A Bloggish Post - Streaming versus Hard Copy?
Two questions for you – are DVD and Blu-ray discs becoming
pre-historic? Is streaming now a dominant part of your viewing entertainment?
I’ve accumulated hundreds (thousands) of physical DVD / Blu-ray discs, but don't
stream as a matter of... back-assed taste?
Netflix, Lovefilm? On-demand services in general? My
instant thought, not ‘another’ direct debit, please. I’m perfectly happy with
hard discs. Not only do they give me a feeling of tactile ownership, but I don’t
have to pay, once again to watch them and happy with the hard format.
Sure, I understand the convenience of click-and-watch films
and experienced on-demand services at many a 'film night'. However, when I
asked to watch, for example, Star Wars - A New Hope, convenience turned to an
awkward sense of embarrassment.
‘Sure’, they reply, smiling smugly and proceeding to
scroll through their chosen on-demand, on-line service, only to see their faces
fall when my request can’t be found. The same went for many other films
featuring classic 80s titles - “Sixteen Candles?” ‘Nooo’ “Can’t Buy Me
Love?” ‘Umm’ “The Sure Thing?” ‘Sorry mate’…
I’m not saying these films can’t be found on ‘every’
paid-for service - but not the ones I wanted, as a connoisseur of films released more than a
few years ago! This struck me as a little odd and I couldn’t help but think -
another monthly £5.99 down the tubes for streaming privileges?
We generally end up padding back to mine with a few beers to watch what they want. Impressed by my collection,
once again, a
spanking new Blu-ray disc is selected and we settle down to a high resolution
version of their own blockbuster choice. I have to add, on my unlocked
Toshiba Blu-ray player. My time to internalise a smug smile.
I've asked my more tech-minded mates what they think
of Blu-ray quality versus paid for streaming. The answer - after little beery discussion? A hard copy title running on decent, high-res' TV from a suitable
DVD player is a far superior experience.
So what am I driving at here? I think it’s becoming a wonky
case of the vinyl collector frowning upon downloaded ‘sounds’ from dubious
sources. Although - I can guarantee that Blu-ray will win hands down vis-à-vis
the record collector / back-in-the-day Spotify debate. Or to make myself clear,
watch a visually clear, audibly clean version of a film, rather than a
hoppity-skippity stream. You can fight me on this one if you like.
In conclusion, are you going to continue using a paid for
streaming choice, or get off the sofa and actually visit a shop for your
film collection? Come to that, you could remain snug on your sofa and use Amazon to
buy a new disc. Can you wait a couple of days for your DVD to arrive and get
that ‘something’s in the post’ thrill in the process?
know what my answer to that question might be - happy to grow my DVD and Blu-ray
collection as time goes on. And as you may be aware, second hand DVDs these days
can be bought for a £1 a throw at pound stores or open air markets. Come join the
Disclaimer: I have no 'usage' issue with either Netflix and Lovefilm - and
simply enjoy using Amazon.
During 2006, Blu-ray broke through to deliver a high definition format to
There is now a new step forward, that of Ultra HD Blu-ray DVD players and
associated discs. Sometime very soon you are going to have to make a another
decision regarding home video, ditch your Blu-ray collection and re-collect for
the likes of Ultra to fit 4k new televisions? It’s a big ask.
And that’s why, here at DVDExploder we believe Ultra HD Blu-ray may be slow to
appeal. I have to upgrade again I hear you ask? A minority of individuals have
bought into the 4k revolution, but it is slowly happening, giving Ultra HD Blu-ray
a slow burn affect in-store. But it’s going to happen anyway, lets be honest as
technology get’s cheaper.
For first time adopters, those that want a pixel perfect picture and sound to
blow you away, this development is a giant leap, especially from their bank
accounts – although, to be honest, they may not be disappointed to leave 1080p
to the dark ages of VHS.
This new-tech raises a few questions. Am I going to need another DVD player for
starters, or will my old system be able to handle the data? It seems obvious
right now that Internet data streaming from Netflix or Amazon is the direction
of home entertainment, although this leaves a further question; will your
current provider be able to cope with Ultra? After all, pixel perfect
viewing will always be associated with a hard copy format.
