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HD DVD Demo a Disappointment 532

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the things-to-never-live-down dept.
triso writes to tell us that the recent unveiling of the new Toshiba HD DVD production model met with a few difficulties. From the article: "It was supposed to be the grand unveiling of a new generation in home entertainment when Kevin Collins of Microsoft Corp. popped an HD DVD disc into a Toshiba production model and hit 'play.' Nothing happened. The failed product demo at this week's International Consumer Electronics Show was hardly an auspicious start for the HD DVD camp in what's promising to be a nasty format war similar to the Betamax/VHS video tape battle."
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HD DVD Demo a Disappointment

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  • Well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:06PM (#14423944)
    So what? A failed demo is nothing to laugh at. I mean they probably has a slight bug, that shouldn't be a sign that the format is totally screwed. Give them a break!
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by insertwackynamehere (891357) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:10PM (#14423961) Journal
      yeah and when I set up the video in English class and the stupid public school VCRs dont work, I'm the one who has to explain it and people don't like hearing about faulty equipment. It's just "w/e I guess you couldn't set up the tape" not in a mean way, but its a "you couldn't set up the tape" even when it's not really your fault.
    • by ConsumerOfMany (942944) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:11PM (#14423963)
      Tthis is not a failed demo. Even the Toshiba executives cant get around their new DRM technology.
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Funny)

      by amazon10x (737466) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:13PM (#14423976)
      Sure... I mean, look at the glitch MS had when demoing Windows 95; we all know that was in no way representative of the final product.
    • Sure its something to laugh at. Laughing at a screw up isnt some evil attack on them personally..

      If you cant see the humor in a failed demo, or 'take a joke', then you are in the wrong business.
  • by thecampbeln (457432) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:10PM (#14423962) Homepage
    Or did Kevin Collins of Microsoft Corp. not have a first born child to offer up to the IP gods?
  • Two points here... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmcmunn (307798) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:11PM (#14423968)

    First point, HD-DVD had a bad demo and Cnet has one of the Blue Ray players on their "Best Of" list. Sounds like things are going to be interesting.

    Second point, another famous demo failure I will point out is the infamous "Windows 98 Blue Screen of Death" that Microsoft had back in the day trying to show it off. And after that, only a few hundred million people used the OS. What a failure.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "...And after that, only a few hundred million people used the OS. What a failure."

      In all fairness, millions of PCs were sold with Windows 98 preinstalled. Companies and users with the need/obligation to run Windows applications but without the time/skill/resources to replace it with another OS bought those PCs and didn't have much of a choice in what OS to use at that point.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      [QUOTE]And after that, only a few hundred million people used the OS. What a failure.[/QUOTE]

      A marketing blunder will not affect a company with a monopoly, but we're talking about two emerging technologies competing for dominance.
    • by timbo234 (833667) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @08:36PM (#14424312) Journal
      Second point, another famous demo failure I will point out is the infamous "Windows 98 Blue Screen of Death" that Microsoft had back in the day trying to show it off

      I don't see how this demo counts as a failure as it accurately demonstrated the typical user experience with that particular product.
  • by killa62 (828317) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:14PM (#14423981)
    If you're showing off a new product in CES, don't you make absolute positively sure that the product actually works?
    I mean this was a production model, so either all their prodution models are broken, or they got REALLY unlucky and got a bad one..
    If it were me though and I was going to showcase a new product, I would make sure that it acutally worked..
    Quality Control is your friend..
    • I figure this must be either the result of incompetence (they didn't test it first... should've brought a backup, too, in case the player was damaged on transport to CES) or the machines/discs are so flaky that they could fail at any time.
    • (simple explanation)
    • I have done many software demos for packages that I have made myself. I have learned that you never trust the product to do what you want it to do. Before you do a public demo, you should always make a printed script, and practise it 10, 20 times or more. Sure, it removes the spontaneity from the demo, but at least the thing will do what you expect it to do. And run through it at least once when you get to the demo location, just to make sure everything is plugged in, etc.

      Once your scripted part is do

    • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:53PM (#14424148) Homepage Journal
      Here's an interesting story for you. Back in the days when live TV was more common, Timex was going to run a live advertisement that showcased the durability of their watches. They strapped the watch to a boat's propellor, spun it around a bit, then showed how it "takes a lick'n, and keeps on tick'n!"

