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back to article Jobs: Blu-ray wins HD format war then loses to downloads

Blu-ray Disc beat HD DVD, but who cares? Downloads, not physical media, are the future of HD content consumption. So said Apple CEO Steve Jobs this week, a comment that's a distant echo of allegations made by Transformers director Michael Bay last year. Bay grumbled that the HD format war was, in part, Microsoft's fault, the …

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Flame

proof by hat?

You say "hat's prove sufficient" - since when do belonging to hat prove sufficient for anything?

I thought english-speaking journalists were supposed to have a good knowledge of grammar?

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Flame

HD is pointless for movies.

The human eye is optimised for edge-detection, NOT detail! 90% of what we _think_ we see is just interpolated by our brains. The eye simply cannot process 1920 x 1080p HDTV images at 60Hz+ at anything like the detail the HD-pimps like to suggest it can.

The Hollywood fad for jump-cut, hand-held cameras, whip-pans, crash-zooms, etc. in their action flicks are the worst use for HD ever conceived. The vast majority of the public will simply not see much difference in image quality between an SD version and its HD counterpart.

HD works best when the camera moves slowly and lingers on subjects long enough for the eye to pick up on the detail. In other words: some sports, documentaries, slow-paced movies and certain news / factual content formats, like "The Weather Channel".

(And don't forget that 99% of the world's media companies' archived content is going to be in the older SD format. HD is going to be an expensive move and this makes the risk-averse producers less likely to go out on a limb. Don't be surprised if the BBC spends most of the next few years remaking all their 'classic' period dramas.)

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Coat

Missed my point

Iain, I agree entirely with you about the wider user base of the 360 and that it is a very viable base for HD movies rentals for Microsoft and box’ owners. But you did entirely miss my point. The installed 360 user base you seem fixated on because you thought I was 360 bashing, is nothing to do with Steve Jobs and the nonsense of streaming movies rental killing disc media any time soon. Oh and yes, my nephew was indeed trying to manipulate a new console, and despite the fact that he was probably onto something in terms of cost effectiveness, the big price tag is what put his dad off. That was obvious in what I said, so forgive my wry smile at your patronising pat on my head dear boy.

The point I made, and everyone else here, is that Joe public, the weekend supermarket warrior with family in tow, will see that they can pay £200+ for an Apple box, Xbox or PS3, or WHATEVER isn’t a Sky or Virgin box, to rent movie downloads. Or they can pay £7 for the DVD which is for keeps. Probably less than that. That immediate price difference is a massive psychological barrier that Steve Jobs just cannot comprehend. The up front costs to the average consumer of the Apple, Xbox, PS3 or BT HD movies services is high and unjustifiable for them. Regardless of the cost effectiveness that is clear to you and I, and most reading Reg no doubt.

If people already have HD source boxes installed then it's yet another option for them, but let us be honest with one another regardless of the tit for tat, they are Sky and Virgin boxes by and large and these will continue to corner the streaming movie rental market for many years. It doesn't matter that a Sky box costs £200, the same as an Apple box, 360 starter pack, or second hand PS3, to Joe they are luxuries. Sky or cable boxes are more tangible and acceptable because they get standard TV services as well.

Put that next to the ever falling costs of DVD's that can be held in the hand and cherished forever (why did you think I was inferring DVD players weren’t ubiquitous?!), and Steve is dreaming if he thinks online HD movie rental, from Apple at least, will be the holy grail over physical media. And that is totally down to the standard consumer, the love of the physical media and that three figured sum they will have to fork out right away if they want the “new Apple TV thing”. Or “BT thing”. Or “360 movie thing”. Or “PS3 TV box thing”.

Granted, the mention of BR disc was premature in my original point without a doubt as the players are still as pricey, but included to illustrate the point that even the price of discs are dropping at rate enough for people to want to buy more and think “I’m not spending over £200 just to rent the HD movie when I can own it for this much”.

That was the point! I could swear at you. But that’s just childish, so I will be far more mature and content myself with sticking my tongue out at the screen….

