NYT - "The Blu-ray vs. DVD View-off" - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:26 PM
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Default NYT - "The Blu-ray vs. DVD View-off"

Not sure whether this is Smackdown worthy, but Toshiba's XDE player does figure quite heavily, and it's a fairly interesting (if predictable, for most here) read.

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The Blu-ray vs. DVD View-off

By Eric A. Taub

In a move worthy of one former presidential candidate, Toshiba was in favor of high-definition DVDs before it was against them.

Early last year, Toshiba, the major proponent of the HD DVD format, lost the standards battle to Sony, creator of the rival Blu-ray system. In August, it introduced a new technology, a standard definition DVD player using a technology it called XDE.

The XD-E500 player, Toshiba said, would bring near-HD quality to standard definition DVDs, mainly by using advanced edge-enhancement technology. Today, the XD-E500 can be had for $99 or less, while the least-expensive Blu-ray players are priced south of $300. (Other highly-regarded upconverting DVD players are available from such companies as Oppo Digital.)

I’m a big fan of the DVD format. It offers a quantum leap in picture quality as compared to videotape, longer-lasting media, and random rather than linear access.

But I’ve always questioned the benefits of Blu-ray; picture quality looks very good but I’m perfectly happy with standard def DVDs. Unless you like Blu-ray’s extra features, such as BD Live, the incremental difference in picture quality between it and standard def discs didn’t seem worth the expense.

To check out my assumptions, I did two side-by-side tests. I connected Toshiba’s XD-E500 and Panasonic’s sub-$300 (discontinued) DMP-BD35K Blu-ray players to a 46-inch Panasonic 1080p plasma set, the TH-46PZ850U. I ran the same movie in both simultaneously, the De Niro/Pacino thriller, Righteous Kill, using Blu-ray and standard DVD copies, jogging back and forth between the inputs to make instant comparisons in picture quality. Then I switched out the Toshiba for a simple Sony progressive scan DVD player that cost me $70 three years ago.

The results: the XDE image was better than the old Sony, but not by much. And both looked quite good.

On the other hand, the Blu-ray machine simply blew away both standard definition players. The difference was dramatic. The Blu-ray images were smooth, sharp, and rich. Every scene “popped” with a clarity and presence never seen with standard DVD, making the scenes, whether daytime exteriors or heavily shadowed interior club scenes, come alive.

Of course I was using one of the highest rated flat panel TVs available, and in a size designed to accentuate Blu-ray’s quality. I doubt that the differences would have been so noticeable on more modest-sized screens viewed at the same 10-foot distance I was using.

Toshiba is a bit oblique in its marketing claims. The company’s web site states that the XD-E500 “upconverts standard definition DVD content to HD.” But it also cautions that “although near the picture quality, XDE does not produce or result in native HD video content.”

The difference in picture quality between Blu-ray and standard definition DVD was very obvious. But the difference is accentuated when you get the chance to flip back and forth between the two. Just as many owners of rear projection DLP sets don’t notice that their picture is getting dimmer over time, many owners of standard definition DVD players will be perfectly happy with the picture quality, and won’t notice what they’re missing, unless they have something better, such as Blu-ray, with which to compare it.

Blu-ray player prices continue to fall; Toshiba must know that its XDE products have a very limited life span. The cost difference between the two is barely more than $100, and once that declines even further, there will be little reason for the average consumer not to choose Blu-ray when looking for a DVD machine.
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Ray Von
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:59 PM
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Glad to see that the author came to the same conclusion as many of us. Blu-Ray blows away upconverted DVD just about every single time.

And his test was using a 46" display @ 10ft away.

On my 100" screen from 11ft away, the difference is ridiculous!

In before hidedfjunkie cries "foul" and screams at how good the XDE is...
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:33 PM
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"...the Blu-ray machine simply blew away both standard definition players."
NY Times

Hmmm, might make a good adline in Sony advertising.
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:43 PM
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The conclusion is what a lot of us have been saying for a while now. The budget DVD players are already on the absolute price floor, and Blu-ray players are consistently dropping in price. The XDE has nowhere to go, and doesn't have the PQ chops to make it worth the extra money, especially since it does nothing for audio, extras, etc.

