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Superman in the two colors of high-def (Source: Engadget HD)
Warner's hybrid high-def discs pushed back until next year

In early 2007, Warner Bros. announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that it was developing a hybrid disc format that would be playable in both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD players. The dual format disc, called Total HD, was heralded as solution to customer confusion over the current format war.

Total HD was originally planned to hit the market by the latter half of this year, but according to Video Business, that won’t happen until early 2008. Warner senior VP of marketing management Steve Nickerson wants to assure customers that the state of Total HD is not in jeopardy, and that movies are on the way.

“There is no expiration date on the viability of this concept, so we’re not in a rush to do it,” Nickerson said. “We’ll do it when it makes sense and when it's right.”

Warner says it plans to launch the format with 10 to 20 titles and to have retailers display them all together, separately from the HD DVD and Blu-ray section to differentiate them.

The movie studio hopes that its Total HD disc will encourage consumers to purchase high-def movies, as the dual format discs would be essentially future-proof should one format prove to be victorious.

“The Total Hi Def disc is about giving consumers complete choice, providing creators and artists the greatest possible distribution of their work, and helping retailers thrive in the marketplace,” said Kevin Tsujihara, President of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, at the CES unveiling. “By eliminating potential apprehension over formats, we believe this new disc could help consumers fully embrace the greatest home entertainment experience available.”

Warner, one of the studios that supports both formats, says it will continue its practice of dual releases for the time being. “Our research shows that there is demand for each of those products,” said studio VP Dan Miron. “We are trying to evaluate [how to best treat] each one of these releases.”

The Total HD disc would also simplify point of sale issues for retailers by reducing the shelf space required to carry two versions of the same content. But until either one format wins by the end of 2007 or all studios start manufacturing Total HD discs – technology which Warner is sharing with the industry for free – then retailers will have to view Total HD as a third format on its shelves.

“With high-def, we’re trying to put Blu-ray and HD DVD on the same disc. Total HD is not coming until first-quarter 2008. We will find shelf space,” added Miron.



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I hate to say it...
By ryedizzel on 6/28/2007 9:27:27 AM , Rating: 2
..because I am not a big fan of Sony, but with a movie giant such as Blockbuster choosing to carry Blu-Ray instead of HD-DVD I don't see the current format war lasting much longer. Especially since Blue-Ray already has a ton more titles available and it is technically superior technology for the same price (if not right now it will be soon).




RE: I hate to say it...
By ryedizzel on 6/28/2007 9:33:34 AM , Rating: 1
(continued..)

I believe this is the reason Warner Bros. is holding off on the dual-format idea. There is no point investing more money into something that may not be needed/ desired in the near future.


RE: I hate to say it...
By PitViper007 on 6/28/2007 12:10:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I believe this is the reason Warner Bros. is holding off on the dual-format idea. There is no point investing more money into something that may not be needed/ desired in the near future.


I didn't think of this, but I believe you may be right on here. The dual format disk would be very desirable if this format war was to go on indefinitely, but I can see Warner holding off if they think the writing is on the wall.

PitViper


RE: I hate to say it...
By PitViper007 on 6/28/2007 12:16:31 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I believe this is the reason Warner Bros. is holding off on the dual-format idea. There is no point investing more money into something that may not be needed/ desired in the near future.


I didn't think of this, but I believe you may be right on here. The dual format disk would be very desirable if this format war was to go on indefinitely, but I can see Warner holding off if they think the writing is on the wall.

PitViper


RE: I hate to say it...
By blaster5k on 6/28/2007 9:42:22 AM , Rating: 2
The players are still quite a bit more expensive for Blu-Ray. You can get a standalone HD-DVD player for $300 or the X-Box 360 add-on drive for $200 and hook it up to a PC. The cheapest standalone Blu-Ray player is almost $500 and the cheapest PC drives are still around $450. That's a pretty big delta still. You're not even getting very much, if any, benefit in terms of movie quality by choosing Blu-Ray over HD-DVD. They're pretty similar, so it makes the price jump a little hard to swallow for me.


RE: I hate to say it...
By Mitch101 on 6/28/2007 9:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
Even less I have seen HD-DVD players recently for $200.00 with 5 free movies and the X-Box HD-DVD for as low as $129.00. Had a few friends jump in on them.

However without a clear winner and studios on either sides I would want Im just picking up a HD unit for Direct Tv and waiting for the movies on HBO or Showtime. I know its not the same quality as the HD/BR movies but it doesnt suck either. I find I just cant commit to either until these dual discs come along or a dual drive player happens. By the time its straightened out Im thinking UHDTV will be out.


