Monday, August 20, 2007

Paramount to adopt HD-DVD over Blu-ray

Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. have prepared themselves to offer next-generation DVDs in the HD-DVD format. They have decided to drop support for Blu-ray.

The announcement has affected the DVD releases of Shrek the Third and Transformers along with movies distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films.

The movies that directed by Steven Spielberg, will continue to be released in both formats, Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Paramount, the company that owns DreamWorks Pictures and handles home sales of the separate company DreamWorks Animation, previously released movies in both Blu-ray and HD DVD.

According to Brad Grey, chairperson and CEO of Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc., the part of their vision is aggressively extend the movies that they produced beyond the theater, and deliver the quality and features that appeal to their audience. He believed that HD-DVD is not only able to bring high quality choice for commercial consumers, but also offering smart choice for Paramount.

If the price that you should pay for is the most important factor, then HD-DVD might be the cheapest. The prices of Blu-ray and HD-DVD players have been slashed by about half. Sony Corp.’s Blu-ray player now sells for US$ 499, and Toshiba Corp.’s HD-DVD sells for US$ 299, both of them are likely to include as many as five free movies as an incentive.

According to Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, commercial consumers seeking to switch to high-definition DVDs will be enticed by the movies available for HD-DVD players. The lower price for the Toshiba devices will as soon as possible appeal to the family market.

Nowadays, standalone HD-DVD players have a bigger slice of the market share than Blu-ray players do. However, if you count Sony’s PlayStation 3 game console that comes with a Blu-ray drive, there are more Blu-ray players in U.S. homes.

Rob Moore, president of Paramount Worldwide Distribution have said that the market data shows that people who own gaming consoles buy fewer movies than those who invest in a movie-only player.

According to Andy Parsons, chairperson of the Blu-ray Disc Association trade group said that the price differences between Blu-ray and HD-DVD players have diminished in recent months. The trend is showing that the business is always try to eliminate any perceived cost advantage and the HD-DVD format has claimed to have it, that is why their adopt HD-DVD over Blu-ray.

After Paramount dropping Blu-ray support, Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros remains the only major movie studio that releasing movies in both formats, Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Spider-Man 3 will only be available in the Blu-ray DVD format when released by Sony Pictures, while people with Blu-ray player will not be able to enjoy the action-thriller The Bourne Ultimatum that Universal Pictures will release only in HD-DVD format.

Blockbuster Inc. will support Blu-ray format. Target Inc., which is the nation’s second-largest retailer (U.S market) will only sell Blu-ray DVD players in its stores in the fourth quarter. Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures, News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, The Walt Disney Co., and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are releasing only in Blu-ray format. On the other hand, Universal, owned by General Electric Co., backs HD-DVD exclusively.

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

Two rival next-generation formats, Blu-ray and HD-DVD, are already vying to become the successor to DVD’s throne. Blu-ray and HD-DVD display movies in full high-definition resolution. Meanwhile, the current DVD format only provides the commercial customers with standard definition. These formats offer the better experience and have the ability to deliver high definition to our home theater both now and in the future.

The competition between Blu-ray and HD-DVD has confused the commercial consumers. People might wonder why we should care about the battle between these two formats. In no longer time, the movie consumers have to decide to buy either a Blu-ray player or an HD-DVD player, and be willing to live with a list of caveats a mile long.

Blu-ray discs able to hold more data, about 50 GB compared with HD-DVD’s 30 GB. However, the technology requires new manufacturing techniques and factories, boosting initial costs. On the other hand, HD-DVDs are essentially DVDs on steroids, this means that the movie studios able to turn to existing assembly lines to produce them in mass.

Because of Blu-ray’s discs, use a very different technology from traditional DVDs, this condition makes HD-DVDs are cheaper to make. Manufactures will have to retool their production plants. No doubt, those costs will have to be passed on to commercial consumers somehow.

Both of them, Blu-ray and HD-DVD players will be capable to support CDs and DVDs. However, it is sounds impossible to read a Blu-ray disc on a HD-DVD player and vice-versa (technically possible to create a player that can read both format, but it is not a good solution for business, it is not economist, it would be cost almost twice. It will need two separated circuits inside the unit, one for each technology).

Nowadays, if you are not techie-freak, it would be better to wait and see, wait until who will win the battle, Blu-ray, HD-DVD or none of them.

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