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December 02, 2006

Are Videodiscs Going Extinct?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

So, high-definition videodisks, eh? Two competing DVD formats, wouldn't you know it. Which to choose? ...

Slate's Sean Cooper argues that it's a moot question. His bet is that before either format can establish itself we'll be happily downloading high-def movies onto hard drives.



posted by Michael at December 2, 2006


No, they won't go extinct. The reason is that these types of discs are a quantum leap in storage. People like me who produce audio or video are constantly looking for more convenient storage. A disc that will store upward of 30 or 40 GB is definitely a keeper.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on December 2, 2006 10:02 PM

I thought that the Slate piece was very poorly thought out. The author basically looked at what MP3s abd music downloading did to CDs as a distribution medium and applied it to video, but it doesn't work.

Even with the fastest broadband connection, it's gonna take a while to download a HD, movie-length file.

Most people don't have their computers connected to their TVs, and their are issues about getting a full HD quality signal out of many computers. My Fujitsu P2120 is three years old, but is still a pretty hot machine. The only video output is an SVHS connector. It doesn't have a DVD burner, either. I'd need some kind of USB to HDMI converter, if such a thing exists or comes along.

If you use your computer to download and play HD movies, the file sizes will rapidly fill up your hard drive.

Sufice it to say that HD DVDs are more practical and probably even cost effective, especially once the HD vs. BluRay battle settles out and machines fall below $300 or so.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on December 3, 2006 3:38 PM

Charlton -- Storage is everything these days!

Peter -- That's a good point. The weak spot in so many discussions these days is how and where the computer and the boobtube are going to communicate. I suppose they'll make it happen one day. Rough sailing until then, I bet! Have you sprung for an HDTV yet? I'm looking forward to 50" of widescreen deliciousness myself, but prices are still out of my league.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 3, 2006 5:02 PM

Peter L. Winkler: Heh. There are two statements that will always be true, no matter where or when they are spoken. One of them is "This too shall pass". The other is "I thought that the Slate piece was very poorly thought out".

Posted by: Brian on December 3, 2006 8:32 PM

Dear Michael:

I have no plans to buy an HDTV in the foreseeable future. Video and movies just aren't central to my personal interests and haven't been for a long time.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on December 4, 2006 3:55 PM

It's an interesting race -- between improved quality and improved downloading capacity.

To a large extent this depends upon how intent the market is on getting high quality video.

Youtube seems to suggest that a lot of people don't much care about even getting TV quality signals, while high def flat screen sales tell us the opposite tale.

It is similar to, but not quite the same as the CD wars, where consumers basically voted for downloading a typically debased version of CDs (lossy mp3) just when improved CDs (SACDs) became viable.

Posted by: ghost on December 6, 2006 11:04 AM

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