Blu-ray seems beta, but it will win

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

The following is my current impression of the status of HD formats at this moment.

There have been some comparisons of picture quality (PQ) made between HD-DVD and Blu-ray, and the latter often comes up short.
One factor is the codec used.

For some reason, the Blu-ray movies being released are mostly encoded with MPEG-2, rather than the two-generations-better VC-1.
Apparently there is encoding software coming out that runs on a PC in near realtime.
I wonder – since HD-DVD uses CV-1 as well, why can’t they encode it once for both formats?
Are there internal “HD-DVD” teams and “Blu-ray” teams at the various studios?
I really hope not.

The other factor is hardware bugs.
There have been some issues, although they may be fixed by a firmware update.
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of one being released.

Now, despite all these issues with Blu-ray, it is still my pick as the eventual victor, for the exact same reason VHS beat beta: quantity.

Beta could only hold 60 minutes of video, while VHS offered 2 hours, or 6 hours if you didn’t mind crappy quality.
It’s not quite the same for Blu-ray: even at HD-DVD’s minimal 15 Gig size for a one-sided, single-layer disc, there is plenty of room for a good-quality HD movie.

However, these discs will also be used to store data on computers, and with Blu-ray being demonstrated at 200 GB (using 6 layers of 33 GB each), HD-DVD doesn’t even come close.
With our 750 GB hard disks in our computers, we need this for long-term shelf storage.

I really think it’s that simple.
Because Blu-ray and HD-DVD certainly don’t differ in any meaningful way when it comes to HD playback quality.

New Blu-ray movies!

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Oct 18 through Nov 3 is going to see a lot of releases on Blu Ray & HD-DVD.
In fact, a movie that interests me (Naqoyqatsi) is only coming out on HD-DVD.
Ouch! First wound in the format war!
Oh well, Gone in 60 seconds & “Rent” are only on Blu-ray, wahoo!
And besides, even Amazon doesn’t yet list Naqoyqatsi on HD-DVD (but I know where to get it).

There is a SONY style shop at Madison & 55th St. in Manhattan and I got a Blu-Ray discount card there. Something like buy 10, get one free.
I’m almost ready for a free one.
I need to check and see if its valid somewhere close, like Buffalo.

Curiously, Amazon does not yet list RENT on Blu-ray, although I know it is coming out in November.
Another point of note, is that Roger’s Video Direct although listing Blu-ray titles, has not yet shipped me any of my selections.
Anyway, I still have 4 more Blu-ray movie purchases to watch,
and I’m waiting until Saturday until I get a chance to watch one on someone’s SONY Bravia XBR2 LCD television (1080p) anyway.

Sony Bravia XBR2 LCD TVs

Monday, August 21st, 2006

They are about to hit the streets in Toronto shortly (they’re already all over the place in the U.S.), maybe less than a week in places. I saw these TVs in the U.S. recently and they look good. I might get one if I can find a good deal. Should fit nicely in the living room on the wall. Sony Style Link A Review

It comes with several HDMI inputs, so I’m thinking of connecting the Blu-ray player to it. Blu-ray in a few places in the U.S. is too cutting edge for some (video) stores. However at stores that sell the players, you can expect to find discs for sale there.

As an aside, I’m glad I collected a few DVDs over the years. Many years ago I watched “The Warriors”. Over that (long) period of time, I have drifted to a slightly right of center political philosophy (from slightly left of center) and I was surprised at how differently “The Warriors”, the new directors cut comes across to me now. Of course, times are different too, I just watched a show about the Battle for the World Economy (6 hours, PBS) (globalization, socialism and such) — apparently I’m not the only one. Anyhow, the movie has been changed a bit to reflect its roots from the graphic novel upon which it was based. So for those of you caught in the globalization tide, it’s time to get a new TV and rewatch some movies from your past, or buy a Mercury Grand Marquis, a VCR and head back to the coal mines if you prefer The Old Ways.

TechTok 03: open source iTheatre, OpenStep

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

This week Iain and I are attending
Apple’s World-Wide Developer Conference (a.k.a. WWDC) for 2006.
We chatted on the airplane.
Despite the babies crying in front of us and behind us, and the loud ambience, you can understand almost all of what we’re saying.

One day we’ll actually post edit our recordings.
(4.9MB, 10:35)

Yes, I am on a roll posting these.
The enclosure tags in the posts should make them work as a podcast.
Just add to your lists of podcasts.

TechTok 02: Mac Mini – 2006-03-01

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

Back in March Iain and I did this little talk about the Mac Mini. Hope you enjoy it!
(18MB, 44:07)

Format War! Game on!

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

Okay I picked up a BluRay player (Samsung BD-P1000), programmed my Harmony remote (they already know about it) and bought a few BluRay titles. Future Shop seems to have rather high prices on BluRay discs at the moment, as I was able to get a few titles in the states last week for quite a discount. So far everything is okay, except that I had to make a tough decision. I had to connect the BluRay player to the DVI input on the TV and drop the HD-PVR back down to component video. I’d forgotten how weird “The 5th Element” was…

Tokyo Drift

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

A rotten tomatoes rating of 5/10. Learn some Japanese, lose the liberalism and get ready for some pounding J-pop, screeching tires and short skirts. Wahoo. Plot spoiler: They plunked a big-honkin’ Nissan engine into a Mustang. Hm, was there something else in the plot? I guess I’ve forgotten. Incidentally at the moment, I drive a car with a 345hp Nissan engine with an electronically variable cam, DVC off-switch and the Tokyo Drift soundtrack in the CD tray …but it’s missing the Japanese version of the Carpenter’s “Top of the World” that played in the movie. Speaking of which, I also have “Audio Slave’s” “Doesn’t Remind Me” in there, with the lyric “I walk the streets of Japan ’till I get lost, because it doesn’t remind me of anything”. At least the physics was a lot better than F&F2.

This is the correct review of the movie: LA Times

For the fashion-conservatives among you, the Sanja Milkovic Hays-designed miniskirts deserve special attention from the censorship board. But it’s not exactly Clockwork Orange, I guess.

Did I mention I hated Lost In Translation recently?

HD DVD on sale at Wal-Mart

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Apollo 13 HD DVD

I saw this on sale at Wal-Mart last night.
Actually, there were several others on sale as well.
I couldn’t resist buying one.
One day I expect to have a combo HD/Blu-Ray player.
But until then I won’t be able to play this disc.

I thought that this would be one of the one-side-HD-the-other-side-DVD discs, but no luck there.

posted pictures on Flickr
of the case, the disc, etc, so enjoy.

Blu-Ray goes to 200 GB

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

This XbitLabs article
explains how TDK has built a prototype Blu-Ray disc with 6 33(and â…“ no doubt)GB layers.


First HD-DVD reviews are coming in

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

Reviews on the HD-DVD versions of
The Last Samurai
are up.
So I guess this means that HD-DVD has “arrived” as of Mon Apr 17, 2006.

Now we see how big the gap is until Blu-Ray shows up..

Hope it’s not *too* long.