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First Blu-ray Disc Reviews Posted Online

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the what-about-star-wars? dept.

235

An anonymous reader writes "With the first Blu-ray player and discs officially making their market debuts tomorrow, High-Def DVD Digest has posted the first reviews of three of the first Blu-ray discs -- The Fifth Element, 50 First Dates, and xXx. So what's the verdict? So far, in terms of video quality, the results seem to be mixed: standard DVD fave 'Fifth Element' underwhelmed ('just not the best HD I've seen'); likewise, 'xXx,' was a disappointment ('up close just looks like a messed-up bunch of dots'). Somewhat surprisingly, it's '50 First Dates' that ranked highest of the three in video quality ('holds its own with the best high-definition transfers out there')."

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235 comments

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Sums it up perfectly... (0, Flamebait)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562891)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

and this is going to catch on how? (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562898)

So exactly how are HD videos (blu-ray, or HD) going to capture the hearts and imaginations of the buying public with this kind of debut? Ostensibly (you would think) the best and brightest would be selected for their ability to shine and put the best face on an already murky new format battle.

It's an interesting task, convincing Mom and Dad, friends, etc., this is the latest and greatest thing... "no, no, just wait, you'll SEE the difference in the next scene... just let me pause it on this one frame, THERE!... see how clear the pattern is on Drew Barrymore's shirt!"

I've seen HD from comcast. I've seen HD demo'ed in Circuit City (when they FINALLY got some source). My experience and subjective opinion is that what is being delivered is being delivered with unacceptable compromise, whether it be to rush to market, or just shoddy quality, it doesn't matter. I've seen compression artifacts, I've seen jittery playback. I'm not "getting" it.

This kind of rollout will underwhelm the public, especially at the rollout prices. The only thing keeping this from dying on the vine is the digital mandate to convert to digital, and the tide of HDTVs only requiring customers to buy in.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562937)

I suppose their high data retention (and hopefully data rate) for computers seems to be the only good thing going for them... too bad they haven't released those yet

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (4, Funny)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562946)

Partly it's rushed, yes. But there's also the fact that HD has been so hyped, especially the next generation of media players, that nothing will really blow away viewers short of being able to reach into the screen and feel Drew Barrymore up.

And even then, I don't think that would be worth the outlay of cash for the hardware.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (0)

bsartist (550317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563227)

In Soviet Russian HD, Drew Barrimorski reaches out of the screen and feels you up.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563316)

In Soviet Russian HD, Drew Barrimorski reaches out of the screen and feels you up.

Where do I get a Soviet Russian HD player?

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563395)

And even then, I don't think that would be worth the outlay of cash for the hardware.

It depends on if it's just Drew's, or if this new disc technology is reach-out-and-touch-some-boobs delicious for all movies.

Although, even JUST Drew... ;)

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562965)

Honestly curious: For the artifacts and jittering, did you see that while watching HD on Comcast? Because they compress the hell out of everything, and in a given hour of watching TV the image will artifact and stall probably 3 or 4 times at least. Wouldn't surprise me to hear it from a demo setup at a store either, just wondering.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (5, Informative)

Dominatus (796241) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562974)

The problems are almost always in the source material.

Hell, TNTHD upconvertes and stretches (!) normal SD content for most of the day and calls it "HD".

I've noticed that the most important part of HDTV is the source, and this is evident just through simple channel surfing. Shows that I assume can afford better cameras because they need less of them, and less mobile ones, such as Jay Leno/David Letterman, SNL, etc, have absolutely amazing quality. Watching it on a 1080p 50 inch Sony SXRD is phenomenal, with no artifacts, or lack of detail. The colors, contrast, and image quality is so good that it appears your looking through a window.

Anyone who has seen this TV displaying true HD content at my apartment is immediately excited. And almost everyone says "oh oh! put in a DVD so we can see how that looks", unaware that DVDs are of a much lower resolution.

So I put one in, usually something fun like The Matrix or what have you, with a warning that it's going to look much worse then what they just saw. I have a pretty good upconverting DVD playing that puts out 1080i/60 over HDMI. Looks better than a normal DVD player but considerably worse than the HD content. Everyone so far has been disappointed with DVD quality (except my mom, but she's ...well...a mom).

Point is, there *IS* a difference, a huge difference, and those of us with good TVs are begging for a way to watch our movies in the same detail we watch our TV...other than HBOHD.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (1)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563143)

I really wish TNT wouldn't do that. It's not so much the upconversion, as if upconversion is done right, it can be almost watchable. My problem is with their stretching technique to fit 16:9. They do some kind of weird "partial" stretch process, where the center of the picture is left almost normal aspect, but as you approach the edges of the picture, it starts to stretch out more and more. The result, at first glance looks pretty good, as long as your attention is drawn to the center of the frame. But when something covers both the center frame, and reaches out to the edges, it gets REALLY distorted and doesn't look good at all. And it presents a very disorienting fish-eye lens effect when the camera pans over static content.

HBO-HD looks fantastic, however. I've been marveling over Batman Begins lately. The picture quality for that rivals DiscoveryHD.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (2, Interesting)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563179)

"I've noticed that the most important part of HDTV is the source"

This goes for all video. Period. If you visit a digital video enthusiast forum like Doom9 you'll see that statement over and over and over in threads. As the first post said, move along nothing to see here.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563190)

Point is, there *IS* a difference, a huge difference, and those of us with good TVs are begging for a way to watch our movies in the same detail we watch our TV...other than HBOHD.

