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Abraxas

High Definition Video

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Wibby and I have been having this discussion on another forum about the relative merits of Sony's Blu-Ray vs. Toshiba's HD-DVD specification.

I'll be the first to admit that Blu-Ray is the technically superior format, with greater storage capability being only one of its relative merits. However, just as in the bad old days of VHS vs. Beta, being best isn't the only side of the issue. Toshiba was first to market by about a year, and is now on a generation 2.5 series of machines, with a substantial reduction in unit cost per machine. I bought the Toshiba HD-A2 model online for $375 from Beach Camera, which included free ground shipping and no tax (I love the internet).

The Sony machines were a year late to market, along with the PS3, due to a claimed shortage of blue LED's. Oddly enough, Phillips NV, who also makes Blu Ray machines, has no such problem, and the first generation combo Blu-ray/HD-DVD players don't even need it, so that argument can be dismissed as ridiculous. The first generation Blu Ray machines (the current ones) were all clunky, with real performance/responsiveness problems. Toshiba had the same problem, but that was a year ago. The generation 2.5 player I bought, while slower to react than my old DVD player, is worlds faster and more responsive than the the first generation machines of either format, which you would expect as the designs are refined.

Finally, we come to the real crux of the matter, and why I bought a HD-DVD player last week: Price. John or Jane Q. Public, when faced with little or no difference in picture quality, will always go for the cheaper solution. Visually, there is little to no difference in picture quality between the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players, but there is a substantial difference in price. As I already mentioned, the HD-DVD players have the benefit of being farther down a declining cost/manufacturing curve, and can be had for under $400, if you look carefully (mine included an offer for 3 free HD DVD movies). The cheapest Blu Ray player I've seen is the Sony PS3, which has issues of its own, but can be had for $600 (if you can find it). I have seen the defective Samsung first generation machine advertised in some locations in the $550 range, but be prepared to handle a firmware upgrade to get it to work correctly (the firmware settings are overfiltering the signal, removing picture detail, meaning it looks about the same as a $100 upconverting DVD player), something it has in common with the PS3 according to reports from PS3 users. Most Blu Ray machines cost something north of $900 each. If Sony wants to stay in this business, they need to get a cost competitive player on the market, and soon.

There are some combo format players starting to hit the market, the first, from LG, costs over $1000. Too rich for my blood. Still, this may be the way forward, since the various studios seem to be hardening their positions behind their respective format choice. Now all we need is a reasonably priced combo format player, but that's still likely a year or more away (I define reasonable as something in the $350 range). Warner Brothers (if I remember correctly) is proposing a new disc format that would have Blu-Ray on one isde, and HD-DVD on the other, another smart compromise, but so far, they're the only studio getting behind the idea.

I sat down in front of my 65 inch Mitsubishi DLP set last night and watched Serenity and Sahara in HD DVD...and it was awesome. I can't wait to get it hooked up to the surround system, but am waiting to for the optical interconnect cable to arrive (it costs too much in the stores, like $45-55 for a three foot cable, which is ridiculous).

Anyway, the point is this: whichever format you support, we've finally got dvd players on the market whose picture quality can, at last, take advantage of a 1080p TV set. :icon_geek::bunny:

Happy viewing!

Abraxas

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I sat down in front of my 65 inch

I hate men who brag about their 65 inches. I feel horribly inadequate with a pair of 42 inchers. Damn you.

Seriously, I'm out on a limb saying BluRay is going to win this, ending Sony's also-ran status with superior but higher-priced technology that invariably loses out to crappier, but cheaper formats. The list is long: Beta, 8mm, hi8, miniDisc(audio), etcetera.

Either way, unless you're a true geek, you probably should sit this one out for a bit.

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The sad reality is that both formats are not doing well. The studios are panicking at the realization that consumers are not flocking to purchase HD players (including Blu-Ray) in big numbers.

I think ultimately, what will happen is that the various firms will realize that there's too many dollars at stake to fight about compatibility, and there will be enormous price drops on combo Blu-Ray/HD-DVD players. I suspect an under-$600 combo unit will be out by the end of the year.

Note also that there's been a few minor industry scandals about picture quality problems with early discs and players. (HD is a major part of my day job, so I know more than I can say about it.) Let's just say that newer discs will look and sound better than the old ones. Once again, early adopters who jump into formats like this can get stung.

I've bought into (almost literally) every video format going back to Betamax in 1976 and laserdisc in 1980, and I'm discouraged that things are so screwed-up in HD-land. You'd think that the manufacturers and studios would learn from the sad lessons of history, but it's not happening quickly.

BTW, my partner and I own four HD sets (including three projectors), and so far, we've resisted investing in any recording gear except for HD Tivos. We're going to be a lot more cautious about this stuff than we've been in the last 20+ years.

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A couple of questions, if I may (Please excuse my naivety, but I still have an ordinary DVD player and a TV).

Is the actual difference between DVD and Hi Def really that marked? I know everyone says it's phenomenal ... but is it actually worth the extra money.

I'm in a band, and we are thinking of getting a projector for stage (which I can use at home too). Is it worth going HD for it?

