Archive for the 'Hi Definition' Category


AMD unleashes 800 digital demons

Today I received something special, a Gigabyte Readeon HD 4850! I’ve had this little monster on the test rig and it bitch slaps anything that Nvidia makes for less than £250. I’m putting together a feature for MIcro Mart on it, which will appear in a couple of weeks.


I, Robot on Blu-ray

At last some decent movies on Blu-ray. My review of I,Robot can be found here.

Yo! Robot person!


Commano on Blu-ray Review

I’ve seen Commando on Blu-ray and it’s not a pretty picture…here

Arnold goes Commando


HD War not going well for either side

A while back I commented that neither side was winning the HD format war, because as yet they’ve not sold anything like the number of players or discs that would worry anyone with a DVD duplication business. I also recall a few people, on another blog remonstrated with me for this view. But now Sony’s let the cat out of the HD bag, so to speak.
This image, from coverage of CEDIA 2007  on AnandTech entirely gives the game away.

HD in decline

Yes Blu-ray fans, your format is marginally ahead. But what’s really scary about these numbers is that the trend of the graph, left to right, is down. Since their launch both formats have declined, with Blu-ray suffering the bigger drop of the two. Surely after initial blips the trend of this graph should be up, not down?
What concerns me most about this slide is that to demonstrate their superiority Sony didn’t mind showing they’re both drowning from a sales perspective. Is that the new criteria of business success, not growth, but who goes out of business last?


4 billion reasons why Hollywood is full of it

For the first time in history US box office takings for this summer have exceeded $4bn (£1.98bn). Yet, with more people going to the movies, and spending more money doing so what is Hollywood yacking about? Piracy! Please…give it a rest guys. Yes your movies are pirated, they’ve been pirated since people first made movies. When I went to film school I met plenty of people who had a small collection of their favourite films as 16mm (and even 35mm) prints. Ok, so with the VCR and now digital distribution systems it’s easier and possibly more prolific, but the interest in films is greater and they make money from more than just the Cinema release.
If the film industry had it’s way the VCR would have been banned and they’d be billions out of pocket. As a teenager I remember when Doctor No. was first shown on TV, more than 10 years after it was on the cinema, maybe closer to 15, is that how they’d like things to be? No, they’re too hooked into the money they get from sales DVD and TV rights now to put the clock back.
If you give people a reason to go to the cinema rather than whining about Piracy they’ll go, irrespective of if it’s free to download. There are at least three really good films to see this summer, Bourne Ultimatum being the best, and the number of people who’ve been to see it in the US, and here in the UK, support the view that a quality product is supported by a viewing audience, irrespective.
Perhaps if those idiots wearing the night vision goggles looking for someone with a bionic eye threw out the moron who made mobile phone calls through the last 20 minutes of the Matrix, or those two 10 year old girls who giggled at nothing throughout Return of the King, I’d be more impressed. With HD quality movies now available legally the cinema is going to show a natural decline unless it’s starts to offer a better experience overall, or is that already loaded as another thing to blame on Piracy?
Frankly I think the statistics and outrage that comes out of the film industry in respect of Piracy is as unbelievable as some of their plots, and even less enjoyable.


Understanding Paramount – HD-DVD on the rise

If you listened to both sides in recent months regarding to who’s winning the high definition video war it was like listening to an outrageous claims competition between Comical Ali and Baron Münchhausen. Sony’s made something of take-over bid for corporate BS in the last couple of years, but I would trust the claims of the HD-DVD gang either. They’re both arguing the toss over total numbers of sales that a typical DVD blockbuster movie might accrue alone.
But what’s really stoked up the fires of decent is the announcement that having been playing both sides Paramount has now decided to chop it’s interest in Blue-ray and put it’s energies into HD-DVD only! Considering how much ‘we’re winning!’ glee we’ve seen from Sony recently this appears to fly in the face of commercial logic. That assumes Sony weren’t full of it, and that HD-DVD wasn’t actually making real inroads.
Myself, I’m a friend of the third way. Given the pathetic numbers both formats has achieved any lead by either side could easily be overtaken, once (and if) a format becomes accepted. I’d suggest Paramount is thinking that it doesn’t really care which one wins, but it’s only prepared to spend time and effort releasing on one, what with the numbers being currently so poor.
So which one? It didn’t matter which one, they just picked it out of a hat, or kicked a movie executive off an high building with HD-DVD on his front and Blu-Ray on his back, whichever way up he landed.
I think it might have come down to how much Sony asks in licensing per disc, but it’s purely academic, they wanted to support only one and they picked HD-DVD for whatever reason.
Doing this now doesn’t stop them coming back and supporting Blu-ray if Sony manages to make it fly, but it reduces the overhead for supporting HD this financial year. The trouble is with decisions like this is they might be read by other Blu-ray supporters that Paramount knows something they don’t, making them nervous. And with Christmas coming and both Transformers and Bourne Ultimatum exclusively on HD-DVD they might get tempted to jump ship to be part of that. Whatever happens this change of tack by Paramount might well have big implications for the future success of HD-DVD, unless something equally unexpected happens to brighten Blu-ray’s day.

UPDATE: The New York Times has spilled the beans on a rumoured $150m kicker that Paramount and DreamWorks Animation will get for making their commitment to HD-DVD, but then says it’s quoting an executive who wishes not to be named! This all sounds rather murky to me, and I’m curious what incentives have been offered to Blu-ray supporters to stay with that technology, and where this money actually came from. This agreement supposedly on last 18 months, so HD-DVD might only be buying short-term friends. But it will be interesting to see if this is $150m well spent, wherever it came from.


HD-DVD vs Blu-ray – who cares?

HD or not?In the last few days I’ve seen the reporting or ‘research data’ that suggests Blu-ray is sales are declining, while HD-DVD are gathering pace. But a few months back the same sites where reporting the opposite, with Blu-ray gaining a distinct lead in players sold and discs shifted.
I’m getting concerned by this coverage, because I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that both formats are failing. Why? Well the numbers they’re talking about are minuscule when compared with the sales and market penetration of DVD, and I don’t see the point at which the HD formats will take over on the horizon – even a long way off!
That’s not to say I’m not impressed by the technology. I’ve had the capability for both formats for a while, and a TV that can do them justice, and the results can be breathtaking. On well prepared discs (Batman Returns, being a prime example) the clarity of the image is exceptional, to the point that for many movies I’d be happy to accept this format than trundle down to my local Cinema.
But I’m lucky, I invested in a 1080p TV and the other equipment arrived in my lap because I’m an IT journalist. If that hadn’t been the case I’d of been looking at an investment of over £2,000 to get the full experience HD. That’s got to come down drastically before people start buying into it.
What also slightly disappoints me is the way that this technology went about achieving what it did, by increasing the capacity of the discs massively, requiring new laser diodes to achieve the data granularity they required. Anyone who’ seen a DivX conversion of a DVD will have realised that it’s entirely possible to put HD quality movies onto existing DVD format discs by using superior compression technology. So why didn’t they do that? The players would have been a £100, and the format could easily have been deployed on flippable discs. But no, we’ve got two opposing formats, each saying they are the one winning this battle, and the average Joe isn’t buying either.
I’d contest that something else is going to come along, possible a media-less HD download service, that’s going to kick them both into touch, which is probably what they deserve.