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Thank-you HD DVD and Toshiba

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#1 of 73 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted January 04 2008 - 11:29 AM

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While I've been a strong supporter for Blu-ray since the inception of the "war", I haven't been blind to the positives of the format war; It's no secret that the BD format as it stands today has Toshiba and HD DVD, in large part, to thank for helping it become a format worth owing. I want to thank Toshiba/HD DVD because it was their influence (along with Warner) that actually transformed Blu-ray Disc into a format fit for audio/videophiles.

Prior to the launch of HD DVD, Sony's proposed Blu-ray Spec was to include MPEG2 video *only*, and PCM was the only provision for lossless sound. While those two options could still provide high-quality pictures and sound at generous bit-rates, they negated any advantage that 50GB and high-bit-rate bandwidth might have otherwise provided. It was only because of competition with HD DVD that the BDA acted and incorporated AVC, VC-1, and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA into the BD spec which allowed the higher-bandwidth and 20GB of additional space able to be used meaningfully to provide greater transparency, extras, or both.

Had the format war never taken place, or Toshiba's HD DVD format not been so well designed with advanced audio and video codecs to make more efficient use of the more limited space/bandwidth needs of HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc would be another MPEG2 format using up vast amounts of space whenever lossless audio was provided.

I just recently reviewed The David Matthew's BD and the 5.1 24/96 kHz Dolby Digital TrueHD soundtrack was astounding... and provided higher quality than the 24/48 PCM soudtrack that would have consumed the same amount of space, not to mention the transparent video compression of the many dark/hard-to-compress scenes since MPEG2 wasn't used. At this point the majority of BD titles are compressed with AVC/VC-1: HD DVD's influence hasn't just been a spec-change on paper for the BD medium: it's made a difference.

Now that Warner has moved to Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD will most likely become the "beta" of the HD format war. However, the positive effects of HD DVD have been significant, and have actually made BD format a MUCH better product than it otherwise would have been. BD still has a way to go to fully catch up with HD DVD hardware (profile 1.1 is now just available and 2.0 web-interactive features are still on the way) so it's not time to rest our feet on the coffee table with BD just yet. But BD wouldn't be where it is now if it weren't for HD DVD.
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#2 of 73 ONLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted January 04 2008 - 11:37 AM

Well, you know David, this is one of the occasions where I can fully agree with you. Indeed the "war" (I like to call it competition) has brought us some goodies - and I personally would not have regretted it to linger on a while. On the other hand: if it's mainly over now, that might bring us some well-deserved peace, although, like you said we need to stay vigilant. There are some aspects we need to keep watching with a distrusting eye (I mentioned them before, I won't here). Cees

#3 of 73 OFFLINE   Averry


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Posted January 04 2008 - 11:45 AM

Well. For whats it's worth, the War was kind of what made Hi-Def fun. It's like anything with wager, and that's kind of what made me more excited about it. But now it's like a game of bingo gone wrong.
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#4 of 73 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted January 04 2008 - 12:05 PM

I applaud everything you just said, David. Posted Image

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932

#5 of 73 ONLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 04 2008 - 12:27 PM

David- Well put. While the competition sometimes brought out the worst in all us, it brought out the best in both formats. EDIT: This was a two way street. Was it any accident that we were seeing more Dolby TrueHD titles, or that as BD got closer to 1.1 we started seeing more creative special features from HD DVD? Nope. Competition. I hope that all the studios realize that they are competing with DVD and keep pushing what they can do with audio, video and special features.

#6 of 73 OFFLINE   ReggieW



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Posted January 04 2008 - 12:30 PM

Well put David.
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#7 of 73 OFFLINE   Craig Beam

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Posted January 04 2008 - 12:43 PM

Thanks for posting that, David. I've always preferred Blu-Ray over HD-DVD, but I don't discount HD-DVD's value (which is why I've been format neutral). So... thanks, HD-DVD.

#8 of 73 OFFLINE   Zack Gibbs

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Posted January 04 2008 - 12:47 PM

Well put, but like Adam said it was a two-way street. After all, HD-DVD was originally going to use red lasers.
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#9 of 73 OFFLINE   Dennis Maricic

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Posted January 04 2008 - 01:23 PM

David, could not agree with you more. Excellent post!

