Why HD DVD could beat BD per Microsoft

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by High_Def DVD, May 1, 2007.

  1. High_Def DVD

    High_Def DVD
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    This is a nice interview worth reading. Couldn't find it here so i guess post it now. Hope You don't mind ;)

    Printed at http://www.tech.co.uk/home-entertai...eatures/microsoft-why-hd-dvd-can-beat-blu-ray


    Visiting London for the launch of the European HD DVD Promotional Group, Microsoft's director of HD DVD Evangelism Kevin Collins explained why Microsoft threw its weight behind HD DVD, what makes it a better format and why Blu-ray hasn't won the war by his reckoning.

    "There will be 600 HD DVD titles available worldwide in 2007," says Collins. "The reason I say worldwide is there's no region control on HD DVD - consumers love this."

    Disney did bring a request to the steering committee to add region control to HD DVD, but Collins says "it hasn't gone anywhere" and he doesn't believe it ever will. Many of the other 20 companies on the steering committee actively oppose region coding, and it can't be added to players already sold.

    On the PC front, HD DVD is flying. Collins points out that 70 per cent of slim HD drives for laptops sold in 2006 were HD DVD and only 30 per cent were Blu-ray. Meanwhile, Toshiba has announced that there are well over a million HD DVD players in the world - there should be around 2.5 million worldwide by the end of this year.

    Driving down prices
    Of course, those millions of buyers are still early adopters. Collins expects drives from Chinese manufacturers, and the reference board Microsoft and Broadcom announced at CES, to drive down the cost of players and increase sales.

    "To move from a niche market to the mass market, price will be very important," says Collins. "We get to the $299 price point and HD DVD starts taking off." Until prices come down, combo discs allow consumers to get new films to play on DVD now and enjoy on HD DVD later; one clear advantage over Blu-ray, he says. Another is interactivity.

    "While there are a lot of movies that are Blu-ray only in the US and HD DVD elsewhere, there are zero movies that are HD DVD and going to Blu-ray for the US. Why wouldn't they go with Blu-ray if all the features are so much better?"

    Collins is keen to show off the features that make HD DVD titles outshine their Blu-ray rivals. In a short demonstration, he loads up the same film ( The Guardian), first on an HD DVD player and then on a Blu-ray-playing PS3, and opening the menu. On the HD DVD title the menu slides up onto the screen; there's no animation on the Blu-ray version, there's no button on the menu for changing settings, no timeline and no way to add bookmarks for your favourite scenes.

    The Blu-ray version has Dolby Digital audio but the HD DVD title has Dolby Digital Plus. The HD DVD version is also a combo disc that you can play in a standard DVD player.

    Next he switches to a Samsung Blu-ray player and chooses the interactive features; the screen shows a progress bar, then another progress bar and even when the menu loads it scrolls slowly. He picks the film-maker's commentary and we sit through the sequence of progress bars again - only to get an error message referring us to the Blu-ray Web site and saying the content won't work on our player.

    Only premium Blu-ray players have the extra hardware that's in every HD DVD player: a secondary video decoder for picture in picture commentaries and storyboards, storage so you can save bookmarks and clips of your favourite scenes and a network connection so you can upload those clips to share with friends or download extra content.

    It's all about the features
    Microsoft didn't come up with the list of mandatory features for HD DVD players, says Collins, the studios did.

    "They didn't believe just having high definition video was going to be enough to compel consumers to ditch DVD and buy into a new format." To get us to adopt a new standard, Collins says the studios wanted high definition video, high definition audio and immersive interactivity. With analogue connections in most AV receivers and decoding for Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and PCM built in to HD DVD, he predicts "a large percentage of people can get HD audio without purchasing anything else."

    Titles like Smokin' Aces, Tokyo Drift and Children of Men have far more interactivity than any DVD title. Children of Men, for example, features overlaid adverts and newspaper pages from its futuristic world; in Tokyo Drift there's the option of customising your own car and seeing it in the film; while in Smokin' Aces an 'assassin tracker' shows where other characters are at any point in the film.

    The network connection lets studios add extra features to existing discs, from trailers for new movies to extra soundtrack languages to bonus features that might be free if you watch a few adverts first. A studio could sell you the standard version of a disc and then charge you to unlock premium content.

    If there's too much new content for the built-in storage you can plug in a USB drive; soon you'll be able to access remote drives using DLNA standards.

