INFO: HD DVD vs. Blu Ray – a Feature Comparison

I wrote this up a while ago in response to some moron that was spewing inaccuracies about HD DVD relative to Blu Ray.  The content has floated around the Internet a couple times so I figure I might as well post it on my own blog.

Bear in mind that I don’t actually CARE in a religious way one way or the other which "company" wins.  I just look at the two specs and see that from a consumer standpoint, it seems very clear to me that Toshiba’s HD DVD standard is by far and away a much better collection of functionality than BluRay in providing high quality video and more interactive capabilities.


Technical Differences Between HD DVD & BluRay High Defnition DVD formats:

HD-DVD will be 30GB. Sony has openly admitted that Blu-Ray discs will continue to be published on 25GB platters for numerous movies, 50GB for others.

This is an important point:  HD-DVD will support playback ‘layering’.  This means that motion picture directors will be able to talk about a movie while it’s playing, and highlight (or "tellustrate") ON SCREEN things going on, like mistakes, bloopers, or rendering errors in computer animation. They’ll also be able to play two movies side-by-side to show two different cuts of a movie in-synch to make better use of film takes.  Or they might have a movie reviewer or commentator talking in a "picture-in-picture" window at the bottom right hand corner of the movie, "layered over" the movie itself.  Or maybe you might want to show a map in a little window on screen that shows where geographically, the scene is taking place.  (Fast & the Furious Tokyo Drift for example, provides a GPS navigation "window" at the top left corner of the screen to show the viewer where the cars are in Tokyo as they drift throughout the city)  BluRay doesn’t support any of this.

HD-DVDs can be produced easily to support the older MPEG1 format of a standard definition movie on one side of the platter and the newer High Def version on the opposite side.  This is known as the "Combo Format" and is prominently labelled on many HD DVD’s.  BluRay can not do this and thus, you never see this "Combo Format" label on any of their disc cases – even though the cases are similar.

HD-DVD has been churning out production units successfully. BluRay has been suffering from production problems because of the accuracy needed for the blue laser and the purported, increase storage. Production problems = higher costs & later release = fewer playerssold = fewer discs sold.

Because of the new laser in BluRay, discs must be thinner and are more prone to production problems, meaning fewer discs off the production line will be functional. Additionally, duplication accuracy will be diminished in BluRay for commercial movies. HD-DVD uses the same relative technology as today’s DVDs resulting in no increase in production errors.  This is a very important point because it’s one of the reasons BluRay discs are more expensive to produce and thus, publishers are less committal to the format.  For example, the Adult movie industry announced that because of the higher cost and difficulty of publishing for BluRay, they would be publishing only to the HD DVD format.

HD-DVD uses iHD, a menuing system based on DHTML which is a lightweight definitive specification for interactive presentations ("menus" similar to web pages on the Internet) that can be guaranteed to be implemented on every HD-DVD player through strict standards. HD DVD publishers can absolutely verify with complete certainty that every HD DVD disc they make will play in every HD DVD player produced.  On the other hand, BluRay requires the usage of a flavor of Java called JEM that because of the varied implementations of Java on players depending on licensing, it will be impossible to guarantee that a BluRay disc’s menuing system will run on all players.  For those that doubt the importance or accuracy of this statement, all you have to do is wait.  Right now as it stands, people are paying a premium for both HD DVD & BluRay players (even though HD DVD players are substantially less expensive) and thus Java licensing costs aren’t a factor.  However as the platforms evolve, it’s easily foreseeable that as cheap players are released from China, Taiwan, and Korea, cost of goods shortcuts will be made – one of which is the Java license fee.

This is a HUGE point. While there are more studios signed up for BluRay than for HD-DVD, this is pretty irrelevant:  The studios will publish to whatever format people are buying. What’s WORSE for BluRay however is that Fox Studios has demanded a higher level of DRM protection than what is available in the BluRay or HD-DVD spec.  BluRay caved in and said they’d do it making managed copy a virtual impossibility, while HD-DVD has not. This means among other things that HD-DVD will enable people to copy and play their movies through stored copies on Home Video Servers, Portable Media Players, Home computers, etc. while it is extremely unlikely that BluRay will.

HD-DVD will definitively release their player through Toshiba at $499 and $799 in March 2006.
BluRay is supposed to release their first player in May 2006 through Pioneer at $1,800 however it is very likely that that release date will slip.
UPDATE:  Since releasing their players, standalone HD DVD players are now going for as low as $329.  And the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player is $199.  In contrast, even the cheapest BluRay Players remain at $489 and the Sony Playstation 3 while having wider distribution than standalone devices, has a $599 pricetag on it along with having only 2M devices sold.

2 Responses to INFO: HD DVD vs. Blu Ray – a Feature Comparison

  1. Blake says:

    Considering this is probably the last “media dispute” until everything is available as a download – I don’t care who’s gonna win either. (But if ya ask, HD-DVD gets me voite)

  2. Kurt says:

    re: "Internet connectivity will eliminate the need for physical media for movies & music?"
    Y\’know, they also said that "the paperless office will eliminate the need for paper, books, magazines."  Paper\’s value is simply unmatchable.  The closest they\’ve made so far are Pocket PCs and eBooks haven\’t so far been very successful in that form factor because of cost and lack of distributable content.  People move to the medium which provides them the greatest value at the lowest price.  High definition media will not only provide a much greater value to the end user but storage\’s rate of growth is far and away exceeding that of network bandwidth.  Today\’s dual layer HD DVD will hold 35GB.  Meanwhile at 30Mbps, it takes 2 hours 40 minutes to download the same quantity… or 13 hours and 10 minutes via 6Mbps cable speeds.
    The bandwidth available by FedExing a 500GB hard drive to New York is far greater than the full capacity of any network connectivity available today or in the near future.  Now imagine if that capacity is available on a plastic platter that costs $1 to manufacture.

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