My HDM Impressions... One Month Later

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Ric Easton, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    It's been about a month since I got the Toshiba A3 HD-DVD player, and I've had the Blu-Ray for over a week. So far, I've probably watched about 12 HD-DVD discs and only about 3 Blu-rays. Anyway, I know Ron likes us to share our experiences and impressions of the new media, so here are some of mine.

    First the good...
    I'm very happy with the video quality. Although I do not have HDMI connections for my 53" HD-RPTV set, the video looks fantastic. It's also nice to be able to plop myself a little closer to the TV without seeing any degradation in the video. I don't think my ears are as discerning with the audio. I can't really tell the difference between a good DVD mix and an HD counterpart. Of course, I'm the guy that's happy with the audio quality on my iPod.

    Now the bad. Unfortunately thay all had to do with HD-DVD. Though, like I said, I have only watched 3 movies on the Blu-ray.

    First off, the HD-DVD player is a lot noisier. Though admittedly, I don't really notice it when the movie is playing. But here's the real problem... We invited some friends of ours over to watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. During the climactic moments of the closing act, the picture froze for a couple of seconds, stuttered and then continued. Except that now the sound was no longer synched. It was off by about two seconds. It was very distracting when characters were speaking. After a few minutes, and another couple of hiccups, the sound corrected itself and the rest of the movie was fine. Still, not as great a first impression of HD with my friends as I was hoping for. After they left, I tried to repeat the problem, but it played smoothly.

    A few days later I did the firmware upgrade. Hoping that would solve any future problems.

    So tonight we had them over again. I had gotten The Bourne Ultimatum for Christmas and we saved it until we could watch it with them. As a precaution I ran the disc thru the player before they came over. I did this without watching the movie. Since none of us had seen it before, I wanted to experience it for the first time with my wife and our friends. But from time to time I would go into the HT look at the picture and turn the sound up for a bit and make sure everything was going smoothly. It was the most I could do without spoiling the film for me.

    So, we're having a good time watching the movie. And then during chapter 14 the sound goes completely away. The video stutters a bit (pretty hard to notice in a Jason Bourne movie). Sometimes it almost looked like it was going double speed. I checked the remote to see if it was hit by accident. It wasn't None of the controls worked except for stop. I stopped it, refound the chapter and the same thing happened. It was maddening. Finally, I flipped the disc over and we watched the rest of it on the DVD side. Luckily, it was an HD-DVD/DVD combo disc.

    So, twice with my friends the film we were watching messed up. This and the fact that both my wife and the other female in the room, stated they could not tell the difference between the picture quality of the DVD side and the HD-DVD side. The guy said he could tell... sometimes. Not exactly a ringing endorsment.

    Anyway, looks like I am going to have to pre-watch every HD-DVD before I have any company over. I can imagine their conversation on the way home. "Yeah, HD is just great... there's a sucker born every minute!"

    I'm starting to look like a shmuck.

    I'm not quite at the point where I wished I hadn't jumped in. But I can't help but feel like I am getting close. The disc is going back tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get one that woirks. With tonights mishap I assume its the disc and not the player, although, who knows?

    Didn't really mean this to be a rant against HD-DVD. I had planned on doing a "one month later" thread even before tonight's problems. I imagine it would have turned out much more positive if I hadn't been through this again.
     
  2. troy evans

    troy evans Screenwriter

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    Sorry to hear HD DVD is letting you down Ric. The Bourne Ultimatum HD DVD has been reported by many to have playback issues. I doubt it's your player, but, I don't know for sure it's not. Some have said that clearing the HD players persistant memory fixes most problems. The owners manual should explain how to do that. If not call Toshiba customer service and they will walk you through it. Also, have you considered your friends may be bad luck. [​IMG]
     
  3. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    Thanks Troy.


    Yes, that did occur to me.

    BTW, I found that thread in the software forum after I posted this. Went back into the HT and first decided to fire up the disc one more time. Went to chapter 14 and... no problems.

    Funny thing is, before tonight's event, I was just going to complain about packaging!
     
  4. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Aye. Ric, sorry to hear about the bad experience so far. That would certainly bum me out too if that happened to me.

    I wonder if it's not the layer change thing all over again (but maybe complicated by the combo disc thing too?) -- like back in the early days of SD DVD...

    _Man_
     
  5. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    HD has had issues with the combos. Given the technical issues they keep having, I'm surprised they keep them around. Much like my Xbox360 and the red ring issues, I pray that the combo disc I bought actually plays all the way thru when I put it in. If not, I go back to the store and get another. I do not buy combo discs online AT ALL.

    Aside from the combo issues, I can't say I've had any issues with my A2. All of my equipment is hidden away so fan noise is non existent.

    That all being said, I trust my BR player more. Other than the random 1 time ordeal with POTC 3, I've had zero issues playing back a BR disc. I've rented plenty of HD and BR discs and never an issue with Blu. That's one of the reasons I purchase dual format titles on that format. That and the dual format titles are usually combos on HD.
     
