Oh snap. Quoting my coworker, Andy Pennell:
An important day in the next-gen DVD format war: Paramount have announced that they are going HD DVD only, an important change from their previous neutrality. "Blades of Glory", "Transformers" and "Shrek the Third" are the initial announced titles. The press release quotes "market-ready technology" and "low manufacturing costs". Looks like they figured out that HD DVD is the more advanced format. Cool! Who is next I wonder to see through the BD Emperor’s clothes?
Wow. 3 new HD DVD exclusives:
- Shrek the Third
- Blades of Glory
This joins other major HD DVD exclusives including Harry Potter movie series, The Matrix series, Heroes, Batman Begins, Battlestar Galactica, Oceans 11/12/13, and Blood Diamond (which has exclusive content on the HD version).
Yes, folks… it’s true. HD DVD is a more consumer format, not to mention a more consumer friendly format. I’ve written my own comparison/diatribe about why this is so, much to the behest of the "BluRay-stores-more-data-and-that’s-why-it’s-superior" crowd but Andy does a great job on a post here: http://blogs.msdn.com/andypennell/archive/2007/05/16/why-blu-ray-is-not-technically-advanced.aspx
MICROSOFT ?= HD DVD?
So why would a Microsoft geek push HD DVD? Here’s a hint:
- It has nothing to do with the XBox 360 HD DVD drive
(We could just as easily make a BluRay drive available for the Xbox 360 since it’s all USB connected. This is a quote from the XBox 360 product team.)
- It has nothing to do with Microsoft’s war with Sony in the gaming console front
(Recall that this is just a storage & organizational format. We don’t have a bias toward magnetic Western Digital hard drives versus Seagate Hard drives… why would we care about optical disc formats?)
- It has nothing to do with Microsoft’s historically good relationship with Toshiba
(While Toshiba is the primary proponent of HD DVD, we have no skin in the game with regard to the format and it’s development.)
So why? Why would Microsoft push HD DVD over BluRay?
Each HD DVD disc costs less to manufacture, costs less to produce and master, and it’s players cost less to build by an average of $200 compared to BluRay. Microsoft has a history or leveraging low cost, high volume technologies and HD DVD falls in line with this philosophy.
- Managed Copy
Managed Copy, or the right to make a limited number of copies of the movie to things like Zunes or Home Video Servers or XBox 360’s is a mandatory facility within all HD DVD players. It’s completely optional on BluRay and as a result, it’s virtually never implemented because the studios are paranoid about people making copies. This is also the reason why there’s more studio support behind BluRay than there is HD DVD.
BTW: This is the reason both Dell & HP ‘jumped ship’ and joined the HD DVD side of the house. Once they realized that HD DVD provide more utility to their home PCs, HD DVD looked a lot more interesting.
HD DVD leverages iHD, a programming technology that enables extremely rich experiences – stuff like fancy menuing, interactive games & picture in picture video frames, video overlays that allow two videos to play side by side at once… and all use a DHTML development toolset that is universally guaranteed to playback and be 100% compatible on every HD DVD player. Just ask a BluRay player owner if they’ve run into compatibility problems. If they say no, they’re lying. Half the BluRay players can’t even play traditional interactive menus without ROM upgrades because they leverage a derivative of Java that is frequently different depending on what player is being used – even with Sony’s own players!
This is the big one: HD DVD has outstanding interactive and visual elements that you expect to get from a next gen DVD technology. Stuff like on screen editing & markup by the movie director, ‘circling mistakes on the screen’ or ‘show two clips side by side kind of like a before & after’ during the extras. It’s all due to the programmability of HD DVD – a technology that Microsoft helped to foster and build. BluRay has NONE OF THIS.
As for performance and end user experience, just watch this video clip. This is representative of the BluRay experience.