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Old January 13th, 2007, 10:50 AM   #1
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Back From CES 2007

A couple of highlights:

LG was showing a dual Blue Ray / HD-DVD player. List price @ $1200.00. Of course, they'll never reach the mass market at that price. Several laptops from Sony, Toshiba and HP with one or the other drive up and working already. I expect this will become the norm rather quickly this year. Lots of 1080p displays in the 50" and larger size. All current technologies showing.....plasma, DLP, LCD and LCoS. For gaming, stay tuned for the displays and players that will handle HDMI version 1.3. It's an expanded color space using 10 bit color. For movies, 24 frame direct display. Monitors will be set to run @ a 72hz refresh rate, effectively line tripling the 24hz signal. 3:2 pulldown will become less necessary with the up shot being a smoother looking picture. By this summer, 1080p will dominant the large screen display market. Looks like we will settle here for a while as well. HDMI has come on strong and most monitors now have multiple HDMI inputs. This would be a good year to "take the plunge" if your sitting on the fence about buying a display. Just need to wait until the new product hits the market around late April for the most part.
Windows Vista was on display at the Microsoft arena. All applications such as IPTV, music download support, MS Office, photo apps and other MS supported software applications are Vista ready. A long overdue and refreshing look for Windows. Of course, Apple had their own show going and as such were not present at the show. (The ipod sure was!).
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Old January 13th, 2007, 11:27 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by David Morgan
...For movies, 24 frame direct display. Monitors will be set to run @ a 72hz refresh rate, effectively line tripling the 24hz signal. 3:2 pulldown will become less necessary with the up shot being a smoother looking picture. By this summer, 1080p will dominant the large screen display market...
The LCD market will move to 120 Hz, rather than 72 Hz. Not only can you divide 120 by 24, but 120 Hz, when done properly, *greatly* reduces motion blur. (The demos I saw were stunning.) Combine that with the latest 3000:1 contrast ratio screens, and you have a really great display.

(Disclaimer: I work for Sharp. We introduced the D92 series TVs at the show. The new line will run at 120 Hz with some very clever signal processing. We already offer 1080p and really deep blacks and high contrast in our current D62 line. I think 37" is our smallest 1080p set today, and we will offer 32" 1080p soon.)
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Old January 13th, 2007, 11:39 AM   #3
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Jon

Yep, saw the demo on the 120hz. Could definitely see the difference.
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Old January 16th, 2007, 04:48 AM   #4
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LED backlit technology looks like it really made a breakthrough this year. The ability to shut the diode off completely really helps create "inky blacks". The 120hz screens sound great and I had no idea that they visibly improved motion clarity.

The 10-bit features of HDMI won't help Blu-ray or HD DVD because they are 8-bit formats but for those of you working in 10-bit you're in luck.

Sony's OLED (Organice Light Emitting Diode) sounds like it looked great. I'm wondering if OLED is ever going to be affordable enought to match LED LCD technology. You can't beat the thin designs.

Samsungs Clear Picture or whatever they call it tech was impressive in pictures at least. Man the LCD hitting the stores this year are really going to blow people away with quality. The differences in color and contrast are easily picked up on photographs so I know they are even more impressive firsthand.

Now is the time to start looking at HD camcorders for my future needs.
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Old January 16th, 2007, 08:42 AM   #5
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Nice reports! I wish I could've gone...

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Old January 16th, 2007, 08:46 AM   #6
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Posted this on teh Videoguys blog http://www.videoguys.com/blog/ last night. I think you guys will find it interesting reading. It's my thoughts on CES, Blu-Ray and the format war:

I got back from CES and had the weekend to think about what I saw. I also spent the weekend watching the NFL playoffs in HD on my new 52 inch Sharp LCD. Something occurded to me that I think is being overlooked about this technology.

Itís the BIG FLAT SCREEN TVs stupid!

Iíve been going to CES shows since the late 80s. Back then I was a kid working in color TV product planning for Philips / Magnavox. My first big assignment was supporting their worldwide projection TV strategic plan. So Iíve always had a warm spot for those big bad TVs.

In the past, when you walked around CES you heard as much as you saw. The noise was always there. Car stereos thumping, karaokee, audio demonstrations. The TVs always looked great - as long as you were not to close or to far, and had the right angle. This year it occurred to me - HD TV screens were everywhere. Plasma, LCD or DLP. But no matter where you stood, they looked great. If you were looking at a screen across the hall, down the isle or 3 feet in front of you. The picture was always spectacular. But unlike all that audio, it wasnít just visual noise. I found myself being sucked into the demos and the content - even when it was going on in the booth next door. Even more important was just how close you can be to the screen and have it look so damn good.

