalone products sold, so a rough estimate of 400k HD DVD products sold. This, I do believe, was coming from a proponent of HD DVD (i.e. they were arguing HD DVD was winning).

Blu-Ray has already outsold HD DVD by virtue of the PS3. Even if it hasn't yet, it is close and will outsell them.

RE: Xbox or PS3?
By therealnickdanger on 1/10/2007 2:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
I *think* I *heard* 200K units as well for the add-on, but I have read via CES of a confirmed attach rate of 28 titles per player... which is pretty damned amazing. That puts it on par, performance-wise, with DVD when it came out. Since the PS3 is not specifically a BD-player, its sales numbers are less important, especially given the poor attach rate of the PS3.

Regardless, it's obvious that neither format is going away anytime soon.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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