Saturday, September 17, 2011

Recent Buys : Keeping Dead Formats Alive HD-DVD

The high definition format war of Hd-dvd vs. Blu ray seems a lifetime away, even though it's only a few years ago. As an early adaptor of both formats via a US imported Toshiba HD-A1 player and a US 60GB Playstation 3, the war was irrelevant to me, it did provide me with amusement at the never ending childish bickering among the online fanboys on both sides.

Having purchased a steady stream of titles for both red and blu, I had no preference either way. However as time went on and more HD titles became available it soon became clear to me Hd-dvd was the better format from a practical point of view. Why? Firstly and most importantly the red format was region free, so as titles were released here in the UK I had a choice of where to buy from. This was a huge advantage over blu ray. Secondly, the format was basically finished from the beginning, every disc played and all the features were there from the start. This was far from the case with blu ray, where a format revision was required rendering early players limited in capability, constant firmware updates were required to play newer discs and usb sticks were often needed for some features.

When news broke of Warner's decision to fuck over Toshiba by stopping releasing titles on Hd-dvd in favour of blu ray, I couldn't help but feel the wrong decision had been made. Despite Hd-dvd having smaller storage, the quality was just as good (with the exception of fewer red titles having lossless sound), with the added advantages of being region free and actually working!

The good news is, since then blu ray has improved beyond all recognition. With the format established, the prices and quality of the players and discs are significantly better now. This took along time due to a format war that could have been easily avoided, how many times does this have to happen?

The upside of the red side's defeat was the clearance of the discs and players. Many titles were sold off for only a few pounds, as a result I ended up with a few titles I wouldn't have ever dreamed of buying (Poseiden remake anyone? So I'm a Kurt Russell fan!) but many more excellent discs. I also snagged a top of the range Toshiba HD-EX1 player for peanuts as most bailed on the format as quickly as possible. I have around a hundred or so Hd-dvds, having not added any for a while I checked out what was still around and picked up the following titles.


Kevin Smith's underrated second movie Mallrats, don't get me wrong it's hardly a classic but I do find it very funny thanks mainly to Jason Lee's fantastic performance. Smith seems to be getting plenty of shit these days but I'll watch anything he makes (except Cop out!)


One of the few Jet Li movies I haven't seen, not sure why really considering the cast.


Remake of one of my favourite of all John Carpenter's movies, not expecting it to be anywhere near but hopefully it'll be a solid action film and like Unleashed it has a good cast.


Not my usual kind of thing but I've heard some great things about Stardust, looking forward to checking it out.


I'm a huge fan of Walter Hill and this is one of his movies I haven't seen, again I've heard great things about Streets of fire and like most things it can only benefit from being seen in HD.


Until well into my teens I was really into King Arthur and the stories related to him. When I saw John Boorman's Excalibur during this time I really didn't know what to make of it, I barely remember any of it so it's a good time to revisit.

Any readers have opinions on the red/blu war?, do you still have/buy reds?

9 comments:

YTSL said...

I chose to sit out the war -- i.e., I (still) have neither HD-DVDs or blu-rays! ;O

Ty said...

Good haul! That is cool you are keeping HD-DVD alive! Also surprised you haven't seen Unleashed. Looking forward to your opinion.

A. said...

I do think HD-DVD was superior for the same reasons you stated, but one side had to win the war eventually.

Is it truly a dead format though? I remember only last year or two ago that laser-disc became a dead format as companies have officially stopped creating laser disc players.

Wes M said...

Wasn't there another dead format that came between DVD Blu/HD ? The actual cases were smaller than DVD... The local Xtravsion was selling the last of the stock off for next to nothing...

I was slow to come to Blu-Ray and I still try to stave off the tempatation to replace my titles on DVD with Blus. I'm not doing a very good job with that - I'm re-buying all the Argento stuff on Blu and I'll do the same for my Tarkovsky collection...

A big downer for me is the region-lock. I'm missing out all those great Criterion releases but y'know, money is always in short supply around here. Thank God for BFI, Masters of Cinema and Arrow...

My ultimate dead format is laserdisc and I have a huge fetish for them, especially the Japanese stuff...

A hero never dies said...

Hi YTSL, Possibly a wise choice, at least as far as money is concerned! It's a huge investment, particularly if you don't already have an HDTV. If you do then the benefit is huge and after a shaky start the HK releases are improving.

Ty. I'm surprised I haven't seen Unleashed, one of those films I meant to see but that just fell through the cracks.

A hero never dies said...

A. It's almost completely dead, no more players are being produced and no more support is offered by Toshiba. You can still buy compatible blu ray/Hd-dvd combi PC drives from LG, but thats it afaik. I'm still supporting laserdisc too, as you will see shortly I hope!

A hero never dies said...

Wes. I don't know what format you mean, I'm intrigued to know if you can remember. I struggle to not leap in feet first as far as new tech is concerned, even though it rarely pays off to buy a 1st gen product. It turns out the Hd-dvd players were a solid product in terms of reliability and very stable. I got lucky in buying a PS3 as my 1st blu ray player, it was the best blu ray available for quite a while and has been very well supported.

Region locks are a pain, but they can and have always been defeated, and in most cases anyone who cares enough to buy media from outside their own country will find a way to play it.

Watch this space as far as Laserdisc is concerned!

Wes M said...

Yeah, I remember it now. I was thinking about Universal Media Disc (UMD)...

A hero never dies said...

Wes. UMD was purely for the Sony PSP, I never understood why they existed. Who was realistically going to pay full price for the UMD of a movie they could only play on a portable device when they could pay less for the dvd they could play on virtually anything and rip to play on their PSP.

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