back to article HD media future may be Blu, but it's not rosy

Sales of Blu-ray Disc players have not benefitted from the end of the format war, it seems. This week US retail market watcher NPD said player sales grew just two per cent in the month after Toshiba tossed in the towel. The Japanese giant's decision to abandon HD DVD came on 19 February. That month, NPD said, Blu-ray Disc …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Content is king!

    There is still a lack of content on Blu-ray. Some studios are still quite slow in producing new discs (either new movies, TV shows or back catalogue). Until progress is made on this front, the situation will not improve.

  2. Martin Eriksson

    HD-DVD demise not public knowledge

    I know I jumped on a PS3 when Warner and Wal-Mart dumped HD-DVD because I'm a gadgetfreak and I was waiting for the decision to go one way or the other. I'm normally an early-adopter but I wasn't going to get caught out with the wrong format (laserdisc anyone?) this time.

    But I'm not convinced the mass audience has gotten the message yet - there are still HD-DVD discs and players in most stores - even if they are alot cheaper and the Bluray camp don't seem to be doing much marketing at the moment.

    Add to that that the Bluray format is still evolving and alot of people will be holding off buying the stand alone players - again I would normally buy a stand-alone but went with the PS3 to ensure future upgrades and compatibility with an evolving standard...

    So Sony and the rest of the BD camp need to a) nail down the format and b) trumpet their victory before we'll see any mass uptake...

  3. Eddie

    Optical disks... I remember them...

    How much longer have such things got to live? Apple's exclusion of the format on it's Air is probably a good indicator.

    Solid state devices are dropping in price, and are far more convenient.

    Cable and Satellite TV services are ramping up on demand packages

    Far less demand in general for such things. I remember when vinyl, sorry, cassettes, sorry, CDs, sorry, MP3s, sorry, AACs, sorry - you get the idea... were the format of the day, but, times they are a changing - very fast. My niece, at 13 years, has already pronounced Optical Disks as old fashioned, and quaint.

    Sony may have won this format battle, but the war is still on.

  4. Solomon Grundy

    Demand

    The reason there's no demand is that only uber-geeks and people who spend too much time at home watching movies are the least bit interested in a new disc format. DVD works, leave it alone and reinvent another wheel.

  5. Richie M
    Stop

    HD-DVD's?

    I wanna a comparison of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disc sales since the "war end".

    Personally I've brought 11 HD-DVD's, 0 BD's and 0 DVD's.

  6. Nomen Publicus
    Thumb Down

    Too expensive

    Most people are not going to buy a HD player until they see a good reason. Perhaps not until the movie they want is only available in HD and they also have a HD display. That's a lot of cash to hand over.

    The other way is to drop the cost down close to that of a DVD player so people will just chose a BluRay as the natural replacement.

  7. Mark
    Gates Horns

    Suprise Suprise.

    Anaylist with hidden agenda decides to exclude PS3 from sales report to make story newsworthy.

    The fact is, right now the PS3 is by far the cheapest and best Blu-ray player on the market, and until that changes, to exclude it is meaningless.

  8. Omer Ozen
    Unhappy

    Because it is bloody expensive

    Admittedly, I have purchased a few titles but, now I refuse to do so untill the price of the B-R disks go below 15 quid!

  9. Mark Jones

    Why no blu ray traction

    Said it before here the bottom line is that a new blu ray disk is 35-40 % more then its standard DVD counterpart. Whilst a blu ray disk picture is great along with the new HD sound formats it isn't 40% greater.. I'm a HD fan but unless for a very special film I'm still buying standard DVD's because of the price gap.

    I've begun to see on blogs that new standard DVD quality is being perceived as not as good as before so maybe the industry is trying to make the gap larger to justify the price markup. This wont work.

    DVD sales were already stagnating blu ray isn't going to be the silver bullet for this so best the industry drop the price of blu ray disks now to what the market is paying for standard DVD's so at least they get return on their investment.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    So, who's surprised?

    I recently went out and spent a fortune on a new home theatre/entertainment system. I bought a huge HD TV, a very expensive receiver and speaker set, PVR, MP3 player, and then I came to the optical disk device. Having been eternally annoyed at region encoding of DVDs my requirement was simple, I only wanted something that wasn't region encoded. I looked in a whole bunch of places and basically had the choice of about 2 devices, the most expensive of which was $60. That $60 device did upscaling to HD for DVD output, and I have to admit it looks almost as good as broadcast HD from my cable box. Then on top of that the number of films on Blu-ray is minimal and the price is extortionate. If I look on Amazon.com, they have 923 blu-ray movies and 261,789 DVDs. So basically blu-ray is:

    1) Not much better than an upscaling DVD player.