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J
Pirate

@David Garon

"I couldn't believe most of the comments on this issue until I remembered this was a UK site. Is it possible that you don't have Cable Internet service there?"

Well, I wonder where you do live. I live in the US, and do have cable (supposedly 8 M). So, all the comments still apply, no? Oh, and that's because I'm back in the city. Six months ago I was 30 miles away, like so many people here, and all you get there is the telephone line.

Re: So, it's 1995...

Yep. Wait until 2018 to watch you movies then... Were you trying to be funny or just missed the point of the many comments above? We might have such bandwidth broadly available some day, but what matters is that we do not have it NOW, or in the near future as far as we can see.

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Pirate

Whatever Jobs is smokin' . . .

. . . I want some! Wow. I'd have to say this guy is dreaming in technicolour for frickin' sure.

All these pie-in-the-sky dillusions of his -- does he honestly think we are all made of money and are ALL on hold -- WAITING -- for his next BIG thing?

Makes me somewhat embarrassed to say I use a Mac for my work.

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Anonymous Coward

iTunes HD in 720p? not 1080p like blu

Majority of the cheap LCD tv's in the US are only capable of displaying in 720p or 1080i unless people opt in for 1080p capable telly. Consumers in the US are very frugal when it comes to disposable income products that cost a lot instead of incremental costs.

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Hmm...

Just curious... How many people that have commented here own a SACD player... OR DVD-A player for that matter. Who won that format war? No really, who won? I can remember, I just know they were the future of audio... Now that I think about it... I can not remember the last time I saw either format available as a media.

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Jobs Horns

Dont bother comparing music to movies

Downloading music files less than 10mb is one thing, but downloading Hi-Def movies is another. Job's is clearly out of his mind if he thinks quality movie downloading is a reality at the present time. A prime example of Job's "Reality distortion field"

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Paris Hilton

If Steve Jobs said the sky was blue

El Reg would be full of haters vehemently denying it. I'm beginning to think the reality distortion field is more a case of projection.

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Happy

JOB

Its perfect job for me after a couple of years.... so try

www.penplease.com on job hosting

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Gates Halo

your all sticking your heads in the sand

How many of you actually have HD tv's or services to supply HD content?

In the UK Sky are the only broadcaster actually supplying a choice of HD content which is 1080i Virgin only have 1 HD channel. No one anywhere is broadcasting 1080p due to the bandwidth and other technical issues.

just to set the facts: appletv is capable of delivering 720p/1080i at 60hz (http://www.apple.com/appletv/specs.html). 720p shows more detail per hz than 1080i, 1080i requires less bandwidth than 720p (transmission hence why sky and others broadcast this), most tv's less than 50 inches have to scale any input to their native resolution, so showing a 1080p source on a less than 50 inch panel defeats the point of all that extra detail as it is digitally smudged in the scaling, 1080p movies play at 24 fps.

I have an appletv with a few additions from awkwardtv.org and happily watch movies and shows. The picture quality is superior to the rubbish that i got from Virgin media and on a par to sky HD movies and i never have to go hunting for the disk someone borrowed without asking. It's like an ipod for films. btw my 8Mbs adsl from sky costs £5 per month for 40GB usage (about 10-15 HD downloads) or i can upgrade to unlimited for £10.

Downloading movies is definitely the legal way forward and, judging by how peers and seeds there are for popular torrents, hundreds of thousands of people globally are already downloading the latest movies or tv shows in HD.

HD downloads are already here, just no one has succeeded in commercializing it!!

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Movie downloads is nice, but..

For rental is would be nice - when bandwidth and simular is sorted out in 5-10 years.

But DRM is an issue - Fortuently the music business is slowly learning it now and have started to sell music without DRM, but the problem will be the same with movies. I dont think Hollywood get this yet, since it is implementing even stronger DRM now.

Who would buy a movie you could not take with you or is locked to a limited number of devices? I doubt Hollywood will allow non-restricted files, but I would not consider buying any files I cant play on all devices.