Take a good look and you’ll notice that Blu-rays played from a 1080p device
appear much slicker than Netflix’s current stream rate - all based on your
home’s Internet speed. Can you handle the future of Ultra HD online – and do you really
want to buy another DVD player? Whichever way, you’re always going to need a DVD
code to make your wonder-device region free. Stay tuned.
Optical laser found to increase DVD storage space to one petabyte
our ever changing technological world, movie fans have been quick to switch to
digital downloads from static optical media. This poses the question, are DVDs
are becoming history in terms of home cinema? Sales statistics have highlighted
that Blu-ray discs have been the only optical source able to challenge this
shift, in part due to the upsurge of console use.
In the latest news, digital researchers have developed a laser that could
increase the capacity of the common 4.7GB DVD, or a 25GB Blu-ray disc to one
petabyte. That amounts to 1000 terabytes. Consider this against cheaper hard
drives currently on the market with the capacity for a single terabyte. Might
this new discovery bring the humble DVD returning for space in your collection,
potentially containing hundreds, if not thousands of films?
Swinburne University’s Centre for Micro Photonics have discovered that it is not
the disc in itself that would make this change, but the type of ‘laser’ that
reads the disc. In turn, this means that the current disc size and form would
remain the same.
So, in layman's terms, how did the Swinburne team get around what is described as Abbe’s Limit,
(Ernest Abbe, born 1840-1905 - optometrist
and entrepreneur) positing that a spot from a light beam directed through a lens, cannot be
smaller than half of its wavelength? In short, this limits the amount of data-bits
contained on the DVD disc format. Well, although Abbe’s Limit still remains
a sound theory, the team did find a loophole.
To start, the team used a standard laser to write data, after which they placed
a doughnut shaped laser around the first to hinder the capacity of the ray,
making the standard ray’s diameter far tinier and in the process, writing
smaller bits. This technique has great benefits, as the technology is both
easily transportable and inexpensive. Furthermore, the success of this
experiment uses simple optical and laser-beam apparatus.
Regrettably, a real-time release date for this data storage invention has yet to
be revealed to the public. However, for film and data storage lovers globally,
the sooner this new device hits the market, the better.
Blu-ray outsells DVD this Christmas, says Asda
Blu-ray players have finally outsold DVD players over the
Christmas period, as the format starts to dominate the market five years after
However, Blu-ray has not seen such a definitive rise over DVD players, compared
to VHS's domination over Betamax in 1980s.
Asda feels that Blu-ray's modest growth is due to a "more subtle" difference in
Blu-ray supports a maximum resolution of 1920x1080 (1080p), while DVD is limited
to 720x576 (480p).
Blu-ray also uses enhanced compression technology to produce smooth contrast and
richer colours, superior to that of even high-definition satellite TV images.
Asda feels that with HD TVs becoming more common in UK homes, Blu-ray's superior
picture quality and ability to 'upscale' standard DVDs is "at last poised to
fulfil its potential".
Wayne Steenson, the vision expert at Asda, said: "More and more UK homes are now
equipped to enjoy the full benefit of high-definition Blu-ray discs and we're
pleased to be offering Blu-ray players at the lowest price in the market."
Government to close cheap DVD and Blu-ray loophole
So – the government wants a level playing field regarding
taxation, but refuses to look at mysterious DVD player region restrictions…
DVDExploder says, ridiculous!
The UK government has introduced a scheme that could well totter cheap DVD
importers such as Play.com and Amazon - closing the loophole currently allowing
cheap importation of DVD, Blu-ray, and CD discs from the UK Channel Islands.
In short, as of 01/04/2012, some of our favourite retailers will no longer gain
the advantage of tax relief from Channel Island imports, meaning more expensive
DVDs for EU residents.
The government has already chopped the Low Value Consignment Relief maximum from
£18 to £15, as of 11/11/2011 (just in time for Christmas) - but was scrapped altogether in 2012. This is sad news considering that the UK and
Germany are the largest Blu-ray purchasers globally. Source, Twentieth Century
This means that online retailers may have to look further afield for cheap
imports, outside of the EU. DVDExploder says this will simply encourage the
thriving culture of DVD piracy. After all, who wants to pay the government extra
for the simple pleasures in life?
