DVD: will HD-DVD and Blu Ray suffer the same destiny as Laser Disc ?

Laser Disk became a limited success in Japan and a fiasco in Europa – and now it’s gone

Will Blu Ray and HD-dvd suffer the same destiny ? and do we really need two new competing formats that are probably less than slightly better than DVD?

Probably not.

In general, new recording technology is more likely to fail if it requires consumers to invest in both a new player, and replacement of all their old recorded media.

Consumers who have built up a big collection of music, movies, slides, etc. are reluctant to switch over to a new technology if they have to throw away all those recordings. But if the new technology can still play those old recordings, they are much more likely to switch to it. So it’s much more likely to succeed.

Consumers were starting to acquire collections of VHS recordings when LaserDiscs came out. But soon, extended-play VHS came along. With the new extended-play VHS machines, people could have 2-hour or 4-hour VHS tapes, just as long as LaserDiscs, but could still play all their old 1-hour VHS tapes. Whereas switching to LaserDiscs meant discarding all those old tapes. Consumers went with the enhanced VHS machines and LaserDiscs failed.

Backward compatibility of media is very important to consumers.
Nearly all current DVD players can still play CDs just fine. There were ones that could only play DVDs, but they have disappeared from the market because people wouldn’t buy them.

If the manufacturers make sure that Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players can also play existing DVDs, and even back to existing CDs, without problems, they will be much less likely to fail.

HD-DVD/BluRay might find a niche market for film afficionados with Hi-Def TVs, but they won’t replace regular DVDs. Not for a very long time, at least…and by then, when consumers demand another Great Leap Forward, a far more advanced technology will be available.

The backward-compatibilitiness (is that a word?) of Hi-Def DVDs gives them an advantage over LaserDisc / 3-inch CDs / DAT and other formats that failed miserably due to the need for specialized equipment. Competing formats in a limited market is a problem, though…already, many consumers are holding off purchase until they see which format wins out.

Hmmm… I can’t really agree with that. Most people don’t even know that DVD players will play CDs. And more importantly, almost nobody cares. They just don’t get used for that. Heck, CDs are fast becoming an ‘archive’ format, rip it and put it on the rack and forget about it.

Laserdiscs (please, always use a ‘c’ for them) didn’t exactly fail in the US, they just never became mainstream. They were successful enough that the discs & players were manufactured for like 20+ years.

And they failed to go mainstream for two reasons: VCRs could record, and the discs themselves were way too cumbersome and large. Plus, they were simply ahead of their time. Nobody really cared about 400 lines of rez back then. Especially when the TV sets, like, really couldn’t even display the difference!

I was and still am a proponent of the people aren’t gonna care about HD or Blu-Ray cause DVD is good enough camp, but I’m amazed at how the prices of HD plasma screens have continued to drop. And at the swift deployment of so many HD cable & satellite channels already. So who knows, maybe the standard def TV and DVD market will shrink faster than expected.

But I still wouldn’t buy one yet! :smiley:

I agree with the above sentiments indicating that the backwards compatibility issue is important.

But the main reason I would never consider buying one of these formats is that they are incompatible with each other, and by purchasing one player I would be cutting myself off from purchasing or playing movies from half the studios.

It strikes me as bizarre that the studios would support this situation. You’d think it would be in their best interest to co-ordinate their support around one format. I bet very few people will have any inclination to upgrade their DVD collection to a format that may die out in the near future.

Perhaps this is a good thing, a delaying mechanism until a larger upgrade in the technology becomes available.

you may be right there

accotding to winkipedia

So that’s why DVD crashed and burned?

i’ve also read some place (I think it was about bluRay) that it was impossible to play your bluray dvd’s on other bluray players and that you had to upgrade the player now and then by internet.

I can speculate several reasons why it won’t take off.

