Archive for: January, 2008

Sony WINS, but you Lose!

Sony looks like the big winner of the next generation video format war. At Januarys CES 2008 in Las Vegas Warner Bros. took sides and announced they would no longer support both formats. This appears to be the last straw for HD-DVD. BluRayWith Warner Bros. announcement the majorly of the major movie studios now support ONLY Blu-ray.

It appears that Warner Bros looked at next gen disk sales in December 2007 and notices the Bul-Ray was out selling HD-DVD. So to help encourage the adoption of a single next generation video format, Warner Bros decided to support only Bul-Ray.

Does this really make sense for the consumer? If you look at both formats Blu-Ray and HD-dvd they have similar specks. Blu-ray does have a greater storage capacity. On the other hand Sony Blu-Ray is an evolving standard. To get in the market Sony Blu-Ray decided to do a phase in of the standard. Kind of developing the product as they go. This means that when you buy a Blu-Ray disk and get it home, then pop it into the player it might work and it might not.

Surprise, you see a screen with big letters saying that YOUR Blu-Ray player does not support THIS Blu-Ray disk. Great now you just spent $30 plus on a disk and it will not play. So now what do you do? Will there is this convoluted firmware upgrade procedure you need to do before the disk will work. And oh by the way it requires a PC, with a DVD burner and an internet connection (on the LG BH-100). Great, so now I need to spend an hour or so to find, download and burn a DVD that will play in a DVD player.

I never had the upgrade problem with a HD-DVD disk. The HD-DVD standard was complete when the product was released. I have never had a problem playing an HD-DVD disk. All my problems have been with Blu-Ray. And the problem are not limited to the disk will not play. Other problems I encountered with Blu-ray are audio track drop out and audio and lip sync problems.

Oh and by the way The HD-DVD standard includes a migration plan for the consumer. The HD-DVD speckHDDVDcombo[1]includes the option for the studio to put the HD-DVD format in different layers of the disk and the older DVD in a another layer( kind of like having side A & B). That way you can play the movie in your bedroom on your old DVD only player. OR you had the option to buy the new movie on a combo disk in the anticipation that you were going to by a new Generation HD-DVD player in a few months, but wanted to watch the movie on a standard definition DVD player now.

So Toshiba was offering the consumer a reasonable migration plan to the next generation high definition format. A completely formulated software standard, that works. Plus Toshiba also offered HD-DVD player for a reasonable price, at times under a hundred bucks. True the player did not have every gee whiz feature, but you could still afford a next generation player.

Now, Sony, on the other hand wants you to pay for the movie for each and every format. That would be DVD, Blu-Ray, PSP etc…. And the price of the Blu-Ray players is three to four times that of the HD-DVD entry players.

Sony also paid studios hundreds of millions of dollars to get the movie studios to back the Blu-ray format. Sony was not going to lose another format war. Sony lost the video tape format war when Betamax lost out to VHS. Sony’s MiniDisc audio format never caught on in the shadow of the infamous Compact Disk (CD). Sony did not hold back on next generation video the format war.

So who pays? You and Me we pay. We all pay through higher prices for Blu-ray players and Blu-ray Disks. After all someone needs to pay all the hundreds of millions of dollars Sony spent winning the format war.

So You (the consumer) lose!

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Help, I’am Stuck without a photo ID

Jan 14 2008 Published by under American Consumer, Goverment policy

We were getting ready for an airplane trip in two weeks. Then I realized that I had lost my driver license.ca_license[1] No problem we have two weeks left, right. I will just go the DVM and get a replacement. Well replacements take four to six weeks. So I checked the DMV web site and there was some information about, after a disaster the DMV would issue a temporary with a photo. Plus I knew that new drivers also get a temporary driver license with a photo. So on Monday I will get a temporary with a photo.

So after waiting the entire weekend, I’m off to the DMV office bright and early only to find out that people with an existing driver license cannot get a temporary driver license with a photo. Now that just does not make any sense. The DMV will issue a temporary with a photo to someone that has never had a license before or if you lost your license in a disaster. BUT not if you just lost your license. All the information is in the DMV computer, your photo, driver license number, SSN, address etcetera; so there should be no question about who you are. But the DMV will only issue a temporary without a photo.

OK So now how are you going to pass the TAS screening check point at the airport without a driver license as your photo ID. Normally the TSA will only accept a Government issued photo identification card, Driver license, military ID or a passport. But all you had was a driver license.

You have time to cancel your trip this time. But image, your on vacation and your Government issued photo ID was stolen our lost. You cannot just cancel your flight home. You’re stuck somewhere. Question start running through your mind on what to do. Should I stay and let my spouse and other family member return without me? Where will I stay? How will I get a government issued photo ID when I do not have the required document to get one? After all who travels with their birth certificate or the other necessary documents? And it is against the law to have two driver licenses. So who know how long you’re going to be stranded somewhere.

UPDATE 01/14/2008 — I talked with a former higher up from the TSA. He informed me that You can travel WITHOUT a goverment issued photo ID. If the airlines give you a boarding pass, TSA will make you a “selectee” if you have no official ID with a picture. So, you can still go, but you will get “special, extra” screening.

What we are going to do is get our passports renewed an keep them active. That way we will have a second means of “Government issued photo ID”.passport And on a trip we will never keep the two in the same place.

So why did I spend the time to write this. Just to point out how Dumb the system can be some time, like not issuing a temporary ID with a photo. And two; if you travel a lot plan ahead. Get two legal forms of government issued photo IDs so you do not get stuck somewhere unless you’re in some place like Hawaii!

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