Rental is fine - for owning a movie I want a industry standard media I can bring along.

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Silver badge
Stop

@Alex Rose: 1080p 50" plasma for 1500?

Hi Alex,

You have bought a plasma which can accept a 1080p signal but which only has 768 lines (and therefore can only display 720p natively). I think. Or your Currys is different from everybody elses? Do tell.

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Linux

I'll stick to 700Mb .avi files thanks

Given that I'm only going to watch most things once on a laptop using some 15 quid head phones, I don't need high def/surround sound. I can download HD/blueray stuff, but they've effectively made it copy protected already, I don't need a 28gig version of the film!

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Silver badge

@Alex Rose

Nope you're right. Bloke in Currys told me you couldn't get a FULL hd plasma for less than 5k and the LG (ok it's LG, but ...) 50" is on their website for 1500. Why do we even talk to the blokes in these shops?

Nevertheless, one still can't download a BD quality film to play on such a beast in reasonable time on uk broadband.

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Paris Hilton

Try this for size and quality

Try this for size and quality, don't believe me. Comment after you view it.

Divx HD hi resolution encoding at 0.5Mb/Second, 30Mb per minute, making for a 90 minute movie at 2.7Gb, a lot lower than the sizes mentioned above. Download cost to me would be NZ$2.70 to download (I pay exactly NZ$1.024 per 1024 Mb)

http://www.stage6.com/CHARLIZE-THERON/video/1970797/The-Dark-Knight-Trailer_1920x816

# 1920 x 816Resolution

# 63 mbFile size

Personally I am a fan of H264/aac .MP4 format as being better than Divx, but that's only my opinion.

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Dan
Jobs Halo

Other parallels to 1995...

Actually this whole format war reminds me of a similar escapade in the first half of the nineties. Sensing the need for something else other than CD to deliver music – ideally something more portable, and that allowed recording, but at similar quality to CD – Sony developed MiniDisc and Phillips developed Digital Compact Cassette. Huge amounts of R&D investment, huge marketing budgets, huge hype.

MiniDisc won the battle, with the vanquished DCC disappearing in 1996. But it lost the war.

In 1998 the first mp3 player appeared. In 2001 the iPod appeared and killed MD for good. So perhaps Jobs, love him or hate him, has some form on this type of question.

The pertinent question is whether people want the level of HD associated with HD-DVD, or just want something that looks good on their 42” TV. It’s not about downloading the entire Blu-ray disc, it’s about downloading something the consumer is happy to watch in their lounge. And perhaps that’s coming earlier than 2018…

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Thumb Down

Downloads NOT GOING to substiture Blue-Ray

Jobs should know better. Even after all this time download of music from iTunes and similar service is a minority of sales when compared to actual CDs sold.

Not only the bandwidth is not there for HD download but:

1) HD download is not the same quality of a BD disc. No studio is going to put a 40GB file to download, they'll be compressed to something like 4GB, at that point why inventing BD and HD-DVD at all since that could fit a regular DVD?

2) People like to collect movies. I own over 500 DVDs and I'm not the only one

3) Can you imagine the nightmare of your hard drive crashing and having to re-download the whole HD content? What if the downloading service has closed down or you don't have the file with the license anymore (their downloads would be protected for sure).

Just today I downloaded a 45 minutes TV show from Amazon Unbox, I have broadband and yet it took 11.5 hours to download. That's bullcrap! Imagine a 2.5 hours High-Def movie... Much faster to go to my local video store and buy/rent the Blue Ray.

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one last spin

I think network bandwidth constraints will allow blu-ray at least modest success in the entertainment market, but I think it's likely to be the last physical format in widespread use. By the time we see blu-ray as old and busted, the combined forces of network speed-ups and more advanced compression will make electronic delivery a compelling offer.

Moving forward, I think the trick to successful blu-ray consumption is in getting a low cost player and never buying a disc- stick to the rentals. There isn't likely to be a good resale market as there was with VHS and DVD, and most people who are in the market for home HD playback already know this.

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