-It’s not that much better. Yes going from a standard def broadcast picture to a hi-def one on a 50" Hi-Def TV is night and day. However, going from a standard DVD to a HD-DVD on a 50" HiDef TV there really isn’t much of an improvement.

-Until a standard is set with either HDDVD of Blue-Ray, no one is going start grabbing these off the shelves. Even if they sold for $200 vs. a standard $100 dvd player it would still be a tough sell.

-Prices of media. Right now new release dvds are around $16. Others are $20 and many, many more are $10 and cheaper. And these new discs are going for $25 and up? That’s a real, real tough sell. Look at the line of “Super-Bit” dvds that came out and promised a sharper more vivid picture. Those were okay but not necessarily a hot item.

The jump from VHS to DVD was much easier to take. It offered so many incentives. On-screen menu driven instant access to any place in the movie, bonus add-ons like documentaries/commentaries, a longer lasting medium (no tape to wear out), smaller storage size, much improved picture and sound. It really was the ‘next big step’. And even then it took some time to catch on.

Until they can really offer some great incentives for people to move into this medium, expect a tiny 4-foot section in your Best Buy or Target to be dedicated to it. Much like the Sony MDs, or Sony PSP movies.

The hi-def formats will eventually supplant DVD, but not for a long, long time. DVD was rapidly accepted because it was a quantum leap in performance in almost all categories - smaller media, easier to use, better fidelity, better navigation, etc. Almost a paradigm shif in how we use digital media.

HD-DVD and BluRay aren’t like that. They’re an incremental improvement, and expensive. And people don’t seem to care that much about picture quality. A good example would be the hi-def music formats - SACD and DVD-A. They’re struggling.

I would contend that people cannot tell the difference between CDs and the high def music formats at all. If you took a recording that was done in high def played that and then played the CD format made from the highdef recording people will not be able to tell.

This is not the same as HD TV. You can see a definite improvement in quality between a DVD and HD TV program.

I beleive that one of the other formats will start to take off once people get used to broadcast HD TV. Once that happens people will start to find the quality of DVDs to be low.

Also unless one blu ray or HD-DVD wins quickly the format wars will start to be irrelevant. Companies are already planing players that do both formats.


Wow, a lot of misinformation posted here.

First of all, high definition is already here to stay. HD adoption rates are sky-rocketing (Forrester Research claims 16 million households had HD by the end of 2005, and a Parks Associates study claims that 47% of US households have or plan to have HD sets by the end of 2006), and with the mandatory switch to digital broadcast in the US, it will become even more attractive.

The move to HD media formats will likely be driven by the same factors that made DVD the most quickly adopted consumer standard in history: computers and console games. The only factor that is likely to undermine their success is that conflict between the competing standards will delay the emergence of a single format, and allow direct delivery (be it wireless or broadcast) to make physical media moot.

Neither Blu-ray nor HD-DVD will require their players to be periodically updated from the 'Net. Nor will there be any incompatibility between different manufacturers media (a BD-ROM will play on any Blu-ray drive, regardless of who makes it*, and the same with an HD-DVD).

It is also important to realize that both Blu-ray and HD-DVD potentially represent a significant improvement in quality over broadcast HD, let alone DVD. I’ve seen broadcast HD side-by-side with an HD-DVD, and the latter was visibly superior. At first, particularly with Sony’s insistence on using MPEG-2 encoding to start with, the improvement will be admittedly marginal. As studios begin using MPEG-4 and VC-1 however, the quality will become much, much more obvious.

  • Actually, the copy protection scheme allows studios to create discs that won’t play in certain players, but that’s aimed at shutting out hardware that violates the copyright protection standards. It would be used to effectively “deactivate” hardware known to be usably for piracy.

I disagree…the mass consumer doesn’t care so much about visual quality.

Look at the current shift from compact disc to mp3 – it’s actually a big step DOWN in audio fidelity, even a non-audiophile can detect the difference between CD audio and 128k/s mp3. However, mp3 is a major leap forward in convenience, portability, and storage capacity (all of which were advantages of DVD over VHS, but not Hi-def over standard video) and these are things the mass consumer desires.