RE: I hate to say it...
By FITCamaro on 6/28/07, Rating: -1
RE: I hate to say it...
By Shadowself on 6/28/2007 12:32:16 PM , Rating: 5
First, while both formats *can* support all three major codecs, HD DVD is primarily VC-1 which promotes a softer image and Blu-ray originally had predominantly MPEG-2 encodes yet has moved to predominantly MPEG-4, Part 10 (AVC) encodes which promotes a crisper image (sometimes showing more film grain than viewers like).

Second, HD DVD supports only 30 GB (wild rumors of someday going to 51 GB not withstanding). Any implementation of Lord of the Rings, Return of the King Extended Edition (at 250 minutes) will require a *TOTAL* bit rate of less than 16 Mbps for both video and sound. If a decent sound track is included (using one of the lossless formats supported) then the video quality will have to suffer. Blu-ray supports 50 GB (wild rumors of 100 GB and 200 GB disks not withstanding). For the same LOTR:ROTK EE the total bit rate is a more respectable (and high quality supporting) 26+ Mbps.

Third, HD DVD supports up to 30 Mbps for the video encode while Blu-ray supports up to 40 Mbps for the video encode. Both formats are based upon variable bit rate encodings. Therefore an average encoding at 25 Mbps can easily peak well above the 30 Mbps cap of HD DVD. In those scenes which are limited by the cap, video quality will suffer. This is why the studios supporting Blu-ray have been able to recently issue "high bit rate" encodings using AVC to get the best video quality available and still not have a problem with the 40 Mbps cap in Blu-ray.

Fourth, yes, the menu programming languages are different, but one is more flexible and extensible than the other. However, this flexibility and extensibility comes at a cost: it is more difficult to implement. This is why the BD-J standard was just recently finished to the extent of implementing all the things HD DVD has had for several months (plus it implements a few new things).

Fifth, yes, Blu-ray *can* add another layer of DRM. It is up to individual studios as to whether they will use the basic DRM layer (the same one HD DVD uses, which has already been cracked several times) or whether they will add the BD+ layer. For 99% of users DRM is not an issue. It is transparent to most users' use of the disk. They put it into their player, and it plays. Done.

Sixth, Blu-ray *does* support managed copy. This has been part of the specification for quite some time. To state that Blu-ray does not support managed copy is absolutely false. In fact there are several Blu-ray burners available in the U.S. To my knowledge there is only one consumer HD DVD burner available, and it is only available in Japan. Thus managed copy, when the standard is fully implement by studios supporting either format will become a reality in the U.S. for Blu-ray, but HD DVD users will have to wait to use it until systems arrive for them to use.

Seventh, Blu-ray does not *require* an Ethernet port on their players. However, some do have an Ethernet port, some do not. Having a port is the coming trend. However, at the moment, how many people have an Ethernet port next to their TV? Extremely few. Those that do are the types of individuals who can easily manage their updates through disks from their PC. Yet as the trend continues, more and more Blu-ray players will have an Ethernet port, especially if customer purchasing trends show it is a deciding factor in their purchases!

The bottom line seems to be that with the current specs Blu-ray is ahead in most areas and in areas where it is behind it should pull even, or ahead, by the end of this calendar year.


RE: I hate to say it...
By FITCamaro on 6/28/07, Rating: -1
RE: I hate to say it...
By Shadowself on 6/28/2007 1:51:50 PM , Rating: 4
For 5:

Some will, some won't. Fox certainly is waiting until BD+ is implemented by firmware updates to various players. Others are still shipping using the basic DRM layer and may continue to do so.

For 6:

Blu-ray burners do have something to do with managed copy. The practical limit of backing up to a hard drive is such that it's not realistic to back up your entire library if you have more than a couple dozen disks. Most people are not going to have multi terabyte HDD systems in there homes. Thus you make your backup to another high density disk. It is possible to do this once studios implement it with Blu-ray but not possible to do with HD DVD.

For 1-3:

The only reason you can't see the difference is because of your 720p setup. Most likely when you got your 720p setup it was the best thing out there. (I know, several years ago I got a Samsung 720p system and at the time it WAS the best thing out there for the money.) However, 1080p systems are becoming the dominant mid range to high end systems. These systems will easily show the difference in video quality between low bit rate encodes and high bit rate encodes.

