Companies Battle Over Who Can Make A Worse Next-Gen DVD Standard

from the play-it-again-sam,-if-the-drm-will-let-you dept

Movie studios and electronics companies have been taking sides in the latest pointless battle over whose slightly different version of next-generation DVDs is better. Yes, it’s like VHS vs. Betamax. Yes, it’s like CD vs. Mini-disc. In other words, we’ve been down this path before, but apparently these guys can’t figure out that these sorts of battles don’t really do anybody any good and merely hold back the market by fragmenting it. Of course, this DVD fight is reaching for a whole new level of pointlessness, since the two groups are essentially arguing over whose copy protection and playback restrictions are better. Instead of fighting whose version is better at offering consumers a new product with fewer benefits for more money, perhaps their resources would be better spent figuring out how to deliver their content to consumers in ways they want, like via downloads or other services rather than coming up with even more proprietary, closed, restrictive formats that people don’t want or need.

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Comments on “Companies Battle Over Who Can Make A Worse Next-Gen DVD Standard”

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Anonymous Coward says:

There will be no winner here

The way I see it, neither of these formats offer consumers a large enough benefit to start buying all new movies AGAIN. DVDs were a great new technology as they added much more than a better picture. Able to fit more video on a disc to offer special features, easier playback and skipping through movies among many other things.

All these new formats offer are restrictions and a little better picture (that I personally can’t see the difference in).

I hope both these formats get dropped soon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: There will be no winner here

Absolutely not. Neither of these new specs is even remotely compatible with each other or the old specs.

yes, you will have to buy your media again, that is one of the biggest driving forces for the studios to do any of this.

Most of the 1st gen players will include either TWO LASERS or TWO DRIVES to be able to read the old disks, but that does not make them compatible, its makes the devices more expensive. And you can see how popular that is by looking at the number of devices out there that can play vhs & dvd.

But will the 2nd gen devices also? How about the third?

Besides, what fan of star wars doesn’t want to watch ROTJ in 1080i? Yes, they will have to buy star wars again.

(speaking of which, who’s bloody ignorant idea was it to include interlacing in the new spec? oh right, its harder for transcoding engines to transcode properly…)

Scott says:

Re: Re: Re: There will be no winner here

You are comparing compatibility between VHS and DVD? There is a huge difference between integrating tape read heads and adding a separate laser, minimal cost at best for another laser. DVD laser read heads are a commodity now.

I haven’t heard of one vendor offering a 2 disk drive system.

And I for one won’t be buying SW in HD, it wasn’t recorded on a media capable of displaying it. I won’t buy something that has been “remastered” in that way. If it is native HD it isn’t HD, plain and simple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: There will be no winner here

clueless television engineers exist in a world where interlacing is good. nothing, apparently, can yank them out of it. 1080i is a primtime HD spec thanks to the television engineers and now every digital product has to output it. Its a shame, really, if we could have any one new video technology for the 21st century and I got to pick it, it would have been progressive video modes for the masses. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Of course, interlaced stuff looks like crap on a PC and maybe they want to discourage that… but I’ve got news for you guys, I think it looks like crap on televisions also and so all I can do is play super NES on my TV from 1986. Wake me up when everyone is sane.

Blake D. B. says:

Re: Familiar Trend?

Here is how I see it, it is simply corporate competition behavior. The saddest thing is not that the progress/production is slowed dramatically, but the very fabric of our society is woven with this mentality. Take the auto industry for example, 4 core companies basically competing to see who waits the longest to fully integrate alt. fuel tech. However evident it is to the average person that is not only unethical but rediculous, for some reason though it continues to be about the executives and not about the majority. WE need a change in our habits of production/supply demand initiative in order to make any real progress. Not only with DVD tech., for in the scheme of things it not having any bearing on humankind progress. FURTHERMORE how long can the “most economicaly diverse nation” (US) be thwarted by the mind set of restricted advances in technology just because every different person wants more money and more power? How long will it take us to use our power together to speed up our societies growth not our bank account?

Jeff Shepard says:

Re: There will be no winner here

There might not be a winner here but I think there will be a loser. I’m still very bitter about spending…what around 600 bucks or so on a Sony Beta Max? So why in the would I spend more money on a Sony Blu-Ray. What is the saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me…well I’m not going to be fool twice so sorry Sony, you lose!

Anonymous Coward says:

Still don't have anything HD

I still don’t have anything HD in my home. I still don’t know many people that have HD. I agree this battle isnt helping, and that some nice standards would be helpful (as the lack thereof is whats preventing my adoption).

However, this rant against COMPETING formats is a little off base for techdirt. Aren’t you usually spouting that competition is good and necessary? Whats so wrong with competition in the “media of choice” arena?

