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Sony Calls Current Blu-ray/HD DVD Format War a 'Stalemate 547

Posted by Zonk
from the feeling-a-touch-insecure dept.
unger814 writes "Sony CEO Howard Stringer says that Blu-ray and HD DVD are currently in a 'stalemate' and is 'playing down the importance of the battle.' Stringer addressed a crowd at Manhattan's 92nd Street Y cultural center Thursday, where he said that 'it was a matter of prestige' which format wins. Stringer pointed to the switch by Paramount from producing movies in both formats to only HD DVD as a turning point. 'We were trying to win on the merits, which we were doing for a while, until Paramount changed sides,' Stringer said."
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Sony Calls Current Blu-ray/HD DVD Format War a 'Stalemate

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  • by TFer_Atvar (857303) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:54AM (#21295199) Homepage
    If Sony's calling it a stalemate, then HD-DVD is already ahead. If all Sony can manage with it's PR department is to call the situation a "stalemate," then HD-DVD likely ahead in real terms. Incidentally, I just conducted an informal, non-scientific poll here in the office. Of 20+ people, only two had heard of Blu-Ray. Half had heard of HD-DVD, but almost all were able to figure out what it was by the name alone. It makes me think that HD-DVD has an advantage just because of its name.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:56AM (#21295241)

    Since the are loosing so much money in other areas

    So maybe they should try to TIGHTEN their money. You lazy fuck, learn some spelling and grammar.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:13PM (#21295557) Homepage Journal
    Is the polite phrase for saying the other sucks.

    In other words, they want to call the other side names, make claims the other sides technology is inferior, but can't do it and remain professional.

    Right now, in the DVD war the only thing BluRay has over HD is Disney. Thats the most important line they have which seems to be limited to BluRay.

    Since HD DVD players have recently hit $99 on special deals, hell even regular price $199 versions can come with up to TEN movies, its only a matter of time before BluRay is just another Sony product unique to Sony.
  • by jmauro (32523) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:14PM (#21295573)
    I believe the 2:1 ratio existed with Betamax as well, before VHS cleaned it's clock in the consumer market.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:15PM (#21295589) Journal
    The PS3 might have skewed those figures a bit.
  • Re:Chess (Score:5, Informative)

    by mgblst (80109) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:16PM (#21295609) Homepage

    In chess, if you know you're going to win (which is often the case, sometimes several moves before it happens), it's customary to offer a draw out of courtesy, rather than to drag out the inevitable.


    What a load of drivel. If this was true, then nobody would ever win a game of chess...yes, that would be exciting, wouldn't it.
  • by yakumo.unr (833476) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:16PM (#21295611) Homepage
    They are sub $100, at least one company is selling $99 HD-dvd's through walmart and I think others.
  • by mgblst (80109) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:19PM (#21295671) Homepage
    Wow, didn't really think this was even in question, I thought everybody new this.

    http://www.tech.co.uk/home-entertainment/high-definition/news/toshiba-welcomes-paramount-hd-dvd-deal?articleid=734466306 [tech.co.uk]

    First link that came up in google for "toshiba paramount deal"

    This is just the cost of doing business.
  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:20PM (#21295683) Homepage Journal
    As usual, it's an idiotic Slashbot simplification - if you don't like the results, pretend it's all about bribery. Paramount was paid for switching to HD-DVD, but it's not the only reason [arstechnica.com]. Paramount does appear to believe HD-DVD is technically a superior system.
  • by essinger (781940) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:39PM (#21296123)
    Blu-ray has, right now, a 50gb to 30gb advantage. That's pretty significant. Blu-ray has the potential for 100gb and hd-dvd might be able to get 50gb. Those extra gigs could be put towards quailty or quanity. Consumers might care, or they might not.

    But if you want to point to something that blu-ray has that consumers will care about, it's the Sony catalog. It is huge. And the crown jewel is the entire James Bond collection. Joe Six-pack WILL want to see those on his player.
  • by BrerBear (8338) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:40PM (#21296143)

    Frankly, I'd love to see actual sales numbers of HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray discs.
    That information is easy to find, at site like Home Media Magazine [homemediamagazine.com]. They post weekly Nielsen sales results every Friday.

    For a current snapshot of Amazon, you can check the Product Wars site [eproductwars.com], which keeps current rankings of the two formats and comparison charts over time.
  • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:49PM (#21296287)
    Who modded this insightful?

