IFA 2007: HD-DVD (and Toshiba) bite back

Share

So, yesterday we heard about how Blu-ray is taking over the world. They’re winning the war. They’re the format of choice. Or are they? I’m here waiting for the Toshiba/HD-DVD press conference to start, and wondering if there’s another side to the story….

First up, we get a look at the new stuff coming from Toshiba though.

Apparently the man on the stage is a German TV presenter. Bless him, I think he’s used to people being more impressed. He’s just branded himself a ‘movie freak’. That’s all I can tell you about him, to be honest. So, to Toshiba.

Oh, no. First we’re sitting through a bizarre showreel of some cogs that turn into a boat. I’m not sure why. It’s quite a nice boat, but I’m pretty sure Toshiba haven’t branched out into sailing equipment… Don’t worry. We’ll get to the good stuff in a minute.

God. It’s going on for hours. This is bizarre.

Right, apparently, it was to illustrate how we all slip into a fantasy world when we’re watching TV. Seems so obvious now…

Toshiba have their own brand concept, and the key is “Digital Life Innovation”. (Oooh, the spokesperson has just let us in on the fact that he’s been told to cut his speech short, and he’s going to have to miss some slides. He’s not impressed. )

There are 3 key devices for storage in the world: hard drives, HD DVD discs and memory cards. THey’ve made a 32 GB memory card, but at the moment they’re too expensive to bring to market. As we know, HD-DVD has a lower capacity for data at 30GB vs 50GB on Bluray. The spokesperson is arguing that this is more than adequate for recording at home and the fact that it’s cheaper means it’s the sensible consumer choice (separate to the studios choice, mind). But with hard drives getting ever bigger, and set top boxes containing hard drives, is recording media really the way that HD-DVD is going to win the war?

REGZA Link is Toshibas answer to controlling numerous household items with one remote. It’s based on wireless HDMI technology, and they want to make this the global standard for the CE industry.

The German TV presenter is back. He’s making jokes about his love of technology and his bank account. He’s no Frank Skinner.

The TV product manager enters for Toshiba. 32 of the latest Toshiba TV models wlll feature REGZA link. The number of full HD TVs (1080p) from Toshiba will now increase from 4 to 12 models.

They’ve also looked at design, and made the frame around the LCD panel just 2cm wide, so you can fit a larger screen into a smaller space. It’s the “Picture Frame” design concept. The 46″ and 40″ new models will feature this as well as 3 HDMI inputs, REGZA link and full HD.

Notebooks. Right. We move on.

From Q4 onwards HD-DVD will be mainstream across Toshiba notebooks. This is because HD-DVD has a 70% market share of European IT market and they want to keep that. The pricing is key. It’ll be available on sub-1000 euro laptops.

Here we go. Now we’re on HD-DVD. Woot.

We’ve got Ken Graffeo, the Co-Charman of the HD-DVD Promotional Group.

There’s a slide of the supporting studios and manufacturers. Interstingly, some names are shared from Blu-rays conference ie Studio Canal and Pathe. They didn’t mention that yesterday…

There will be 400 titles on HD-DVD by the end of the year.

HD-DVD players are half the cost of Bluray players.

HD-DVD will see a load of new movies next year such as Oceans 11,12 and 13, Harry Potter 1-5. Hang on. Isn’t that the same slide as yesterday’s Bluray? Not such a differentiator after all.

The jury is still out on whether gamers will buy movies rather than games, and therefore whether they’re an important market segment.

Hey. their showreel is actually quite funny. They’ve got the movie voice over man using words like “cut throatier”. I like HD-DVD more already. Car chases are high speedier. Yay. We must take the red pill, in the style of Neo. These guys are funny.

HD-DVD players must have permanent storage, network connectivity and picture-in-picture. It;s built on an industry standard unlike Bluray. You don’t need to upgrade your player to get the full interactive experience.

Blood Diamond on HD-DVD will feature things like voting on issues brought up in the film. Huh. Slavery. Good or bad?

Immersive. Expansive. Experiences. More words that don’t really mean much.

Film producers are now shooting with an eye to what extras they can offer consumers.

The lower duplication costs makes the HD-DVD a more affordable and therefore more friendly choice.

The number one barrier against buying a standalone player is price, not the format battle (knd of the same thing though, since you don’t want to shell out on the wrong option…).
From the end of the year you’ll be able to get one for less than $300. More on this later.

Ooh, we’re onto the Paramount and Dreamworks news last week (dropping Bluray). They’ve got the VP of marketing for Paramount. Wonder if he’ll take questions on rumoured sweeteners…

They did it because of it was the best value, and after a year of evaluation using both.

He’s left the stage. That was quick. Clearly he’s not taking questions!

There’s now a spokesperson from EMI. What are they up to?

HD-DVD offers more possibilities for live music DVDs. More quality, more interactivity, more value to the consumers. God, they’re talking about a guy called Herbert Gronenmeyer. I have no idea who that is, but he seems to have won a lot of music awards. 97% of all Germans know who he is – I’m so uneducated.

We’re watching a bit of his music DVD. He’s no Take That, and he looks a bit like a rough Gordan Ramsey. I’m not keen.

So, the content is there. We’re now onto the choice of devices.

Standalone players. Last year the first Tosh player was around 600 euros. The latest from Venturer, the HD7000, is 300 euros. It’s got upscaling and 720 and 1080 output.

Tosh intro the EP 30. It’s 1080p compatible, it’ll have 24 frames a second so the same as what movies are recorded in, all the industry standard stuff and will be 349 euros.

The EP35 has HDMI 1.3 with Deep Colour, 24fps and will be 449 euros. (I’ve got to check that. the slides are qizzing past…).

The HD-805 from Onkyo for 999 euro and will have the best of the best for the most high specd player out there.

Each HD-DVD player from Toshiba will come with 5 free HD movies.

They’re also pushing the local partner angle – important as these are the people who translate big films, so make a big impact in non-English speaking countries.

In the UK 2 entertain are involved. Brilliant – that means the Take That tour will be on HD-DVD.

Right, Microsoft has taken the stage. Poor guy. Everyone’s leaving.

He’s keen to impress upon us that Microsoft loved the interactive nature of HD-DVD and how that can be integrated into the movie. He’s also labouring the point that 30GB is more than enough space.

The HD-DVD player for Xbox sees a price decrease to 179 euros. You’ll also get 5 free titles with this one as well. This is seen by him to be the easiest way to get into HD. (Clearly not if you’re not a gamer. And, this directly contradicts what the previous guy said about gamers not actually being a massive market for HD-DVD).

Acer, HP, Samsung, Asus, Rock, LG, Gateway, Alpine, Onkyo. All companies who are working with HD-DVD.

That, ladies and gentleman, seems to be that. Thanks for staying with me. It means a lot…

Susi Weaser

4 comments

  • On behalf of all people named Chris, I apologize for the previous Chris. Clearly, he is a Blu-Ray fanboy who somehow felt your article “aided the enemy.”

  • Chris, press conferences are by their very nature not objective – liveblogging, I’m there to report what they say, rather than analyse it.
    I liveblogged the Bluray conference yesterday. You can find it here. //www.techdigest.tv/2007/08/ifa_2007_livebl.html
    Hopefully after reading the two articles, you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions. If not, I’m sure there will be an analysis of the merits of each format post-IFA in the future.

  • This report did not provide a neutral and objective summary of the entire press conference. As a reporter you should know better ! Because of this, i donĀ“t trust your website anymore… Good bye !

Comments are closed.