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Why VHS Was Better Than Betamax 298

Posted by timothy
from the whole-systems-approach dept.
Vladimir Kornea writes "This article argues that 'when someone buys and uses a product, the technological aspects are a small and often uninteresting part of the decision' and that the when the 'whole product' (a term commonly used among marketing people) is considered, VHS was better than Betamax, and that the Wintel PC is better than the alternatives." Update: 01/29 04:26 GMT by T : Apologies for the dupe.
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Why VHS Was Better Than Betamax

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  • DUPE! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dsmey (193342) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:08AM (#5179406)
    Didn't this story run like yesterday?
    • Re:DUPE! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Waffle Iron (339739) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:15AM (#5179480)
      Didn't this story run like yesterday?

      Just like a good movie on a VCR tape, this story worth rewinding and playing again and again.

      I never get tired of VHS vs. Betamax flamewars. Nothing could be more compelling, relevant or engaging than debating the relative merits of these 20-year old tape formats a few more times.

      • Re:DUPE! (Score:2, Redundant)

        That may be true that dupes are tiresome, this topic is as interesting as the 50-year-old LP format vs. 20-year-old CD format wars.
        • I'm getting sick and tired of people saying that the "50-year-old LP format" is "better" than the competition. We all know that this is just a big conspiracy to break up the audibly-superior wax cylinder cartel.
    • ... but it did run on Fark... [fark.com]
    • by Zemran (3101)
      Groan... Deja vu is not like it used to be when I was a boy.

      The wonderful thing about altshiemers is that you can send presents to yourself and they are still a surprise when you open them. You also can enjoy /. far more as you can debate the same thing that was debated yesterday without realising.
    • today's dupe story submission winner is Vladimir Kornea [slashdot.org]
      today's dupe loser is timothy [monkey.org]

      thanks for playing, Vladimir, and timothy. good tteamwork!

      would you like to know more about dupe posting? [slashdot.org]
  • first post! (Score:5, Funny)

    by yobbo (324595) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:09AM (#5179424)
    oh wait... dupe

    second post!
  • DUPLICATE POSTING.... GAH!!!

    Just posted Sunday: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/01/26/028207 [slashdot.org]

  • by pez (54)
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/01/26/028207 &mode=thread&tid=126

    Two days ago.

  • by telstar (236404) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:10AM (#5179434)
    Cause you could watch stuff over and over again in nice, compact, tape-form and not have to carry around an entire computer to see the same thing [slashdot.org] day after day.....
    • by Paul E. Loeb (547337) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:57AM (#5179735) Homepage Journal
      I think the image quality differences are a big deal only to a very small segment. The difference between VHS's "good" and BetaMax's "great" is lost on most people. good is good enough. people will opt for lossy "compression" for the sake of more content (witness the MP3 format's success.) consider that even with vhs most people will record at whatever level gives them the longest record time, sacrificing quality. Ask the average tivo owner what quality level they select for their seinfeld reruns. VHS won because it gave people more of less, in a way. Just like McDonalds makes money hand over fist serving "food" that would make a french chef gag. :)
      • I don't think you got the point of that post you just replied to there pal.
      • Ask the average tivo owner what quality level they select for their seinfeld reruns.

        Haha, too true. When I first got my Tivo (60Hr Series2), I recorded stuff at all the various quality levels. High quality was too disk-consuming, the level below that (good? I forget) was also too disk-hungry and not noticably different than high quality. Basic quality seemed kind of appalling on the first few programs I recorded -- even my wife, who's about as nontechnical as they come was noticing some artifacts.

        So I stuck with medium quality for a while, but I noticed I just wasn't getting the retention I wanted when I had a lot of movies recorded, so I started switching to basic quality on some stuff, and lo and behold I noticed that it wasn't all that bad.

