Patterico's Pontifications


Blu-ray vs HD DVD

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 2:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I’ve faced some weighty questions during my lifetime: 8-track vs cassette, Beta vs VHS, Burger King vs McDonalds. This year’s version is Blu-ray vs HD DVD:

“As the prices of Blu-ray and HD DVD players keep dropping, along with high-def flat panel TVs, consumers buying a next-gen player are having to make a choice, not knowing which format will ultimately win, buoyed only perhaps by the fact their new player should also upscale regular DVDs. Will 2008 be the year the high-def madness ends?”

I still have old 8-tracks and Beta tapes around the house so I’m definitely in the wait-and-see camp.


23 Responses to “Blu-ray vs HD DVD”

  1. I still have old 8-tracks and Beta tapes around the house so I’m definitely in the wait-and-see camp.

    Yeah, but do you still have the ability to play them?

    Pablo (99243e)

  2. Hell, I still have laserdiscs!

    David Ehrenstein (4f5f08)

  3. I’m not convinced that either format will win anytime soon, because the sales numbers are so small. I own an HDDVD player, and a few movies, but honestly unless you’re watching it on a 50″ HDTV you can’t really tell the difference.

    What it’s going to take for one side to win, honestly, is for a major studio to start selling dual-sided discs, one side an HD format, and one side standard DVD, and not charge a price premium on them. The day that happens, if it’s not matched by a studio from the other camp, the war is over. Until then, the studios will keep milking the higher prices out from the long tail. One of the studios will do it though, but it’s a big game of chicken because they’ll be giving up some profit to do so.

    Skip (c69414)

  4. David Ehrenstein: “Hell, I still have laserdiscs!” David, who are you kidding–you’ve still got mutoscopes!

    Gary McVey (4f2585)

  5. In Rita Rudner’s stand-up routine, she used to say she will agree to buy a CD player if they promise that’s the last thing they’re going to invent.

    All those people walking around muttering to themselves, she said, are the people who bought 8-track players.

    Alan Cole (70b42c)

  6. I’m thinking HD-DVD will win if only because at least in the US Blu-Ray is more expensive, and frankly the players (while getting cheaper) are still higher-priced.

    And lets not forget, Sony is the master of making itself lose a format-war.

    Just like Betamax, Blu-Ray is actually better for A/V, but not by ENOUGH, and it will get flooded out.

    One o these days Sony will catch on to why it keeps losing.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  7. Blu-Ray has sold more drives because of the PS3 but one of our local big box stores had HD-DVD drives for $180.00 on black Friday. At this price, they will win.

    hazy (56a0a8)

  8. I am one of the stupid ones that has one of each, just in case. I prefer the HD-DVD, but I think that is limited to my components. The Blu-ray looks better on others that I have seen.

    JD (2c9284)

  9. Exactly, Hazy.

    Blue Ray player counts include the PS3 (which is underselling everything including the PS2).

    I want both, but only because some stuff I really like is only one or the other…

    But I figure the within 2 years Blu-Ray will go the way of UMB, and I’ll get it all in HD-DVD.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  10. On my overhead projector, the HD-DVD is far superior.

    JD (2c9284)

  11. I bought a Toshiba 1080I HD DVD player at Best Buy today for $299. The player came with 2 free HD DVD’s, 300 & The Bourne Identity. I mentioned to the sales associate that I saw the same unit on sale last week for $199. He could not lower the price but allowed me to go to the shelf & pick 3 more HD DVD’s for free. He also gave me a mail in form for 5 more free HD DVD’s.
    $299 for a HD DVD player & 10 HD DVD’s. Not a bad deal

    Stan Switek (7cfd24)

  12. I’m voting Bluray just for the _computer_ side of things. A much bigger step up in raw capacity.

    Al (b624ac)

  13. The HD wars aren’t anywhere near over. But comments come across so . . . certain. Such is the medium.

    Yes, Toshiba dumped their A2 players at a loss to clear the decks for their A3. But as they are both 1080i, purists will wait for an affordable 1080p and (right or wrongly) they are the one’s folks are watching to declare a winner.

    I’m watched my Blu-ray Pirates 3 on a 65″ 1080p display via a PS3. The picture is great. And the PS3 connects wirelessly to my XP PC running free media server sw. So I get streamed audio to the surround sound plus pictures and video from the PC played on the TV. And games, of course. Overall it’s a great system for now.

    If HD eventually wins then I’ll pick up a 1080p HD player at WalMart when the price hits $49. Probably during the ’09 Memorial Day Sale.

    gajim (e39b35)

  14. I am retired from General Motors. When the 8 tracks died, they had so many on hand, they made cases with power supplies and speakers and sold them to employees. They also sold the radios as spares. As I recall, $300 AM FM 8 tracks were $15.00

    hazy (c36902)

  15. Who wins won’t be based on the price of the players, but which format sells more software/movie titles. So far, Blu-Ray has a clear edge in that regard, despite HD-DVD cynically trying to bribe studios to release their titles exclusively on HD-DVD.

    Justin Levine (47d519)

  16. There is a conspiracy theory out there that Microsoft is fueling the DVD high def format wars to intentionally delay a market result until they can get their own DVD killing technology launched.

