back to article Investors cheer Toshiba plan to drop HD DVD

Toshiba shares jumped more than six per cent today as investors voiced their approval of the company's alleged decision to abandon the HD DVD optical disc format. There's still no word from the company on claims made this weekend that its board will meet this week to formally accept defeat in the HD format war, but when the …

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Thumb Up

At last !

"Investors approve Toshiba plan to drop HD DVD"

Ah, is not yet confirmed, but time to spare money, at last, for a new gen DVD player !

By the way, am I the only one to to find weird that Toshiba's share price is raising by 6.7 % while Sony's is raising by 1 % only ? Or investors are starting to have faith in reasonable mgmt planning for the long term rather than anal retentive mgmt ?

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Gates Horns

So in summary.

Nobody is buying HD DVD as the entire media has reported it dead.

Duplication plants are closing HD DVD lines.,

Highstreet and online stores are ceasing selling HD DVD Media

Highstreet and online rental firms are ceasing renting HD DVD Media

Boxshifters are not stocking the hardware

Investors are upping Toshibas share price because they are dumping it.

Everyone in Hollywood and Bollywood supports Blu-ray except the 2.

How on earth can Universal and Paramount hang on? The ship is sinking, the captain is already in the lifeboats, Paramount/Universal, you are about to drown, get into that Blu lifeboat....

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Coat

get into that Blu lifeboat....

I'll take the red pill^Wlifeboat

Coat... door...

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Ian

I laugh at those...

Who suggested Toshiba was going to die because of HD-DVD losing the format war.

As I said to them before, far from it. Toshiba is already gaining share value, and when they start producing Bluray players as good as their DVD players which were some of the best and most purchased on the market it's going to be up up up for them.

Toshiba would've liked control over the next-gen optical disc format sure, that'd have been great for them, but it was always clear not achieving that wouldn't be the end of the world, they're still going to do well out of production of their optical disc players whatever format they're making them for.

Toshiba may even do better than they otherwise would have out of this if they're supported Bluray from the off. There's people not wanting to deal with Sony because of their arrogance, the rootkit fiasco and so forth that bought HD-DVD for that reason. Chances are these people whilst not happy with the idea of Sony getting license fees will certainly rather see Toshiba get their money for the majority of the system - the physical hardware itself!

Personally I'm just going to stick to DVD/downloadable media, I'll admit if I see some HD-DVD 360 players being sold off cheap now (to the point they cost less or same as DVD kit+films) I could be tempted simply because I could rip the films to my hard drive as the 360 HD-DVD player works in XP and Vista. It may be a cheap way to start building an archive of HD films!

I doubt Microsoft will do terribly as an ex-HD-DVD backer either, they're now free to release a Bluray addon drive something they've mentioned before. Also as the 360 hardware costs are plumetting and the format war is now decided I wouldn't be suprised to see the next iteration of the elite have Bluray built in to add value whilst maintaining the current pricing whilst the premium and arcade will probably just simply drop in price.

Sadly as always the only ones that really came to harm in this format war were consumers.

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Ian

RE: Paramount and Universal

Paramount and Universal were bound by contract into HD-DVD, I'd imagine there is a get out clause if Toshiba abandons it but as they haven't officially abandoned it yet, Paramount and Universal can't officially get out of the contract.

I expect the following shortly (within a week or two) after Toshiba officially announces dropping HD-DVD:

1) Paramount/Universal announce a move to Bluray

2) Toshiba announce a move to production of Bluray kit

3) Microsoft announce plans for a Bluray 360 addon drive

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Go

Great news!

Proably largely down to the PS3 as i don't know anyone with a stand alone Blue-ray player but quite a few with PS3's. Hopefully this will mean the cost of Blu-ray films will start to drop as more and more films make it to this format!

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Who cares :?

The whole drive to HD formats typifies the contradictory messages being fed to the public regarding consumption v green issues. On the one hand we are being asked to reduce consumption to save the planet- the next minute we have huge manufacturers like Sony and Toshiba trying to flog uneccesary extra bits of hardware (I'm guessing that they've not been made in carbon-neutral factories?), which also probably consume more power, and for what reason ? Why exactly is this needed ? What benefit does it really bring humanity ? I'll go and calm down now in darkened room.....

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@ regadpellagru

I think the shares are rising due to investors knowing their dead horse is about to be dropped. Tosh are at last doing what is generally accepted as being the right thing for it's future.

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Pirate

@regadpellagru

"...time to spare money, at last, for a new gen DVD player !"

