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One multi-format... player... to rule them all

It looks like another manufacturer of optical media players will be launching multi-format devices which will play and record to both Blu-ray and HD-DVD as well as standard DVD and CD formats.

Ricoh has just announced at Interopto 2006 that it is developing a set top Blu-ray and HD-DVD hybrid player which we should expect to see on store shelves by the end of 2007 followed by a recording device.

There aren't many details on the final products themselves besides some snapshots of information on the optics Ricoh will be using in the players and drives which are capable of reading BD, HD-DVD, DVD, and CD optical media formats.

Recently Ricoh also announced that it had developed a component which would allow devices to read both types of high-density media which would lead to the development of hybrid Blu-ray/HD-DVD players.

Ricoh is not the first to announce a hybrid product for the new high-density media formats though. Many companies have decided to form joint ventures to combine Blu-ray and HD-DVD technologies to produce products which will allow consumers to play content off both formats which will eliminate costly purchases on the consumer side. LG Electronics has also dropped plans for a standalone Blu-ray player in hopes of unifying both standards in a single package. Technical and pricing information for Ricoh's upcoming product has not yet been announced but we will keep you updated as it becomes available.

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RE: By the end of...2007?
By mushi799 on 7/12/2006 6:46:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yep the same reason why i'm getting Blu-ray, higher capacity.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By masher2 on 7/12/2006 6:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
> "Yep the same reason why i'm getting Blu-ray"

I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts you *don't* wind up buying a BR-only player. If you wait for the market shakeout, its never going to'll wind up buying a dual-format player in a year or two, as will most people.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By mushi799 on 7/12/2006 6:59:31 PM , Rating: 2
well, im not buying it now. I'm waiting at least a year before everything settles.

Strange how people complain about blu-ray high production cost, but dual format players will be higher when compared to blu-ray

RE: By the end of...2007?
By protosv on 7/12/2006 9:49:37 PM , Rating: 2
As I understand it, the higher production cost associated with Blu-Ray is that of the media, not the drive. They both use blue lasers, and should cost about the same to produce.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By masher2 on 7/12/2006 10:10:52 PM , Rating: 2
> "As I understand it, the higher production cost associated with Blu-Ray is that of the media, not the drive. They both use blue lasers, and should cost about the same to produce. "

Both actually....though interestingly enough, resellers seem to be willing to settle for a smaller margin on the BR disks, as they're selling for about the same price now.

Personally, I think HD-DVD is going to drop in price a lot faster, but we'll see. BR certainly has the marketing muscle behind it now.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By dagamer34 on 7/12/2006 6:53:20 PM , Rating: 2
Higher capacity is moot for movies when they use a codec that takes up more space anyway.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By mushi799 on 7/12/2006 7:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
My roommate DL a season of the TV show 24, it was 14 gigs and the quality was OK, you can tell it was degraded to save space.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By PrinceGaz on 7/13/2006 5:08:17 AM , Rating: 2
My roommate DL a season of the TV show 24, it was 14 gigs and the quality was OK, you can tell it was degraded to save space.

Yes, but a season of 24 consists of 24 episodes each about 40-45 mins long. In other words about 17 hours of content. Of course there was some quality degradation to fit that much material into 14GB, especially if it was encoded with a codec other than H.264 (MPEG4 AVC). Most downloaded content uses the inferior MPEG4 ASP (XviD and DivX) which gives lower quality for a given bitrate, or even worse MPEG2 (especially TV shows captured using a TV-tuner card).

14GB is plenty for an HD movie with extras using H.264 encoding. Most (all?) movies are a lot shorter than 17 hours in length, and for the longer ones they can always use a dual-layer HD-DVD which has 30GB available.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By i2mfan on 7/12/2006 7:19:02 PM , Rating: 2
But if they use an higher bitrate for encoding the movie, then the higher capacity will make sense. How much? That would have to be seen unless they are limited in that matter. More extra or additional sountrack(commentaries, language...) can be added. Often, french track is in stereo on DVD's and not 5.1.