And those of us who can't even afford cable say boo-fucking-hoo (:

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563267)

Spot on.

This furor over current sample quality is similar to that of those who decried CDs because crappy masters dubbed onto CD still sounded like shit.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (3, Informative)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563329)

As I recall, weren't there multiple "standards" for audio CDs way back when? I seem to remember seeing CDs that were either tagged DDD, DAD, ADD, or AAD - depending on how "digital" the disc really was. I believe DDD meant it was digitally recorded, digitially mixed and digitially transfered, which was the highest quality you could get. That was popular on classical music CDs. But most popular music CDs were of the much lower AAD quality, because they were just reusing the original analog masters.

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (1)

opti6600 (582782) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563401)

I can tell you the only way to go for an upconverting DVD player is the OPPO with the Faroudja DCDi chipset. We use one with a 32" BRAVIA WXGA panel at our college apartment, thing's unbelievable, even with source like the Office Space or Sideways DVDs. With Superbit the results are very nice - beats out even Pioneer units I've seen.

The downside? The OPPO only puts out the upconverted video on DVI - and I believe the SXRD, like other Sony sets, has the shortsighted wonder of only one HDMI input. So you'll be down $200 for the player and another $400 for an all-digital HDMI switch.

Enjoy!

Re:and this is going to catch on how? (1)

AC5398 (651967) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563396)

If you really want to see impressive HDTV, you need to watch the free, over-the-air stations. OTA has the best video signal. Rogers Cable's HDTV came a distant second to OTA.

Why Digital Isn't Better Than Analog (2, Informative)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563419)

My experience and subjective opinion is that what is being delivered is being delivered with unacceptable compromise, whether it be to rush to market, or just shoddy quality, it doesn't matter. I've seen compression artifacts, I've seen jittery playback. I'm not "getting" it.

The title of this reply, for those who may have skipped over it, is "Why Digital Isn't Better Than Analog".

Usually that starts into a discussion about how much better analog is at reproduction and why vinyl rocks. That's not where I'm going with this; personally I'll take a CD any day.

The problem is that with digital, you can compress the signal lossfully. This theoretically is an advantage, allowing you to fit, say, 3 TV high-quality TV channels in the bandwidth of 1 old-style SD analog channel.

However, given the choice, everybody seems to prefer to fit in 8 low-quality TV channels instead. Satellite radio, rather than have 50 high-quality stations at 128 or 192 Kbps, would rather have 150 barely-tolerable stations at 64 Kbps.

The reason they think they can do this is that most people can not articulate the difference between the old analog signal and the new, way-over-compressed digital signal. If you ask them with just a couple of minutes exposure, they'll say they are the same. Only people who are very familiar with the technology can say "It's overcompressed".

But I think that even if most people can't articulate why the digital experience is worse than the analog experience, they do have a different experience with this over-compressed content that results in lower immersion, lower enjoyment, and in the long run, less inclination to pay for the experience. In the end they see no reason to jump or even want to go back to analog.

I've done the latter. I took the digital TV deal from Comcast a while back that gave me the basic digital package for just over their analog rates. But a combination of leisurely channel changing (since it has to re-sync with the rarely-sent I frames), visible artefacts even on my bog-standard low-def 28 inch TV, and incredibly sluggish set-top box made go back to analog, and I'm exactly the kind of person who "should" be drooling for digital. I hear they've since fixed the last problem, though I have no evidence of this.

I'd love a good digital experiece. I'd love a digital radio that's actually an improvement over analog radio instead of (to my ears) a slight downgrade since they only use 96Kbps. I'd love good digital TV, but they always jam too many channels down the line. I'd love satellite radio, but again, to my ears they are quite obviously right on the edge of unlistenability. And to those non-techies I've asked, when they wonder what I mean by "isn't this TV/radio just sort of missing some life?", I always get nodding heads, not arguments.

Until the digital entertainment purveyers are willing to actually live up to their quality claims, where digital becomes a consistently superior experience, instead of something that is inferior to analog in inexpressable-but-important ways, digital stuff just isn't going to take off. Digital ought to be better than analog. The potential is there. But it's not being realized.

Re:Why Digital Isn't Better Than Analog (2, Insightful)

daniel422 (905483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563562)

Your experience seems to indicate there may be a market for native HD material that isn't massively compressed -- like HD_DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. I've come to the conclusion through many posts that comcast sucks (everybody say it together!) for HD content and that the guys at ciruit city and best buy couldn't properly set up an HD system to save their jobs (let's daisy chain 20 HD sets together and see what the picture looks like!). It's sad that our retailers are doing such a disservice to themselves. Maybe HD discs will change that by making good HD content easier to see and set up correctly.

/. Agrees! (-1, Offtopic)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562899)

Apparently /. agrees with most of the opinions. I received the following review trying to read this post: "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along." :)

Re:/. Agrees! (-1, Offtopic)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563335)

Wow, nice. You know, if you didn't think it was funny, mods, you could just not mod it funny. It was certainly on topic, though, so "Offtopic" is inaccurate for it. Now, THIS post is offtopic and should be modded as such.

$499 PS3 Here We Come (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15562920)

Thank god for the death of the image constraint token!

$499 PS3, component cables, 1080p set, BluRay movies...yeah baby!

