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A Few Thoughts About....Blu-ray/DVD FLIPPER DISCS

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT......Blu-Ray/DVD FLIPPER DISCS By Ronald Epstein



    This past December Universal Home Entertainment announced that they would begin rolling out "Flipper Discs" starting in January 2010. This dual-layer format supports both Blu-ray and DVD all on a single disc. This technology gives the consumer the means of playing these titles on either player, whichever is most convenient for them. Flipper Discs also give the opportunity for consumers not yet ready to upgrade to the Blu-ray format to have these supported titles in their collection once they decide to make the move.

    This newly supported format for Blu-ray should come as no surprise to veterans of the format war. Both Universal and Warner first introduced flipper disc technology to the now defunct HD-DVD format back in 2007. At the time both studios were promoting the identical technology as "combo discs."

    When people across the Internet last month first learned that Universal was returning to flipper discs there were mixed emotions about the move. For some, the words "flipper disc" is sparks negative reaction based upon the history of this dual-layered platform.

    But are flipper discs deserving of the somewhat negative reaction that they are receiving? Many of us don't believe so.

    When combo discs first arrived on HD-DVD almost three years ago we were in the midst of a nasty format war between two competing HD formats. Anyone squarely in the Blu-ray camp immediately dismissed the combo discs whether they had personal problems with them or not.

    Mind you, the technology had some downsides. First, Universal was selling combo discs at a premium price. Consumers wanting a specific new release were often forced to pay premiums upwards of $5 more for a new title releases only to the combo disc format. That angered many consumers.

    Another problem with combo discs for purists is that you lose disc label artwork. Personally, I can understand that this may be important to collectors, but overall, I don't find it to be a major loss.

    Finally, there were reports of playback failure on the combo discs which were blamed breakdown of the composite materials.

    The one person I knew we needed to get the facts from was Kevin Collins, former HD-DVD Evangelist for Microsoft and spokesman for the HD-DVD promotional group. Speaking with Mr. Colllins, here is what he had to report:



    When considering the flipper format being used for Blu-ray titles the most important thing one must understand is that we are not talking about the exact same technology here.
    To again quote Kevin Collins:


    As you can see, we are not exactly talking about the same animal here.
    So, last month when Universal announced that they were returning to familiar territory and releasing their first batch of flipper discs starting with The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum --- the naysayers began badmouthing the concept right out of the gate.
    Universal Home Entertainment contacted me a week ago with their concerns about how consumers were reacting to their announcement across the Internet. They asked me if I would take a look at their Bourne Identity titles and let our readers know what I thought of them.
    It was a perfect opportunity for me since I previously had problems with one of their recent BD releases, BRUNO, which would not play on most Panasonic BD55 players including my own. If I could get these new flipper discs to play without a hitch then I could easily give them a thumbs up.

    [​IMG]
    Note: Though not apparent in this photo, there is a blue color ring along the
    outside of the inner hole indicating Blu-ray side of disc.

    I sampled The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy on my Panasonic BD55. Both Blu-ray and DVD sides played perfectly. The Blu-ray transfer looked remarkably good. It was interesting to turn the disc over and see just how much
    more noise was introduced into the DVD transfer. With identical chapter stops on both sides it was easy to do a comparison.
    The only negative comment I have about the titles themselves concerns the DVD presentation. It seems Universal placed the original 2005 transfer on the DVD side, which is fine, but they also included old trailers as well promoting 2005 releases such as Miami Vice. Additionally, you can't skip through these trailers. You either have to scan through them or go straight to the menu. In the future I would suggest the studio allow skipping capability so consumers can more easily access the trailers that most interest them.
    My verdict on these new Bourne Identity flipper discs? I am very impressed with what I see. Though I personally prefer the concept of releasing a separate DVD and BD in a single package, I can't sit here and find any major fault with putting everything on one disc.
    Of course, there are a few things that need to be watched. Will Universal be forcing consumers to pay a premium for these discs? Thus far, it doesn't seem so. All Bourne Identity BD titles list at the same price as their other past BD releases and on Amazon, I found them selling for $19.95 each which is an incredible price considering you get two format versions of the film.
    Since the DVD versions of these discs may be used in portable devices while traveling, will its constant usage damage the very delicate BD layer?
    Universal Studios will be keeping a close watch on this thread over the next few weeks. We encourage our members to express their concerns about the new format as well as post their initial experiences once they purchase any one or all of The Bourne Identity releases.
    As long as you keep your feedback professional and polite it will go a long way in helping the studio improve these releases.
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

