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Sony Says UMD Is Here To Stay

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the well-that's-a-relief dept.

Sony 160

PlayStation Portable senior marketing manager John Koller spoke with the Pocket Gamer site about the much-maligned UMD format. The disc used in the PSP for both games and movies, few stores carry UMD movies any more. Just the same, says Koller, Sony supports it 100%. From the interview: "'UMD possesses many strengths, from size to form factor to portability,' he says. The same can easily be said of the UMD's cartridge counterpart on Nintendo DS. However, ease of UMD manufacturing is seen as a winning benefit. 'Duplication of UMDs is much easier, cheaper than cartridges,' Koller adds. 'We've really optimized time and cost by going with a disc-based format.' On the topic of UMD weaknesses, Koller is candid: 'There's no question the biggest weakness is related to porting games from other platforms. Publishers are concerned about the size of UMD because they can't cram a DVD game on to it.'"

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1000 per cent jump as a result of deep discount (5, Insightful)

MSRedfox (1043112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797193)

"Sales in Japan, however, have been astronomical - in autumn of last year, UMD movies underwent a 1000 per cent jump in the region as a result of deep discounts by retailers." Well, yeah. That's an easy way to get sales. My local Circuit City blew their discs out fast when they were discontinued and marked down to $2 each. Last I knew, most movie distributors other then Sony had stopped releasing UMD movie titles due to poor sales. Sony just needs to let the format die, everyone else has.

Re:1000 per cent jump as a result of deep discount (2, Informative)

MSRedfox (1043112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797227)

I just did a quick search for UMD on CircuitCity.com and found 0 movie discs. On Bestbuy.com, I found 79 movie discs, all sold out and with the last one having a release date of 11/25/2005. The movie format is dead, it has been for a year and 1/2. Where does Sony come up with this stuff?

Re:1000 per cent jump as a result of deep discount (1)

odhen (996182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797337)

Best Buy is the only store I've seen a selection of UMD movies in. Wal-Mart started carrying them again, but only for the big display of the PSP, and only 5 different titles (all of which are Sony titles). I assume Sony paid Wal-Mart to carry them in the display. Either way, the prices were ridiculous for something you could only play on your PSP(I remember when Stealth came out and they charged $30 for it because it came with a couple levels of Wipeout Pure).

Re:1000 per cent jump as a result of deep discount (1)

richdun (672214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797277)

You missed the "in Japan" part, which makes sales data from your local Circuit City (or any Circuit City, Best Buy, etc. sitting anywhere in North America) irrelevant. Just look at MiniDisc - they love it over there, and yet it barely even got started over here in the States. It's possible UMD is big over there (my only connection to first-hand information on Japanese culture, and, not coincidentally, the only person I know who owns an MD player, has been in the States for a number of years and doesn't hear as much from over there any more).

Re:1000 per cent jump as a result of deep discount (1)

MSRedfox (1043112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797319)

I saw the "in Japan" part, but I was making a reference to the "deep discount" part. They don't say how big the discount was. My local Circuit City couldn't sell a UMD for the life of them, but when they were discounted to $2 they were sold out in hours. I was inferring that the sale in Japan could have been a similar discount and thus the results could be relevant. Of course, you are also right, they do love some formats that we hate. Both MD and VCD did well over there and never took off in the US. I guess its hard to tell without actually knowing just how big of a discount it really was.

Re:1000 per cent jump as a result of deep discount (3, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797327)

Except the marketspeak used in the cited sentence matches the situation perfectly. Deep discounts resulting in increase of sales, without citing the original sales which got increased, without writing about how (un)profitable the sale is after the deep discounts, without predictions about sustaining the sales level (is it just emptying the shelves of unwanted junk, or a promotion) etc.

Reminds me of a joke from soviet era. A The most famous runner from Poland was to compete against a soviet champion. It was a one on one race. The official message stated the results: "the Russian got the honourable second place, the Pole came in but-last."

Re:1000 per cent jump as a result of deep discount (4, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798505)

OMG 1000 per cent jump!?

That means that they sold 11 UMD movies?

Missionaccomplished? (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797223)

Sony making more optimistic claims trying to force another unwanted format?
I just don't understand why they even need to, are there any advantages that other formats don't (and wont) have?

Re:Missionaccomplished? (5, Insightful)

MSRedfox (1043112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797257)

"I just don't understand why they even need to, are there any advantages that other formats don't (and wont) have?" Yes, it has one big advantage for Sony. They can collect fees on UMD discs. If another format is used, they don't get paid for it. It is all about them trying to push their proprietary format so they get extra income. It is the same reason they want Blu-ray to take off. Nothing is better then getting paid for simply controlling the underlying media format.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (2, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797367)

The comments could be viewed in a number of ways.

I think the UMD, being a format exclusively used by the PSP, is a fine format. Not necessarily better than the DS' game cards, but with more storage, i can't complain.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797409)

But a pointless one...
You can now get 2GB MicroSD cards, which are absoloutely tiny... I'm sure the slightly larger SD cards come in sizes over 4gb, enough for a full DVD, and even full size SD cards are physically smaller than UMD or nintendo's cartridge format...
So why not just use standard media cards, like the ones mentioned above or one of the other types?

