Blu-ray Updates from Everywhere!


So, I am still without a Blu-ray player as Samsung’s Blu-ray player has been reviewed and pretty much given the thumbs down, so why buy it?

I have been more than happy with my Toshiba HD DVD player ever since my original player was replaced and Toshiba continues to roll-out the upgrades making their players better and better. The HD-XA1 has fantastic up-rezzing capabilities of standard definition DVDs and with the new Pioneer tuner I just bought I have it made in the shade. However, I can’t help but feel like my collection isn’t complete. Yeah, I have read that Blu-ray isn’t standing up to the HD DVD competition in terms of audio and video quality, but these people are reviewing it using the pile of crap Samsung put out on the market and has still not sent to this particular reviewer to test out.

But guess what folks! Sony’s player will be coming soon as well the best buy of them all, the Sony PlayStation 3, which will be the cheapest and most viable Blu-ray player on the market on top of playing next generation videogames.

With that said, put me in the Sony PlayStation 3 camp, that will be my first Blu-ray player and now let’s get to the news of the day, and a little from yesterday if I may.

Beginning with yesterday’s news Warner Bros. has pretty much declared September 26 as High-Def Day as they will release 10 new hi-def discs that day with the release of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Swordfish, Space Cowboys, Lethal Weapon 2, The Fugitive and House of Wax on Blu-ray disc and The Dirty Dozen, Grand Prix, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and The Adventures of Robin Hood on HD DVD. I am not exactly sure why Warner is pushing Space Cowboys so hard, but they are.

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride makes its high definition debut in the Blu-ray format… Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines‘ IME (In-Movie Experience) will feature director Jonathan Mostow taking fans on a journey to the heart of the T3 experience…Bugs Bunny and Ultra-Resolution come to DVD! The Adventures of Robin Hood, restored with Warner’s patented Ultra-Resolution process, will look especially terrific… as will three Looney Tunes, marking the first High Definition release of Looney Tunes, or any classic animation.

The next bit of news comes from MGM as they announce their first group of Blu-ray disc titles which include some awesome ones with Usual Suspects and Windtalkers hitting streets on November 28, followed by Rocky and Bulletproof Monk on December 5. Okay, that is just a couple of cool titles, but how cool will Rocky be in high-def?

Each of the MGM BD releases is encoded in MPEG 2 and authored in HDMV and features DTS HD Master (Lossless) Audio on selected tracks along with Spanish and Parisian French language tracks. The releases also feature unique pop-up menus as well as a regular menu set.

This leads us to some news out of Video Business considering 20th Century Fox is now distributing MGM’s home video catalog as Fox becomes the only studio to make a formal high-def announcement. However, Video Business gives us this good news:

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment may be the last major home video distributor to announce titles in high-definition, but it’s making up for it by bringing Ice Age: The Meltdown to Blu-ray Disc at the same time as the standard-definition DVD on Nov. 21.

In addition to Meltdown, Fox’s initial Blu-ray titles include Kingdom of Heaven director’s cut, which will be the industry’s first release on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray disc, with double the capacity of the 25GB discs that most other Blu-ray titles use. It streets Nov. 10 in Japan and Nov. 14 in the U.S.

“I reviewed [the Blu-ray version] … and I was astounded. It was like looking through a window of clarity,” Kingdom of Heaven helmer Ridley Scott said.

Fox’s other Blu-ray debut titles, also streeting Nov. 10 in Japan and Nov. 14 in the U.S., include Behind Enemy Lines, Fantastic Four, Kiss the Dragon, The Omen (666), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Speed and The Transporter.

Finally, we come to our last topic as Sony Picture Home Entertainment announced their international Blu-ray titles, which include Hitch, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, RV, The Fifth Element, Hostel, A Knight’s Tale, S.W.A.T., Tears of the Sun, Underworld Evolution and Ultraviolet among others. The first slate of BD titles is set to launch in October and includes a broad mix of new releases and catalogue titles including SPHE will debut BD titles in countries including Australia, Japan, Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, the Nordic countries, Spain and the United Kingdom.

So, if you want to get in on the high-def game and don’t know where to start I will make a recommendation. First off, I love my HD DVD player. I said it before and I continue to say it, the video is amazing and I love it. However, the HD DVD has far less studio support than Blu-ray, which makes it appear as an early loser with Universal being the only studio as of right now to exclusively support HD DVD. Another problem that faces HD DVD is the PlaysStation 3, which is set to be released in North America on November 17, 2006. Doubling as a Blu-ray player the gaming console will obviously be found in several homes and once it is released it will mean thousands more Blu-ray players will be in homes than will HD DVD players, on top of that for only $600 for the higher end console it comes in $400 less than the already released Samsung player and $200 less than the Toshiba high-end HD DVD player. This doesn’t bode well for early adoption of HD DVD.

The best answer for all would be if someone would get off their duff and release a player that plays both media. I have heard rumors of such a player out of LG, but that is still just rumor, we will have to wait and see.

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Weekend: Nov. 22, 2018, Nov. 25, 2018

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