    One amusing thing about Microsoft conspiracy theories is how often they turn out to be true.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  17. Beta was better tech, VHS won out.

    Blue Ray may be better, but price points will win out. Do not even bother arguing with Sam Walton! He will win, even from the grave!

    But even Wally World will offer both until the consumer decides, then it’s over for the lesser market volume.

    Double sided disks are probably the best route for both today. Such makes it a no decision on the part of the consumer. Cuz in reality the consumer really don’t give a hoot in hell, they just desire to see the movie they purchased on the equipment they have purchased in decent quality!

    That is all.

    TC (1cf350)

  18. It is very simple: HD DVD will win. First, there is no question that on paper, Blu Ray is better. It has more storage space and can depict movies in full 1080P. That being said, it will ultimatelymean nothing in the end. If you remember, Betamax was a better technology as well, smaller and more compact, it still lost out to bulky VHS.

    HD DVD will win because manufacturers can easily upgrade their mmachines to produce them. Unfortunately for Blu ray,it requires a complete redo on the machines, making them more expensive. Next, nobody is going to notice the difference between 180i and 1080p, if they tell you they can, they are either lying or have some sort of expertise in A/V that most people don’t have. In fact, a majority of flat screen TV’s out there are only in 780P (like myself) and they aren’t goingto be upgrading to as big of a size 1080P for long time.. not to mention that even that difference is hardly noticeable.
    Finally, Paramount just signed with HD DVD, bringing the number of big studios with HD DVD much more compelling.

    And because I recently bought an HD DVD player, I can finally speak from experience. They ARE better then regular DVD…MUCH better. For one, when you watch a movie on a wide screen TV, the aspect ratio usually gives you a strip right across the screen, losing a lot of screen space. HD DVD’s either fit the entire screen, or come close and the quality IS superior.

    With Walmart selling HD DVD player for $100 this christmas, it is just another feather in their cap. If you have a big screen hi def TV, it is worth going out and getting. Why waste your High Def TV on old technology?

    Jim P (0a3103)

  19. Actually, Jim, 1080p is rather more common than you seem to think. And I believe HD-DVD supports 1080p anyway.

    I think Sony’s assholish approach to DRM is going to really hurt Blu-Ray, even if it is a better product. Not that the backers of HD-DVD are much better.

    Andy (09ab51)

  20. Just a technical reminder from history. Beta stored higher quality video, but VHS had LONGER PLAYING TIME. The higher capacity of Blu-Ray potentially means longer playing time (more TV episodes on fewer discs,longer movies or more extras without flipping/swapping the disc, etc.). So if you’re going to look at the Beta/VHS history as a guide, you need to look more in the direction of VHS. Now, that was largely important for home movies, not prerecorded, so it may or may not be relevant to the current situation. The longer length was also important for porn compilations, plus if I recall correctly Sony was priggish about licensing the Betamax to the porn industry. However, this time around porn will not be the major driver of the new technology. People who want HD porn are downloading it and watching it on their computer.

    I could afford either a HD or Blu-Ray player right now, but what’s stopping me from buying is that the movies will be the major investment. I don’t want to stock up on dozens of HD movies and then find in 2 years that nobody makes players for those anymore. Even at $100, I wouldn’t buy either player, because I don’t want to start buying the movies until I know which format’s probably going to win.

    In the end, if I had to put money down on it, I would bet on HD, simply because Sony tends to try to extract too much money and be too restrictive in licensing their technologies. But it’s a broader consortium than just Sony, so the dynamic could be different this time around.

    PatHMV (bd82a6)

  21. “Actually, Jim, 1080p is rather more common than you seem to think. And I believe HD-DVD supports 1080p anyway”

    Where is it common except for blu ray dvd’s? HDTV is in 1080i, which iswhat HD DVD supports, not 1080p.

    Storage isn’t going to matter either because for all intents and purposes, both formats fit what they need to fit (movies and extras).

    1080P right now is just a marketing buzzword for buying new TV’s and for Blu ray. It is nowhere, and no one can tell the difference between that and 1080i.

    I don’t tend to stockpile movies, and I don’t necessarily plan on replacing the ones that I have anyway. Just having HD DVD to watch current movies is good enough for me. It is the difference between a small screen and a big screen. I have the big TV, so why waste it on DVD’s with their aspect ratio’s?

    Jim P (0a3103)

  22. Just bought my Sony Blu ray player today $279 at Costco, along with a coupon for (5) FREE Blu-ray discs. Great deal it seems to me.

    It strikes me strange that people are faulting Sony for going alone on Beta, when in fact, Toshiba is doing exactly that with HD DVD. It seems Sony is in the group this time.

    Only LG makes a player that plays both formats, at a price greater than buying to separate players. Whats with that?

    Andre H (d284e7)

  23. Blu-Ray players and HD-DVD player are becoming inexpensive each day. However, if you have one already be sure to buy additional lens. These can be usually bought at ebay or other places, they are only a fraction of the cost of the player. You will save money and keep it running for years to come.


    Daniel (9aa35b)

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