Re:Missionaccomplished? (2, Informative)

mlk (18543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797543)

Easy to copy both to and from, great for homebrew & pirates, crap for content producers.

Can't charge through noise for the writers.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (2, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798209)

Pressing a UMD is probably far far cheaper than even write once SD cards. UMDs can probably be pressed, like most optical media, for pennies.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798287)

That economy of scale only works if people actually want to buy the product.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (3, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798389)

You can now get 2GB MicroSD cards, which are absoloutely tiny

And how much did that 2GB MicroSD card cost when the PSP came out? Oh wait, they didn't make them at the time. You could get a 1GB MicroSD card for about a hundred bucks, though. Why didn't they just use those instead? Comparing what's available now to the materials available when the PSP was being developed/introduced indicates that you don't quite understand how this "flow of time" thing works.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (1)

nickyj (142376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799993)

Yes but why keep a format when other formats become more viable solutions the faults of the original format? UMDs suck because of wasted battery resources on spinning the disc, time wasted on loading, and whatever other faults it has.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800203)

Yes but why keep a format when other formats become more viable solutions the faults of the original format? UMDs suck because of wasted battery resources on spinning the disc, time wasted on loading, and whatever other faults it has.

So are you saying that Sony should release an update of the PSP that doesn't use UMDs, and thus is completely incompatible with the prior library? (Note that this is an update, and not a successor). And how about the people that have the older PSP? I know I'd be pissed off if they changed the format on which the games are available in the middle of the product's life. Frankly, it'd piss me off enough to turn me off from buying their products again.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (4, Insightful)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797699)

The biggest fault is deciding to put a shrunk DVD drive into a handheld. Manufacturing may be easier for them, but the DS cartridges are selling a bajillion times more and there doesn't seem to be a problem keeping up there.

The problem with the PSP is that it tried too much to be as powerful as a home console. Most of it's games are therefore not seen as better than DS games, but as stripped down versions of home console games.

Re:Missionaccomplished? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799191)

The biggest fault is deciding to put a shrunk DVD drive into a handheld. Manufacturing may be easier for them, but the DS cartridges are selling a bajillion times more and there doesn't seem to be a problem keeping up there.
Somehow I don't think the difference in sales of games between a DS and a PSP has anything to do with how easily the media is manufactured. Making a drive that relies on an established manufacturing process with minor modifications is a smart business move, both for Sony and for third party manufacturers. If anything the fault of the UMD is the extremely slow read speed of the drive.

The problem with the PSP is that it tried too much to be as powerful as a home console. Most of it's games are therefore not seen as better than DS games, but as stripped down versions of home console games.
What's wrong with being as powerful as a home console? Well done games look beautiful on the PSP and play very well. The problem is there aren't very many good games like that. Sony didn't seem to do jack in getting third party developers to do anything other than port their games over to it.

Not Made Here syndrome. (4, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797249)

Minidisk, Memory Stick, and now this. Sony seems to have its mind set on producing a medium that is more expensive than any of the competition, doesn't add anything significant feature-wise and is totally incompatibile with the rest of the world.
In one hand, this is kind of lock-in, buy ours, not the competitor's. In the other hand, the Memory Stick was a deciding factor in not picking a Sony when I was buying a camera...

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (2)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797559)

Minidisk, Memory Stick, and now this. Sony seems to have its mind set on producing a medium that is more expensive than any of the competition, doesn't add anything significant feature-wise and is totally incompatibile with the rest of the world.

Don't forget BetaMax and Blu-Ray. Sony has a long history of NIH syndrome. They also have a long history of losing to more open formats. In their defense, Blu-Ray is quite a bit more open than any of their previous attempts, but I still expect it to lose because of Sony's controlling nature.

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799257)

Lets also not forget that Betamax WAS the superior product. They lost out on that battle to VHS because sony wouldn't license betamax to adult content providers whereas vhs did....

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800899)

Lets also not forget that Betamax WAS the superior product. They lost out on that battle to VHS because sony wouldn't license betamax to adult content providers whereas vhs did....


Actually, at least in the beginning, Betamax DID lose out on one quality measure. And it was an very obvious one, and one that mattered to people who weren't videophiles. Betamax tapes weren't as long.

In HQ recording mode (which in the beginning was the ONLY recording mode, and remained the best mode if you cared at all about recording quality) the standard Betamax blank tape lasted only 90 minutes. The standard VHS blank tape lasted 120 minutes. This was an in a era when movies shown on TV almost invariably lasted 120 minutes. A lot of people bought VHS because that was the tape that let them record a movie off TV for later viewing.

Chris Mattern

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (3, Insightful)

ady1 (873490) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797741)

Floppy disks?

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799303)

Got to use one of these cameras extensively.
Sure the floppies were cheap, and the fact I carried a bag with 100 or so of them with me for each trip, as one would fit 3-4 pics of reasonable resolution, but they were a killer to the batteries, and the proprietary batteries sucked ass. About 20 floppies, meaning some 60-80 pics and the original battery included with the camera was dead. One of extended lifetime, and much more expensive would survive the other 80 or so.

