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Studio boss knocks Blu-ray for poor image quality, high price

It looks as though Sony just can't catch a break these days in the news. Last week we learned that Sony was delaying the European launch of its PlayStation 3 from November 17 to March of 2007 along with the announcement that an initial batch of 500,000 total units would be available for the November 11 Japanese launch and November 17 North American launch. The launch delay/shipment reduction is due to Sony's problems with manufacturing blue laser diodes used by the Blu-ray drive on the PS3.

Well today, we learn of even more bad news for the Sony camp. Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, came out swinging against the Blu-ray standard calling HD DVD the "hands down" winner in the next generation movie formats. "Look at the blogs, look at the reviews by the early adopters and even look at the mainstream media – HD DVD has maintained its first-to-market advantage and delivered on the promises of providing the best high definition image and sound quality at the best value for consumers today," said Kornblau.

Kornblau is likely referencing three head-to-head comparison reviews done on Blu-ray and HD DVD versions of 'Training Day,' 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' and 'Rumor Has It....' In those comparison tests done by High-Def Digest in early August, HD DVD clearly came out ahead of Blu-ray in image quality. The Blu-ray titles featured increased noise/artifacting and darker overall color casting. Issue of cropping also popped up with the three Blu-ray titles tested.

However, a more recent test by High-Def Digest produced more promising results from the Blu-ray camp. 'Firewall,' 'Lethal Weapon,' 'Blazing Saddles' and 'Full Metal Jacket' were tested this time around. With the exception of 'Full Metal Jacket,' the titles this time around used VC-1 compression instead of MPEG-2 resulting in much improved image quality across the board:

But to summarize, with this batch there is no clear "winner." If last time Blu-ray took more than its fair share of slings and arrows over picture quality and the format's reliance (up until now) on MPEG-2, this time the more level playing field has helped close the gap between Blu-ray and HD DVD. If nothing else, our second Blu-ray versus HD DVD face-off strongly indicates that what some people had declared a format war won is still far from over.

So while Kornblau is right in pointing out HD DVD advantages in pricing and availability, the image quality debate is still alive and well.

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If only I cared...
By JSK on 9/17/2006 3:39:42 PM , Rating: 2
Neither of these formats are going to wooo a majority of buyers yet. If ever.

HDTV's are not widespread enough.

The DRM and restrictions limit the market also.

There really isnt a major reason to upgrade besides HD, and capacity.

At least with dvd there was the space saving aspect, going from a analog to a digital source, and VHS had well overshot its days. DVD sales are still huge, I dont know the numbers , but if sales have peaked title wise (im sure it has player wise) the demand is still huge thus making DVD still the key market.

RE: If only I cared...
By imaheadcase on 9/17/06, Rating: 0
RE: If only I cared...
By JazzMang on 9/17/2006 4:35:23 PM , Rating: 4
I disagree completely.
Have you ever seen a 1080p stream on a 1080p screen? It blew me away. NO DVD I have seen has looked that good.

Sorry. Not buying it.

RE: If only I cared...
By imaheadcase on 9/17/06, Rating: 0
RE: If only I cared...
By freemaker9 on 9/17/2006 7:14:30 PM , Rating: 2
I used to work at Circuit City and pretty much everything we shold was HDTV, unless the customer was particularly cheap. Considering the government ordered all broadcasting to go hi-def by an ever nearing date, it doesn't make sense to buy a TV set that'll be absolete in a few years. I would say most customers bought HDTVs with Up-Covert DVD players; few took the leap to HDDVD or BluRay.

RE: If only I cared...
By johnnyMon on 9/17/2006 7:47:00 PM , Rating: 3
The government requirement is not HDTV. They ordered all over-the-air broadcasters to switch from analog signals to digital signals. These digital signals do not have to be HDTV quality. They could be much lower quality than HDTV and still comply with the law.

RE: If only I cared...
By rushfan2006 on 9/18/2006 8:34:08 AM , Rating: 2
No actually I do remember the FCC posting about it...if I knew this topic would have come up I would of had to to post the link to the exact passage about it on the FCC site (that site is kind of a pain to find certain things).

Anyway, its not a huge deal because first the requirement to go HDTV wasn't across the board. The requirement wasn't until like 2012 or 2016 -- so in 6 - 10 years...HDTV is gonna be so much the norm...even cheapy sets for $200 will be HDTV.