    The laser diodes are identical for both BluRay and HD-DVD.

    Too bad there isn't a (-1, Wrong)...
  • by king-manic (409855) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:07PM (#21296683)

    If the 2:1 ratio is true, then why would Sony make such statements??? Simple--most Blu-Ray sales are from the PS3. Blu-Ray may have a big lead in outright sales of drive mechanisms, but I doubt many PS3 owners watch more than the occasional Blu-Ray movie... They view the whole ability to play Blu-Ray movies as a "plus" whereas someone who's buying an HD-DVD player is buying it to watch movies.

    Frankly, I'd love to see actual sales numbers of HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray discs.
    2:1 is not players, 2:1 is media. it's 2:1 averaged over the last 9 months. For players its' 5:1 including the PS3 and 360 HD DVD attachment.
  • by papasui (567265) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:20PM (#21296881) Homepage
    Eh dude I had my first DVD player in 1998.
  • by otis wildflower (4889) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:35PM (#21297145) Homepage
    I bought a Sony TV and a PS3. Went to look for a new movie to pick up and they were $29.99 across the board for blu ray and hd-dvd.

    B&M is for losers and the impatient. There's tons of HD discs available for $19.95 on amazon, and there's probably similar deals on other sites.

    In fact, recently there have been sales as low as $15 for catalog titles.
  • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by Troed (102527) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:58PM (#21297573) Homepage Journal
    No, 2:1 is when counting just movies - and it's growing in favour of Blu-ray.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:15PM (#21297903)
    This is complete uninformed nonsense. The combo HD-DVD discs are flip discs, which means the standard def dvd on one side and the HD-DVD on the other side. The standard definition side does not affect the space available to the HD side. Not even a little bit. In fact, most HD-DVD discs are bigger than most Blu-Ray discs. Over 60% of Blu-Ray movies use the single layer 25GB Blu-Ray discs. Over 90% of HD-DVD titles use the dual layer 30GB HD-DVD discs. The spec for the third layer in HD-DVD has already been finalized and Toshiba has stated that it will be backwards compatible with existing players.

    The perceived lack of space on HD-DVD is, in reality, a complete non-issue.
  • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by lazyforker (957705) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:21PM (#21298023)
    Agreed. Some sales reports of the recent Wal-Mart price cut of the Toshiba HD-A2 suggest sales in excess of 90,000 HD-DVD players in the last couple of weeks... http://www.videobusiness.com/article/CA6498141.html [videobusiness.com] Whereas Blu-Ray players are gathering dust.

    I'm personally staying out of this mess until there's a single, industry-wide standard. And it doesn't look like Blu-Ray is going to be it. Take a look at this Gizmodo article http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/exclusive/the-state-of-blu+ray-320077.php [gizmodo.com] describing the THREE Blu-Ray ""Profiles". Holy crap. As if there wasn't enough confusion in the typical consumer's mind.
  • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:23PM (#21298073)

    To this day, I still can't see much difference between HD and regular TV on my 50" LCD.
    If you can't see the different then you don't have an HD signal going to your TV. It's night and day even with the high compression some cable companies do to their signals. Next time football is on look at the standard channel and then switch it to the HD channel, if you still can't see the difference you might need to have your eyes checked ;)
  • by Jethro (14165) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:30PM (#21298201) Homepage
    > To this day, I still can't see much difference between HD and regular TV on my 50" LCD.

    No offence, but you really need to get your eyes checked. I know it sounds mean, but the difference between a 30" SD CRT and a 30" HD CRT is /overwhelmingly/ noticeable, even for SD programming.

    I have a 30" HD CRT, and I could tell the difference long before I had any HD programming (I got it specifically for DVDs and future development). My set can do 1080i, and believe me, the difference between even the junky overcompressed SciFi channel in SD and HD is very noticeable.

    If you can't see it, I really do think you might have vision problems. And again, I know this sounds like I'm flaming/trolling, and I apologise for that, but I can't think of any other reason why you couldn't tell the difference.
  • One more... (Score:3, Informative)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:35PM (#21298329) Homepage Journal

    I wonder how many others have decided to do the same.

    Me.