Here’s what David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury says about the
"These reforms will ensure that UK companies, especially small and medium-sized
enterprises, can compete on a level playing field with those larger companies
with the resources to set up operations in the Channel Islands."
Or is it simply a ruse, raising further taxes to finance our floundering
economy? David, please don’t use honest DVD and Blu-ray film fans to plug your
financial hole. It wouldn’t even touch the sides!
Sony Blu-ray Player - IN 3D
From cinema to your living room - the 3-D
viewing experience can be bought from a store near you. Sony have announced the
practically priced $200 BDP-S470, capable of reading 3-D discs using a new
A number of other Blu-ray players will also be 3-D compatible using the same
firmware upgrade - including the $250 BDP-S570, owing its higher cost to
built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi. However, both can access online services with an
Ethernet cable. The $550 BDV-E570 and $650 BDV-E770W Blu-ray home theatre
systems both become 3-D capable using a simple USB wireless adapter.
One Sony system that will miss out on 3-D glory is the BDP-S370, priced at just
All of these products have begun shipping and are available for purchase.
Denon S-5BD 'Cara' Blu-ray player announced
Denon has announced
the arrival of its latest all-in-one
Blu-ray system, the S-5BD.
The Denon S-5BD, or Cara as it is
more affectionately known, is
Denon's attempt at making its
high-end AV kit more affordable.
Combining an 5.1-channel surround
sound amplifier with a Blu-ray
player, Denon is incorporating
technology used in its £4,500
DVD-A1UD Blu-ray player, combining
it with an amplifier which pipes out
nearly 400W of sound.
Also on-board is a Compressed Audio
Restorer, which promises to get
better sound out of your MP3s and
support for Dolby Pro Logic and
Dolby TrueHD/DTSHD Master Audio.
The system is Profile 2.0 and HDMI
1.4 compatible, so you will be able
to spin those 3D-Ready Blu-ray discs
when they make an appearance later
in the year.
Price-wise, it's going to retail for
£1,999. Expensive, but compared to
some of the kit released by Denon,
it's a bit of a steal.
Blu-ray News: A Technology Too Far?
Blu-ray machines seemed destined to substitute basic DVD
technology after out-selling HD-DVD on the high street. Does this mean
that simple, reliable DVD have been usurped from our living rooms?
Strangely, although an average DVD player doesn’t match
Blu-ray’s high definition quality, Blu-ray sales have been slow – so
say Reevoo. In fact, since
Christmas ’08, simple ‘DVD’ has outperformed its big brother, selling
ten times as many units. Even Sony predicted a fall in sales for 2009.
This becomes more obvious when you look at pricing.
While Blu-ray players sell for around £200, you can pick up a decent
DVD player for less than £50. It begs the question – do people with a
large DVD collection really want to re-buy all their favourite movies
on a more expensive format, for a questionable increase in quality?
Another reason why Blu-ray sales are suffering could be
that many people happily record films from Sky+ straight to
hard-drive, or download to a PC, leaving no advantage to buying new,
relatively expensive hardware.
After all, DVD solved all the major VHS problems – a
cumbersome format that enslaved you to FF-RW buttons and left you
wondering how eliminate an irritating flicker at the top of the
screen. Remember all that? If you’re under 16, I doubt it.
In fact, Blu-ray owners might complain at the ponderous
response time of their players, with a frustrating gap between
pressing ‘play’ and the film actually starting. Have we somehow
slipped back a few years for the sake of a crisper picture? And what’s
the point of ‘high-definition’ anyway when your eyes aren’t 20-20?
Okay, so I’m playing Devil’s advocate with that one.
The bottom line here is that although Blu-ray offers
greater definition, just how much are we willing to spend to achieve
Blu-ray News: Blu-ray Production Costs Slashed
For a manufacturer, the development of
Blu-ray technology (including Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and CD) has been strained by a confused licensing
procedure. To integrate Blu-ray equipment into any DVD player or
DVD-ROM, manufacturers must liaise with every Blu-ray patent holder
and arrange a specific product license.