        I've been sold on basic since then, but I've noticed its kind of all over the map. Some stuff I find indistinguishable from medium quality, some stuff is pretty appalling. Music videos, for example, have too many jump cuts and quick camera movements -- the quality there sucks. But a lot of other content appears just fine, especially content originally shot on film. Even old Rockford episodes are good, and especially good are recordings of filmed content shown on digital channels; analog noise from analog channels must hinder the compressor.

        Anyway, you're right -- basic quality has become more than good enough, at least until a do a disk upgrade and get a DVD recorder to copy stuff too, but even then I may stick with the longest content length...
        • Most animated stuff tends to look bad on basic for the same reason: too much action. DBZ has far too much action for basic. Movies or shows with fight sequences also get fuzzy with artifacts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:10AM (#5179435)
    news for amnesiacs, stuff that mattered
  • Is this my imagination, or is this a duplicate?? btw, FIRST POST
  • by malakai (136531) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:11AM (#5179438) Journal
    know what i mean little timothy?

    wink, wink, nudge nudge... say no more.
  • what a c0xs0x37 'nuff said most people here in the u.s. drive g.m. autos -- does that make them best?
  • Ah it seems like only yesterday I was reading this very same story.

    I guess it just goes to prove that there's nothing new under the sun...

    or is it that the technology news cycle is simply accelerating to the point where upgrades, viruses, security patches and new releases, reports and share market fluctuations are passing us by at such a rate that it only seems like we're reading yesterday's news today?

    Perhaps this is where all that dark matter really is residing...

    I'll stop now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:11AM (#5179444)
    and all /. editors know this:

    Better Copies.
  • Duplicate posts are designed to drive just enough people mad that slashdot ceases to be stupid.

    And by stupid, I don't mean the people *running* it.

  • Model T Ford (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nick Driver (238034) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:12AM (#5179458)
    VHS was better in the same sense that the Model T Ford was better. It was cheaper, mass-produced, and more easily obtainable by the average Joe. Betamax was a technically superior format, with cleaner chrominance and luminance signal encoding/decoding to/from the tape, but Sony was just too expensive and arrogant with the Betamax's market positioning. They could've mass-produced them more cheaply to compete, but failed to do so in the very beginning, when timing and window of opportunity for establishing the dominant format was critical.
    • I have an old, Sanyo top-loader Beta that I bought with money from my first job in 1985 and it's still running. The picture quality on it is better than the five four-head, gee-whiz VHS turds that have died on me within a couple of years of ownership. VHS won the format battle because of one thing...PORN! You could squeeze 7 hours of porn on a VHS tape, but only 4 on a beta. Microsoft proved it...your stuff can be better and still fail commercially.
    • Re:Model T Ford (Score:4, Insightful)

      by urbazewski (554143) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:41AM (#5179640) Homepage Journal
      There's a subtle tautology involved in the author's claim that "the whole product" that cornered the market was superior. It's equivalent to saying that the product must have been better or people wouldn't have bought --- there's no way to falsify this claim.

      If the whole product includes the network externalities involved with purchasing the dominant product, which is the argument that the author makes about 'Wintel PCs', then the superior technology is by definition the winning technology, and vice versa. I think we still want and need to separate out technological issues from the strategic marketing decisions. The "whole product" concept does not prove that an inferior technology cannot prevail in the marketplace, it simply defines the possibility out of existence.

      annmariabell.com [annmariabell.com]

      • Re:Model T Ford (Score:3, Insightful)

        by spencerogden (49254)
        If you read the article you would see that betamax once had 100% of the market, and was similar in price to VHS. Consumers we just more interested in play time than quality.
        • Re:Model T Ford (Score:2, Insightful)

          the argument made falls down here:

          "Their spouses/children/grandparents and everybody else would quickly have told them the truth. "We're going out tonight and I want to record a movie. That Betamax tape is useless: it isn't long enough. Get rid of it."

          because it says here:

          "All of the video machines in use and all of the pre-recorded movies were Betamax. It had a de facto monopoly, and an element of lock-in (because of tape incompatibilities). It lost because, at the time, it could not do what consumers wanted: record a whole movie unattended."

          how is it possible that 100% of pre-recorded MOVIES were on Beta, yet Beta tapes weren't long enough to record an entire MOVIE?

