Recent playback problems: information and possible action - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 04-25-2007, 05:44 AM
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Default Recent playback problems: information and possible action

Introduction

First of all, this thread is not meant as smackdown material or ammunition to bash a format. It involves a recent reliability issue which is, in my opinion, very serious. Every HD DVD owner should know of it in order to make an informed decision.

I. Extent of the problem

Since the last couple months, there are more and more reports of playback problems with specific HD DVD titles. It started with Hollywoodland and continued with Children of Men, The Good Shepherd and Smokin' Aces. There are several threads describing the problems and the specific hardware.

A. The Children of Men case

The full extent of the problems with Children of Men has been documented on a poll started on AVS Forum, to which over 500 people have responded.

1. Overall incidence of problems by player type

Less than half of the voters had no problems at all. Incidence of serious problems was nearly one third overall. This belies the claim that the problem has been blown out of proportion.

2. Incidence of problems by player type

The players that were best at playing Children of Men were the first-gen ones. Not only were they the likeliest to play without any problems, but also the incidence of serious problems was the lowest (they are the only player where serious problems were less frequent than slight ones).

On the other hand, the second-gen players have been the worst, both in flawless operation (only one in three players played smoothly!) and in problem severity incidence. This despite the fact that the problems were first reported on highdefdigest with regard to the Xbox 360 add-on, which holds a second place.

B. Other problem discs

1. Titles with similar issues

The Good Shepherd (Universal)
Happy Feet (Warner)
Hollywoodland (Universal)
Smokin' Aces (Universal)

2. Titles with different issues

There have been titles which have shown issues but only with specific hardware (especially the Xbox add-on). Those are not relevant to this thread.

II. Possible causes of the problem

Another poll was started (not by me this time) for people to express where the problem may lie. A hundred people have voted by now, and by far the strongest suspect is a replication problem. This is borne out by the fact that some users have had success playing a problematic disc by washing it with hot water or even dipping it in boiling water for 15 seconds. Not that I endorse any of those methods. However, it has been pointed out that the problem is often inconsistent - not even the same disc on the same piece of hardware shows consistent performance.

Toshiba has said the problem is related to combo discs (see below).

The question is: why are combos now not playing? Universal has been making combo discs for months now. Its first 30/9 combo was Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift and virtually no problems were reported. So if replication is the culprit, it must be because there has been a change in replication procedure, or they have switched facilities.

Personally, I thought it may also have to do with authoring because of the nature of some issues. Some users have experienced freezes after pausing the movie for a few minutes. Others when accessing U-control extras. However, those features were used on previous discs without any problem.

III. Reaction by the HD DVD industry

A. Universal

Universal has offered a return address for problematic discs. It hinted that returned discs might be used to track down the problem.

B. Microsoft

I asked on the insiders thread where the fault may lie and what remedial action was being taken. amirm (Microsoft's Amir Majidimehr) replied:

Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm
I really can't. This is an issue to be handled and investigated between Uni, their replicator and drive makers. I don't want to speculate and provide incorrect answers. Yes, we do push them on resolving this problem but ultimately, it is not something that we play a role in directly. My suggestion again is to contact Uni and replace your disc with a working one.
C. Toshiba

Someone contacted Toshiba customer service and received this reply:

Quote:
We at Toshiba are aware of the combo format discs not playing in the machine and are working toward a fix for this.
IV. Potential repercussions on the public

Several people have voiced their concern about this issue. The sheer uncertainty factor is beginning to discourage people from buying discs altogether, and many are complaining that even when the movie does play beginning to end without a hitch, they can't help being on edge, dreading the moment the disc will start acting up.

V. Possible course of action by enthusiasts

A. Continuity

Do not alter your buying behaviour because of the issue. If a problem arises, proceed as with any defective disc. Wait for the problem to eventually sort itself out.

B. Private boycott

Refrain from buying (a) combo discs, (b) HD DVDs from a specific studio, (c) all kinds of HD DVD. Do not engage in any public action.

C. Public boycott

Like subsection B above, but also let industry actors, enthusiast forums and media know of your stance, warning them that you will not buy their products unless they act to solve the issue.

