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back to article No one needs Blu-ray, says Microsoft exec

"Who needs Blu-ray?" asks Stephen McGill, the head of Microsoft UK's Xbox operation. No one, is his implicit answer. Interviewed recently by website Xbox 360 Achievements, McGill said in response to a question centred on the console's use of DVD storage: "Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through …

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Alien

But didn't...

Didn't Microsoft try to push the now defunct HD-DVD format??

However, I'm somewhat in agreement - I have a PS3, which has Bluray, but I own a total of 0 Bluray movie discs. Everything I have is on DVD, or I stream. I haven't found the need or want as of yet for watching my movies on Bluray. When they become as cheap as DVDs, yeah - or when the Star Wars film set hits it the format - whichever comes first. :)

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Anonymous Coward

I watched my first bluray last night.

Blade Runner. The city views when you can make out every window in the pyramid buildings and the reflection in the eye justified the tenner it cost me. Bluray is worth it if you have a good telly, it's astounding.

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Me too--sorta

I own a PS3 and don't own any BluRay movies either. However I'm a member of Lovefilm and nearly every disc that pops through the post is BluRay. That's two every week.

As it happens I /could/ watch HD online (albeit at broadcast rates not disc rates) but I don't think any such service is available to me. For sure LoveFilm's service is not HD quality :(

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Yeah they did and it's not hard to see why

Microsoft never liked either format. They may have propped up HD DVD but they hardly committed to it in a meaningful way, for instance by embedding HD DVD drives in the XBox 360. Instead they paid lip service but let Toshiba carry most of the burden. When the format died they walked away relatively unscathed.

I expect they just wanted to prolong a format war for as long as possible in the hope that both formats would ultimately fail or come to an impasse so Microsoft could ride in with some magic delivery platform and win the day.

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Yep

Microsoft was part of the HD-DVD consortium and even released an add-on HD-DVD player for the 360

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Me too--sorta

Interesting split in this debate between those who think M$ might have a point and everyone else, who own Blu-ray players.

Just an observation.

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@Tony Smith

Not really. I own an LG Combo drive and have many HD and BD films. How many of either do you think I watch?

None. Can't be bothered. Instead I use ripped versions (I didn't rip them) direct from my hard drive.

Microsoft are right in my opinion. BD/HD ... both doomed formats.

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@Mike Richards

To be honest it would have been a lot more convincing (and might have helped HDVD a lot) had MS committed to X-box with built in HDVD _and_ made it very clear that they would be providing the necessary support in Windows Media Player for pc-based systems. They never did either. They could have made a _very_ big difference, they _chose_ not to. The reason is (IMHO) very simple, MS is obsessed with streaming technology which permits a business model with ALL sorts of advantages - from their point of view.

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Anonymous Coward

Aye

I snapped up a few XBox HD-DVD drives when they went on stupid sale. Cheapest USB DVD drivers I ever bought. Good gear, too. I have servers and the odd system with BD-ROMs only because they were a few pennies more than the regular DVD-Roms. I think (?) that the Alienware lappy I am tapping this out on might have a BD-ROM/DVD-RW combo player in it.

I don't use them much. Application CDs/DVDs, Movies in any format...it doesn't matter. It gets ISOed and shoved on my home server. Having to hunt physical media is just bloody pointless. I have a big box of media in the basement (documented for insurance purposes) should the fuzz or an auditor raise a stink about my giant multi-Ter server chalk full of ISOs.

Oh, it also houses media downloads from services I find that don't sell me DRMed media. Amazon.com's MP3s are my only source for music. I have bought a few movies this way, but the services always end up getting nuked by the pigopolists eventually. That’s an interesting grey zone: I know I can’t claim downloaded media on insurance if my house burns down. (I checked the last time I re-did my house insurance.) Do you lose the personal playback rights to non-DRMed media you purchased if you have no proof of purchase and the company you bought them from goes out of business?