What does Blu-Ray have that HD DVD does not? Sure PS3 is the trojan horse to get Blu-Ray into the living rooms of the world. But what Blu-Ray has - that HD DVD, Toshiba and Bill Gates canít compete with - is the glass. Beautiful spectacular HD glass.

* Pioneer - #1 leader in HD Plasma technology
* Sharp - #1 leader in HD LCD technology
* Sony - #1 brand name for TV
* Samsung - #1 selling brand of HD DLP sets.
* Panasonic, Philips, Hitachi, LG, Mitsubishi - Leading brands in large screen TV

The Blu-Ray camp is beginning to leverage the HD viewing exerience and how it is superior when you combine it with their glass. http://www.blu-raydisc.com/

Once consumers get to experience a really well done title like Superman Returns or Ice Age 2 they will get hooked. You canít experience this on a 20 or even 30 inch computer monitor. To truly appreciate the technology you need to be sitting or standing in front of a big bad HD screen. The Blu-Ray guys are the big bad glass guys. And from talking to them at the CES show, they get it. They need to get more HD content into peoples living rooms so that they will buy more big screen TVs. With Blu-Ray they can show folks that they donít need a huge room to do this. With Blu-Ray content you can sit much closer to the screen.

The HD DVD camp simply does not have this leverage. They can claim anything they want, they can say they are superior or cheaper, but in the end, the Blu-Ray guys can just start giving it away in order to sell Flat Screen TVs. Itís the combination of Blu-Ray content and a Big Beautiful Screen that appeals so strongly to consumers.

As content producers you can now deliver Blu-Ray discs to your customers with HD content on them. TODAY. Itís not perfect yet, but itís here and it is becoming affordable. You can get an HDV camcorder for under $2,000. We offer a wide variety of video editing solutions that will give you fantastic HD results. Burners are available for under $750. Sonic has released authoring software for under $500. In fact, we have Blu-Ray Burner w/ Authoring Bundles for under $1,000! http://www.videoguys.com/Emails/bluray.html
These prices will only go down and the technology will only get better. But it is no longer vapor - it exists. So do the players. Blu-Ray is here and you can create your own Blu-Ray discs.

Oh yeah, did I mention the millions of PS3s that will be in our homes by this summer.

Gary
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Old January 16th, 2007, 06:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Bettan
I got back from CES and had the weekend to think about what I saw. I also spent the weekend watching the NFL playoffs in HD on my new 52 inch Sharp LCD...
Sweet!

The other day I was looking closely at our 52" display next to some of our toughest competition. I mentioned to the sales guy that these sets have the best blacks. I looked at the competition, and their blacks were also very dark.

A closer look showed that the Sharp D62 series gives dark blacks AND preserves dark detail. The competition achieves darkness by crushing the blacks. In particular we were looking at a woman with curly, dark brown hair. On the Sharp monitor you could see the details from the highlights to the roots. On the competition there were brown highlights on top of a black blob.

I don't mean for this to be a commercial. I mean to remind people to look not only for dark blacks, but good detail at low levels when shopping for LCD displays.

It's kind of like good bass for stereo systems. A great system can approach 20 Hz with high dynamic range and low distortion. The pretenders just bump the bass at 100Hz and stick a "Super Bass" sticker on the faceplate.

Don't get fooled by crushed blacks.
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Old January 17th, 2007, 07:27 PM   #8
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Don't count HD DVD out yet.

Gary

There's no corrolation between Flat Screen makers and Blu-ray or HD DVD. A monitor is going to show whatever comes down the pipe as best as it can.

The format battle can distilled down to two strategies.


Blu-ray is going to lead with content. They have already pre-announced many titles all the way into April. At CES there were no new product introductions. Sony had two mock players named Saphire but no specs or pricing. Samsung is going to ship their second generation unit with HQV Silicon Optix tech for $799. Hitachi had a mock up and others but basically CES 2007 was about content.

HD DVD- they realize the content is going to put them at a disadvantage but what they did do was shore up the hardware support. The big news was that Meridian is working on high end player designs and Onkyo is going to deliver a HD DVD player this year in North America. In addition to these fine brands Microsoft and Broadcom have teamed together to create a Reference platform based on Win CE 6.0 and the BCM7440 SoC chips. This should usher in some low cost options.

Finally in Q2 of this year Alco, Lite O, ED Digital and Shinco all plan to deliver HD DVD players. My guess is that they will be around $399. Toshiba is shipping a $599 1080p player in Q2 as well

That's at least 7 players coming. The goal is a minumum of 1.8 million players sold and the target is 2.5 million. They plan to hit this by offering excellent players that are affordable for consumers. Blu-ray is sinply not affordable unless you buy a PS3 that is bleeding money.