However, Sony, Panasonic & Philips (amongst other patent holders) have
joined forces to create a united licensing authority for all Blu-ray
manufacturers. An integrated licensing body will be run by an
independent company based in the United States, allowing all patent
holders to join as both a licensor and shareholder.
This will permit Blu-ray to grow as costs are discounted – around 40%
for patent fees alone. For every product produced, licenses will be
$9.50 for a Blu-ray Disc player and $14 for a Blu-ray Disc recorder.
Disc fees will be $0.11 for ‘read-only’, $0.12 for a ‘recordable’ and
$0.15 for a rewritable disc.
It seems that The Big Three have found a way to secure their
intellectual property and pool a great deal of money in one company.
Also, as royalties are paid in a more identifiable manner and
manufacturers are forced to meet contractual obligations, unlicensed
products will be highlighted in the market place. Indeed, a single Blu-ray
licensing company should ease license-compliance issues and make
chasing down non fee-paying offenders much easier.
With the creation of a new licensing body, Sony, Panasonic & Philips
must feel additional manufacturers turning their attentions to Blu-ray
and are jumping to secure future royalties. In fact, at CES 2009, a
number of China-based manufacturers displayed Blu-ray Disc players.
Although a big score for the intellectual property owners, a 40%
reduction in royalties with spell a win for consumers. As
manufacturing costs fall, shoppers could see lower in-store prices by
the end of the year. A decent Blu-ray player for $100 on the horizon?
It seems so!
Blu-ray/HD NEWS: Amazon Offering $50 Gift Certificate to HD DVD
In a move reminiscent of last month's Best Buy
offer, Amazon has begun contacting customers who qualify for a
$50 gift certificate for purchasing HD-DVD players.
In a company email that has begun going out to qualifying
customers, the company states that players purchased before
February 23, 2008, the same date specified in the Best Buy
offer, qualify for the gift certificate, which can be used for
new purchases on the site.
The email states, "New technologies don't always work out as
planned. We at Amazon.com value our customer relationships more
than anything and would like to support customers who purchased
these players by offering a credit good for $50." The
announcement does list some restrictions for the certificate's
Unlike the Best Buy offer, the company does not mention trade-in
options for HD DVD media, but does state that the "Amazon.com
Marketplace is available to sell items you might not want
anymore as you upgrade to new ones." Perhaps suggesting that
customer's might want to use their certificates to bring down
the price of a shiny new Blu-ray player.
The program will run through April 9, 2009, so customers have
plenty of time to take advantage of the offer.
Vanguard Ends HD DVD Support with 'Disco Pigs,'
Makes Move to Blu-ray
Indie Vanguard has confirmed that it will close
out its HD DVD support with the June release of 'Disco Pigs,'
and that it plans to begin releasing titles on Blu-ray later
Although Vanguard says there will be no official statement to
come, the company has released an updated high-def release
schedule that confirms they will no longer issue any new titles
on the format following the June 24 HD DVD debut of the Cillian
Murphy-starrer 'Disco Pigs.'
Also nixed from the company's schedule were two
previously-announced HD-DVD releases, 'The Low Life' and 'Animal
When asked for comment on Vanguard's future high-def plans, a
company rep told us that a move to Blu-ray is currently in the
planning stages for later this year. Initial titles and street
date information are yet to be determined.
BCI Moves to Blu, Cancels Upcoming HD DVD Slate
UPDATE 03/26/08: We've received word from BCI
that the 'Son of Paleface/My Favorite Brunette' HD DVD will be
available via select retailers as originally scheduled. The
company has no plans to support the format with any further
releases. We've updated our database accordingly.
BCI/Eclipse has announced it has become the latest indie to go
Blu, and has cancelled all previously-scheduled HD DVD titles.
The indie distributor was the first major indie to announce HD-DVD support in late 2006, with a line-up of diverse cult gems
that included 'Galaxina,' 'Golgo 13' and 'The Way of the World.'