I'd wait for them to finish it if I were you...

Does anyone else find it just slightly surprising that the HD format war has been won by a format which still seems to be evolving, and which has already stranded some purchasers with obsolete players which can't be updated to support the latest profile and won't work properly with recent content releases?

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Go

Who cares?

Valid point Jon, is'tn the uptake of even the mighty Blu ray soo small to hardly have any impact anyway and if you were to buy it you'd need a HD Ready TV to get the best from it anyway, so that'll be two items (DVD player & TV) that are needlesly being chucked out, if I was to get one it would be when my CRT tv dies.

By the time Blu ray gets a big enough chunk of the market, surely most movies will be on download? Which I think would be a shame, I for one like case, booklet, etc plus I'm so far away from the local phone exchange I'm still on dial up anyway.

Quick question about the licensing of the technology though, does every manufacturer of Blu ray players and Blu ray discs have to pay a fee tot he Blu ray forum? and does anyone know how much this is expected to bring in in revenue terms? I supopse this happened with CD and DVD anyway, but I dontl ike giving money to Sony when ever possible.

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Happy

RE: RE: Paramount and Universal

''3) Microsoft announce plans for a Bluray 360 addon drive''

Ooo, that's gotta hurt :) I'll look forward to chuckling over that announcement.

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Yawn.

At best these new video formats are only about 50% better than existing DVD.

Wake me up when there's a video format which makes me stop dead

and go "Wow!". Until then these are just expensive DVDs.

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Look out for some cheap discs then

Brought a HDDVD drive last week as there doing the 7 disc offer which works out that you get the player for free (give or take a fe pence) but if the format is dropped then they will be some cheap discs in the shops (Matrix Trillogy £10 anyone).

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Happy

Royalties

Anyone know what happened to the Chinese EVD? No fees or royalties payable there!

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Anti Sony?

I'm not sure what all the anti Sony stuff is about. In reality, it appears to me that whatever the outcome was going to be, some big corporation or consortium of corporations were going to shaft us. Is one really better than the other?

I think most people are just glad that we're not going to have a decade long format war like VHS & Betamax.

I'm sure we'll see some excellent Toshiba BD players in the near future...

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Stop

Profiles

ALL BLURAY PLAYERS WILL PLAY ALL BLURAY DISCS REGARDLESS OF PROFILE.

You may not get some useless features (e.g. PIP) if you have an older player. If you have a ps3 it will be a software update to get a newer profile.

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Anonymous Coward

@ ElFatbob

"I'm not sure what all the anti Sony stuff is about. In reality, it appears to me that whatever the outcome was going to be, some big corporation or consortium of corporations were going to shaft us. Is one really better than the other?"

Probably because Sony has been especially good at screwing over their customers, more so than most companies.

- There was the rootkit fiasco where they outright installed malware on users computers when they tried to use some music CDs in their PCs.

- There was their arrogance prior to the PS3s release and after that was outright insulting to consumers at some points.

- They're a major driving force behind the RIAA and suing of old grannies, small children, students - general soft targets that even if innocent can't afford to defend themselves.

- They're a major pusher of DRM, whilst some companies like EMI are beginning to realise DRM is bad, they're still rather pro-DRM other than where they've had little choice (i.e. where they were last to jump on the Amazon music centre bandwagon). They do not care if DRM harms the consumer as long as it makes them feel better.

Personally I'd much rather have a company such as Toshiba, Samsung and the likes who aren't guilty of such things controlling my media, Sony is bad news - more so than the majority of companies out there, rivalled perhaps only by Microsoft and even then arguably worse (at least MS isn't a major part of the RIAA!).

Simply put they're probably the most consumer unfriendly tech company out there.

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@Roger and others

Rog, DVDs uptake was laughably small in it's early stages, and it didn't have a direct competitor to dispose of before it really got going.

@Ian

My my, so very very hostile. Not sure anyone said Toshiba would die because of this, it would be just a tad over th top to suggest that. Comprehensively humiliated would be about right. Taking a deep cold bath financially is also something that is certain. Still, as I said before I can't wait for Tosh to put out some kick ass Blu-Ray devices.

