Sony Tells Microsoft To Eat Shit and Die, Or Maybe Not

Francis Vale


"It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die."
—Hunter Thompson


For the past couple of years, the recent Hi Def DVD wars looked, on the surface, like a tired replay of the original DVD format bake off. But in truth this was an epic Blockbuster battle.

On one side of the Hi-Def DVD lines stood Sony and Blu-ray, all lined up shoulder to shoulder with its new format faction supporters, a heavy combat unit comprised of Philips, Apple, Disney, Warner Brothers, among other big hitters.

However, making Blu-ray discs required an expensive new manufacturing process, driving costs up. So storming onto the high-def beaches, spearheaded by Toshiba, came the HD DVD brigade, whose seasoned numbers included the likes of NEC, Paramount, Intel and, most notably, Microsoft. The HD DVD axis bombarded the media about the ability to make its new discs using a simpler manufacturing process, very similar to making current DVD’s, thus keeping costs down. 

The competing Blu-ray and HD DVD formats quickly became a major battle, with many hapless consumers mowed down in the vicious hyperbole crossfire.

Sony counterattacked, saying a major drawback of HD DVD was that it's capacity was much less than Blu-ray. 

A single layer HD DVD could hold 15 GB, and a dual layer disc 30 GB, with a theoretical maximum capacity of 90 GB. In contrast, a single layer Blu-ray disc can hold 25 GB, while a dual layer disc can hold 50 GB, or over 9 hours of high def content. By adding additional layers, one Blu-ray disc can hold up to 200 GB.

Toshiba let loose a balloon barrage, floating the big idea that a single HD DVD platter could also contain a movie in the current DVD format as well as in the new high-def format, thereby simplifying player design and also making HD DVD’s easier to stock in stores.

While these heavyweights battled it out, some vendors began to sell peace and love players that could read both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, as well as standard DVD’s. Their task was made somewhat easier as both Blu-ray and HD DVD are capable of outputting 1080P, currently the maximum HDTV resolution, as well as offering Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio sound via HDMI 1.3.

(But many first generation HDMI 1.3 players, e.g., Samsung’s, could not pass either Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio to an HDMI 1.3 receiver over HDMI in its full resolution bit-stream form).


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