      Timex ran the test a dozen or so times before they were supposed to go live. That watch did fine in every test. Then the golden moment came, and they were on the air. The watch took a lick'n as it was supposed to...

      ...and it stopped ticking.

      All those tests they had done, and the watch had finally failed for the real deal. So you can't always predict these things. Now it's always funniest when it happens to Microsoft, but if you give Murphy an inch, he'll make sure to make a fool of you every time.
      • but if you give Murphy an inch, he'll make sure to make a fool of you every time. ---- actually in this case it would be give Finangle 2.5 cm and he'll make sure to make a fool... (and yes a double joke is in this posting)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, the story is funnier than that, because they don't know if the watch stopped or not, because they never found it again!
        http://ezinearticles.com/?Three-All-Time-Greatest- All-Star-Television-Advertising-Gaffes&id=102921 [ezinearticles.com]
      • Live TV demos (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jd (1658)
        Oh, those were the days. I watched this really dull live demo of Prestel that was being given on the BBC's "Micro Live" computer show. Well, apparently someone else thought it was dull too. A person going by the handle of "Cheshire Catalyst" piped a really nice poem to the studio's console. Being live, there wasn't a whole lot anybody could do about it, either.

        Live shows in general were always coming up with "oops" moments. Another classic was a semi-live action series called "The Avengers", which (at that

  • DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c0dedude (587568) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:14PM (#14423987)
    I will not buy either until safely assured the DRM is broken and I can rip as I want.
  • by Dan9999 (679463)
    Sure a lot of people will make fun of it, and there will be others that say that this doesn't mean anything for the technology but the truth is that if this makes it into the mainstreal media it will be a big hit to the HD DVD marketing force.

    Surely they will try to find something in the BR camp to level things out.

  • by argoff (142580) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:18PM (#14424003)
    Just as an FYI. Format wars don't tend to get out of controll in a free market, it's only controlled market where people try to fence off "intellectual property" (which isn't a real free market property at all) that it becomes a problem.
  • Why a format war? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrRobert (179090) * <rgbuiceNO@SPAMmac.com> on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:28PM (#14424043) Homepage
    I'll do what I did with DVD, DVD-A, SACD, HDCD. I won't buy anything until one player can play all of them. This was an impossible situation with Beta/VHS. I expect it will happen quickly with the hardware this time. The formats will confuse the hell out of people who just want a DVD though, sort of like back when Apple had a 100 models of macs that were all pretty much the same.
  • by binaryspiral (784263) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:30PM (#14424048)
    In my mind, who ever can fit the most bits on a disc wins. I don't give a flying carp about video quality or format wars... I want to cram the most data on a disc and that's all.

    • by cgenman (325138) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:41PM (#14424094) Homepage
      On a disk or per dollar?

      Dual-layer DVD+-R disks hold twice as much as the single-layer version, yet cost more than twice as much and haven't really taken off.

      On the other hand, if all you really cared about was high capacity, why not buy a Hard Drive? For just 100 dollars you too could hold 260,000 MB in your hands.

      HD-DVD's are lower capacity, but cheaper. Blu-Ray has a somewhat higher capacity, but is more expensive.

      Either way we're not talking about Blu-Ray-RW yet, so how does capacity help?
      • Agreed, much like the usual alcohol per penny bargains, the only thing that will fly for me is data per dollar.

        Oh, and access time.

        Err, and time to deterioration.

        And possibly imperviousness to scratches.

        I think that's it.
      • Right now a dual layer DVD blank costs about $2 (if you find a good
        sale and stock up). So that's 4.5 Gigs per buck. The best HDD sales
        I have seen get you something like 3 Gigs per buck so dual layer
        wins.
        Here's what I expect: blu-ray camp counts on playstation to penetrate
        into homes. HD-DVD battles back with low prices (even announced hardware
        was half the price of announced blu-ray analogs). There is a chance
        that I'll be able to buy a dual layer HD disk for $2-3 within a year
        or two. If so then this is likely
    • by Hackeron (704093) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @08:21PM (#14424270) Journal
      I've learned the hard way that switching to DVDs for backup was a *BIG* mistake. While I could clean my 700MB CDs with sandpaper and they worked fine after that, the slightest mishandling of DVD caused jittery picture/sound or file curruption. Even if HD-DVD and Blueray are not as fragile as DVDs (yeah, right), the thought of losing 28GB of data this time round is, well, why take the risk.