Here’s an interesting article on why HiDef DVD formats will (or have already) failed.

Here’s a summary:

  1. Nobody likes false starts (generally unimpressive launch)
  2. Format wars don’t sell players (a pretty clear distinction between healthy competition and a format war)
  3. HD DVD and Blu-ray are NOT Quantum Leaps in Technology (the convenience/benefit for HD formats, along with just the simple media form-factor, isn’t compelling. VERY different from Tape --> CD or VHS --> DVD)
  4. Studios are Conservative, Greedy and Unmotivated (basically, content is too expensive)
  5. Playstation3 Cannot Save the World (PS3 is, and will continue to be received as, a gaming system)
  6. Those Who Ignore History… (look at SACD and DVD-Audio)
  7. People Want Technology that’s 15 Minutes Ahead of Its Time (Yes people like HiDef and just went out and bought a $3000 TV and are still “high” off that purchase, still “wowed” at how good regular DVDs look on their new 720p display) * I think this is a pretty good argument
  8. Enthusiasts Are Getting Tired (and Smarter) (enthusiasts have been burned several times. The “early adopter” market is getting smaller, more cautious)
  9. A Skeptical News Media Doesn’t Help
  10. Broadband and IPTV to Compete? (sorry folks,physical media is on its way out)
    Let’s face it folks, HiDef DVD looks better, but not EXPONENTIALLY BETTER and offers basically no further “convenience advantages” over regular DVDs – chapters, special features, it’s all there already. The only difference is there’s MORE of it.

In this case, parallels cannot be drawn between TV and audio. Music is almost always a background activity–you listen in the car, on the iPod at the gym, maybe in the kitchen while you make dinner. You’ll gladly sacrifice quality for convenience here.

The problem with the high-def music formats was that almost nobody nowadays puts a piece of music on the stereo and just sits down to listen to it.

That’s not the case with TV. Nowadays, people are dedicating space in their homes specifically for enjoying their big screen TVs.

Quality does matter here.

Heck, I’m a total audio/video-phile computer geek early adopter, but even I’m not that excited over any of the HD stuff. It really is a diminished return.

Yes, if you’re watching Finding Nemo or Revenge of the Sith on a 90" 16:9 1080i LCD flatscreen with Dolby 6.1 surround sound you’re gonna notice a big difference with an HD format. But 99% of people 99% of the time use a TV like a toaster. Its an appliance, a means to an end. And like I said, the law of diminishing returns applies.

Same reason that even though jets were a revolution compared to props, the Concorde was a complete failure. To go twice as fast cost more than ten times as much and subsonic jets were fast enough…

This is absolutely not true. I’m not a hardcore audiophile - I don’t have a fancy tube amp and $3000 turntable and expensive wires and all that stuff. I’m also 43 and a life of rock music and airplane flying has killed a fair bit of my upper range in hearing. And yet, the difference to me between Hi-Rez audio in DVD-A and a standard CD is instantly noticeable and dramatic on my mid-range stereo system. So much so that it has destroyed my desire to listen to most of my regular CD’s.

Part of it is the 5.1 mix, which when done correctly really enhances the eperience. But mostly it’s just the startling clarity of the music. Most CD’s to me now sound slightly muddy and veiled. The difference is like the difference between listening to a singer over a fairly good radio, and having the singer standing in front of you singing. High resolution audio is simply astonishing when listened to on good equipment in a good room.

The thing is, very few people have good equipment. 99% of music listening is done either in the car, or on the radio at home, or from MP3’s in front of the computer. Hell, that describes 90% of my listening, too. Low fidelity, and I don’t care. I even burn MP3’s of CD’s I have on hand and listen to those, because it’s much more convenient. It’s only when I want to close my eyes shut the door, and immerse myself in music that I really care that much about ultimate fidelity - and then SACD or DVD-A is dramatically better.

