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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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Quality of source material…
By ryedizzel on 9/18/2006 8:51:53 AM , Rating: 2
In regards to the high-definition vs. standard debate, there IS a difference. And anyone that goes to their local retail store can clearly see this on their display TVs. However I do question the quality of HD-DVD over normal DVD for older movies.

Correct me if I’m wrong but movie companies need to upgrade their recorders to those capable of capturing an HD signal. For live broadcasts like football games, boxing matches, music concerts, etc. you get to see the difference now because they have already begun capturing it in HD. But what about older movies being re-released on this new HD media? Is the source material these movie companies using even “high-definition” capable?

I dunno, I would love to see all of my favorite movies in HD. But if I understand the technology correctly this will sadly never happen. And thus the upgrade to HD-DVD over normal DVD is worthless for anything other than the very latest releases.

RE: Quality of source material…
By Janooo on 9/18/2006 10:34:13 AM , Rating: 2
Movies are captured on film. It's analog. It gets covnerted to DVD/HD-DVD/BR formats. Film image quality is higher than any DVD codec.

By lemonadesoda on 9/18/2006 10:45:41 AM , Rating: 2
To be specific to the poster's question, YES, film has much more information on it than either HD-DVD and BR. You can take old film stock from the 60s and 70s and get a digitalisation with much higher resolution than HD-DVD or BR.

However, the critical component is digitising the old films. A new digital master would need to be made for the new format.

You are always limited by the lowest common denominator. Not all films are made on panavision or other large film formats. Not all films have survived.

Charlie Chaplin, will, unfortunately, not look much better that those old B&W flicks of yesteryear.

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