      I cant imagine anyone will use this crap for data storage so the capacity is a moot point. I built a nice 4tb array on raid5 that cost me around $800 (20 cents per GB which is CHEAPER than blueray/hd-dvd), or yes, a couple of 400GB drives on raid1 and your data is quite safe and you dont need >10 disks for same capacity.

      Furthermore, with consumer ADSL having 2mb these days (granted asymetrical), you can afford to back up to a popular p2p network, best backup method possible and thats how I backup my legally purchased music/movies and other non private media.
      • by slashname3 (739398) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @11:32PM (#14424921)
        I built a nice 4tb array on raid5 that cost me around $800

        Now this would make an interesting article to read. Instead we get another cheap and easy shot at Microsoft and a new technology that won't be accepted as main stream ever.

        So how about writing a story about how you built a 4TB raid array for $800 and list all the parts and trade offs. I for one would really be interested. Seriously.
        • by Hackeron (704093) on Monday January 09, 2006 @03:37AM (#14425612) Journal
          Hmm, there's an idea :) -- Yeah, I'll do that, but I shamelessly changed the GBP poung sign to a dollar sign as I dont have the former on my keyboard and had some components to salvage to build the thing. Normally what costs 500 GBP here costs $500 in the US but seems hard drives are the exception.

          In short, my part list is a gigabyte nforce4 motherboard with 8 onboard sata, an additional sata card with 4 ports that costs peanuts, a coolermaster stacker case and 12 400GB drives (4.8tb total but on 2 raid5s). If building from scratch in the US, the total would come to around $3k (2.4k for hard drives alone) which makes around 50 cents per GB so quite a different price. Still a bargain compared to the $110k 4TB IBM solutions ;)
  • by blake182 (619410) * on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:31PM (#14424057)
    This is not a Betamax/VHS battle from the consumer's point of view. I mean, maybe the content providers and equipment manufacturers may view it this way, but there's a fundamental difference from the standpoint of the consumer.

    With Betamax/VHS, there were pretty significant mechanical differences between the formats -- having a single unit that could play both types of media was essentially impossible without having two completely separate (expensive and futzy) transports. In the case of DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, they are all 12cm spinning optical discs with exactly the same physical characteristics from the transport point of view. Yes, there is a difference from the logical data formatting and laser point of view, but there is no reason that I can see (other than licensing from the respective consortiums) that a single player couldn't play CD, VCD, DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.

    So fine, as a consumer, I don't give a shit. Frankly, I'm going to be buying DVDs as long as they make them, and I'm perfectly happy with that. Unless the Blu-Ray or HD-DVD consortium prevents manufacturers from making a unit that can play both types, I'm going to buy a new player that handles all of the formats, and they can jerk off as long as they want figuring out who's a winner, and I can buy pretty much whatever comes out and be able to play it.
  • Already there are comments alluding to the future stability of this product. Sure sure. I used to work at a company developing new tech. We had embarrasing demo screw-ups too. Most of the time, they were human error, though occasionally the software had an unforseen problem with it. Remember those old bumper stickers that read: "Shit Happens." ?

    The demo failed, B.F.D..

  • Where's the movie? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fsterman (519061) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:41PM (#14424097) Homepage
    Where's the movie for this? Was there really no cameras rolling?
  • by Glonk (103787) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:41PM (#14424098) Homepage
    Not all of the HD-DVD demos were a bust.

    BetaNews has some screencaptures of HD-DVD running on a Windows Vista PC (playing the Bourne Supremecy).