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (2, Funny)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800079)

Don't forget CDs and DATs. Terrible, insignificant formats indeed.

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (2, Insightful)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797947)

Actually the Minidisk was a very practical format when it first came out since it had a lower form factor and was much more robust than CD or tape cassette, unfortunately since it was competing against the cheaper CD's and cassettes it was not as popular. Actually Sony licensed the technology to numerous companies, but once MP3 players appeared this made the Minidisk even less attractive, of course the MP3 player also killed off the cassette player as well. For more information on the Minidisk see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MiniDisc [wikipedia.org] .

The Memory Stick is a Sony format and is also licensed to other manufacturers so you can get Memory Sticks from Sony and other flash card manufactures. The price difference between SD flash card and a Memory Stick of the same capacity can vary from 10% to 100% more expensive, however this depends on the manufacturer.

As for choosing a camera, all camera manufacturers require you to use either SD, Compact Flash, MMC, XD or Memory Stick although I have personally found the Memory Stick is more expensive. Still if you want a PSP you do need a Memory Stick and i suppose you could call that vendor lock-in, however the PS3 allows you to use SD, Memory Stick or Compact Flash.

Nearly all manufactured products have some vendor lock-in because this means more profit for them, however most manufacturers realise that vendor lock-in can backfire on them so they license their products to other manufacturers so that they still make a profit although not as much as they would like if they kept it in-house. An example of licensing is CD's and DVD's, if you buy these items you actually are contributing to Sony who is actually part of the CD and DVD consortium's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_Forum#Founding_me mbers [wikipedia.org] . So if you don't want anything to do with Sony then you should not buy CD's or DVD's.

Keeping on topic, the UMD like the Minidisk is also a practical format in that it is a cheap, small robust disk with a reasonable capacity (1.8GB) and is very suitable for the PSP and most likely restricted to it. It is debatable if it could replace the CD player (a few years too late) since MP3 payers are also dominating that market. Since you can get 2GB and 4GB Memory Sticks it is possible to put avi files (ripped from your "cough!" purchased DVD's) on them and play them on your PSP and you can even play these files via your PSP to your PS3 and the result can be quite impressive on a HDTV.

Re:Serial Copy Protection (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798079)

Actually Sony licensed the technology to numerous companies, but once MP3 players appeared this made the Minidisk even less attractive, of course the MP3 player also killed off the cassette player as well.

Besides price, the copy protection was a turn-off for many. Having 2 non-interchangable format players and disks didn't help either (Data or Music). The CDR came along without Serial Copy Protection and the same disc could do Music or Data in any player/recorder except a stand alone music recorder which used Serial Copy Protection and wouldn't write to Data Discs. Needless to say, that recorder was stillborn.

Mandating restrictions on a music recorder is the kiss of death by failing to recognise the laws of commerce. The DAT suffered the same fate for the same reasons. MP3's showed how it's done without the restrictions. Now the industry is trying to put the genie back into the bottle.

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (3, Informative)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798597)

Sony could have owned the removeable media market in the '90s. Around the time that Iomega was raking in big bucks from their expensive Zip disks, Sony had made and was selling (but not pushing) a PC drive that could write to cheap 120MB Minidiscs. Unfortunately the drives were expensive at the time. That shouldn't have lasted long since the mechanisms and support electronics for reading and writing Minidisc aren't that much more complex than a CD-ROM transport.

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (1)

clonmult (586283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797989)

As for minidisk, at least with the majority of Sony players, they're significant addition was in battery life. My MZ-N510 could go for about 50 hours on 1xAA battery. Comprehensively beats all the competition on longevity.

I just wish they wouldn't continually keep on reducing the size of memory sticks. The move to duo pro was reasonable, but the M2 format is just plain stupid.

One of the first devices to use the M2 format was the SE K800i camera phone. It had to be a marketing decision to go M2 on that. It was much larger than the prior devices (K850, W810, etc.), so it wasn't a real estate issue that caused the move to the smaller format.

Re:Format choices. (4, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798041)

In the other hand, the Memory Stick was a deciding factor in not picking a Sony when I was buying a camera...

Add to the list the format of the battery. My first digital camera was a SONY. Two lessons learned.. Interchangable parts are a must. Otherwise you are required to overstock seldom used items.

One memory card and one battery is OK for the occasional shot of the kid but useless when taking in an auto show, wedding and reception, parade, etc. Either I had a full memory with lots of useless CF cards nearby, or a dead battery with lots of NiMH and alkaline batteries nearby also useless.

I have standardised as much as possible. Everything uses either CF or SD cards and AA or AAA batteries. I have enough of both to get the job done. For a big job, the cards get pulled out of the MP3 player, the GPS and the hand held computer. A 2 week vacation to Hawaii did not mean running out of supplies. When I ran out of batteries at the cultral center, I broke open some alkaline batteries and kept shooting. I was not held hostage to a propritory battery format. It's nice that my flashlight and camera share batteries.

