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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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First round products weren't that great...
By JeffDM on 9/17/2006 4:24:55 PM , Rating: 2
...but I don't think that speaks to second round products. The Samsung Blu-Ray player had a defective video enhancement chip or defective firmware setting in that chip which hurt video quality. Making a format comparison when they were using a known bad player makes no sense, unless the review was intended to be biased.

A shortage of blue laser diodes doesn't make an excuse though, because it's the same wavelength laser for both standards.

I'll be waiting for the reviews of the next wave of players and titles before making a decision.

RE: First round products weren't that great...
By Scrogneugneu on 9/17/2006 4:45:49 PM , Rating: 2
Making a format comparison when they were using a known bad player makes no sense

It does, when it's the only player available. What were they supposed to say? "Blu-ray has lower quality, but it's because the player sucks, so even though you can get a great quality player for HD-DVD but not for Blu-Ray, we say it's still undecided which format is the best at this time"?

If you can't provide what is needed for it to look good, then it does not look good. Period. Come back when you have your stuff working right in the first place.

By ajfink on 9/17/2006 4:56:47 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I've always thought HD DVD would take the home theater segment more than Blu-Ray, but Blu-Ray might be more useful for data archiving and backups, etc.

Just makes me sad I won't be able to buy some of my favorite movies on HD DVD in the beginning of this "format war." And when I say beginning, I'm thinking this could drag out for a few years.

By JeffDM on 9/17/2006 10:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that just one implementation of a standard does not necessarily show what the standard is capable of. The same applies to the Toshiba HD-DVD player because its first firmware iteration was clunky, but that doesn't mean that the format is clunky.

The Samsung's firmware bug has been fixed and is currently being pushed out the door, so hopefully we'll see if the problems with Blu-Ray is just the player or bad encoding.

By Locutus465 on 9/17/2006 8:32:13 PM , Rating: 2
I tend to think that it was entirly fair... They were comparing the quality of the best available blue-ray v. HD-DVD products on the market. What that review told me is that blue-ray is struggling so much that they can't even get a good quality product on the market like Toshiba did with HD-DVD. What's more currently I only know of the samsung blue-ray player on the market v. Toshiba & RCA (that I know of) having HD-DVD Players. I'd say in terms of being able to deliver quality product, and a variaty of content. HD-DVD is winning hands down right now.

By EclipsedAurora on 9/18/2006 11:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
As I know, all Pioneer, Sony and Panasonic delayed their BD players is becox of extra tuning time is needed to address the compatability and quality issues. It seems what Samsung did it to put all efforts to be the "1st" BD player in the market.

As I heard from a friend working in Pioneer, their top of the line Elite reference series BD player is delayed until Q1 2007.

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