Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why Blu-ray may actually win the battle

Even before Warner and Paramount's move from HD DVD to Blu-ray, HD DVD was set to lose. With more features and movies, Blu-ray has had the upper hand from the get go. In the late '70's early '80's, there were two competing video cassette formats: Sony's Betmax and JVC's VHS. That battle was ultimately won by VHS, and this time it may be Blu-ray's turn to change an industry.

To start with, Blu-ray discs have a higher capacity, as high as 100 GB; whereas HD DVD only supports up to 45 GB, less than half that of Blu-ray. With higher capacities come longer play times. Blu-ray supports up to 8.5 hours and HD DVD only up to 5.5 hours. Blu-ray has more manufacture support (Hitachi, Mitsubishi, LG, Sharp, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Philips, Thomson/RCA) than HD DVD (Toshiba, LG, Thomson/RCA, Onkyo, Samsung). Blu-ray also has more studio support with 10 when you include the divisions of Sony and Disney (Sony Pictures [including MGM/Columbia TriStar], Disney [including Touchstone, Miramax], Paramount, Fox, Warner, Lions Gate). HD DVD only has 5 (Studio Canal, Universal, the Weinstein Company, DreamWorks Animation).The most titles are also available on Blu-ray, and, unfortunately for the consumer, more copy-protection is available for Sony's format as well. Unless HD DVD starts to offer more capacity, more titles, and unless more manufacturers make the players, HD DVD may go the way of Betamax.
The most titles are also available on Blu-ray, and, unfortunatley for the consumer, more copy-protection is available for Sony's format as well. Unless HD DVD starts to offer more capacity, more titles, and unless more manufacturers make the players, HD DVD may go the way of Betamax.

Lawsuits Galore and Laptops overshadow Desktops in '08

There is also a podcast to corresponds to this post at

For my first topic today, this story is From Techdirt: Digg is among a group of companies being sued by Sheldon Goldberg (Beneficial Innovations) over a Computer Solitaire Patent. Allegedly, Digg and others have infringed US Patents that cover playing games over a computer network. The other companies in the lawsuit include Google, AOL, Yahoo, CNET, NY Times, and even eBaum’s World. Digg is insisting that it has not and does not infringe patents, and that the patents in question are “invalid” (questionable).
The way I see it, the best way to put a stop to this could be for someone to patent the process of suing over patent violations.

Next up, this is From Ars Technica: 2008 might be the year that laptops eclipse desktops in sales. In 2007, laptop sales rose 21% to a total of 31.6 million units, just behind desktop sales, which declined 4% last year. Some industry analysts are predicting that in 2008, laptop sales will exceed desktop sales for the first time. The demand is probably fueled in part by the fact that many higher education institutions require students to purchase laptops-- a fact that I can vouch for, as Texas Tech University requires me to purchase one myself. Another factor for heated notebook sales might be the large number of Wi-Fi hotspots and the ability to get online virtually anywhere where there is cell phone coverage. Many of these laptop sales are in the sub-$1000 category, following the late 1990’s trend that caused desktops to invade nearly every American household.
This seems fairly accurate, as many of my friends had purchased their first laptops last year, spending less than $500 for a decently equipped system.

My third story is From Rumors of the RIAA suing for ripping CD’s to computers for personal use has been found to be untrue. These rumors stemmed from a Washington Post story about a Jeffery Howell being sued because he legally ripped his personal CD collection to his computer. What the Post failed to mention however, is that some of those songs allegedly wound up in a KaZaA shared folder, thus becoming Copyright Infringement. According to the legal documents, the RIAA is only suing over 54 files found in Howell’s shared folder, and not his thousands of other files that are in his personal collection.
The fact that the RIAA even cares about 54 files, over his thousands of legal files is ludicrous. Why doesn’t the RIAA go after the big guys who are uploading thousands of files through BitTorrent and other piracy means? How does the RIAA even know that Howell even put those files in the shared folder intentionally? By default, many P2P programs put music they find in a shared folder, regardless of the source of the files.

Lastly, From The Register: Apple is targeted in yet ANOTHER monopoly lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that “Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products (iPods) in an effort to restrict consumer choice and to restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets”. In other words, because iPods can’t play WMA files, Apple is being sued.
So, it’s OK for Microsoft to disable AAC (iTunes files) playback on the Zune, but wrong for Apple to disable WMA playback on the iPod. This is just crap. Anytime a company with a majority market share does something someone doesn’t like, someone has to sue. If these people want to play WMA’s, why don’t they get another PMP that supports AAC and WMA—or even better—convert the WMA’s to MP3’s?