Re:Format choices. (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798807)

Agreed. Allthough its getting to be less on an issue. Memory-cards are getting cheaper faster than the pixel-count of cameras are growing. (and for many people there's no reason really to go higher than say a 5-8Mpix camera)

For many people, this means memory-capacity is essentially infinite. A 1GB memory-chip that costs perhaps $20 will hold aproximately 1000 pictures taken with my wifes point-and-shoot. That *is* enough for most people, even for an extended vacation. And if it wasn't, a 4GB card ain't expensive...

You want to upload sometimes anyway, if for no other reason, to guard against the possibility of broken, missed or stolen equipment.

Batteries are more of an issue, if you're away from mains for longer periods. With my DSLR I can take about 150 pictures on a charge, which is decidedly not enough for say a week of backpacking.

Re:Format choices. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799325)




A 1GB memory-chip that costs perhaps $20 will hold aproximately 1000 pictures taken with my wifes point-and-shoot.

If you'd like to see 1000 pictures of your wife, all you have to do is Google "cum slurping whore." Make sure you have Safe Surf turned off. Cheers!




Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799283)

It's a consequence of the way Sony works internally. They've got small, independent engineering teams who are more or less encouraged to work on whatever idea pops into their head, even if the market research studies says nobody wants it.

This worked really well once, with the Walkman. But that was a statistical fluke. As much as I hate to give credit to marketing professionals, Sony would probably be better off listening to the studies more often.

Re:Not Made Here syndrome. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799909)

Oh, the idea isn't all that bad. Google works on similar basis, people start their projects and whichever project gains popularity, becomes a standard. Gmail, maps, froogle, code search, they were all pet projects of separate Google employees, invented by them and created without any market research whatsoever.
Except Google people seem to remember compatibility/interoperability is one of most desired features. Sony seems to prefer a lock-in and reinventing the wheel without any good reasons.

Sony invested too much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19797261)

It sounds like Sony put all their eggs in one basket and are not willing to claim that UMD is a failure. Had they gone with the same small form factor that could hold as much as a dvd, had fast reads, and was on a device capable of tv-out... then the format might of had a future. At this point, Sony actually has sold a lot of PSPs and the device is a complete success if you ignore the existence of the gameboy. If Sony had done any sort of QA on the PSP, they would of realized what a liability UMD was. Basically, they focused on things "not gaming" for a gaming device and got burned. UMD works great for watching movies "on the psp", but sucks as a format for distributing games.

They needed to cut costs years ago. (4, Insightful)

deniable (76198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797267)

Every time I saw UMD movies, they were more expensive than the DVD version. This probably hurt sales of the PSP as well.

It's typical Sony. Make your own format and charge extra for it. They never learn.

Re:They needed to cut costs years ago. (5, Insightful)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797323)

Hmm... do I buy the UMD version of the movie and watch it on just my PSP, or do I buy it on DVD, rip and convert it to play from a Memory Stick, using less battery power, and costing less to boot...

Tough decisions...

What country? (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797769)

do I buy it on DVD, rip and convert it to play from a Memory Stick, using less battery power, and costing less to boot
What country lets its citizens do this? The United States sure doesn't (17 USC 1201).

Re:What country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19798171)

What country lets its citizens do this? The United States sure doesn't (17 USC 1201).
Why, just about every country other than the US, of course.

Thank God I'm Canadian!

Re:What country? (1)

WilliamTS99 (942590) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798265)

What country other then the US doesn't allow this?

Re:What country? (4, Insightful)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798369)

What country lets its citizens do this?

Every country. Except yours.

Re:What country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800331)

What country lets its citizens do this?
Every country. Except yours.
I wonder what you guys are talking about? Do what? Don't you just love how the censorship system at Slashdot destroys the continuity of every discussion? I sure hope the new version addresses this. (and no, reloading the page at threshold -1 nested view should not be necessary, though that view is broken anyway... and don't give me crap about being overwhelmed with spam, I can decide for myself what is spam and what is not thank you very much)

Sony supports it 100% (4, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797271)

They forgot to mention that's quite insufficient. Stores don't support it. Content producers (except Sony) don't support it.

And not to mention, consumers don't support it. Who'd pay almost the full price of a movie just to watch a downscaled version on his psp.

Re:Sony supports it 100% (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798225)

And not to mention, consumers don't support it.

So I take it you're claiming that consumers aren't buying games to play on their PSPs either.

Re:Sony supports it 100% (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799917)

"And not to mention, consumers don't support it. Who'd pay almost the full price of a movie just to watch a downscaled version on his psp."

I would have if they had thought it through a little more. With 1.5 gigs they could have used a codec like DivX to put not only a PSP optimized version of the movie on the disc, but also a SD res version that would play on a TV. If they had done that, I would have seriously considered (assuming it wasn't prohibitively expensive) a Sony DVD player that also had a UMD slot and purchased my movies as UMDs. Then I'd have movies that were both portable and watchable on the big screen. But... yeah, since they did it the way they did, I agree with you.