Well, yes and no. You can, IF you have a hi-def TV, and IF you sit close enough to it to be able to resolve the difference. There’s a real problem here - Any video source has a ‘sweet spot’ - that being the the distance from the screen where you get the optimum experience. Any closer, and you start seeing things like scan lines and pixels and such, and the image starts to fall apart. Any further back, and the eye loses detail because we lack the resolving power to see all the information in the picture.

Most family rooms have people sitting back 8-11 feet from the TV. Most TV’s in the family room are between 32" and 36". Not surprisingly, 8-11 feet happens to be the sweet spot range for an NTSC picture of that size range.

Now replace your 32" TV with a 32" Hi-def TV. Now you’ll be out of the sweet spot, and feel like you want to sit closer. The sweet spot for a 32" high def TV is only 5-6 feet. No one is going to sit 5’ away from their TV in their family room.

This is why Hi-Def TV’s are generally purchased in large sizes, and why large screen TV’s didn’t take off until we had high definition. But there’s a limit - not everyone wants a 55" behemoth in their family room.

The truth is that people don’t actually care that much about picture quality. Most TV’s that are set up today aren’t even calibrated. People just unbox them and turn them on and watch. Most people could get a dramatically better picture by calibrating the set, adjusting their room lighting and seating, etc. Most don’t bother.

Hi-Def will eventually take over, but it will take a long time.

I don’t think so. I sure notice the difference, but I’ve got a 102" front projection system. And I watch HDTV all the time, but DVD’s don’t bother me in the slightest. A DVD can still provide a picture that rivals the best you’ll see in an average movie theater. On a smaller screen, I think I’d barely be able to tell the difference with many of them.

I’m guessing that the ‘killer app’ that drive HD drives won’t be picture quality, but simply storage size. TV show box sets (at least pre-HD shows) can be shipped on one disc. There will be tremendous amounts of bonus footage and features. How about a war movie that comes with 30 hours of documentary war footage? Collections of old movies, 10 to a disc for $15? That sort of stuff. We may even see new content that takes advantage of the storage size - movies shot in 3-D with two video streams, rich interactive content, multiple camera angles, etc. Eventually, we’ll want much bigger storage. But the adoption rate will be very slow. Much slower than that of DVD.

There are cheap dual-format DVD-A/SACD combo players. I’ve got one I paid $150 for a year ago. Nobody is buying them. No one cares.

Quality matters for the people you describe. You and I may be two of them, but that market is maybe 10-20% of the marketplace in general. Most people don’t have dedicated viewing rooms. Only 17% of households have TV’s bigger than 30". That’s up 4% in one year, though, so the number is definitely growing. But it’ll start to taper off at some point as all the likely suspects have already upgraded and the rest don’t. It could take a decade before half the households have TV’s bigger than 30".

I will buy the extra channels are something. But where is the clarity coming from? 20KHz to 24Khz? I don’t buy that an extra few bits beyond 16 bits can be heard. I am sure it can be measured but not heard.

I think that really depends on what happens with the price of large lcd panels. Really big CRT TVs just won’t fit in most rooms, and so are a non-starter. Rear projection TVs look like crap. A good front projection system is lovely but needs a specially designed room to work well. That leaves big flat panels as the only large format television that has much chance of becoming mainstream, and if iirc manufacturers are starting to phase out plasmas in the 40"-60" range in favour of lcds. So long as these things cost 3-5 grand a pop, they’ll remain luxury items, but the prices have been falling continuously, and if they drop below a certain point they’ll start selling like hotcakes.

In my experience, people who’ve just shelled out a pile of money on a 50" plasma aren’t particularly happy with how low-def signals look on them. Course, a lot of that is crappy scaling and not just getting inside the sweet spot (nice description of that phenomena, btw), but it’s still going to fuel demand for hi-def formats.