Tag Archives | Blu-Ray

Sony Stumbles With Blu-ray to PSP Copy

blu-ray-logo-thumb-200x200Starting in November, Sony will revert to its old, closed-system ways by packing a PSP-ready digital copy on its Blu-ray discs.

The reasoning is obvious: If you’re an owner of one device, you’ve got a reason to pick up the other. Why buy an iPod for video when the PSP gives you a chunk of your Blu-ray collection in digital form?

Here’s the problem: Of the two Blu-ray films that Sony Pictures will launch with a PSP-ready copy, only one will include a separate digital copy on DVD, playable on your PC, according to Home Media Magazine. So while Sony is offering the full range of choices for people who buy The Ugly Truth, those who purchase Godzilla won’t get a digital copy unless they have both a Playstation 3 and a PSP.

Sony calls this a “multi-platform” solution, but the only platforms being supported are Sony’s. To me, that seems like a backwards step for the company, which in May was professing its newfound love for open systems. Here’s what Sony chief executive Howard Stringer told Nikkei Electronics Asia in an interview:

“There was a time when it made sense to divide the market with closed technology, and monopolize a divided market, but that’s just not an effective strategy any more. In the Internet universe, there are millions of stars – millions of options that have been created through open technology.”

Indeed, Sony is turning a new leaf in some ways, such as its support for the open ePub format in its e-readers. But the Blu-ray promotion sends a mixed message: We want our hardware to support lots of media, but our media will only work with our hardware.

For perspective, see how Disney’s digital copies are available as a download in either Windows Media or iTunes format, whatever the customer chooses. I’m not sure that Sony could offer those proprietary formats through its competing Playstation Network, but by removing PC-ready digital copies, the company is headed down the wrong path.


Toshiba’s Qosmio Gets Blu-Ray

Toshiba’s Qosmio is one of those laptops that’s pretty much an all-in-one desktop PC in disguise: With its 18.4-inch screen and beefy specs, it’s more transportable than portable–and with its emphasis on entertainment, it’s like a Windows Media Center you can fold up and move from room to room.

The company announced the newest Qosmio model today, the X500 series, and the most notable new feature is the overdue, inevitable inclusion of a Blu-Ray drive or burner–Toshiba’s first. (The one-time proponent of HD-DVD formally announced it was getting into the Blu-Ray game last month.) The X500 also has Intel’s new mobile version of its Core i7 processor, 6GB of DDR3 RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 graphics with a gigabyte of DDR5 memory, HDMI, Harmon/Kardon sound, and room for two hard drives (one of which can be a solid-state disk).

How much will all this run you? Toshiba says it’ll announce pricing on October 13th, and that the system will be available on October 22nd–which, uncoincidentally, is Windows 7 launch day.



Toshiba Finally, Inevitably, Does Blu-Ray

Toshiba Blu-RaySometimes it takes tech companies an amazingly long time to confront the inevitable. The whole war betwen Blu-Ray and HD-DVD was a rotten idea from the start (both formats were announced in 2002). But all parties involved in both camps insisted on wasting billions developing two competing HD formats. Then it took ages before HD-DVD prime mover Toshiba accepted that it had lost the conflict and discontinued the format. That was in February of last year.

And then it took another eighteen months for Toshiba to announce the inevitable conclusion to the whole saga: It’s joining the Blu-Ray Association and will be selling Blu-Ray players and laptops with Blu-Ray drives. I feel for the the company, I don’t think its stance that HD-DVD was the superior format was utterly irrational, and if and when the day comes that I buy a Blu-Ray player, it’s as likely to come from Toshiba as any other company.

But a panel of relatively well-informed consumers could have figured out the likely outcome years before Toshiba ditched HD-DVD and embraced Blu-Ray. Wouldn’t it have made sense for everyone involved to get here more quickly?

(Note: The Toshiba Blu-Ray Disc logo shown above is my quick mockup–I wonder if Toshiba still winces when it sees its name and “Blu-Ray” in close proximity, or if it’s over it?)


Blu-ray Might Have Won the Battle, But It’s Losing the War

blu-ray-logo-thumb-200x200Polling from research firm Harris released on Thursday paints a not so rosy picture for Blu-ray, the winning high definition optical disc format. In fact, more than a year after it “won” over HD DVD, it still trails its now-defunct competitor by several percentage points. That has to have some at Sony a little concerned.

Harris says 7 percent of Americans own a Blu-ray player, up from 4 percent a year ago. Compare this to HD DVD’s performance, which is actually up 5 percent from 2008 to 11 percent. How could a format that doesn’t even exist anymore do better than one that does? Simple answer — price.