          I think the author of this article is fucked in the head.

          I've still got a Sony C9...
  • I can take gleeful delight in pointing out Timothy's errors...

    oh, wait... dammit all I DID make a mistake once!

    dammit all to heck and back.
  • by Repton (60818) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:14AM (#5179465) Homepage
    ...that there's all these duplicate comments complaining about how the story is a duplicate story...
  • From Fark [fark.com], last week, and from Slashdot [slashdot.org], day before yesterday.
  • This just in!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CoolVibe (11466)
    Slashdot editors have REALLY short term memories! They are too busy filtering to our crap in the story modqueue to remember _every_ story that gets posted on the front page.

    At least, that's what they say in the FAQ. I suggest the people that whine about dupes read it. Heck, if it's a dupe story, don't read it. You've already read it. Go to next story. Big whooping deal.

    It's not like all the slashdot stories reside in databases on OUR systems. It's their database. If they want to have redundant data in it (a.k.a. dupe stories), let them.

  • Is dejá-vu.org taken?
    And why is the html validator on w3.org blocked? :)
    J.
  • Great! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by olrik666 (574545)
    Do we really need another debate about VHS vs Beta? Beta is dead, VHS won, and will itself be replaced by DVD-R in a few years. Enough already!
  • by chrismacmahon (644645) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:19AM (#5179500)
    those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.
  • by E1ven (50485) <e1venNO@SPAMe1ven.com> on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:21AM (#5179527) Homepage
    Why Slashdot is better than Kuro5hin.
    Before you mod me down as a troll, look at the idea-

    Kuro5hin has many of the features people consistantly ask for (voting for stories)
    Kuro5hin isn't owned by a large, closed source software-company.
    Kuro5hin has more intellegant discussion, and fewer duplicated stories

    But Slashdot has more users. Slashdot is an amazingly popular weblog, /because/ it is an amzingly popular weblog.

    Think about that. The main reason Slashdot is popular is because of it's base of users. Because of the comments. And higher-installed base makes it more attractive to many people.

    That is exactly the argument made in this article.

    Just some thoughts.
    Colin
    • Perhaps we should have an article to "ASK SLASHDOT" about if we could improve Slashdot.com ?
    • Kuro5hin has more intellegant discussion, and fewer duplicated stories

      Guess you don't post there, huh? :-)
    • It's definitely an interesting concept, but I think one of the fundamental problems is actually one of language use. The term "better" is terribly overloaded and is being used in two different manners at the same time: 1)as a value judgement (i.e. VHS has more value to the consumer than Betamax) and 2)as a standard of quality (Betamax is a technically superior format).

      In this article the author is trying to claim that the percieved wisdom of Betamax being "better" (instance #2) is wrong, which makes for a decent opening, but is still incorrect. On the grounds that they have chosen to disprove Betamax is still better, as it is the superior technical format. All they have done is claimed that VHS has added value to the consumer that makes it more desirable and thus "better" (instance #1). Not exactly a complex argument that requires more than a few sentences.

      Interestingly enough what it really attempts to do is prove the same form of common wisdom that the article is so intent on claiming is true. Afterall, who hasn't known that VHS succeeded because it had more tapes available to rent and held more?
    • by CurlyG (8268) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:51AM (#5179706)
      Kuro5hin is full of unbelievably pretentious people just *burning* to let each other know how intellectual they are.

      Kuro5hin is chock-a-block full of flamebait articles - it's purpose is to incite pointless psuedo-intellectual pissing contests.

      Slashdot's purpose is to provide links to news and articles of interest - if you want to discuss them here you can.

      Slashdot is phenomenally popular because it provides something that huge numbers of people want.

      Kuro5hin isn't, because it doesn't.

