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Universal to go Blu-Ray and HD-DVD?

BluRayvsHDDVD.jpgThe High Definition DVD format war continues and there doesn't seem to be an end in site, indeed some analysts have even suggested that the battle will never be won and that both will co-exist together with the standard format.

However with the Playstation 3 trickling into homes carrying with it a brand new Blu-Ray player for a fraction of the cost, the format war is definitely swaying one way, and that's before we consider the Studios that Sony own and have on their side.

There's a rumour that at a press conference some representatives of Pioneer suggested that Universal is looking to break its exclusive deal with HD-DVD and start bringing out their films on both formats. Now that makes much more sense.

After all you don't ignore one major distribution channel when you sell your film to the public normally do you? It makes little sense for the studios to limit their marketplace before they've even printed a DVD.

If the analysts are thinking that both formats will remain, then why not deliver on both formats to all HD home customers? After all they aren't going to buy both an HD-DVD and Blu-Ray player are they?

So could this mark a move for studios to deliver on both formats, maximise their returns, and also hedge their bets for whoever wins?

There's no confirmation on the rumour as yet, but PS3 Fanboy is definitely excited about the news. We'll have to wait and see, but I think we might see more studios thinking this way. Yet i still think Blu-Ray is going to win out.





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Universal have already issued a statement denying this story which spread like wildfire the day before yesterday based on a very poor German translation on a single web site. According to Engadget: 'Craig Kornblau, the President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment tells us in an email that the rumors that Universal will support Blu-ray "are totally false"'

I'm somewhat confused by your comment that the PS3 offers Blu-Ray at "a fraction of the cost" which gives the false impression that HD-DVD is more expensive when the reverse is true (a standalone HD-DVD deck from Toshiba can be had for significantly less than the cost of a PS3 and an X-Box 360 with HD-DVD drive should clock in cheaper too).

I happen to own both a Blu-Ray player and an HD-DVD player (two of the latter if I count my XBox add-on which also works with Vista and cost less than £130) but where a title is available in both formats I'll invariably take the HD-DVD title over the Blu-Ray one. At the moment I believe it's a superior format and although that situation will change when we get past October and Blu-Ray actually start shipping players that meet the spec they're still squabbling over (picture in picture anyone?!) early indications are not just that existing players will be shown to be the "beta" products that even the companies making them have said they are, but that even the PS3 may not be upgradeable to the new standards required for BD-J support.

Blu-Ray are certainly winning the marketing war and maybe that's all that will count in the long run, but it's laughable when so many Blu-Ray disks have region protection (HD-DVD doesn't), some very disappointing transfers (blocking and artefacts are notoriously bad on some of the early MPEG-2 titles) and obscenely over-priced players that can't even offer basic features that HD-DVD has had since launch over a year ago.

Both formats are going to be around for some time to come before one format can be truly declared the winner.

^^^^

What he said. ;)

Well my comments still stand, it makes economic sense to offer your product in all distribution channels rather than picking one, and there's really no reasons to do so.

Not my inference, PS3 offers blu-ray at the fraction of the cost of a full blu-ray player, and you get a stunning games console too.

Sure you have both, but Ian you are specifically looking at both formats and writing about them, the average home user is going to make a choice, not buy them all, and when they all come pre-bundled in a PS3, well...

PS3 not upgradable? I'd be surprised by that, it's all software based. You even have a menu option to install a brand new operating system. I think that's more of the Xbox - PS3 fanboy shouting match.

However I cannot believe that you're saying you've seen such bad pictures with blu-ray, I've seen a couple so far and the pictures look stunning. Perhaps there are problems with the early transfers, I guess I could be looking at the current ones.

Anyway with my PS3 I can get 1080p output, I can't get that yet with my Xbox, even if I buy the HD-DVD addon I believe I have to wait to buy some other addon for my 360 to upscale my outgoing signal to 1080p.

As for features, I'm more than impressed with my player, there's nothing more I need in it feature wise, I can't see what it would be missing.

I just have to look back to the VHS and Betamax war. It didn't last long and the winner surprisingly wasn't the higher quality. It's happened before...

360 does 1080p output, and there are plenty of companies that are shutting out the perfectly viable HD-DVD format yet you're calling out the only real HD hold out. I smell bias.

Richard,

It sounds like you've been suckered by the marketing guys as much as you think the public will be (personally I think until the discs come way down in price, and the players sell for under £100 NEITHER format is going anywhere). Given the choice between £12 for a DVD of "Smokin' Aces" or over £30 for a high def version in HMV, who's going to pay more than double for an arguably better picture?)

Have you watched 1080i vs 1080p? Can you (or anyone) tell the difference? The arguments about why 1080i vs 1080p discussions are pretty meaningless other than as stupid marketing FUD are all over the web if you go and do a bit of research. And my XBox does 1080p (as does my Toshiba player). All this is very old FUD from the Blu-Ray camp. Not to say I disagree that Blu-Ray will win, just that it's still too early to say that with any real level of confidence.