You know you really sound like someone with a case of sour grapes. Downloads are not HD, and will not be HD for the best part of a decade. Even now broadband market penetration isn't sufficient to warrant DVDs going download exclusive, there are simply too many consumers without broadband. Not to mention the crap, and I mean CRAP, performance of DSL in many rural and small town areas. I visited my in-laws over the weekend and BellSouth's FastAccess DSL (more accurately titles SlowAccess) was barely able to muster speed that was appreciably faster than good dial-up. Sadly that is what a lot of consumers see. It's faster than dial up, but if you have real broadband it's painfully slow. It would take them days to download a DVD image, bit torrent or not. Downloads aren't seriously going to take hold until true broadband is universal.

Your continued blithering about Sony, dredging up BMG's insane attempt at DRM and general paranoia about one Japanese company in particular just make you sound like someone with an unhealthy dose of obsessing over the post with some paranoid tendencies. Quite apart from anything else, most people won't buy a Sony Blu-Ray player, and Sony is not the licensing gatekeeper of Blu-Ray nor the sole beneficiary of any license fees generated. But hey, you never let facts deter you in the past, why start now eh?

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Stop

Royalities & permissions

I heard a rumour that the rights to use HD DVD was open to anyone. AKA no royalities whereas with Blueray, there is a both royality charge incurred and also Sony have to approve whatever is being put onto one of their disks and they are not keen on the more adult orientated films for example. Does anyone know any more about this?

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Linux

Royalties

There isn't a one stop shop for blu-ray from the mpegla like with DVD AFAIK http://www.mpegla.com/pid/bluray/

Hardware for DVD writers is currently around $4.00 minimum of each writer so the same for blu-ray makes sense.

For each disc add the codec license from mpegla.com for software, hardware and media, the DRM license required as part for the Format and Logo License Agreement agreement, the FFLA itself per annum per company entity involved, the plastic case license and the combined backwards compatibility likely in software and hardware and those licences.

50 cents a disc and 9% of hardware and software I guesstimate at first. Dropping every year until it hits a minimum like with DVD.

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Thumb Down

Why does everyone hate HD-DVD?

Why does everyone think that the death of HD-DVD is a good thing?

This means that you are quite happy to buy an overpriced proprietary Sony format, with high media costs and high licensing costs, and you are effectively letting Sony set the rules (Can anyone say ROOTKIT anti-piracy software?)

Ok so pretty much everyone admits that HD-DVD is dead, but it was the better model of the 2, so it is a real shame that it has happened. I don't know why people are rejoicing.

Hope you enjoy your overpriced blueray "monopoly" media

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Good news

This is good news. Not that the winner in Blu-Ray, just that there is a winner.

Looking at DVD. With a single format player economy of scale kicks in. Chip makers can sell higher volumes, so they can charge less for the same technology.

Higher levels of integration can be done to reduce the cost even further.

With everybody selling one type of player the only things left to differentiate with is quality and price. So, for equivalent quality price is where it is at.

I expect prices to tumble through 2008 as they all fight to win market share.

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Stu
Stop

@HDDVD = Better how?

How was HD-DVD better exactly. How about simply boiling the two things down to what they actually are - two silver disks. What do silver disks hold? Pits and troughs representing bits of information. So how is HD-DVD the better one when Blu-Ray holds 33% MORE of these bits per layer???

The formats and protocols built on top of the pits and troughs on a silver disk simply dont matter because Sony and whoever else makes BluRay players can simply update the firmware to support the newer features later on. The PS3 is the easiest in this respect.

Since day 1 of the original DVD spec it supported Multiple angles. Only a few disks used this feature, I was especially disappointed that Multiple angles didn't appear on music concert DVDs for years and years after DVD first came out, and its still a niche thing.

The same goes for all this niche blu-ray and HD-DVD feature set too. I dont know about you, but when I buy an HD Movie, I wanted an HD Movie, not the extra crap they throw in. ALL Blu-Ray players obviously do this today.

As for the supposed increased cost thing - go to the Zavvi webshop now and compare the ACTUAL REAL WORLD movie costs - some are nigh on £20, some are pushing £30, and some bargain basement movies are £11. This is between both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD in equal measure. So by your own logic, the Toshiba camp simply charge more for the hell of it.

Nice one.

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@Highlander

"Downloads are not HD, and will not be HD for the best part of a decade."

Can you tell Apple and Microsoft that, please? Only they keep advertising films on AppleTV and the XBox 360 as HD already. Admittedly, in both cases they're only 720p at the moment, but for now that's all most people's HDTVs are, and I'm sure it will take them less than a decade to step up to 1080p; it's only double the pixel rate.

Luke: I'd have been happier to see HD-DVD win as well, since it's the format I currently own. But even I can see that general consumer uptake will remain low until people aren't forced to buy both in order to get films from all studios.