Anyway, first gen of both format will not be optimized in that regards(codec)like it was with the first gen DVDs. At least, they got some practiced. :D

End of 2007 is a looonnnng time to wait. Unless someone step up to the plate first and what price?

When the PS3 is launched, you will be able to get both format for around $1000 total. Paying more than $1000 for a BR player is way too much compare to HD-DVD($500) and PS3($500) but it will mean more cables :(

By ViperROhb34 on 7/12/2006 7:21:01 PM , Rating: 2
The player alone is around a grand now..
the recorder will likely run around 1700 or more on debut.. a year later it might be down to a grand if Bluray takes off quickly..

Most people won't need the storage that quick.. not the avg everyday person like my aunt or dad who makes or breaks a new technology to the masses..

Triple layer HD-DVD will offer 80 gigs sooner and probably be cheaper.. thats the same size as many peoples Tivo's .. I only have a 40gig and can record 8 hrs of HD-tv with room to spare and most folks don't have it or have bigscreens to appreciate it..

Truth is both Bluray and HD-DVD will likely be obsolete in 4 or 5 yrs.. holographic disc will be out likely around then.. which is around the time most people will care about having that kind of recording storage media..

The word futureproof is now more obsolete then ever..

RE: Amen
By Soulkeeper on 7/12/2006 7:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
this is great
i hope more companies do this
maybe this will end some of the nonsense

RE: By the end of...2007?
By phatboye on 7/12/2006 10:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
the real reason to get blu ray over hd-dvd is not the extra capacity but the ability to show movies in 1080p which, from what i'm told, won't be avalable on hd-dvd.

Someone correct me if i'm wrong.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By masher2 on 7/12/2006 10:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
> "Someone correct me if i'm wrong."

Partially. The initial Toshiba player doesn't output 1080p, because the standard wasn't finalized in time. However, all HD-DVD movies (if telecined) are recorded in 1080p24, just as are Blu Rays...and future players (and possibly the original Toshiba player, through a firmware release) will output 1080p.

In any case, the furor over 1080p vs 1080i is a bit overblown. Your average Joe can't tell the difference at all...and a digital set receiving 1080i60 can convert it to it to progressive format with -zero- loss of image quality.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By namechamps on 7/13/2006 3:39:13 AM , Rating: 2
Dont believe everything marketing people tell you.

There are only two players out right now
Toshiba HD-A1 (HD-DVD)
Samsung Something (BluRay)

Both formats store the movie at 1080P24 thats 1080P 24 frames/sec.
Both use the exact same decoder chip and it is 1080i. For marketing the samsung the de-interlaces the picture back to 1080P before it sends it to your set so:

DISK (1080P) ----> DECODER (1080I)

DISK (1080P) ----> DECODER (1080I) ----> ENCODER (1080P)

The problem is that the encoder is not as good as those found in high end TV hence it introduces artifacts.

Even those people who know what they are doing set the samsung to 1080i for output and for even better quality use component. Not to say the Toshiba is perfect but the Samsung is just plain garbage with a lot of marketing and twice the price.

RE: By the end of...2007?
By namechamps on 7/13/2006 3:46:52 AM , Rating: 2
Except all BD so far have been single layer. So HD-DVD is 30GB and BD is 25GB. To make it worse HD-DVD is using the efficent VC1 and BD is using the ancient mpeg2. Since VC1 is about 2X as efficent as mpeg2 it would be like comparing 60GB to 25 GB.

Sony hasn't been able to get the yield high enough to make dual layer economical yet. They say maybe this fall but then again they said that in 2003. Currently single layer BD disks cost more to stamp then dual layer HD disks. So keep on waiting. Maybe you will have good quality in 2008. By then HD-DVD will be at $200 players and normal DVD prices for content.


"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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