Bye Bye Toshiba: Samsung Ships the First Blu-Ray Player

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by asj, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. asj

    Jay G. Guest

    True, but it's still capable of skewed results. Take these DVD sales
    rankings for example:

    Now for this week, June 11, 2006, the #1 Amazon seller is the #1 overall,
    but then Amazon's #3 seller only made it to #10, while apparently Amazon's
    #2 best seller didn't even make it into the top 20 overall.

    Then, according to this site:

    As of June 15, 2006, the best selling HD DVD is ranked 1205th among Video
    Discs sold at Amazon, which doesn't even beat the best selling Blu-Ray
    disc, which is ranked at 1027.

    Jay G., Jun 17, 2006
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  2. asj

    Jay G. Guest

    Really? asj said that HD DVD disc sales were slow, and you offered Amazon
    as a counter. Unless you were suggesting Amazon as indicative of overall
    sales, what you wrote would be completely meaningless since it doesn't
    contradict what asj said at all.
    Which discs?

    In any case, being out of inventory doesn't mean the discs are selling very
    well. All it means is that they're out of inventory. The inventory issues
    could very well be because of manufacturing issues or because the titles
    simply aren't being shipped in large quantities.

    Jay G., Jun 17, 2006
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  3. asj

    asj Guest

    As I've posted before, low inventories does not exactly equate to hot
    sales. Also, as I again noted before, even Warner has scaled DOWN its
    HDDVD titles because of low sales volumes for HDDVD.

    HD-DVD sales sluggish

    After a couple of weeks of availability, HD DVD is proving to be a slow
    go at retail.

    Toshiba is limiting its initial shipment of HD DVD players (VB, 4-13),
    and with relatively few hardware units in the market, Warner Home Video
    is restricting HD DVD title shipments to retail accordingly (VB, 2-10).

    Non-hardware regional chain Newbury Comics has not sold one copy of its
    HD DVD stock despite pricing its titles at about $20, a few dollars
    less than rival New England area Best Buys.

    "We've drilled down the margin on this to see if there is
    interest," Newbury buyer Ian Leshin said. "There is customer
    curiosity, and they say we're a lot cheaper than anyone else. But we
    haven't sold a single unit."
    asj, Jun 18, 2006
  4. When are these guys going to figure out that people aren't going to just
    jump on the latest gadget unless there is a compelling reason to do so?

    Fact is, few people want to buy into one technology or the other right now
    while it's uncertain, and given the whole issues with DRM and Sony's
    rootkit, and other issues, people are wary about buying into any highly
    restrictive technology.

    Of course the manufacturers won't get it. They'll just think nobody wants
    high definition movies.
    Erik Funkenbusch, Jun 18, 2006
  5. asj

    John Bailo Guest

    cf. XBox 360
    John Bailo, Jun 18, 2006
  6. Ah, here's a thought:
    Maybe less than ten percent of the population have actually GOT a hi-def
    digital screen yet??

    HD-DVD and Blu-Ray: The Esperanto of the home-theater industry.

    Derek Janssen
    Derek Janssen, Jun 18, 2006
  7. “With every new technology, it will take awhile to pick up,” Bjorn’s
    assistant buyer Xavier Dominguez said. “It’s like when DVD first came out.”

    Er...No, it isn't:
    You could play the first DVD's on your computer. You could play DVD's
    on your Playstation. You could buy a DVD movie at a computer store,
    hook them up to whatever low-tech item would decipher them that you were
    already using anyway, and whatever you used, you could play them on your
    old TV set. And even *then*, they made you never want to look at your
    VHS tapes again--You wished for a world where "rewinding" had become
    obsolete, and saw the doorway open.
    We didn't buy DVD's because they were "sort of better". If that were
    the reasoning, we'd be watching S-VHS to this day.

    (Basically, the only reason the current industry thinks that any hi-def
    format or any other new post-DVD movie delivery will "catch on" is the
    main reason that they're convinced any *other* new technology will
    "catch on" just for showing up: Blind panic, and terror of the unknown.
    Corporate execs and industry analysts, deep down, don't really know WHY
    DVD suddenly caught fire the way it did in '99--And as long as they
    cann't come up with a nice, marketable reason they can take credit for,
    and the phenomena remains a mystery to them, why then, could
    happen again! At any moment! 0_0

    Causing them to suddenly hunker down in survivalist defense-battle mode
    the second any new format shows up, and prepare for it to Change the
    World again the moment it looks at them cross-eyed.)
    Well...they'll be partly right.