      You may think your argument is exactly the same as the one being made in the article, but your argument is a bloody stupid one, and totally irellevant to the discussion.

      Why not just piss off back to K5 and have an 'intellegant' discussion or whatever it is you think you're doing.
      • Kuro5hin is full of unbelievably pretentious people just *burning* to let each other know how intellectual they are.

        And slashdot isn't? Oh, it's only pretentious if it's politics or literature or history, but never technology, right? Heh.
    • Interestingly enough the reason that Kuro5hin is better than Slashdot is because it has less users.

      Building off of your comment more people go to Slashdot because more people go to Slashdot. This is a very reasonable assumption and it follows that the opposite is true: less people go to Kuro5hin because less people go to Kuro5hin. Due to the greater number of users it can be assumed that the more users you have, the greater the possibility of trolls, poorly-informed rants, me toos, first posts, etc. Thus due to having fewer members Kuro5hin will be the superior site since everyone knows that Slashdot is better.

      Popularity, at least in this form, can be shown (poorly and with irregular and spurious logic) to degrade the quality and produce an inferior product while still maintaining the idea that it is superior.
    • What this article really explains is why we are so wrong about the Prisoner's Dilemna. You know, the police interrogator offers to co-conspirators the chance to confess--if neither confesses they both get 5 years of jail, if one confesses he goes free while his associate gets 20 years, and if both confess they both get 10 years.

      The Beta VCR, Linux, and Apple fans say a cooperative strategy of mutually refusing to confess is the best strategy that maximizes the cumulative outcome of everyone. But this article and most consumers evaluate the "whole product" of confession and incarceration, realizing that they are better off confessing no matter what their associate does, and goes out to buy Office XP.
    • Of course, slashdot is better than cureophin because I can actually remember how to spell slashdot

  • According to the premise of the article, in a percieved sense, VHS was better than Beta. Yeah so what? It doesn't stop Beta being a better format in a very real sense. Neither does it stop a Lintel platform being better in a real sense than Wintel
  • by Wolfier (94144) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @12:29AM (#5179576)
    Let's just go back to the previous story, copy and paste a random comment from there.
  • Couldn't SlashDot come up with some system to check against already-posted articles. Automate a key-word matching system, or check if a URL has already been linked to. Hell, even seeing if the topic is similar to something that's already been posted would help. This is a technical place that talk about all of these innovations in technology, yet they can't come up with a way to prevent duplicate posts?

    Further proof that the weakest link is still the human.
  • While dup stories are common place at slashdot, I fail to see why editors don't simply remove the story when the *!**!*!DUPE*!*!*!* troll lets the world know .023 seconds after the story is published... or at least remove it from the front page.

    People might argue that removing the article would be censorship, but odds are, any new good ideas will be obscured by trolls and crap. These stories only waste resources and mod points.

  • So that's why Circuit City recently stopped stocking VHS.

    I'll be looking into my local outlet every few days, I can tell you that much...

    Vindication at last!!!
  • The value of a product is not defined by its creators. It is defined by its market. Meaning its users and customers.

    Linux is doomed to be a niche player until this fact is more widely accepted. It doesn't matter what geeks think about the product if the end user is not satisfied, overjoyed even.

    As it is today, woe to any newbie who wants to jump on the linux bandwagon; all they get is name calling and static when they have real problems. The overall experience can be very unpleasant.
  • I forgot to reply the first time this article was posted, so here goes...

    Schofield seems to think that the incredibly obvious and oft-repeated arguments he presents have some relevance in evaluating the beliefs of people who think Beta was superior to VHS. He doesn't present a survey of the beliefs of these people, so I'll have to go with my own experiences, which in every instance contradict Schofield's view.

    Schofield's insight mostly boils down to the obvious fact that the product that won was the one that on the whole was preferable to consumers. No Beta advocate could possibly dispute that. Nonetheless, there is actual substance to the claim that Beta was superior to VHS. People who preferred Beta did so on the basis of particular attributes that were important to them, and that were demonstrably superior in Beta. "Technical superiority" is a fair characterization of these attributes, and is clearly the point people are making when they say or write that Beta was better than VHS.