Should HD DVD reach 2 million players I expect that CES 2008 would usher in the neutrality of studios like Disney, Fox and Lionsgate.

Both formats are good formats but I've chosen HD DVD for it's superior pricing and player specification. I think millions of consumers will see the same when they begin to compare the two players.
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Old January 17th, 2007, 09:28 PM   #9
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please keep in mind that at this point both sides are under water. What I mean by this is they aren't making money on the players. I've read articles that talk about the big Japanese CE guys eating $200 or more a unit. You need to hit sales in millions for them to get profitable. And compettition will be what drives prices down. I think everyone here would say that these players have to get under $500 before they are going to hit those kinds of figures. And that $399 or $299 is the real sweet spot.

We will get there. It will just take some time. Just because HD DVD started cheaper doesn't mean it will stay that way. As I said earlier, the first generation of players for both sides were lacking. Neither side was priced right and neither side delivered.

Sony used the Playstation to get DVD players into far more living rooms then folks realize. The strategy worked. Back then many felt VHS was good enough. Who would want a device like a DVD player that could only play back and could not record? What's DVD - just a smaller version of laserdisc?

DVD was not a run away hit. The first generations of DVD burners and recorders had issues and a format war. Things will settle out.

In the meantime sales of flat screen HD sets are booming and so are sales of HDV camcorders. You can sit back and enjoy the ride, watch from the side lines, dip your toe in or jump in head first. That's a cost/ benefit decision we all have to face. but make no mistake about it, HD will replace SD. It will seem like it's taking forever, then one day we will look back and talk about how quickly it all changed ;-)

And Blu-Ray / HD DVD discs will be sitting on our shelves, where the DVDs are now (like the DVDs replaced our VHS collections).

Gary
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Old January 17th, 2007, 11:24 PM   #10
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Gary, I do not see how glass has anything to do with Blu-Ray. I mean a HD-DVD player could be hooked up to any of those HDTVs you mention and it would look just as good. Just because somebody buys a Pioneer HDTV doesn't mean they will buy a Pioneer Blu-Ray player. In fact aftr buying a new TV some people may be on a budget and decide to go with the cheaper player since they already spent a good chunk on a HDTV.

There is really no point at all for there to be two HD formats. I mean all HD-DVD movies are dual layer (30GB) while many of the first Blu-Ray movies were single layer (25GB). Codecs and formats are also the same so if basically the movies are all the same then why should we pay double for a player?

Other then glass can you point out any reason why Blu-Ray is worth twice the price? Why is it worth my dollar even if it was the same price? If I could buy a HD-DVD player or a Blu-Ray player for the same price why should I choose Blu-Ray? I mean they are pretty much the same.

I do think you are slightly biased since you sell lots of Blu-Ray products. Of course you want Blu-Ray to take off but can you give me one valid reason as to why you think it is a much better product then HD-DVD. As far as I can tell they are pretty much the same except one costs a lot more to create. HD-DVD does however have one key advantage over Blu-Ray and that is consumers being able to use a cheap DVD burner and cheap DVD media to create a 20-30 minutes HD-DVD. This is something that cannot be done with Blu-Ray and gives the market kind of a stepping stone to move up to HD content.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 06:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Thomas Smet
Gary, I do not see how glass has anything to do with Blu-Ray. I mean a HD-DVD player could be hooked up to any of those HDTVs you mention and it would look just as good. Just because somebody buys a Pioneer HDTV doesn't mean they will buy a Pioneer Blu-Ray player. In fact aftr buying a new TV some people may be on a budget and decide to go with the cheaper player since they already spent a good chunk on a HDTV.

There is really no point at all for there to be two HD formats. I mean all HD-DVD movies are dual layer (30GB) while many of the first Blu-Ray movies were single layer (25GB). Codecs and formats are also the same so if basically the movies are all the same then why should we pay double for a player?

Other then glass can you point out any reason why Blu-Ray is worth twice the price? Why is it worth my dollar even if it was the same price? If I could buy a HD-DVD player or a Blu-Ray player for the same price why should I choose Blu-Ray? I mean they are pretty much the same.

I do think you are slightly biased since you sell lots of Blu-Ray products. Of course you want Blu-Ray to take off but can you give me one valid reason as to why you think it is a much better product then HD-DVD. As far as I can tell they are pretty much the same except one costs a lot more to create. HD-DVD does however have one key advantage over Blu-Ray and that is consumers being able to use a cheap DVD burner and cheap DVD media to create a 20-30 minutes HD-DVD. This is something that cannot be done with Blu-Ray and gives the market kind of a stepping stone to move up to HD content.
I have to agree with the TV comment. That really does not make a huge difference unless someone wants all the same company in their living room, ie. all Sony or all Toshiba or something of that nature.