Re:Sony supports it 100% (1)

Lord of Hyphens (975895) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800091)

Other than the odd moron? Bear in mind I knew one who did indeed buy UMD movies for his PSP. Then again, this person was an ass with too much disposable income.

cartridge vs cd/dvd? (2, Interesting)

poisonfruitloops (1021581) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797333)

comparing it to DS cartridges is a bit odd for gaming too... you can't write to a UMD can you? (i don't own a psp so i don't know, i just thought it was the case)

Re:cartridge vs cd/dvd? (2, Funny)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797649)

Only with a Sharpie, but I don't recommend it. :)

From (2, Interesting)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797361)

a price standpoint umd is outright weird, movies three times the price of a normal dvd which are not copyable (face it even illegal dvd backups are the norm not the exception) from a technical standpoint a mixed bag, they finally added caddies to improve the lifespan, but they left out a hole the size of a finger, so the caddies are outright pointless. The medium itself is a nice extension to dvds, but since they are not writable they serve only one purpose, customer lock in! Besides that 2 gig sd cards are now somewhat 10 dollars or so, so even if sony would bring out writable umd drives, they would be bound to fail, the next medium which will go the way of the dodo will be dvds (and their rw incarnations), 4 gig memory cards soon will be in the pricerange of a no brainer!

"Strength" (3, Insightful)

vga_init (589198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797383)

UMD possesses many strengths, from size to form factor to portability,

That's not many strengths; that's one. It's SMALL. Also, this attribute is not necessarily a strength. It could have many downsides too.

Re:"Strength" (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797447)

Only UMD disks are not small, compared to all the myriad of media card formats... I can get a 2GB MiniSD card for $10, which is a fraction of the size of a UMD disk.
What exactly are they trying to compare to?

Re:"Strength" (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800577)

You can't write to UMD format (which I think is one of Sony's big mistakes with the format), so saying that a MiniSD card is cheaper and smaller than UMD is irrelevant.

CDs, mini CDs and DVDs are the only direct comparison and UMD is smaller than all of those.

Re:"Strength" (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797469)

Small isn't a strength, DENSE DATA is a strength, as in much data small space, small not always good. I mean like "Wow that's good its nice and small" two minutes later "Oh wait, all the games suck cos there's no space on the disc.

Re:"Strength" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797781)

Oh wait, all the games suck cos there's no space on the disc.
You don't need a lot of space on the disc to make a good game. How does Nintendo get away with fitting Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, or Tetris into 32 MiB? In fact, using more space may reduce the fun factor, as it takes time to copy the data from the disc to RAM every time the data is needed.

Re:"Strength" (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799663)

You don't need a lot of space on the disc to make a good game. How does Nintendo get away with fitting Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, or Tetris into 32 MiB? In fact, using more space may reduce the fun factor, as it takes time to copy the data from the disc to RAM every time the data is needed.
It takes 32 MiB to hold Mario Kart? That's a feat! There's not even that many letters! (They must be borrowing letters from any number of our visitors)

Re:"Strength" (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797489)

But "big" probably has more downsides, so "small" is a good feature. Too bad it's the ONLY good feature, and not one that is largely unimportant for the intended purpose (watching movies) and, as the poster before you noticed, not particularly unique (mini-DVD, cheap flash-memory)

Sony wouldn't lie... (5, Funny)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797395)

Allow me to quote a post on the last /. Sony story [slashdot.org] :

  • "$499 PS3 rumored"

  • "$499 PS3 denied by Sony CEO"

  • "Sony rejects $499 PS3"

  • "Sony Spokesman says $499 a hoax"

  • "$499 PS3 confirmed"


Allow me to add one more bullet:

  • "Sony Says UMD Is Here To Stay"


Anyone have a guess about tomorrow's headline?...

Re:Sony wouldn't lie... (1, Informative)

hmccabe (465882) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797577)

I tried to mod you funny, but accidentally clicked on overrated. Unfortunately, the new mod system doesn't wait for me to hit the moderate button, so sorry about that. But by submitting this, I undo the mod. Neat!

Re:Sony wouldn't lie... (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797693)

You put a lot more effort into a post that covered what I was going to say. I was simply going to point out that these sort of statements are usually just a last ditch effort to avoid doing exactly the opposite of what the statement claims, and rarely work. But your examples have much more punch, well done.

Re:Sony wouldn't lie... (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798567)

Exactly. There is absolutely no point in being negative about their format, until the very last one is sold. Until the very last moment, it will be lauded despite all the logic against it. When they do finally kill it off, it will still be lauded, so there is never any point in listening to a company in this situation, especially Sony.

Re:Sony wouldn't lie... (2, Funny)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798587)

I wouldn't say I put much effort into this. Copy, paste, add a couple bullet points, et viola.

Re:Sony wouldn't lie... (2, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799329)

That's a pretty obvious progression:

  • "UMD denied by Sony CEO"
  • "Sony rejects UMD"
  • "Sony Spokesman says UMD a hoax"

Re:Sony wouldn't lie... (1)

myster0n (216276) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799791)

Yeah, OK, Sony may have lied in the past.
But I really do think that they mean it when they say that UMD is here to stay.
Only thing is : "Here" is their warehouse.

Strengths (4, Funny)

laurens (151193) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797461)

"'UMD possesses many strengths, from size to form factor to portability,' he says.

