Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bleeding Dollars - HD DVD

Normally I would leave this type of analysis to Tech Crunch, but I am sad for the quickness of the turn around on HD-DVD. EHomeUpgrade has a post on HD-DVD slashing the cost of their players. Now I have no real vested interest in either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, but I was pulling for HD-DVD solely because of my Sony Hatetm. As a former Clie, Viao, and PowerShot owner, I love the style and function of many Sony products. They have been the Windows style Ying to Apples style Yang but, their proprietary formats and standards have largely driven me away from them. Mini-Disk, Memory Stick, UMD, Atrac3 I am sure there is more but I will leave it at that have soured my warm fuzzy feelings for Sony. Consumers marginally tolerate Microsoft for this type of B.S., however I think that Mac is proving that F with consumers for too long and you will find the people departing your product sphere at every opportunity.

What does any of this have to do with the Blu-Ray standard? Well HD-DVD was a pretty consumer friendly standard, it was an evolution of technology already in the trenches, and didn't mess with the customer much. First off the HD-DVD spec doesn't have Region Coding, which is a win for lovers of international content (or International viewers with a love for American content). The arbitrary splitting the world up into regions rather pisses me off as the internet has made pretty much anywhere my back yard. I read blogs from England, and Denmark, and some blogs with many posters around the world. Why shouldn't I be able to play my import Anime?1

Blu-Ray does do region encoding, and slathers some other content protection on for good measure. I find BD+ particularly onerous, as we have seen how well we can trust Sony's software judgment, RootKit anyone how about another? Granted modifying your hardware is often done by Pirates, but modifying your hardware does not a Pirate make you. I bought it, I will break it as I please. In my home Sony doesn't tell me what to do, I tell Sony what to do; and no matter how much that irks people it does not forestall my rights. Make no mistake, BD+ is a shot across the bow buy the Blu-Ray Consortium; put simply they believe that their intellectual property rights trump my consumer and physical property rights.

So to wrap up, the Pile on of the recent Warner Bros. decision to drop HD-DVD and the rumors swirling (or just being copied verbatim from others?)of Paramount leaving in February make me sad. HD-DVD was something of an underdog, and the slashing of prices only makes the smell of blood in the water stronger, I would love to see the broader implications of money changing hands brought up as I have to believe that if IE and Windows Media Player are grounds for anti-trust, buying studios has to rank in there somewhere.

1 Granted the good series are starting to get US distribution, but great Anime is still hard to get legally.

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