In before HiDefJunkie comes by to say yet another review is BS and he can't tell the difference between one movie on his XDE and a completely different movie on Blu-ray.
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:45 PM
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I wish the reviewer would have mentioned the difference in sound quality as well.
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nighthawk View Post
I wish the reviewer would have mentioned the difference in sound quality as well.
Sound is moot point to most consumers, only aficionados like us will worry about it. Not even the BDA or their members are really pushing it any more.

was the DVD used in the test any good? (PQ wise?) Not that it will matter much a true HD source will always look better compared to a edge enhanced DVD IMHO. Cell tech ( 960p and 4k X2k ) that is coming out later this year and next will be the last true test of DVDs ability to manage.

I think what HDM (physical format) is going to come down to as far as it verses DVD is one question consumer will ask themselves. Is the movie worth having in HD?

Are Happy Gilmore and Darkman really necessary in HD? Probably not. Unless they are a movie buff. And some movies are going to look good enough to joe six pack. Hell most people prefer the DVD to a true theater experience before and after HDM came on the scene, they ( the general pop) were not too discriminating.
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Doctor View Post
Sound is moot point to most consumers, only aficionados like us will worry about it. Not even the BDA or their members are really pushing it any more.

was the DVD used in the test any good? (PQ wise?) Not that it will matter much a true HD source will always look better compared to a edge enhanced DVD IMHO. Cell tech ( 960p and 4k X2k ) that is coming out later this year and next will be the last true test of DVDs ability to manage.

I think what HDM (physical format) is going to come down to as far as it verses DVD is one question consumer will ask themselves. Is the movie worth having in HD?

Are Happy Gilmore and Darkman really necessary in HD? Probably not. Unless they are a movie buff. And some movies are going to look good enough to joe six pack. Hell most people prefer the DVD to a true theater experience before and after HDM came on the scene, they ( the general pop) were not too discriminating.
Other than clear aficionados, cell tech won't have a via price point for 960p. Between Upconverted DVD and lower tier BD's -> there's no room. The enthusiast with hundreds of dvd's might consider it, but again they might already have a good oppo or the x-de. It will be useful for 4k 2k but again people who would pay for such things are again ... aficionados.
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluskiessmingatme View Post
"...the Blu-ray machine simply blew away both standard definition players."
NY Times

Hmmm, might make a good adline in Sony advertising.

If they do then they should also include these quotes as well:

Quote:
Of course I was using one of the highest rated flat panel TVs available, and in a size designed to accentuate Blu-ray’s quality. I doubt that the differences would have been so noticeable on more modest-sized screens viewed at the same 10-foot distance I was using.
Quote:
Just as many owners of rear projection DLP sets don’t notice that their picture is getting dimmer over time, many owners of standard definition DVD players will be perfectly happy with the picture quality, and won’t notice what they’re missing, unless they have something better, such as Blu-ray, with which to compare it.
Which is the real problem since most people won't be doing a comparison with a setup like this reviewer has.

While I agree with what the reviewer said 100% the problem I am seeing even with my more affluent friends and relatives is demonstrated in the quotes above. Because they don't have a player to do a real comparison with, they just don't see that there is any problem with DVD quality viewing in their homes.
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Doctor View Post
was the DVD used in the test any good?
That's what I think is one of the most interesting things about the article - "Righteous Kill" is hardly the sort of SFX epic that some believe show off Blu-Ray's talents best. Given the likely readership, I think it was an excellent choice to demonstrate that HD isn't just for teens and Trekkies

Ray Von
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Old 03-12-2009, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Von View Post
That's what I think is one of the most interesting things about the article - "Righteous Kill" is hardly the sort of SFX epic that some believe show off Blu-Ray's talents best. Given the likely readership, I think it was an excellent choice to demonstrate that HD isn't just for teens and Trekkies

Ray Von
Its hardly a movie i thought of seeing Something like the Dark Knight would have been even more lopsided IMHO. far as this kind of test anyway
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