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    Even if there are no playback issues, I still do not care for the flipper concept. It is difficult to read the small type labels printed on the inner ring in order to determine which side to play, and it is easy to get finger prints on the top side of the disc when removing or replacing the disc in its case. I much prefer Disney's concept of simply including a separate DVD disc in the package when they decide to offer "dual format" releases.
    Since the current U.S. box set release of the Bourne Trilogy is ridiculously priced and I had no desire to own these flippers, I bought the U.K release of the trilogy from Amazon.uk for $35. It's a shame that sometimes our only purchasing option for the product we truly want is overseas.
     
  3. Scott-S

    Scott-S Test Subject
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    I will say it again, just in case someone from Universal reads this:
    I will not knowingly buy a double sided disc.

    If it is double sided, I will just rent it.

    There are so many negatives and the only positive for going to Double Sided disc. The one plus is more money for Universals bottom line.
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Scott,

    Appreciate your response.

    Can you be more specific? The discs haven't even been
    released to the general public yet and Universal is claiming
    they have been manufactured to the highest standards.

    Based on that, what specifically are you citing as being
    "so many negatives"?
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    My biggest concern would be that pricing wouldn't be affected by the process.

    In other words, the flipper disc would need to be the same price as what the Blu-ray-only disc would be.

    I have the same concern about WHV's announcement to make all new release Blu-ray titles "combo packs." All things being equal (price-wise), I like WHV's idea much better.
     
  6. Scott-S

    Scott-S Test Subject
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    Ron, my concerns are mainly the issues of not being able to read which side is which and not being able to protect both sides of the discs from damage/fingerprints etc. But I am also not convinced that they can produce these reliably. They never were able to do it with HD-DVD, or even normal DVDs, so I seriously doubt these new hybrids will be any different.
     
  7. cafink

    cafink Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for bringing some much-needed level-headedness to the discussion, Ron. Many of the comments in previous threads about these flippers were ridiculous.

    Personally, I've never had any playback problems with the DVD/HD-DVD combo discs, DVD-18s, or the CD/DVD "dual discs" (though those still kind of bothered me simply because the CD side didn't conform to the CD specifications). I recall that a number of early DVD-9s had reports of "DVD rot" (though again, I never experienced any problems with them, personally) but I never heard anyone calling for the elimination of DVD-9s.

    I must concede that the one disadvantage that these discs do have is the small size of the print on their labels. I can see that being a real issue under certain conditions or for someone with eyesight problems. For me, though, this minor inconvenience is outweighed by the convenience of having both versions of the movie on a single disc.

    Thanks again for your thoughts, Ron.
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    May I address the concerns being brought up
    regarding small print on these discs.

    The scary picture of me holding one of these
    discs does not do justice to the way these
    discs are marked.

    The Blu-ray side is usually the side facing up
    when you remove it from the spindle. Furthermore
    it has a distinct color ring around the inner
    hole that indicates it is Blu-ray. Of course,
    this may not be apparent the very first time
    most people see these discs, but it will become
    quite recognizable for future purchases.

    Mind you, I'm not going to sit here and defend
    this format on every level. I also prefer having
    two separate discs. I just felt that these flipper
    discs have gotten a lot of unfair flack that dates
    back to technology that is no longer around. The
    studio has gone to great lengths to address your
    concerns, assure quality, and I felt that it was
    only fair that I give it a fair lookover. I'm satisfied.
     