    Schofield's condescending and infantile tone aside, his argument has no demonstrable substance. For whatever reason, he chooses not to understand the trivial and obviously factual point made by people who point out that Beta was (at least in many important respects) technically superior to VHS. Does he really think that Betamax advocates think Beta offered a better "whole product" than VHS? That seems unlikely. My guess is that he wanted to write that pointing out Beta's technical superiority is beside the point. But it makes better headlines to say something is a myth than to say it's beside the point, especially since not everyone cares what Jack Schofield thinks the point is. The fact that he has to create a straw man in order to do so seems not to worry him.

    His argument is akin to pointing out that someone who says Shawn Bradley is a very tall center is missing the point. Obviously, commenting on Shawn Bradley's height is not the best way of assessing his talents as a center. But when I say he's tall, I mean he's tall. If I wanted to comment on his value as a center, I'd do that. If Schofield wants to argue that someone has a "failure to understand how technology markets work," then he should find a claim about technology markets. The claim that Beta was technically superior to VHS is not one.

    Just to be clear, I was never a Beta advocate. I did have both kinds of machines when I was younger, and on the whole I would have been happier had Beta won, but my comments are not motivated by any history of rabid advocacy. On the whole, I couldn't care less than I do about VCR tape formats. But I do get a little upset now and then when ignorant people abuse their soapboxes to mock folks with more reasonable and well supported views.
  • Oliver Wendel Jones stated that the test of the truth of an idea is its power to get accepted in the marketplace of ideas. While there is some validity to this notion, it lacks familiarity with a physical or logical discipline. Our society is blighted with a tendancy to ascribe anthropomorphic victory to an idea which has achieved greater acceptance. This blight is in part the reason we fall victim to other basic flaws in logical thinking which lead to such phenomenon as bigotry. If one loses the backwards need to declare victory of some kind, one can see that the popularity of an idea is no measure of its accuracy or validity. After all, if enough people think that individuals of african descent are less intelligent than those of european descent, does this make the idea true? Certainly it does not. But, at one time, it was widely accepted. If an idea becomes popular enough, it becomes deemed 'right' by those who have no intellectual ambition to see for themselves what they want to believe.

    The intelligent thing to do is simply to point out that VHS was more popular than betamax. The mistake is to confuse popularity with quality. They are actually two different things.
  • The common wisdom, as I know it, is that Betamax was technologically superior, but VHS was in the right place at the right time, and ended up with the whole market. Considering just the item itself, Beta is better, but the whims of the market (the whole product, although what is important is only obvious in hindsight) are more important than the finer points of technology.

    Of course, the wisdom imagines a semi-mythical time when neither technology was developed into a product; people don't wish that 1-hour tapes had won the market, they wish that Beta encoding had won, either by being marketted more effectively, or even simply by being used in VHS recorders. The real question is not why consumers buy technologically inferior but more suitable products, it's why more suitable products are made with inferior technology; the answer is that the wrong company owns the wrong technology.
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @01:13AM (#5179833) Homepage
    All you trolls out there, with various free-times and scripts, how about you guys start up some scripts which pick random dupes and submit them? I can see that this problem has gotten out of hand, but the editors obviously dont, so let us join together and troll their fucking asses.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @01:21AM (#5179870)
    Groundhog Day?

    Ever think you were in it?

    Ever think the slashdot moderators were in it?
    • LOL, if I had mod points today I would rate the parent as being Funny.