Either way, the only use for physical media is to keep the pigopolists at bay. I seriously prefer the ability to just mount an ISO (VLC will play them without mounting!) and watch whatever media I desire on any system I happen to be using. Streaming? Hell no. That relies on my transport being 100% reliable (it isn’t) and said transport not being so overloaded by other local traffic that it is capable of passing an HD stream. (HA!)

Downloads or Physical media rips on the other hand…

…bring ‘em on! Who the hell needs blu-ray/hd-dvd/dvds/cds/whatever. Give me my licences on a piece of paper that I can file away somewhere and provide the media as a (NON-DRMED) download. Then I can take that media with me wherever I choose, on any device I choose, watch it from any device I own and generally use the media or applications I have purchased rights for as I choose.

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MJI
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Great film

Looks VERY good on a 1080P TV.

It was my first BluRay as well.

And I got a decent price for the poorly mastered original DVD in a car boot sale as well.

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There's the problem

I tend to find all the films I want to watch on Blu-ray are films I know all too well having watched them about 30 times.

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FAIL

Whatever you say Microsoft...

Seems clear they would rather gimp their consoles and screw over gamers before paying Blu-Ray royalties to Sony...

Nice priorities....

My broadband has trouble with iPlayer at busy times of day, a 720p HD picture that's reliable and not compressed to hell is still a VERY long way away, let alone a 1080P one. I am not out in the stick, I live in a large UK city, half a mile from my exchange.

Microsoft are in cuckoo land if the really think Blu-Ray quality HD content can be delivered to everyone in the next 10 years. Clearly they only started thinking this way after the failure of HD-DVD...

Any small price premium the PS3 had over the Xbox in the early days has long since been equalled, simply because you have wasted over £200 in Xbox live fees, and likely Wifi adapters, Microsoft branded memory cards, play and charge kits and other price gouging.

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Megaphone

@AC is right

Streaming is just too unreliable right now. Plus not everyone wants every appliance in the house hooked up to the internet at all times. When you take into account the cost of XBox Live Gold, a Netflix subscription, the cost of your internet service plus time wasted if the download stream is interrupted, it's easier and cheaper to buy a basic player and some movies occasionally. In my opinion.

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FAIL

The other point of course

Is that unless Microsoft are proposing 40GB downloads/streams, they will be inferior in picture quality and audio quality to Blu-Ray discs. Plus they don't come with the interactive menus and bonus content.

Anyone that's actually watched a 1080P streamed movie will know what a con-job (as opposed to a cron-job) it is, it's compressed to hell, with rubbish audio, it's marginally better than heavilly compressed SD stream, and worlds apart from a 1080P Blu-Ray with 7.1 uncompressed audio soundtrack(s) with directors commentry and stuff.

Microsoft yet again show how dumb they really are (or show how dumb they think WE are, if they think we will actually believe their FUD). I'm not sure which...

As for Blu-Ray on gaming, we have already seen gimped Xbox games like Final Fantasy that come on 3x DVD or more and suffer reduced visuals and huge compression artifacts.

Worst than that, ID software's upcoming Rage is being gimped across ALL platforms (including PS3 and PC) just to cater for the lame Xbox360 with it's DVD drive tech from 2000. It's holding other platforms back, and for that, it needs putting out of it's misery.

http://www.1up.com/news/rage-held-xbox-360-limits

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The future is a bitch

"Microsoft are in cuckoo land if the really think Blu-Ray quality HD content can be delivered to everyone in the next 10 years."

Ten years ago getting a 36kbps connection to stay up was a challenge. Now I have two megabits. Until the economic crash, plans were afoot to *attempt* (I have my doubts!) to roll out 100mbit to every last home in Brittany by the end of 2012. Yes, even that lighthouse on all the calendars. Postponed, until...?

Maybe full streaming HD content will be possible in ten years? Maybe in 10 years all this whoo-hoo 1080p HD kit will be passé as something even more whoo-hoo comes along. Who's to say?

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@Whatever you say Microsoft.

They didn't say that they could stream Blu-Ray, they said that the users didn't want it. The customers would rather pay for a SD or 720 download of a TV episode/movie today than wait 12months and buy a $50 blu-ray disk.

