HD-DVD Month Three: New Levels Of Suck Achieved.

As I have written before, I picked up an HD DVD player as it was the cheapest way to vie the BBC’s The Planet Earth (HD DVD) in full 1080p HD.

At that time, it was still unclear which of the new formats would win. No longer. HD DVD is dead.

Good riddance.

I had also configured netflix to send HD DVDs when available.

Even though Netflix isn’t going to dump HD DVD for another few months, I turned that preference off last night.


Because 5 of the 6 HD DVDs we received from Netflix locked up during playback due to relatively minor damage to the disk. The 6th skipped a couple of times.

The format is fragile. Horribly fragile. Old school DVDs with more damage play back just fine, including on my HD DVD player. And the user experience sucks; slow to load, mandatory “web updates”, and “unskippable” ads abound.

From what I have read, Blu-Ray discs are slightly tougher and generally have the same user experience. Still, I couldn’t care less.

As long as Apple makes good on the promise to continue building out the library of content in the movie rental store, the Apple TV 2.0 find / rent / watch user experience is orders of magnitude more pleasant than dealing with physical media.

5 Responses to “HD-DVD Month Three: New Levels Of Suck Achieved.”

  1. TimT says:

    I have limited HD DVD experience, but I am glad to see it die as well. I have around 20 Blu-Ray discs now and with the combination of PS3, BBum, I gotta tell you I have nothing but positive things to say. It is really funny how a lot of discs have this obvious “play during wait” animation built in that was useful in first gen players that would take forever to start. On the PS3 they start up pretty darn quick – you barely see the dancing rat in Ratatouille. I have never had a lockup, but then I never Netflix.

    But to your later point. Holy shit – I am in LOVE with HD on the Apple TV 2.0 software. I couldn’t go to sleep last night just completely blown away by the quality of the Wall-E trailer in HD. The combination of a “library” of content, the instant gratification of a cable-box On Demand purchase, and the quality that crushes On Demand… wow. Total game changer. It isn’t quite at the quality of the 25gig Blu-Ray discs, and I’ll keep buying them for the killer movies (Fifth Element re-issue – wow) and Planet Earth is simply an experience. But from now on, Apple TV is on. Alot.

  2. archie4oz says:

    FWIW, I’ve probably rented around 30+ BD movies from Netflix and haven’t had any playback issues (using a PS3), and haven’t had any slow loading time issues. My one gripe with downloading movies is the lack of extras (of which I’m a prodigeous consumer of). While I prefer watching my movies via Netflix mainly because of the selection that online download services lack. Yeah it may time some time, but I know (from personal experiences developing said services for music, movies, etc) it’ll take years to get the back catalog of oddities that I like to explore on an online service (not to mention the frustration of dealing with distribution rights for content from other regions that causes hold ups).

  3. Jim Correia says:

    The result of the format wars was that I bought into neither camp. Now that BD looks like the winner, that probably won’t change, because the spec isn’t finished and the players are flaky.

    I moved to Netflix for the convenience and lack of late fees. (Lately we’ve not been watching enough movies from Netflix to justify the subscription fee…)

    I hate to beat a dead horse here, but the 24 hour thing is a real thorn in the side of the Apple TV rental model. Things get busy around here, and a lot of times we don’t finish a movie in one sitting. Netflix gives us the flexibility we need there (at the potential expense of not consuming enough movies per month…)

  4. NeoGeo says:

    Apple TV Take two is a clear winner from the rental-convenience angle, the issue is the library of offerings is too sparse. It mimics the selection available at my local supermarket (Albertsons) and many of the classic westerns look like the same ones seen in the Walmart’s DVD discount bins… then the funky 24hr rule. I don’t think this is an Apple issue—this is the studios playing some sort of withholding game just like the networks have done with broadcast content.

    As for DVD “extras”… I hate that stuff and I don’t want to pay for it, the iTunes model should offer the movie, the extras should also be offered as “album only” so those that want the fluff have to pay for it.

    I’d like to see the rental model extended to the “rent 4 times within x months then you own it” This is me as a parent with a four year old… I’d never buy the movie but then my little one decides to watch the movie again.. then again… it sure would be a nice feature… maybe even a partial credit.

  5. Alderete says:

    Last night we were watching a Blu-Ray disc, and it died on us, skipping the final 3 minutes of the movie. Irritating beyond belief.

    It was a Netflix disc, and it’s not the first BR disc that has had problems playing back. I don’t know if they are more durable than HD DVD, but they are certainly way more fragile than standard definition DVDs. This is a problem that Netflix needs to solve, or they will lose customers. Better mailers? More polishing? I dunno, but it has to happen.

    I like the idea of AppleTV in theory, but the combination of viewing restrictions (30 days, 24 hours), the limited selection (compared to Netflix), and the lack of TV show rentals means that it’s not ready to handle our entertainment needs. The TV series (especially back catalog) is an especially big problem; we’re blowing through series like you wouldn’t believe, and being able to get 3-6 shows on a single disc is something that AppleTV can’t compete with, cost-wise.

    I’m sure it’s a short term issue; as AppleTV gains share, the various content providers will want to participate, and the offerings will get better. But for now, I’m sticking with my Blu-Ray player and TiVo.

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