Thou speaks too soon (was:$499 PS3 Here We Come) (3, Informative)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563486)

Thank god for the death of the image constraint token!
Image constraint token is enabled by content; for the playback devices to be certified, they are required to support it. The content providers at this point has decided not to rape consum... (ahm) enable it does not preclude it from being enabled at a later date.

xxx (5, Funny)

nFriedly (628261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562928)

> http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/xxx.html [highdefdigest.com]

you gotta wonder how many porn filters will block that third link...

Re:xxx (1)

p2sam (139950) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562993)

Mine got blocked. :(

Re:xxx (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563123)

Ever go looking for some porn on a torrent site, and get nothing but pages and pages of different versions/cams/releases of that crap movie and its sequels?

Re:xxx (1)

mpathetiq (726625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563290)

I was going to say that I love being in control of the filter. But then I realized it was going to a description of xXx. Now I'm just pissed off. Thanks, nFriedly!

Re:xxx (1)

adamlazz (975798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563421)

Looking at this article at school... The 'Net Nanny' picked it up and added it to the extensive DB of the blocked pages I have been to. Especiall from the 'Games' section of /. . :|

How many of these were shot on digital? (5, Insightful)

Orrin Bloquy (898571) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562940)

Seriously, 5th Element was shot on film, and the other two I don't know about, but aren't there any well-known digital productions which would transfer cleanly? How pristine are the masters for 5th Element by now?

And to agree with the earlier poster: Whoever's greenlighting chick films like "50 first dates" and "Phantom of the Opera" for testdriving a new medium needs a new job, preferably selling hot dogs on a street corner, to get an idea of what a market actually asks for.

Re:How many of these were shot on digital? (2, Insightful)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562981)

That's an excellent point, something which the reviewer completely ignores. Something like Star Wars Ep 3 would showcase the capabilities of both HD-DVD and Blu-ray nicely, at least give something with a high enough quality of transfer to really compare the formats.

Re:How many of these were shot on digital? (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562998)

No joke. You'd think they'd dig up some killer app for this stuff, but instead we get a substandard action movie, a junky Drew Barrymore chick flick, and cult French scifi flick (which I personally love, but which isn't exactly a must-upgrade title for Joe Sixpack.) Why wouldn't they use some Criterion-level classic that's available on high-quality masters, and that everyone wants? Doesn't anyone else remember how many VCRs were sold by "E.T." in the 1980s?

Re:How many of these were shot on digital? (2, Insightful)

DilbertLand (863654) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563211)

Maybe I'm wrong, but wasn't E.T. held from release on VHS until it's 15th or so anniversary in 1996? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/6304143184/103-85 28752-9792644?v=glance&n=404272 [amazon.com] In that case, it probably didn't sell too many VHS players...

Re:How many of these were shot on digital? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563507)

It was first released on VHS in the late 80s sometime, 87 or 88 I believe, and stores couldn't hope to keep them on shelves for quite a while. I remember pretty much everyone getting or giving a copy as a gift that holiday season. It was an odd tape, black with a green flap, and it was the closest thing to a killer app that VHS had, at least in my area.

ET was a poor sales alien (3, Funny)

FerretFrottage (714136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563381)

I don't think ET sold that many VCRs. The poor little guy had a slow distribution system (kids and their bikes--granted they could fly, but still, those bike baskets don't hold many VCRs, plus ET could have stayed on the office and have left more space for the VCRs, BUT then the bikes couldn't fly then could they?). Anyway, he also was more concerned with constantly trying to report into his home sales office rather than focusing on customer satisfaction. Why the "competition" was so concerned with catching him is beyond me. The only thing he had was the "light finger promotion" deal and the claims that his prices didn't "Ouch".

Re:How many of these were shot on digital? (5, Funny)

tourvil (103765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563050)

And to agree with the earlier poster: Whoever's greenlighting chick films like "50 first dates" and "Phantom of the Opera" for testdriving a new medium needs a new job, preferably selling hot dogs on a street corner, to get an idea of what a market actually asks for.

A relevant Penny Arcade comic to answer your question:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/04/19 [penny-arcade.com]

Re:How many of these were shot on digital? (3, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563200)

Whoever's greenlighting chick films like "50 first dates" and "Phantom of the Opera" for testdriving a new medium needs a new job, preferably selling hot dogs on a street corner, to get an idea of what a market actually asks for.

Well, I actually watched Phantom of the Opera at the movies on the big screen, and I think that they're aiming for the Opera and Cinema buffs with that one - a lot of early HDTV adopters are into opera for some reason, have the sound systems to appreciate it, and might want to get it in a higher resolution format.

It won a number of awards for cinematography, with good reason.

Plus, the blood, burns, and mask are just plain cool.

Re:How many of these were shot on digital? (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563525)

a lot of early HDTV adopters are into opera for some reason, have the sound systems to appreciate it, and might want to get it in a higher resolution format

What does HDTV appealing to opera lovers have to do with the Blu-Ray release of a shitty Andrew Lloyd Weber musical?

Film should be fine as a source (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563356)

Quality 35mm shot on a good lense, as you get with hollywood movies, is good to somewhere in the realm of 2000-6000 lines of resolution each direction. That's a ball park, of course, since there's no direct correlation to pixels on analogue film, but still. A good negative can resolve about 6000 lines of resolution, the positive shown in theatres is good for about 2000.