Meanwhile, bring on the HD-DVD bargains, I say.

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Anonymous Coward

HD downloads

Apple and Microsoft are both using downloadable HD content as a means to sell hardware, the market penetration will be tiny and the revenues near irrelevent - it's just a differentiator for their respective under-the-telly platforms.

A 50GB disc in someone's pocket on the way home from the store works out as pretty impressive bandwidth in terms of speed. A disk that costs a couple of quid to make also competes well with internet download costs of around 50p/gigabyte. Moore's law applies, but BD will be a mass-market tech long before it's in serious competition with online services, let alone replaced.

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Ian

Highlander at it again

Highlander, your posting without even a clue about what you're talking about is rather tedious, may I correct you on the following? -

"My my, so very very hostile. Not sure anyone said Toshiba would die because of this, it would be just a tad over th top to suggest that. Comprehensively humiliated would be about right."

I suggest you read comments on previous articles here at The Register where you'll see that a few people did actually suggest that Toshiba would suffer heavily/die as a result of HD-DVD losing, this couldn't be further from the truth as can be seen here.

"Taking a deep cold bath financially is also something that is certain."

Um, did you even read the article? Share prices are up, Toshiba's going to gain financially out of this, just not as much as they would have if HD-DVD had won - put simply it was win-win for them whatever happened, simply that this wasn't as big a win as they'd hoped.

"Downloads are not HD, and will not be HD for the best part of a decade. Even now broadband market penetration isn't sufficient to warrant DVDs going download exclusive, there are simply too many consumers without broadband"

What??? This makes no sense, both iTunes and the Xbox 360's video store provide downloable HD movies. Not enough consumers on broadband? May I point you here:

http://www.oecd.org/document/54/0,3343,en_2649_33703_38690102_1_1_1_1,00.html

As you can see, the US alone has 66 million broadband subscribers, that means there is in fact 100's of millions of broadband subscribers worldwide.

"Not to mention the crap, and I mean CRAP, performance of DSL in many rural and small town areas. I visited my in-laws over the weekend and BellSouth's FastAccess DSL (more accurately titles SlowAccess) was barely able to muster speed that was appreciably faster than good dial-up"

Sucks for them, maybe they should consider satellite or some other alternative, meanwhile plenty more of us are enjoying perfectly fast DSL. I live in rural England and can still get 3mbps at least. Just about everyone can get a fast form of cost effective downstream through the likes of satellite and so forth, but many millions of people worldwide can get fast hardwired connection. Sweden/Japan and the likes are already going above and beyond 100mbps, whilst they're the extreme there is still millions of users with multiple mbps internet access.

"Sadly that is what a lot of consumers see. It's faster than dial up, but if you have real broadband it's painfully slow. It would take them days to download a DVD image, bit torrent or not. Downloads aren't seriously going to take hold until true broadband is universal."

True broadband is relatively universal, I have "real broadband", it's hardly painfully slow, I can download a full good quality 2hr film in just short of 45minutes. What has bittorrent got to do with anything? It's relatively slow, certainly more so than direct download services as offered by the XBox 360 and iTunes. When you don't even understand even the most basic details of downloadable content (i.e. you think DSL is no faster than dialup, you don't know that HD content exists in a downloadable form and you seem to think BitTorrent magically speeds up downloads) how on earth can you believe you're even partially qualified to comment on this type of thing?

"But hey, you never let facts deter you in the past, why start now eh?"

May I suggest you look up the term "irony" in the dictionary? Yet again, you completely and utterly fail to understand the very subject you're talking about, some of your mistakes of which could be corrected simply by reading the very article you're responding to.

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Boffin

@Luke

Umm... HD DVD is arguably more proprietary than BD! The vast majority of major CE's (in particular the ones who had been involved with the creation of DVD) were involved in BD, whereas HD DVD was cooked up by Toshiba and NEC pretty much on their own.

Media costs weren't that different at all between the two, and the small cost advantage HD DVD media manufacture supposedly had was completely reversed when they started going for their HD DVD/DVD combo discs anyway. Certainly at the retailer end the result has been a negligible difference in price. Player hardware cost differences are also arguable, since Toshiba were apparently heavily subsidising their standalone units to buy market share - we may never know what the "true" cost comparisons between the two were.

Rootkits etc. are the fault of SonyBMG, not Sony. SonyBMG are a US company only 50% owned by Sony, and they have minimal input into the BDA. Fox should be of far more concern than Sony as far as DRM and BD is concerned - it is they who insisted upon BD+, and it is only they who have bothered with it on any discs (or have any interest in it).

