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"D-VHS": Will it replace DVD? 348

1+1trouble writes "Wired News has an interesting article about D-VHS: 'JVC introduced the new D-VHS tape at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) along with a high definition television (HDTV) set that protects high definition content from being copied. Video on D-VHS tapes is uncompressed, so it's enormous. A 75GB hard disk would only hold around 30 minutes of the video, according to company officials, making the trading of HD content over the Internet impossible...D-VHS can record and play back up to four hours of video in high definition mode -- up to 1,080 lines per screen width, or more than double the resolution of DVD...' The proposition comes in sync with the current haggle over copy-protection schemes. But, considering it's hefty price tag and DVD's head-start, it might just be relegated to the throngs of the laserdisc."
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"D-VHS": Will it replace DVD?

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  • Not QUITE true, but close. A single flubbed bit in a digital data stream can be recovered from the checksums. A single unrecoverable bit (probably due to multiple sequential or close bits being messed up) will cause a dropout or glitch, but only for that section.

    Regardless--Tape was never any more than the best of several bad alternatives for long term storage. It wasn't and isn't permanent by any stretch of the imagination--it decays! It rots! It falls apart! Going back to tape from a solid state format (i.e. DVD, CD, etc.) is a Bad Idea, and isn't likely to catch up now.

  • As far as I can tell, broadcasters pay for bandwidth, and they can cram as many or as few channels into that bandwidth as they choose. Watching British SkyDigital it's fairly easy to tell which channels are being broadcast at a high bitrate (PPV movies, BBC, Sky 1, etc) and which are being compressed to death (UK Living, Rapture, etc.).

    Even on the high bitrate channels, you're likely to see some blockiness in certain tricky scenes (swirling mist / fog / smoke seems most vulnerable), but on the cheaper channels you'll see it quite clearly on easier subjects such as graduated-fill skies, moving backgrounds on in-car shots etc.

    Things are confused a little by channels such as The Box (and its clones) where the video source is presumably a hard disk full of MPEGs, so the whole thing is going through MPEG compression/decompression at least twice - they probably compress those videos quite a lot to conserve disk space, then decompress them in real time before compressing them again for broadcast on a low bitrate channel.
  • Care to tell us the model and how much you paid for this privilege? I bet it was a wee bit expensive.
  • "They're called "early adopters" and they're the sort of people who already have an HDTV set, and are frothing at the mouth to be able to record "Everybody Loves Raymond" in super high fidelity."

    Yep, and look how much of an impact they've had on the HDTV market so far. Roughly nil. These people are an amateur/high-end offshoot of the exact market the poster mentioned--the pro market.

    The question is will this format take over the mass market, and the answer is very accurately summed up by the 'Blockbuster factor' poster. No chance, no how, no way. How much taping does the _average_ consumer do on their VCR anymore anyways? The answer is almost none, which negates the biggest (only?) advantage of this format.

    Home recording is no longer a market factor, except for camcorder owners.

  • Ahhh...finally something to hold all my mp3's in one place.


  • In the UK you can easily pick up a 32" 16:9 set that does PAL, SECAM and NTSC, for under £600. They stock them in supermarkets -- pile 'em high brands like Bush and Wharfedale. Maybe £800 for something posh like a Sony WEGA.

    I'm talking about the base models without fripperies like VGA input and surround sound (I advocate buying a seperate AV amp anyhow).
  • "
    You use encryption to prevent copying, not enormous files! Put some good RSA encryption on a DVD and it would be much harder to crack.

    You don't work for the RIAA / MPAA do you?

    Sure encrypt the file as much as you like. However, if you are going to allow me to play it then you also have to give me a black box to decrypt it too which knows a decryption key.

    Now you have to prevent me obtaining a decryption key / unencrypted stream from a box which contains a decryption key and the ability to generate unencrypted streams. The problem changes from

    "How do I decrypt a syper well encrypted source"


    "How do I convince my decrypter to give me an unencrypted stream" / "How do I find out what the algorithm and keys are from my decrypter"

  • So you mean that in 6 years everyone will only be able to buy DVD recorders? 2007 is, afterall, the last year that TV manufacturers can make non-HDTVs.

    Sure, why not?

    As evidence to that position, I submit that the CD-R was a very exotic technology in January 1995.

    Since a DVD recorder is basically a CD recorder (CD-R/RW) drive with a pickup laser that runs at a shorter wavelength, which allows finer pitch between tracks and therefore more data, I suggest that the limiting factor in mass-acceptance of DVD-RAM is simply an incremental improvement in the technology that rides on the pickup sled.

    From there, a full-fledged DVD recorder would need that DVD-RAM drive and a fast enough computer to compress on the fly. With no operating system to burden it down, it could be done quite easily now: look at all the non-linear video editors already on the market. Moore's Law dictates that this processing power will only become cheaper and more managable.

    It's highly possible.

    The fact that the DVD already has significant market share, doesn't need to be rewound, and the media is cheaper to make than a VHS videocassette (although marked up more) suggests that it will win.

    D-VHS is a contender, but I'd submit that it's not a serious one. It reeks of "last gasp".

  • >Digital TV
    >is now commonplace in Europe, but it is all broadcast in PAL
    >resolution -- broadcasters want to pay for as little bandwidth as
    >possible and some of the small-time channels have quite visible MPEG
    >artefacts as a result

    Just the small time channels? I get them on CBS, one of our big
    3 broadcast networks. At first I thought it was my local cable
    company, but CBS seems to be the only affected channel.

    I tried their digital cable, but that *was* bad everywhere. The
    analog signal was actually noticably better on several channels . . .
    (most notably, CBS, in which people and body parts left visible
    traces. Also, the movie channels froze every couple of minutes . . .)

    It doesn't help that they only have coax coming into the house . . .

    While I'm meandering, the particularly bad CBS on digital could
    be from CBS digitizing, back to analog, then to digital again???

  • In the early 90's the Incredible Universe store in Houston had 2 different wide screen TV sets(direct view - not projection). I talked to the salesman about them and found out that they didn't sell very well. Probably due (at the time) to lack of 16:9 material to show on them.

    The BestBuy stores here currently have a wide screen NTSC TV set up to show off DVDs and surround sound. I don't know if the set is for sale from Best Buy, but the fact that they have one means it can be purchased somewhere.

    A quick hit at Google turned up another widescreen set - the Sony KP-W41MH11 [] - of course at $3400 you're better off buying an HDTV widescreen. It's probably that much because it supports PAL, SECAM and NTSC.

  • by DoomHaven ( 70347 ) <> on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:16AM (#521048)
    > A 75GB hard disk would only hold around 30
    > minutes of the video, according to company
    > officials, making the trading of HD content
    > over the Internet impossible...

    So all one yahoo has to do is to kludge together a compressor from D-VHS to MPEG/AVI/MOV/ASX and we are right back to were we started.

    Admittedly, the hardware requirements would be impressive to pull it off, but one decidated person is needed to pull it off. As well, by the time this kind of stuff becomes standard, I will own a 2GHz computer with 200 GB of storage anyways.

    Nothing is impossible.

  • by DaveHowe ( 51510 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:16AM (#521050)
    I would imagine the biggest opponent to this would be the manufacturers themselves. Users have rapidly gotten used to getting double the standard length on a tape; compression would give them that same effect, otherwise the sales force are going to have to go to the market and say "hey, look at our wonderful VCR; ok, it can only put 4hrs on a 4hr tape when you are used to 8hrs, and it isn't as tolerant of noise as the old one was, but look - it is compatable with the HDTV service you haven't got yet!"

    Then when you actually *get* a sale, you have to point out that, in order to play the new HDTV tapes, you not only need a new HDTV set, but one that supports the encryption used on the tape as for copy protection reasons it will only be decoded in authorized sets - no software or PC decoders involved.

    I am sure the rush to such a device will be overwhelming....

  • D-VHS has been around for a few years now.

    Dish Network offered a combination digital satellite receiver and D-VHS recorder.

    Also: D-VHS records COMPRESSED data streams. You need a separate MPEG-2 decoder (in this case, the Echostar receiver portion) to properly view the stream.

    This means that all the data included in the stream get recorded. You hit "Info" on your remote and you see the Info screen pop up with the ten-word synopsis, title, and some of the actors.

  • You can't tape over DVD you stupid.

    Recordable DVD [] is already a reality, and is slowly on the way to becoming a standard in the home electronics market. It offers all the benefits of VHS recording with the added plus of digital quality.

    As near as I can tell, the only real benefit D-VHS offers over DVD is the higher uncompressed quality. But this is overwhelmed by the minuses: the inability to skip from section to section instantly, the incompatability with home computers, and the fragility of the tape media.

    There's just not enough advantages offered by D-VHS to make it replace VHS in the consumer market, unless it becomes a LOT cheaper than two grand and fast. Recordable DVD may have three conflicting standards, but it also has about a four-year head start in the market. If D-VHS can't beat DVD-R to the level of affordability, it won't stand a chance.