    2) Not available in non-region encoded.

    3) Too expensive (for both player and movies).

    4) Lacks movies.

    So despite the fact that I dropped $10k on a new home theatre system it does not include a blu-ray player.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Demand but no supply

    I have a PS3 and so far a grand total of 2 Blu-ray movies, although I have rented a good number more.

    I'm not prepared to pay out 20 quid for the likes of "Run Fat Boy, Run" and SuperBad. Those new titles, if I wanted them, are perfectly well served by DVD quality at less than a tenner.

    On the other hand there are "visual treats" like House of Flying Daggers, Hero, Curse of the Golden Flower and Stardust, which I'm trying to buy. Of those Hero doesn't seem to be available; Flying Daggers I had to get as an import (thankfully region free); Golden Flower is only available as Region A and Stardust is only available as HD-DVD.

    So so far I can only buy a third of the movies I've actually tried to.

  12. Wayne

    A money problem perhaps?

    I see two problems personally:

    Those blueray disks are expensive and I buy enough movies that I need to decide what I care is in HD.

    I have 5 DVD players in my house and one blueray player. If I'm not the only one watching this movie then I have to decide how it will be making the rounds.

    DVD's and players are dirt cheap right now and blueray stuff isn't. Adoption will be slow, especially with the price of everything else going up as well.

    When do we get a $ icon?

  13. Brett Brennan
    Boffin

    The other shoe has to fall...

    The issue with true HD content is not the availability of BluRay players, but the lack of penetration of 1080p displays. In the US, most HD displays being sold are 720p devices, either smaller LCD displays or plasma televisions. The difference in experience of "the main event" - the movie - on these devices is not really perceptible to the average punter compared to a standard DVD played through a up-converting DVD player.

    Most "big box" retailers display the different devices in different areas of the video department. Plasma devices are all in one section, the "large" screen 1080p LCDs in another and the "budget" 720p devices in a third section, allowing "apples to apples" comparisons, but making the real difference between 720p and 1080p harder to see. And since most retailers push the pricey but lower-resolution plasma units ahead of the comparably priced 1080p LCD screens, consumers are just not seeing the advantage to BD investment when comparing display devices.

    Until there is greater penetration of "true" HD displays, most consumers will not feel the need to upgrade their player and collection. This, combined with the cost differential of BD titles and hardware, will keep the sales at low levels for the near future.

  14. Matt

    Content...

    I have a PS3 as my HD delivery method, and currenty have more BD films than PS3 games, but... I want more... every month i scour the online movie outlets and there is a dissapointingly low number of decent titles to bother spending my hard earned on... it seems as though only 1 in 5 new releases are available in Hi-def.. which isnt good enough.. the back catalouge of titles is slowly growing and id love to indulge, but the thought of paying £20 for a 20 yearold BD version of a film just doesnt sit too well with me!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    If only

    If only they had made a Blu-Ray-ROM drive that fits in PCs, with none of this DRM nonsense. I remember the first DVD player I had was a DVD-ROM drive in my computer, and it was easy to play Region One movies etc; as a consequence I went on to Amazon.com, CDWOW, that place in Hong Kong that was in the news a while back, etc, and I bought lots of DVDs, cheaply, without fear of them conking out, or sending a warning back to Microsoft's HQ and having my computer taken from me.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a bit too soon..

    I don't think any analysis now will show any real impact, because there won't have been likely to have been. Think about it, at the start of this year Average Joe Consumer knew of Hight Definition DVDs, and Microsoft had HD-DVD, now thats dissapeared they may be thinking its gone, or if they don't they may be seeing the blowout sales on HD DVD players and thinking its a great opportunity to grab one, not realising its a dead format.

    But let's face it Blu-Ray doesn't sound like High Definition, even though it is a superior format to HD DVD, so greater consumer education and advertising will be required to get peoples attention, now HD DVD is gone and all movie studios will support Blu-Ray the consumer now stands a greater chance of hearing about it, so that's good. But most consumers aren't immediate adopters, so given time i'm sure there'll be sufficient uptake, DVD after all didn't just take off overnight either.

  17. Henry Cobb
    Coat

    Won't recession help Blu sales?

    During a recession the public won't have the money to go out to watch movies (especially when combined with Bush league gasoline prices), but if they've already purchased flatpanel TVs, won't they stay at home and watch Blu-ray discs?

  18. Matt Haswell
    Dead Vulture

    Is it any wonder?

