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Sony vs. Toshiba HD arguements - schoolyardish, yeah?...

by shawnlin / August 19, 2008 11:12 AM PDT

for a somewhat humorous take on the latest Sony vs. Toshiba episode...

It seems like Toshiba is still bitter about the HD medium war, huh? The latest strategy to make Sony's product irrelevant seems smart , but really has that "Well, ya know I think the HD format thing is just STOOOOPID ANYHOW!" tinge, right?

Imagine, with me, if you will, that this is a schoolyard squabble between Sony and Toshiba...

Sony: You're just jealous aren't you Toshiba? You've gotta be - otherwise you'd join my side.

Toshiba: Pfffttt, whatever Sony. My stuff is soo good, you don't even know! My stuff is just as good as yours and people like me more because they'll have more money in their pockets. I'm gonna kick you're butt right out of every store soo fast you're circuits are gonna fry! You want your Blu-Ray, I got your Blu-Ray right...

Teacher: CHIIIIILLLLDRRREEEEENN! BOTH OF YOU, HERE, NOW! You two have to learn to appreciate each other. If you can't, neither of you is going to have recess and I'm going to make you both, together do a 5000 word paper on the invention of the light bulb!

Sony: <mumbling> He started it </mumbling>

Toshiba: <mumbling> You paid your way to win </mumbling>

Teacher: What was that!?

Sony/Toshiba: <mubling> nothing... </mumbling>


P.S. - I'd love to see a similar conversation in the Star Wars universe where Sony is the Empire and Toshiba is the Rebel Alliance Wink

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I'm with Toshiba on this one
by Slikkster / August 19, 2008 7:56 PM PDT

Yeah, Toshiba's not giving in on the BluRay front --yet, anyway. But I'll give the props for seeing what the rest of the market sees: Decent upscaling of standard 480p DVD's looks plenty good on HDTV's. Yes, I can see the difference with BluRay/HD-DVD vs. regular DVD's, but nevertheless, it's not the quantum visual leap that it would need to be to really sway the masses.

Add to that the ridiculous pricing structure that BluRay manufacturers are using right now, and it's obvious that Sony, et. al., might just snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Seriously, $300+ for a baseline BluRay player? Were the BD association to start marketing these things in the $100-$150 region, it would easily make up whatever shortfalls they might have on the profit margin front with volume.

I know, I know...I'm going to hear "But they have to recoup their development costs", blah blah blah. Well, it ain't happening. Sure, Sony's selling more PS3's, but Moms and Pops aren't going to be buying consoles to play DVD's. They need to dramatically lower the prices on BD players (baseline players, that is) or there's going to be plenty of room for more innovation on the standard DVD side.

So Toshiba's still smarting from HD-DVD; 'tis true. But you have to acknowledge that it's darn smart business sense to capitalize on an upscaler that will do 1080p (vs. 1080i) to cater to the overwhelming majority of consumers who haven't bought or bought into the BluRay world. I think it's pretty funny, actually.

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by Nicholas Buenk / August 19, 2008 10:17 PM PDT

I think the move from DVD to HD. Is more significant than the move from VHS to DVD.

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Couldn't disagree more
by Slikkster / August 20, 2008 12:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Personally..

VHS to DVD was a much greater leap in visual quality vs. DVD to HD from a regular consumer's perspective. I'm not talking about geeks here; I'm talking about non-techie types who make up the majority of the population.

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Well lets do the maths
by Nicholas Buenk / August 20, 2008 3:03 AM PDT
In reply to: Couldn't disagree more

VHS is comparable to about 320x240
So that's 76800 pixels
DVD = 340 600 pixels
720p = 921 600
1080i = 1 555 200
1080p = 2 001 280

Yeah, so 1080p which is Blu Ray is a 580% increase in pixels over DVD.
And DVD is a 443% increase in pixels over VHS.

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Good comparison of numbers, what about features though?...
by shawnlin / August 20, 2008 3:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Well lets do the maths

That's honestly the first time I've seen those numbers stacked against each other - thanks for that!

However, one thing I like about the DVD format is the different audio tracks (commentary from director, cast, etc.). I also think the menu system is really helpful. Oh, and don't forget about the bonus features too... For me, I regularly use the bonus features and occasionally use the director's commentary tracks.