  • hah, no kidding. i found this whole thing very humourous. it's like they've said "hey, let's overengineer the hell out of these things so that it's better than a high-end computer workstation!" that's great guys, but in five years, when this format would actually get accepted, suddenly these "enormous" files aren't going to seem so big.

    but hey, i'm all for it if it enables fair use: something DVDs really don't allow.

    - j

  • by barleyguy ( 64202 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @09:09AM (#521065)
    The D-VHS has actually been out for over 2 years. It was originally integrated with a digital satellite receiver, and simply dumped the MPEG-2 stream directly to tape. Look under for details.

    The HM-DR10000EK version is essentially the same as the integrated satellite version, except it has an MPEG-2 encoder built in.

    Both the old satellite version and the MPEG-2 version are limited to standard S-Video resolution, however. The difference with this new version is that is that it can handle HDTV (1080x1920) resolution. 2 Million pixels :-) 75 Gigabytes :-(

    Real time compression of a 2 million pixel image takes some massive processor power. It probably isn't practical yet. But I bet we'll see it before HDTV is mainstream.
  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @06:37AM (#521068) Homepage

    For instance, I helped to develop the CueCat, the Sony Betamax, the Yugo, MS Bob and numerous other blue ribbon products.

    All kidding aside, you can't scorn the Betamax. It was, and arguably still is, leaps and bounds ahead of VHS.

    Remember, Sony failed only because their license fees for the technology were so expensive. The reason? The MPAA sued Sony over the VCR and how it would cut into movie royalties. Sony was therefore at a disadvantage, trying to finance both their lawsuit and a possible verdict against them with the royalties on Beta VCRs.

    JVC came in with VHS in 1977, which was a cheapo rip-off of Beta that was just different enough to not infringe on any of Sony's patents. The MPAA lawsuit was won by Sony, but the battle for the shelf under peoples' TV sets was won by VHS.

    Betamax is simply a 1/2" version of Sony's legendary 3/4" U-Matic format []. U-Matic was designed as an industrial format for TV stations and the like. To this day, if you have a 3/4" U-Matic videocassette, I'd be surprised if there are many TV stations in the world that couldn't play it.

    Factoid: "Beta" means "closer" in Japanese; Beta VCRs were so-named because the video tracks laid down by the rotating head assembly were closer than those of the bigger and older U-Matic predecessor.

    U-Matic was eventually replaced by Betacam, which is a Betamax VCR mechanism that runs the tape a lot faster for better picture quality. Betacam and Betacam SP have been *the format* for TV stations, ENG cameras, editing, etc. Finally, the torch has now mostly been passed to the D-Betacam, a digital version of the venerable Betacam which shares its heritage with the home Betamax and the U-Matic before.

    And, of course, before those, was the Sony AV-3600 and other open-reel 1/2" VTRs []. (I'm the proud owner of a 1975 AV-3600. Razor-sharp picture, though the AV-3600 was a low-end black-and-white model.)

    Most importantly, though, if you're upset by the impotent plastic noises that your $200-at-Fry's VCR makes, you can take a look at how Ed Cushman watches TV []. Sadly, I don't think you can rent a Quadruplex videotape at Blockbuster. (As recently as 1988, when I was in high school and volunteering at a low-budget community TV station, we had a Quad. It was loads of fun.)

  • Funny thing. Whenever you see "VCR/Videotape/VHS" and "history" used in the same sentence, you just KNOW it's going to be a diatribe on the superiority of Beta. :-)

    Just a light-hearted observation.

  • My guess is that D-VHS won't take hold in the consumer arena. It's more fragile than DVD, less portable, and (it seems) less capable of extras like multiple audio tracks or subtitles. Where I think it will take hold, however, is quite possibly the last place the corporations want it: anime fansubbing.

    Think about it. Currently, most fansubbers print their master tapes to S-VHS, because of the better quality. If D-VHS has even better quality than DVD but costs less (and this will certainly cost less than mastering to DVD), then it's an ideal format for making masters. From there, very high-quality copies can be made to VHS, making for better copies for the fans, and D-VHS copies can be made with no degradation for distributors.

    Rather ironic, isn't it? The corporations are trying to stop fair-use copying, but in the process they're only making the job easier for fansubbers (which are only arguably legal anyway).

    Note that I'm not trying to knock fansubbers. I have fansubs myself, and I support their cause. Even most corporations see them as a double-edged sword (though generally beneficial, which is why they are tolerated as long as they don't actually infringe on a corporation's turf). But still, this seems very ironic somehow.
  • Dude, have you seen the prices on an HDTV?

    I was at Best Buy yesterday, and for one large HDTV, I could buy several large regular TVs.

    Hell, they knocked 33% off a floor model projection tv, and some guy was still trying to justify buying it. He was trying really hard though. :-)

  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @06:39AM (#521072) Homepage

    Well, until someone rips the content with an efficient codec and ups it as SuperVCD or similar. Nice try, 10 years too late.

    It's amazing and dangerous how often the computer community is underestimated, isn't it? You'd think that the big media producers would have learned after the MP3.

    Ten years from now when gigabit ethernet represents a *slow* home Internet connection and fiber is the norm, and we're all sitting around with (...calculating based on Moore's Law...urk!) 96GHz AMD ThunderChickens, and this silly D-VHS is embraced by the consumer, it'll be interesting to see just how easily the uncompressed video *is* traded on the Internet.

    Then again, you can't up video standards the way you can up processing power... Let's see, if it takes my PII-266 ten minutes to compress all of the 17-minute-long Donna Summers Macarthur Park Suite into a 256kbps MP3, how long will it take for the 96GHz ThunderChicken, even burdened down with Windows 2010 Amateur, to make a DivX?

    As things are, making a DivX of a 320x240x15fps AVI file only takes about 2x the AVI's playing time.

    Hollywood is naive. Or they've hopelessly forgotten the computers of 10 years ago. Or those of 10 years before that.

  • Betamax was introduced as a (expensive) consumer format in 1975 or so. Did BetaCam exist before this? (U-Matic did, I know, but I always thought Beta was consumer first, pro later.)

    Yeah. But "consumer" wasn't in the sense that you're meaning.

    The very first Beta VCRs were not high-end consumer things at all; they were full-blown industrial. They were meant for TV stations initially as a portable version of 3/4".

    At the time, you must remember, you had your 6:PM newscast, and then you could see the "film at Eleven". The 11:PM newscast gave the camera crews time to get back to the studio and develop the film for the air.

    The 3/4" VTR enjoyed some use as a portable format. But, speaking as someone who used to lug one on his shoulder from time to time, it wasn't very practical. The machine I used to use - a VO-1800, I think - was over 50lbs, plus batteries, plus cassettes, in a shoulder bag. The camera was usually handled by a separate person!

    So, the Betamax was designed to be a portable version of 3/4" that could be used as an ENG camera; better quality than film, but still not quite as good as 3/4". The format was also marketed towards schools and institutions initially, but by this point, Sony was also realizing that there was a burgeoning consumer market. Betamax went that way.

    Since most ENG videotape ends up being edited, archived, etc, Sony had overestimated the market for Betamax as a professional format, since the picture quality was less than 3/4" and the generational losses between copies became more on an issue, especially in ENG conditions where you may have less than perfect lighting and other factors. Professionals basically stuck with their existing film systems and the lighter weight 3/4" decks that were coming out, while Sony refocussed the market first on high end consumers. This whole thing only took a year or so to play out; I've only ever seen one professional Betamax camcorder.

    This whole scenario was repeated with SVHS, of course, which was introduced as a professional format, and touted as The Next Big Thing. Yeah, right. Because it's an M-Loader, the basic VHS mechanism isn't robust enough for the real professional world, and so SVHS has been similarily demoted to the world of broadcasting schools and consumers who want something that's just a little bit better.

    I think it was about '82 or '83 that the first Betacam ENG camcorders started to come out, that was the point at which 3/4" portables and film started to die off.

  • for about two weeks. It finally turned out that we could only get the second satellite with the "local" channels (which don't come in at all over broadcast) when the wind blew *hard* to the east, pushing a tree out of the way.

    Nonetheless, the picture was *much* better than anything I'd seen before--but then again, I have a funky 700 line, almost 40" television . . .
  • JVC is actually making a good bet. The way the market is going it's obvious that firewire will be the only transport any HD digital recording device will use or be allowed to use. With firewire content producers will be able to flag programs that cannot be recorded at all. Hence, the end of comsumer time shifting. And since we have the DMCA, there isn't anything we can do about this. Any attempt to remove the "do not record" flag from the encrypted stream will be a violation.

    Last year Panasonic released a non-firewire HD recording product. (PV-HD1000) It was very aburptly pulled from the market. Many people think the reason was based solely on presures from the MPAA. The Panasonic product would record anything you wanted.

    If you were actually at the show JVC was boasting how they had support for HDCP from all the major movie companies. Fox even said they would use HDCP for OTA movies.

    The real this at issue is twofold. One, HDCP is totally dependant on Firewire interconnects and some decoder ring from Intel. No current HDTV display has said decoder, and very few displays have the ability to be upgraded. Two, your ability to record programs in HD and watch them at a later date never going to see the light of day.
  • That's pretty much my take on it, too. By the time we have HDTV and this thing might actually be useful, probably the vast majority of what people used to use VCRs for will be covered by hard-disk recorders [] instead, and the rest by recordable DVD.

