Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD Updates


Several bits of information regarding the upcoming new digital media formats have come out in the past few days as Sony Pictures Home Entertainment finally announced release dates for their first wave of Blu-ray discs and Seastone Media Group announced it has been chosen by major motion picture studios to deliver the next generation cases for movies on HD DVD, you can get more on both those topics in the DVD DOWNLOAD Issue #19.

So what is new you ask?

Well, for starters, Warner Home Video has revealed the first details of its plan to market HD DVD titles, including pricing, special features, projected sales and an initial street date of April 18—three weeks after the March 28 launch the studio had originally planned.

Million Dollar Baby, The Last Samurai and The Phantom of the Opera will street on HD DVD on April 18 for a $28.99 list price, which will be followed by 17 additional HD DVD titles through May, including Batman Begins and Lethal Weapon. The studio has set new release HD DVD prices at a list price of $34.99, versus the $28.99 for catalog.

On top of that, we get our first mention of special features, and while it isn’t exactly ground breaking news as nothing is truly revealed we do learn that Batman Begins, The Dukes of Hazzard, Constantine and other select titles will carry HD DVD-specific bonus features that have not appeared on standard DVD versions while debut releases Million Dollar Baby, Last Samurai and Phantom will not carry extras unique from earlier releases.

So far the biggest “special” feature I have heard of is reiterated in the article as it mentions that all of Warner’s high-def titles, also including its upcoming Blu-ray releases, will boast interactive user interfaces, and viewers will be able to simultaneously access bonus features and the feature film.

In an article at Video Business Online, there is also mention of hybrid discs, which will feature an HD DVD version on one side and a DVD version on the other. These Hybrid discs will be $39.99. These will be reserved for Warner’s newest films, which few consumers would already own on standard definition.

One final bit that surfaced out of the VBO article that many of you movie buffs will find interesting is that Image Entertainment, which distributes film buff line The Criterion Collection, will stay out of high-definition DVD altogether until manufacturing prices drop, CEO Martin Greenwald said at the B Riley Investor Conference Wednesday.

Along those lines Greenwald said, “If Toshiba or the Sony consortium expects to have anyone other than the majors supplying titles, they will have to come up with a subsidy program to allow Image and other indies to play in the field.” An interesting note for those of you that purchase outside of the major studio supply of home entertainment.

On the Blu-ray front, Sony today debuted its first Blu-ray Disc (BD) products in the U.S., along with details on suggested pricing and availability for some of the new offerings.

Headlining Sony’s new product debuts are the BDP-S1 Blu-ray Disc player (pictured above) and the VAIO RC desktop computer. The player is targeted to ship in July for about $1,000. The VAIO PC with Blu-ray Disc will be available for about $2,300. Both the VAIO RC desktop and notebook with a Blu-ray Disc drive will be available by early summer.

In April, Sony plans to begin shipping 25GB BD-R (write once) and BD-RE (rewritable) discs for about $20 and $25 each, respectively. The 50GB BD-R and BD-RE dual-layer discs will come in subsequent months for about $48 and $60.

As for that BDP-S1 Blu-ray Disc Player, it is designed to deliver 1920 x 1080p output, the highest HD signal output currently available through an HDMI(TM) connection. The player supports various high quality video codecs, including MPEG2, MPEG4-AVC and VC1. Analog component output for 1080i has been included so people who own HD-capable televisions without HDMI can enjoy the Blu-ray Disc experience. The player supports DVD playback from DVD/DVD+/-R / +/-RW encoded discs, as well as MP3 audio files and JPEG images stored on DVD+/-R / +/-RW discs.

Speaking of rewritable media, the VAIO RC Series computers, Sony’s first Blu-ray desktops, combine BD recording technology with high-octane performance, allowing aspiring moviemakers and videographers to capture and burn their high-definition content.

Consumers can edit high-definition footage with a comprehensive suite of software applications. They can then archive and share it on Sony high-capacity BD-R and BD-RE Blu-ray Discs or down converted to standard definition DVD+/-R / +/-RW dual layer discs, capitalizing on flexibility in storage, playback and recording.

“These new VAIO PCs marry eye-catching aesthetics with powerful cutting-edge technology,” said Komiyama. “Our new Blu-ray enabled computers will empower people to unleash their creativity and experience entertainment in a whole new realm.”

The VAIO RC Series will be shipped with a 25GB Blank BD-RE (rewritable) blank disc. In April, Sony plans to begin shipping 25GB BD-R (write once) and BD-RE (rewritable) discs for about $20 and $25 each, respectively. The 50GB BD-R and BD-RE dual-layer discs will come in subsequent months for about $48 and $60.

Yeah, you read that right, those rewritable BD discs ain’t gonna be cheap.

For more on the two formats you can always check out my earlier feature article comparing the two here and be sure to stay tuned to the RopeofSilicon Blu-ray and HD DVD homepage.

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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