So, for me, when you include all that the VHS-->DVD jump is maybe just as good as the DVD-->HD jump...maybe...



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The jump will only be noticeable on larger HD sets
by minimalist / August 20, 2008 8:57 AM PDT

So the question is what is the average size HDTV being sold today? If its 27 or 32 inches HD may never become mainstream.

If its 42 or 46 then you will definitely see a big jump in quality from SD DVD to HD content (not only in resolution but in color saturation and contrast which doesn't get mentioned a lot). And yes, even my 79 year old mother and father noticed noticed the jump so I'd say thats about as mainstream as it gets.

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But can you tell the difference?
by mattlp / August 20, 2008 5:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Well lets do the maths

Ok, the numbers are compelling. However, I'm basing my feelings on whether I can tell the difference. I've gone to the big box stores and studied the different displays. I see a small difference between HD and DVD. Not very much. In it's time, I saw a much bigger difference between VHS and DVD. So for a casual viewer, I think the VHS to DVD shift is bigger.

There are also so many factors for each individual. How big is the screen, is it 1080 vs. 720, etc. ? I only have a 42 inch plasma. Can't tell a significant difference. I tried it w/ HD DVD -- I bought a Toshiba at $99 to use as an upscaling DVD player. I've rented some HD DVDs. A little better. Can't see much of a difference. My wife couldn't tell which DVDs were HD. (OK, I know it wasn't testing Blue Ray vs. upscaling DVD, but the best I can do.)

I recognize the difference in the amount of content the Blue Ray can hold, but it doesn't compel me. I don't view the other info that often. When I add the price of a Blue Ray player(s - one for each tv), the cost to replace my DVD collection, and the additional cost of each Blue Ray disc ($10 or more per disc), I just can't justify it. I'm sure a videophile can. And I hope Blue Ray stays around so everyone has the option. But I hope it stays just an option, but know someday I will probably have to move with the rest of the market. I remember the day I realized that Blockbuster was cutting back on the VHS selection. That forced me to move my second TV to DVD as well.

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FYI the "HD" feeds at those stores are horrible
by minimalist / August 20, 2008 9:02 AM PDT

The length of cable they need to power all those tvs simultaneously seriously degrades the quality (it gets grainy and fuzzy). The only displays that seem to have good quality content running on them are the end cap demos dedicated to Blu-ray or other HD sources.

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It depends on the set up
by Nicholas Buenk / August 20, 2008 6:36 PM PDT

And here is the whole problem I think. You need a HD TV. But not all HD TV's are able to show the full resolution of Blu Ray. You need a living room set up so that you sit within the right distance from the screen to be able to make out every pixel. That's around a distance of 1.5x to 2x the screen size.
I don't think most people really are able to build a decent HD set up, or have experienced one.

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This is true
by minimalist / August 20, 2008 11:03 PM PDT

I have seen people put their brand new 32" HDTV's 16 feet across the room from their sofa. This is just a waste of ANY HD signal (720p included).

I'd really like to see data on what size HDTV's the average household is buying too.

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by Slikkster / August 20, 2008 6:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Well lets do the maths

Maybe we're talking about two different things here. I'm talking about how CONSUMERS see the change. You're talking about pixel counts. Trust me on this one: most consumers don't give a rat's !!! about pixels. If I called my mom (or yours, for that matter), I'm pretty sure she couldn't tell me a darn thing about pixels.

Going from VHS to DVD gave people more convenience, potentially much better quality, menus, non-linear tracking (scene selection), digital audio, extras, smaller packaging, etc.

BluRay is an improvement upon DVD. The media size is dimensionally the same, and there's backwards compatibility with the DVD format.

The rub for BluRay manufacturers is that many people haven't yet seen a reason to upgrade to it. Their DVD's look fine on HDTV's, and if they don't have an HDTV, it's ludicrous to even think many would buy a BluRay player.

So, videophiles and audiophiles will argue all day long about the benefits of BluRay. But right now, to the masses, it's a luxury many people feel they just don't need. Remember, you absolutely must think about the common person and not someone who's tech savvy. Most people are NOT tech savvy. They just want to plop a DVD into their player, and see a nice picture on their HDTV. Current DVD players --particularly ones that upscale-- do that nicely, as do many HDTV's, themselves.

