HD-DVD Officially Joins the Jurassic Players – UPDATE

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Toshiba has officially announced today that the HD-DVD player is no more. I guess having Microsoft shell out a ton of money backing you isn’t always a guarantee of success. This coming only weeks after a multi-million dollar push at the Superbowl.

Here is the official statement from Toshiba

19 February, 2008

Company Remains Focused on Championing Consumer Access to High Definition Content

TOKYO–Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders. This decision has been made following recent major changes in the market. Toshiba will continue, however, to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.

HD DVD was developed to offer consumers access at an affordable price to high-quality, high definition content and prepare them for the digital convergence of tomorrow where the fusion of consumer electronics and IT will continue to progress.

“We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called ‘next-generation format war’ and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop,” said Atsutoshi Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation. “While we are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to use our talent, technology and intellectual property to make digital convergence a reality.”

Toshiba will continue to lead innovation, in a wide range of technologies that will drive mass market access to high definition content. These include high capacity NAND flash memory, small form factor hard disk drives, next generation CPUs, visual processing, and wireless and encryption technologies. The company expects to make forthcoming announcements around strategic progress in these convergence technologies.

Toshiba will begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders to retail channels, aiming for cessation of these businesses by the end of March 2008. Toshiba also plans to end volume production of HD DVD disk drives for such applications as PCs and games in the same timeframe, yet will continue to make efforts to meet customer requirements. The company will continue to assess the position of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives within the overall PC business relative to future market demand.

This decision will not impact on Toshiba’s commitment to standard DVD, and the company will continue to market conventional DVD players and recorders. Toshiba intends to continue to contribute to the development of the DVD industry, as a member of the DVD Forum, an international organization with some 200 member companies, committed to the discussion and defining of optimum optical disc formats for the consumer and the related industries.

Toshiba also intends to maintain collaborative relations with the companies who joined with Toshiba in working to build up the HD DVD market, including Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation and major Japanese and European content providers on the entertainment side, as well as leaders in the IT industry, including Microsoft, Intel, and HP. Toshiba will study possible collaboration with these companies for future business opportunities, utilizing the many assets generated through the development of HD DVD.

Well the good news is that this means that Universal and Paramount will have no choice now, so Star Trek and Transformers will finally make their way to Blu-Ray. This comes the day after I discover that I can wirelessly stream my music (minus any iTunes purchases), pictures, and AVI or WMV movies to my PS3 from my mac using this software from Elgato. It’s not 100% perfect, but I didn’t play around with it too much last night, just wanted to see if it actually worked. Thanks to Dan’s friend Misha for telling me that this was a possibility!

UPDATE 02/19/2007 6:01PM: The day before I will be at Universal Studios Island of Adventure, Universal has officially announced today that they will be going Blu-Ray. This article has their official stance:

“While Universal values the close partnership we have shared with Toshiba, it is time to turn our focus to releasing new and catalog titles on Blu-ray,” said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.”

Woo-Hoo!!!!

Planet Earth: Discovery HD Theater

original.gifWell, after a long wait, I have finally received my Blu-Ray version of the American Discovery release of Planet Earth. Thank you Lorne for all your hard work getting the BBC version exchanged.

I can say that I am not disappointed in my decision to have the BBC version exchanged for the Discovery version. It is very evident that the Discovery Channel went to a lot more effort than the BBC release to make sure that the viewer got the best quality experience out of the Blu-Ray release. The imagery is as good if not better than what was experienced on the Discovery HD airing on HDTV.

Unlike the BBC release, there is none of the problems in shadows with weird lines. The colors are more vibrant and rich. Some purists may say that they messed up something that was perfect, but the production value of the American release is far superior to the BBC release. The music is more engaging, and the opening credits more intense, showcasing the series’ best moments. Sigourney Weaver’s narration is also much more suited to the series.

Jurassic Players

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Gone the way of extinction… 8 Track, Betamax, and soon HD-DVD. I just blogged about Paramount’s ability to bail if they so want. While they are currently denying plans to do so, today, news comes that Universal (the last of two major studios distributing exclusively on HD-DVD) no longer has a contract with HD-DVD.

This clears the way for Universal to join the Blu-Ray bandwagon any day now. They have stated that they have some big HD-DVD promos already planned in the near future. They, however, have not denied plans to jump ship.

Many retailers are getting tired of dedicating space to the dying HD-DVD. I think we could see an end to this war in a matter of a few more months, even sooner possibly.

I feel bad for the 400k or so people that have adopted HD-DVD at this point. I know I would be feeling like crap right now if Blu-Ray were the side loosing, although at least I would still have a gaming unit out of it.

Thanks to Howard for the tip to the above mentioned article.

Star Trek Set To Boldly Go Blu?

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According to this article from the financial times, Paramount apparently has a clause in their contract with the HD-DVD camp, that if Warner Bros. goes Blu, that they will be allowed to jump ship and join the Blu-Ray camp as well.

While this is only speculation at the moment, with 70% of Hollywood movies being released in Blu-Ray now, it only makes sense that Paramount would abandon the ailing HD-DVD format in this war. At that point, it would leave only Universal and Dreamworks on the HD-DVD side (it isn’t known wether either of them have this same clause).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I for one will be happy to be able to upgrade my Star Trek movies to Blu-Ray if it does indeed come to fruition! Hopefully the end of the war will also see a drop in price to the Blu-Ray camp to get more consumers adopting it.

Planet Earth Disappointment!

For Christmas, I received the Blu-Ray version of Planet Earth, the remarkable High Definition Mini-series documentarty about, what else, Planet Earth.

While the cinematography of this show is absolutely amazing, I was highly disappointed with what I received in the British release of this amazing mini-series. I originally saw much of it on Discovery HD Theater, and was blown away by the brilliant colors and amazing clarity! Definitely one of the biggest reasons I am glad I made the switch to High Def…

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However, as I have since discovered, this DVD does not play well with 1080p even though it says it is 1080p in resolution. Much of the footage was wavy, and had a lot of noise in the picture. I had the opportunity to watch some of on the standard def version, and got none of the noise in the Blu-Ray version. I also was quite disappointed by the less than vibrant colors, and poor audio. I could barely hear the narrator. The best way to describe it, was like watching an old PBS documentary from the 70s, only in widescreen.

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I have since returned this to amazon, and have ordered the version that Discovery is selling on their site with Sigourney Weaver narrating. It is only 1080i, but if it is even close to what was aired on DHDT, then it will be far better than this version. I believe the US release also contains much of the bonus footage that is absent from the BBC release.

I will give my review of the Discovery Blu-Ray version once I have received it.