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Bandits and bricked hardware


Given today’s major news, this seems almost irrelevant to mention, but what it likely to be last ever HD DVD purchase came slinking into the house today in the guise of Ridley Scott’s American Gangster. Somewhat fitting, given the format’s sorry end, it turned out to be a less than stellar release from Universal (gee, now there’s a surprise). I’ve said before that, when they release a title sourced from a digital intermediate (DI), they generally manage to deliver a flawless or at least very good image. When it comes to film-sourced material, though, the results are rarely so positive, and American Gangster, despite being a recent title, is one of these. Evidence of noise reduction and a general lack of fine detail conspire to make this a deeply underwhelming presentation.

Pictured, an Xbox 360 giving up the ghost.

Above: Pictured, an Xbox 360 giving up the ghost.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t investigate the disc any further because, this afternoon, my brother’s Xbox 360, presumably in mourning over the demise of HD DVD, popped its clogs. Given that it will have to be returned to the US to be either repaired or replaced, it’s going to be out of action for some time, so this evening I decided to order a stand-alone HD DVD player, a Toshiba HD-EP30.

I know, I know, I’m probably the only person in the world who’d buy a player the very day the format was officially pronounced dead, but I have my reasons. For one thing, we’ve been yearning for an HD DVD player that could do 24p output for some time (the Xbox 360 is limited to 60 Hz playback). For another, today’s incident hammered home just how accident-prone the console is, and, with that in mind, I’d rather have a stand-alone device on which to play my existing HD DVD collection rather than having to rely on there being a fully functioning Xbox 360 to connect to my HD DVD add-on drive. And finally, it was a mere £77.99 from (with two free titles thrown in for good measure). While I have no doubt that the price will drop even lower in the coming weeks, the fact remains that I have a copy of The Bourne Ultimatum sitting on my shelf that I really need to review for DVD Times. And I’m impulsive.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 6:39 PM | Comments: 4
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD | Technology



Given the about of time, energy and money you have plunged into your admirable HD DVD collection, buying a dedicated player for such makes perfect sense.

Posted by: avanze, February 19, 2008 9:12 PM


Surprisingly enough, your words tipped me over the edge, and I just cancelled my unshipped copy of AG. With Toshiba calling it a day, its harder to justify picking up full price new releases, especially given the underwhelming response to this disc.

I was guaranteed to buy "There will be blood" and "Sweeney Todd" in their 2-disc HD DVD incarnations, but now I hope they get cancelled and Paramount switches them to blu releases. Its done, so lets just get on with it.

I have no regrets about my existing library of HD DVDs though, and hope to enjoy them for a long time to come. I would only replace with a blu version if there were a compelling reason to do so.

Posted by: Bleddyn Williams, February 19, 2008 10:17 PM


You're still going to do a HD-DVD review? What on earth will you say to convince people to buy more of the things? (Assuming that the film's any good, of course)

Posted by: Baron Scarpia, February 19, 2008 10:31 PM


It was a review disc sent to me by DVD Pacific - in fact, this is the second copy they’ve sent me, as the first was faulty. As pointless as I suspect reviewing it will be at this stage, I really can’t turn round and tell them I’m not going to do it.

Besides, the contents of the disc will probably be ported to the eventual Blu-ray release anyway, so at least it will give people advance notice of what to expect.

Posted by: Whiggles, February 19, 2008 10:37 PM

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