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Which New DVD Format?

Posted by Parth Barot on June 22, 2006

What about the format war?

Yes, there are two incompatible types of high-definition DVD players: HD-DVD (backed by Toshiba, Microsoft, Sanyo, NEC and movie studios like New Line and Universal) and Blu-ray (backed by Sony, Apple, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Pioneer, Dell and movie studios like Sony, 20th Century Fox, Lions Gate and Disney).

Most movies will be available in only one high-def format. Whichever you choose, you won’t be able to play some of your favorite movies on DVD. Isn’t competition fun?

Which format plays movies better?

The two formats offer equally spectacular picture and sensational sound. The image is much sharper than before, and the detail is incredible.

Video buffs notice the difference right away. Most people, however, would notice a difference only if an ordinary DVD and a high-def DVD were playing side-by-side on big screens.

What about features?

Both DVD formats let you summon pop-up, on-screen menus without stopping the movie, so you can switch languages or change scenes without a detour to a main menu. Nice.

Both formats make possible new kinds of DVD extras, like picture-in-picture director commentaries (rather than just audio commentaries). And Blu-ray discs can offer a Scene Search function: a clickable menu of the actors and the scenes in which they appear.

All of this is so far theoretical, however. We here at high-definition-DVD-FAQs.com have sampled 10 early HD-DVD movies and 7 Blu-ray discs — and not one of them offers any of these features. In fact, for the most part, the DVD extras aren’t even in high definition. Clearly, the first order of business for the movie studios was just converting the actual movies to high-def DVD; filling in the blanks can come later.

Which is the best high-definition player?

You mean, of the two available so far?

The new Samsung Blu-ray player costs a cool $1,000 — twice as much as the Toshiba HD-DVD player that arrived last month. (Both players also play standard DVD’s, even “up-converting” them to improve the picture on high-def screens.)

Samsung concedes that $1,000 isn’t exactly pricing for the masses, and stresses that its new machine is intended for well-off early adopters. Which is sort of self-evident, isn’t it? “The target audience for this player is whoever will buy it. … ”

Then again, that $1,000 buys you a number of advantages over the Toshiba; for example, the Samsung is substantially smaller (17 by 12.1 by 3.1 inches). Lighter, too. And absolutely great-looking: the piano-black, pseudo-lacquered finish of the front panel wraps around to form the entire top surface. The front panel glows with cool blue accents.

The Samsung also has memory card slots, so that you can watch your digital camera’s pictures in high definition. They look really amazing that way.

In fact, Samsung must think they look really, really amazing; even in its fastest slide-show mode, each photo lingers on the screen for at least 15 seconds. We love our kids and all, but that’s about 12 seconds longer than necessary.

I heard that the Toshiba takes more than a minute to start playing a DVD. How about the Samsung Blu-ray deck?

Only 30 seconds.

That’s still not as fast as a traditional DVD player, though. And the Samsung introduces several-second pauses here and there — between the studio logo and the menu screen, between the menu and the start of the movie, and so on.

Samsung’s engineers fill these intervals with what may be the world’s worst “please wait” symbol: an hourglass icon, as in Microsoft Windows. It’s our guess that most people would rather be spared the constant reminder that they’ve stuck a glorified PC under their TV sets. What’s next — the Blu-ray Screen of Death?

The hourglass appears almost constantly during those excruciatingly slow photo slide shows. Worse, it appears right smack in the middle of each photo, often on a loved one’s forehead.

Source: @ Here

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2 Responses to “Which New DVD Format?”

  1. Alex said

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