Additionally for $1,000 or less you can easily get an audio system which will allow you to tell the difference between any one of the better lossless audio encodes and the low end stereo encodes. Your Yamaha system should be able to do this too.

The video and audio difference is very noticeable to most people and the cost of hardware to make that difference available to the consumer is coming down each and every month.


RE: I hate to say it...
By FITCamaro on 6/28/2007 4:23:50 PM , Rating: 2
I bought my TV 7 months ago. I didn't care about 1080p.


RE: I hate to say it...
By Shadowself on 6/28/2007 8:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
Then you're not *really* concerned about having the best quality video and should not claim there is no discernible difference in video quality.


RE: I hate to say it...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/28/2007 4:00:21 PM , Rating: 1
> "However, at the moment, how many people have an Ethernet port next to their TV? "

Those that do will use it. Those that don't can go wireless, or choose not to use the feature. The point is its a feature...and its required (and thus available) on every HD-DVD player sold. Just like PiP support. Neither are required by the BD standard.

> "Return of the King Extended Edition (at 250 minutes) will require a *TOTAL* bit rate of less than 16 Mbps "

This is one movie. The fact of the matter is, 99.5% of all Hollywood movies will easily fit on a single HD-DVD disc. Many of them fit within 15-20GB, much less 30. Anything larger than the size of the movie is wasted space.

HD-DVD also has the advantage of a more robust disc, and one that's cheaper to manufacture a well. Small considerations for some people. But for me, I want to know when I buy a disc, that it'll be playable for many years to come. And before you mention BD's antiscratch layer, be advised that all major media manufacturers are using that coating on both HD-DVD and BD at present. HD-DVD still has 6 times the plastic protecting the data.


RE: I hate to say it...
By Shadowself on 6/28/2007 8:51:46 PM , Rating: 2
With regard to the Ethernet port, yes, those that do have them may use them. As I said, if it is a real selling point then virtually all the Blu-ray players will have one in a year or so. Some models do have an Ethernet port today, if an Ethernet port is important to you then only buy a model with an Ethernet port. Blu-ray's position on this seems to be "let the market decide". Personally, I don't agree with this attitude, but most that's their position.

With regard to LOTR:ROTK EE, yes that's one film, but it is symbolic of the limitations of HD DVD. It is *not* true that 99.5% of all Hollywood films "easly fit" within a single HD DVD disk. You should check on this rather than believe fan boy statements. This is no more accurate than some of the statements by the Microsoft team claiming they can get the video portion down to 9 Mbps and still have it be indistinguishable from the original media. Yes, many 90 minute films will fit within 15 GB and over 75% of films will fit within 25 GB, but many (last time I checked on this is was in the 10-20% range) need to be squeezed excessively to fit within 30. Whether you like the trend or not (I don't) the recent "blockbuster" films are getting longer and longer. That means fewer and fewer of the big name films will fit within 30 GB without excessive compression.

This does not even count including a lossless compressed audio format -- or for those purists an uncompressed audio format. Adding the lossless (or uncompressed) audio makes extremely few films fit within 15 GB and many need to be squeezed into those 30 GB disks.

And with regard to the statement, "Anything larger than the size of the movie is wasted space." I'd say, "Have you ever heard of extras? Where do you think all that Picture-in-Picture stuff is supposed to fit? Where are all the "making of" shorts and "director and cast commentaries" supposed to fit? Many people find that stuff important. I don't, but many people do. Are you suggesting that if the movie "easily fits" within 30 GB that a poorer quality version with PiP, etc. be on a second disk so the consumer has to buy a two disk set in order to get it on HD DVD when for the same quality image and sound as the main feature they can have it on a single disk with Blu-ray?

It is absolutely false that HD DVD disks are more robust than Blu-ray disks. Just check the 'net for forums talking about the percentage of scratched/damaged disks being rented by mail through either Blockbuster (who still carries HD DVD by mail, though many people incorrectly believe Blockbuster has totally dropped HD DVD) or NetFlix. The percentage of damaged/scratched disk is overwhelmingly higher for HD DVD than Blu-ray. That said, as a general rule, both formats seem to be more robust than early DVDs were at the same stage of the platform's evolution.

It is also absolutely false that virtually all HD DVD disks ship with a hard coat. In fact one HD DVD disk that shipped with a coating had significant problems with it... to the extent that people were being told to actually BOIL the disk in water to get the coating off so they could play it! No such thing has happened with a Blu-ray disk.