      Jokes aside, the groundhog day is one of my favorite movies, even tho it's a very strange one... it sure reflects the reality here on Slashdot, when you wake up a day and run to your browser in the morning just to check out the latest headlines, and being sure you already knew them :)
  • Weak arguements (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BytePusher (209961) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @01:32AM (#5179918) Homepage
    I have to say that the author of this article doesn't understand why people talk about the way things ought to be. As in the case of the standard x86 system. He clames that PCs are better because more people use them therefor there is a greater support and software base... Duh! It doesn't change the fact that there is better technology out there and that the masses don't always make the best descisions. Simply, by his arguements the consumer chooses the better "whole product" and through that choice makes it the better "whole product". So what's the point of the article? I don't think the author could even give you a valid arguement for the existance of the article.
    • He is making a seperation between the better product and the better technology. Betamax may have had superior technology at its core, but when it came to putting out a product, VHS was superior.
  • Dear /. editors (Score:4, Informative)

    by KoolDude (614134) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @01:33AM (#5179925)

    Here is a crash course tutorial on how not to repeat stories on Slashdot. This tutorial comes FREE(as in beer) of cost !

    1. After you have decided on the story, point your URL to http://slashdot.org [slashdot.org].

    2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page you see.

    3. Locate the text box on the left. Make sure that there is a button titled "Search" on to it's right.

    4. Choose some keywords from the article, and type them out in the text box. If you need a tutorial on how to select keywords, quit this job.

    5. Now click the search button and wait for the results. Among the results, see if any articles have been posted before.

    Yes, it's that simple ! Example query listing is here [slashdot.org]
  • the format war shall never die, its children scarred by the myriad media of data retention and the chaos that unraveled continuously.

    nay, the light shall not come Ð a future of agreeance is shrouded like the chunky thighs of an overweight nun.

    when, peace, when? when shall both be valid choices and the need for absolue superiority fade away into a tepid pool of lukewarm gellato?
  • This article was to illustrate that VHS was very good for making copies, hence the duplicate news.
  • Bollocks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nagora (177841) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @06:20AM (#5180505)
    How shite like this gets published is beyond me. I was there; our house had VHS and my friend's had Beta and the picture quality was obviously better to anyone with eyes while the player's functionality was far better than a same-price VHS. We used the Beta as the source machine for copying because the quality was better. VHS was cheaper, nothing else.

    This is classic Urban Myth revisionism: the writer gets his kicks by simply labelling any common, but old and hard to prove if you weren't there, knowledge as "an Urban Myth" and then sells it to gullible editors.

    Complete crap from start to end, just like his insane assertion that the PC was better than the alternatives - what a toss-pot.

    TWW

    • Re:Bollocks (Score:2, Informative)

      by jimsum (587942)
      There is a difference between arguing about the theoretical quality of a format and the various implementations of the format. There is no real correlation between price and picture quality in current VCRs, and I suspect that has always been the case. Does anyone actually watch or test VCRs before buying them? Maybe your house had a poor quality expensive VHS and your friend's had an excellent quality cheap Beta. Perhaps you could have found examples where VHS was better than Beta.

      My understanding (and recollection) of the situation was that, in general, Beta had slightly better picture quality, but VHS had longer recording times. It seems plausible that people would think that better recording times were more important than better picture quality; and that the "better" format did win.

      At any rate BOTH of them suck in picture quality and better choices have been available for more than 10 years. Laser Disks have much better picture quality than VHS or Beta tapes, but nobody bought them. Super VHS is much better than VHS or Beta, but not many people were willing to pay more for it. I stopped renting VHS tapes more than 10 years ago due to the poor quality of the video (and especially sound); I was lucky enough to be able to rent laser disks instead. I should also point out that people are still renting tapes, even though DVDs are way better.

      By the time VHS beat Beta, there were already better formats than either VHS or Beta, so I am not sure that there are any lessons to be learned other than the mass market doesn't care much about quality. The "best" product does win in the market place; it is just that the "quality" of the various choices does not have a very large weighting factor in the overall judgment.
    • Re:Bollocks (Score:3, Informative)

      by squiggleslash (241428)
      VHS tapes could record an entire movie. BetaMax tapes couldn't. Therefore, it's reasonable to suggest that many people will have considered VHS a technically superior format.