  9. cafink

    cafink Well-Known Member

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    I'm embarrassed that I didn't think of using color to differentiate the two sides. Use the distinctive blue that's associated with Blu-ray for the Blu-ray side, and some contrasting color for the DVD side, and there shouldn't be any problem. It's not like there's any other information that the label needs to convey other than "this side is Blu-ray, that side is DVD." This pretty much eliminates the one reservation I had about these discs.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Color coding sure would be a simple solution for these 50+ year old eyes! /img/vbsmilies/htf/laugh.gif
    I'm still going to watch the pricing issue closely...but not too closely because of the aforementioned nearsightedness! /img/vbsmilies/htf/wink.gif
     
  11. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Well-Known Member

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    Oddly enough, I never had any trouble with HD DVD/DVD Combo Discs, but I had a ton of problems with DVD-18. That alone is enough to make me steer clear of similar releases, but the additional issue I have with these type of discs is that I find they come scratched far more frequently than 'traditional' discs. I found the scratching problem occurred frequently with both HD DVD/DVD Combo Discs and DVD-18.

    In the end, I'll say offering discs in this format wouldn't necessarily preclude me buying them if I felt the title was a 'must own', but if it weren't it would probably be enough for me to give it a 'pass'.
     
  12. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Well-Known Member

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    Is there ANY printing at all on the DVD side? It doesn't look like it in the picture. If Universal is reading this- it was a BIG mistake to not have any printing on the 2nd side of their discs- it just looks cheap putting a disc into your player with no visible label, you might be putting it in wrong side up! Warner's recent 2-sided discs have been the same, and with the widescreen version on many older titles being on side B that means a lot of label-less discs! This was a big step backwards from the already too-small printing, I had hoped they would use the entire center of the disc to print larger labeling on both sides, like the DVD/CD DualDiscs.

    I'm a media geek so I'll at least buy the first Bourne movie on this format (even though I already have all 3 on HD-DVD!) to check it out- I bought the first DVD-18 (Aquaria) and the first combo HD-DVD disc- incidentally I now have EVERY HD-DVD combo title, but just got an HDTV this week so I'll finally get to start watching them! I plan on watching both sides of each one, so we'll see how reliable they are. I watched a few of the standard DVD sides on my old player with no problems. Not ONE of the combo titles has any printing on the DVD side however- it just says "Reverse side standard DVD" or something like that.

    I prefer 2-sided discs to 2 1-sided discs, but they should be labeled properly and of course they should WORK! I'm wondering if any action was taken at the Technicolor pressing plant in Mexico- frankly, that was a disaster as I've had a number of defective discs in different formats that came from there. I know the plant isn't located in Mexico because of the scenery either- most likely they paid as little as possible to have discs made there, and it shows.
     
  13. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    The two main concerns I have are:

    1) Price. As long as we're not forced to pay more than a standard Blu-ray release would cost then I suppose I can live with no disc artwork. Most HD-DVD Combo discs carried premium price tags and that was a deal-breaker for me. If these BR flipper titles go down the same road and turn out to be more expensive then it's a no-sale for this consumer. Period.

    2) Compatibility/longevity. We've been promised "compatibility" before on tricky technologies like this and have been unpleasantly surprised (DualDisc and DVD-18 come to mind). With Blu-ray ALREADY facing some consumer backlash due to issues such as slow loading players, firmware compatibility affecting disc playback, BD Live problems, etc., the format certainly doesn't need another potential negative mark on the scorecard. I hope the R&D people have truly done their due-diligence this time around. Which brings me to longevity. If the objective here is to get a disc on the market that consumers can also pop into their minivan/SUV DVD players and lend out to family and friends, I see problems. Dual-sided media is fragile by nature and WILL get scratched and scuffed with such use. That could spell big disappointment if Mom & Dad finally spring for that new Blu-ray player because they have some of these flipper titles, only to find that the BR side won't play properly because it's been scuffed around in the back seat of the car a few too many times. To me it seems that the reality of the intended use of these things isn't supported by their actual durability. The idea could backfire.

    There are my two cents FWIW.
     
  14. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Jesse,
    Please read my earlier posts. These discs do have a
    color ring indicating which side is Blu-ray.
    The picture I took does not indicate that very well. I
    will be happy to take an additional picture and upload
    it tomorrow morning to show all of you.
    I also hope that everyone will wait until they actually
    have these discs in their hands before they prejudge
    them. Really, most of the complaints I see here are
    based upon an older method of manufacturing these
    dual-layered discs for a format that is now defunct.
    Momentarily, Adam Gregorich will post his report on
    the flipper discs he sent. He tested them on more
    than one player and I think you will find his report to
    be very revealing.
     