Not only that. It's also rather small, its dimensions are less-than-huge, it fits inside a reasonably sized box, not much space is generally taken by these disks and you can put many of them in one standard shirt pocket. Not to mention it's engineered not to be very big and there are lots of objects that take much more space. Geez, know your product's strengths man.

The title of this article seem incomplete. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19797517)

"Sony says UMD is here to stay; consumers not buying it."

Re:The title of this article seem incomplete. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797691)

That's why it's here to stay. If consumer bought it, it would be with the consumers instead and not here anymore.

No, the missing part is... (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798377)

"... on store shelves."

Re:The title of this article seem incomplete. (1)

DohnJoe (900898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799339)

how about: "Sony says UMD is here to stay, just like STD's."

UMDs biggest weakness? (3, Interesting)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797569)

'There's no question the biggest weakness is related to porting games from other platforms
Um... no. The UMDs biggest weakness is that honking great window that lets sand/dust/jam/toast/your gran in to destroy the game you bought with your hard-earned cash.

That said, a UMD disc is just a minidisc (sans cover) using DVD technology rather than CD technology. It won't be long until BluMD is here folks!

Remember the MiniDisc? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797673)

Same deal. Actually, it was even heaps better than UMD. Great concept, way ahead of its time. A rewriteable, portable medium that could store heaps of data long before the advent of the DVD or the price landslide of the solid storage. Yet a desaster. Why?

The reasons are similar to UMD: Sony's attempt to corner the market, rely on vendor lock-in and a DRM system that made it unusable. It's a no-brainer that you cannot force the market to use your proprietary format that none but your own hardware can read. And that's what Sony is trying (again). There is only ONE SINGLE platform for UMD. The PSP. And, let's be honest here, PSP sales weren't that great to begin with. PSPs are also not really the primary platform for watching movies. Far from it. And I think it's safe to assume that you have to pay Sony if you want to release a movie in UMD format.

Could anyone, or everyone, with at least a hint of a background in business think of a reason why UMD fails?

Re:Remember the MiniDisc? (2, Insightful)

Diabolus Advocatus (1067604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797829)

Actually, Sony didn't try to

force the market to use your proprietary format that none but your own hardware can read
with the minidisc. Many companies from Sharp to AIWA produced minidisc players, recorders and discs that were all cheaper than Sony's versions. In fact, I own one and still use it with a mic as a portable sound recorder and it does a damn good job. The minidisc failed because of the price and the poor selection of music available. I believe that the demise of the UMD is mainly down to the fact that if you want to watch movies on the go you can buy them on DVD, rip them and transfer to your mp4 (or similar) player. That way you still have the DVD that at SD resolution and will play on your TV, you can watch it on the go, and it cost you about three times less than the UMD.

Re:Remember the MiniDisc? (4, Insightful)

bri2000 (931484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798133)

Great concept, way ahead of its time

I used MD (and HiMD) for my portable music needs about 9 years for the period between the death of cassette and me finally succumbing and buying an iPod last year out of sheer frustration with Sony's arrogance. While I liked the format and owned four portable players a micro system with built in MD player which I had at work and even a rack size stand alone recorder/player and I really don't agree that it was ahead of its time. The original players were conceived more as a direct replacement for cassette than anything else. They did not integrate with computers at all and you had to record directly from your CD player in real time meaning that making a compilation disc was as time consuming as making a mix tape used to be (and you couldn't adjust recording levels to equalise volume over the disc without introducing unpleasant digital distortion) and maximum play time was 74 minutes. Notwithstanding that I preferred them to portable CD players, which were the only alternative at the time.

Sony did not introduce NetMD with its PC integration until 2002, sometime after HDD and solid state mp3 players had started to become popular and (I always felt) as a grudging and half-arsed response to them. Looking back now I can't believe I stuck with NetMD as long as I did, I guess it must be true what they say about vendor lock-in - I had spent a lot of time recording MDs and I didn't want to start again on a new format. NetMD offered little over regular MD (a couple of long play modes of which only LP2 was seriously usuable for music and the fact your music was now also stored on your PC) Amongst the numerous problems the NetMD software (orginally called OpenMGJukebox, later SonicStage) had were:

1. The fact it would only let you export a track to a maximum of 3 MDs. This was a blaket prohibition and, perhaps, the earliest example of Sony's draconian approach to DRM. This limitation became a real problem for me when I had a bag with most of my MDs in it stolen.

2. If you had to do a system restore it would break the DRM and you would not have to access your music library at all. There was supposed to be a tool which fixed this. I could never make it work for me. It was when this happened for the second time (and Sony support claimed that this wasn't a bug but a feature) that I decided to buy an iPod.

3. The NetMD could only read ATRAC format files meaning that any MP3s etc had to be converted. This resulted in loss of quality and would not work at all with WMA files (I think this may have finally been fixed recently).

