According to a recent poll very few Americans are onboard with high definition media players, given that only 11 percent own an HD-DVD player, while 7 percent own a Blu-ray player.
While these numbers may not seem that high, they are up notably from 2008, where only 6 percent had HD-DVD players, and 4 percent had Blu-ray players. And, while there are a good amount of people with these players, many are still buying standard definition discs to watch on them, with only one high definition disc being bought per six standard definition discs.
Interesting results, especially given that Blu-ray was declared the winner of the format war sometime last year.
If you’d like to see the whole poll, be sure to check it out here (clicking the link will download a PDF).
According to recent reports, the production cost for Blu-ray players is roughly $100 today, thanks to pick-up heads and chipsets making up 50 and 25 percent of this cost, respectively. Though, it’s expected that this price will come down greatly, providing consumers with the potential for $50 players.
Thanks to Sears and Meijer selling players at only $99.99, many industry professionals are expecting that the players will soon be seeing a price drop, if larger resellers are able to sell them at this price. The price drop is currently being linked to more makers of the two key components (the pick-up heads and chipsets) sporting higher yield rates.
Movie pirates have often justified their DMCA violations by claiming that “they were just making backup copies”. And while this might seem like a reasonable enough explanation for cracking the copy protection on your new Blu-ray disk, it is in fact, highly illegal. It’s taken over three years, but “Managed Copy” is hoping to finally put the backup issue to rest by allowing users to make legitimate backup copies of their Blu-ray disks as early as next year.
For those of you who are thinking that this sounds too good to be true, it does indeed come at a cost. Current Blu-ray players will most likely not be able to decode the copied disk, and although this feature will be included in new players, that doesn’t help people with older hardware. The number of copies will also be heavily restricted, carry an unknown price tag, and if you want a PC friendly version, the result is a DRM-laced, Microsoft only file. This leaves iPod’s, Zune’s, and other platforms out in the cold. This might change before next year, but it seems increasingly unlikely when you consider that the authenticity check requires an internet connection.
I suppose something is better than nothing, and while Slysoft clearly has the superior solution,at least this one is guaranteed to be legal!
Probably the only one blindsided by the NPD Group's latest numbers is Sony, which according to a new report shows first-quarter Blu-ray player sales increasing by 72 percent to over 400,000 units. It's no coincidence that the average selling price for a stand-alone Blu-ray player has gone down 34 percent from this same time last year, with the average player now selling for $261 instead of $393.
"The rising penetration of high-definition televisions and lower Blu-ray player prices are broadening the format's market opportunity," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD. "Even as options expand for accessing movies digitally, Blu-ray is carrying forward the widespread appeal of DVD into the high-definition marketplace."
Along with more players finding their way into the mainstream market, sales of Blu-ray movies are up significantly, too. U.S. residents bought about 9 million Blu-ray flicks in the first quarter, compared to 4.8 million during the same quarter last year.
We’ve become so accustomed to the ease and convenience of iTunes and blink-and-you-miss-’em CD rips that we forget how in the mid-1990s, ripping a CD was a time-consuming process fraught with peril. Shoot, ripping a single disc to a 128Kbps MP3 could take eight hours on a 200MHz Pentium! Fast forward a decade and faster hardware and better software have made CD ripping so mainstream your mom does it.
Now, ripping DVDs is our great challenge. Copying and transcoding the disc’s video into more efficient formats involves math an order of magnitude scarier than what’s required to rip audio CDs. A machine that will rip the latest Miley Cyrus CD in mere moments could take hours to extract and convert your copy of Alien vs. Predator to an iPod-friendly format. But with the right software, a quad-core-equipped PC, and a little know-how, you can cut your disc-rip time from hours to 30 minutes. Plenty of tricks and traps still await first-time rippers, but we’ll show you the basics and then walk you through some of the most valuable power-user ripping secrets.
Your first decision is simple: What player are you ripping your discs for? Are you ripping for a portable player, like the PSP or iPhone? Would you rather stream to a device in your living room, like the Xbox 360, PS3, or Popcorn Hour? Or are you simply interested in making archival-quality DVD rips in case you lose your collection? More likely, you’re looking for a combination of all three of these things. We’ll show you how to rip your DVD to a file suitable for streaming that consumes a fraction of the disk space of a DVD but maintains full video and audio quality. Then you can take that file and convert it for whatever other devices you might have, like a PSP or an iPod.
