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A pawn to the industry

Playstation 3

If you’ve been keeping track of the whole HD format war business, you probably haven’t failed to notice that the Blu-ray studios - Sony, Fox (including MGM), Disney and Lions Gate - announced a crap-load of titles for their format of choice at this year’s CES. The HD DVD camp - Universal, Bandai, The Weinstein Company and the neutral Warner and Paramount - pledged to release another 300 titles before the end of the year, but so far haven’t given much of an inkling as to what we can expect (beyond the obvious: Harry Potter, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings and a bunch of day-and-date titles). Making matters doubly worse has been Universal’s almost complete silence on all things software. Many people suggested that Universal were getting cold feet and might possibly be gearing up to go format-neutral. I can confirm that Universal has no plans to support Blu-ray - otherwise, the war might as well be over. However, I can’t exactly say I’m impressed by the fact that Universal don’t seem to be releasing any more HD DVDs until April.

In the meantime, the boys in Blu are cranking out discs like there’s no tomorrow (which, for them, there probably isn’t if their format tanks). In addition to juggernauts like Casino Royale and Cars now having official release dates, numerous catalogue titles from the various studios (barring Sony, who own very little worth purchasing) are looking increasingly appealing. Their agenda, it seems, is to bully people into buying into the format through sheer weight of numbers… and it seems to be working. Originally, when I bought an HD DVD player, I was determined to hunker down and remain on one side until it either won or was decimated by the competition. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon. A glance at eProductWars will show you that the two formats are essentially on equal footing. They trade blows, and every few days the balance tips in favour of one or the other, and, as such, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that either format will be going anywhere in the near future. We’re simply going to have to accept that both will co-exist for some time to come. And, as much as I don’t want to give Sony a penny, I am, when all said and done, a film fan, and I’m no longer content to, as Lyris puts it, cut off my nose to spite my face.

In a couple of months’ time (when I will hopefully have some form of income to support my plans), I intend to pick up a 20 GB Playstation 3 from the US. It pains me to say it, but this is a far more cost-effective solution than waiting for a stand-alone combo player that properly supports both formats to become available, and in any event I can console myself (pun unintended, I assure you) with the knowledge that Sony loses nearly $250 every time they sell a PS3 - money that they hope to regain via game sales, which they certainly won’t be getting from me. For betraying my principles, I will have access to a much wider array of titles: around 15 available and announced Blu-ray exclusives appeal to me, including one of my favourite films, Hannibal, and two of the best films in recent years, Casino Royale and The Descent. Naturally, for titles available on both formats, I will continue to buy the HD DVD versions. However, I’m well on the road to becoming format neutral. Expect me to be putting the image quality of some Blu-ray titles under the microscope in the not too distant future.

 
Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 11:26 AM | Comments: 8
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Games | HD DVD

 
Comments

1.

OMG, I never thought I'd see the day.

It also explains why a user by the name of DaveMackenzie started popping up on the PS3 subforum of avforums.com At first I thought it must be someone else talking about buying a PS3 and BD, but now it all makes sense.

Hope to see your comparision pics soon :)

Posted by: Anonymous, January 25, 2007 3:40 PM

2.

Comparison pics are impossible, I’m afraid! The best I could do is point a camera at my screen, and that wouldn’t really tell you anything. In any event, I draw the line at buying on Blu-ray titles that I already have on HD DVD. Quite apart from anything, I wouldn’t expect to see any difference on the Warner titles (same encodes). I do promise to give every Blu-ray title I buy a fair hearing, though. Am I right in thinking that Kingdom of Heaven is considered one of the best-looking discs?

Posted by: Whiggles, January 25, 2007 3:44 PM

3.

By the way, the “DaveMackenzie” posting at the AV Forums isn’t my brother. Neither of us has bought anything at this point, but the fellow posting claims to have bought the console, along with several games and accessories.

Posted by: Whiggles, January 25, 2007 3:53 PM

4.

Comparison pics are impossible, I'm afraid! The best I could do is point a camera at my screen, and that wouldn't really tell you anything. In any event, I draw the line at buying on Blu-ray titles that I already have on HD DVD. Quite apart from anything, I wouldn't expect to see any difference on the Warner titles (same encodes). I do promise to give every Blu-ray title I buy a fair hearing, though. Am I right in thinking that Kingdom of Heaven is considered one of the best-looking discs?

That's a shame to hear. I'm sure the technology is out there (the PS3 can run another OS, so screen captures should be possible theoretically)but I assume it'll get really expensive really fast to do so.

Kingdom of Heaven is being touted as one of the better releases, but that's by 'typical' reviewers. It'll be interesting to see how it fairs against your harsh judgement. SWAT is also said to be a very good disc. Another thing to note is Goodfellas was described as 'grainy' by someone on a forum I frequent, so considering how much you like your grain, it might be another movie worth considering.

By the way, the "DaveMackenzie" posting at the AV Forums isn't my brother. Neither of us has bought anything at this point, but the fellow posting claims to have bought the console, along with several games and accessories.

Doh! I just realised Dave is your brother (aka Lyris), and you're Michael. Apologies for the mixup.

Posted by: , January 25, 2007 4:26 PM

5.

The problem is that all of the available software completely disables screen capturing when playing back HD DVD or Blu-ray content, and none of the usual dedicated screen capturing software seems to work. Even beyond that, there are the usual HDCP problems, incompatible hardware, and so on. It’s an absolute nightmare. You’d think the studios would want people to take HD screen captures so people could see what the formars were capable of.

I’ve seen the BD release of SWAT, by the way. Admittedly it was an in-store demonstration and therefore not the ideal way to evaluate it, but it looked pretty poor.

Posted by: Whiggles, January 25, 2007 4:31 PM

6.

It really is an absolutely pathetic situation isn't it, the studios and CE companies are so juvenile that they can't agree on something so we have to spend extra cash and have two separate players just because some suits can't get on.

Posted by: Lyris, January 25, 2007 4:59 PM

7.

You don't *have* to spend any money on two separate players or discs. You are *choosing* to. ;-)

Posted by: , January 25, 2007 6:19 PM

8.

Great that your format neutral. I bought a refurbished BDP-1000 last month. I've been enjoying select BD titles like Underworld, Kingdom of Heaven and Ice Age. Still, I purchase HD DVDs whenever its a dual release. I'm still stuck on HD DVD, but BD is an adequate alternative. I still tell my friends and associates to get HD DVD due to the appeal - to me at least - of abundant extras, next-gen interactivity and great titles.

Posted by: aw, January 26, 2007 3:34 AM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

https://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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