    The rootkit was the straw that broke the camel's back, though. I bought a Sony home theater system around five years ago. The DVD changer in it broke, so I sent it in for warranty repair. It took months for them to fix it and get it back to me, and when they finally did, it was still broken. They obviously hadn't checked to make sure it was working before sending it back. So I returned it again, and they fixed it that time. Just before the warranty expired, the DVD changer broke yet again, so I send it back again. They fixed it and sent it back after another month or so. Then around a year later, one of the speaker ports screwed up, causing the center channel to emit a constant high-pitched whistle. I wasn't about to pay to get something fixed that would probably break again soon anyway, so I cut my losses and threw the thing away.

    Then, of course, there was the whole PS3 debacle. Sony was so nauseatingly arrogant about the whole thing, acting as if paying $600 for a gaming console that was a thinly veiled attempt at foisting their Blu-ray format on everyone would be a privilege. They didn't take any competition seriously, from a console gaming or a next-gen HD format point of view, and they got their clocks cleaned. That was extremely satisfying to watch. The reason I hate Blu-ray isn't because of its technical merits or lack thereof, it's because of how it was pushed on the public.

    From what I hear, Sony used to be a really kick-ass company. Maybe someday they will be again after they learn some humility and what their place in the food chain is (i.e. under the wants and needs of its customers). But for now, they've just done too much wrong and lost my respect.

  • by justinlindh (1016121) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:13PM (#21299057)
    The fact that you've been modded 5 for this comment is interesting to me, because it probably means that some of the moderators agree with you. Which blows my mind.

    The difference between HD and SD is light and day. HD-DVD is blatantly superior to DVD, and the different is excruciatingly obvious to myself and any of my friends who watch movies with me (I've even had friends buy a version of a movie on HD-DVD just because they wanted to check it out on my HD setup).

    A great way to notice the difference is ESPN. Wait for a game to air, and switch to the HD version of the channel. Then switch to the SD version (well, my cable company carries both... I'm assuming most others do, too). Channel switch a few times. If the difference isn't obvious, then I would argue that either you have very poor eyesight, awful cable company service, or an improperly setup configuration (running RCA cables to the TV instead of Component/HDMI, for instance).

    Everybody I've shown my HD setup to has been bowled over. I just can't understand how someone can't tell the difference on a 50" TV. Even my grandparents, who are nearing 80 years old, could perceive the clarity.
  • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by sanosuke76 (887630) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:59PM (#21299785) Homepage
    This is an old, incorrect meme which hasn't managed to die yet. Fabrication machines which were partially owned by Disney, were contractually prohibited from being used to press pornographic Blu-Ray discs. They don't own all the fab machines.
  • by trdrstv (986999) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:03PM (#21300671)

    Of course it can't be because a movie with six times (1920x1080 as opposed to 720x480) as many pixels can't fit on 8.5GB.

    Actually it can. The issue is (using the VC-1 Codec) it can only contain ~83 minutes of it, which discounts most "non-animated made for TV movies".

  • Re:Just Bought (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheBolten (1067344) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:59PM (#21301523)
    Those numbers aren't even close to correct. The PS3 has only sold 5.5 million units, and only 2.26 million of those are in the United States, where this war is being primarily fought. On the other hand, HD-DVD has sold WAY more than 150,000 standalone players. Just recently, with the $99 sale, they sold over 90,000 Toshiba HD-A2s in a period of three days. The number is more like 500,000 and the numbers for the Xbox 360 add-on are about double what you quoted. Let us also not forget that anyone who is buying a PS3 could be buying it for games, movies, or both. We don't really know. However, there is no reason to buy the add-on for the Xbox 360 unless you intend to watch HD-DVDs, so those are just as powerful as standalone players. If I round up the actual numbers of players by about 200,000 each, the ratio of Blu-Ray to HD-DVD players in the market is 6:1. However, at best Blu-Ray has had a 2:1 sales lead in software, and at worst they have been almost dead even (51:49 the week of the Transformers release, even with a Buy-One Get-One offer on the Blu-Ray side for that week, not to mention that these Nielsen numbers do not include Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the country which has sold a LOT of HD-DVD hardware recently). Sony cannot build a Blu-Ray platform with the PS3 as the flagship piece of hardware. It's too expensive and it's unappealing to people who just want to play movies. Toshiba is offering a solution at 1/2 to 1/4 the price, depending on discounts at retailers.
  • by Boycott BMG (1147385) on Friday November 09, 2007 @09:45PM (#21303595) Journal
    Except that it wasn't Sony that installed the rootkit on CDs it was Sony/BMG. Sony/BMG is 50/50 owned by Sony and Bertelsmann with most of the decision makers being from the BMG side. It isn't too much of a surprise really, given than BMG had such a crappy reputation previous to the merger. Sony does hold some blame being a major shareholder, but the ultimate decision was not theirs. If anything Bertelsmann holds more blame than Sony, but no one is suggesting a boycott of Random House, for example.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday November 10, 2007 @01:27AM (#21304565) Journal

    Neither Blu-Ray nor HD-DVD "tapes" are cheaper--they are both prohibitive expensive in -R/-RW versions, and movies on both are quite expensive.