RE: If only I cared...
By HueyD on 9/18/2006 12:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
The cut-off date is Feb. 2009. Analog goes away, and all broadcasters must be transmitting DTV (not necessarily HDTV), although I have not heard of any broadcasters not transmitting HDTV.

RE: If only I cared...
By mindless1 on 9/18/2006 7:02:40 PM , Rating: 2
You are overlooking something very important- that it doesn't matter how they GET there (HDTV).

They could take a 200x160 pixel digital source and upsample the heck out of it.

This is a similar situation in other aspects of HDTV too, that to end up with a good HDTV detail preservation, the source must be of same or much higher resolution. Most often it is not, the conversion just makes the bitrate degrade quality back to where it is again near that of DVD, and often worse (more artifacts).

RE: If only I cared...
By kamel5547 on 9/18/2006 3:01:32 PM , Rating: 2
You mean they were HDTV "ready" don't you? CC & BB have been marketing things as HDTV "ready" for the majority, but unfortunately you need to buy additional equipment for it to be an HDTV.

This fact alone is going to hinder HD as too many people are confused. You seel two TV's the only real apparent difference being the word ready and a $500 price difference and odds are people bought the "ready" one. Most people at CC & BB can't explain the difference well enough for consumers to make a good decision from my experience. Heck, half the time your lucky if the guy gets the answer right in the first place ( at least form the conversations I overheard ).

Tv's won't be obsolete anyhow... if your getting cable then your box will work with whatever TV you have, its not hard to down-convert.

RE: If only I cared...
By PurdueRy on 9/18/2006 8:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you don't know the difference either.

Most people only need HDTV ready TV's. Unless you plan on strictly going OTA, your HD cable/satellite box will serve as the tuner and no built in tuner is needed.

RE: If only I cared...
By ViperROhb34 on 9/18/2006 12:35:34 PM , Rating: 2
I can say my HD-DVD looks so awesome on my widescreen..
But to give the previous post that you "disagreed" with a tiny small does of ( i said tiny ) credit..HD players probably don't look any better then regular DVD players ( with composite 480p cables) on a regular 680x480 tube tv.. since they can't display higher - maybe thats what he meant..

On an HD-TV - theres no argument -HD blows away anything else..

RE: If only I cared...
By Motley on 9/17/2006 4:43:05 PM , Rating: 3
Those reviewers obviously need glasses.

RE: If only I cared...
By Motley on 9/17/2006 4:45:11 PM , Rating: 3
Sounds like you are in denial. HDTV's are outselling SDTV's. Why would people buy HDTV's then want to watch SD content when they could be watching HD content?

RE: If only I cared...
By GhandiInstinct on 9/18/2006 12:36:49 AM , Rating: 1
Because very few channels are broadcasted in HD.

RE: If only I cared...
By jmunjr on 9/17/2006 10:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
Until I can easily back up the titles I purchase, and do so without limits, I will not purchases an HD player, unless all titles cost the same as a movie ticket.

For me, DVDs are close enough in quality to anything HD. At a 20 foot viewing distance in my home I'll need a pretty big screen for any differences to matter.

RE: If only I cared...
By augiem on 9/17/2006 10:12:25 PM , Rating: 4
If companies would offer free replacement for damaged discs for life, the backup issue would be a moot point. I wish they would do something like this...

RE: If only I cared...
By vortmax on 9/18/2006 9:26:32 AM , Rating: 2
Just buy a prjector with HD capabilities...I have one and it rocks on my 104" screen...

RE: If only I cared...
By rushfan2006 on 9/18/2006 11:12:20 AM , Rating: 2
projectors are nice but you still don't get the same quality as an actual high end plasma, LCD and certainly not a tube will give you. The projectors I've seen ranged in price from $1800 to as much as $8000. They went in quality from "fair" to "damn good"...but even the $8000 projector didn't produce as good looking an HD image as a Panasonic HDTV for $2599 did.

Still the HDTV projectors are fine and perfectly adequate for casual home viewing needs.

