Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD: Why high-def video hardware standards are irrelevant.

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Allan, May 10, 2005.

  1. Allan

    Allan Guest

    Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD: Why high-def video hardware standards are

    DVD Video Format Wars?

    By Damien Stolarz for SiliconValleyWatcher

    In the mid 1990s a video codec called MPEG-2 was standardized, and
    DVDs were standardized. At that time, computers ran at less than
    100Mhz and it required a special microchip to decode the MPEG-2 video.
    Fast forward 10 years and two new high-capacity DVD-disk formats are
    racing to be the standard for high-definition video:
    Blu-Ray and HD DVD.


    Major computer and consumer electronic companies have chosen sides in
    this debate and it has been compared to the VHS/Betamax war of the
    1980s over the format of consumer videotapes.

    But is it really? Here's why I think hardware standards are less
    relevant than ever.


    Just a few years ago, DVD-R and DVD+R became available to consumers.
    The fear was that consumers would not adopt the technology because
    "they didn't know which standard would win".

    But in practice, consumers were just trying to burn DVDs and back up
    data, music, movies and video. And both disks did this. Sure, you had
    to be sure to buy the right media for your DVD burner (depending on
    its sign, + or -), but beyond that it worked.

    Within a couple years, poof, you can buy a DVD+-RW that burns and
    reads everything just fine. Now the double layer versions are coming
    out to market so you can burn two-sided DVDs just like you buy from
    the studio.

    Differences from VHS/Betamax
    There are many key differences between the earlier "war" and today's

    One is the form factor, or shape and size of the disks. Once the
    content industry saw how quickly consumers adopted audio CD's, they
    kept that disc size for Video CD's (MPEG-1, big in Asia), and DVDs.
    Now, they're sticking to the same form factor again.

    This has several ramifications:

    * Any DVD playback device can be designed to play back all earlier
    forms of disk (i.e. CD, DVD)
    * It is quite feasible to make a dual-standard DVD playback device
    that plays blu-ray AND HD DVD
    * DVD players cost $30. At that price point, plastic, aluminum,
    buttons, and packaging begins to dominate the cost of the device.
    Building a "new" DVD player with an upgraded laser beam and HD
    decoding chip is much, much easier than building a whole new device
    from scratch
    * If movies come out on (gasp) two different formats, the hardware
    will probably quickly converge, as consumers won't want two different
    HD DVD players.
    * The fight won't be completely won in the consumer space. The
    version of the DVD which can be more easily used and manipulated and
    burned on PCs could give it more staying power. Thus, there are really
    two battlegrounds: the living room, and the PC

    In short, this is a totally different kind of fight, and much less
    "bloody" as industry fights go. If in the 1980s all VCRs used the same
    physical tape size and shape and the fight was simply over the way the
    information was written to the tape, it would be better comparison. In
    that case a "dual format" VCR simply had to have TWO different
    playback heads, and had to pay two technology/patent royalties and
    thus cost a bit more.

    The biggest potential fallout of this war will be slow adoption of the
    technology for the first year (they're trying to make xmas 2005),
    which will result in low numbers and slow down manufacturers, perhaps
    slowing the whole high-definition DVD adpotion by years.

    I doubt that that slowdown will happen. I think whether peace talks
    are successful or not, the immediate declaration of the one and true
    standard is not necessary for high definition video disks to get to
    market successfully.

    "Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game
    because they almost always turn out to be -- or to be indistinguishable from
    -- self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time."
    - Neil Stephenson, _Cryptonomicon_
    Allan, May 10, 2005
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  2. Allan

    RichA Guest

    Even though HD has a higher bit rate, even though it can be done more
    cheaply, even though it makes FAR more sense from a production
    standpoint, they will STILL go with Blu-Ray.
    RichA, May 10, 2005
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