    Assuming, of course, the studios' other bright idea--copy-protecting broadcast TV programs--doesn't also go through.

  • And S-VHS came out waaaay before DVDs. Better resolution does not automatically gurantee a take over ov the market.

    SVHS is just an incremental improvement over VHS, with almost a doubling of cost of both media and machines. It didn't look new and fancy or high-tech when it came out, so the "first-one-on-the-block" syndrome didn't sell them. Aside from the little "S" silkscreened to the front of the tape door, you'd never know it was a $600 VCR, not a $300 VCR.

    Let's face it, VHS is only popular because the proles are cheap.

    SVHS doubles the price of the VCR for a machine that still doesn't have the picture quality of a Beta VCR, which was only marginally more expensive for the same features at the time of the VHS/Beta wars.

    So, I propose that if Beta was doomed to failure, SVHS doubly so. The only reason it's still around at all is because of a few purists who resent VHS but still need compatibility with it. (Much like I resent Windows, but I still need to know and use it.)

    Look at Beta, CED Laserdiscs (aka needlevision),

    CED video discs were a joke... :) Imagine a record player that plays back video. The discs only lasted about 20 plays! LaserDisc was so much ahead of that, with better picture quality and (aside from handling) no media wear.

    After CED died, someone gave me a Toshiba CED machine to play with. I never had any discs for it, but I'll tell you, the stylus was scary.

    The Neo-Geo, The Commodore Plus4, The Atari Lynx, etc.

    Yeah, but you could go even further back than that. How about the 16-bit TI-99/4A computer - with the same TMS9900 CPU as a Patriot guided missile - losing the home computer war to the lowly VIC-20 with its nasty optional serial disk drive interface? (Although TI's marketing department never talked about what was under the hood and therefore made a mistake themselves, consumers should research before buying!)

    Consumers are stupid.

  • MPEG is part of the ATSC HDTV standard. It is used to compress the raw 1.5 gigabit video down to 19 megabit (or less) for transmission.
  • by Rew190 ( 138940 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @06:45AM (#521097)
    1.) Too many DVDs have been sold already, it's too late into the game for another high performance option.

    2.) 2000 bucks for the thing? The mainstream market isn't going to pay for that.

    3.) Just because the format is uncompressed doesn't mean it won't be used. All we have to do is come up with some compression scheme, think DIVX;). This does NOT pose a threat.

    4.) It's tape, right? So it's not digital! No random access, none of those little extras that DVD has that are available right at your fingertips instantly.

    5.) EVEN if this thing does by some miracle catch on, if it's analog, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out how to rig two of these suckers up together and just copy tape to tape. Kinda defeats the uncompression-is-protection thing.

    6.) I can't see why the average Joe Consumer would be enamored enough to go back to tape with nice, shiny, digital, compact DVD already here and in full swing. What I can't see to an even higher degree is the average Joe Consumer spending 2 grand on it.

    I think this is another DBA (Dead Before Arrival).

  • I don't think that Sony will bother to keep supporting MiniDisc for very long, as the format they're pushing is Memory Stick Anyway the capacity of MD isn't that great. I could be way off track here but isn't MD basically like a CD but using ATRAC3 compression?

    Minidisc comes in two flavors now; An audio/data minidisc with a capacity of 120MB, and a video minidisc with a capacity of 650MB. The video minidisc, as far as I know, is used for nothing other than Sony camcorders, though I would certainly like to see a scsi, ide, usb, and firewire-connectable (different versions are okay) removable media drive using them.

    Minidisc is read (and written) magnetically; Writing can only occur when the disc is heated to the Curie point [] with a laser (the only thing low-power enough for use in a portable device capable of heating up the precise spot on the disc to the proper level.)

    Memory stick only comes in capacities up to 256MB, and only up to 128MB anywhere that isn't Japan. I could only find a 64MB memory stick (doing a rapid search) available on Circuit Shitty []'s webpage; They want $159.99 for one stupid MagicGate Memory Stick in the 64MB range. You can actually buy a Sharp MDSR60S player/recorder from CC for $199.99! And finally, a 5-pack of 80 minute minidiscs (which must be slightly over 120MB, since a 74 minute MD is 120MB, IIRC) is $11.99. Cheap off-brand? Nope. It's Memorex (Apparently, it's not Live.) A Memorex 20 pack (74 minute) is $34.99. A ten-pack is $19.99, a 5-pack of 74 minute is $9.99.

    Two bucks for a minidisc which holds about the same amount of music (given a reasonable level of quality) as a 64MB Memory Stick which costs $159.99... Well, I know which one I'd choose. The memory stick is 80 times more expensive, and not 80 times more convenient (though it IS dramatically more convenient, not THAT dramatically.

  • Regarding extras vanishing once DVD is adopted--well, I don't know about that. Laserdisc has had director commentaries since time immemorial, even at the point where it had hit as much market saturation as it was ever likely to. Once the public gets used to them, I think the public will demand them in future releases.

    And the studios will listen. Look at how successful we were with our letter-writing campaign [] to get Princess Mononoke [] released with the original Japanese audio track intact.

  • Speaking of image compression, particularly of video, the beta of Microsoft Media Player is achieving some phenomenal results. They're managing to get what they call 'near-DVD' quality in 750kbps. I took a look and it has a few just-barely-noticeable pauses (which could be my computer and not the compression for all I know). The image quality is truely amazing. They're also getting some watchable video (quality isn't any worse than my EP VHS playback) in a 250kbps stream. Encoding with these would mean an hour of near-DVD would fit in 338 MB, and the VHS-quality would cram an hour into a third of that. I can see why Hollywood is petrified that people are going to start trading movies like MP3s. There are some demos here [].
  • Im Sorry but we do not need HDTV, Anyone that has to get a crisper image needs to get there eyes checked or a new TV.

  • Where to begin...
    JVC introduced the new D-VHS tape at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) along with a high definition television (HDTV) set that protects high definition content from being copied. Video on D-VHS tapes is uncompressed, so it's enormous. A 75GB hard disk would only hold around 30 minutes of the video, according to company officials, making the trading of HD content over the Internet impossible...
    Just like it was assumed with music. Take the raw video, do a reasonbly good compression and voila instant piracy. Thanks buckets.
    D-VHS can record and play back up to four hours of video in high definition mode -- up to 1,080 lines per screen width, or more than double the resolution of DVD...'
    Just think, Jerry Springer and infomercials in 1,080 likes of resolution. Consider that 240 (or less []) lines of resolution is about all you get from VHS and that people are thrilled with that. They could always ask Intel about price cutting strategies to get their product into homes...
    The proposition comes in sync with the current haggle over copy-protection schemes. But, considering it's hefty price tag and DVD's head-start, it might just be relegated to the throngs of the laserdisc."
    Indeed. Maybe they can sell this to people for computer backups. Sounds like some good potential there.


  • It seems obvious that the various studios who've signed on with JVC must be smoking some good stuff. Probably leftovers from the stash they were taking large tokes from when they decided that DIVX was the way to go. They're living in a dreamworld, and sooner or they'll get a rude awakening when the consumers bypass their little dream scheme in droves.
  • Video on D-VHS tapes is uncompressed, so it's enormous. A 75GB hard disk would only hold around 30 minutes of the video, according to company officials, making the trading of HD content over the Internet impossible

    Hey, I just invented a new digtial audio storage format. It's uncompressed, and a single 650MB CD will only hold about 74 minutes of audio. So I guess trading of my new format over the internet will be impossible. :-)

    Seriously, what kind of crack are they smoking? Uncompressed video? That's a ripper's dream. If(when) DVHS is cracked, DivX (or whatever format) movies ripped from DVHS will look ever better than DivX ripped from DVD, since DVD is compressed already and things get yuckier when ya recompress them... []
  • How did Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru scenario?
    Gee, there are sure a lot of elite hacker babies here.
    Rather than waiting for JVC to actually finish this thing so ya'll can engage in more alpha geek breastbeating, I have a modest proposal.

    Hack the system not the product.

    Contact JVC.

    Be polite.

    Ask them how many units they will sell, and how much of their profit is based on sales of blank tapes.

    Tell them that you personally will not buy a system that places any restrictions on your ability to use it in any way you want. Then tell them you are not going to deprive copyright holders of compensation for their work, but that you will not be deprived of your fair use rights.

    Remind them that (for example) the hardware companies are pulling out of SDMI because they recognize that restricting the ability of the consumer to use their product is actually harming their sales.

    Ask them how many cameras capable of recording in this format they could sell if it could be easily edited on a PC based system.
    And of course, how many more blank tapes for those cameras

    Here are some contact points from JVC's website.
    Unfortunately is not one of them
    Customer Relations 1-800-252-5722 (call on their nickel)

  • neither's digital

    Either could be. Digital Betacam has been around for years; D-VHS is apparently in the works.

    they're fixed format

    Physically, yes. Electronically, no. SVHS, for example, will not play in a VHS VCR, though a VHS cassette will play in an SVHS VCR.