THAT'S why I say the move from VHS to DVD was more significant. We went from analog into the digital realm (even if people still fed their TV's an analog output). Bluray hasn't changed that, and I'm not alone in thinking that for many, there's no compelling reason to spend hundreds of dollars for something that many might say "Is this all there is?"

The day may come when there will be heightened expectations of how movies should look on an HDTV. We're not there; not by a long shot. And if the Blu-Ray consortium thinks that $300-400 is a good price point to get people to upgrade, they're seriously misguided.

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One little rain cloud...
by milkky / August 21, 2008 1:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Pixels???

I agree with your statement:
<Going from VHS to DVD gave people more convenience, potentially much better quality, menus, non-linear tracking (scene selection), digital audio, extras, smaller packaging, etc.>

But you know what I STILL missed (until I got a DVR)? The great ease of recording sequentially on the same tape, and then just pop in another and record over whatever was on that one. DVDs never got that licked well enough for me use them for simple daily timeshifting, at least not at a price low enough nor at a technology low enough to have my wife use it comfortably.

So, at least to me, one critical important feature--probably the primary reason people used them in the first place--would have been lost by switching to DVD only and kept the older tech in my life unitl I got a TiVo.

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There are already 1080p upscaling players
by minimalist / August 19, 2008 11:26 PM PDT

for a lot cheaper. You can get them for as low as 50 or 60 bucks now. And the irony is they are unnecessary for most people who have HDTVs as the TV's already have better upscaling circuitry than these players.

And Blu-ray may or may not become as ubiquitous as DVD but it won;t be because the prices are too high right now. We are only 2 years into the format's life cycle. In 1999, just two years into DVD's life cycle, cheap DVD players still cost 350-400 dollars and discs routinely sold for 30 bucks. It took 5 years for DVD to become the mainstream choice. People have very short memories.

I think assigning love or hate to companies is silly though. Neither Toshiba or Sony are my friends. They are both businesses out to make money. All this "but we're the people's choice" nonsense is just a bunch of posturing.

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I think...
by Nicholas Buenk / August 20, 2008 12:11 AM PDT

The real problem is lack of good set ups and people not really knowing what they're missing or how to set up what they're missing.

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Invalid comparison, imo
by Slikkster / August 20, 2008 1:09 AM PDT

I hear this argument a lot; that DVD players were very expensive in their infancy. But that was an absolutely complete paradigm shift in media playback devices vs. VHS/Beta video tapes. Here you're talking about a more incremental change insofar as what consumers see. BluRay will still play your DVD's. You would have been hard-pressed to put a VHS tape in a DVD player, although I'm certain some people tried, lol. Given that there's no reason to have to abandon one's video collection (a la VHS) with the format change, the product cycle time you cite doesn't apply in my view. We can agree to disagree on that, however.

As for the upscaling, sure, there are cheapos out there. And I haven't seen outright reviews for this one yet. But engadget got its hands on one, and here's what they said:

"If you're looking for something to magically make DVDs look like HD, this isn't it, but it bests Toshiba's best upconverter easily, and we'd venture to guess it's probably tops yours as well."

I do agree with you that oft times built-in scalers in HDTV's can outperform some of these DVD players. That said, though, my cheapo Toshiba HD-DVD does a really nice job in upscaling, and, according to Endgadget, at least, this new box surpasses anything they've put out before. That would include the upscalers built into the HD-DVD boxes, as I read that.

I, too, have no love for either company. I'm no fanboy, and I always wonder about people that get sucked up into becoming huge devotees of one company's products when all the company really cares about is making a profit.

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BR disc has a higher Storage capacity.....
by techmulticast / August 20, 2008 2:05 PM PDT

I feel for BR the quality of HD is a just minor factor. It is the memory size of BR disc that makes BR significant. If flash memory can hold as much as BR disc, flash memory is my preferred choice.

I understand download might be the future but I have doubt ir will kill off portable hard disk, thumb drive or optical disc like BR.

I am not a Sony or Toshiba fanboy. I wish both companies do well. However if Toshiba, still see BR is all about HD then I really hope they would rationalise it again. Unless they want to be stuck selling "DVD player" which will eventually end up like type-witer.

I hope Toshiba spend more time in making higher capacity flash drive or optical drive or what have U. Maybe they are doing it....

Maybe it is so chaeap to do the upconversion tech, that they can just launch and earn quick money, out of it for the time being. I hope that is the case for Toshiba.

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