And remember that the PS3 and XBOX sell for the same amount but Sony have to fit a $50 Blu-Ray player while MS only pay for a $5 DVD drive.

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What?

Ten years ago, a connection that could stream iPlayer reliably didn't really exist in the home market. Ten years in the future is a big prediction. Australia are planning to have 100Mb fibre by then, and the EU are pitching towards universal 30MBps within a few years (my home is already capable of 50Mbps even if I wasn't a techie). If either of those is even half-true, then they'll be a market for such streaming.

But, also, that's not what he meant. He messed up on the word "streaming" when he really means "downloading from a remote server to play from local storage". To the average user, there's little difference.

But then, I own neither console, no Blu-Ray and don't really care. Gimme unrestricted 30Mbps and I'll be happy. And the more consumer devices that expect and demand such things, the quicker download caps and "fair use" will disappear. Yay!

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Anonymous Coward

iPlayer

Just click the "download" option - no need to stream at all with iplayer (I can never see why people want to do that anyway - the internets are just too unreliable.

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optical disc? heh

Of course, in the next 5 years we might not even need to download any data what-so-ever if the likes of OnLive and GaiKai really take off and we simply stream the video and controller data, rendering large storage formats entirely pointless for the purpose of gaming.

I'm one of those who really didn't see the point on shelling out for yet another storage format when all I'm interested in is the digital file. Besides, how long before USB flash drives become bigger and more economical than blu-ray?

Go into your store of choice, plug in a pen drive to a machine and transfer the movies and game ISO's, pay your money then plug that into the USB port on your console/PC... Would more than sort out the issue of a need for physical storage without the hideous limitation of a dedicated optical drive. Hell, it's also greener because you're no longer punting out loads of one-time writable discs and their packaging!

Back in the middle of the HD DVD and Blu-Ray format war, I said *both* formats were dead ends and went for HDD's, pen drives and TCP/IP.

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Flame

10 years is a long time

10 years ago, most of us were downloading over a 56k modem which gave you 30 something kbits at best. These days broadband has got to the point where many people have well over 1Mbit, and the reality is that most people have download speeds about 100x where they were 10 years ago. You need about 40Mbit for HD movies, and that could be here within 5 years. In 10 years we will probably have enough bandwidth for reliable HD movies.

Blu-Ray will fail for other reasons though.

1) Too expensive - both for players and disks.

2) Most people (tech geeks excepted) don't really feel the need for HD. I know a lot of people who have a full HD rig whose non-tech wife/husband accidentally watch and record shows in non-HD because they don't care about the difference. Most people moved from VHS to DVD for convenience not quality - rewinding the tapes, and jammed tapes etc. were a real issue.

3) Too expensive - so important it makes it in the list in multiple places

4) Region encoding embuggerance - worse than DVD.

5) Too expensive.

6) Takes over a minute to load a disk in most drives.

7) Too expensive.

8) Lack of forward and backward compatibility. An over the air update to your BD drive can make old disks unusable; not updating your BD drive by leaving it disconnected from the Internet can make new disks unusable. Most people aren't aware that the standard allows this, but it does, and it almost certainly will happen.

9) Too expensive.

You may not agree with all of these points, but they will all conspire to make DVDs outlast BDs in my opinion.

Personally, I moved from the UK to the US a few years ago, and I brought my significant DVD collection with me. When I walked into the biggest electronics store in Manhattan with a budget of up to $1k to buy a DVD or BD player, I said to the assistant my requirements. These were HDMI output and no region encoding. The only DVD player in the store that met those requirements was a Philips one for $40. It actually has pretty nice upscaling, and whilst I can see the difference when I watch something with an exceptionally high production standard in HD (like BBC Earth) - in general, I am totally happy with the quality of DVD on my big-ass TV. I'm certainly not going to replace my DVD collection with BDs like I did when I replaced my video collection. I'll buy the odd BD - like BBC Earth - but that will get immediately ripped on to my NAS so I don't get caught out with the forward/backward compatibility issues of the format.

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WTF?

in 10 years

Australia will have 100Mbs fiber to every home, but still have a 5GB monthly download cap....

