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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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Hardware vs. Software vs. Execution
By giantpandaman2 on 9/17/2006 5:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
The picture quality question is stupid.

They will both use the same codecs eventually so the software is almost the same when it comes to video. (Menus and "games" don't really matter all that much.) So the video quality will eventually be almost the same (minor variations depending on extras/sound format/etc.)

So on the hardware side it boils down to two or three things. Capacity, copy protection, and execution. BD wil have better capacity. HD-DVD has a less draconian copy protection scheme (managed copy is mandatory vs. whatever the studios feel like allowing you to do on BD.) As for execution. Well, HD-DVD has so far stomped BD on execution. Availability, price, and video quality were all far better than BD. Even HD-DVD sound quality far surpassed BD.

RE: Hardware vs. Software vs. Execution
By giantpandaman2 on 9/17/2006 5:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
Meh, looked at my comment and saw how puzzling it was. My point about the video/sound quality in the last paragraph was about how those are important to show only that HD-DVD's execution has been far better than BD. However, in the long run the video/sound quality should get close to even. However...I'm not sure if BD will ever be able to execute as well as HD-DVD.

The only place where BD has executed better is in the release of recordable discs...but that's pretty much a "who cares" issue since no one is going to use them en masse anytime soon.

By griffynz on 9/17/2006 7:37:59 PM , Rating: 3
I firmly believe this battle will come down to price, this is what allowed DVD players into homes. The early buyers of DVD, like myself, paid alot for average players in hindsight. When both players are using VC-1 and DD+ you will find that HD-DVD will win.
If they look the same you only have movie titles to woo buyers.
Who buys a player that cost 2x's the price and the end result is the same?
Remember the people who are buying these formats for Movies DO NOT care about how many MEGS the disc holds!!! Ask someone buying a DVD how many MEGS per layer and they will say 'I don't know, it fits the movie...'
PRICE is all the MASSES care about, if its too dear then it won't sell.

RE: Hardware vs. Software vs. Execution
By ttowntom on 9/18/2006 11:45:44 AM , Rating: 3
The picture quality question is stupid

What a totally silly comment. Picture quality is the ONLY reason to move from DVD to a different format. Image quality is the primary factor. Now, maybe some future BR disks and some FUTURE BR players will have equal or better IQ. But whats available today is what counts. You can't review future technology...only whats on sale now.

on the hardware side it boils down to two or three things. Capacity, copy protection, and execution.

For movies, capacity is a non-issue. If you can fit a full movie at 1080p on the disc (which both formats can) then the extra space is just wasted. I really don't think anyone is going to choose BR over HD-DVD just because they can fit a full season of "24" on two discs instead of three.

And you forgot the most important factor, outside of IQ. Price. The cheapest item usually wins, if its anywhere near the same quality.

By giantpandaman2 on 9/19/2006 2:49:05 AM , Rating: 2
Please read the original comment again. Comprehension before commenting is a good idea.

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