Why can’t they have their fight in the consumers pocketbook? Isn’t that how its supposed to work?

Granted, this time its not two COMPANIES competing against each other, but its two CONSORTIUMS competing. That’s not quite the same, and I would rather they combine the consortiums and established a standards body instead, BUT both of those consortiums started life as technology companies who believed they had what it took to create the next (free market) standard.

And yes, as closed and inconvenient as the new HD disk specs are, I have absolutely no interest in either. I will reluctantly adopt whichever ever spec isnt killed off, just like everyone else because we have no other choice. Accept the shitty offering, or live without media. And I sure as heck wont be watching ad-infected tv…

Maybe someday we will have our fair use rights back again, and we will be able to platform shift our media without becoming CLASS C felons in the process. Until then, the “big studios” are going to try and try and try and try to get us to buy the same content overa nd over again. And I still won’t.

Toronto Digerati says:

Re: Still don't have anything HD

Actually in the Beta vs VHS wars it wasn’t two COMPANIES but two CONSORTIUMS. In one corner was SONY and Toshiba with Betamax and in the other was JVC, Matsushita (Panasonic) and RCA with VHS.

In that case it was two consortiums who just as you say, believed they had the what it took to create the next standard.

While we all know VHS won the hearts and pocketbooks of consumers, even today Beta is THE standard for the broadcast industry, Betacam not Betamax, but it is still derived from the same format.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Still don't have anything HD

“Actually in the Beta vs VHS wars it wasn’t two COMPANIES but two CONSORTIUMS.”

I hope you weren’t correcting me. I was talking about techdirt’s weird anti-competition rant. Where your point is perfectly valid, it unfortunatlely has no bearing.

Sorry if I wasnt clear enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm all for these new formats...

“… as I’m hoping they’ll help drive down prices for films on normal, perfectly adequate DVD’s.”

DVD was hailed as being cheaper to produce and distribure than VHS, yet it was never cheaper to the consumer.

This time, everyone KNOWS the next gen format is more expensive to make, and you’re expecting something (anything) to be cheaper?

Wow, what an optimist!


Patrick says:

How I see it.

I really think that this is much more like the hd-cd v sacd competition. I really think whats going to happen is that neither format will take off. go to your local music store and you will see the SACD and HD CD offerings are few and far between. The technology came to market with way to much confusion. I see this also happening with Blue Ray and HD DVD. The technology shows only minimal improvement and cost benefit is just out of wack in most consumers minds.

Video Snob says:



1.) FILM has more resolution than the current HD specs. So, you can easily pull an HD master from it.

2.) HD is so far superior than NTSC it isn’t even funny. Even 720p blows away the best DVD I have. And 1080p??? If you can’t tell the difference you haven’t really seen it yet and are just talking out your ass or you need your eyes examined.

3.) Why does anyone think this “format war” will matter? What happened to the last real format war? CD/DVD-R vs CD/DVD+R – oh yea, multi-format drives happened. Welcome to the era of computers. Dual format players will rule the market and it just won’t matter which format your movie is in. And in 7-10 years they will cost under $100, if not sooner.

4.) restrictions don’t matter. At the end of the day you have two groups of people. One that doesn’t care and just buys stuff and follows the rules and the other that will always find a way around any restrictions. It’s all digital, it’s all hackable.

5.) If you think a movie compressed to 1 gig is adequate than HD and in fact any “quality” video just isn’t for you, so don’t bother. Some DVD’s drive me nuts at 100″, I won’t even waste the time on a movie encoded down to 1 gig. /shudder.

william says:

what does it matter

Comsumers will decide which format they like best and it wont be based on which has the best copyright protection you can bet on that. It’ll be which is more cost effective and delivers the best picture quality for the buck. So they are just blowing smoke, and I’d say blueray has already won. It seems to be out there on the market, but that might just be because of Sony. The other will most likely die out like Betamax as cooler sounding Blueray gains acceptance.
I’d even say that this whole argument is most likely a publicity stunt for the other technoligy trying to get there name out there. But till you can get a player for about a 100 bucks and one technoligy is widely accepted I’ll stick with DVD I dont want to be that guy who bought a Betamax player right before they died out.

Monarch says:

Re: what does it matter

Actually HD-DVD has been out longer than Blu-Ray. And I don’t care if Blu-Ray does win the war, I won’t purchase one Blu-Ray DVD in my life. Why, because in doing so, Sony gets a small cut. I’m sorry, but I’m not purchasing anything that Sony has touched. Don’t want my computer or anything else locking up.

Lay Person says:

Fuck Yeah there'll be a winner!

There will be a winner.

Whoever wins will be the next big format and player.