Oh and lol @ monopoly! How many HD DVD standalone player manufacturers were there? Oh yeah - one! (Even the Onkyo and Venturer models were rebadged Tosh units). How many BD standalone manufacturers? Currently 15 or so and counting. Which one looks more like a monopoly to you?

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@Iain

No, they are not 720p. 720p is 60 frames per second a roughly a mega pixel. If you take that 720p and compress it and drop the color depth to something that allows you to squelch your movie into a file that can be streamed or ftp'd at realistic bit rate then you are killing the quality of the picture (and sound).

It's utter bullsh!t to say that either Apple or Microsoft are streaming real 720p, they aren't. Neither for that matter are satellite or cable operators. They don't have the bandwidth to do it.

You can take Microsoft and Apple's advertising at face value or you can educate yourself. I suggest the education approach. If the bandwidth is not there to support the data volume then compression is used. If you compress the data from a real HD source you can fit it on a HD-DVD or Blu-Ray with good compression and minimal loss of quality. But that's 20GB or more of data for a movie. I don't know about you but I don't know anyone who can successfully stream or ftp 20GB in two hours on a residential DSL or cable Internet hookup. Even only taking 720p, rather than full 1080p, you're still talking many times the amount of data that can realistically be transferred across a good residential Internet connection. Realistically broadband has not yet penetrated far enough into the market, nor reached acceptable speeds in most locations even for today's music or DVD content to go download. How is that same infrastructure supposed to support HD video that requires something like 8 times the bit rate of DVD?

Apple and Microsoft both have a vested interest in persuading people that downloads are better, that way they control it and get more revenue. Tell me please why you would trust DRM infested OS and downloads from either of those two when you can buy the actual disc and play it in any stand alone player?

The truth is that neither Microsoft or Apple are selling real 720p downloads yet, nor will they be any time soon, they're all compressed to hell and back, and/or run at reduced resolutions with scaling (like Halo 3). The networks in place won't support 720p video yet, and won't for 5-10 years.

You are fooling yourself if you believe otherwise. As a for instance look at the file sizes on a real 720p down-loadable movie trailer, then tell me how long it too to download that 1 minute clip. If it took longer than a minute you can't stream it, and if it took longer than a couple of minutes that translates to 3-4 hours to download a movie. Now further imagine the increased data rate for downloading the extra PiP track, as well as lossless audio.

Honestly, I knew that some people would simply not accept HD-DVD losing, but this is simply stupid. Downloads and flash memory may well be the future, but they are not the present, nor are they the near term future. There is a hell of a lot of research and development needed to increase network speed, increase flash capacity and vastly reduce the cost of the flash storage. Then there is the huge investment to build the new infrastructure, and finally there is the cost of all those media servers in homes with their hard discs for storing what is downloaded. This all adds up and makes the cost of buying a PS3 look laughably small. ISPs are already talking about throttling access, how does that figure into this Utopian vision of limitless downloads?

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Stop

@Iain

Have a look at

http://www.43folders.com/2007/03/25/apple-tv-hd

or

http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9706878-1.html

and compare that with the above comments regarding bandwidth, poor levels of service etc.

It is not possible to create a HD download that is comparable to an optical disk and still downloadable in a reasonable amount of time given current levels of technology and the massive infrastructure replacement required. It requires the use of compression to make it a viable option and compression leads to loss of quality. You can't have one without the other. True HD downloads are at least a decade away and people like you just claiming optical media will be dead in 5 years will not make it true, no matter how much you want it to.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Time Out

Take a deep breath and chill out, people.

Drew

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@Iain

Discussing this with you is pointless, you're either a Microsoft fanboy who is in pain because of the demise of HD-DVD, or your a paid poster working for Microsoft. It's factually incorrect to claim that the downloads being offered by either Apple or Microsoft are HD, plain and simple. They are not. The compression necessary to bring the file size to something within realistic download size crushes the quality of the video. This is simple Math Iain, you can't wave your hands to overcome it. It's like the simplistic view that you can somehow take a compressed file and compress it again, and then again to get continually increased compression. You can't. Either you use lossy compression to gain higher compression ratios or you live with the fact that once you get so far with compression, you can compress no further. HD content is too large for practical streaming or download with today's internet.