    Considering all the Bluray DVD's on Amazon are £20? While the same film on DVD is £10 and my DVD player has a fairly decent upscaler built in too. Not perfect obviously (I have Sky HD and can see the difference even with only 768 line HD) but not enough to make me spend 200-300 on a decent player and then buy films at £20 each. Hell, even oldies like "Day after tomorrow" are £15. The fly is about £17 and that's from the eighties.

    Or perhaps it's the fact that those people who can play them on an HD TV are either renting the Blu Ray discs and ripping them if they like them or are cutting out the middleman and downloading them.

    Icon for a dying product...

  19. Liam
    Coat

    some other points...

    some good debate here...

    @ Solomon Grundy

    or a third option - they are people with a critical eye :) - also anyone with a large tv will see massive benefits of HD over SD. my ps3 upscales pretty well but the difference between upscaled SD and HD is still quite massive! - plus all the benefits of better quality audio and higher bit depth visuals (ok i admit you need a decent system to enjoy this)

    i must admit i do prefer BluRay over DVD and if you cant tell the difference:

    a) you are blind

    b) you are stupid

    c) you have a shite/low end TV (i.e not 1080p, 24fps able and hdmi 1.3)

    now, the reason i dont have any bluray (and im speaking as someone with over 1000 dvd films) is:

    a) the price (double the price my ass - they tried to rip us off with dvd when it first came out remember)

    b) backup-ability - 'nuf said :)

    c) quality of original footage - a lot of older films simply arent good enough quality to put on bluray! i mean the aliens films arent even good enough quality for DVD! - even the new bond film looks incredibly grainy in 1080p. i think only films like transformers (which i would have bough if it wasnt for the HDDVD only release!), lord of the rings etc will really warrant a HD release until the prices drop significantly

    @Eddie - the air is a piece of shite - thats why - the screen quality is SIGNIFICANTLY worse than older apples - maybe they realise how crap is makes the screen look - plus apple will ripoff their customers double the market value for the drive adding about 600£. solid state dropping in price - when do you think we will see a 50gb sold state drive that costs £1 for manufacturers to create?

    some of us actually embrace the lossless possibilities coming - i saw CD lose quality to MP3 and good pictures turn into overly compressed digital signals. some of us can really SEE the difference and HEAR it (i have a £3000 home entertainment system so i really can see/hear the differences)

    @Richie M - is that cos they are cheaper now? also do you have a bdplayer? if not your agrument isnt valid (as you only had the choice of 1 format)

    @Mark

    "Anaylist with hidden agenda decides to exclude PS3 from sales report to make story newsworthy." - amen - looks like the BD poo pooers are out again! i mean even people like george lucas say BD was better quality

    @So, who's surprised? - your eyes/tv must be pants if you cannot see the differnce betwen upscaled and HD... is your TV full HD or just 720?

    we all know in 2 years time we will be buying BD at todays DVD prices and will have forgotten all bout this nonesense. i remember paying £25 for a B&W film called PII (symbol) about 7 years ago!

  20. Monkey

    Has anyone thought it might not just be about technology this time?

    We've all argued (quite bitterly at times), about HDDVD vs BR, about the injustices of one winning over the other, debated the price of BR discs and some claiming standard DVD's are deliberately having the picture quality reduced to encourage HD take up. But has anyone considered that the continued slow take up of HD disc players might not be down to just technical issues and poor consumer awareness?

    The credit crunch may be caused by the financial institutions and be effecting them more than the general public at the moment, but one thing is for sure people are cutting back on non-essential purchases as caution sets in. At the start of 2000 as DVD really kicked in, the UK, Europe and the US were relatively well off. Couple this abundance of cash in bank accounts to the enormous leap in picture for very little outlay of DVD, and we just lapped it up.

    With a decent 1080p panel the picture quality of a good BR disc IS very noticeable over an upscaled DVD (The Black Crowes Freak and Roll into the Fog on BR is jaw dropping), but the consumers have realised you can't EAT a TV no matter how good it looks.

    People will spend good amounts of money on something they can see has the benefits HD playback does. Even more so as HD sources improve in quality. But the fact is, the general public are shitting it about the next year ahead and have stopped spending. HD take up across the board must surely be in for a long hard road ahead and people are in for a nasty shock if they thought the DVD product take up profile was going to apply.

  21. Steve
    Thumb Up

    I have 1080p and no optical media at all

    The people who have the equipment to display proper HD are probably also conversant with P2P and high quality rips and have a pc plugged into the display. I know I do.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Download

    Sheesh, those illegal HD titles are just too big to download. I'm happy with the DVD quality files I illegally download already ;o)

  23. foof
    Thumb Down

    No sh*t, Sherlock

    The format with the most expensive hardware won. And most people haven't been exposed to the high cost of the movies yet because they can't even afford the player! Let's see a bunch of sub $200 players and then maybe the format will show signs of life.