Since HD DVDs fall, prices on Blu-ray players have changed little. Similarly, media remains expensive. I chuckle when passing by the Blu-ray section: most films are still retailing for $25-30 in many cases, which seems high given the current state of the economy.

Players are also expensive — generally remaining above $200. There are a few now below that, but most are not. Like many have said, high-def disc just isn’t enough of a change for most to justify the premium.

There’s worse news down the pike. Only 7 percent of respondents say they plan to buy a Blu-ray player in the next year, which is actually down two points from 2008.

I don’t see how Blu-ray ends up winning this battle. With streaming media continuing to become more popular, and the technology behind it improving, the format’s window of opportunity is closing.

Streaming, on-demand media is the future of entertainment. Physical media is not. I wonder how many inside Sony are regretting now not trying to work with HD DVD and avoiding the format war.

Sony may have won against HD DVD, but it seems to be losing with the consumer.


5Words for April 23rd, 2009

5wordsHey, BlackBerry fans, good news:

Spy shots: Skyfire’s BlackBerry browser.

YouTube gets a chat feature.

New Ubuntu available for download.

Microsoft: still under antitrust watch.

$9000 Leica camera: pretty, white.

MSI readying Android-based netbooks?

OQO’s future doesn’t look bright.

Trade your HD-DVDs for Blu-Ray.

Lost laptops cost $50,000. Supposedly.

Asus releases a 17.3″ notebook.

Amazon deletes bribe-revealing reviews.

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Blu-ray: Why it Will Stay Blue

blu-ray-logo-thumb-200x200I just got finished reading two pieces on Blu-ray: one from David Carnoy from last week on why the format will succeed; and the other from Jeremy Toeman, who countered David’s argument that it actually may be closer to failure.

Blu-ray is in a lot of trouble at this moment. It’s kind of a one-two punch: with the sinking economy, people have less money to spend on expensive gadgets. Blu-ray is still one of them, with most players still well above $200 if not $300.

Add to this the fact that streaming media is really beginning to take flight (yesterday’s Inauguaral hiccups notwithstanding), and it isn’t looking good for Sony’s format.

Yeah, Sony may have finally won a format battle, but the protracted fight may have just taken too much time and ended up wounding Blu-ray just enough that it will never be able to replace DVD.

Like Jeremy says, there just is not a whole lot of value proposition to Blu-ray. People with HDTV’s are indeed finding their upscaling DVD player looks wonderful for a third of the price of the Blu-ray player.

The only way Blu-ray is going to stay afloat here is the PS3. And you all know my opinion on that subject.


VHS is Dead. Next: DVD. Then Blu-Ray.

supermanii1Maybe I’m just not very observant, but I never notice old media formats going away until they’re…gone. One moment, the record stores down at my local malls still stocked vinyl. And then they didn’t. Audio cassettes? Same thing. And now the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Distribution Video Audio, the last major distributor of VHS tapes, is calling it quits on videotape. Everybody seems to be taking this is the closest thing we’ll get to an official death warrant for VHS, which seems perfectly reasonable.

I never noticed Blockbuster or Hollywood Video shrinking their tape sections into nothingness to make room for DVD. But even in my home, VHS ain’t what it used to be. I moved in July; so far, I haven’t bothered to set up my VCR at my new house, though it’s in working condition and ready for duty should I need it. Which I probably will, since I have several hundred VHS tapes–including some good stuff that has never been released on DVD. (I keep telling myself I need to dub them all to DVD before they rot away, and I will…but almost everything is still in surprisingly good shape, or was the last time I checked.)

It doesn’t seem like it’s been all that long since I bought my VCR and had to choose between VHS and Beta, and congratulated myself on my wisdom in investing in VHS instead of the increasingly dicey Beta format. But that was…1985, I think.

The end of VHS is a little different than past media-format deaths in that it’s pretty obvious that media is on its way out. DVD is wonderful in many ways, but Hollywood is already trying to get us to buy everything we already bought on VHS and DVD all over again in Blu-Ray. (I’ve resisted the siren call so far.) And given how fast things are moving with delivery of video programming over the Internet, Blu-Ray itself feels like a stopgap. Ten years from now, a Blu-Ray disc will look almost as archaic as a vinyl LP does now–and I’m not so sure that it won’t be more like four or five years. Maybe even less.

In many ways I’ll miss the comforting notion that content I’ve bought resides on platters or cassettes that I have control over…although copy protection has already removed much of that benefit. But I won’t miss it too much. Especially since I have the sneaking suspicion that I’ll have some tapes and discs around the house for as long as it’s possible to find devices that will play them.