35mm has plenty of resolution for a good HD, it just takes doing a good digital transfer. If you want to see an example, get the T2 Extreme Edition DVD and watch it on a modern computer running Windows. The 2nd disc has a HD transfer in WMV9 (VC1) format. They chose an intermediary resolution that's not part of the ATSC spec, 1440 horizontal (the verticle is cropped to fit the aspect ratio of the film). Because the bitrate is only that of DVD, it gets a bit blocky during action sequences but for all that the detail is superb. It is clearly head and shoulders about the DVD version, despite being sourced from film, and an old one at that.

While pure digital movies certianly are easier to get good copies of, since there's no transfer just resampling, it's not that film lacks the rez, it is just that they don't want to invest the time and money in to a good transfer.

Chick flicks sell well (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563511)

Let's face it, it is really the blokes that want 500 inch TVs, 12 inch sub-woofers and BRay to watch big action movies. But when they say "Honey, I've been thinking of ....", senior management soon says "No".

By serving up chick flicks first, the blokes get to have a more effective line of attack: "Honey, I love you so much I've been thinking of buying **you** a new BRay system to watch chick flicks. Just imagine, you'll be able to read the clothing labels & see the individual tears running down Drew's face"

My favorite part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563545)

My favorite part is how in the "Fifth Element" review, they comment that the picture is significantly worse than that of other blu-ray films they've seen. Smooth!

Shoot me (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562958)

I skimmed the summary the first time, and when I read "xXx", I thought to myself, "hi-def porn." I mean, that must be one incentive to go HD that will actually bring in customers. Fifth Element? Please.

Re:Shoot me (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563025)

Fifth Element, hello? How could you miss Milla's nipples?

Re:Shoot me (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563384)

It's going to take more than mere nipples to titillate your average geek, mister; we have the internet.

Bang. (was:Shoot me) (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563538)

I skimmed the summary the first time, and when I read "xXx", I thought to myself, "hi-def porn."
But do people really need to see all the tiny hair follicles or other abnormal growths on other people's gentals?

Uh... (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562959)

close just looks like a messed-up bunch of dots

Well... that's sort of what it is, yes? :-\

Interesting Choices for First Releases (3, Interesting)

IceDiver (321368) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562963)

I didn't see these in the theatre, I didn't rent them when they came out on DVD, and I CERTAINLY don't want them in my permanent collection.

What makes Hollywood think I'm going to want them now, just because they are high def?

Re:Interesting Choices for First Releases (4, Funny)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563067)

The executives of the major entertainment conglomerates sit around a large table, cigars in hand...

Disney Rep: How can we get "Ice Diver" to see 50 First Dates?

Sony Pictures Rep: I have an idea! We'll invent a new high definition DVD format and release only 50 First Dates.

Disney Rep: Great idea! If that won't get him to see it, nothing will!
 

Re:Interesting Choices for First Releases (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563504)

Oh come on I bought it on DVD and then bought the special edition DVD and when finally I go HD I'll get a HD version. But wtf does that matter? Ones persons preference does not a business plan make.... and people modded parent informative :-|

Warning: reviewer does not understand technology (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15562964)

From the 50 dates review:
Happily, this transfer proves that the Blu-ray format can deliver a picture as good as anything I've seen yet on HD DVD.
This is a nonsensical statement. There is nothing to prove. They both support the exact same compression formats (MPEG-2, VC-1 and the best of them all: H.264/AVC). The maximum bitrates are high enough to not cause noticeable artifacts in either format, when AVC is used with a good encoder. Both formats support storing the movies in 1080p24 and pull-downed to 1080i60 at runtime. Therefore, there can not be any quality difference inherent to the formats, only errors caused by external factors such as scratched discs. Blu-ray comes ahead in this case, because it has stupendously good hard coating technology by TDK.

Re:Warning: reviewer does not understand technolog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563177)

In one of his articles he notes that they're still only using MPEG-2, not the other, better codecs. This could easily account for the lack of quality.

Re:Warning: reviewer does not understand technolog (2, Interesting)

thule (9041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563499)

In one of his articles he notes that they're still only using MPEG-2, not the other, better codecs. This could easily account for the lack of quality.

Better in comparison to what? MPEG2 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 is still used for studio and satellite. The shows you see on HD sets were high data rate MPEG2 4:2:2 coming over the satellite and later downconverted to 4:2:0 for 8VSB transmission. HBO-HD is MPEG2 on C-Band. It seems to me given a high enough bitrate, MPEG2 will look the same, if not better, as MPEG4 AVC. MPEG4 AVC is "better" because good quality video can be had at a lower bitrate.

I would imaging that since broadcast TV is all MPEG2 based, studios will be using MPEG2 for some time to come. Only consumer satellite companies like DirecTV and Dishnet are using MPEG4 for broadcasting HD. The reason is they want to maximize their bandwidth and still get a decent picture. If you want the "best" picture a person would want to get the network MPEG2 feeds off C-Band.

Re:Warning: reviewer does not understand technolog (3, Informative)

sidb (530400) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563506)

Therefore, there can not be any quality difference inherent to the formats

Well, maybe not in the formats, but there is a quality difference in the current players. The first Bluray players are supposed to be able to output the disc's native 1080p at 24fps (film is natively 24fps), while the HD-DVD players released so will show a picture converted to 1080i at 30fps. If you had a reallly good TV, you could theoretically get a better result with BluRay, at least until HD-DVD starts releasing 1080p players.

lame movies (0, Redundant)

justkarl (775856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562967)

Somewhat surprisingly, it's '50 First Dates' that ranked highest of the three in video quality

However, the quality of the film itself is still questionable. Likewise for XXX. Fifth Element is the only film in that list that I would even watch voluntarily. Why would they release 2 of the worst movies ever made for a new format release?