    We had a format that was good for Average Joe but Videophile Dork and his buddy Gamer Goof wouldn't let it be.

  24. soaklord

    If I'm Honest

    I can't tell much of a difference. My DVD player upscales to 1080i on my 1080p LCD 46" and running HD content doesn't look all that different. Still, it doesn't stop me from wanting all my content in HD.

    Problem 1: What I REALLY want though is to be able to stream my content to any display in my home without having to buy a separate player for each display. The XBMC (Xbox 1st gen Media Center) appears to be the best possible solution at the moment, but doesn't support HD. The Popcorn Hour looks promising if price prohibitive after you add in a BD ROM for ripping.

    Problem 2: I have bought a fair amount of DVDs over the years, about 300, but I find myself uninterested in buying a lot of HD repeats of the 300 I have (Kevin Smith isn't any funnier in hi-def, he does just fine at lo-def) and I am not too interested in anything that has been released of late. As it is, I hate having to have all 300 DVDs on a shelf, I want them to sit in a big box in storage with all my CDs (500+) (OK, now we are back to problem 1).

    Problem 3: Content IS king. And lately, content stinks. Everything I can think of that I'd love to see in Hi-Def has been ruined by sequels. The Matrix is gorgeous for special effects, but just thinking about Ravetrix 2 and Clichetrix 3 ruins my desire to sit through movie. Star Wars Episode 1 and 3 can be stunning at times, but it kills me having to fast forward past the bad acting and plots to see the stunning effects. (Am I the only one that sings Annie are you ok, are you ok, are you ok Annie every time Princess Panda Bear runs after Heinekin when he falls off the bloat pig?) Scenic HD? No thanks. I'd rather stream my own 8+mp pics to my tv through ORB and have scenes/memories I like.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Expensive

    Stand alone players are 500 bones here in Canuck land... A PS3 is a good option, but still expensive. Bluray is stuck in the starting blocks... not a good sign.

  26. Richard
    Thumb Down

    Who cares?

    Thing is - HD video is not a seismic shift from what you can get on a DVD for the average person. DVD was so successful because at that time there was no decent format for good quality video. VHS was crap, always was, and there was a real public demand for something decent to replace it. We had digital music, why not digital video?

    The bottom line is that DVD offered a huge improvement in quality, reliability, storage and longevity over VHS for less money than Blu ray's comparatively marginal improvement in picture quality and nothing else over DVD.

    Blu ray is strictly Nathan Barley technology and will probably end up in the same bin as SACD and DVD-Audio 10 years from now.

  27. Phil Irwin
    Thumb Down

    Price price price....

    Until BR Discs are as cheap as DVD or pretty near they wont be bought on any scale.

    The difference between a BR movie played on a ps3 via a HDTV and the same movie on dvd upscaled by the same ps3 onto the same HDTV is not worth the fairly hefty cost difference.

    The quality gained by going from upscaled dvd to BR is no where near the jump that VHS to dvd was.

  28. Highlander
    Stop

    Tony, Tony, Tony,....

    You know, if we exclude all articles written by you about the positives of BluRay, and if we ignore any analysis of the upside of the PS3, then we don't have to exclude any of your output. I'm sorry, but you do come across as having rather a one track mind on this topic and your analysis regularly shows bias and slant. What the hell ever happened to objectivity? This isn't politics it's technology, how in the hell did technology reporting become so slanted and political?

    I really wish you would simply leave this topic alone Tony, your bias continually contaminates your articles making anything you say suspect in the eyes of a lot of the readers here. Surely someone else on the staff there can approach this topic without the agenda you appear to bring with you? Perhaps you can find something you're less opinionated about to report on? Either way, it's hard to read your article as analysis when it comes across as very loaded.

  29. James O'Shea
    Thumb Down

    DRM & other issues

    I watch movies on both my computer(s) and my tv. The _only_ computer I have which can handle Blu-Ray is my Vista box... except that it doesn't have a good enough monitor, and frankly I'm not about to switch my hardware around to suit Sony & Co. Their insistence on DRM has ensured that none of my Macs or my XP machines can play Blu-Ray movies, despite the lovely 24-inch display on one iMac.

    I want to be able to slap a disc into a machine (any machine) and play it when I want, where I want, how I want. I can do this with DVDs. Even if I had a Blu-Ray player on my systems, I couldn't do this with Blu-Ray (or HD-DVD) due to the DRM on the system.

    Some systems are offering Blu-Ray or HD-DVD players as extra-cost options; I will not be purchasing them, unless and until I can get hold of a method to put Blu-Ray (or HD-DVD) onto at least a significant subset of my machines... without installing Vista on 'em.