    It's mostly a profile of "iHD", which as I understand it is a mix of EMCA Script and XML for the titles and interactivity of HD-DVDs.
  • biggest failure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AkA lexC (939709) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @07:45PM (#14424112) Homepage
    seems to be the name HD-DVD: imagine when we get recordable ones.. HD-DVD-RW. The abbriviation needs an abbriviation. At least blu-ray sounds futuristic
  • Can somebody please explain to me what's so awful about DVD that it should prompt millions upon millions of consumers to throw away billions of dollars' worth of discs and players in favor of some new format? Honestly, I just don't see the urgency. A few extra lines of resolution had better not be the answer.
    • I used to think DVD was acceptable, until I bought my 50" Plasma and saw "real" HD source material (and no, not everything that they claim is HD is really HD). You don't realize how much DVDs suck until you see them on a good monitor.
  • Format War (Score:5, Funny)

    by bman08 (239376) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @08:10PM (#14424217)
    I find myself feeling like WWII era Ukraine. Squished between Hitler and Stalin. Destined to be punished by whoever wins. I, for one, can't wait to be liberated by either blu-ray or HD-DVD.
  • by jaymz2k4 (790806) <jaymz@jay[ ]eu ['mz.' in gap]> on Sunday January 08, 2006 @08:19PM (#14424260) Homepage
    At the end it quotes:

    "The (video) games industry since the early 90s has had two or three incompatible formats and it hasn't slowed the adoption of game platforms,"

    when i think about it, this seems like a great analogy to say 'hey, look 2 different types of disc isnt really that crazy or impractical' but i think they're missing a big point. can anybody imagine what it would be like to have a single console per generation? something within me is screaming 'that would suck, less innovation, less choice, less everything'. instinctivly i know that with video games having different consoles is definitly a good thing, i just cant seem to qualify it in writing appropiately, im sure some of you will agree.

    with data storage/movies/whatever though i find it hard to accept having two potential 'standards'. we're not talking zip disks or anything here, were you know that your probably not going to be able to use it on 'every' computer you come across. yes, development of more than one type of _potential_ storage media is a good thing but for something that is so important from a cost/ease of use point of view there is, IMHO, room for -1- standard only in the end. unfortunatly some people are going to get burned when that eventual standard emerges.
    • by cnettel (836611)
      You have a point. It's interesting to note that it's technically easier to release a movie in several formats compared to porting games to different consoles. Maybe one important factor here is that even a complete newbie can understand the concept of an "Xbox" being different than a "PlayStation". HD-DVD and Bluray will never have that kind of appeal to the end consumer. They will own a player for oh-what's-the-name-gotta-look-at-the-sticker discs.

      It will also be interesting to see if, for example, PC ga

  • by Anonymous Coward
    We all like to bag Bill Gates, his BSOD demo and events like this failed HD-DVD demo. Out of curiosity though, has Steve Jobs ever had something fail like this during one of his demos? There has been much made lately of how much effort Steve Jobs puts into the preperation of his demos, so would be interesting to hear of cases where it still didn't go right.

    Anyway, looking forward to Steve Job's keynote this week at MacWorld. Hopefully he will introduce something from totally out left field and blow us all a
    • Few years back when Quicktime streaming was being demonstrated he had a rack of probably 16 monitors (off their own computers), and was demonstrating how a single machine could stream to all the machines at once just fine.

      Every single machine locked up and crashed just after starting playback.
    • by dabraun (626287) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:32AM (#14425092)
      At last year's macworld the mac that steve was using locked up (or at least the app he was using locked up, can't remember clearly) - he calmly noted that 'this is why we have backup systems for demos', pressed a button, and started that portion of the demo over on a different machine. He was demoing something in tiger and did note that it was not 'done' yet.
  • by achurch (201270) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @09:07PM (#14424397) Homepage
    Did anyone else catch this little gem (granted, it's not a direct quote so the reporter might be playing fast and loose) down where they're talking about downloads vs. discs?

    Studio executives argue that people want to own their content and that DVDs offer the same portability options as downloadable programs or video on demand services.

    Okay, Mr. Studio Executive, perhaps now you'll explain to me just why you should be allowed to control how I use something that I own?

    (The scary thing is that Joe Sixpack would probably eat up whatever bullshit the studio exec spouted in response . . .)

  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @09:10PM (#14424408) Homepage
    The optical media hardware industry can't get CURRENT DVD media to work reliably in all CURRENT drives. Go to any of the major DVD recording Web sites and see how many people have insane problems trying to find media to work with their drives. How are they going to get this one to work?