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FAIL

$50 for Blu-Ray movies EPIC FAIL

You need to shop elsewhere. Brand new Blu-Ray releases are £15 or so ($20)

Inception Tripleplay, on Blu-Ray with a DVD and a digital copy, £15.

http://www.play.com/DVD/Blu-ray/4-/12455278/Inception-Triple-Play/Product.html

Don't you American Xbox fanboys feel embarrassed posting your tripe?

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Grenade

@Ten years is a long time.

I think that you are utterly failing to take into account that the prices for blu-ray players and blu-ray films are dropping WAY faster than either VHS machines and film tapes did or DVD players and films on disc did. Ten years ago when DVD players had been out quite a while it was still common to have to shell out 30 pounds sterling for a main feature! Twenty years you were payng that kind of money for a main feature on VHS tapes. If we take inflation/purchasing power into acount at the equivalent stage in blu-ray's introduction cycle the fifteen pounds that you will typically pay for a main feature on blu-ray today and that you can get a perfectly usable machine for under 100 pounds we can see that all this howling about how its too expensive is total and utter bollocks. Blu-ray at the same stage in the introduction/production/marketing cycle is WAY cheaper than either of its two ancestor technologies. Christ, a _"cheap"_ vhs player twenfyfive years ago cost all of two hundred smackers! Twentyfive frakking years ago. The fact of the matter is blu-ray represents a much lower proportion of the average punter's purchasing power than either of the above mentioned. I just wish people did a little research before they repeat saloon bar cliches.

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Linux

Same pipes, controlled by the same people.

Were people really that far behind 10 years ago? There's all of this talk about how backwards the US is supposed to be in terms of broadband price and speed. Did the rest of the world just leapfrog us or somesuch? I am using the same broadband technology I was 10 years ago.

Most important of all is the fact that the same players are dominating the scene. For many people, their cable company is their ISP. That doesn't bode well for trying to replace them with various forms of downloads.

I have a very respectable download speed and I still see Netflix stumble. I also have occasional outtages. I might have satellite outtages too but I wouldn't notice as much as I've got a fat PVR sitting in front of it. The sat could be offline for a month and I might not notice. (big drives)

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Too expensive?

Players are now available at less than $100, and discs can be had for as little as $10...NEW. I wouldn't be too surprised in the near future (say within two years) for a movie company to release a movie ONLY in BluRay. That'll be the first sign of the inevitable transition. Then it'll either be go BluRay or go Without.

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It would take around 2 days to download a HD movie here

You are relatively fortunate, our connection speeds went down when BT enabled ADSL+ at our exchange, from 5 mb to around 1.8 on a good day, to around 100k at peak times, so streaming is a zero option here, and there is more chance of Bob Crow giving up strikes, than the fibre optic cable coming to our area.

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MJI
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Go

Some points

1 - Price shop around for them - plenty are discounted, players are getting cheaper.

2 - Differences, a lot of people CAN tell the difference.

3 - Players are getting cheaper.

4 - I haven't noticed TBH

5 - The players are also very usefull for other media uses.

6 - They load quick I find, from loading in the slot to sitting down - it is loaded

7 - The players are good for games

8 - Never come across this

As to quality a good BD is astonishingly good.

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@MJI

"8 - Never come across this"

I assume that you meant that you had never come across lack of _backwards_ compatibility with ones older blu-ray films after a firmware update (given that one frequently of course needs to check update to ensure forward compatibility). I have to say that I agree (we have had a blu-ray player for about two years now), I have never even heard of a lack of backwards compatibility with older blu-ray discs let alone experienced it myself.

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MJI
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All my BDs play fine

Never had any issues with my oldest BD or any others - they all work fine no matter what firmware is in use.

Our BD player is a games console.

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Flame

ISPs need blue ray

With numerous ISPs convinced that 20GB is more than enough for users, its clear that ISPs are the ones that need blu ray.

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Anonymous Coward

Still be a Blu Ray/DVD market.....