    By treating their would-be customers as if they were, one and all, pirates, they have ensured that _this_ customer will keep his credit card in his wallet. I have not purchased a music CD since 2001, and have not suffered for the lack. I suspect that I will not suffer for the lack of Blu-Ray movies.

  30. Neil Docherty

    Three problems...

    I think there's three problems with BluRay - price, availability and quality!

    I have a 1080p screen and PS3. I own two BluRay discs (Ratatouille and Superman Returns) and whilst Ratatouille looks stunning (it is CG so should do), Superman Returns looks good but not amazing and 300 (borrowed from a friend) looked good but, like Superman Returns, didn't quite seem to have that sharpness that I was expecting from 1080p.

    The somewhat limited choice of titles available isn't helping my purchasing either and, if it's an older movie, it appears £18 per disc only gets the movie and no significant extras, even if they already exist on special edition DVD's and, from what I've read in reviews, many of the titles available are no better than upscaled DVDs!

    Whilst I've cut back on my DVD purchasing (only buying things like Family Guy which don't really benefit from HD), I haven't started buying BluRay as the price needs to get on a par with DVD so approximately £15 - £18 for a fully featured (not movie only) new DVD and £10 or less for older titles (which is all I paid for Superman Returns). They also need to get out a few of the classics out such as The Matrix, Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings.

  31. Jim Coleman
    Unhappy

    Price, price and price

    Well I have a 46" 1080p TV and a PS3 and I'd love to be able to justify buying Blu-Ray movies. But when I can go into a high-street store and buy 5 DVDs of recent movies for £30, why on Earth would I want to buy one single Blu-Ray movie for £27?

    It just doesn't add up! No movie is worth £27 when I can get it for £6, even if it is "crisper, brighter, higher res".

    I was holding out for Transformers on Blu-Ray but I bought it on DVD at the weekend, as one of my five for thirty quid. Got bored waiting.

  32. James Bassett
    Alert

    Buy? Who Buys?

    I haven't actually bought a DVD in a long time. And no, I'm not a Pirate or anything like that, I just use the rental-by-post services.

    Given the choice of spending £8 a month on purchasing one DVD which may turn out to be complete crap (i.e. a lot of the new releases) or £8 a month on having 5 or 6 DVD's delivered to my door, to watch in my own time, and then post back I choose the latter.

    That's why DVD sales have stagnated, that's one of the reasons HD disc sales have failed to take off and I'm sure that will be the reason on-demand content will take over in 5 years or so.

    With so much utter crap out there (has anyone seen "No Reservations"? 2nd worst film ever*), why risk spending your hard earned getting stuck with it for life when you can rent it, watch it, return it and choose to buy it less the cost of the rental if you REALLY liked it.

    *Never Ending Story 2 BTW

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time is running out

    "But let's face it Blu-Ray doesn't sound like High Definition, even though it is a superior format to HD DVD"

    At least HD DVD was more or less a finished product with internet connectivity and the ability to play bonus features. Many stand alone BD players that are on the market today are profile one and are already obsolete. Time will tell if BD will make it. Yes it has some extra capacity but that really did not make much difference for PQ. HD DVD stood up very well next to BD in PQ. In the short term, consumers will loose out no doubt as far as prices for hardware go. HD DVD was cheaper to produce for hardware and media. Already sony is saying that the two hundred dollar target for BD at Christmas will not happen. That number would have been a reality this year if HD DVD had won.

    The BD win means that mass adoption will take another year at best. That means sony will risk the format dying to to the possibility for other formats and technology to come along.. eg. online delivery systems etc. Also, in the next year more and more will be purchasing upscale dvd players and will be less likely to turn around again and buy BD player. The industry screwed this up by not getting this to market quicker, in finished form at the right price point. It will be 3 years + before the price point finished product is ready. And by that time, this format may just die. The timing is bad. The economy is at its worst. Next year will probably be even worse for expensive toys. Sony telling us the 200 dollar player won't come this year will haunt them. Sony wants to max profits and appear greedy here. They thing just because they won means they are guaranteed success. The fact is the costs has to drop huge before that will happen for both hardware/media.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DVD droping faster

    Personally, I've found DVD's dropping in price much faster. A little patience and they can be had for five to seven quid on average. The last DVD I bought on Monday was three quid. Blu-Ray just don't come close. I've watched them both on large forty-something goliaths with optically driven super sound and what they hey - Blu-Ray just isn't worth the cost.

    I'm also shy of buying an PS3 to play movies on - I remember playing DVD on a PS2, and also the Xbox - not exactly smooth. Once bitten and all that jaz...