HiMD was actually a big advance I thought - 1GB discs, the ability to record PCM - but it was too little too late. When it was released it sold for the same price as as an iPod and just couldn't compete, especially given the awful software. I probably didn't help that spare 1GB discs weren't available until months after the players were launched)

UMD (1)

Jaaay (1124197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797675)

Umd movies didn't end up how they wanted it but they'll probably continue to support it for years for whatever reasons(?) just like they did with their memory sticks and minidisc and beta. All these things never really went mainstream but had niches and were still officially supported.

it's not small, it's far from it (3, Interesting)

Fross (83754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797807)

Why do people keep saying the UMD is small? It's not, its physical size is way bigger than it should be, for its storage capacity. You can get 2 gig SD cards [amazon.com] dirt cheap already, which are smaller, technically hold more, more energy-efficient, and probably load faster, too.

It's a proprietary, unwieldy format (can't display UMD movies on a tv, can't get writers or blank ones), but it's also bulky compared to alternatives (hell, i'd rather carry USB sticks), and small storage compared to alternatives.

Re:it's not small, it's far from it (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797995)

You apparently missed the other bit of the article: It's cheap to produce.

Memory cards are getting cheaper to produce every year, but when UMDs were invented, they were still quite expensive. A -blank- 2gb SD card at the time would have been about $200, I believe.

As it stands, a blank 2gb SD card is still about $15 (from your link), half the cost of the retail games. Most stores still charge about $40.

And those are just standard cards. In order to prevent easy theft, there would need to be a DRM system (like it or not, console makers aren't going to drop DRM ever). Nothing can ever stop the theft of games, but reasonable measures need to be taken to attract developers.

But wait! There's already a handheld on the market that does something like this! Nintendo -still- uses cartridges in their systems. I don't think any DS cart has had 2gb of data on it yet, but at least they use cartridges. If you really prefer carts, just buy Nintendo instead. Most games are coming out for both systems now, anyhow.

Re:it's not small, it's far from it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19800533)

$14 vs a couple cents at best... I think from a manufacturers standpoint they'd still go with UMD... especially when you consider a few years ago when PSP was released a 2GB SD was at least $150.

judgement day is at hand... (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797815)

UMD - its like drugs.... just say no!

It was fine for the game platform, im reality it was nothing too different from a cart - but i do wonder how long it is before someone comes out with a handheld gaming platform that aims to do at least some of these things:

- Linux based
- open cartridge interface
- the ability to plug in your own/code games.

cause if you can make that, then its only 1 step to linux console, and only one step to mythtv as well... I can understand why companies dont want to do it, its a brave move amongst other things (like drm and copy protection) - but not that different from a ps2/ps3 really.

Then maybe, just maybe, the big gaming companies will start going "hmm, maybe we should use opengl instead?"

im living in a dream world of course, im well aware of that...

Re:judgement day is at hand... (1)

germ!nation (764234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798013)

the GP32/GP2X is exactly that... apart from it doesn't make any serious games company think anything because it is incredibly niche and the hardware isn't very good.

Re:judgement day is at hand... (1)

wwahammy (765566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798045)

How long? Very... Console developers make money on license fees from each game sold. If you no longer needed to go through the console maker, they would lose their cash cow.

Re:judgement day is at hand... (1)

animaal (183055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798061)

i do wonder how long it is before someone comes out with a handheld gaming platform that aims to do at least some of these things:

- Linux based
- open cartridge interface
- the ability to plug in your own/code games.
About 3 years ago:

http://www.dynamism.com/gp2x/main.shtml?gclid=CJyD mKKimo0CFQSDEAod4CoV2w [dynamism.com]

Re:judgement day is at hand... (1)

timftbf (48204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798821)

It was fine for the game platform

I beg to differ. PSP is the only platform on which I have given up on a game for which I'm enjoying the gameplay, but the loading times just made the whole affair painful.

The culprit here is Breath of Fire. Walk through a dungeon, a random encounter happens. Wait 10-20s loading for music to change. Wait another 10s for characters to load their 'ready weapons' animations. Wait another 10s for the battle to actually start. Defeat random enemy. Wait 10s for victory music. Wait 10s for victory animation. Wait 10s for the 'l00t you found' prompts. Wait 10s to regain control of the gameplay.

In a dungeon where you're finding random encounters every few dozen steps, that's way more time listening to the heads shuttle back and forth across the UMD than actually playing the game. Doesn't do a lot for battery life either.

I'm still very much torn about the PSP. The screen is beautiful, it's a great portable DivX platform, and there are some good games for it. But it should have used carts, or have much better methods for caching data to the memory stick.

Haven't we seen this before a billion times? (1)

trancertong (992719) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797821)

Sony is learning the same lessons Apple learned. Until very recently, and even still to this day to a lesser extent, Apple tends to lock-in their formats and protocols to only work with Macintosh computers. Sony does the same thing with the PSP, with the Playstation 3, with their Vaio computers, and their camcorder/still camera lineup. It's become even more detrimental in recent years though, as people become more aware of interoperability and open standards. But I think Sony's intentions aren't entirely greed; partially I think they want the same thing Apple wanted: to offer users a simpler, more streamlined experience by having everything line up perfectly. Once you take this a step too far, though, you turn simplicity into slavery.

Re:Haven't we seen this before a billion times? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19798143)

Your optimism is refreshing, but I can't see it as anything but greed. unless you can tell me how a rootkit on your makes for a simpler, streamlined experience.