      The biggest problem I see with technology comparisons is that most people focus on one small part of the whole and decide that makes it the better. How the whole works together doesn't ever seem to factor into the equation. VHS beat Beta, it beat it not because it was first (it wasn't), not because more content was available on it (originally that wasn't the case, Beta had a huge head start), and not because Sony fucked up the licencing (they didn't, Beta was available to be licenced and was indeed licenced, and Beta players were as easily available and as cheap as their VHS counterparts.)

      BetaMax failed because it was crap. It was originally incapable of being used to tape anything much longer than Seinfeld, and at its peak managed to record no more than about an hour. That's a pretty serious limitation. That's why movie makers stopped releasing content in the format. That's why consumers didn't want it.

      Did it have higher picture quality? God knows. I never saw the two together, and I doubt many people did. But is picture quality the only valid measure of a system's overall usability? God no! If it can't do the job people want it for, it isn't any good.

      • VHS tapes could record an entire movie. BetaMax tapes couldn't.

        When Beta launched to could record 2hrs which was enough for most movies at the time and it later extended beyond 3hrs. I don't think this was as important as the cost.

        It was originally incapable of being used to tape anything much longer than Seinfeld, and at its peak managed to record no more than about an hour.

        How do you think video rental places worked with Beta?

        TWW

        • Cobblers.

          BetaMax tapes originally had a 30 minute length. When this was clearly too low, Sony improved the standard to support 60 minutes. It was never two hours, at least not until well after the format had become an also-ran. VHS started at two hours.

          How did video rental places work with Beta? Answer, multiple tapes. It was precisely this limitation that lead to an unwillingless to put movies onto Beta in the first place, they ended up taking up more space, cost more, and were more cumbersome to viewers.

          I wonder why BetaMax's supporters think BetaMax died. After all, if VHS offered no advantages whatsoever (as you appear to believe) and BetaMax already had the market when VHS was introduced... well, why was VHS even introduced? What advantage could they sell to end users? Certainly not ubiquity. Or price. Or, supposedly, quality.

          So what was it?

  • 1) We can cut 'n' paste the good comments from the original, thereby boosting our karma.

    2) Like repeating the 3rd grade, we already know the material and feel 'smart'.

    3) We get to make offtopic posts without taking as big a karma hit.

    4) We get to make offtopic posts without taking as big a karma hit. (ooops! sorry for the dupe!)

    Send us your Linux Sysadmin [librenix.com] articles.!

  • What decision? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zapdos (70654) on Wednesday January 29, 2003 @07:57AM (#5180703)
    Windows is stuffed down your throat by a monopoly.
    Freedom to choose hasn't occurred yet.

    He is saying the popular device is the better device, Which is better ? A Toyota or a Aston Martin? Well they sure do sell allot more Toyotas.

  • Essentially the article is telling us that whatever happened was for the best. This, friends, is that "best of all possible worlds" Dr. Pangloss told us about in Candide, only with an explicit capitalist's twist. Trying to learn from past mistakes is a fool's errand for malcontents, because the market has already made the right choice -- it did so by definition.

    The secondary arguments are risible. The thing about how technology doesn't matter comes quickly (second sentence) to:

    When you choose compact cassette, you are also buying into a vast infrastructure of capabilities, services and support. These include the availability of cheap cassettes on every high street, cheap personal stereos, and the ability to use the same format for a wide range of applications (personal stereo, portable radio/cassette players, in the car, in your hi-fi stack).

    You are buying the ability to stick a cassette in the post to your relatives in Australia with 100% certainty that they will be able to play it - and what's more, you won't care about never getting that tape back.

    Translation: Compact Cassette was here first, and had time to saturate the market next to its competition back then, so it's a better "whole product" because it's got all the infrastructure to support it.

    By that way of thinking, gasoline is a better whole product than anything that might try to replace it, isn't it? And hey, examining how the car manufacturors crushed urban rail systems, that's not important -- the "whole product" of cars was better, so we couldn't possibly learn anything about urban planning decisions and how to prevent abuses in future, now, could we?

