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Geekology

Bluray vs. HD-DVD

Since the question of BD vs. HD has been a popular one lately, I thought I would post my opinion here and direct people to it rather than repeating myself.

I am not a believer of playing video on a PC, so if you want to go that route, all I can say is that the path is fraught with land mines, you’ll spend a lot of time setting it up, and it will also be very costly. If you must play BD or HD on a PC, I recommend purchasing a pre-configured system rather than trying to cobble one together yourself. And at all costs avoid the Toshiba HD player application that may or may not come installed with their notebook systems (Cyberlink or Intervideo are better choices, but get them pre-installed on the system rather than purchasing separately).

Short answer: PS3 is the way to go. Unbeatable value because Sony is subsidizing your purchase. Also unbeatable quality, stability, and performance.

Long answer:

It was no contest to bet on BD a few months ago until Toshiba paid Paramount/Dreamworks $150 million for an 18 month exclusive on HD. Now its not so certain, but BD is still outselling HD.

UPDATE: There are rumours that Paramount, Dreamworks, and NBC/Universal will be dropping their HD-DVD exclusivity in the wake of Warner Bros. siding with Bluray.

UPDATE2: In the 2nd week after the WB announcement, BD discs outsold HD discs by a factor of 6:1. HD-DVD is effectively dead.

Pro-BD arguments:

– Studio advantage, more momentum. Studios: Sony, Disney, Columbia, Fox, Lionsgate, Miramax, New Line, Warner Bros.
– Higher capacity
– Blockbuster, Target are BD exclusive
– Writable BD-ROM available now
– 1.2 million PS3’s were sold in the last 5 weeks of 2007. This extends the BD player install base hugely, even when you account for the people who never use this as a video player
– HD on Xbox360 may be cheap, but quality sucks and may turn people away when comparing directly against PS3, or any other player for that matter. That is, provided that the 360 can even get through an entire HD without hanging with the red ring of death

Pro-HD arguments:

– Cheaper players (note that the cheapest players do not support 1080p)
– Studios: Universal, Dreamworks, Paramount, Weinstein
– BD has more adaptible copy protection (studios win, consumers lose)
– BD has this dumb java interface which makes the disk navigation less user friendly

With above arguments, major advantage goes to BD. However, there is still argument for getting an HD player if there’s a title that you have to have right now and it isn’t available on BD and you can’t wait.

Comparing players, here is why you should get a PS3:

– Most players have “sufficient” decode performance to decode HD/BD disks produced today, but are so marginal that controls are sluggish and load times are long. State of the art GPU performance on a PC is also marginal at max bitrate, don’t let those low CPU utilization numbers on your PC fool you (the low CPU means that controls will be responsive, but won’t protect you from frame drops with high bitrate content). PS3 has roughly 2x of the required performance and is capable of decoding 2 max bitrate BD streams simultaneously (all SW decode on the Cell processor). This is more future proof against future BD’s (most BD/HD’s are not full bitrate yet)
– PS3 is SW updatable over the internet, so no worries about future incompatibilities. Many console players are reported to be buggy even now with the small released library of titles.
– PS3 has exceptional legacy DVD playback. They have high quality upsample and deinterlacing, and the output can be nearly indistinguishible from BD unless you compare side by side. You are getting a $2000 DVD player for $500.
– PS3 has bonus features, like playing games, media player, wirelessly stream media from your PC, web browser, etc.

PS3 downsides:

– When you start using lots of cycles, the fan kicks on. Try to isolate the PS3 so the fan noise is directed away from the listener, or in a different room. It’s not a leaf blower but it would be noticeable to an audiophile. I’ve only had one lockup on the PS3, browsing a specific web page, and never for playing video (DVD or BD or youtube) or games.
– Cannot use any IR based universal remote. All controls are through the bluetooth game controller.
– The user interface is designed to be used with the game controller. It doesn’t suck, but it won’t be as intuitive as a dedicated console. Pay the $25 to get the PS3 BD remote.

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