Re:Haven't we seen this before a billion times? (2, Informative)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798399)

The difference is - as you've implied - that Apple generally tries to solve a problem that has no open solution (there were no alternatives to AppleTalk or ADB, for example). Sony often just tries to control markets with its proprietary formats (there really was no need for Memory Sticks). Which is probably why Apple is changing, and Sony isn't: Technology has caught up with Apple, so they don't need to rely on proprietary formats anymore. Sony, on the other hand, still tries to control as many markets as it can.

Re:Haven't we seen this before a billion times? (1)

benzapp (464105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800931)

What was the alternative to the UMD? They wanted a large, inexpensive format that will fit in a handheld.

Cache to Memory Stick (3, Interesting)

blackwing0013 (680833) | more than 7 years ago | (#19797933)

Well, since there is news that the latest PSP firmware already has a built-in ISO loader, I hope Sony would make the PSP to cache the UMD on the Memory Stick. And by cache, I mean rip/copy the whole UMD to the Memory Stick. I don't care if that copy will be locked on a parituclar PSP (you still have the original UMD anyway) as long as I can rung the game that I bought from the Memory Stick so that games would load faster and that my PSP would have longer battery life.

of course it's here to stay (2, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798183)

Is this really even a story? As long as they continue to make and sell the PSP, the UMD disc is going to be made, too (note, we're not talking about UMD movies). Were you guys expecting them to suddenly release a PSP that uses a different format and is totally incompatible with all previous games out there? Didn't think so. So why is this a surprise?

They're right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19798207)

They're right you know; I can definitely still remember what UMD was.

Here to stay... (2, Insightful)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#19798345)

Yeah, UMD movies are here to stay. Stay on the shelves of the retailers, that is. There is no space on the market for a format that costs more than DVDs, has less content than DVDs, and can only be played on one single device that isn't selling particularly well.

Having said that, I will admit that I have actually bought about a dozen UMD movies. Many of the major retailers are or were getting rid of them, and it was possible to buy them for a few bucks. So I have a bunch of unwatched UMDs I can watch if I'm going on a longer train trip. The main issue with that is, of course, that watching UMDs drains the battery much faster than watching movies from the memory stick. On the other hand, they look better...

universal media discs! (2, Insightful)

syrinx (106469) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799149)

Remember, they're universal! They can play in your PSP made by Sony, and also can play in...

um...

well, an entirely different PSP, also made by Sony!

Universal!

Re:universal media discs! (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799359)

it's "Universal Media" disc not Universal "Media disc"

Universal refers to the disc's ability to hold multiple kinds of data, games, music or video.

Re:universal media discs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19799921)

WOW. What will those brainiacs at Sony think of next?
I mean, just think about it : a disk format that can hold games, music or video? That's revolutionary!!!

Re:universal media discs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19801001)

They're universal because they were originally designed around storing games, movies, and music for PSP. It's "Universal Media" Disc, not Universal "Media Disc".

UMD isn't that bad, now the PSP... (1)

wilgibson (933961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799403)

My mother (being the nice person she is) got me a PSP through her work's reward program a few weeks back. And, while I have a DS to tote around my college campus, I'm loving the PSP. For being a portable system the games have great graphics and music. The down side, most of the UMDs for games I've tried don't seem to have file placement optimized very well. You can hear the system constantly accessing information and having to search the disc. Add the constantly start and stop of the disc drive to the short battery life and you get the biggest downside of the PSP system and the UMD format. 6 hours of battery life is the most I've gotten out of my PSP, when I can definitely say my DS can get around 15 hours. I use my portable systems as a way to pass time between classes when I may only have a half hour to do something, not enough to start on homework or read a chapter and remember it. The PSP battery just isn't reliable enough for me. The DS I can close and put into sleep mode, open it after class and pretty much be sure I can play even after a long week of use. The PSP on the other hand I either have to turn it off and go through all the BS to start it back up, or leave it in sleep and hope the battery doesn't die(which it has done already).

I will have to say, I'm quite impressed with the format itself. It's small, fairly easy to carry, and from what I understand holds about as much info as a GameCube disc. It's the system, it's lack luster battery life, and the horrible disc optimization I'm not to impressed with.

Whatever. (2, Insightful)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19799583)

$500 is better than $600, but it will still buy me ten games for my Wii, or even more for my DS.

Of course, if they actually start releasing GOOD movies on Blu-Ray, instead of crappy back-catalog bombs, then I might actually buy one to watch movies. But as long as The Criterion Collection stays on DVD-ROM, no PS3 for me!

What price cut? The bottom line is still $500 (2, Insightful)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19801041)

You realize there was always a $500 PS3, right? The problem with this price cut is that Sony didn't lower their bottom line, they just dropped the price of 40gb of extra hard drive space $100 and offered a new $600 SKU. Sure, you ARE getting 40gb of extra hard drive now, but how much more does this cost Sony? $5-10? This is called marketing. You're not really getting a price cut as much as you're being subjected to a marketing tactic.

Gone the way of the BETA (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800565)

UMD is here to stay like BETA. Some will use it but will not be effective in the mainstream like they are pushing.

Translation follows... (2, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19800773)

"Here to stay" : "We can't *give* the damn things away"
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