    Lots of things use VCR mechanisms and tape for things other than TV pictures. I have a JVC SVHS machine right beside me that uses off-the-shelf SVHS cassettes to save PPI radar video. That's not even raster scanned!

    Lemme tell you, those cassettes look really funny when you pop them into a regular SVHS VCR. :)

    they're crappy CGA grade resolution

    D-VHS wouldn't be. And Sony's got an HDTV version of Digital Betacam.

    they're not random access, they're tape for yog's sake!

    Yup. That's right. The technology is mature, so at least you know that the video collection that you have in the archives at your TV station will probably still play 30 years from now. It'll be interesting to see how well optical discs stand the test of time, with all the comments about CD-R/RW lifespans, not to mention the ?possibly? urban legends about the aluminum coating inside CDs corroding in time through the edges of the disc.

    What'll happen? Maybe something bad, maybe something good. I have videotape that is over 30 years old, and I'm not a TV station. It's important.

    Tape isn't perfect. It's still a pain in the ass waiting for it to wind to the right place, but at least the media is mature.

    The videotape that new parents take of their baby will still probably work 30 years from now. Hell, some 50 year old tape still works, and it was a lot more primitive then than it is now; it's likely that most of today's tape recordings, if stored properly, will still work in 2051. It's still unknown how well that CD/DVD/CD-R/CD-RW/DVD-RAM will survive the years...

    Neither is interactive, not even freakin' hyperlinks

    Nah. I wouldn't want Jerry Springer to be interactive, would you? If I wanted interactive, I'd sit down at my computer. If I wanted to just veg out after a long day, I'll turn on the TV, maybe pop a movie into the VCR. Or a DVD into the player. Ask me when the last time was that I checked out the Director's Comments or Play Hangman with the Letters in the Names of the Cast or some other crap like that... I know my DVD player supports them, but I've never used them.

    (most of the above also go for current TV standards, NTSC/PAL/SECAM)

    I agree with you exclusively on the resolution of NTSC/PAL/SECAM. But TV has been such a successful innovation that I question whether any improvements besides faster/cheaper/better can actually take over?

    Faster: No waiting though commercials, that's what the fast forward button is for.

    Cheaper: Well? I remember when a color TV started at over $500. Now, I see them for under $100.

    Better: Color, stereo, HDTV, Closed Captioning, wireless remote control, more channels.

    Interactive alters the formula. Will it ever *really* take off? If it's incorporated into TV sets, will it go the way of the VCR timers where most people can't even figure out how to set the clock?

    Having said *all that*, for most consumers, yeah, recordable DVDs are probably the way to go. It would be what I would get for my daily time-shifting and movie rental use. But it's not anywhere near so clear cut as you apparently feel.

  • But since HDTVs are not very consumer friendly either, it'll probably be a while before they catch on. Specifically it probably won't happen until analog signals go away completely. That's probably still 5-10 years away barring any significant protests by consumer groups or unless the HDTVs relax the copy controls. Who wants to buy a brand new tv, dvd player, etc when they cost more and do less than the old ones? So while mpeg might not have the advantages of HDTV, it also lacks the very significant disadvantages as well.

  • While it may allow us to do something we couldn't do before, it's also a step in preventing us from doing things that we could do before. For me, the tradeoff is definitely not worth the price.

  • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @07:58AM (#521119) Homepage
    They cite the large uncompressed format as a deterrent against Internet copying. Are they completely naive?

    People don't copy DVD data directly over the Internet. First it's ripped from DVD to disk. Then the raw data is compressed to MPEG4 and MP3, resulting in approximately 600megabytes of data.

    At no point is the 9gigabytes or so of DVD data sent over the Internet.

    So what does D-VHS buy you? People will get the raw data onto their hard disks even if they have to resort to framegrabbers. Then the compressed 600megabytes image is created just as before.

    The D-VHS marketting department must have been really struggling for something good to say, if this is the best they can come up with.

  • Woah! I want a 96GHz AMD ThunderChicken. :) As long as I have 35gigs of ZXRAM@24ghz, and a TNT12 Plasmdrive 4D video card, I'll be happy as a pig in shit.

    Well, I figured Intel will have to give up the Pentium name sooner or later, it's getting a little long in the tooth as it approaches a decade...

    <grin> That assumes Intel lives another 10 years, of course.

    Pentium was a great name. Pentium II was a reasonable sequel, though apparently Santa Clara sequels are similar to those a few miles down the coast in Hollywood: they lose originality.

    Pentium III was as much of a stretch as... well, I can't tell you, I boycott sequels, so I can't think of any. Let alone the Pentium IV.

    Time for Intel to give it up and at least get a fresh name. Otherwise, Joe Consumer is going to feel that his new computer is powered by something unoriginal, rather than something new, high tech and powerful.

  • Sony's new Wega TVs have a special 16:9 enhanced mode in which the screen is compressed vertically, giving a 16:9 display without the usual loss of resolution experienced when showing a 16:9 widescreen movie on a 4:3 television. You just lose a bit of screen size. With an anamorphic DVD the effect is great. These televisions also are relatively inexpensive compared with a HDTV set. The 29" which I just purchased was under $600, and 35" sets can be had for about $1200.
  • Did anyone happen to notice how the Wired News article tries to make out that DVD is in trouble, is "bogged down" by the legal disputes? I nearly died laughing, considering the utterly astonishing rate at which DVD has been adopted and continues to be adopted.

    TV, Color TV, VHS, compact discs, and many of the other modern improvements we use today could only wish to have been so "bogged down"!

  • 600MB is still not a trivial download even on a cable modem, especially when it costs hardly anything to rent it. Connectivity is still a bit away from being able to pirate anything quickly, unless you're at a university with Internet2 connectivity, which most people with computers are not. Where are the streaming video servers from the MPAA where I can watch what I want when I want for a small fee? I'd sign up for that in an instant.
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:17AM (#521138) Homepage
    Success of this scheme will depend on whether the mass of consumers is wants and is willing to pay for higher resolution TV. Evidence so far is no. HDTV is not selling well.

    NTSC/PAL may well suck, but its enough to get the story across and that's what most people care for. The impact of special-effects and sweeping vistas is mostly related to image viewer angle, not image resolution. Big screen TVs (which are popular) take care of this.

    On the question of tape versus disk, the big advantage of disk is random access. It's of little value in video entertainment which is mostly watched serially with very few jumps.

  • They were marketed in europe (belgium at least) AFTER the CD was and as a consumer product. That's what I am going by... it failed of course.

  • Care to tell us the model and how much you paid for this privilege? I bet it was a wee bit expensive.

    Pick up an old Sony VPH-1030 or similar, maybe a Zenith Aquastar. If you have a budget to blow and need VGA resolution, look into a Sony VPH-1270 or similiar.

    All of these are three-tube machines, so they're not very portable. But the picture quality of them exceeds a lot of LCD projectors, assuming that your tubes are still good and you know how to set the convergence properly.

    Don't look at one that used to be in a bar or was owned by an audio-visual rental company. Both are likely to have a lot of hours and probably even some mechanical damage. Look around for one that is being displaced by a boardroom renovation.

    I once found a VPH-1041 that had come out of a boardroom. When it was installed in 1991, it was top of the line. Eventually, it was replaced with a later model that could handle SVGA. The story behind it was that one of the managers of the company wanted to take it home, so he fired it up with it pointing at a wall, and assumed it was broken. (It wasn't aligned; these need to be aligned every time they're moved.)

    Since I used to work for an audio-visual company and was even trained on these things by Sony of Canada, I knew it was a good deal and was able to pick up the "broken" video projector for $100. I set it up in my living room, aligned and re-shimmed the lenses for the wall, reversed the deflection (it had been set up for rear-projection), and then did the convergence. It was low hours and would light up my wall from floor to ceiling almost as bright as a movie theater. Eventually, I sold it to a friend of mine for $1200, including installation at his house.

    Quick trick: If you're pointing a video projector at your wall and are looking for a little bit more brightness, get some brush-on clearcoat paint. Go to an abrasives supply company and get some fine (about 0.050") glass bead sandblasting media. Mix that with the clearcoat, and roller it onto your wall. It gives the wall almost the same texture as a proper reflective projection screen.

    If you know where to look, you don't really need to spend much.

    As for the conversation about resolution, yeah, NTSC's 525 scanning lines really start to look far apart when they're spread out across the 10' height of your living room wall.

  • by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @06:55AM (#521145)
    Here you have a more durable, cheaper to produce, easier to store format that has already gotten a foothold in the marketplace (DVD) and now you have a more expensive, harder to store, uncompressed format that offers such great features as:

    -Bigger physically (goodbye DVD shelf, hello cassette bookcase)
    -Magnetic tape (now there's something that doesent degrade over time :-( )
    -More expensive to manufacture
    -It has to break into a format saturated market
    -It's an uncompressed format, but that doesen't stop me from transferring it to a more compressed format (ANY digital media can be duplicated, this is reality after all)
    -No "Special Features" like chapter lists, menus, extras (well, they could be at the beginning or end, and we all love fast forewarding through Georgie Lucas' little preamble on Star Wars don't we)

    I'm sure there are a host more (dis)advantages to having digital tapes, but these ones stand out for me right now.