After a delay of over a year, however, only 'Galaxina' finally
showed up in stores earlier this year, joining such recent BCI
HD DVD releases as 'Ultimate Force' and the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby
double-feature 'Road to Rio/Road to Bali.'
BCI had originally announced its latest HD-DVD title (another
Bob Hope double-header, 'My Favorite Brunette'/'Son of
Paleface') was due to hit stores this week, but it failed to
materialize on retail shelves. When asked for comment, a BCI rep
confirmed to us that the company has nixed the release, as well
any future support for the format.
Fans can still look forward to future next-gen BCI titles,
however, as they will continue to throw their weight behind Blu-ray
(the company has so far released 'Ultimate Force' on the format,
as well as the "double feature" titles, 'Night of the
Werewolf/Vengeance of the Zombies' and 'Sister Street
Fighter/Sister Street Fighter 2'). According to the rep, it is
planning a more aggressive Blu-ray line-up for later this year,
although exact titles and street dates have yet to be
With HD-DVD on its last
legs, it seems like a pretty good time to do a round up of some
of the best and most interesting Blu-ray players on the market.
Of course, it's not all a bed of roses for Blu-ray. Despite
having a lot of studio support, the players come in a variety of
capabilities and not one of them supports the same
BDP-S1E doesn't support
Profile 1.1, which means that if you buy it, you won't be able
to enjoy enhanced interactivity and picture-in-picture support.
A sniff around and you might get it for less than £500, but
that's still more expensive than
The good news is that if you
PS3, it's a good Blu-ray player. Some say it's the best
-- and they might be right -- because it's upgradable, has all
the features of Profile 2 and Profile 1.1, and can also play
PS3 games. You can pick one up for about £300 these days,
which means it's one of the better valued high-end players on
the market. Of course, this is because the
PS3 is being subsidised by
Sony. So if 20 million people bought one and never bought
Sony would go bust in three minutes flat.
If you don't want a Sony
player, then how about going for either the high end or the low
end? At the bottom of the range, there is the
Sharp BD-HP20H, which at
just £300 really is quite cheap for a standalone.
It doesn't support Profile
1.1, but then again neither does the
Pioneer BDP-LX70 and it
costs quite a lot more.
Sony has formally announced its
BDP-S300 Blu-ray player, which carries a $600 price tag, can
handle audio CDs, and leaves Samsung's current $1,000 offerings
twisting in the wind.
Sony has formally announced its
forthcoming BPD-S300 Blu-ray disc player, which the company
teased on Monday. At an estimated price around $600, the BCP-S300
will significantly undercut current price points for Blu-ray disc
players (currently around $1,000 for units like Sony's own BDP-S1)
when it ships "this summer," presumably leaving those
now-overpriced players to gather dust on dealers' shelves or be
sold at significant discounts to make way for the newer, younger,
Sony has said it expects prices for Blu-ray
players to drop to under $500 in time for for the 2007 end-of-year
The BDP-S300 supports BD-ROM,BD-Java, AVC-HD,
and standard DVD playback, as well as standard CD audio (a feature
not present on the BDP-S1). The system can also read MP3 audio and
JPEG images stored on DVD media. The unit offers HDMI and HD
component outputs for supporting 1080p and 1080i output,
respectively, along with optical and co-ax digital audio output,
with 5.1 channel decoding for backward compatibility with many
existing receivers. The player will also support discs encoded
with xvYCC, an international standard enabling larger color
spaces, which Sony implements under the name x.v.Color. The system
also supports Sony's Bravia Theater Sync, which—when used in
conjunction with Sony's new Bravia displays enables users to turn
on matching connected devices and switch inputs with the touch of
Expect the BDP-S300 "this summer"—in the
northern hemisphere, anyway—for around $600…before that, maybe
look for fire sales on existing Blu-ray players, if you can't wait
to take sides in the Blu-ray/HD DVD battle.
Blu-ray News: Blu-ray vs.
