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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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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.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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