Thanks,

Camy

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A couple of questions, if I may (Please excuse my naivety, but I still have an ordinary DVD player and a TV).

Is the actual difference between DVD and Hi Def really that marked? I know everyone says it's phenomenal ... but is it actually worth the extra money.

I'm in a band, and we are thinking of getting a projector for stage (which I can use at home too). Is it worth going HD for it?

Thanks,

Camy

Camy;

I think it is, but then the difference in picture quality between North America's analog NTSC standard and digital HD is much broader than between HD and the PAL television system used across most of Europe. I lived in London for two years and can tell you I really noticed the difference in quality when I came back to the states, with ours being noticeably worse than yours.

If you lived here, I'd say sure, that you could find a high definition projector for a reasonable price increase over the "standard' projectors. Given that I have no idea what the british market looks like these days, I'd hesitate to give you any advice other than go find a good electronics shop and view the difference for yourself, and then see if you can afford the price difference.

Finally, the drivers behind the transition might be different. Here in America, the federal government has mandated that digital HD be the standard transmitted for 'over the air' television by 2009, so you'll either have to update your TV to an HD capable set, or buy a 'converter' box. The reasons are all economic. Our government plans to re-sell the radio frequency spectrum currently in use by the old analog television stations: spectrum liscenses worth billions to the US Federal treasury. I have no idea if there is any such requirement going on in Europe, so again this may, or may not be a driver for you to consider. If it isn't, and you don't see much of a quality difference, save yourself a few quid...you can always spend it on something else. On the other hand, if, like me, you enjoy your movies as sharp, bright, and crisp as at the theater, you might want to consider it an investment in the future.

Cheers;

Abraxas

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I'm in a band, and we are thinking of getting a projector for stage (which I can use at home too). Is it worth going HD for it?

Thanks,

Camy

Camy I have been involved with quite a few live shows that use a back-drop of video image.

The newer HD projectors do give a much better picture allowing it to be bigger than the older systems.

Generally DLP projectors are preferred over LCD.

The price is dropping all the time. We paid 15,000 Australian dollars two years ago for a DLP projector that is now around $6ooo, and is brighter.

It all depends on your venue and your desired effects.

Many clubs and venues have their own projectors now.

Don't forget that screens can influence the projected quality considerably.

As you live in the UK you can go directly to Harkness Screen and buy a screen direct from them at considerable cost savings.

See them at: http://www.harknesshall.com/home_uk.htm

As for DVD quality on a home TV I couldn't justify getting excited about it.

Standard DVD is better than VHS tape. The same kind of difference is just not there for me with Blue-ray or HDV compared to standard DVD. Time will tell.

I would in any case wait it out to see who wins the Blue-Ray HD wars in software.

As an aside I recently had (at work) a Chinese disc and specially imported player that we were told was going to be the next DVD format after Blue-ray. No further details were provided but the signal did have to be converted for the projector to screen it.

The mind boggles!

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Thank you very much. I had no idea, and of course, now I have another question.

Generally DLP projectors are preferred over LCD.

Why? A DLP projector seems to have an awful lot that can go wrong with it. I gather that DLP produces more light, so can be used in a brighter environment, but as we'll be moving our projector around a lot, would it still be the best choice?

I didn't realize that the screen made such a big difference either ... now, having turned on my brain, it seems obvious! :bunny:

Thanks again,

Camy

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Hi Camy,

DLP projectors are the preferred type for cinema use as they are thought to give a better image quality.

This is based on what we Australians are being told are the minimum standards required for cinemas by Industry leaders.

The Panasonic 5000 series is being paraded as a minimum specification.

The current model is

Panasonic PT D5600E - DLP Projector.

This model number may be different in various countries.

I don't think this is necessarily the best for your application but does represent the low end of the scale for cinema projection.

It is a single chip design. (I have no association with Panasonic other than as an end user)

Any projector that is going to travel should be packed in an aluminium transport case that offers foam shock protection from rough handling that occurs during transportation. Also make sure you let it cool down before transporting it.

There are many different models and types of projectors coming out on to the market all the time.

Be wary of:

Running costs

Additional charges for a different or extra lenses.

Lamp Life,

Number of permitted hours of continuous operation,

Control interface for external computer (very handy for performance work)

Lamp replacement costs.

Actual light output.

Consider this last item by direct comparison with your final choices. Some specifications are made to look better than they are.

In your position I would be looking at contacting cinema suppliers as a good way of finding out what is currently on offer. Specials do exist at this end of the market.

Also you may find that recommendations from other bands might prove useful.

Look long and hard, research the alternatives very thoroughly.

You can be almost certain that the local department store or DVD, Video shop, discount store, will only have the domestic projectors that will probably be too limited for anything other than a small display in a pub environment.

The other thing to watch is overall price. It is possible to spend $200,000 and still not get what you need.

I know of one installation in Australia that spent $500,000 and it is virtually useless to them.

Also you could spend $30,000 this year and find that in order to keep up with the changing models you need to do the same next year.

So it makes sense from a cinema point of view at least to spend say $6-10,000 this year and budget for a new model of similar price in two years just to keep up with technology. It is changing that rapidly.

I think this might apply to your purposes as well.

