back to article Paramount, Dreamworks go all out for HD DVD

HD DVD gained fresh ammunition for its battle with rival next-gen optical disc format Blu-ray Disc today when Paramount said it would support the format exclusively on a global basis. And since Paramount distributes Dreamworks' movies, they too will be HD DVD only going forward. Well, almost... The spin doctors admitted: "Today …

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Transformers

Damn! I was looking forward to getting Transformers on Blu-Ray :( Oh well, guess I'll have to wait until a winner emerges, if it's Blu-Ray they'll obviously release it for it later, if it's HD-DVD, I'll have to buy an HD-DVD player eventually anyway.

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The 100 Year War

Ok not that long, but we're not going to know the outcome for a very long time.

Yes, BD seem to be outselling HD in terms of sales - but are High Definition format sales really very high?

Personally I think that DVD is going to be the dominant format for quite some time. Once High Definition becomes the norm we'll see a market where a lot of people have already made an investment in terms of hardware and won't be willing to buy new hardware. As a result, it doesn't matter who wins the format war, there will be a (potentially long period) where both formats are on sale.

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+r -r +-R

Let's face it... they'll screw around with this 'war' to make a bundle of money and then start releasing 'dual-format' players which will render the whole debate meaningless. Anyone remember the early days of writable DVDs?

Or better yet they'll release a third, incompatible, format and then race to reprint everything on that format.

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People are getting closer to getting off the fence. Which side, now that is the question!

I had some friends over watching a couple of movies on my 61" 1080p TV.

Everyone enjoyed the DVDs and thought they looked great (played on my HD DVD player that up converts). But I'll never forget the expressions of shock when I threw in "Batman Begins" in HD DVD. They were simply stunned that it looked as good as it did. By the end of the night, they were talking about getting a 1080p TV of there own for Christmas and about how "cheap" they had become in the last year or so...

At this point, HD conversion is just a question of time. There are enough good TVs, good HD players and good HD material that your average "Joe and Jane" are getting exposed to what a good home video actually looks like. After seeing movies in HD, they realize just how crappy they look on DVD on there old 36" CRT TV. With prices falling as fast as they are, the hardware just doesn't look that far out of reach anymore.

The HD format war looks to be more interesting (aka: irritating!). In my case, I have a HD DVD player.

Why?

Because it was the first one to hit the magic $300 barrier. That was the same price point I set for my first DVD player years ago. At the rate BluRay is selling, I might have got on the wrong band wagon. But it doesn't matter. Eventually, one of three things will happen:

1) HD DVD format "wins"

2) BluRay fromat "wins"

3) We continue to have both formats and the vast majority of players can play both formats equally well.

Either way, even if HD DVD does lose out, I'll still be able to get an HD DVD player to play my library for a LONG time to come (if you recall, you could get Beta players for almost 20 years after VHS "won" the tape format war!) AND I'll be able to really enjoy my HD TV while I'm waiting on other people to make up there minds.

Not a bad place to be in...

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Digital downloads may beat them all

As BluRay and HD-DVD fight it out, they are loosing ground to a new media distribution format… Downloading via the internet.

As devices like AppleTV, TiVo, XBOX 360, and PS3 mature and offer full downloads of HD quality movies and permanent storage on a central home media server that can stream movies to any TV in your home, copy to any iPod, Zune, or PSP, and stream to your laptop or cellphone (via Slingbox or similar), purchasing movies on pre-recorded media will be obsolete. (I’m ignoring any DRM lock out issues of course.)

A good quality HD movie may be close to 40~50GB* in size which is currently a problem for both network bandwidth and hard drive space but that won't be a constraint for long. In two years, downloading a 50GB file will probably only take a couple hours on most home internet connections (I think on my current cable modem it would take theoretically about 12 hours, of course, I never get near my theoretical bandwidth.) And if I could download an HD movie in 12 hours, that’s already faster than Amazon.com or DeepDiscountDVD.com can get it to me if I order it, so I’d already do this with current technology if it was available.

If a winner doesn't soon emerge in the next gen DVD media wars downloading HD media will be able to take over very quickly once it becomes more available.

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Re: Digital downloads may beat them all

In theory, yes, but in reality no. Definitely not. The idea of PAID FOR movie downloads (coz lets face it, just about anyone can get any movie in the world downloaded for free) is a nice idea, and if somebody had put the time & money into it already to have an itunes like interface the consumers like etc with decent prices, it could have worked.

But it's not gonna work, because..

a) the big movie companies have all taken too long to decide on an agreed format for the downloads, agreed store to licence to, etc etc.

b) they will/would be almost as expensive as the actual discs, and in some cases, most likely old films, more expensive. which is crazy.

c) they will/would be absolutely CRIPPLED with DRM, and I know Blu-Ray and HD-DVD have plenty of anti-copy protection on them, but it is continually being cracked, and you begrudge it less seeing as you have the actual media. But when you look at what i said before about it costing about as much, taking hours and hours to download, and then you can't burn it to disc yourself because of the DRM, and also because...

d) Blu-Ray / HD-DVD burners are expensive. Fair enough they're coming down, and tech-enthusiasts will buy them, but CD burning became rampant when the drives were £60 and less, same with DVD burning. When drives are hundreds of pounds and discs are nearly a tenner (bringing the price of a burnt download, if that'll be even possible with the DRM, to MORE than a retail disc), the average consumer, even who's "into" hi-def, aint gonna bother.

e) UK's broadband. And I'm not primarily talking about speed, although that is an obvious clear issue. I'm talking about "Caps." It is near IMPOSSIBLE to get a UK Internet connection without a cap. Virgin are possibly some of the filthiest rotten liars, especially seeing as they made a press release criticizing other ISPs for enforcing hidden caps, even though they have a 40gb one themselves. If you're lucky, and I mean REALLY lucky (like myself) you'll have a 100gb cap, but it costs a fortune and is still only a few films, leaving you with no bandwidth left for anything else.

Even with the absolute pain in the arse war between HD-DVD & Blu-Ray (which p*sses me off as much as the next man) consumers still aren't going to be convinced by HD downloading with all these limitations, most of which aren't going to go away anytime soon.

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