Re:lame movies (1)

imrec (461877) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563014)

When asked to comment, Adam Sandler's response was recorded as...

"FACKING, SHIT!!"

Re:lame movies (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563224)

Because GOOD movies are so old, that DVD has more than enough bitrate to hold all of the data that still remains on the mistreated film reels. I'm guess they're probably trying to find stuff in good enough condition to actually get something like HD from the transfer. Think about it. Star Wars Episode IV, is there even 480 lines of resolution left? How about Casablanca? Citizen Kane? Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?

I have to admit, I was tempted (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562971)

when I found out Kate Beckinsale's latest, that Underworld sequel, was in Blu-Ray, but I don't have an HDTV, and am waiting a few years, so I'll just hold out until the prices drop below $100.

Which, as any student of marketing and sales will tell you, they will.

I have to say, though, I'm severely underimpressed by the Blu-Ray marketing campaign.

Re:I have to admit, I was tempted (1)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563018)

The same can be said for HD-DVD's as well. Both formats have been launched with a whimper, not a shout. Not quite the revolution in format that they promised if they're not going to make a big deal out of its release. To be honest, both (esp. Blu-Ray) seem rushed to market in order to try to beat the other. I'm not sure that's going to lead to a quality experience for consumers for a while.

Re:I have to admit, I was tempted (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563155)

I agree, both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are severely underwhelming, for some reason.

This is quite surprising to me - I was one of the first people to buy an Apple II+, bought one of the first RCA VCR models (all my friends said buy Beta, but I was working shift ...)

It's just that, as my son showed me this past week, the only thing that really seems to matter is Net speed. To explain, he had an iMac that I gave him when he was 7 - he's now 15 - and we had crammed RAM in but we finally couldn't upgrade any more, and things weren't working. So, we went and bought him a Mac mini.

First thing he said, after a friend helped him set up Firefox and Adblock and NoScript was ... "It's not any faster!".

I said, look all the images resolve faster, the graphics on your new flatscreen Samsung panel are at higher res, but in the end, we're still using the same speed of cable modem, and the only thing that would change that would be if we went to Gigapop Internet.

Same thing with Blu-Ray and HD-DVD - just no need for them. Most people don't have 1080p HDTVs that are 50 inches or bigger. Most games won't need them. None of the fun ones that he wants to play will.

So, the revolution in data storage (Blu-Ray or HD-DVD) dies with a whimper, because there's nothing behind the Mask.

Re:I have to admit, I was tempted (1)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563245)

I have a 61" Samsung DLP that does 1080p, though I do not have a HD-DVD or Blu-ray player. I have a nice Panasonic upscaling player that outputs 1080i, and the TV does an awesome job at deinterlacing the signal for its native resolution (1080p). I have to say, the new Star Wars trilogy DVDs practically leap off the screen. They look phenominal on my set, just like they look phenominal on most other TVs. The transfer is just great.

Do I NEED to see something even higher resolution? Probably not. There's almost no need, considering how nice the current generation looks. Movies like Serenity and Batman Begins also look amazing, even with a large amount of dark colors. DVD right now is at a really good place in terms of advances in compression.

I'm sure there's a noticable difference between DVD and the new high def formats, but as you say, the average consumer either won't need it or won't have the equipment to really get their money's worth. And given that cost:benefit ratio, I can't see it going too far, not for a couple of years at the earliest.

And the first Blue-Ray DVD Disks online in.. (1)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562992)

3... 2... 1... - happy pirating!

OK, seriously, I know this will take some time (I don't know of any PC Blue-Ray DVD readers even available yet), and no, I don't encourage downloading of movies/music online unless you own it blah, blah, blah (that said, I have to admit my own guilt for downloading a TV show that my Tivo missed or that iTunes wasn't selling, so call me a hypocrite if you must).

I'm still wondering what the HD to Standard Def (SD) ratio is. My wife and I have decided that 2 years from now is when we'll finally change the TV set, first to hit the digital TV standard, second to finally get the infamous "big screen", and lastly that's when the current TV (which is already annoying me with it's "RCA jack only" - it was a cheap hand-me-down replacement for another broke in a move about a year ago), but 2 years from now should be about when the current machine dies.

I know two people who have an HD setup, the first is retired and still works so he has the cash, the second is a bachelor who doesn't have the wife+3 rugrats that myself and my other buddies have.

So with HDTV costs still pretty high - what's the real current ratio, or is Blue Ray and HD-DVD looking ahead to 2-3 years down the line when people are more likely to go out and buy the $400 HDTV and need shiny new media to play on it?

Re:And the first Blue-Ray DVD Disks online in.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563286)

I think the current ratio of HDTVs to SDTVs is still pretty low; I remember reading a report earlier this year that stated that HDTVs were finally accounting for more than 50% of the TVs sold (and the definition of HDTV was pretty low, I believe it included EDTVs). Being that the average person will upgrade to a new TV when their current one breaks, I would expect that HDTV will not be the standard until 2010-2015. I think what is really holding back the adoption of HDTV is still the cost because the Average person is still looking for the Biggest TV they can get for under $500.