I really believe that interactive video image with live performers is the way of future entertainment in theatrical venues.

The possibilities seem as endless as they are exciting.

An alternative would be for you buy a cheaper domestic projector for rehearsal and small venues, then if you go in for a big venue, you could always hire a projector for that night, if the venue did not have one of its own you could use.

Best of luck. :bunny:

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For your information, Broadcom (and probably others) is developing a chipset that will allow playing both the new formats on the same DVD machine. The chipset from Broadcom is expected to be ready by midyear. If the player manufacturers are on board as well, we should see dual-capability machines in the next year or so. From what I can gather, a dual set of laser readers is required in addition to the chip.

vwl

The sad reality is that both formats are not doing well. The studios are panicking at the realization that consumers are not flocking to purchase HD players (including Blu-Ray) in big numbers.

I think ultimately, what will happen is that the various firms will realize that there's too many dollars at stake to fight about compatibility, and there will be enormous price drops on combo Blu-Ray/HD-DVD players. I suspect an under-$600 combo unit will be out by the end of the year.

Note also that there's been a few minor industry scandals about picture quality problems with early discs and players. (HD is a major part of my day job, so I know more than I can say about it.) Let's just say that newer discs will look and sound better than the old ones. Once again, early adopters who jump into formats like this can get stung.

I've bought into (almost literally) every video format going back to Betamax in 1976 and laserdisc in 1980, and I'm discouraged that things are so screwed-up in HD-land. You'd think that the manufacturers and studios would learn from the sad lessons of history, but it's not happening quickly.

BTW, my partner and I own four HD sets (including three projectors), and so far, we've resisted investing in any recording gear except for HD Tivos. We're going to be a lot more cautious about this stuff than we've been in the last 20+ years.

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Is the actual difference between DVD and Hi Def really that marked? I know everyone says it's phenomenal ... but is it actually worth the extra money.

In theory, standard 1080 HD has about six times the resolution (aka apparent sharpness) of regular NTSC or PAL video. HD also has a native aspect ratio of 16x9 (1.78:1), so you get a picture about 20% wider than a regular squarish TV set.

Whether it's worth the extra cost is something each buyer has to work out for themselves. Note that just because a set is labeled as "digital" or "HD" doesn't guarantee a minimum quality level. There are $600 HD sets, and $50,000 HD sets, and they're as different in quality as a $10,000 car and a $100,000 car. There are also about 36 different kinds of "digital" video, all the way from essentially the same 525 TV we see every day, to quality beyond 1080. And there are other higher-res formats in the wings, including 2K and 4K data, which I encounter all the time at work. Things are changing fast.

But regular over-the-air U.S. analog broadcasting is going away. The main reason it's going away is so they can use all the space now occupied by VHF channels. All the future digital channels will be in the UHF band, and the FCC will make billions of dollars selling these frequencies for other uses, like new wireless telephones, data, downloads, and so on. But I bet many people will opt to buy a cheap ($50) convertor box that just converts digital broadcasts to analog, so they won't have to replace their sets.

I'm in a band, and we are thinking of getting a projector for stage (which I can use at home too). Is it worth going HD for it?

Not unless it's super-bright, no. On a stage, brightness and screen size are the biggest issues, not picture quality or HD per se. Projecting high quality movies at home and projecting concert images on stage are two completely different applications. It's like the difference between a public address system and a home stereo. Not the same thing.

If I were you, I'd rent a few comparable systems for a day or two and see if they produce the kinds of pictures you want to see on-stage. Don't forget you'll also need a good reflective screen (assuming the concert halls in which you perform don't have them already installed), and those are expensive and delicate. I like the E.J. Stewart screens, particularly the StudioTek 130 (which I own two of).

Bottom line: HD won't necessarily give your audiences a brighter, sharper picture on a large screen. A lot depends on the images feeding the projector. If it's a top HD camera, you have a fighting chance at reasonable picture quality. If it's just a cheap SD camera, the projector will have to up-rez it, and the quality can suffer. (Note also there are lipsync issues with some projectors, usually a frame or two late, meaning the projected image on-stage is a little "late" compared to the live performers.)

You can see, this is not a simple subject.

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Almost identical to the DRM in HD-DVD. Really. Different names and ways but the same thing ultimately.

The May, 2007 issue of Maximum PC magazine has an article on page 26 about programs that have cracked both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD disks so they can be copied to your hard drive and viewed on systems that don't have DRM-approved HDCP support. The article also tells how to get them and use then. Very cool!

Colin :biggrin:

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And just to update this six month-old thread, HD-DVD has been dead for a couple of months, and Blu-Ray is now the winner and new champion.

The real video format battle will be between Blu-Ray and "old" DVD. The studios are anxious for a new format to take over, so they can make more money as well as transitioning the whole business towards high-def.

Pundits insist that ultimately, all movie & music for home use will be strictly downloads, but I'm still not satisfied with the quality of either. HD downloads, now available from Apple's iTunes Music Store, look like crap. It's barely HD, only in the broadest technical sense of the word; 720p video, compressed to hell, still looks bad. Blu-Ray discs look 10 times better, in my opinion.

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