    Look for more online options like polls and maybe even RSS feeds, says Collins: "The whole concept of having a network connection invites community and you can have a whole lot of things sharing back and forth."

    Why HD DVD isn't dead yet
    You won't see any of this on Blu-ray he says. "Studios author to the lowest common denominator" so the Blu-ray version of Mission Impossible 3 doesn't have the picture-in picture features of the HD DVD title because not all players could show it.

    Sony has repeatedly claimed capacity is a problem for HD DVD, but Collins says Microsoft's VC-1 compression codec avoids the issues.

    "First Sony said 'you need 50GB because you can't do a 30 hour movie in 30GB', but we came out with Grand Prix on HD DVD and it fits on HD 30. So then Sony said 'what we really meant is you couldn't do a 3 hour movie in Europe with multiple languages' but King Kong is on HD 30 with bonus content and advanced audio. VC-1 gives you awesome compression, retaining the fidelity of the master but with low bit rates."

    Collins points out the only Warner titles that haven't used VC-1 were the first four releases - "and they were panned".

    HD DVD is also a better solution for videographers like wedding photographers who drive DVD success, (along with adult entertainment of course). Because you can burn a cut-down HD DVD onto DVD-R, using the burner you already have, it's far more affordable than the investment you need to buy into Blu-ray, you can offer a disc with bookmarking. "So your customers can mark the sections they really like," says Collins, "not just your chapters - plus you can hook into the network connection to drive more sales".

    And what about the reason that Microsoft first got behind HD DVD - being able to make a copy of your disc? "We made [Managed Copy] mandatory for HD DVD and Blu-ray changed their stance. Every title has to offer a Managed Copy solution, although that can be a variety of things - anything from making an exact replica on hard disk to play back or a copy for an iPod or a Zune or for DVD content."

    The reason you won't see Managed Copy on any titles yet is that AACS (Advanced Access Content System) controls the licensing agreement for it. "In order to get it out for both formats they created an interim agreement in February 2006. The interim agreement didn't have Managed Copy or several other AACS features and they're still being discussed for the final agreement."

    Collins still can't say when the final agreement is coming out. "They keep saying tomorrow - every day it's going to be tomorrow!"
    Mary Branscombe
    tech.co.uk


    And at AVS Collins made some comments:

    Hello everyone. While this was a nice HD DVD article, I just wanted to clarify some things regarding this article.

    1) I don't know the sales of HD DVD slim drives vs BD slim drives in notebooks.
    2) While I did do a comparison of HD DVD to BD titles. The title I used to compare HD DVD to Blu-ray was "Rumor Has It". I did use "The Guardian", on a PS3 and a Samsung BD player, but I did not show a HD DVD version of it.
    3) In reference to WHV's first four BD titles, I don't know what "they were panned" really means. I did say that critics stated that the HD DVD VC-1 titles outdid the MPEG-2 version on BD while using the same source.
    4) I never said that Microsoft “made managed copy”. Microsoft was a contributer to managed copy in the AACS along with the other founding AACS members.

    I hope this clears up any speculation about "The Guardian" being currently availalble on HD DVD... The rest of the points were accurate.

    - kevin

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=841042&page=2&pp=30
     
  2. Pecker

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    All well and good, and I agree.

    However, I think that most people wanting to import discs would prefer to do it through one site, and the most popular site is Amazon.

    I can't read French or German, so buying from those sites is difficult (though not impossible.

    As a result, despite the fact that 'Terminator 2' is available soon on HD DVD from France, I bought the US BD version to play on my PS3. Now it looks like the French version might be a 2-disc spec.ed, in which case I'll double dip, but that's beside the point.

    If Amazon France had an English translation point, or if Amazon UK had the title listed in Amazon marketplace, I'd have bought European.

    HD DVD should encourage Amazon to provide marketplace links for all HD DVDs not available in the host country.

    Why not? It'd make more for Amazon. I can't believe the film companies would kick up a fuss - after all, you can do it with most DVDs already.

    The fact that Microsoft believe this to be so good, and yet there are lots of great worldwide HD DVDs listed at Amazon UK, is simply daft.

    Steve W
     
  3. HugoFJH

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    Marketing spin by MS - nothing really new.

    Im sure Sony could use the PS3 against the X360 hd-dvd drive and show how you cant get every audio and video feature either - doesnt really prove that much.