For the forseeable future. People still want to own certain films. Untill broadband is universally fast enough and cheap enough that an 8gb hd quality file can be downloaded conveniently, it's only going to be a niche.

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"Who needs Microsoft?" asks World

Good luck holding on to that No.2* consoles sales spot, MS.

* In US and Australia. Already No.3 elsewhere.

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always 1 fanboi

Yep because after the smashing success the PS2 was, the PS3 finally catching M$ for third place after 5 years was Sony's goal after all. As a PS3 owner who loathes M$ you can say a lot of things but saying the PS3 and BluRay has been a big success is a big stretch. Its almost guaranteed the PS3 will never pay for itself or ever even come close to passing the PS2 in sales. IMHO it has as much to do with the worthless Cell BE as it does with the initial pricey BR. The CELL is such a joke to code for that even IBM quit making the architecture for anybody but Sony. The market (such as even PowerPC fanboi Apple) massively rejected this architecture for many valid reasons. The performance sucks for most things, the architecture is buggy (PS3 games tends to be more glitchy and freeze more often Xbox), and most of all its expensive to code for properly.

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FAIL

LOL

YOu actually believe all that... You should using the internet, as you clearly believe any old crap.

IBM are still making the Cell.... Not just for Sony... The other points are so embarrassingly bad, they aren't even worth wasting my fingers on.

http://www.hardwareheaven.com/news.php?newsid=344#ixzz0Xhq6YCSF

Anyone else notice, is always then evenings when the Xbots wake up in the US and come here with their Americanisms? "Quick, someone is talking bad about the Xbox...."

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FAIL

Please, no.

This is not a forum for this argument rubbish.

Please do not start those boring arguments here. This is about Blu-Ray, the fact PS3 has Blu-Ray is a side note.

OK I don't own the forum but I think I can speak for many when I say we don't flame arguments about consoles on here.

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Unhappy

"Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay."

Right, if you have a 20+megabit connection. Streaming 30gb in 1:45? Not on my connection, and not on anyone's I know. I'd hit my monthly bandwidth cap after one movie.

And if he's saying you can get bluray quality out of less bandwidth than that - hah, it is to laugh. You can get NTSC quality with higher spatial resolution for static images, and massive, horrifying macroblocking for anything else.

If everyone had uncapped 30mbit connections, you could manage this. In the real world, it will either be a non-starter due to the lack of high speed connections in the US, or there will either be massive quality compromises - and people, just because the spatial resolution is 1920x1080 does NOT mean it's bluray quality; think about YouTube HD or crappy digital cable that's so bad that channel logos disappear into a hash of huge blocks during fast motion.

The irony is that people (probably here, too) will say that BluRay offers no quality increase over DVDs. First, that's completely untrue, and as displays improve and get bigger, the difference will be more and more obvious. Second, the compression required for HD streaming retains spatial resolution during static scenes - which is what people say they don't care about vs. DVD - and ruins color quality and temporal resolution! So if you don't care about the resolution increase over DVD, you're going to end up with a much worse experience...

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@David W.

"The irony is that people (probably here, too) will say that BluRay offers no quality increase over DVDs"

Dead right. The same ignorati who are probably playing their blu-ray film over a 32 inch 720p craptek TV from Walmart and howl that they can't see any difference.

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Gates Horns

He could be right-

All MS games only need 640Kb...

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I'd probably buy a Blu Ray drive and some movies tomorrow.

Unfortunately the MP Ass of America doesn't want me to watch Blu Ray -- so I'll stick with cheap DVDs (thanks to DeCSS) and illegal downloads.

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OK, I'm interested...

I wouldn't usually care, but I'm intrigued -- is the vote down because I would like to buy Blu Ray, because I buy DVDs or because I'm not allowed to watch movies on my OS of choice?

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My guess

I suspect it's because you failed to extoll the virtues of the Holy PS3.

:/

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IT Angle

Blu-ray'll be obsolete soon anyhow...

I don't particularly want Blu-ray (why can't they learn to bloody spell things correctly?!) either, and the rate at which USB ram sticks are increasing in capacity, and coming down in cost, discs'll be obsolete. You go to your favourite game shop, and swap a stick for a stick, or provide/buy a blank - hell, maybe they'll even come on read-only high-capacity sticks instead sooner than later?