D. Petition

Continue buying titles, but inform the industry actors of your concern and ask for information.

Last edited by Grubert; 04-25-2007 at 05:47 AM.
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Old 04-26-2007, 09:28 AM
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Wow, over seventy views and not one reply.
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Old 04-26-2007, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Grubert View Post
Wow, over seventy views and not one reply.
Seems pointless to reply if you haven't experienced any of these issues. I'm sorry but 500 votes on a forum doesn't indicate weather it's a wide spread problem or not. (although it does give evidence to that point)

I had one bad disk and i shipped it back and got a new one that worked.
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Old 04-26-2007, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grubert View Post
Wow, over seventy views and not one reply.
i haven't been affected by any of the discs b/c i don't own any of them. but i was interested in what you stated. good read.
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Old 04-26-2007, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by messin18 View Post
Seems pointless to reply if you haven't experienced any of these issues. I'm sorry but 500 votes on a forum doesn't indicate weather it's a wide spread problem or not. (although it does give evidence to that point)

I had one bad disk and i shipped it back and got a new one that worked.
How did the shipping work? I have Children and Smokin which probably will need to be replaced if it is a disc issue. Do you contact them VIA web/phone? How long does it take to get the disc back? Any costs? Etc?
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Old 04-26-2007, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by messin18 View Post
Seems pointless to reply if you haven't experienced any of these issues. I'm sorry but 500 votes on a forum doesn't indicate weather it's a wide spread problem or not. (although it does give evidence to that point)

I had one bad disk and i shipped it back and got a new one that worked.
If that works for you, it's perfect.

However, some of us live overseas, so the return option is not as viable. That's why the only sensible thing for me is not to buy combos from Universal at all until other owners report that the problems have disappeared.

I was hoping things would be better with Smokin' Aces. And apparently the error rate has decreased - there are people that used to have problems with combos and now don't have any with this title. But still not nearly 100%.
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Old 04-26-2007, 05:04 PM
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I stopped buying combo disk all together. I think the problem has to do with manufactoring and replication issues.
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Old 04-26-2007, 05:10 PM
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FWIW, I contacted Amazon for a CoM replacement yesterday (usual problems, either won't load, or freezes, on two different players), and they told me that they'd have to refund me as they could no longer source it from their supplier, and thhat as shipping from Norway to the US is expensive I needn't bother shipping the defective disc back to them (which is what the Amazons around the world have always told me when contacting them about faulty products).
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Old 04-26-2007, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grubert View Post
Wow, over seventy views and not one reply.
I am at 134 HD DVD without a single problem. I guess if this was as widespread as some are trying to make it out to be we would be seeing more responses. Either way I have zero complaints and thought I would show that at least there are some of us out there that are having zero problems.
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Old 04-26-2007, 10:45 PM
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I have 2 discs that suffered from these problems: Children of Men and The Good Shepherd. I also have Hollywoodland and Happy Feet and a number of other combo discs but I've had no problems with those at all.

I also don't like to return disks overseas, too much hassle and it takes too long time. Luckily the problems for these 2 discs were easy to cure by myself, just took some disc cleaning (although the originals were brand new and clean looking) with dishwashing liquid and warm tap water and that was it. Both discs work perfectly in my HD-XF2 now. I have watched both films + extras throughout without any problems after cleaning the discs. The difference in operation with my player with these 2 discs before and after disc cleaning is completely different. My copy of Smokin' Aces is still on the way and if it turns out to have similar problems I'm pretty confident I can fix it in the same way.

I'm not planning to stop buying Universal Combos or any other HD DVDs and I'm sure Universal will fix the problem which I believe is some kind of residue on the discs that is left behind in manufacturing. The fact that CoM is "currently unavailable" in Amazon.com indicates they are probably already doing something about it.

I recommend disc cleaning with dish washing liquid or other type of soap and warm tap water to anyone who has these problems. All it takes is 5 minutes. I use soft cloth designed for camera lens cleaning for wiping the discs dry afterwards. If this works for you like it works for me, I think the problem will start to look a lot less significant afterwards to you as well.

Last edited by kannisto; 04-26-2007 at 10:49 PM.
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