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October 13, 2005

HD DVD vs. Blu-ray

Cliff Edwards

Is this the best Toshiba could come up with to keep their HD DVD next-generation high-definition DVD standard alive?

Movie studios seem to be running away from HD DVD faster than the speed of light as the competing Blu-ray technology developed by Sony and others gathers support. How does Toshiba respond? It puts out a press release Oct. 13 announcing it will demonstrate the technology for the first time to U.S. consumers at Bjorn's "flagship" Audio-Video store in San Antonio, Texas.

Never mind that a quick look at Bjorn's website shows the company has only ONE store. Or the fact that San Antonio definitely ain't the high-tech capital of the country. Demonstrations (presumably daily, though the press release doesn't say when they start, or how long they will last) will occur at least three times over at least one day.

Before we officially call this a very lame p.r. trick to gain publicity, we should note Toshiba promises this is just the first in a series of HD DVD demonstrations that will happen around the country. Maybe you'll get to see HD DVD in some place you actually shop, like Best Buy or Tweeter. Heck, I'd even take Target or Wal-Mart.

Execs from Blu-ray and HD DVD are still meeting behind closed doors to come up with a compromise by the end of the year to prevent both technologies from rolling out to consumers. Clearly, Toshiba would like to generate some buzz about its standard so it is not the weakest kid at the party. But this particular negotiating ploy fools no one.

01:33 PM

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All the hype about electronic technology to play music, view TV, play games takes the attention away from education. I see nothing that encourages students to learn to think and even study science

Posted by: Eugene Warren at October 13, 2005 05:36 PM

Just to set the record straight, yes Bjorn's is just a single store location way down in San Antonio, Texas. It is however one of the premiere independent audio video stores in the country. The HD-DVD debut is not a fluke. There have been numerous product debuts and "firsts" over our 30 year history, including HDTV in 1990, and DVD in 1997. We were the first retail store in the country to demonstrate 10.2 sound with a room designed by Tomlinson Holman (the TH of THX, who will also be here this month conducting seminars). Our store has been regularly featured in numerous industry publications and Bjorn is a regular speaker at many industry events, including CEA conferences. We are regularly ranked in the top 10 audio video dealers in the country, along side the Best Buys and Tweeters and yet we are not a superstore, and we pride ourselves on that. We are a dealer that focuses on educating our customers through regular seminars and product debuts. Our staff goes through continuous product trainings and we run 90 second infomercials every week on the local ABC affiliate to educate San Antonio consumers. Not coincidentally, San Antonio is the largest HDTV market for Time Warner cable in terms of market penetration. With that being said, we would welcome y'all to come see our store and find out what all the fuss is about!

Posted by: Doug Bravin at October 13, 2005 06:35 PM

Ripping on Bjorn' AV is a bit like ripping on B&H Photo. Sure there is only one location, but that in no way lowers the quality or reputation of the entity.

Posted by: sandor at October 14, 2005 12:49 PM

Don’t Shoot The HD DVD Messenger….

It was surprising that a “tech writer” of your stature was not familiar with Bjorn’s.

Questioning the merits of HD DVD vs. Blu Ray is one thing, but questioning Bjorn’s role in the CE industry is quite another. We at the PRO Buying Group, the 17 retailer organization, to which both Bjorn and Tweeter belong, has been closely watching the new high definition DVD developments. (You may also know some of our other members: Abt Electronics, Crutchfield, Myer Emco, or perhaps our alum, Magnolia HiFi (Now a division of Best Buy.)

Just last week, Bjorn, (yes there IS a Bjorn, Bjorn Dybdahl), was in the Far East meeting with the key players in the format battle. Odd you should mention Tweeter and Best Buy as “alternatives” to Bjorn, as we all were overseas at the same time meeting with product planners. Tweeter was on our trip. Best Buy was of course, on their own trip.

Bjorn, the man, and the company’s, place in the CE space is well established. He’s an innovative and effective marketer and he has introduced one technology after another in his seminar series. To add perspective to why Bjorn isn’t just “One Store”: when company’s such as Sony invite just a few people overseas to meet with Chairman Sir Howard Stringer and his Senior staff, Bjorn is there holding up the specialty banner, while among the other attendees Best Buy, Circuit City and WalMart represent the broader marketplace.

For further reference you might want to look at this month’s Home Theater Magazine, the Top 10 Dealer’s Issue of Audio Video International, or maybe CE PRO. (Bjorn is featured on the cover of the latter two.)

Back to the HD DVD vs Blu Ray debate. I’m sure Bjorn would love to have you join in this 30th Anniversary festivities so you can learn more yourself and maybe catch a seminar or two. He’s one “messenger” you want to get to know.

Best regards,

Roger Heuberger

President, CEO

PRO Buying Group

Posted by: Roger Heuberger at October 16, 2005 08:05 PM

Mr. Edwards' comments show an alarming ignorance of the consumer electronics industry he covers, the specifics of HD-DVD and the channels manufacturers use to bring products to market.