    DVD will do me fine until the on-demand service kills Blu-Ray for ever in a few more years.

  35. Jeff
    Stop

    /boggle

    What's wrong with not including PS3 sales with other Blu-ray players? The stats are being provided by NPD, the same group that lumps all console sales in with the overall figures for the console gaming market, and doesn't include computer sales in the computer gaming market. This leaves everything skewed very heavily towards consoles dominating the gaming market. I say that to say they probably left off PS3 sales for the same reason they left computer sales off the other. You can't prove that the PS3 that was sold will be used to watch Blu-ray movies anymore than they could prove that a computer is being bought to play video games.

    Maybe this just applies for the US, but we knew about Blu-ray. (Except for those few people living under a rock.) Practically every movie release commercial that came out since the format started said, "Buy it today on DVD or Blu-ray." Then there were the rare movies that came out that were on all three or only HD-DVD and DVD formats. If that's not enough, one of my friends in Los Angeles worked for about 6 months going around the country to large shopping malls to do demonstrations of Blu-ray to get the word out. She was in a being paid by Disney to do so if memory serves. People knew then, and know now about Blu-ray. Some people care, some people don't.

  36. Sean Aaron

    Spot on Richard

    I've got a plasma because I didn't have a CRT choice except via mail order when I had to get a new telly. I have no HD content delivery system at all and I just don't care. The set is properly calibrated and Standard DVD looks brilliant on it.

    The other issue is nicely summed up here:

    "c) quality of original footage - a lot of older films simply arent good enough quality to put on bluray! i mean the aliens films arent even good enough quality for DVD! - even the new bond film looks incredibly grainy in 1080p. i think only films like transformers (which i would have bough if it wasnt for the HDDVD only release!), lord of the rings etc will really warrant a HD release until the prices drop significantly"

    I'm into films from the 60s, 70s and 80s and HD isn't going to make a significant amount of difference, sorry. Newer films are just either rubbish or not well served by the modest increase from the 576p I get out of my progressive scan DVD player. Unless I'm watching stuff on a display that looks like I'm looking out my window (and the content reflects this quality as well), I just don't see the point of upgrading; especially not to a disc-based format.

    BD will be great for offline backup, but that's the only future I see for it.

  37. Glenn Amspaugh
    Heart

    Disks suck

    Man, I am so over buying plastic spinning things. I've digitized all my CD's and am slowly working through my DVD's, ripping them to .mp4/removing region crap and setting them up on a home server so we can watch them on any computer in the house (and main TV via Mac Mini dvi<->hdmi). I really wish someone would make a household server (I'm running OS X Server on a G4 with 1.5 TB storage) specifically for house use, that can handle HD content. When a new movie comes out, I want to d/l (purchased, not rented) and have it available for my use. I feel no need to 'share the love' and pass out this copy to everyone and eat up my bandwidth at the same time. I also have no trouble paying for a real drm free download. Why do they hate the consumers?

    Oh yeah, why won't they just make 42" HD monitors? Give me the option of picking up something that doesn't include stupid tuners and 10w cheap ass speakers. I've already got the gear for all that. I just want a decent picture making thingy.

  38. Mage Silver badge
    Alert

    HD

    The problem is the TVs.

    They are rubbish.

    Also for HD at 8ft viewing you need about 50" or 60" or indeed with typical 37" you better off sticking to DVD. HD was invented for HUGE screens, not to make existing ones sharper, esp. in Europe where we have 576 lines instead of USA 480 (1/3rd better quality) on smaller screens (Majority of so called HDTVs sold are 32" and 37"!)

    I havn't seen a LCD or Plasma I would replace my CRT with, even for SD. Maybe a 3 chip projector + zoom lens is the way to go. Many programs I don't want at HD size.

  39. Shane Lusby

    Crap movies lately

    The fact of the matter is the Q1 movie releases largely sucked. Some new ones are rolling out soon that are worth while and we'll be buying again.

    [rant] When it comes down to it who the hell is choosing the movies being released in HD? You can get Beerfest in HD! Even if you for some reason wanted to own it at all, there is no reason you need a high resolution version of most comedies.

  40. Jim
    IT Angle

    Who gives a shit?

    What has been missed by most commentators is that the mass market could care less about HD... period.

    What appears to be misunderstood is that few consumers care about picture and/or audio quality.

    Much of what has been said thus far mirrors the letters pages of audio magazines from decades ago. Who wants to listen to a test disc? Audiophiles will but there simply weren't enough of them to sustain a mass market. Similarly who wants to watch a video test card? Maybe some of the commentators hereabouts might but they won't sustain a mass market either.