Maybe, some day, movies'll be offered in the shops that way too?

Who knows?

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You have a good point.

The rate at which the cost of flash is crashing, I see no advantage to optical disks anymore.

Given that once you have a movie, you would probably want to keep it, why on earth has no one come up with a ROM equivalent onto which a move could be burned?

Like calculators and digital watches before, something that was once expensive is practically given away now.

Surely the fact that it is only write-once should give enormous advantages in terms of production cost and capacity for a ROM implementation of media distribution with added advantages of not having to put up with scratch issues and the bulk/mechanics of the disk reader.

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Didn't Sony recently say...

...that they reckoned we were at least ten years away from (removable) diskless home entertainment systems?

Yeah, it's here: http://www.reghardware.com/2010/08/27/sony_forecasts_physical_media_future/

I'm siding with Sony on this one. My internet connection can barely handle a compressed SD video stream, let alone a high-quality 1080p one. Much as I hope otherwise, I don't envisage BT laying fibre to my house anytime soon.

On the other hand, my house has quite a lot of blu-rays in. I wonder where, if I wanted to, I could stream old episodes of The Prisoner in HD from? Or vintage films from the cash-strapped BFI, lovingly transferred to HD media..

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Anonymous Coward

Instant 1080p?

"We offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"

A 720p movie will stream with only a small delay on my 8 Mb inner city connection, but 1080p instantly? I generally find something to do for a few minutes while it buffers. Perhaps I'm the only one?

Still quicker than walking to the shops to buy a Blu-ray tho ;)

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Good.

I've always hated optical storage. Any form of storage where you can get a miscompare as easy as a CD you've burned needs to be ousted.

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Not for a while

I too can't see how this can be realistic in the near future. I live in an area with reasonable broadband, getting on for 8mb, and I can't stream bluray quality movies over XBL at all, and even when one day I get 20mb broadband, when kids are in th bedroom playing online games, and missus in the kitchen doing her online shopping, i'll still not be able to stream my movie.

I only own a couple of blurays, but I rent them all the time from Lovefilm, and any movies I feel good enough to want to keep I do buy on Bluray, and for something to 'keep' I think people will always want to go to the shop and get something tangible.

I guess it's compared to how music has gone, but I think that has been pushed more by the portability of it, and also music is a far lighter bandwidth requirement.

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Anonymous Coward

I agree with Microsoft

The cost of flash memory coming down, I think we'll get stuff on solid state at reasonable prices before too long.

It didn't take off with music because I don't think the players were there. Now we've got phones, etc. with Micro SD slots on them, car radios with USB slots, it is a different market and I think the Blu-Ray will eventually slide in to obscurity.

DVD gives me a quality that I like at a price I love. Blu-Ray, not so. Games ... my lifestyle means I'm now using my high res gaming mouse, high spec mouse mat and gamers keyboard to play ... um ... farmville.

Some games came on multiple CD's rather than single DVDs, presumably because in the day, there weren't many DVD players around. For that reason, I think that games will come on multiple DVDs ... becuase there don't seem to be that many Blu-Ray players around ... and I think we'll go solid state before we reach Blu-Ray saturation point.

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Passed by?

It's already over 4 years old!

The biggest problem is the price of the discs. I needed a quick present on Tuesday, and was shocked to see places like HMV still had movies over £20 on BR. Online prices are so much more reasonable.

The quality is there though, and much appreciated. We rewatched The Dark Knight BR recently, and it's obviously so much better looking than any HD downloads and Sky HD.

I think BR will still be around in 5-10 years time tbh. It doesn't need to replace DVD quickly to be successful, and there's no reason it can't co-exist with lower bit-rate downloads. Even in 10 years, I can't see streaming 50gb in 90 mins being a viable option. It would be nice tho...

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Gates Halo

MS is right

For once they are hitting the nail on the head.

A format nobody really needed, overpriced and shoved down the throat of us consumers.

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