    Yet, from what I can tell, HD-DVD has the potential of being much cheaper than BR. (I realize this is like saying I have the potential to bone Natalie Portman, just saying.)

    Two major factors:

    First, licensing. While both are going to use AACS, I would guess that other licenses around HD-DVD would be cheaper. I could be completely wrong about that.

    Second, DRM. HD-DVD can come without DRM, and some small studios are doing it. It means fewer features -- for example, no access to the 128 megs of flash memory that's on every player -- but it also saves you a licensing fee. BR not only requires AACS, they allow two additional standards: BD+ and BD-ROM Mark. The latter requires some data stored elsewhere on the disk -- I would guess this increases the cost of manufacturing.

    From what I understand, in fact, it's relatively cheap to upgrade a standard DVD facility to support HD-DVD, and I know at least a few discs are coming that are literally two-sided -- one side DVD, one side HD. BR requires completely new equipment.

    Also, the fact that HD-DVD has been $99 already suggests that it will win among non-gamers. The player will be cheaper, the discs are likely cheaper to produce (so can become cheaper), and the A2 is a damned good standard DVD player, too -- has a great upscaler, says my boss (who has a massive 1080p TV at home).

    Now, the technical parts.

    BR is the more flexible spec, it seems. Looking at a matrix between the two, on BR, secondary video and audio decoders (for picture-in-picture and, I guess, an overlayed audio commentary track), and Internet connectivity are all optional. It doesn't mention persistent storage, which is again, supported, but optional.

    All of these things are mandatory on HD-DVD. Doesn't mean you need an Internet connection, but it means that every player must have an Ethernet port. Again, BR has more expensive players, but the cheapest ones aren't obligated to support any of these features.

    The things that are mandatory on Blu-ray: more restrictions, and a bigger disc, always. By "more restrictions", there's the DRM, and also the region coding. (HD-DVDs are region-free.)

    The only clear winner is Sony's bundled PS3, which purposely tagged along a BR drive to create an installed base for BR and drop the price of manufacturing. That means there are lots more BR players, but only because of the PS3:

    How many gamers are there, versus non-gamers who will want this? I've heard of stores that have stopped selling SD TVs, and for $99, with a decent upscaler, that A2 is not a bad SD DVD player. So for all the millions of Average Joes out there, who don't play games and don't care about the "format war", this is still a sensible upgrade if they're into DVDs at all.

    Neither format delivers anything that couldn't be done with DVDs using H.264.

    Yes, they do, you just don't seem to care about it:

    Who needs PC-style navigation or 20 hours of "extra features" when you can easily put an HD movie on DVD?

    Well, first, the 300 HD-DVD appears to use more than a single layer for the main video alone. That's 15 gigs per layer. So "20 hours" could be made to fit, yes, but realistically, the space isn't entirely unused.

    Second, even if you're convinced it is, HD-DVD, at least, supports red-laser discs. That means you can get an HD-DVD movie, with all the trimmings, on a dual-layer DVD disc, if it will fit.

    As for the "PC-style navigation", that sounds like someone who hasn't used it. There are more than enough gimmicks to sell this concept, and remember, Joe User doesn't give a fuck about DRM; he didn't give a fuck about DRM when this was about DVD vs VHS and your argument might have been for Video CDs (but with MP

  • Re:Just Bought (Score:2, Informative)

    by ppc_digger (961188) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @05:48PM (#21309101)
    it's too huge to make a real difference to anyone
    So was DVD back in the mid-90s. That's why we have higher durability 4.7 GB DVDs instead of less reliable 5 GB discs (DVD format history [wikipedia.org]).

    Also, there are people who use it exclusively for data storage. I would prefer using 50 GB Blu-Ray discs over 30 GB HD DVD discs (unless, of course, Toshiba's 51 GB triple-layer HD DVD format becomes popular and cheaper than dual-layer BD-Rs).

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