    Derek Janssen
    Derek Janssen, Jun 18, 2006
  8. asj

    Jay G. Guest

    Probably more like the espresso of the HT market, or the cappuccino.
    Something of a niche product for a number of years, until you turn around
    and suddenly it's available *everywhere*. Kinda like DVD when it first
    came out.

    Jay G., Jun 18, 2006
  9. asj

    Jay G. Guest

    No you couldn't. You could play DVDs on your *new* computer, provided it
    came with a DVD-ROM drive, or on your Playstation *2*.
    No, you couldn't. DVD required the purchase of new hardware, there were no
    way to upgrade something you already had when it first came out. Sometimes
    it could play on something new you were going to buy *anyway*, like a
    videogame system or new computer, but it was still a new purchase.

    Incidentally, Blu-Ray and HD DVD are the same way. Blu-Ray will be
    playable on the Playstation *3*, and HD DVD and Blu-Ray drives for PCs are
    or will be available.
    Well, technically you can with Blu-Ray and HD DVD as well. The difference
    would be you won't see an improvement over DVD on a standard definition
    set, wheras DVD offered an improvement over VHS even on a std def set.
    HD DVD and Blu-Ray aren't "sort of better." They provide up to a 6x
    increase in resolution, with built-in progressive storage of the image for
    better quality.

    The main difference with HD discs over DVD is that HD requires upgrading
    the monitor in addition to the player. Here, however, is the situation
    where some people can actually attach a HD player up to something they
    already have, namely a HD monitor.

    The biggest thing that's hurting HD discs is the competing formats. Much
    more people would be buying HD DVD already if there wasn't Blu-Ray coming
    around the corner. Nobody wants to be left with a player from the losing
    side, which is why it's not surprising the strongest HD DVD defenders are
    those that own it.

    Jay G., Jun 18, 2006
  10. That's one of the best descriptions of corporate culture I've seen in a
    Kimba W. Lion, Jun 18, 2006
  11. Geek talk. 99.9% of the buying public won't know at all and will care even
    Kimba W. Lion, Jun 18, 2006
  12. asj

    Joshua Zyber Guest

    Alright… after spending several days with the Samsung player and several
    different Blu-ray discs, I feel I’ve got an excellent grasp on what you
    can expect from this player and the format in general for the next few
    months. Old readers of DVDFile might remember that I used to be one of
    the site’s main reviewers for DVD content, so I do have a bit of a
    background here. I’m going to focus on what I viewed to be the best
    looking of the BD titles I viewed in addition to a title that hasn’t
    been covered elsewhere: XXX. This is a title that provides for a longer
    running time than most of the early BD titles (123 minutes) and also
    contains lots of movement to test MPEG2’s abilities.

    The short of it is that I completely agree with Andrew P and, by
    extension, BigMikeATL. Blu-ray, as it exists today in both hardware and
    software, is a good, but not great format. I’m starting to see a bit of
    a pattern with these early BD titles as they generally are shorter films
    with bright, colorful cinematography. Those are the conditions under
    which MPEG2 BD looks its best. While I was initially questioning what
    the early adopter appeal of films like Hitch or 50 First Dates could be,
    now I can understand it.

    Let’s start with SD ability as it compares to the Toshiba. Again, I put
    the player in the very good but not great slot. I think the Toshiba
    still presents a slightly sharper picture overall when compared to the
    Samsung. But the Samsung is very much improved over their older models.
    So if you owned an 841, 850, 941, or 950, you should be happy with the
    improvement that the BD-P1000 provides. However, those previous models
    provided an option to pillarbox 4:3 material and zoom 4:3 letterbox
    images, neither of which is possible on the 1000. So the Toshiba gets a
    point on that, but the Toshiba also lacks the ability to zoom 4:3
    letterbox material, so shame on them both. But overall, advantage
    Toshiba on SD DVD presentation.