#10 of 73 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool



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Posted January 04 2008 - 01:41 PM

Ditto all that. Posted Image Posted Image


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#11 of 73 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted January 04 2008 - 01:55 PM

An excellent post sir... Posted Image
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#12 of 73 OFFLINE   Chris S

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Posted January 04 2008 - 03:37 PM

Couldn't agree more! As much as I've hated the "war" there is no denying that the competition has had some very positive impacts.
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#13 of 73 OFFLINE   Dan_Ohio


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Posted January 04 2008 - 04:19 PM

David, Thanks for the post. Like you I look forward to the future.

#14 of 73 OFFLINE   Nick Graham

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Posted January 04 2008 - 05:15 PM

David hit the nail on the head. I really think that in a few years from now, when we look back at this war just like we look back at the old DVD/Divx war, we'll actually see this war as something that led to more positives than negatives. It brought about the studios using and maturing new video codecs that would probably be used sparingly and not nearly as efficiently otherwise, paved the way for something like TrueHD that provided lossless without hogging space, caused all but one studio to use extensive supplements (die MGM), and I really don't think I would have just seen a Sony standalone player at Sam's for $277 this weekend without Toshiba's kamikaze pricing. It's funny, with all the controversy and bad blood it generated, and honestly all the once really good websites/forums it darn near ruined, this war turned out to be a really big positive, and I don't think anyone can take an objective look at it and say otherwise. The right format won, but without the heat of a rival breathing down it's neck for a year, I don't think I would even have invested in it yet. Hopefully we'll see some more folks come back to regular posting who kinda took a sabbatical during all the ugliness across the web.

#15 of 73 OFFLINE   Larry Sutliff

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Posted January 05 2008 - 05:03 AM

I also would like to thank HD DVD and Toshiba. BD's debut-with the faulty Samsung player and bad software-was a near fiasco. HD DVD was there to set a standard for quality, and thankfully, the BDA got their stuff together and fixed the Samsung player(via firmware), and created quality BD releases. We can only wonder how long BD would have floundered without another format to keep them on their toes. Thanks, Toshiba. Thanks, Microsoft(and Amir). And, yes, thanks to WB for their quality releases on both formats, and a bright future for high def media.

#16 of 73 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted January 05 2008 - 05:07 AM


it's so refreshing to read this thread and see how resonant we all are on this perspective.

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Agreed. Sony's quick and thorough "about face" with their disc mastering would NEVER have happend so quickly or so effectively if HD DVD hadn't been there to shine a big embarassing light on just how sub-standard those early Blu-ray Discs really were. Ditto with the first Samsung player.

HD DVD did the hardest part by actually getting the Blu-ray Disc specification improved. Toshiba did even more work by not letting Sony get away with shoddy MPEG2 compressed discs made from legacy masters (we still have to get Universal away from their library of legacy masters they don't want to replace). But even with just one format there's still room for competition... because each studio is competing against each other studio for your cash because each of us only has so much to spend.

HD DVD and Toshiba have helped kick-start that progress for improving product right out of the gate... much faster than would have ever happened with one format alone. Now let's be sure and keep the heat on the studios to keep that momentum.

Warner, Paramount, and Universal can start off by committing to lossless audio on every high-definition disc they release... just a nice first suggestion...

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#17 of 73 OFFLINE   BrettB



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Posted January 05 2008 - 05:10 AM

Group hug!

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#18 of 73 OFFLINE   RobertR


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Posted January 05 2008 - 06:59 AM

Good to see David finally acknowledge the advantages of the format war.

#19 of 73 OFFLINE   Edwin-S



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Posted January 05 2008 - 07:27 AM

People sure are quick to forget. HD DVDs launch was hardly flawless. Their first gen player had plenty of issues with playback. And from what I've been reading some of their 3rd gen product still has problems. Still, they have to be given credit for forcing the BDA to rapidly drop prices for their players and increase functionality. On the whole, I still give the most credit for HD in its present form to SONY and the BDA. We would all be watching a red laser based, 15 gig, highly compressed HD format if they hadn't broken ranks to pursue a blue laser based system.
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#20 of 73 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted January 05 2008 - 07:29 AM

It was great for enthusiasts but LOUSY for the everyday movie consumer.

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