Re:And the first Blue-Ray DVD Disks online in.. (1)

cwj123 (16058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563346)

Too late, I recently saw a couple of releases on PirateBay that were 720p [thepiratebay.org] and even some in 1080i [thepiratebay.org] . Not sure what the source material was though....

Older Movies (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562994)

Did it seem like the guy had a hard time finding extras? I think that this is too much too soon for the public. I know many people are aching for a Blu-ray release of 50 first dates, why not Hot Chick or Deuce Bigalo 2? "Rob Schnieder is... a carrot, derba-der-ba-der.."

Yeah, I'll buy the Brooklyn Bridge too. (3, Funny)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563007)

Right after I spend around $1000.00 on 50 First Dates. Puh-Leaze!

Re:Yeah, I'll buy the Brooklyn Bridge too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563158)

Thats $20 per date, where do i sign up?

TGI: Newest movie has best clarity! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563015)

After comparing two movies that are, by today's youthful standards, quite old, with a movie that was produced less than two years ago, the newest movie has the best picture quality!

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we'll have the following headline:

"X3 has better picture quality than XMen and XMen2!"

Coming Soon... (3, Funny)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563019)

We can expect Blu Ray releases of Istar and Gigli any day now. Actually, a quick Google shows that the real problem may be that the Sony movie catalog is almost completely dreck, Princess Bride excepted. If what Sony owns is crap, crap is what will be released first on Blu Ray.

This post seems biased (2, Interesting)

Aellus (949929) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563047)

The 5th Element review that the news post referenced paints an entirely different picture than "it completely underwhelmed". The review says it was still a damn good picture, it just literally was NOT the best HD could be. That can easily be explained since the original was film, not digital. Other than that? Its still HD, which is a whole lot better than standard definition. I havent read the other two reviews yet, but it doesnt seem like Blu-Ray really flopped like this post makes it sound like it did...

Re:This post seems biased (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563537)

Actually, standard 35mm film supports a higher resolution than "modern" digital cameras. The way I understood it was that film lacks the discrete pixels and therefore can scale much better than any rasterized source. Should we ever move to a High High Definition standard in the future, movies shot digitally aren't going to upscale as well as traditional film has from VHS to HD. Personally, I think larger film would be the way to go.

Then again, I've been pretty disappointed with image quality post VHS. We traded a pretty good medium, all things considered, with a less defined image for near-instant coasters that artifact like crazy if they even work in your player. It's ridiculous and, what with digital cable and the early reviews of HD/BR, it looks like we're in for more of the same with worse lock-in and an even higher price :/

Everytime I hear "Coming soon to Blu-ray"... (2, Insightful)

denebian devil (944045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563049)

I can't help but hear these words in my head:

"Get it now on DVD and PSP."

And we know how well that turned out (PS What?).

What?!?! (0, Flamebait)

SimpleBinary (976656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563051)

They'd be better off making HD versions of movies that people actually wanna watch...

And why? (2, Insightful)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563055)

And why did something so lame as XXX make it to Blu Ray? Why not something good, oh, say the first Harry Potter Movie. The Battlestar Galactica Mini-Series (not the tv series). Star Wars? T3?

Re:And why? (1)

ThrasherTT (87841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563135)

Did you really just lump T3 in there with the others?

*boggle*

Re:And why? (5, Funny)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563206)

He said: "Why not something good, oh, say the first Harry Potter Movie. The Battlestar Galactica Mini-Series (not the tv series). Star Wars? T3?"

We heard: "Nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd. Nerd. Nerd?"

Harry Potter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563341)

Wtf?!!? Harry Potter??
We heard: "Nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd. Nerd. Nerd?"
More like Gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay!

Re:And why? (1)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563565)

No no. We heard "Sell sell sell sell sell". People would buy these titles, not 50 first dates. Or Xxx crap.

Reviewers are Idiots (4, Insightful)

GoRK (10018) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563059)

I find it very hard to stomach these reviewers who are trying to compare the 'picture quality' of Blu-Ray to HD-DVD when the codecs used are exactly the same. Blu-Ray offers the edge on size and maximum bitrate, but it's doubtful that the early titles are going to be taking advantage of it. Any title that did take advantage of the extra space would very logically look better (if the compressionist is not an idiot, anyway). Whether or not anyone would really notice is another debate. You could make a comparison to the acutal players ability to decode and post process the footage as well, but this would require identical MPEG2 or H.264 content to be fed through both format players -- which has not been done either.

So anyway, I guess the gauntlet is down and the proverbial "masses" will decide. Unfortunately they will probably end up doing it based on title availability, brand loyalty, price, and "picture quality" instead of technical merit. All it really means to me is that I have to wait to buy a player until: a) one camp gives in, b) someone makes a dual format player or c) companies start releasing *everything* in both formats.

Re:Reviewers are Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563243)

So yes, the success of the players will depend on having good movies to watch on them. What is the point of having the technically best video player if the videos available to watch on it are crap quality? If Blu-Ray uses the same codecs as HD-DVD, why aren't the first Blu-Ray discs as high quality as the HD-DVD disks?

Re:Reviewers are Idiots (3, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563305)

Unless it's from Sony and specifically a BluRay showcase disc, I'd imagine the HD-DVD and BluRay releases will be exactly the same data - after all, why encode and remaster the thing twice?

The masses though can't get over the Beta vs VHS thing.. So the non-techies out there can't grasp that this time around the only difference is the discs themselves, and the markets being split for no reason better than competition for the sake of it.

I think HDDVD vs Blu Ray is a battle that everybody will ultimately lose.