Elitist attitudes like yours suck. It helps no one to be told to pay through the nose for satellite based DSL in order to overcome the limitations of land based DSL in order to get moderate performance. For a start is costs more, and requires a greater level of technical ability than the majority of people possess. The sooner you understand that the better.

Optical discs work because they are similar to a technology already understood by the absolute majority of the population. Until the Internet connection is similarly easy to use/understand and obtain and has sufficient capacity to manage HD streaming without lossy compression, Optical formats will be here to stay.

Go on, flame away, I understand you are feeling pain today...

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@Iain

Missed a point. I pointed out that a) broadband is not universal in the US, or the UK. Further I pointed out that not everyone is fortunate enough to live in a nice urban suburb where they have access to 3MBit service. I used my in-laws as an example. I thought that was pretty clear from the post I made.

As for no knowing what you're talking about? You want to play? I'll play. Bit torrent. The point of bit torrent is to have multiple streams to increase the speed of dial up. If you ftp a file from a single point then you're limited by a) the speed of that site's link, and b) how many concurrent downloads are going on, and c) what the traffic is like between you and that site. Using bit torrent or downloading multiple segments of files from multiple server simultaneously allows you to maximize your local bandwidth use. It will not increase your bandwidth, but is can increase the efficiency of transfer which to most people looks like the same thing.

As for thinking DSL is no faster than dial up, I'm pretty sure I didn't say that, I think I did point out that DSL subscribers with the lowest level of service in areas with poor speed the actual speed of their link isn't much better than a good dial up link, and that is absolutely true. Your lack of experience not withstanding.

I'm done playing with you, you point to an OECD page that give a 404 not found error as evidence that downloads of HD are just fine, when a simple understanding of the data rates required shows the simple impossibility of that? Can you do no better than that?

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@Ian

Paramount had an out clause and that was if Warner Brothers jumped went exclusively to Blu-Ray. When they did, Paramount was able to leave as well. That would have left just Universal in the HD-DVD camp. I don’t know what clause Universal has. If HD-DVD folds then it is an automatic out.

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J
Stop

Satellite?

Satellite broadband, SATELLITE!? Yeah, right, dream on. I lived for a year in a more rural area, and the choice was dial up (sucked, cheap) or satellite: $200, with rebate, up front for equipment, then $100 a month for 1.5 Mbps -- optimistically, of course, imagine reality and downloading GBs out of a thing that gets disconnected when it rains too hard or wind is strong, or... So, for a year I had to live with dial up because my money does not grow on trees.

Now, my 1990 Dodge has amazing broadband, though. It takes only 10 minutes to download hundreds of GB from Blockbuster to my place.

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Stop

Holy Sht!!

My goodness what a brawl and no sign of Tim either (unless he is posting as an AC somewhere)!!!

For Toshiba the major issue has to be the fact that the other hardware members of the HD-DVD consortium right royaly fked them. Microsoft clearly got involved to do nothing and we know why so let us not debate it. And the studios go with what sells the most product *which is BR now withoug ambiguity). But HP and Acer... only shipping HD-DVD drives in all but the highest end 'luxury' machines when putting them in EVERY machine would have clearly had an effect, and then leaving Toshiba to try and fight for the format on their own for the last 6-9 months...

I'm not particularly partial to Toshiba, Sony or any other large corporation, but I'm sure we'll all agree HP and Acer just fked off and didn't seem to do a thing. I hope Toshiba get their pound of flesh behind closed doors.

As for Toshiba GAINING financially... not strictly true. People are doing a 'Tim' here and misrepresenting a fact a little. Their share point has rallied but the point is it has been in steady decline since last June and dropped by 35-40% at the lowest last week.

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Unhappy

HD DVD vs Blur-Ray?

I just got my first DVD player in December. Had to finally pack my VHS player away. The DVD player was a gift, I never bought one 'cos I insisted it would never catch on and would soon be replaced by the next best thing. But the quality is wonderful and you even get menus now with extra features and the ability to take you to a specific scene quite quickly (rewinding a forwarding a tape is quite irritating).

So what's this whole HD-DVD vs Blur-Ray thing about?

(I'm really serious about only getting a DVD player in December and the reasons behind it.)

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@highlander

1 word for you: h264

I have seen some unbelievably well encoded 720P films encoded in a 4GB container (and 1080P in 8GB).

Downloadable HD on demand is already available to all – if you can get TV then you can get HD – it’s all about how the content is "broadcast" (streaming to individual addresses is unnecessary as well as impractical).