    "Screw everything! I'm going back to BetaMax!"

    Capt. Ron

  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:17AM (#521146)
    People like shiny things. That's why DVDs and CDs took off, while MDs have struggled and tapes (both VHS and audio) have all but disappeared for mainstream consumer use. Unless your media is shiny, don't expect it to succeed.
  • by avdp ( 22065 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @08:07AM (#521152)
    I agree that nobody really needs a cripser image on TVs that are 13" to 32". You really DO need a crisper image if you have one of these huge TV set (typically projection rather than tube). I don't have one (not sure why anyone does need to have one) but for those that do, the image quality is really pathetic. I suspect that's what this is all about.
  • It's tape, right? So it's not digital! No random access, none of those little extras that DVD has that are available right at your fingertips instantly.
    It is, in fact, digital; DLT, or Digital Linear Tape. Well, it's an analouge representation of digital information, but so is a hard drive, a CD-ROM, and so on.
  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:19AM (#521157) Homepage

    because DVDs scan like CDs and let you jump to any point of the movie in an instant. D-VHS would be good for recording TV shows and alike, but not produced DVDs you can buy in a store.

    Yup. Because of the simplicity of mass-producing a disc media versus a tape-in-cassette media, it's unlikely that the big duplicators and movie houses are going to embrace this.

    And Blockbuster probably likes the fact that they never need to worry about rewinding DVDs.

    For home recording, I see this as possible; but mass acceptance of HDTV is as far off as mass acceptance of DVD recorders.

    I expect that we'll see this format eventually fail. It probably just JVC hoping to continue VHS so that they continue to get the royalties on it.

  • Folks,

    I really doubt that Digital VHS will replace DVD.

    There are two reasons for this:

    1. The combination of continiuing price drops on hard drives and new video compression techniques based on MPEG-4 technology will make is possible to have within 24 months TiVo/ReplayTV/UltimateTV units that record 1080i HDTV signals with almost NO loss of picture quality up to 25-30 hours at a time.

    2. A new technique developed a few years ago allows for variable-depth "pits" on optical discs. This could result in DVD-like discs that store over 70 GB per disc, more than enough to have 1080i HDTV movies stored on a single disc.

  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:20AM (#521162)
    You use encryption to prevent copying, not enormous files! Put some good RSA encryption on a DVD and it would be much harder to crack.
  • I'd seen those artifacts on someone elses digital system and though "how yucky" but then they started appearing on my analogue system. Seems the original shows (or at least some of them) must be getting passed around in digital format at some point

    My in-laws recently went for Dish network which is digital and the installer guy gave it all the chat about being superior picture quality to analogue but while it may be crisper and have better colours, digitisation artifacts are often quite clearly visible (usually a blockiness in large areas of slightly graded colour). Now I'm slightly short-sighted so I hate to think how noticable and onnoying it would be if I had perfect vision.


  • All I Want is Widescreen Movies [...] At home. Widescreen displays are hugely priced here.

    ... and I assume this is the reason why so many "widescreen edition" DVDs are still produced in non-anamorphic widescreen. This is unforgiveable. NTSC has few enough lines already, and letterboxing on the media wastes them even further.

    Newer 4:3 TVs can do 16:9 pictures (squeezing all the lines into less of the screen) and even the lowliest DVD player can do its own letterboxing if need be, so there is *no* reason for studios to keep releasing these shoddy non-anamorphic goods.
  • They're called "early adopters" and they're the sort of people who already have an HDTV set, and are frothing at the mouth to be able to record "Everybody Loves Raymond" in super high fidelity.

    "Everybody Loves Raymond"? What's that, ESR's autobiography?

  • > OT, but why didn't you prune the tree?

    Uh, this is west-central Pennsylvania. It's not my tree :)

    It's not even on my street--it's in the lot behind the house across
    from me, and it's 75-100 feet tall . . . and the ground is 30-50 feet
    higher than me :)

    I sunk a 12' 4x4 at the edge of my lot, mounted the dish at the
    top, and *still* couldn't clear it. I tried out my attic, but couldn't
    get a clear site from there, either. Next summer, when the tree is full
    again, I'll let their professional installation folks try . . .
    *I'm* not going to try to mount it on the chimney with a sloped roof . . .

    >Getting back on topic, the problems you were having wern't your
    >satellite system's fault. At the microwave frequancies used, the
    >leaves on your tree where acting like miniture reflectors, scattering
    >and disrupting the signal. Mircowave systems need a clear
    >line-of-sight between the transmitting and recieving stations.

    Oh, I don't blame them. But barring that tree being struck
    by lightning, I'm not going to get a clear line of site at
    30 degrees off the horizon . . .
  • ...but I personally feel that the disc format is a force to be reckoned with. D-VHS might hold a lot more in terms of video, but for ease of use I think the DVD would still win. Going back to tape you'd deal with rewinding and fast-forwarding to find your favorite scenes, and I didn't see anything mentioned about special features on those tapes. I for one like the extras on DVDs, and I don't think people are going to give that up.

    The COBOL Warrior

  • It doesn't discuss Beta as a professional format at all...

    Nope. It never had a chance as a professional format. The picture quality wasn't quite as good as some of the more portable 3/4" decks that were coming out at the time. Picture quality is especially crucial in ENG, because of dimmer lighting that you're likely to encounter (shows low signal to noise ratio very well...) and the number of generations that ENG source tape was expected to go through in those days of 3/4" frame editors. (Field video dubbed right away to 3/4"; A-B roll edit, which another generation for both source VTRs; backup and archival dubs; etc.)

    The other alternative, of course, was film. And back then, that was the portable one. Video = quick. Film = good quality, portable, existing equipment.

    Betamax is better than VHS, but still not as good as 3/4" or Betacam. It wasn't until the Betacam format came out in '82 or '83 that the migration finally started.

    It was like Sony's more recent attempt to move professional cameramen over to Hi8 systems. Unfortunately, when you snap a Hi8 VTR onto the back of an Ikegami camera, the whole camcorder is *very* light, which makes it unstable. A good camcorder weighs about 35lbs and has a comfortable and molded shoulder pad. It balances well.

    The Hi8 has such a tiny mechanism that it's very fragile (ie. a spot of dust on Hi8 tape is a far bigger dropout than on a Betacam or 3/4" tape), and the weight needed for the cameraman to be able to provide good stability just isn't there.

    Despite the fact that Sony has actually built professional products in both Betamax and Hi8, they quickly abandoned them and moved the formats into the realm of hi-end consumer gear. So, while I've seen examples of both attempts, they're sure to go down as a footnote in the history of a broadcast engineering giant.

  • by Phaid ( 938 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:20AM (#521177) Homepage
    A 75GB hard disk would only hold around 30 minutes of the video, according to company officials, making the trading of HD content over the Internet impossible..

    Wow, these guys are pretty pessimistic on the evolution of technology... 300GB hard disks are a couple of years away at best, and their "impossible to crack" encryption scheme is a cozy but totally unsupported assertion. There's no reason to think this scheme won't eventually be cracked, at which point it won't be all that hard to DivX the content of a tape into a smaller, easily-transmitted .AVI file.

    Beyond that, this is a stupid step backwards, and one that clearly puts the interests of consumers dead last. DVD, with all its warts, allows you to play videos on laptops, PCs, and small, easily-portable players; tapes are much more vulnerable to damage and the players are much bulkier and break down more often.

    Nice try, but this isn't going to fly in the consumer arena.
  • To add to this...

    I just got a DVD player for Xmas (big surprise :), and not consider the random access as nearly the best feature on a DVD, especially when it comes to rentals.

    1) No rewind!

    2) Switching from Play to Fast reverse/forward (and back again) is immediate, unlike with VHS tapes.

    3) On tapes, the special features (commentary, making-of, etc) are always at the end of the tape. To see them, you must either watch them after watching the movie, or fast-forward the tape to the right point (with some guesswork as to when to stop the forwarding). With DVDs, you just skip to the section you want; it's fast, easy, and requires no guesswork.

    4) Analysis - Watched "Bladerunner" Director's Cut this weekend. After the movie, a friend and I talked about various plot questions. Most were easily resolved by jumping to the appropriate scenes and re-watching them. This would have been much more difficult (and frustrating) to do without random access (e.g. VHS tape)

    For me, random access is the second best part of the DVD, just barely losing to the consistently solid picture quality.
    D. Fischer
  • I really don't think that the primary reasons people buy DVDs are image and sound (especially since most probably don't have the equipment to really enjoy it). People buy DVDs because of the fact that you don't have rewind anything, you don't have to fast forward to find a scene, it starts instanteneously, it fits on a small media (looks like CD) and all those cool features. That's what people associate with the word "digital": compact, shiny and convienient.

    To illustrate my point: DAT tapes. A digital signal stored on casettes tapes. It had the same sound quality as CDs (if not better) but you still had to rewind and fast forward to find a song! This standard went absolutely nowhere! I don't know of a single consumer electronic store that actually sell these things - if they even exist anymore.