I know severeal folks with fancy new HDTV plasmas, and most don't get why they should pay a few extra bucks for component video cables, when s-video or composite looks just as good to them... Frankly, unless you're a videophile, they're right.

If I'm just passively watching or playing a game, I can't see the difference between progressive scan and interlaced..

Maybe I'm just getting to old -- but most people are as old or older. I don't see the point.

I feel the same way about XBox 360, PS3 and Wii.. They aren't a "new generation", the whole thing seems to be the industry trying to force us to upgrade to something we don't want or need. The last generation was "good enough", and once the market got saturated, they conductor of the gravy train yelled "end of the line" and they freaked out..

What were we talking about anyways?

Surprise! It's easy to render talking heads (4, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563076)

Somewhat surprisingly, it's '50 First Dates' that ranked highest of the three in video quality

Not surprising, there's no action to speak of, not a lot of motion, etc.. Less movement means less to encode, which means less work to decode.

The Matrix was always the DVD stress-tester of choice, specifically the kung fu scene, because you would really notice the quality of the decoder during the more intense scenes, where every pixel on screen is changing with every frame.

So my question is, is this an issue with the encoding of the discs or an inherent design problem with the discs themselves, perhaps too low a bitrate, or just a cheap shit decoder in the playback device? My money is on the latter.

It would've been better if... (1)

larsoncc (461660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563116)

I think I would have liked these reviews more had they provided some screen shots, or even short "detail" movie clips of what to expect from Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD -or- regular DVD.

For all the talk, there's been precious little that we can SEE.

I've bought the Fifth Element three times! (3, Funny)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563117)

First for the VHS. Then the DVD, then the Directors cut. Now the Blu-Ray version?

At least most of hollywood's current movies don't outlast the media that they're released on. Gigli Blu-ray? I don't think so.

Re:I've bought the Fifth Element three times! (3, Insightful)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563201)

From what I have read, there is no point to buying the Blu-Ray version. However, you should try out the Super-bit version of the Fifth Element on a good up-converting DVD player. It will hold me off for a few more years until the next-gen DVD war declares a true winner.

Offtopic I know but what's up with pool.ntp.org (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563219)

I can resolve the pool.ntp.org timekeepers...

Anyone else having a problem?

benney@gmail.com

Maybe film transfer to compressed HDTV won't work. (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563222)

There may be a big problem looming for Hollywood. If you transfer 35MM film to 1080p, the film grain often shows up. Compressing all that useless film grain noise, which has no frame to frame coherence, will use up a big fraction of the data capacity. It will also mess up the motion compression, which usually results in annoying jaggies. So it's probably necessary to filter out at least some of the film grain. But if you filter out the film grain, you lose resolution.

The reviews of the new Blu-ray disks ("the picture looks too soft and flat") indicates that there's probably too much filtering.

Somewhere in LA, there are probably members of SMTPE struggling with this, trying to figure out the right tradeoffs between resolution loss and compression overload when converting existing films.

Re:Maybe film transfer to compressed HDTV won't wo (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563347)

There's already a solution to this although I haven't seen any reviews of it. Thomson has FGT (film-grain technology). They actually analyze the film grain in each frame, filter it, and then regenerate it at playback time (after decompression) using coefficients from when they initially measured it. Supposedly you get better compression and mostly-accurate film grain.

Re:Maybe film transfer to compressed HDTV won't wo (1)

agent42b (983588) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563414)

Even worse -- imagine films where the grain is MEANT to be there ... plenty of film makers use the grain as a style trademark.

its nothing like the jump from vhs - dvd (4, Interesting)

asv108 (141455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563241)

The first DVD player I had was a kit from Creative, which came with this huge decoder card in order to handle playback on the computers of the age. ( 12/1997)

In a period of 2 years DVD went from geek toy(97) to mass market adoption(99). Fueled by the features, quality, price, and convenience of the discs. The falling prices of the hardware players helped a lot too.

I'm a early adopter with an HD setup, but I have no interest in Blue-Ray or HD-DVD at the moment. I'm sure in a couple years I will pick one (probably when Netflix chooses a technology), but right now regular DVD's using an upconverting 1080i DVD player and an HDMI cable look and sound great for me. The upconverting setup was only $250 a year ago, and it makes my existing DVD's look great.

What is the motivation for these HD formats from a user perspective? Higher priced players, high priced discs, and limited selection. What is the consumer paying for? A little bit better pictured quality is not going to motivate people to switch.

There needs to be something more for the average consumer to consider using any of these formats. Looking at the audio world, there have been hi-def audio formats out for quite some time with little success. There needs to be something more besides a quality increase to get people to jump ship.

Re:its nothing like the jump from vhs - dvd (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563441)

One word: durability. DVDs are good, but their fatal flaw is that they are too damned easy to break. Just ask any netflixian about the problem. The biggest motivator for upgrading to a new format would be a more durable format that didn't become useless after a year of wear and tear.

Re:its nothing like the jump from vhs - dvd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563477)

1999 was not the year you could claim that the Mass Market had adopted DVD because until 2003 most movie rentals were still on VHS; to this day I still meet people who have yet to buy a DVD player because their "VCR is still good". I would say that early adopters had all accepted the DVD format by the end of 2001 (2000/2001 was huge for DVD with Apex Digital's $99 DVD player and the PS2).