RE: I hate to say it...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/28/2007 11:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
> "many (last time I checked on this is was in the 10-20% range) need to be squeezed excessively to fit within 30"

Sorry, I call BS on this one. According to the Film and Television Institute, the average Hollywood movie in 1999 (latest data I could find) was 96 minutes in length. A "long" movie is anything over 2 hours and 9 minutes.

30GB with VC-1 will easily hold 180 to 190 minutes of video, or slightly over a 3 hour film...thats double the average film length. How many films are above that limit?

I couldn't find hard data for "all" movies, so I spot-checked major releases for 2006 and 2007 and couldn't find any longer than this. None. I then found a random sampling of 100 movies selected for a statistics project at the American Statistical Organization (link below). None went over this limit. None.

I then checked "Best Picture" winners from 1975 to present. I found only one over this limit-- The Return of the King, the movie you already mentioned.

So I have to assume this "10-20% range" is a number pulled out of thin air, in convenient support of your argument.

(http://www.amstat.org/publications/jse/datasets/fi...


RE: I hate to say it...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/28/2007 10:30:36 AM , Rating: 2
> "I don't see the current format war lasting much longer"

Disc sales of both formats are still rising. The format war isn't about to end with one side winning; quite the opposite, in fact.


RE: I hate to say it...
By steven975 on 6/28/2007 12:38:43 PM , Rating: 2
also, HD-DVD has been GAINING market share since the beginning of the year. The PS3 launch shot BD to the top, but it has NO MOMENTUM.


RE: I hate to say it...
By theflux on 6/28/2007 12:58:36 PM , Rating: 2
Please don't quote DVD Empire again masher. The YTD form Nielsen is 67% Blu-ray.


RE: I hate to say it...
By steven975 on 6/28/2007 12:37:01 PM , Rating: 2
"since Blue-Ray already has a ton more titles available "

Last I looked it was 302 HD-DVD 303 Blu-Ray


RE: I hate to say it...
By ryedizzel on 6/29/2007 9:15:42 AM , Rating: 2
"Last I looked it was 302 HD-DVD 303 Blu-Ray "

Actually the score is now 223 HD DVD movies against 254 Blu-ray movies. So even though your wrong about that, I was wrong to say there was a "ton" more.

I should also mention that Starz has also officially announced that it will be exclusive to Blue-Ray. The only company (that I know of) which is exclusive to HD-DVD is Universal. No doubt they are a major player, and one of the few dragging out this format war. But if the overall market continues to favor Blue-Ray they are then they will have no choice but to convert, or risk eliminating a major customer base.


RE: I hate to say it...
By steven975 on 6/29/2007 1:28:32 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, you mean you only are counting US releases?

I was counting all of them. Since the non-US releases are readily available in the US for about $5 more on average, I count them. Also, since every HD-DVD player can play any HD-DVD disc, I count the non-US releases. Many of the Blu-Ray "exclusives" are readily available or coming soon such as Terminator 2, Total Recall, Reign of Fire, Triple-X, Ghost Rider, both Underworlds, Bridge to Terabithia, and many others.

When you look at what you can actually play in a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player purchased in the US, HD-DVD has 40-50% more titles available.

And you say Universal is the only HD-DVD studio? Wrong. Weinstein is HD-DVD exclusive, too. You may say they are small, but they have distribution rights in the US for many of the Miramax titles (Kill Bill, for example...and it is said to be coming to HD-DVD the same day as Blu-Ray). Don't forget Warner and New Line, who even though they claim to be neutral favor HD-DVD. Then you have the Blu-Ray "supporter" Fox who has ceased releasing movies altogether. Starz being BD exclusive means nothing. There isn't anything in their catalog I want or am even familiar with (unless it's Showtime stuff, but I think that's Sony-owned).


Ugh.
By therealnickdanger on 6/28/2007 9:34:00 AM , Rating: 4
Expensive combo discs are not what we need; we need cheap combo PLAYERS. This is so ridiculous! We are going to end up with combo players and combo discs. It will serve as a funtional end to the format war and also make it impossible to choose a victor. Studios will double their costs, both BD and HD will get their royalties, and everyone will be able to play the movies... Looks like we'll get one format after all.




RE: Ugh.
By jacarte8 on 6/28/2007 9:57:24 AM , Rating: 2
We also need rationally priced discs themselves. $30 is a whole lotta money on top of fancy players. Sony's last firmware update makes me think about picking up a PS3.

Do movies ripped with Handbrake for AppleTV look good on a PS3?