I am on the HD-DVD side, but really, I do not care that much who wins. Although Sony has never won a format war, many more companies besides Sony are behind Blu-Ray and it gets more attention at local stores. In Walmart, there are more Blu-Ray in stock (this may be because more people are buying HD-DVD's, not sure). At Circuit City, they only carry Blu-Ray in the store.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 07:44 AM   #12
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First. You miss my point about the glass. It has nothing to do with the players. no techniocal point either. It has to do with the companies. From a marketing / strategic point of view, the big glass companies can leverage the glass to sell the HD disc players. Guess what? All the big glass guys are the Blu-Ray guys. Made me go hmmmm.

Actually, I am not pro Blu-Ray or HD DVD. What I am is Pro HD and HDV and DVC Pro HD. And what these formats need desperatley is a way for us to deliver that content to our customers / audience. Right now you can deliver a small amount of HD DVD on a standard DVD, but there is no way to provide anything longer. Do you really think you are going to deliver a 2 hour wedding video on 4 DVDs? I just don't see that at all. Or a 90 minute documentary?

For serious HD video work the only solution available today is Blu-Ray. The burners and authoring are now readily available. Even more important, the prices are dropping and they will contnue to do so.

I will support any and all formats that allow my customers to deliver HD content to their audience.

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Old January 18th, 2007, 10:13 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Gary Bettan
First. You miss my point about the glass. It has nothing to do with the players. no techniocal point either. It has to do with the companies. From a marketing / strategic point of view, the big glass companies can leverage the glass to sell the HD disc players. Guess what? All the big glass guys are the Blu-Ray guys. Made me go hmmmm. <snip>

Gary, I would agree with your point except that.. well, the BD companies aren't doing what you describe. BD players are averaging around $700-1000. That's a lot of money for all but the most techno nerd early adopters with some serious spare change. That's especially a lot of money considering you can order an HD DVD player from a mainstream site like Amazon for just over 400 bucks.

Rather than taking a bigger hit on the BD players and pricing them down to move more TVs (and their format in general), Sony has done this:
Delay the PS3 and increase its cost by $200 so that Playstation fans that purchase the PS3 become marketing fodder. By getting the hard core Playstation fans to purchase a non-optional BD player on their game stations, Sony has provided its marketing department with all kinds of successfull "sales" numbers for BD players; paid for by gaming fans.

Sorry Gary, I'm sure if YOU were running things over at Blue-Ray the picture (no pun intended :) would be a lot different. You've got some good ideas that would move the format and sell entire product lines. Unfortunately I dont' believe Sony is that progressive in its thinking and, frankly, seems more intent on using its customers rather than catering to them. Anyone that thinks differently: rootkit. Or: Fictitious movie reviewer.

Honestly, the HD DVD camp has delivered outstanding product at reasonable prices. As a consumer, that's all I want.



Now, as for CES and the HD stuff, considering that dual format players AND dual format discs are on the horizon... I don't know. I think it might really end up like DVD+R versus DVD-R. HD DVD and BD might ultimately just both co-exist and drives will pretty much just support both formats. Studios will just print on the format that's the cheapest for them and Sony will never have to pay HD DVD royalties for their studio releases. Just a theory.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 10:34 AM   #14
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Good points Phil, but keep this in mind.

For almost all of 2006 we had a massive shortage on the blu-ray laser used in both formats. The shortage was so bad at one point that Sony delayed the launch of their blu-ray player becasue they couldn't even get enough lasers for PS3 production. This shortage is behind us (for now).

So the Blu-Ray guys made a decision (one that I think STINKS) - to leave prices high since shortages prevented ramping up production. I lived with this frustration first hand as Pioneer refused to lower the price on the BDR-101 in Q4 despite the lower cost Sony unit being available. They felt that if they only had a limited supply of prodcut, why lower the price. As I said - I completely DISAGREE with this and I think it was a really dumb decision that opened the door wide for HD DVD.

At CES I really got the impression that the Blu-Ray guys are now changing their tune. Not completley, and not fast enough. But it is changing. I see our new lower price on the BDR-101 as supporting this. Time will tell.

great thread - lots of good info.

Gary
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Old January 19th, 2007, 10:20 AM   #15
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Gary

I caught your point the 1st time around about "the glass makers". It's a keen observation. Not that it would happen but if your monopolizing the screen manufacturing, you could "theoretically" give away the players in order to promote the format.
Another good point is the capacity of Blu-ray vs HD-DVD. This could prove significant to video producers as the production/burning aspect takes shape.

good points
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