    For BD ability, I’m now going back to my XXX disc and BD in general. Had
    this format and these titles launched in early April, I would have been
    happy. Unfortunately for Blu-ray, HD-DVD launched in mid-April and did
    two things to impair BD: They’ve gotten more titles out to consumers and
    they’ve provided an HD experience that is better than BD. Now the
    difference isn’t huge, but it should be noticeable, even to people who
    might not normally see these kinds of things. Sorry to have to say it,
    but BD is an unimpressive format in the shadow of HD-DVD. Had they
    happened in reverse, HD-DVD would have had to work hard to impress upon
    people that buying their player (even at half the price of BD) was worth
    the effort for the slight improvement they offered. Now, BD is in a
    position to justify a premium for a product that is slightly inferior to
    what is already available. When I first cracked open the HD-A1 in April
    and popped in that Last Samurai HD-DVD, I was wowed with what I thought
    to be the best HD image my television had ever produced. The HD image
    was smooth and rich with a sharpness and depth I’d never experienced.
    Most of the HD-DVD titles released thus far (with a few now famous
    exceptions) have this “pop” that takes them out of the realm of what I
    would consider normal HD. The Blu-ray discs I’ve sampled thus far, while
    they’ve looked good to even great, have all lacked that “pop” and
    instead generally look a lot closer to good OTA HD broadcasts. If you
    were to show me the XXX BD and tell me it was a Showtime broadcast, I
    wouldn’t hesitate to think you were telling me the truth. But I would
    never believe that about most of the HD-DVD titles out there right now.

    The sad truth is that MPEG2 just isn’t cutting it against VC-1. Now
    while it’s difficult to impossible to be able to judge the quality of
    one film in one codec against a different film in a different codec, I
    can stack the deck to try and approximate a decent comparison. I
    compared XXX BD to Unforgiven HD-DVD. Unforgiven is 10 years older than
    XXX, so this should have been a slam dunk for image quality in favor of
    XXX. Guess what, the VC-1 Unforgiven consistently outperformed the MPEG2
    of XXX. Just look at chapter 4 of Unforgiven. All of the characters are
    sharply in focus, while the intricate detail in the background wallpaper
    is consistently resolved. XXX, by contrast appears somewhat soft and
    lacking in dimensionality. In all of the BD titles I viewed there’s a
    consistent soft, yet noisy quality to the images that appears as a
    mixture of natural film grain and digital noise. Fine details, such as
    rocks on the ground or wall textures, are often seen flickering
    slightly, which is often annoying.

    I’m also curious about how many of these initial discs are truly 1080p.
    I saw more stairstepping and artifacting throughout one viewing of XXX
    than I have in 2+ months of HD-DVD viewings. Here’s a few moments for
    reference… at :38 the tail of the Revolutions logo there is some pretty
    good banding visible. Right after that, serious jaggies on the XXX logo
    that starts the film. At 32:08, look at the grill of the car for more
    jaggies while 10 seconds later, at 32:18, you’ll also get some pretty
    good stairstepping at the base of the balcony. Unfortunately (or
    fortunately, depending on how you view it), these artifacts don’t appear
    on the SD Superbit version of the film when viewed on the Toshiba A1.
    More surprising, they also don’t appear when the Superbit DVD is viewed
    on the Samsung BD-P1000. The banding was visible on the Superbit, but it
    was much less severe than the Blu-ray banding.

    Essentially, from what I’ve seen so far, visually Blu-ray is, at its
    best, all of the worst qualities of HD-DVD right now. If you’re someone
    who was bothered by the HD-DVDs of The Fugitive, Full Metal Jacket, and
    Perfect Storm, you’re not going to find a ton to like in some of these
    early offerings. Again, they can look really, really good, but they don’t
    consistently look great. How much of this is a byproduct of the Samsung
    player is unknown until other players make it to market but a few things
    are pretty clear…