    Once the question becomes who wants to watch something that interests them despite the quality, we can then see why Youtube has been such a runaway success.

    Content is king. Formats are for engineers and autistics.

  41. B Bauer

    Blu-Ray vs DVD

    I really question whether there will ever be mass adoption of Blu-Ray, unless the price difference over DVD is negligible. I've been watching HDTV over the air for about five years. Things I've noticed:

    1. People over-emphasize resolution. Most people can't tell which stations are 1080i and which are 720p (even though they insist that they need 1080p!). A lot of the PBS shows are upscaled 480p, and people don't realize that either.

    2. The optimal use of HD is long, wide zooms. Its extremely noticeable with sports, because you're often watching the entire width of the field/court/etc. Extended zooms in movies typically only last a few seconds. The rest of the time, the difference is minimal. Take a look at the "see the difference" videos at Best Buy and you'll notice the most noticeable difference is in those short segments of wide zooms.

    3. Films are often "softened" with grain, which negates a lot of the clarity of high definition.

    I was an early adopter of HD; I spent $300 for just a tuner. I feel it was worth it for sports and some nature/travel shows (that also feature wide zooms), but for most material the biggest gain is the improved color, not the resolution. I've done comparisons of HD vs DVD (when channels were showing movies I own), and I don't find the difference very impressive (usually not even noticeable). Even if my DVD player played Blu-Ray disks now, I'd still find it hard to justify the extra cost of the disks.

  42. Martin Usher

    HD was more consumer friendly

    HD-DVD was a more consumer friendly standard, especially with the dual format disks. Blu Ray is more about getting advanced DRM into the home, its corporation friendly, consumer hostile -- expensive and the experience it gives you isn't worth the delta.

    Most of the sets sold locally where I live in the US are 1080p. Its a bit overkill for smaller screen sizes (42" and down) but everything seems to be this standard now. Blu Ray promotions included 'giving' a player away with every HDTV purchase (that was Best Buy) but this only lasts while retailers could sell HDTV at a premium. They can't, though -- people are not dropping $5K on a set, they're spending at most $2K for 50"++, $500..$1300 for a more normal sized set.

  43. John
    Boffin

    Lot of good points

    Forget about price, whether Sony and the BD camp beat HD DVD, all that crap.

    The strongest argument against adoption is that unless the new movie you are wanting to watch was filmed with HD cameras or is a 100% CGI, its all pointless. You won't realize an increadible picture on 720p or 1080p if the source material is low grade. Like it was said above, older movies will look no better, and in some cases, may even look worse due to upconverting.

    For BD or any other future HD configuration to make any sense economically, the content has to be filmed in HD and there has to be lots of it. Right now, neither is the case. Ther are some that are filmed in HD (I watch Planet Earth on DVD upconverted to 1080i and it is INCREDIBLE. Way to go BBC!) but most of the new movies that are coming out are still filmed the old way. So why bother spending hundreds of dollars on equipment just to watch a hand full of movies?

    Big companies should have really done their homework on this one before spending the millions...

  44. Hayden Clark
    Happy

    Toshiba EP-30 on Amazon

    is now £140!

    I wonder if Tosh will sneakily start making some more.....

  45. Moo

    Expensive

    Yeah, I could buy the 50" TV and the Blu player but this is the easy part. How would I afford the rent of the appropriate room for such gigantic setup? Added the fact that in my (me and my wife's) humble living room (24 square metres - pretty much standard for a flat in Istanbul) a 20" CRT and our 3 year old PC under it are running along quite fine.

    Maybe I'm just too cheap, aren't I?

  46. Roger Fraumann

    Blu-Ray will do well, once media is priced right for data back-ups

    Blu-Ray DL at 50GB a disk is just large enough to be useful for data back-up media, but the price of "blank" media is still 10-20x too high. Once the media drops in price for data back-up/archive use, we should see a rapid take up replacing the tape drives for SMB in particular.

  47. Mark W
    Unhappy

    media cost is king

    until the price of the pre recorded media drops, I'll be sticking to lovefilm for my hd (have both formats) fix as I won't pay £22+ for a movie. talk about a total ripoff!