With the preliminaries out of the way, let’s get started.
As Blu-ray players and media continues to go down, the cost of adding Blu-ray to your Netflix subscription is going up. Again. Back in October of last year, Netflix implemented a $1 surcharge to customers who wanted to add access to Blu-ray rentals to their monthly subscription plan, saying the price hike was to cover the "significant cost difference" between Blu-ray and standard DVDs. Netflix called it a "pretty modest" surcharge at the time, but now you could be paying up to $9 extra per month to add Blu-ray to your plan.
"We’re committed to providing a high quality Blu-ray experience for our members who choose to add Blu-ray access, and in order to do that we need to adjust Blu-ray pricing. As a result, the monthly charge for Blu-ray access is increasing for most plans and will now vary by plan," wrote Jessie Teitz, Netflix's VP of marketing, in a blog post.
Hit the jump to see how the new pricing breaks down.
While HD-DVD fell to Blu-ray years ago, it looks like Kinetic is still looking to push an HTPC that supports the format.
Though, that may be a bit unfair. The Kinetic HD:Hub has a drive in it that supports not only HD-DVD, but Blu-ray as well (keep in mind though, if you’re looking to pick up some leftover HD-DVD movies at liquidation prices, you’ll actually have the means to watch them!). And under the hood of this beast you’ll find an Intel Core i7 processor, up to four TV tuners, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, and a creative X-Fi Titanium sound card.
Everyone assumed the high definition format war was over after movie studios abruptly bailed on the HD-DVD format seemingly over night, but could it be just beginning? China certainly hopes so, whose China Blue HD (CBHD) just received a shot in the arm from Warner Brother's announcement that it plans to support the format with several films in the first half of 2009.
Like HD-DVD, CBHD players and media are comparatively inexpensive next to Blu-ray. According to the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center (OMNERC), who jointly produced the CBHD format with the DVD Forum, converting an existing DVD production line to CBHD costs just $800,000, significantly lower than the $3 million it takes to switch to Blu-ray. Add low licensing fees to the mix and you have a format that's easier on the wallet for Chinese customers than Blu-ray.
Studios appeared uninterested in backing the CBHD format when the group tried to promot itself in the fall of 2008. With Warner Brothers jumping on board, it will be interesting to see if other studios follow suit, especially since a pricing advantage wasn't enough to keep HD-DVD afloat. And with the announcement of a new Blu-ray licensing firm, which is expected to result in lower priced players and media by mid-year, CBHD's window of opportunity might be closing fast.
Your next build may very well come configured with dual-SSD drives in a RAID 0 array for the OS, a gluttonous 2TB SATA HDD for storage duties, and a Blu-ray optical drive for movie watching and HD backups. And for quick transfers from one rig to another, does it get any sweeter than a 64GB USB thumb drive loaded with all of your favorite apps? Such a storage scheme is certainly worthy of dream machine status, but our storage options weren't always as fanciful, fast, and fat as they are today. Some of you may remember toting a 3.5-inch floppy to and from school, while others hearken all the way back to cassette tapes. And if you've lived long enough to remember the IBM Punch Card first hand, just ask and we'll SPEAK LOUDER.
Fasten your seatbelt and take a trip back in time with us as we follow the evolution of computer storage through the ages.
Despite winning the high-definition format war, Blu-ray adoption appears to be at a standoff with most consumers. Not everyone is willing to pay the relatively high prices associated with Blu-ray players, and that decision has been aided by the prominence of streaming media (a la Netflix) and upconverting standard DVD players. And it looks like consumers were right to wait.
Panasonic, Philips, and Sony have jointly announced plans to create a single licensing firm for Blu-ray patents, which should help drive prices down across the board. The new license is expected to cover all the essential Blu-ray patents to be overseen by an un-named licensing company in the U.S and run by Gerald Rosenthal, former head of intellectual property at IBM.
"By establishing a new licensing entity that offers a single license for Blu-ray Disc products at attractive rates, I am confident that it will foster the growth of the Blu-ray Disc marekt and serve the interest of all companies participating in this market, be it as licensee or licensor," Rosenthal said.
As it stands today, licensing Blu-ray requires talking to each of the three partner companies, but under the new plan, the group estimates the cost of a license to be "at least 40 percent lower than the current cumulative royalty rate." How much of that ends up being passed on to consumers remains to be seen, though we won't have to wait long to find out. The new plan is expected to be introduced by the middle of the year.