    This DVHS will have the exact same outcome. Bad idea on a bad medium. It's a stillborn.
  • 75GB HD holds 30 minutes... D-VHS holds 4 hours... so this is a 600GB Tape capable of writing end-to-end in 4 hours? I'd be willing to pay consumer video device prices to back up my home 'enterprise' ;)
  • Yes, I've seen HDTV from digital source. My photographers mind boggles at the improved details. You can see individual hair and pores. It _is_ very nice.

    Yet you don't watch TV to admire the resolution. You watch it for the story and/or the imagery. Most often you forget about the resolution or lack thereof. How often have you watched TV through interference? Your mind fills in much of the missing resolution anyways.
  • D-VHS seems to be really a new, improved version of S-VHS (apart from the obvious technological differences - I'm talking purely in regards to its placement in the consumer marketplace) and we all saw where that went : Nowhere. Despite having a much greater resolution and quality of signal no one was willing to pony up the extra for the player and the media which was far more expensive.

    Mass consumers only ever buy anything because it has convenience features. While lip service is paid to quality, the reality is that quality means very little to the majority of people. If people were willing to stick with the inconveniences of VHS they would LITERALLY stick with VHS : DVHS offers nothing that the average consumer wants apart from recording, and even then some of the settop boxes are far more convenient and are filling that marketplace. DVD on the other hand offers lots of extras, a cute menuing system, and most importantly instant access.

    Expect to start hearing a lot more whispering about DVD-2 as it is definitely in the planning stages right now. DVD-2 will primarily represent a very large increase in capacity, hence resolution. Of course they would never market it as just that as it'd never sell, but instead DVD-2 players with DVD-1 capabilities will just flood the market to the point where the new content is viable.

  • Funny thing. Whenever you see "VCR/Videotape/VHS" and "history" used in the same sentence, you just KNOW it's going to be a diatribe on the superiority of Beta. :-) Just a light-hearted observation.

    Absolutely true. Like Windows, about the only good thing that you can say about VHS is that it's a defacto standard and has therefore brought unity to an otherwise fragmented market.

    Other than that, the name says it all. "Beta" was to be the *compact* 3/4" (hence the name Beta). It was designed from the ground up as a professional format; only after video head and other technology improved did it become viable for home users.

    VHS, on the other hand, stands for Video Home System. It was designed by JVC (Japanese Victor Company) from the ground up as a consumer-grade format.

    The reason the format war still hurts a lot of Beta fans is the same reason that it would really hurt if Windows just suddenly anihilated Linux. The technical superiority of Beta is that order of magnitude greater.

  • A new Macrovision copy protection system prevents the duplication of tapes by copying from one digital deck to another. The content is encrypted with a High Definition Copy Protection (HDCP) system JVC developed that is similar in function to the Content Scrambling System (CSS) on a DVD.

    The HDCP system can't be broken, however, because only high definition sets will have the HDCP decoder, according to Dan McCarron, national product specialist in JVC's color TV division.

    So: it will only play on systems with the special decoder, which will be prewired to limit the ability to copy. Say goodbye to deck-to-deck editing like I did on VHS compliation tapes back in the day.

    No thanks. I'm not buying crippleware, hardware or software, no matter how cool it seems otherwise.

  • So buy a tape rewinder.

    If it doesn't have compression artifacts I'd be happy.

    DVDs really aren't capable of HD resolutions without serious artifacting problems, so you need something to fill the gap. Right now DVD recorders cost at least twice as much as D-VHS recorders and don't do HD.

    The argument at the moment is moot as few can recieve or playback full HD resolutions.
  • All I can say is "DivX to the rescue."

    DVD's are huge, too. DVD's take a long time to rip and encode, too. But there are people around who will take care of these issues, compress it into a CD-sized DivX movie, and offer it for download online.

    Try ripping a DVD some time. It's a pain in the ass. Then go to one of the DVD/DivX release sites and see how many are released all the time. And it will only get easier.

  • I think the comments against the increased resolution of HDTV are somewhat misguided. By the reasoning, we should still be watching only silent, B&W movies. All that matters is communicating the story, right?

    For that matter, all that's really needed is a tribal storyteller -- somewhat that can paint a word-picture for us, and that's all we need.

    With new technology comes new uses. With motion pictures came more detailed visual sequences. With sound came voice acting once only found on the stage, and greater use of musical scoring. With color came stunning landscapes and use of color as a cinematic tool (e.g. green computer world and blue real world in the "The Matrix").

    Certainly, right now, High-Defintion Jay Leno is of little use; I don't need to see his chin in greater detail :)

    But, as Jay joked some years ago, about Twisted Sister's first CD release, 'Is there some musical nuance we've been missing, that we can now hear on the CD?'

    People will figure out how to use the increased resolution of HDTV in interesting and worthwhile ways.

    Of course, the whole pooh-poohing is a bit disingenuous, since it's coming from people who are undoubtedly writing the post on a 17" monitor, at >= 1024x768 resolution. If they meant what they said, they'd be running a 14" monitor at 320x200 for all their computing needs.
    D. Fischer
  • Just because 75 gigs will only hold 30 minutes doesn't mean it won't be distributed. Besides, that's probably the uncompressed figure. What size would it be when you run it through an mpeg4 encoder? The Mandrake distro is a gig for everything, and people download that.

    Truth is, it'll be a couple years at least before this technology gets into the hands of the average consumer, and movies start getting distributed in that format. Besides, it can always be scaled down to 1/4 its resolution, or lower.
  • People like shiny things. That's why DVDs and CDs took off, while MDs have struggled

    Yes, except that MDs have been supported by Sony so long that they are now actually gaining acceptance just because they've been around so long. MD is a great format, especially now that media has finally gotten cheap.

    The REAL reason Beta died was because Sony couldn't afford to keep it afloat. Now, however, with the playstation sales funding the rest of the company, they can afford to keep a technology alive with fresh infusions of cash.

    Who'd have thought that a cd-rom system with a R3000 chip running at less than 40 MHz would change the world so drastically?

  • Eventually, I sold it to a friend of mine for $1200, including installation at his house.

    A good salesman always refers to his customers as friends. After all, they're my friends because they give me money.

    That's not to imply that I'm a good salesman, of course. I'm not especially, despite having read a few books on sales. I hate selling stuff, but I get the job done.

    It's the same way that you never ask a customer to sign a contract. A customer is a friend, signing is something your mother told you never to do, and a contract is a scary pile of legalese. You instead get your friend to autograph an agreement, because this conjures up pleasant of happy people making him feel important. (Other bad words in sales include "policy" and, well, "sales".)

    More importantly, with the emissions that the projector was still putting out - in other words, the CRTs (which are expensive and a lot of work to replace) were *very* healthy - that projector was an easy $2500 in the classified ads in the local newspaper. (You know, where people still advertise and sell $700 Pentium 75s.)

    Real not-ripping-anyone-off value of it was about $2,000.

    He did okay. I did okay. It was a mutually beneficial agreement. We're both happy.

  • They're called "early adopters" and they're the sort of people who already have an HDTV set, and are frothing at the mouth to be able to record "Everybody Loves Raymond" in super high fidelity.

    Sure, but not all technology is destined to trickle down in price to the point where `everyone' will want it; Laserdisc certainly didn't. I don't know what sort of factors would affect this mass consumer take-off.
  • Why does everyone only look at the home-use for such a product? These babies could be the answer TV stations and Video Producers have been looking for. Look at current DV and MiniDV, sure you get great quality but storage is a problem. So Sony came out with their camera that has a harddrive in it. Still this is all very inefficient.

    Pop a 300 gig video tape in a camera and my GOD!

    The only thing that scares me though, is this being adopted by the pr0n industry. Isn't there enough of that crap out there already? Do we really need amateurs being able to shoot 300 gigs worth of pr0n?

    D-VHS blank media is going to sell for $10-15 a tape. I know I'd buy a camera that would use this!

  • I'm wondering how long it will be before some company comes out with a "home video archiving" system based on MPEG-4 and CD-RW media. Basically a fast embedded PC with a CD-RW drive and a 4GB HD or so. You could store more than 2h of TV quality video and have a player/recorder in one unit. The whole thing could probably come in at a $500 price point or so. I think they could start a de-facto standard because of the availability of the technology and particularly the cheapness of the media alone. With the proper software you could buffer an existing CD-x (CD-R or CD-RW) to the HD, rearrange scenes, mix in some new stuff from the TV (or TiVo), then shoot the whole thing back to CD-x. With a decently-fast burner of 8x or so that would take less than 10 minutes. Given a well thought-out interface the whole thing could be made dead easy to use.
  • 1. Its naturally read only, so Hollywood would push it with a vengeance.

    2. After DVD, consumers won't want a linear recording format. For example, the T2 dvd with three branches of the film, original, director;s, and with deleted scenes. These features have proven to carry a price premium, at little cost for creation for studios.

    3. Backwards compatibility. Whatever HDVD discs will look like in 2004ish, a HDVD player will play CDs, DVDs, and Audio DVDs.