  48. Liam

    hmmmm

    @ Glenn Amspaugh

    dood - any good tv now will enable VGA input. my tosh lets me use it as a 1920x1080 PC monitor :) looks amazing! after all LCD tvs are just big LCD monitors arent they? (with all the extras)

    @ Mage

    "Also for HD at 8ft viewing you need about 50" or 60"" - wtf? under what logic? and you mention projector? wtf - i havent seen a projector that can output anywhere near as good as a crt - let alone a LCD. i myself spent a few years waiting for decent LCD screens (i have a really nice sony 32" 100hz crt - no in my bedroom) - if you look around and arent a cheap skate (i.e dont buy a crap brand with no features) you can get some good TVs. you just need to research what TVs do what. tosh are great for LCD and panasonic are the plasma kings. the thing is you can buty 2 TVs that look almost identical but one is packed with quality components and one is cheap components.

    something people have failed to mention is how good TEXT now looks.

    also if you havent seen the BBC stuff in HD you are missing out. planet earth looks AMAZING (probably best thing ive seen in HD to be honest) (this is the HD version - not the upscaled - remember upscaling cannot ADD clarity - all its doing is stretching a small image onto a big canvas - whereas HD creates a 'big canvas' image)

    @ Moo - flat screen TVs take up hardly any room. my 32" crt took up 1/2 my lounge - wheras my lcd is wall mounted and i gain about 1m of space back! :) and yes you are cheap :D

  49. Steven Hewittt

    @soaklord

    The reason media centre on your 360 isn't showing HD is because you are using XP MCE. Vista HP or Ultimate (e.g. the editions with Media Centre) output in HD as well as SD.

    Spend £99 on an upgrade to HP and you'll have true HD streamed from your PC to the telly your 360 is connected to.

    And in the near future you can purchase media centre extenders that act as a media centre client that plugs into your TV. (E.g. Wifi to HDMI connector that recieves media centre)

  50. W
    Stop

    DVD Burners

    "Once the media drops in price for data back-up/archive use, we should see a rapid take up replacing the tape drives for SMB in particular."

    Maybe. In some SMBs. But the one I work for still backs up to CDRs. We don't have a DVR burner in the office.

    Just saying.

  51. Iain

    @John

    "The strongest argument against adoption is that unless the new movie you are wanting to watch was filmed with HD cameras or is a 100% CGI, its all pointless. You won't realize an increadible picture on 720p or 1080p if the source material is low grade. Like it was said above, older movies will look no better, and in some cases, may even look worse due to upconverting."

    HAHAHAHAHA.

    Let me introduce you to this wonderful piece of technology. It's called "film". There's more detail in a 35mm piece of film than there is in a 1920x1080 digital shot. Go watch the HD-DVD of Casablanca and come back when you realise how incredibly wrong you are.

  52. Liam

    @ iain

    yes 35mm film is nice - an analogue shot isnt digitised so can contain high quality of image. BUTTTT films like the aliens movies were shot on BADDDD film stock. so no matter how much you do to them they will always look pants - this is all down to this magic "film" you talked of :)

    and if the HD-DVD version of casablanca HASNT been massively re-mastered for digital i would be very surprised! for the basic fact that analogue film stock also dimishes over time... where as as long as your optical media doesnt get fuckered you will see no loss in quality....

    i know where you are coming from... i have a REALLY GOOD vhs player (in my loft now) that made certain VHS tapes look WAYY better than some DVDs!

  53. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    @Liam

    I agree, content IS the king. Sony was never strong with good cinema - they simply do not release the kind of movies I'd like to keep and return to. Stuff they release is mostly good to watch once and forget (sometimes with bad taste in mounth), which means rent and no purchase. On the others - yes, I kept buying some Universal (HD DVD) and Warner Bross stuff. Now I will have to switch to BD - but no sooner until some good titles appear (I'd love "LotR" trilogy in HD). No major problem with that. Screen resolution - you need to have 30 deg. view angle to actually see these 1080 lines, which is why either big screen is needed or one needs to sit very close to TV. In most cases old habits win, which means people have small screens (at least in angle view terms) and simply do not see resolution benefit beyond 720 or 576 lines. Also, TV DOES take up space - either on the wall or on the floor. This is especially a problem in Europe (not to mention Japan!) where flats tend to be small compared to US or Australia. Movies quality? Since I was kid I remember that cinema had better quality and it still holds true - this is because 35mm offers resolution much beyond 1080 lines. I guess the problem you are seeing is with remastering, not with original material (the only one problem with original old material I have is camera shake). Finally, there is contrast issue - right now you either buy plasma with great contrast and even greater power consumption (which is also proportional to number of pixels displayed - 1080 screen consumes 2x much energy as 720 one in the same size), or LCD with poor contrast, especially if you tend to watch movies in the dark (then "blacks" look more like glorified greys). I would be happy to replace my plasma with OLED (I have MP3 player with AMOLED screen and it beats everything) but these are far from the market.

    To sum it up - screen technology is not mature enough (contrast, power consumption), movie selection is poor, consumers do not use big enough screens to benefit from HD. It will take years before HD takes of comparably to DVD.

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