Whoever wins will dominate the market and perhaps even the manufacturing of the disks(medium) itself.

You see these standards are in cahoots with the content providers. The manufacturer will win the hearts of the content providers essentially locking down their content thus preventing theft.

If you make the only device that will lock down content, trust me, there will be a big win.

Beefcake says:

Technology Rules!

Seems a bit counter to what I’m used to seeing on this site– people complaining about technical innovation. Usually we’re bashing those that try to quench it via DRM and the like.

Sure, new standards take awhile to shake out. But set aside the issues with content and just look at the basic premise– because of a shorter wavelength laser, we can now store a lot more data on a disc. Probably more than we need for the foreseeable future, but then again, a 160 GB hard drive seemed pretty silly in the not-too-distant-past too.

Ultimately, now that a blue laser is easier to accomplish than 20 years ago, it’s time to take the next step and start increasing the concentration of data pits on a disc. I’m personally looking forward to the simple things, like backing up an entire iPod on a single disc. High-Definition video content is just one application that’s readily available for the new technology. I’m sure a few more will show up as our craving for convenient storage of ever-increasing content continues.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

1080p vs. everything else

For all the people who think resolution is most important let me tell you that I have seen 1080p in all its glory. Not in Circuit City where the line has been split so many times it looks worse than coax but in real life HD-DVD to HD TV. I can see the difference but who cares? When you have been watching TV since the Black and white days and have been on the internet and watching downloaded videos since the .com boom then you aren’t really worried about the resolution. That 1G movie is better than what we’re use to. So all thows people that say that we don’t know what we’re talking about, arn’t real techs.

Anonymous Coward says:

short term winner is the studios

Fair Use dictates that once you pay for one of their works, you should be able to access it in various formats. Despite their talk out one side of their mouth that you own a licesnse for the work, they have charges people the full license fee over and over again as people first bought a movie in Beta, then SuperBeta, then VHS then SuperVHS, then VCD then DVD and now they have two new formats to resell the old movies. If you have already purchased the rights to it, they should manange that on their end and allow you to exchange media for a nominal fee. They don’t. They want their cake and to eat it too. Short term, they win with any new format, expecially when there are two and one will die.

Long term, they are further alienating their customers and will lose as people seek to change the absurd time periods that their lobbiest have won for their products in Washington. Discover the cure for canser or AIDS and you get royalties for 5 years. Make a crappy movie and it is closer to a century. Eventually consumers will get the laws fixed.

Tek'a says:

who wins?

thinking, if I read right, that the next gen disc battle is getting meaner then betaVHS. when you have tech providers AND content providers all ganging up (if your not on my exclusive team im going to charge you an extra billion to make your media in my format, or I might not do it at all) the person left out of the loop is Us.

at least in betaVHS the studios, the distributers were trying to give it a go for a time (have a still-wrapped original copy of E.T. on beta)

dunno where its going, but dont likeit. maybe we will see the real results is simply consumer apathy while early adopters plunk down thousands for triple-laser uberdrives and media systems (where the DVD laser fails in 5 hoursof use, or the crippled firmware demanded by the cartels downconverts everything to look like a bad laserdisc)

though we can Probaly count on sony to screw themselves up and kick themselvs out of the running.

where are the UMD computer drives, and burners, btw? the full and complete UMD video libraries available for the same or less then DVD movies? anyone? mebbe those got lost somewhere? engineer left them in the wrong cabinet and they have been abandoned in the great quest for newer, dumber formats!

indi says:

amused to say the least

Im amused at what people type in these comment areas after stories.

There is so much misinformation rumbling around.

Some fool up there tried to convince everyone that the first SW movies were digital, lmao, perhaps you were born a little late for the originals and came along when the remastered copies came around.

You know the University of Utah and photoshop have ties with the first starwars movies. Without it you wouldnt have a lot of scenes that involved compositing or keying components.

Someone made a comment regarding dual format burners. akin to + – DVD burner formats Id say that is the most intelligent component said in this whole post.

As for VHS and BETA it was the price of the player and the real killer was tape price.

The movie industry didnt want you to have a beta copy that could be copied easier with better loss without using a genlock duplicator amp.

the price and your wallet dictates what these vendors are trying to pimp you.

Lead with your wallet, not your ego.

Jim Ward says:


To those who can’t see a difference when comparing a regular dvd to a blu-ray or HD-DVD are just fooling themselves. I have a 37 inch lcd, and the differences at 1080i are like night day. It reminds of when I watched my first dvd, and compared it to VHS. All of my new movies will be purchased in HD-DVD. If Blu-Ray wins out, well then I will just have to get a different player. But there is no going back to regular dvd for me.

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