RE: If only I cared...
By JWalk on 9/18/2006 11:48:21 AM , Rating: 2
You need to take a look at some of the latest 720p projectors from Infocus and Optoma. I own an Optoma HD-72. It cost me $1800 with an extra bulb. I made my own screen for it for about $200. So, for a grand total of $2000 I have the best (and largest) screen I have ever seen. The brightness of this thing rivals the LCD and Plasma TV's I have owned. The picture quality is as good as any 720p or 1080i capable TV I have seen. And of course, there is always the viewing size (100 inch diagonal currently). Didn't mean to turn into a commercial for projectors, but until you have seen one of these new models you don't know what they are really capable of. I won't be going 1080p until they release projectors capable of it in this price range. :)

RE: If only I cared...
By rushfan2006 on 9/18/2006 12:21:11 PM , Rating: 2
Ok you got me interested...a few things that would be a concern for me....

1) How long of a life can be expected from the bulbs? When they need replacing how expensive?

2) What is the refresh like? Do you think its adequate for computer use...ghosting on games?

RE: If only I cared...
By Korvon on 9/18/2006 12:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
Optima has one with a 5000 hour lamp life, but they are usually in the 2-3000 range. Projectors come in two flavors DLP, and LCD each having their pros and cons. Projectors are just as good (quality wise) as any projection TV out there without the viewing angle issue. Plus you have the flexibility of a 5 lb box vs. a 500 lb Projection TV.
I use mine for movies and playing games on my computer and it works great. :)

RE: If only I cared...
By S3anister on 9/17/2006 11:36:34 PM , Rating: 1
i seriously think that both formats suck way more than what they're worth. and the fact that they cost so freaking much for the player+media make it rediclous. nobody will buy this stuff except the people with extra/excessive money. anyone care to argue that?

RE: If only I cared...
By ogreslayer on 9/18/2006 8:41:46 AM , Rating: 2
People bought DVD at a higher cost of ownership. The problem is the the studios and the more affluent of our citizens are not behind the change. The HD revolution is not picking up any steam its just plodding along riding the price cuts to higher margins. This dual format thing is probably better for the consumer in the long run. By the time this is over we will probably have Holo-Discs(sounds cooler too) ready for market and this whole thing will have been moot.

The other thing that is killing them is DVD itself. People have vast DVD collections and decent players... Why step into a new, potentially stagnant, technology. Especially if you have not bought an HDTV yet(which contrary to some people's opinions MOST people have not).

I might buy some Blu-Ray discs when I get a PS3, If the format is still alive around Summer'07. Those morons really should have just combined a standard; cause neither will really win in the long run it looks like. My bet is on HD DVD now, seems like Sony messed up just alittle too much and they have a window of opportunity for the holiday season to pounce and try an make a run. But, I doubt anything they do garner will last very long.

I remember when I got my 34in CRT (space concern, optimal size for viewing distance) the picture is unbelivable and everyone who saw it agreed. Told them either the weight or the price and they looked at me like I was from another planet. And I'm sure that still happens when people go into the store see some awesome 50in, they and/or their significant other are into it; then the 1500-2500 price tag rolls around and one of them goes... Why?

RE: If only I cared...
By blazeoptimus on 9/18/2006 9:01:59 AM , Rating: 2
Ive watched 1080p video, and I have to agree with the first poster, it just isnt there yet. I really cant see swapping out your TV and Player for this equipment. DVD quality video is far superior to VHS, but 1080p qaulity (not resolution which is vastly greater) is not noticable enough for me to warrent going to an appliance thats really a small computer just play something at higher resolutions. I can already see what I want to see without skipping, stuttering, lines in the video, or ambient noise. This is of course ignoring the much more resitrictive DRM on the players.

RE: If only I cared...
By encryptkeeper on 9/18/2006 12:19:14 PM , Rating: 2
I would tend to agree that the BD and HDDVD formats won't be able to replace standard DVD formats. People are buying the HD TV's because salesmen push them so hard and their prices are coming down. Thats great and all but there's a large majority of people who have NO desire to replace their collection of standard DVDs. Without that huge demand, the prices for HD and BR will take a LONG time to come down in price. And look at the titles that are being put out for these new formats. Lords of Dogtown, Chronicles of Riddick. Can you say PSP movies? These are movies that appeal to the HD audience, but most people just don't care about these flicks. Without a huge and I mean HUGE demand for the first movies available for BR and HD, no movie studio will request other titles to be produced. So there's my argument. What's the other problem getting these formats off the ground? Hollywood has put out SO many great movies on SO many different editions no one is willing to spend more money on the same movie in a different format (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars to name a few). If the makers of the next gen formats want their products to take off, get some better exclusive movies.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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