Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – February 29, 2008: THE FUTURE OF HD DVD PLAYERS.

After Steve’s blog the other day, suggesting that we go to Amazon.com and buy what we want in the HD DVD movie closeout, I did so, picking up some movies that are in both formats. The HD DVD versions were half price. Interestingly, it appears that the studios who released their movies in both HD DVD and Blu-ray, encoded them at the more restricted bit rate of HD DVD for both disc types. So, the Blu-ray versions are no better than the HD DVD versions even though they theoretically could be (if the Blu-ray versions had been encoded at the higher bit rate capability of Blu-ray).

I have one HD DVD player, a Toshiba. I also have an LG HD DVD/Blu-ray drive (about $340) in my media server. At some point, the HD DVD players will break down. And when that happens, there won’t be a replacement available.  Even if you go to Amazon.com today and buy an extra HD DVD player at the very reduced prices, and store it away for when your current HD DVD player breaks, it will eventually stop working as well. So, what happens to your collection of HD DVDs then?

What I am doing is transferring my HD DVDs to my media server, using AnyDVD. This is software that some people use to copy DVDs, HD DVDs, and Blu-ray discs to their hard drives. It is not a legal software program in the sense that it is available in the USA. The movie manufacturers would sue them up one side and down the other if they were based here. The problem is that the program is used by some to steal movies, that is, copy borrowed or rented discs. I agree that is wrong. However, I don’t see a problem in just copying the discs that I own, to my media server, for backup protection. The discs do get scratched, and as I said, eventually, there will not be any working HD DVD players to play them. I really don’t think Hollywood has a disagreement with this approach. It is the copying of movies that consumers have not purchased that is the issue. The movie studios have a right to protect their investments. But we, as consumers, also have the right to protect our investments. Right? Right.

So, what I am saying here is that I hope manufacturers and consumers can come to some sort of official agreement as to how we can store our movies on transferrable media such that we can protect them with backup hard drives, and be able to continue to enjoy them for many years. Right now, that is in danger. I know there are many other consumers out there who are copying their movies to hard drives, or who want to do that. They are afraid to talk about it. As an A/V editor, I have to talk about it.

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