  6. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Well, if that's the case, I'm glad I didn't opt to buy a couple HDD combo disc titles in anticipation of eventually jumping into HDD.

    Anyone know if they are likely less durable than the non-combo discs (in both formats)? That's the other thing I would be concerned about.

    _Man_
     
  7. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    Funny thing is, I never remember having issues with DVD. As I recall, I also got into that after about a year and a half of sitting on the sidelines. I don't know if it was the combo disc or not. If it wasn't the cause, then I'm really glad the SD version was on the disc so that we could finish the movie.
     
  8. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Ric,
    Both of those discs you had issues with are indeed combos.
     
  9. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    [​IMG] This is quite possibly the funniest, most unexpected thing I've read all year. [​IMG]

    I can sympathize with you, Ric. I've had a couple of bad HD-DVDs which I had to return and the new copies didn't have the problems which the originals had. I haven't gone Blu so I cannot comment on quality control from the other side. On the upside, remember that HDM is still in it's infancy and HD-DVD and BluRay players are not your father's Oldsmobile. The hardware and software are more complex and thus more prone to unforseen glitches and manufacturing issues. I remember getting bad DVDs back in 1997, bad VHS tapes beforehand, bad Playstation discs, Nintendo and Atari cartridges as well as bad 3.5" and 5.25" floppy diskettes. Even to this day, I still get the occasional bad blank CD-R or DVD-R. Speaking hardware, I'm sure you'll find more than one person who has had a bad experience with the Dish ViP622 DVR losing it's HDMI connection. It happens. Usually not to the same person and not all at once, but it happens. [​IMG] Keep your chin up, the HD revolution is only going to get better! [​IMG]
     
  10. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Screenwriter

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    I support Blu-Ray and also have an HD-DVD player. I will NEVER buy a combo disc. Ever!!! You hear that Warner? Paramount? Universal? Never!!!
     
  11. greg_t

    greg_t Screenwriter

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    Me too, I've got both, and avoid combos at all costs, I've never had one work right all the way through.
     
  12. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    I think my biggest frustration was that it happend twice with the same friends. They certainly didn't leave my house with the thought that they had to run right out and get an HD player.

    Got a new copy of Bourne Ultimatum. It played all the way through.
     
  13. troy evans

    troy evans Screenwriter

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    Really? I've had 10 combo discs, all from my Star Trek HD DVD/DVD set. All work perfectly.
     
  14. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    Well, that is good to hear. Still haven't pulled the trigger on that one yet.
     
  15. Bill Crosthwait

    Bill Crosthwait Second Unit

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    I also seem to have more issues with HD DVD. I just picked the Planet Earth HD DVD and none of the discs will play in my A-35. I also had issues with Harry Potter and TOP and the Bourne Ultimatum.
     
  16. WadeM

    WadeM Supporting Actor

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    A lot of times the darker scenes don't seem hardly any better in HD compared to upconverted SD, but there's a HUGE difference in the outdoors "in the sunshine" scenes. As a result of this, I thought The Road Warrior Mad Max II (an outdoor sunshine movie) looked a LOT better than The Blade Runner (a dark movie). Of course, I only have a 40" monitor, so maybe that's part of the issue.

    My impression otherwise is that it looks and sounds great...mostly. With my new Sony Bravia TV there's still too much blurring/smearing when there's a lot of movement with the camera or actors, usually, also, in the dimly lit scenes, albeit, better than what I saw a year ago. I find this blurring very annoying, and it makes me think I should have waited another year to see if they improve this, or gone with a DLP display.

    BTW, I have Blu-ray, and no playback problems, although I did get stuck in a DVD menu once where I had to stop the disk & restart...
     
  17. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    I'll probably go DLP also when I finally upgrade.

    _Man_
     
  18. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    Yep, 53" RPTV but its a Pioneer! Never been ISF calibrated... How much does that cost? I do my best to calibrate the set myself, using a couple of set-up guide type DVDs like the Avia.

    And the sitting position is normally 9 feet away, but I find that with some Hi-Def stuff I can move as close as 6 feet from the screen.
     
  19. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    whenever I get a stutter, if it doesn't correct itself within 20 or 30 seconds, I hit pause, or scan back a minute to re-synch it.
    It's BS that you should have to do this, but it happens.
     
  20. Elizabeth S

    Elizabeth S Producer

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    I've had my Toshiba A-3 for about 6 weeks now and have called Amazon for a replacement. About 5 out of 7 discs have pixellated and/or frozen (all but 1 were brand new discs and none were combos). Once it freezes, I cannot fast forward past the area, chapter skip or stop the disc -- I have to power down. Anyway, I returned 2 HD-DVDs earlier, thinking it was the disc but with so many issues, I'm going to try a new player.

    I've only watched 2 movies on the PS3, but they have played flawlessly. I did have a scary moment when the update installation froze on 2 attempts, but somehow seemed OK after I turned off the main switch on the PS3 and back on.
     

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