    Sony, as a company, has a lot riding on the success of Blu-ray. With as
    much at stake as they have, these titles needed to raise the bar over
    what we’ve already seen. But because as a company they seem to be more
    focused on their royalties and the ability to cross promote, they have
    succeeded in being the second to market with the second best product.
    Here’s an example of what I mean… The XXX disc has a selection in its
    menus for “Previews.” These are the SD MPEG2 trailers for Stealth, Into
    the Blue, and SWAT. So there’s approx. 200-250MB taken up by Sony trying
    to get you to buy other Sony products. With that space, Sony could have
    instead done a few other things. Why not include the XXX trailer and the
    Rob Cohen commentary? Why not use that 200MB to try and eliminate that
    banding at the beginning of the movie? Instead, Sony appears to have
    needed that space to get you to spend more money rather than providing
    us with the best product to entice us to spend more money. Compare that
    with the Warner and Universal titles, which are not only visually more
    impressive, but also packed to the rims with bonus content. Universal
    certainly didn’t need to include all the stuff from the more expensive 2
    DVD Cinderella Man, but they did and provided an excellent value on that

    Sony has two things that have to happen and happen fast in order for
    Blu-ray to really make this a good race: They need to implement the
    advanced video and audio codecs and they need to get 50GB discs working.
    They have to do both of these and they have to do them fast. With only
    50GB and still working MPEG2, they’re probably going to be able to equal
    or hover slightly below HD-DVD as it exists now. With newer codecs but
    only 25GB discs, they’ll be able to match HD-DVD visually, but will have
    a 5GB disadvantage. Only with both of these in existence will this
    format even have a chance. And they need to do this much sooner rather
    than later. Unfortunately, by the time the Sony player launches in
    mid-August, there are going to be maybe 30 titles available, while
    HD-DVD, by that point in August, will be sporting double that and could
    be up to as high as 75 different titles.

    A few of the quirks about the Samsung BD-P1000 that I haven’t seen
    mentioned yet are the resolution and audio settings. On the video side,
    I’ve had a few instances where the resolution would change on the player
    without me having to select it. It switched from the 1080i that I had
    set it to to a very much inferior 720p setting that softened the picture
    even more that I found it at 1080. I’ll be curious to see additional
    comments as the player becomes more widely available and whether the
    player switching itself from 1080 to 720 happens with others. On the
    audio side, I’m running the player HDMI to a new Denon 3806 HDMI in.
    Unfortunately, there seems to be something bungled with how the player
    handles the bitstream vs. PCM tracks. To play the Dolby 5.1 track, the
    player has to have the digital out in the player’s menu set to
    “bitstream.” However, if you select one of the Sony uncompressed 5.1
    tracks from the menu, it will only play back in 2-channel PCM. Selecting
    PCM from the player menu will output 5.1 PCM via HDMI, but then converts
    the Dolby tracks to 2-channel PCM. So you could potentially have to
    change player settings depending on the disc and soundtrack you want to
    hear. Can anyone else using their player via HDMI confirm this behavior?

    Ultimately, the potential is there for Blu-ray to succeed, but it is
    unclear when that potential might be approached. For all of the
    complaints about HD-DVD not being ready for primetime, I think that
    despite all of its faults, the bottom line is that HD-DVD delivered the
    big jump up in picture quality and interactivity that many of us were
    anticipating and has set the bar in terms of HD. Blu-ray, unfortunately,
    has failed to go “Beyond High Definition.”


    Equipment list:
    Toshiba 50” 50H13 DVI in from
    Denon 3806 HDMI out and in from
    Samsung BD-P1000 HDMI out and
    Toshiba HD-A1 HDMI out
    Joshua Zyber, Jun 18, 2006
  13. asj

    Jeff Rife Guest

    Jeff Rife, Jun 18, 2006
  14. Well, it's true that the companies who make the *makings* for widescreen
    digital/HD screens are making them cheaper, so that companies can make
    them more common in time for Everything to Change, rather like
    auto-makers' sudden push to hybrid technology--
    And now that it's easier for companies to mass-produce screens we can
    even use, why, in three to five years, screens might be down
    to...oh...dare we dream?...$900 or less!