  15. Adam Gregorich

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    I was sent the same two discs that Ron was sent. Please don't read anything into the fact the we didn't receive Bourne Ultimatum. Rather than wait another 2-3 days for it to come in, they sent us the two titles they had. I could pretty much quote Ron's entire post here and say "ditto" as his thoughts and feelings echo mine. As to telling the sides apart, if you are looking at the side with all the writing as you are putting the disc into the tray DVD side up, so you are watching the Blu-ray side. The ring is a bit washed out in Ron's picture; it is actually a blue colored ring. Its actually pretty easy to tell which side is which looking at the disc itself. The DVD side has the gold colored hue of a DVD-9 and the Blu-ray side has the blue/purple colored hue that a Blu-ray has. I have a wide variety of playback devices, so I tested both the DVD and Blu-ray side of each disc in multiple players. Each disc was actually tested 18 times. 12 on the DVD side and 6 on the Blu-ray side. Based on some "thickness" issues with DVD/CD hybrid discs a while back I made sure to include slot load DVD and BD drives in the test. While I list the equipment below I'll cut to the chase and say that I had NO problems of any kind with either disc on either player type. Here are the players I used:
    Tested the DVD side of both discs on: TV DVD Slot load combo: Westinghouse and Toshiba
    Standalone DVD player: Denon DVD-3910
    Standalone Blu-ray player: Oppo BDP-83, Panasonic BD10, BD50, and DMP-B15
    PC Drives: LG DVDBDHD DVD combo, HP DVDBD drive (slot load)
    The “some irony here devices”: XBOX360, Toshiba XA2 and HD-D2 HD DVD players

    Tested the Blu-ray side of both discs on:
    Standalone Blu-ray player: Oppo BD-83, Panasonic BD10, BD50, and DMP-B15
    PC Drives: LG DVDBDHD DVD combo, HP DVDBD drive I also did some checking and the BD side of the discs is 100% identical to the Blu-ray box set.
     
  16. Adam Gregorich

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    As to this vs 2 disc DVD/BD sets, I can't speak for Universal as to why they are doing it this way. They just reissued several catalog Blu-rays as two disc DVD/BD combo packs a few weeks ago with little fanfare and they are priced about the same as these flipper discs at Amazon. During the format war I asked a BD exclusive studio why they weren't releasing 2 disc DVD/BD sets to compete with the combo discs. I was told that there was some concern that consumers might sell or give away the DVD half of the set hurting DVD sales. I have no idea if that is a factor or not for Universal in this case.
     
  17. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Ron, you asked for professional, polite feedback from members and we're giving that to you. Since 99% of us have never bought/used/held/smelled this new product, our concerns are (of course) based on the information that you've posted here and whatever we've gleaned from other sources. In my opinion skepticism about any new dual-sided disc format is valid and well-founded, based on historical precedent. Any real problems (or lack thereof) with these new flippers will only show up after they've actually been out in the field for a period of time and sold in some numbers. That's how new products get their real shakedown and this one will be no different. Only time will tell if it'll be successful.
     
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  18. CraigF

    CraigF Well-Known Member

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    Quote:
    I am sure this is the primary factor. The only factor that makes any sense. Well, that and having two people potentially using the same purchase at the same time.

    You either have a BD player in a location, or you don't. You take the disc format you need. Since both a BD and DVD can fit in a single-width BD case, space isn't a storage/transport issue if you need to take two discs. Etc. etc. We'll see how it works out. But as Universal even said, they're NOT doing this because customers were demanding it, or even responded positively with previous double-sided ventures.
     
  19. KMR

    KMR Well-Known Member

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    Well, let's see, there's information such as...oh...the title of the disc. If it's part of a multi-disc set, there's the number of the disc. If it's part of a set with a special features disc, there's the identifier for such. I've often seen two-sided discs with print that is very difficult to read. When you're dealing with multiple discs, or if discs have similar titles, there's a lot of potential for users having a difficult time.
     
  20. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Thanks for the info Adam. Any possibility of adding a PS3 to your suite of test players?
     

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