Saturday, October 27, 2007

HD-DVD Vs. Blu-Ray: A Consumer and Entertainment Value Comparison

In this cross-blog feature, I'm taking a look at the optical media format war currently raging across the world.

Optical media is currently dominated by the ubiquitous Digital Versatile Disc, DVD. The DVD was in the right place at the right time, smashed VHS thanks to better pricing, better quality and more features.

It also schooled the older CD standard in the data optical disc market, thanks in large part to an increase of over 300% in per-layer capacity. Most households in the West now contain at least one DVD player, many have several. Additionally, most computers ship with one or 2 DVD drives.

But with the HD era approaching and the capacity of the DVD not really sufficient to hold enough content at HD to justify the effort - never mind the increasingly bloated size of video games - a new standard is needed. 2 competitors have emerged to take this role.

HD-DVD, Toshiba and NEC's direct successor to the DVD (In name only, it is technologically different) and the one endorsed by the DVD Forum and Sony's Blu-Ray Disc.

Both have upsides. In this part of my cross-blog feature I'll be looking at the discs from the perspective of consumers as well as at their value as an entertainment distribution model.

The movie industry has put a lot of weight behind Blu-Ray, including the object f this blog's focus, Disney. But were they right to do so? Well, yes and no. it depends on what's more important to you as a consumer.

The studios chose Blu-Ray because, as I outlined in the first part of this feature, it is technologically superior. On paper, it's an obvious choice.

With higher storage capacity studios can put more HD Content on one disc, which is a plus that one would have difficulty in reasonably ignoring. Disney, for example, are able to release the High School Musical 2 Extended Edition in HD and add more special features without adding any more discs over the DVD release.

This creates possibilities for consumers which are universally good - less disc-swapping chief among them. But there is one thing Blu-Ray doesn't do well for consumers - relax their wallets.

HD-DVD players and in some cases discs are comparatively very low-priced. Players can be had for as little as £115 for the Xbox 360 branded USB model and even standalones run as little as £200 - compared to a starting price for Blu-Ray players of around £300 for the PLAYSTATION 3.

Speaking from a consumer's pointof view, it's easy to choose HD-DVD.

But from an entertainment-lover's view, it's difficult to choose one over the other. A bi-partisan approach would be best. get both, then you can't lose.

All Your Time Are Belong To Us: The Technical view
All Your Disney: A Consumer and Entertainment Value Comparison
All Your Time Are Belong To Us: It's Not That Simple

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Disney Stuff Pictures Update: PJ Mickey W/ Teddy

Hey guys, just a quick one with a picture of the stuff I bought in the Disney Store yesterday.

Disney Store

So I visited the Leicester Disney Store yesterday. I had been told that the stores had lost a lot of their magic, but I didn't really get that impression myself. I was impressed with the size and layout. There was a lot of stuff in there, but it didn't feel cramped.

I do agree that the old mountain of cuddly toys will be missed, but I suppose it was never that efficient for finding the one you wanted anyway. In larger stores, I suppose a compromise between it and the shelves could be reached. But at the end of the day the shelves provide faster, easier access to the toy you want, so they probably should win out.

The decoration of the store was quite impressive too. The areas all match the properties they apply to and there is not an inch which is not colourful. The carpet is marvelous and unique, the walls a joy to behold.

The service was also exquisite. There's not a cast member in there who didn't have a smile on their face. One got the impression was was surrounded by people who loved that they were in this place. They also seemed to be very well trained with the young lady who served me expertly boxing what I was buying in a few seconds and only 1 try. It took me multiple tries and significantly more time to mimic her when I was resealing the box later.

I was also pleased to see that the big screen playing Disney musical numbers which I remember delighted the young me was still in use, in this case pumping songs from High School Musicals 1 & 2 - as well as a couple of older songs from cartoons if memory serves - all around the store. I caught myself miming along a couple of times and I wasn't alone.

Looking around as I was being served I saw a young girl delightedly handing over a collection of coins in exchange for some Mickey Mouse shaped Chocolate Lollipops. She was quite clearly on Cloud Nine and the Cast Members were sharing in the fun. Watching this take place, I could really see the famous Disney magic a work.

There are cynics who say The Disney Stores are corporate greed at its best. They're wrong. However frivolous you think the products, or whatever opinion you have on the pricing, you're missing the point. The Disney Stores bring the magic that little bit closer to the children in all of us.

Jens Out

PS: I was buying the Pajama-Wearing Mickey with a Teddy if you were wondering.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Some pictures of my Disney Stuff

Hey guys, here's some pictures of some of my Disney merchandise, including the Cars Phone.