  • As others have pointed out, this device probably drops the odd bit or two. While that's OK for a video recorder, it's certainly *not* OK for a backup device.

    However, with the ridiculously low cost per bit, it might be acceptable to encode a large degree of redudundancy into the encoding to allow virtually any recording-process error .. . . ;-)

  • Time to sell some stock.

    This company wasted untold amounts of money developing a product that:

    • Has no random access (tape)
    • Is physically bigger (tape)
    • Can be eaten by your machine ($$)
    • Can't be played on your notebook
    • Can't be played on your computer, either
    • Makes interactive movies difficult or impossible
    • Is designed to make copying (backups?) difficult or impossible(ha)
    • Costs between 5 and 8 times what a DVD player does
    • Has next to no support from video rental outlets

    I can't believe this crap! Does the MPAA off whores to go with kickbacks, or something? Oh well. No need to worry, if there's one thing even my MOM hates, it's VHS tapes and having to pick them out of a VCR when they (inevitably) fail. This format is DOA, but if I was a shareholder, I'd be pissed.

  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:31AM (#521251)
    This paragraph from the article says it all:
    The JVC D-VHS deck, which should be available around May, will sell for approximately $2,000, while blank media will cost between $10 and $15.
    For $2000, no one's going to buy these tapes, regardless of how backwards-compatible they are. DVD players are well-established and can be bought for as little as $100 at the low-end. VCR's are available for even less. Recorded movies in those formats are available for about $20 VHS, $25 DVD. Why in the world would anyone take a chance on digital tapes, except in the professional markets?

    The clincher for movies is always going to be what I call the Blockbuster [] factor. If your local video store thinks you'll have the machine, they'll carry the movies. If you think your local video store will carry the movies, you'll buy the player. But for $2000, nobody's going to start carrying movie titles when VHS and DVD are already practially guaranteed.

    Digital VHS may stand a chance in the professional markets. It won't sell anywhere else, period.

  • This will probably get me nicked as a troll, but... tml

    Actually, that website has covered the subject very well, but there are a few things I take issue with:

    True, except for the recording length, Sony pioneered most of the improvements over the years, but the VHS manufacturers caught up to each improvement, usually in less than a year.

    Not true. VHS is technically inferior due to such things as chroma subcarrier, M-load versus U-load, etc. M-loading is the most damning, since it requires a Rube Goldberg mechanism to thread the tape out of the cassette. Like Beta's predecessor, U-Matic (so named because it was a U-Loading Automatic Threader), Beta's U-loading is a reliable and efficient picture of simplicity, simply spinning the tape around the heads on a "donut".

    Early VCRs all ate videotape more than today's VCRs do. But VHS VCRs were very prone to tape-eating because the M-load mechanism (the posts and bicycle chain) often didn't return to its proper unloaded position. As the cassette was removed, the tape would snag on the tops of the guideposts as it went past them.

    U-Loads seldom didn't return to the right unload position because the mechanism had a lot less moving parts and therefore a lot less free play. And even when they did, the guideposts in U-load are fixed; since they're not mounted to the loading ring, they don't sit under the cassette as it's being unloaded. And because the guideposts don't move, they don't come unaligned the way VHS guideposts do.

    So, for instance, within a month of Sony's announcement of Beta Hi-Fi, JVC and Panasonsic announced VHS Hi-Fi formats. Interestingly, the two VHS formats were incompatible with each other. [7]

    It's worth noting that the Beta format was designed with space between the luminance subcarrier and the chrominance subcarrier to allow the insertion of a stereo audio subcarrier. Mono sound, of course, goes on the edge of the tape.

    VHS Hi-Fi is a kludge: because it wasn't designed into the format from its inception, it's done with a thing called "Depth Multiplex Recording". It's based on the theory that a lower-frequency signal will pass further into the strata of the oxide coating on the tape than a high frequency signal will.

    In this way, VHS manages to first record the Hi-Fi audio on a relatively low-frequency carrier, then record right over that with brightness and color subcarriers at higher frequencies.

    The competing "Hi Fi" VHS standard took the linear audio track and split it in two. As anyone with tape experience knows, the slower the tape, the lower the sound quality. Also, the thinner the recording area, the lower the quality. Linear VHS Stereo simply sucked. Yet it was marketed as an alternative to the high-quality sound offered by *all* Beta Hi-Fi machines and *some* of the VHS Hi-Fi machines.

    Comparisons between VCRs with similar features showed no significant differences in performance. In fact, most of the differences could only be seen with sensitive instruments, and likely would never show up on most consumer grade television sets.

    *Not True*. VHS doesn't have the same dynamic range for the color information because of the standards set for chrominance recording. Colors appear muddy, with measurable compression and expansion of the chrominance signal. It's *highly* visible with a SMPTE test pattern on a vectorscope. These are standard TV station instruments.

    This poor dynamic range was addressed slightly but on *playback only* when VHS-HQ came out. All VCRs are now VHS HQ, which is basically the equivalent to Dolby Noise Reduction for videotape. Because the noise floor is now less, the chrominance can be given a bit less compression. S-VHS is the only popular VHS format that doesn't suffer from this at all, because it's spectra was designed a lot better than VHS. (This different spectra is also why you can't play an SVHS recording on a VHS machine.)

    I think the fact that *all* VHS VCRs now include this VHS HQ extension is a suggestion that perhaps the format was flawed from the drawing board onwards. VHS HQ is about as much of an admission of guilt as HIMEM.SYS was to the 640k barrier.

    While Sony was decidedly behind in the licensing of its technology, it tried from the very beginning to sign on other manufacturers to the Beta standard.

    For sure. Sanyo and Zenith were early Beta supporters, despite the high costs to license the technology.

    2) Betamax was not too expensive.

    Yes, it was. There was less competition between manufacturers because less of them were willing to cope with the low margins that Beta afforded, as a result of the ongoing battle with the MPAA. By the end, however, Betas *were* cheaper than VHS; Sony had basically abandoned the licensing restrictions in a futile attempt to stop the inexorable march toward VHS.

    Even Sony today agrees that the difference in recording length was the difference that layed Beta low.

    [sigh] True. But Sony didn't want to sleaze out and reduce the picture quality to the unacceptable levels of VHS's EP (once called "SLP", for Super Long Play). Beta III, the slowest consumer Beta speed, still pulls a good 260 lines or so of resolution, similar to VHS SP (Standard Play).

    Sony didn't want to compromise on quality, but that's essentially what the market wanted.

    Here's the thing that kills me, too. My cousin, who is otherwise a perfectly bright guy, has his TV hooked up to cable. It's an older TV, but good quality and still works well. It has the 300 ohm twin-lead screw terminals on the back. The cable enters from coax through a matching transformer, and then the two spade leads are screwed to the back of the TV set.

    Well, one of those leads was connected to the UHF terminals, and the other one the the VHF terminals. The snow on the screen from the resulting poor reception never bothered him; never gave it a second thought. Until one day I fixed it for him.

    People can't handle technology. It's too much for them. And people like my cousin - who apparently represents most consumers - would never see the difference between VHS and Beta.

    And the mere 5.4GB on a DVD is trivial to trade. I'm always downloading DVDs over my cable modem.
  • Since the content on the tape is encrypted, it may not be possible to compress it effectively. Encrypted data is very resistant to compression because the purpose of encryption is to obscure patterns in the plaintext data. That's why security guides say to compress your data before encrypting.

  • On the question of tape versus disk, the big advantage of disk is random access. It's of little value in video entertainment which is mostly watched serially with very few jumps.

    For me, random access is a major part of what makes DVD a nice format. "Instant" chapter selection is a real boon, especially on material which is naturally episodic, such as a season's worth of a TV series. So-far-underused DVD features such as branching are also dependant on random access.

    Random access is what gives TiVo so many selling points over any tape-based technology, and some of those features will carry forward to DVD-R video.

    HDTV is appealing, and for once Europe is behind on this (Digital TV is now commonplace in Europe, but it is all broadcast in PAL resolution -- broadcasters want to pay for as little bandwidth as possible and some of the small-time channels have quite visible MPEG artefacts as a result). What would be required for consumer uptake would be a smooth upgrade path -- say a "HDTV-ready" reciever which outputs both a high-resolution picture and a downsampled NTSC/PAL signal.
  • A while ago a story ran on slashdot about a 48fps film projector that was backwards compatible with 24fps film reels. I too wish the framerate of movies was increased, staring at computer monitors all the time has messed up my eyes' natural refresh rate and 24fps can be really bothersome at times.
  • Expect for the real quality zealots, most people (including me) will not replace TV with HDTV or VHS with DVD or D-VHS (unless we are forced). Why? Because the current quality is good enough. My TV is good enough. I can't justify spending a ton of money to gain a slight improvment in picture quality, at a loss of a ton of freedom. Right now, I can record and playback anything off my TV and VCR, I can rent/buy any movie I want, and I see no reason to give that up.

    Make all the new devices you want, but if all the R&D is going into new features for the MPAA and company, with no real benefit to me, the consumer, I'm not interested.