First, when HD-DVD (and BluRay, with the exception of its appearance in PS3) do come to market, their price is likely to be considerably above what the average Target, WalMart or even Best Buy customer will be able to afford. Yes, this will be a "specialty" product at first, Toshiba's protestations to the contrary.

Next, with that being the case, wouldn't it make sense for a manufacturer to sneak preview it to the public at a store with a customer base that can and DOES buy leading edge, high end products?

That is EXACTLY what Bjorn's is. I don't think it is an unfair statement, that the average customer at Bjorn's knows more about consumer electronics than most sales people at Best Buy and most Tweeters. (Don't even think about mass merchants!)

If Mr. Edwards knew anything about specialty electronic retailing, he'd know that Bjorn's has been frequently named a "retailer of the year", and while it is true that it is on;y one store, that store is probably one of the premier audio/video/home theater stores in the nation.

While looking at Bjorn's web site, did Mr. Edwards notice the incredible line-up products that will be displayed there this month, and the world renowned industry experts such as Tom Holman of THX fame that will be there this month.

If Mr. Edwards REALLY wants to learn about consumer electronics he ought to visit Bjorn's. It is really an experience. I wish I could have gotten down there for only half what is on their schedule!

Posted by: Ron Birnbaum at October 16, 2005 11:54 PM

Just to set the record straight, yes Bjorn's is just a single store location way down in San Antonio, Texas. It is however one of the premier independent audio video stores in the country. The HD-DVD debut is not a fluke. There have been numerous product debuts and "firsts" over our 30 year history, including HDTV in 1990, and DVD in 1997. We were the first retail store in the country to demonstrate 10.2 sound with a room designed by Tomlinson Holman (the TH of THX, who will also be here this month conducting seminars). Our store has been regularly featured in numerous industry publications and Bjorn is a regular speaker at many industry events, including CEA conferences. We are regularly ranked in the top 10 audio video dealers in the country, along side the Best Buys and Tweeters and yet we are not a superstore, and we pride ourselves on that. We are a dealer that focuses on educating our customers through regular seminars and product debuts. Our staff goes through continuous product trainings and we run 90 second infomercials every week on the local ABC affiliate to educate San Antonio consumers. Not coincidentally, San Antonio is the largest HDTV market for Time Warner cable in terms of market penetration. With that being said, we would welcome y'all to come see our store and find out what all the fuss is about! http://www.dvdmovie.hut1.ru

Posted by: den at October 20, 2005 05:13 AM

I created a site that analyzes the popularity of HD DVD vs. Blu-ray discs on Amazon.com. It shows several interesting graphs over time. Check it out here:

www.thedvdwars.com

Posted by: Tony at May 13, 2006 04:06 PM

Cliff, you're an idiot. I have seen Blu-ray vs. HD DVD side by side both playing Training Day and the HD player looked better. The HD DVD player was even on a 720p Pioneer Plasma set while the Blue-ray was on a 1080p Sony XBR2 LCD. I am not biased, I own any game system that has come out, and to be honest if I'm going to buy a system to watch movies it's going to be HD DVD. It's cheaper, looks better, and Toshiba's track history for new products looks better. With Sony, lets see here....Beta-max, MiniDisc, HiFD, ATRAC format,Memory Stick, which is slowly being replaced by SD. Is anyone else seeing a pattern? I certainly am seeing it. Back when Sony lost to Toshiba in the VHS Beta-max wars, one of the defining factors was Sony said "no" to the porn industry, which is a multi-million dollar industry. Well guess what? Sony did it again with Blu-ray. As I said before I will not use my PS3 for movies, but I will for gaming. If I were to buy Blu-Ray movies it would be like buying UMD's for my PSP, absolutely pointless. The way I see it is Toshiba has a much better track record with the VHS, DVD, and now HD DVD, and I can get the new HD-A2 for under $500. And Sony offers a Blu-ray player for $1000 and Samsung, a piece of garbage for $800. Not only do the systems cost less for HD DVD but the DVD's do as well. I just don't see Sony toppling Microsoft, Microsoft has more power to swing the market their way. Xbox 360's are already outselling PS3's 3 to 1, all Microsoft has to do is say drop the HD add-on down to $100 and boom it's done. Sure more people buy the PS3 (myself as one) than the add-on HD drive for the xbox, but now if you cut that $200 in half and throw in a movie, that's all she wrote, HD DVD wins!

Posted by: ST at February 15, 2007 11:05 PM

That is so insulting to compare Bjorn's to Walmart or Target. Bjorn's is one of the pinnacles of the audio visual industry, not some superstore where you can by a $500 no-named rear-projection television with a $40 DVD player and then go grocery shopping. It is true, whoever said that the average Bjorn's customer knows more than the average Best Buy salesperson. I went in there looking for an HDMI Cable and the salesperson couldn't tell a high-end cable from his posterior. Plus, people come from everywhere in Texas to have one of our technicians repair their TV.

Posted by: Brandt at March 25, 2007 05:14 PM


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