View Full Version : First Generation Blu-ray Disc Players Already Obsolete?

Jerry Jones
22nd January 2007, 11:48
Link to editorial by pro "HD DVD" grass roots group: http://tinyurl.com/yw4pc6

As many of you know by now, the Bluray launch has not exactly been stellar. Story, after story, after story have recounted all the various problems and issues surrounding the format and its launch, including repeated postponements of most of the players, postponements of movies, poor quality releases, parts shortages, and more.

However, one aspect of the Bluray saga that has received too little attention, in our view, has been that of the various Java specs and their appearance, or non-appearance in Bluray players to date.

As you know, the mandatory Bluray player specs came up "short" in comparison to the mandatory HD DVD player specs in several key areas, including (1) not being required to decode the advanced audio codecs like Dolby TruHD (DTHD) and Dolby Digital Plus (DD+), (2) not being required to have network ports to enable updates and additional content over the internet, (3) not being required to play "legacy" formats like DVD and Audio CDs.

It has been opined here, and in other media, that this may have been due to the rush to get Bluray players out on the street to try to stop HD DVD from getting a big headstart in the market. Therefore, the first gen Bluray players did not match up to the first gen HD DVD players in their required specifications - specifications that every player must meet in order to sport the HD DVD or Bluray "badge".

Well, add another item to the list. HD DVD players are required to use an advanced programming language called HDi, all HD DVD players released have had to comply with the full HDi spec.. The Bluray counterpart to this is BD-J, a Java-language derivative. BD-J is the "platform" on which the Bluray players run, but the player specifications determine what the players are capable of doing with that BD-J.

However, the first Bluray players to be released only meet a specification profile called BD-Video 1.0. This profile does not require the advanced features that HD DVD players are all capable of, such as Picture in Picture (PiP) commentary, secondary audio decoding, local storage in the player, as well as an Ethernet port for connectivity over the Internet. This left the 1st generation Bluray player sorely lacking in features compared to the HDi specification of the HD DVD minimum player specifications.

So the Bluray camp came up with two other player profiles, called BD-Video 1.1 and BD-Live 2.0. BD-Video 1.1 will require that players must be able to do Pip and secondary audio, as well as requiring that they have a minimum of 256 megs of RAM of onboard storage. BD-Video 1.1 does not, unfortunately, require that the player has an Ethernet port for connecting over the internet. This additional feature is reserved for the BD-Live 2.0 profile. More information can be gained online about these standards (see Java section).

As you probably already know, ALL HD DVD players from the very start have had to fully comply with the HDi spec (and only ONE HDi spec) from the very start. HD DVD movie buyers have already enjoyed the fruits of this STANDARD, with PiP commentary tracks in various movies, and amazing interactive features, such as the real-time map of Tokyo and custom car colors in Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.. Not only that, HD DVD players are all required to have Network ports too, which have already been used for firmware updates over the internet and will be used in the future for advanced playback options.

Apparently, the Bluray guys thought these were pretty good ideas, so the Bluray disc association has said that all Bluray players sold after June 2007 must meet the BD-Video 1.1 profile, which includes all these items except the Networking. The BD-Live 2.0 spec, which requires the Network support, will remain an "optional" profile for manufacturers. So where does that leave people who bought the first generation of Bluray standalone players out now?

This is freaking unbelievable.

Jerry Jones

Dr Mordrid
22nd January 2007, 12:24
So where does that leave people who bought the first generation of Bluray standalone players out now?
Up Sh**'s Creek without a paddle?

Jerry Jones
22nd January 2007, 12:34

And now this editorial from the Gadgetnutz Web site: http://tinyurl.com/vfyfm

On the heels of various industry reports of the lackluster sales of Sony's new Playstation 3 console up to, during, and beyond the Christmas season, it's no wonder that Sony feels internal pressure to alter it's course to more profitable waters. Obviously, the number one deficit of the new electronic entertainment device is the sheer number of newly introduced technologies, each with it's own seemingly continuous chain of production pitfalls. This same collection of newly deployed technologies directly impacts the pricing, further straining the retail sales of the Playstation 3. Considering that HDDVD technology is moving towards a broader market of consumers, Blu Ray is taking a considerable hit regardless of the Playstation branding.

