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.