    So be patient, Toshiba and Philips--We'll be able to actually
    buy/afford/need your product soon, and it's not like *forever*... :)
    Uh, wonder why DVD *suddenly* happened in the summer of '99, and not a
    slow evolution from it's '96-'97 opening in said niche-geek obscurity?
    Might it have something to do with the "V-E Day" of DiVX suddenly
    announcing bankruptcy, curious mainstream home-theater fans dancing in
    the streets that the Format War Was Over If You Wanted It, and THEN it
    was everywhere?
    Kinda like VHS when it first came out.

    (Me, I was there: I remember rushing down to Circuit City in June,
    hoping to vulture a cheap salvage DVD-converted 'X player, by the time
    they'd be *giving* them away--
    But fortunately, salespeople at other stores told me the REAL reason 'X
    had gone under, and I thought it wiser to splurge into debt with the
    real thing, as I'd already made a place in my living room for one.)

    In short, if we ARE going by history, one format will sell when the
    other is dead, and not before. Sit tight, we got a nice...long...wait.

    Derek Janssen (and y'know, that "Third Rock From the Sun" episode wasn't
    *too long* before '99, if you look back)
    Derek Janssen, Jun 18, 2006
  15. Umm.. Playstation DVD's came about long after DVD's had caught on. Most
    computers didn't have DVD-ROM's until well after DVD's had caught on for
    consumers. But much of the rest I agree with.

    There was only one reason I bought a DVD player, and that's because The
    Matrix came out on DVD 6 months before it came out on VHS. I think a lot
    of other people bought DVD players for the same reason.

    They need to find a few titles that people want so desperately on DVD and
    make them available only on an HD format. They won't do that, though, for
    a lot of reasons. The internet can short circuit any plan like that today.

    Also, there will still be the concern about the format wars, which I think
    is the single biggest factor. And the price is ridiculous, though I'm sure
    that will come down over the next 6 months to a year.

    Then, of course, there's the problem that only people who have High Def
    TV's will want them, and that's a pretty small percentage today (though
    growing), which means reasonable HD TV's (or even EDTV's) need to flood the
    No, the industry wants HD-DVD to catch on because they think it will solve
    their current crisis with people copying movies. They just won't do what
    is necessary to make that happen (create a single standard that can work on
    all TV's)
    No, people want High Def movies, they just don't want to compromise to get
    Erik Funkenbusch, Jun 18, 2006
  16. It's not the Internet, it's the fact that most movies that came out
    during that Summer of Love had never been studio-restored, or available,
    or only on VHS, up to that point--If you were thinking you now had to
    "replace your entire tape collection", there was never a better time to
    do it:
    If it wasn't the Matrix, you bought your player because of SOME title
    that was released between the summer of '99 and the spring of
    '00...Okay, hands up, for how many was it the "Yellow Submarine"
    restoration? :)

    If they're selling a hi-def format on the down-convertable idea of
    "Don't worry, you can still play your standard DVD's", I see a
    particular flaw/difference from history right there.
    And if they're not, I see an even bigger one.

    Derek Janssen
    Derek Janssen, Jun 18, 2006
  17. asj

    Roy L. Fuchs Guest

    There were NO software players at the time DVD was released, and the
    ONLY player for a PC at the time was a creative labs job that REQUIRED
    a hardware decoder card as well.
    Roy L. Fuchs, Jun 18, 2006
  18. asj

    asj Guest

    Oh, from a FORUM...i'm sure those people aren't

    Face it, your HDDVD is selling as slow as can be, Warner is scaling
    back its titles, and Blu-ray is starting to make waves even before it
    comes out.....

    End of game...checkmate!
    asj, Jun 18, 2006
  19. asj

    Jay G. Guest

    Most of the advantages of DVD over VHS is "geek talk" when written out.
    However, the public knew better image and sound when they saw and heard it,
    and it will be the case here as well.

    Jay G., Jun 18, 2006
  20. asj

    Jay G. Guest

    The players for both formats are capable of playing DVDs, and can upconvert
    them to 720 and 1080. However, I'm not sure what the "flaw/difference" is.
    A lot of early DVD players were capable of playing VCDs, in addition to
    audio CDs. PS2 could play PS1 games, PS3 will play PS2 games, and even
    Xbox360 can play *some* Xbox games.

    Jay G., Jun 18, 2006
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