I personally suspect that HD-DVD/Blu-Ray will have a much slower adoption because the barriers for entry are much higher (new TV required for most people) and there is too little HD content available for people to be getting frustrated with DVD; I would say that 1/4 to 1/2 of all Television programming is still in SD (you can't forget simpson's reruns) and until most of what people watch is in HD it will be difficult to kill DVD.

Re:its nothing like the jump from vhs - dvd (4, Informative)

Kralizec (627733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563498)

(probably when Netflix chooses a technology)

Actually, Netflix is already offering HD-DVD disks. All you have to do is set it up in your account settings.

Most people don't know this (3, Informative)

this great guy (922511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563294)

Most people don't know this but the quality of current Blu-ray titles does not match the quality offered by HD-DVD's for a very simple reason. The couple of Blu-ray titles that have been released so far are all encoded using MPEG-2, while HD-DVD titles are using the more advanced MPEG-4 based VC1 codec.

What is even more frustrating is that Blu-ray titles could have been VC1 encoded. The Blu-ray and HD-DVD standards both support the same set of video codecs. But for some reason the Blu-ray camp decided to encode the first titles using MPEG-2. I don't follow closely enough the format war to know why such a decision has been taken, but I know this is a stupid decision because most non-technical people will have a bad first impression of Blu-ray. It is even more frustrating knowing that Blu-ray titles have the technical potential to look at least as good as HD-DVD titles.

Re:Most people don't know this (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563561)

What is even more frustrating is that Blu-ray titles could have been VC1 encoded. The Blu-ray and HD-DVD standards both support the same set of video codecs. But for some reason the Blu-ray camp decided to encode the first titles using MPEG-2. I don't follow closely enough the format war to know why such a decision has been taken, but I know this is a stupid decision because most non-technical people will have a bad first impression of Blu-ray. It is even more frustrating knowing that Blu-ray titles have the technical potential to look at least as good as HD-DVD titles.

I know exactly why this happened. It's because Blu-ray doesn't yet actually work with any codecs except MPEG-2. Sorry, I don't have the link, but a little more than a month ago I read that nobody really knows if VC1 will be working in Blu-ray by the end of the year even. They use MPEG-2 because right now they have to. They are hoping that eventually the technical problems with the other codecs and the format can be worked out, but for now if it's on Blu-ray, it will be MPEG-2.

Whoa! (2, Insightful)

Beefslaya (832030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563397)

Slow down, I haven't even purchased my HD television yet.

While watching a hockey playoff game a month ago, my buddy paid extra to have HD broadcast straight from the Cable provider (Charter charges for this) and was all proud of his Samsung wide screen LCD/hybrid TV.

To be honest with you, it didn't change the game experience for me that much. Wide screen was nice (got to see a few more dirty hits off the "regular" camera angle)and it wasn't enough for me to justify paying an extra 100-200 dollars for HD capability.

I don't honestly see the reason for the hype. Blu-Ray---Schmoo-Ray. Not worth my money for at least the next 5 years. Talk to me then (if they still make Blu-Ray disks).

I won't be the guy caught with the Hi-Fi system and laserdisc system...again...

--I'd be more interested in smellivision.--

Independent Review (3, Informative)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563418)

Another reivew, from a Mr. Sony McSonyson, informed me that Blu-Ray provides not only a superior picture quality, but also interfaces directly with my brain to extract my personal preferences. For example, in Star Wars, regardless of which version, Han would always shoot first. In every scene. Also, "Into the Blue" would focus on Jessica Alba not in the ocean, but a kiddie pool filled with baby oil. Also, it was revealed that HD-DVD would kill my dog, leave me sterile, and emit cancer-inducing radiation if viewed for more than 0.18 seconds at a time.

mod dO3n (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15563438)

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Where's the torrent? (1)

erikdalen (99500) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563446)

I for one don't meet the hardware DRM requirements to buy those movies. But hopefully the non-DRM'ed versions will be out soon :)

formats (1)

pi_is_after_you (857195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563460)

Is this based on MPEG-2 format, like the DVD? or is it something completely different?

Transcodes (1)

scolen2 (956819) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563543)

Well, as a developer of these two new formats I have seen the original source and transcodes in person. While nothign will ever touch Uncompressed Online Video, but the new H264 transcodes look very nice. You lose a little depth, but you always will with compression. Now I'm not sure what those films were transcoded too, but you have 3 options for HD. MPEG2, VC-1 (WindowsMedia) and AVC (H264/MPEG4). I haven't seen these streams played back on Bluray hardware yet, but I really am not impressed by the HD-DVD hardware at all, So i can assume the same will occur with the Bluray HW. Anyway, its new and exspensive, and all things have growing pains. So the point i'm just trying to make is this... Its the hardware decoders fault, not the source transcodes. So be nice.

The public deems this irrelevant (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563551)

Since about 1 out of 90 people I know even have HD TV, Blue-ray and HD-DVD are somewhat irrelevant technologies. Hell, I don't even have an HD TV but I do have some killer computer displays. I probably won't buy any of this until I have no choice.

What size HDTV did they review these on? (1)

adachan (543372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15563620)

My 30 inch screen looks great even with divx movies at a low res and bitrate. My 60 inch SXBR on the other hand clarly shows the limits of the divx files. DVDs look pretty good, HD-DVDs look better. The difference is in the bitrate on the large screens. This is the clear benefit I can see from the new formats. Black backgrounds look MUCH better on a large screen. Check it out yourself if you dont believe me.
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