As far as Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD goes, it seems less and less likely that negotiation
will take place on a next generation format. The ongoing talks between the
two camps, seem to have entirely dissolved. This is a disappointment, as
the HD DVD and Blu-ray factions have wasted countless opportunities to
produce one universal disc. Anybody remember Betamax vs. VHS? In a few
short months we’ll have to make the decision ourselves as to what
generation we choose to buy into. Other than refusing to accept either
format we can at least try to appreciate the nature of the circumstances
Philips's development of the Laserdisc way back in 1969 yielded many of
the technologies Sony carried over and adopted when they partnered with
Philips. This helped create the groundbreaking CD in '79. The same
companies worked together again in the early 1990s to create a new
high-density disc called the MultiMedia Compact Disc (MMCD). However, this
format was eventually forsaken in favour of Toshiba's Super Density Disc (SD),
having the majority of backers at the time, including Mitsubishi, Hitachi,
Matsushita (Panasonic), Pioneer, Time Warner and Thomson.
The two factions cut a
deal, brokered by IBM president Lou Gerstner, on a new format – the common
DVD disc we all know and love. After the dust settled in 1995/1996 Toshiba
found themselves at the top of the pack, leaving Sony and Philips, who
weren't fully ‘in’ on the deal’s standard technology, to begin work on a
next generation system. Angered by this, Sony looked for new technological
developments to outdo its rivals. In fact the Professional Disc for DATA (PDD
or ProDATA), was based on an optical disc system Sony had been developing
in the background. This eventually became the Blu-ray disc. Not to be
outdone by the pair, Toshiba waded in with its next generation system -
the Advanced Optical Disc. This soon evolved into the HD-DVD.
Ye gods! 35 years after
the development of optical audio/video disc technology we see the same
battling techno giants, threatening to stomp all over the consumer
electronics industry. Okay, so here’s some technical clarification.
Blu-ray and HD-DVD
systems use the same 405nm wavelength blue-violet laser, although their
optics differ in two ways. Although the Blu-ray disc has a tighter track
pitch (the thread of data that spirals from the inside of the disc all the
way out – much like the groove on a 12-inch vinyl - it can hold more pits.
Think of pits as microscopic 0s and 1s. This means it can hold more data
on the same size disc as HD-DVD, even with a laser of the same wavelength.
Unfortunately, the differing track pitch of the Blu-ray disc makes its
pickup apertures differ, making its optics incompatible with HD-DVD
despite using lasers of the same type. If you’re interested, HD-DVD uses a
0.65 aperture versus 0.85 for Blu-ray. HD-DVD discs also have a different
surface layer, that’s the clear plastic surface of the disc holding the
data. HD-DVD uses a 0.6 mm-thick surface layer, while Blu-ray has a much
smaller 0.1mm layer, enabling the laser to focus its larger 0.85 aperture.
This is the main issue
associated with the higher cost of Blu-ray discs. The thinner surface
layer make the discs more expensive to produce, as Blu-ray discs do not
share the same surface thickness of DVDs. This means costly production
facilities must be modified or replaced in order to produce these discs.
To make production even costlier, a hard coating must also be applied to a
Blu-ray disc surface, making it tough enough to protect the data 0.1mm
beneath. Why bother? Well, the benefit of keeping a data layer closer to
the surface leaves more room for extra layers of data. Fantastic, more
room for films and data - other than the fact a Blu-ray disc costs much
more than the beloved DVD discs we have at home.
So now you know why Blu-ray discs cost more, and why
Toshiba are bashing our heads in trying to sell us their products. DVDExploder’s opinion..? Keep it simple with a HD-DVD. At least it will
give you the opportunity to unlock a ‘normal’ player and make them region
free using handset DVD codes.
For your information - the first Blu-ray DVD player has been launched! -
the Samsung BD-P1000.
The good: Plays Blu-ray discs in true high-definition; upscales standard DVDs to
high-definition; sleek design; 1080p output via HDMI.
The bad: Twice as expensive
as the competing HD-DVD player; very few titles available at launch; video
quality on initial titles less impressive than HD-DVD versions; slower
load times; some operational bugs.
The bottom line: With video
quality that's impressive but still not as good as its HD-DVD competition,
the costly Samsung BD-P1000 will appeal only to those willing to risk a
grand on a first-generation player in the middle of a format war.
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