I for one am very happy that HD-DVD was given a chance to compete against BD. If there were no such plans for an alternative then Sony certainly would not have got their finger out to get their technology available and affordable. I think DVD could have simply evolved with new codecs (things have moved on since the decade old mpeg2) so allowing HD content; mass produced hardware decoders would have been cheap.

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@John Stag

"At best these new video formats are only about 50% better than existing DVD.

Wake me up when there's a video format which makes me stop dead

and go "Wow!". Until then these are just expensive DVDs."

i'd suggest your using/been shown some pretty rubbish stuff. My PC/surround system connected to my Sammy LE46M87 playing either BD or HD (Gota love LG Combi drives eh!) look and sound stunning.... totaly totaly stunning.

And thats on a mid-price 1080p TV!

After I move house, the next purchase for me is a 1080p projector.

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@Steve

I think you'll find that H264 is already used in Blu-Ray. So, H264 is not exactly the silver bullet here. You and Iain and other proponents of HD-DVD seem to be switching tack now to push downloads rather than HD-DVD. But you know what, the majority of Internet users still don't have access speeds anything like the speed needed for a highly compressed H264 source. That said, Just as with any other form of compression you can increase the compression ratio at the expense of data integrity. So if you're willing to lose some color depth or have increased video artifacts or reduced audio quality so you can squeeze your content through a narrow pipe, go for it. Just don't try to pretend that it's as good as the original article on a 50GB disc. If you have a compression ratio approaching 10:1 over the optical format which is already highly compressed just to fit on the disc, then you're going to have to come up with a lot more than a simple mention of a compression scheme already used.

Sadly most consumers of DSL don't have much more than 1.5Mbit/second access, and a lot of customers have even slower DSL than that. Then there are all the consumers who are still on dial up and even those without any Internet access at all. At least with an optical format those consumers are not left without an option. Before we begin the rush to download we should all be very aware of the compromises made in quality and the lack of universal access.

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back @ highlander

Please don't state that I'm a proponent of HD DVD, you would be wrong to do so. I don't own, or have plans to own, HD DVD equipment. That's the first incorrect assumption on your part.

Never have I 'switched tack', I'm merely pointing out fallacies that were presented.

Then there is the ‘lossiness to compression’ ratio of reusing a 264 coder again to compress into a smaller container – when does the ratio become significant? Furthermore, you can’t assume that the original video stream was that good to begin with; many of today's HD films don't don’t nearly fully utilise their full resolution (except animations but they’re easy to compress); therefore it is wrong to assume linearity of the said ratio. Besides, the original coding/bitrate process could have been totally overkill (from what I’ve seen I would say it is).

Unless you have seen the results or said recompression for yourself you have no grounds to comment on the effectiveness of the process - I have and I can!

It also appears you are under the impression that the 264 codec offers a fixed level of quality conversion when in fact there is much within it that can be tweaked.

Like I already said: if you can get TV then you already have the necessary BW for buffering HD movies (we're not necessarily talking about real time viewing here). Also, you make the false correlation that the broadband speeds people choose to purchase is always that which is the maximum available to them. And what of the future? Broadband speeds have been rising exponentially since it was first rolled out. Sure not everyone can get it, those that can’t can still rent the discs.

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@Steve again

Nope, I'm not under the impression that H264 is a fixed level of compression, I'm well aware that you can tweak it for specific bitrate requirements. However you have to concede that increasing the level of compression to hit a specific bandwidth target has an impact directly on the quality of the content at playback. You also have to concede that applying H264 tweaked to provide 8 to 10 times more compression of a video source has to reduce the quality of the eventual output. The evidence will be seen in false color gradients, macro blocking on fast changing pictures such as explosions or quick pans. There is simply no other way to increase the compression ratio by that much. You have to sacrifice at least one of three things on a video source, color depth, resolution, frames per second. Then there is the audio... I'm not saying it can't look good, but there is simply no comparison, I've seen all the comparisons performed , the stills and moving images, the zoomed in images. You know what, H264 compressed video from AppleTV looks about as good as DVD, which is remarkable. However that's with a target bit rate of about 5Mbits/second. Most DSL subscribers barely get that, and it's not sustained. Nor will it be sustained if someone else in the house has a PC or game console fired up and online, not to mention Vonage service. Bandwidth is not unlimited.