    Price is a major thing for the players but disc cost has to come down also to sub £20 across the board this could even have a bigger impact than player prices (as you only pay for a player once every few years compare that to frequency of software purchases)

    Doesnt actually say how many slim line units have been sold (70% of 200 for example wont make spit in a storm's worth of difference) and the PS3 has already sold more than 3 times the hardware sales to date, and more than even the projected amount of HD-DVD stand alone units upto the end of 2007 without any sales of other blu-ray devices

    Im not so sure interactivity is such a huge thing - it may be more to some than others, as long as its a worthy transfer with better sound thats what matters most.

    Online content is a gimmick surely (its only there to hide the relatively limitied space on disc after all) - if you have the space what does dialing up to www actually give you???


    I am currently supporting both formats but I would like one to win out in the end and dual discs just dont work for me (either dvd/hd-dvd or hd-dvd/blueray simply because they all look identical on both sides, just have one side burnt and the other side as a label. Cant you have dvd burnt at the correct level to be read by every player, and then different layers to be read by the hd-dvd laser all on the same side? I believe bluray and hd-dvd use the same wavelength so this would be impossible for a combi disc of both hd formats but sd dvd uses a different wavelength so should be possible.

    Not to mention the cost of combi discs being alot more expensive than standard hd discs

    Its of course not at all like MS to want to charge a customer more for something they have already bought ( they basically say that HD-DVD discs have enough storage, you will have to pay more to buy them and pay even more for some content!!)
     
  4. TrevorS

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    Amir mentioned that USB drive capability a couple weeks ago and I read FW2.2 for G1 players includes the ability to download content from the internet, but I'd really like to see something concrete regarding the USB storage and LAN distributed storage plans. Those are capabilities I've been hoping to see come to the original players since early Fall 2006.

    I suppose nothing will actually materialize until there's a specific application that can utitlize it, but it's exciting to consider the home entertainment possibilities of quasi-unlimited storage space becoming accessable for our existing players -- note that I said EXISTING! :)

    Please Toshiba -- keep those firmware updates coming (my USB and RJ-45 jacks are still waiting for their opportunity to shine :))!
     
  5. TrevorS

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    It's his job to be super enthusiastic, but there's still some good info presented.

    Let's face it, HD disc prices are not going to come down without the volume of purchases going up. The studios are still experimenting with pricing and packaging options while observing sales growth. Increasing player sales (assisted by easing player prices) will eventually be met with disc price reductions. We all know the combo disc is not yet being used effectively relative to the SD DVD buyer, but that will probably change as overall volume develops.

    I suspect the level of expectations regarding interactivity may be a generational thing. Those that are used to just sitting back and watching aren't that interested, but people who are used to fiddling with a controller to influence what they see on screen may react differently. I'm rarely especially excited about extra content, but I usually pass through it at least once, and if it includes a music video I enjoy -- I might go back to it multiple times.

    If I try thinking of watching a film as not the entire experience, but rather part of a more dynamic multimedia experience, something could be cooking that might be quite nifty. With both direct and LAN storage available, coupled with dynamic internet access, I expect all manner of things are possible -- all manner of programming.

    Not sure what this is all about. MS really doesn't have anything to do with the discs -- that's dependent on Toshiba and the DVD Forum. People have to pay for disc and content for both formats.
     
  6. High_Def DVD

    High_Def DVD
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    Driving the HD DVD Juggernaut: Microsoft's Amir Majidimehr
    By Peter M. Bracke
    Monday, January 22, 2007 at 12:01AM EST

    A very nice interview with Amir --->HD DVD IN THE SPOTLIGHT
     
  7. rob_finch

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    Somewhat ironic to read a Microsoft spokesman complaining about progress bars and getting an error message. :rotfl:
     
  8. gixxerman

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    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=841042&page=2&pp=30

    - I wish.

    I know thes figures apply to laptops/notepads & that they are doing well installing the thin HD DVD drives in laptop/notepad type computers but I really wish they'd hurry up and release those promised HD DVD burners
    ("at a price significantly below the BD competition" & "around half the BD price" according to the Toshiba guy at CES).

    Still I suppose at this rate we'll be seeing faster gen 2 drives (hopefully with the triple layer 51gb capability) and will be skipping the gen 1 burners completely (kind of like how we in Europe did with the HD DVD stand-alone players).

    Get you fingers out and get on with it guys! :lesson:
     

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