    If you can measure the failure rate, it's too high. And DVD media are a nightmare to get working reliably. Only buy top-of-the-line Taiyo Yuden media and DVD drives made in Japan. Nobody else - meaning the Taiwanese - can get it to work reliably.

    Call me when there are HD drives on the market and media that work together RELIABLY.

    In other words, call me in two or three years.

  • by Zobeid (314469) on Sunday January 08, 2006 @09:34PM (#14424481)
    I'm getting sick and tired of people saying things like:

    "DVDs are great, why do we need anything better?"

    When LaserDisc was introduced in 1978, they were GREAT. They were amazing. They could push right up against the limits of the NTSC standard. LD was really over-designed because very few people had TV sets good enough to show them off properly. DVD video is basically the same thing, it's designed to hit the NTSC standard. TV sets today are many times better than those of 1978, it's the signal standard that needs to catch up now.

    So. . . 27 years after the introduction of LD format, how much longer should we wait for an improvement? 50 years? 100 years? Should we just give up on the idea of progress completely, and settle for watching blurry NTSC-quality images from now on?

    No. We need a pre-recorded format for ATSC -- we've needed it badly for several years, in fact. This is the one huge element that has been missing from the HDTV transition.

    Now we're on the verge of a video format that can show movies in a reasonably close approximation to how they appeared in theaters. VHS can't do that, LD can't do that, DVD can't do that. HD discs will. Nobody should underestimate the importance of this, because the back catalog of movies that can benefit from this presentation goes back many decades, there are literally thousands of them. There are movies from the 1930s or possibly even earlier that will look better on HD discs than they can on DVDs.

    That won't happen again. If somebody 10 years from now tries to come up with some new format to replace Blu-Ray, or replace HD-DVD, they're going to run into a big obstacle. It's because most movies in the back catalog don't contain a lot more information than ATSC can present. Most movies weren't shot in 3D, they weren't shot in IMAX. There's nothing to be gained by presenting them in a format more advanced than ATSC-HD.

    We can already see a preview of that, because there have been quite a few TV series shot, or produced, on NTSC videotape, which means they won't benefit from being put on HD discs. This is why I think HD format has a lot to offer, but anything that comes after it will probably falter in much the same way that SACD and DVD-A are faltering.
    • You may be interested to know that the next format, beyond HDTV is already in production in Japan. With twice the resolution of 1080i, in demonstrations the motion of the videos have made viewers nauseous due to how their brains were fooled by the realism.

      Regardless, you won't have to wait 50 years. Mandatory HDTV broadcasting is only a few years away in the USA and Canada ... as is DRM enforcement through the HDMI interface.

      My TV is ready ... but I'm waiting. I'm not paying $800 CDN (Shaw Cable) for an HDM
    • When LaserDisc was introduced in 1978, they were GREAT. They were amazing. They could push right up against the limits of the NTSC standard. LD was really over-designed because very few people had TV sets good enough to show them off properly. DVD video is basically the same thing

      Wrong, wrong, wrong. LaserDiscs probably could have succeeded, except they were the size of an LP record (and therefore much more unwieldy than a VHS tape) and needed to be flipped in order to finish the film. DVDs, on the other ha
      • The first LDs were 30 mins per side (yes, the 12" ones), the later CLV ones were 60 mins per side.

        So for most movies you had to flip once or twice and swap discs once.

        Despite all of this, LD was a success. It was around for a long time. It was perhaps not a widespread success, but then again the discs cost $50 a piece or more, were huge (as you say) and so prone to warpage that renting them was an enormous risk.

        As to VHS, most say VHS won because it recorded more time (4 hours initially, 6 later, Beta toppe
    • There are movies from the 1930s or possibly even earlier that will look better on HD discs than they can on DVDs.

      Do you really think the studios will release such unprofitable films? The market for films from the 1930s on HD-DVD or Blu-Ray will probably be infinitesimal. No, again, the distribution of this rare copyrighted content will have to be done by the Scene and those precious few archivists who truly care enough about our culture to break the law to preserve it [note: I do not imply the two groups a

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