People choose their level of broadband service with two metrics in mind, what's available and how much does it cost. Lots of people don't want to pay $40+ a month for internet and get the basic DSL service which is not going to give bit rates that can manage video downloads or streaming in HD. I'm under no impression that people always choose the maximum speed available, people choose what they can and want to afford. I could have several times the bandwidth I enjoy right now, but I don't want to double the amount of money I pay monthly to do so. Downloads are the future, but the future is 5-10 years away. Three things have to happen first.

1) Universal, *FAST* broadband that is as cheap as chips.

2) High capacity flash storage that is as cheap as a pressed BluRay.

3) Someone to come up with a home video player that is solid state and HDD based that is as easy to use as a CD player or DVD player. The device has to be able to ollow the standard CE pricing model to eventual mainstream adoption at the $50 per unit level.

Without those three things download video will be the preserve of the piracy crown and the techie/geek crowd who enjoy watching movies on their 22-inch LCD rather than a 52-inch 1080p TV.

H264 is not the silver bullet. There is no silver bullet, only long term product development and further market penetration. a 2GB flash stick can be had for $20-$30 right now. If you double the number of GB every 12 months then in 5 years you'll have 64GB available at roughly that price. If you double every 18 months then it'll take about 7 years for those 64GB sticks to hit the 'cheap' mark. Still that's not cheap enough to compare to a 50GB optical disc that in rewritable form is now about a tenth of the cost per disc compared to the flash storage, and a few orders of magnitude cheaper per GB. I'll believe in downloads when people have home DSL connections in the 10's of Mbits per second and the minimum Internet service offered is 5MBits/second, when 64GB flash sticks can be had for less than $5, and when a 20TB home server can be found for $100 or less. Til then, I don't see it happening.

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Back @ highlander again

I do not concede that additional compression NECESSARILY results with noticeable, let alone significant, artefacts. You clearly have glossed over what I said in my last post. to repeat again: as compression is increased, there will come a point where the artefacts become significant and noticeable; before that point it isn’t an issue; hence you are wrong to say that. The trick is knowing where that cutoff is and applying refined processing to extend it.

“Nope, I'm not under the impression that H264 is a fixed level of compression, I'm well aware that you can tweak it for specific bitrate requirements “

You miss my point: the codec can be tweaked to get better compression without quality loss for a given bitrate.

The comparison to audio is false. For a start: the ear is much more sensitive to artifacting then the eye. Also, there are only (up to) 8 channels for the ears to concentrate on, compare that to the 6 million (sub-pixel) channels for a 1080P picture (granted you look at only a small portion of them at any one time but you get my point). Also, audio had a lot of random components which are critical to sound quality, the video stream doesn’t. Also, video is relatively easier to encode because the pixel behaviour is more easily predictable due to the activity of many neighbouring pixels over time (not something an audio stream has).

As I said before, the quality of current HD content on disk isn’t that great anyway (compare the details of a game against a movie) – for a start a lot of the viewable objects are out of focus (this is inherent), there is much noise, then there is motion blur – al these lends video to easier coding without perceived quality loss.

The cost to consumer of broadband is irrelevant. Broadband suppliers charge what they can get out of people, it doesn’t mean that bandwidth is actually that costly (take SMSs for examples); hence buffered HD content needn’t be expensive. You also gloss over what I mentioned about the broadcast issue. Either way your arguments against compression and available bandwidth is invalid because multiple channel, real-time, HD content is already available to all right now and it can be retained for later use. The simple fact is if one can receive HDTV then one can BUFFER (remember what I said about not being real time) a wide range of HD content. I don’t expect to have real-time individual HD content streams for all, obviously that’s impractical – for now. A quick calculation shows that the entire current BD and HD-DVD collection can be nationally broadcast through 6 channels in 1 week – job already done!

Given the exponential rise of broadband speeds (and their value) and the broadcast bitrates already available, for you to say we won’t have a practical solution until 5-10 years time is laughable. Do you also so easily dismiss the inexorable rise of processing power so enabling better utilisation and refinements/extensions of today’s codecs?

“Without those three things download video will be the preserve of [those] who enjoy watching movies on their 22-inch LCD rather than a 52-inch 1080p TV.”

Oh please. I know people who are doing EXACTLY that - that right, with a modern 52-inch 1080P TV (coincidence?). You really shouldn’t so easily swallow the propaganda the MPAA feeds you.

The comparison of flash with optical is irrelevant.

“is simply no other way to increase the compression ratio by that much. “

From your post, it is clear to me that you don’t know what H264 can do when it is pushed. Your judgement is based on something you haven’t seen while assuming a level of appreciation; unlike me, you pass comment from a position of bias and ignorance.

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