    I'd hate to see this guy doing history. Everything happened because it was for the best... it was all just inevitable, and pay no attention to all those people who had to struggle to get things done.

  • will be happy. This is a single case of what happened in consumer technology. Doesn't apply to all markets, all customers, or all products. Enough of this story already!
  • It used to be a joke when /. would dupe a story, but it's gotten out of hand. What's it been, like, five dupes this *week?* C'mon, fucking seriously... put just the least little bit of effort into this? I know it's hard when you see a submission 1000x to remember if it made the cut or not, so when someone re-submits it a day later, you might go ahead and run it. So, either a) hire someone who's job it is is to *not* look at incoming stories and *only* read what gets posted online, so they won't have that cross-memory problem, or b) *write a fscking script!!!!!* (You have people there that can write scripts, right?) Just have it where, below the story submission box is a little box to put keywords into, and when you press 'submit' (or 'preview', right?) it does a quick check of the last 30 days worth of stories to see if it matches. Here's another idea--check the URL! If it's an identical match, there you go. If it's the same *domain*, it throws up a flag, or if whatever follows the last slash (startreklego.html) matches, you get a flag. (Might have to adjust that setting so it looks back one more slash if the final piece is index.*)
  • Here's my suggestion, once an editor notes a duplicate story, change its category to "dupe" then allow users to filter out "dupes" from their pages (haven't seen a JonKatz rant in years...)

    Here's the conspiracy comment: considering the number of people that comment on a duplicate story (just to bitch about it being a dupe), Slashdot gets the ad-eyballs with very little effort. There is a built-in impetus to post duplicates to stir traffic. It's a delicate balance but my guess is that they elected timothy to be the dupe-poster and to manage the flow of dupe postings.

    And, I'll probably repost this with each dupe. At least each timothy dupe.
  • by karlm (158591)
    That MS makes the best software and McD's makes by far the best food on the entire plannet. Britney is the best musician alive, and some huge state school offers an education that far outclasses any Ivy League school. China and India are the best countries in which to live and bud light is the best beer. Ford and GM make the best cars. Excuse me while I finish off my microbrews, escargot, veal, and caviar and find a nice cliff over which to drive my German engineered uberwundercar. If this is the best this planet has to offer, there's no sense in continuing.
  • Picking the dominant player on the grounds that competitors are weak, unreliable, and have less "resources" is just flawed logic.

    In a sense, it's really a variation the Prisoner's Dilemma - should I choose what's best for ME if it's going to screw the next guy?

    Well - if you ALWAYS choose the dominant market player, and if everyone does that, the dominant market player soon becomes the ONLY market player - then everybody gets screwed (except the vendor), because just because a company has the theoretical resources to create a "best of breed" product, does not mean that they'll sink those resources into doing it.

    An alternate argument could be - if you're a believer in Capitalism, you must accept that Monopolies are fundamentally opposed to the theory behind why Capitalism is a great system. (because competition is what drives Vendors to produce the best product for the marketplace, not simply having more resources). Therefore, if you're a red-blooded American, or a staunch believer in freedom and Capitalism, ALWAYS choosing the top player (whether by virtue of them just being the top player, or whether they really do offer a superior value at that point in time) is really an UnAmerican, UnPatriotic choice. One should ALWAYS consider supporting the "underdog" from time to time.
  • This guy argues that VHS should have been superior because it won. Has Beta won, it would have been the better product.
    I can't see why these people get paid to write.
    Imagine the thought processes:
    "Windows is way better that Linux, otherwise it wouldn't dominate".
    "But Linux has so much better ".
    "Why, yes, but as a WHOLE product, Windows is berre, otherwise it wouldn't dominate".

    Can we check if this is a jonKatz troll in disguise? He's been awfully quiet, and this article has his style all over it... >:)

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

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