  • Sure, but the decryption process probably wouldn't be fast enough to stream video in realtime, and there's also the fact that encryption technology is still pretty heavily controlled in most parts of the world.
  • I was not critizing the "rear projection" technology. Merely pointing out that on very large TVs (that just happen to be projection) the low line count is more obvious. Thus the merit of HDTV: more line count would really benefit people with large TVs. Not that big of deal for people with small TVs.
  • In many ways you are correct. Right now the standard as it is has an upper limit of 10Mbps, and about 4.5GB per layer.

    Your comments make sense assuming that the format will be extended which I do believe it will. The problem is that this mythical extended format does not exist yet, DVHS exists now, IIRC actually has existed commercially before realtime (actually on-the-fly) DVD recorders were put on the market.

    Someone else commented that tapes wear out faster. That is true. But I have yet to play any of my DVDs or video tapes any more than 5 times. Even rental VHS tapes do extremely well considering how many times they get played in lots of machines that never get cleaned.
  • Those copy protection schemes are optional.

    You needed special hardware to by-pass Macrovision for copy VHS to VHS. You still need that hardware copying DVDs to VHS. But only those that have Macrovision added.
  • I really think that technology in the home media market is moving much too fast and going too far beyond what the average joe wants. There are both biological and technological limits that are there. In the former, humans can only see so much resolution without fuzziness with good eyesight, so going beyond what the current TVs (not necessarily HDTV) can offer is only going to benefit a small fraction of society. From the technological standpoint, as we keep adding more and more features to these devices, people are going to start using less and less of them, because all they want to do is watch Wheel of Fortune and Friends.

    I think what we have right now, DVD with digital TV signals from cable sources and 5.1 sound, is about the most complex that we can go in the A/V technology without disinteresting any more consumers. HDTV is a good example of how most consumers are happy with what they have now and don't want to go any further. What the hardward and media content producers should start looking at is paralleling the technology, adding more things like TiVO-like systems, interactivity, or the ability to watch any program at any time. A good portion of consumers have the ability to do this, so why not start exploring how to improve the content distsribution, as opposed to making the consumer buy toys that could easily be antiquated in a few years.

  • by Spittoon ( 64395 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:54AM (#521306) Homepage
    They're called "early adopters" and they're the sort of people who already have an HDTV set, and are frothing at the mouth to be able to record "Everybody Loves Raymond" in super high fidelity.

    Most of the posts (up to this one) seem to have neglected the fact that these tapes will allow you to record HDTV in actual High Definition. That's kind of the point. And $2000 is really kind of cheap for the first release of a new technology. Remember how expensive calculators used to be? Apple computers?

    If you set aside the whole "copy protection" and "transmission over the Internet" issues, this is actually kind of cool. Sure it would be better to have a DVD-RW that could record HDTV, but that's not possible right now-- even with compression.

    I regret that the folks who announced this technology felt that they had to address those issues. And even though they brought it up first, I'm pretty disappointed that when something like this emerges, it's immediately criticized from the perspective of "they're trying to keep us from copying stuff willy nilly", rather than as a new technology that will allow us to do something we couldn't before: preserve HDTV broadcasts at home in High Definition.
  • I would imagine, long term, the real benefit that outweighs all of the above: Cheaper to manufacture. It's only 10K now for the device. The tapes would not require a major retool from existing facilities.

    They are betting they can undercut the competition, same way VHS did for Laserdisc. Why buy an expensive, Read-only solution?

    Plus, I imagine some of these limitations could be overcome with a "buffering" appliance, somewhat TIVo-ish... you could put plenty of HD ( which is cheap ) or RAM in there to hold the things and give something of the illusion of Random Access. Not that they would bother.

    I'm guessing if this goes forward, it will be price. Not everyone wants something twice as good if it costs twice as much.
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:47AM (#521314)
    "NTSC/PAL may well suck, but its enough to get the story across and that's what most people care for. The impact of special-effects and sweeping vistas is mostly related to image viewer angle, not image resolution. Big screen TVs (which are popular) take care of this. "

    Which is what is really pissing me off with the N. American market. It's impossible to get a wide-screen TV that isn't an HDTV. I don't give a shit about HDTV, I just want a widescreen at a reasonable price like everywhere else in the world. I was in England 3 years ago and it seemed that half the TVs on sale then were widescreen. Now they're not much more expensive than normal 4:3 ratio screens. And, normal television broadcasts have many shows in digital widescreen. I don't want HDTV, I do want a 16:9 screen.
  • This comment is much more "insightful" than many that I've seen already moderated as such. Ergo2000 is absolutely right about customers wanting convenience. CDs overtook cassettes due in part to better sound quality, but mostly because there was no more fastforwarding or rewinding. Even today most consumers don't have stereo systems that can reveal the differences between a (well cared-for) cassette and a CD. Aside from that, CDs are easier to store, hold up better, etc.

    If it's better quality that everybody wanted, we'd probably all be buying turntables. I don't know any serious music enthusiast who would say that a CD sounds better than a record (although I'm sure there are some who enjoy the digital sound, for one reason or another).
  • by pb ( 1020 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @06:04AM (#521327)
    Fade in:

    D-VHS Tape looks over at the large server computer, and says: "RAID? Oh NO!!!"

    D-VHS tape is quickly recorded and then explodes...

    RAID. Kills tapes dead, where they hide.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by gabuzo ( 34544 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @05:49AM (#521333) Homepage

    Well I doubt D-VHS will replace DVD soon. First of all the DVD has just become a standard accepted by the consumers so I doubt that the motion picture industry will run the risk of introducing a new standard so soon. On the consumer side, D-VHS has some advantages but I don't think that'll be enough for the consumer.

    • it's reccordable but DVD RW is coming so it won't be an advantage over DVD when it'll be ready for primetime
    • D-VHS can reccord up to 1080 lines but I don't think that even in the USA there is enough HDTV sources worth reccording.
    • D-VHS is VHS compatible; that's right, exactly the same way the now defunct DCC was with the audio tapes.

    On the other side there are a lots of drawbacks that prevent this system to get a wide acceptance from the public:

    • this is basically a magnetic tape so the usual problems are back: demagnetization, no direct access (and with the D-VHS bit rate there will be a lot of tape to wind to get to the end or a film), etc.
    • at the moment this is still a JVC only system may be less standardized that the multiple DVD-RW.
    • I'll work only with specific TVsets so buying a D-VHS means either not using it at it's full capability or changing your TV/RPTV/Projector/Whatsoever.

    To add a something on the motion picture industry support to HD I doubt it'll come before years. The next challenge for theaters will be to switch from analog classical film to digital projection. The only two systems demonstrated so far had resolutions of 1920x1080 and 1280x1024. Yes, that's right, that's HDTV resolution or a little bit less. So I don't think that the studios will like to give the customers the same quality they use for theaters.

    And the last thing: how many customers are interested in picture quality? If many people really cared about picture quality I think that analog HDTV could have been a success in Europe or Japan and I also think that the motion picture industry wouldn't have dropped the 65mm cinematography and the 70mm prints.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @07:05AM (#521349) Journal

    No. Sorry.

    The guy was wrong when he talked about not compressing the video stream. It is compressed using MPEG-2, like DVD, but not as much, so the picture quality is a lot higher (e.g., compare a 600k JPEG to a 200k JPEG of the same picture, at the same resolution).

    The information is here [].

    The format also includes a video navigation system and automatic forwardwind and rewind mechanisms to get to the correct place on a tape. However it will take 5 minutes to get to a place on the tape that is 60 minutes away, as 12x rewind/forwardwind is the fastest available.

    So even though finding things on a tape will not be a problem with this technology, it will take a long time. DVD wins this round.

    The format can record 7 hours in HQ mode, and 21 hours in SD mode (same as DVD quality). DVD cannot currently record, but will be able to record soon. Draw.

    Quality: D-VHS wins outright, as it uses a 14mbps stream, not a 4mbps stream like DVD.

    Clunkiness. D-VHS is big and clunky. DVD is flat and nice. DVD wins this round obviously, however wouldn't a 60mm or 80mm DVD format be nice, and very portable. Should be an option for DVD-2 when it comes out with a higher capacity. However FMD might wake up soon and smash everything into the ground.

    Support. DVD wins, it has won the next generation video format wars before they began. Most video stores have DVDs in stock. People own DVD players. In a couple of years this may change, but not at $2000 a player.

    Features. DVD wins. Instant access to any point in a film. Additional features and information. Multiple soundtracks. Multiple endings. D-VHS is an unknown with some of these features, but they will not be as simple to use as DVD.

    Lifespan: DVD if looked after will last a long time (hundreds of playings). D-VHS is an unknown, but if things follow how VHS works, then there will be a lot worse degradation than DVD. DVD wins. However, D-VHS's higher bitrate will mean that a lot more errors have to occur to mess the picture up noticably, but it has the point for quality elsewhere already. :-)

    Score: DVD 6 D-VHS 1.

    And I tried to be friendly to D-VHS... It will be used by broadcasters though to store material.

  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @07:09AM (#521358) Homepage
    cat /dev/dvhs0 | gzip > movie.gz

    - - - - -

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