Disclaimer: Current owner of 360/HDDVD, AppleTV, Wii


Netflix CFO Believes Blu-Ray Already Won
By deeznuts on 6/28/2007 4:01:14 PM , Rating: 2
Since this discussion has exploded into BD vs. HD DVD, Netflix CFO in a conference call yesterday feels Blu-Ray has already won. Don't believe me?

http://thomashawk.com/2005/11/netflix-presents-at-...

quote:
As many know there's been a format war. Two formats have been proposed as a successor to DVD, one sponsored by Warner primarily and one sponsored by Sony. Warner is HDDvd and Sony is Blu-Ray. I think it's pretty clear that Blu-Ray has won. Even Warner has agreed to license and to release technology to Blu-Ray, only Universal hasn't made a commitment at this point, so I think the format wars are a thing of the past and I think it's going to be Blu-Ray. I think the content will get priced at a 20% premium. I think it's going to roll out slowly over time.




RE: Netflix CFO Believes Blu-Ray Already Won
By bbomb on 6/28/2007 11:04:21 PM , Rating: 1
See thats why we really dont want BD to win as consumers, but content providers are praying tooth and nail that it does. They know that Sony will rape the living shit out of us by pricing the discs extremely high shortly after HD DVD goes by the wayside. Movies on BD will be 50 or 60 bucks a pop soon after.


By Belard on 7/3/2007 8:38:13 PM , Rating: 2
At $40~50 per disc, nobody would by them... it was that way for VHS (used to cost $50~100 for a tape) and even some laser discs.

People, such as myself are used to paying $10~15 for a DVD movie. $50... way too high. And Sony(one of the big owners of DVD) currently sells DVDs are regular prices.

I don't see the big deal of paying an extra $5~10 for a BR or HD version of the same movie. ($15 vs $20~25).. But we can all figure that nobody is going to pay $30 for an HD DVD version of RV?

Overall, I say the Format war needs to end, and I think it should be BR - it costs about the same (falling faster than DVD when it was NEW), hold more data allow more extras and more picture data.

Keep these points in mind:
- Netflix = BR
- Blockbuster = BR
- Japan = BR
- Disney = BR

Currently in Best buy, you can buy players for $500~600 (1 $800 model) from Sony, Samsung and Panasonic.
Toshiba is the ONLY HD-DVD maker on the market, 2 models: $400 and $500. But I am aware that Toshiba just slashed their prices by $100... The XBoX player doesn't quite count since it requires a computer or Xbox console to work.

But in the comming months, we'll have other brands of BR players: Pioneer (any week now), Philips, Sharp, Mitsubishi. Also coming to market are BR Recorders by the above, plus JVC, Hitachi, Zenith and Amex. For several months, BR-Burners have been available.


Poor choice of movie
By OxBow on 6/28/2007 9:35:42 AM , Rating: 1
To use such advanced and flexible tech to schlep dreck like "Superman Returns" seems like a terrible waste.

I agree that with the edge that Blue Ray is gaining over HD-DVD, I wouldn't be suprised if the format war was over by the time sales figures are released for the holiday season of '07.




RE: Poor choice of movie
By jacarte8 on 6/28/2007 10:04:34 AM , Rating: 2
"schlep dreck"

wow


RE: Poor choice of movie
By FITCamaro on 6/28/2007 11:47:39 AM , Rating: 1
While I have no idea what that means you obviously do.

So the question is which is sadder? Him for using it or you for knowing it. ;)


I don't understand this
By phatboye on 6/28/2007 11:08:42 AM , Rating: 1
I don't understand the logic in Time Warner investing in dual format disks. Do they receive royalties from Sony and Toshiba for offering movies in these formats.

It seems to me that Time Warner is loosing money but not choosing sides.

Instead of using a dual format disk Time warner should give $ony and To$hiba the middle finger until they decide to cooperate and make one format that works with all players. This format war has gone on far enough and the only people who are gaining anything out of it is $ony and To$hiba.

I wish one of these movies companies would do something about this. If just one company would decide to stand up to this stupid format war I'm sure other companies would soon follow. Then they would be forced into making one format. Instead they decide to support both formats which will cost them big time and in the end the consumers will be left with the bill.




RE: I don't understand this
By FITCamaro on 6/28/2007 11:51:59 AM , Rating: 2
A noble idea but one that doesn't work to well when a large majority of movies are made by the same company who's pushing one of the formats. Sony has its vast array of movie titles to put on Blu-ray which means other studios either have to pick a format and put out titles, or be seen as not being up to date with their titles.


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