One doesn't have to pay close attention, or even take a second glance, to see that Sony, as a large corporation, has dropped the ball in it's own court. It has been reported time and time again that Sony has been facing financial difficulties, having to lay off workers, close plants, and refocus parts of their business. What only a few expected, Playstation 3 sales failed to match even the reduced supply during this holiday season. The affect of this has rippled through the major electronics retailers, creating a need to ship stock from store to store, and further impacting what profit margins retailers expected to see from the launch of a major new platform. The slick new Nintendo Wii and the powerhouse Microsoft XBox 360 managed to dominate the market, taking full advantage of the price differential, supply problems, and even the imagination of the consumer market. The season, in reality, isn't even over, and there is already a new captain at the helm, an almost unprecedented event indicating changes to come.

At a cost of over two hundred dollars per drive, the Blu-ray is the force behind the massive cost of the Sony Playstation 3. It is speculated that Sony is bleeding some three hundred bucks per unit, and continues the wild trend of manufacturers losing cash on the console in expectations to get their money back on the software. However, with a scant dozen titles or so, Sony holds little hope of a quick turn around in their fortunes. From it's core, the powerful Cell processor,with it's poor production yields, has added pitfalls to its rollout that is compounded by the difficulty in mass producing the Blu-ray in the Playstation 3. The tremendous cost of product, let alone support and delivery costs, may have been a factor in the recent executive level staff changes, but that change (of executives) has pushed the importance of other changes up the ladder of importance.

Sony is rumored to be making drastic changes to recapture the market before losing even more of its command share to the likes of Nintendo (the success story of the holiday season) or the XBox 360 (still suffering in the land of the rising sun, but gaining momentum everywhere else). In a move that one source says is "aimed at family pricing," Sony is rumored to be working on a Playstation 3 that does not include the Blu-ray drive.

This clearly seems to be a rather biased assessment as the writer provides no links to any verifiable statistics to confirm the "rumors."

However, I'm curious to find out if Sony really is planning a Playstation 3 without the Blu-ray Disc drive.

That would be astonishing.

Jerry Jones

22nd January 2007, 13:27
The PS3 needs to be able to play Blu-ray media for games. The extra capacity is a big selling point against Xbox 360.

A big criticism of Xbox 360 is that DVD capacity is going to hamper game quality. HD gaming requires lots of high resolution textures and FMV sequences. Developers have hit an upper limit with DVD9 storage.

Perhaps Sony will come out with a model that can't play Blu-ray movies, but I can't fathom that they'd strip out Blu-ray completely.

22nd January 2007, 13:59
A big criticism of Xbox 360 is that DVD capacity is going to hamper game quality. HD gaming requires lots of high resolution textures and FMV sequences. Developers have hit an upper limit with DVD9 storage.

Well, do they really? :confused:

With today’s consoles they don’t really need all that pre rendered stuff, and having it scripted makes it possible to have a wider range of possible alternatives :devious:

Lots of games had unnecessary linear parts just to make sure that the FMV's could be used.

And I've seen lots of scripted "FMV"'s that looked good enough to make me think at first that they were pre rendered.

And lastly, what’s so horrible about changing discs? :p

22nd January 2007, 14:14
I don't have a problem with changing discs, but there's a limit to how often I want to do it.

If a developer really wants to go crazy with high resolution textures (which they'd have to to keep the FMV sequences interesting) they are going to be constantly fighting with the DVD9 capacity limit. Changing discs once every hour or two is no fun.

Microsoft won't certify a game that requires the hard drive to be present so they can't even cache the texture data. It needs to be streamed from disc.

Now I know that one of the solutions to the problem that Microsoft worked out was a new texture format that allowed for very heavy compression (I heard somewhere that it's double the compression that existed for textures on the Xbox). But it's still an issue that Sony fanyboys (and developers too) have been touting so I doubt that they will rip Blu-ray media support completely out of the PS3.

One of the nicest looking games on the 360 is Gears of War and I specifically remember (but not well enought to find it again, sorry) one of the developers making an offhand comment about the file strategy and having to leave some things out because they couldn't get them to fit.

22nd January 2007, 15:37
Changing discs once every hour or two is no fun.

Most game makers rekomend that you take a short break every hour ;)

Dr Mordrid
22nd January 2007, 16:47
And lastly, what’s so horrible about changing discs? :p
No need. For $150 you can get an HD DVD drive for X360.

22nd January 2007, 20:44
No need. For $150 you can get an HD DVD drive for X360.
Yeah, but Microsoft won't allow the game devs to use it. It's for HD-DVD video playback only.

Game certification requires that it play on a lowest common denominator config. That means a "Core system" without hard drive, memory card, or HD output enabled. Memory card can be a requirement for game saves but not for being able to boot and play a game.

There was some hope that Microsoft would change their stance on some of these issues to help compete against Sony but so far the need hasn't materialized.