With Joe Public seemingly happy with 1080p LCD sets doing a terrible job of "mapping" 720p output, not even noticing terrible motion artefacts and combing on things like Sky-HD how many will actually think the upgrade from acceptable DVD to a high-def format is worth the upgrade in quality given (a) the extortionate price of the discs and/or players (b) the risk that either or both formats might die.

The BD-J issue is as much about hardware as it is about software. Yes, you'd think PS3 is much better in this respect (it's why I bought one despite having zero interest in games or a silly games console instead of a proper rack player!) but Engadget published a story a couple of days ago pointing out that Sony have been dropping hints that maybe the current PS3 WON'T be upgradable.

I think we're all being taken for a ride by a format that has been rushed to market more than a year ahead of when it was going to be ready JUST to act as a spoiler to HD-DVD.

I'm surprised you haven't carried the story on Engadget today about Fox, having promised lots of Blu-Ray titles earlier this year having nothing announced or released since February 13th. After all if you're going to carry Blu-Ray FUD why not carry HD-DVD FUD as well?

If the public's impressions are based on the misinformation you've shown in your own post and response then yes, you're right Blu-Ray will win. But this time around the review magazines generally seem to be doing a good job of pointing out the weaknesses of Blu-Ray and the strengths of HD-DVD, while at the same time having their cake and eating it by carrying a lot of advertising for Blu-Ray and packaging free "magazine pamphlets" which discuss Blu-Ray only with their own magazine logo on the front.

I've done tons of research for my TV purchase, so I'm well aware of the 1080i/p argument. I was just pointing out something I thought was the case regarding the 360, so I stand corrected. I just haven't been able to get 1080p out of it yet.

Not all 1080p sets are terrible at mapping 720 signals, you have to be careful on chosing your set though. My Bravia X-Series does a superb job on all signals. I'm delighted with it, and the 1080p signal is amazing.

As for the opinion on the format war winner? I'm more than happy to say what mine is and I have. I think we'll see more studios go both formats to return more profits, that is until one format wins outright, and I believe that will be decided by players in homes.

Yeah I've also read those rumours about the PS3, although Sony have denied them so far.

As for saying that blu-ray was rushed out just to spoil HD-DVD's marketplace, well I think that's seriously misplaced. Sony didn't rush out the PS3 to try and spoil the 360's day, so I think that argument is a bit simplistic.

I have to take point with both you Krimson though, there's no bias here, shout all you want but there isn't. Have a look at the archives for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD articles.

You will find that I am one writer on one site with a full time job. So forgive me if I don't cover every story and watch every newsfeed. You should also be aware that I don't own any HD-DVD.

I went blu-ray because it was already in the PS3, which I was very keen to get, and it offered 1080p straight out of the box, unlike the XBox which I'm really struggling to get without buying Microsoft addons.

Frankly though, that story you mention from Engadget isn't one that would interest me to write about. If it said that they were going HD-DVD too then I would write about it, but just saying they haven't released anything isn't really an exciting story for Filmstalker.

Okay I have to come back on a couple of points.

"Silly games console". It's interesting that you say that in reference to the PS3 and not the X360.

The comment about this all being Blu-Ray propoganda is another reference that reminds me of the first days when I bought an XBox. I'd had a PS2 for ages and loved it. The XBox was nice but there weren't the games with great gameplay around. I bought the XBox official magazine for a while to see the demos, and I got sick of it.

Every game was "genre defining", "ps2 busting", etc, etc. It became about the war more than anything else. They forgot about the games.

Now there's nothing like that going on here, it's not "the Blu-Ray camp" making up rumours. I have not been able to output 1080p out of my X360, even with the official HD connector, that's the truth, and someone connected with an electronics chain (not owned by any of the Blu-Ray camp) told me that you couldn't get native 1080p from the X360 without buying another addon. I'm sure you can correct that statement if it is wrong.

Thankfully though one of my friends suggested a VGA cable, rather than screaming conspiracy. I've just fired it up and managed to get 1280x1080, although it isn't as sharp and crisp as the 1080p through the HDMI on the PS3. Now don't get excited, I'm talking about the different sources and how they are setup in my house.

On the incredibly harsh statement you made about misinformation, this follows the same rules as any other posting on the site, there's a fair balance of other posts relating to new formats throughout the site and, like the rest of the site, it is all based on my opinions and beliefs.

The thing that kills me in the HDDVD vs. Bluray discussion is that Bluray is backed by a company who appears to have no respect for its customers. Sony added ARCCOS to DVD's recently in an attempt to prevent us from backing up our movie library and even managed to prevent some players from playing them. They even got caught adding spyware to audio CD's. What will be their next anti-consumer play? Why do business with them if they behave this way?

The truth is that HDDVD and Bluray are most likely temporary formats (laser disc anyone?) that won't go mainstream before online delivery trumps them. I would prefer both formats die, DRM dies, bandwidth availability skyrockets, and we can just buy what we want online from whomever we want and have it play anywhere we want.

"Blu-Ray are certainly winning the marketing war and maybe that's all that will count in the long run..."

You've got that right. That's what happened 20 years ago with Betamax and VHS. Betamax was a superior format yet it lost to VHS.

I for one will not invest a nickel in a player or either a HD-DVD or a Blu-Ray until I have a sense of which way this will end up going.

Vic

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