Blu-ray/HD-DVD vs downloading or streaming movies?

My first official post will look into the HD format war and also going medialess.

The big bad War

The actual HD DVD format war is not good for anyone and in particular for the movie fan. Like many, I'm on the side line but now I'm leaning on the Blu-ray camp. In a recent column on The (click here and here), Bill Hunt ask people to email Universal so that they begin to support Blu-Ray and not HD-DVD exclusively. Doing so, he think that it will almost end the format war. He did made good points.

I will not re-buy my entire DVD collection but only my really favorite movies. So, after looking at my own small DVD collection, I noticed that I had a few favorite movies from Universal but most are made by the Blu-ray studios. I emailed Universal in the hope that they changed their minds. I suggest that you do like me and look at your own DVD collection.

Here, the content and not the hardware, is the major key to make your decision. Quality wise, both seem to be the same now. The differences are on interactivity(menu) and the media capacity for now.

Plus, it's easy to loan a DVD to friends/family.

Going medialess

Now, many said they will go medialess and skip Blu-ray/HD-DVD altogether because of the war or are used to be medialess with music. But almost no one talked about the bandwidth and codec/DRM. The medialess ideal does has merit if:

  • you don't have to worry about bandwidth speed
  • your are not capped
  • can play anywhere

Let's take each one at a time.

Give me my Bandwidth

If you have a decent speed, you will have to be patient and wait a few hours before the file is finished downloading. If it's streaming, you will need much more speed and this will cost you more.

To be or not to be Capped

Many ISP, in order to control overall bandwidth cost/usage, will start to capped your monthly bandwidth. That being said, this will limit the numbers of movies you can watch/download per month. Again, you could have opted for an higher capped service but this would had cost you more.

Can I Play, please! please! can I Play

We all know that the studios won't let you download and let you play it anywhere. For that to happen, they will have to decide together what codec and DRM to use. They could take the existing codecs of Blu-ray or HD-DVD, but the files are very big (20Gig/movie). The Xbox Live at 5Gig/movie seem to be reasonable in size. I guest in theory the quality must not be the same but I never seen one.

They could sell special formated hard drive enclosure(add the drive) that will let you save and encrypt your movies on it. This solution is not entirely medialess and instead of a stack of DVDs, you will have a stack of enclosures.

To play elsewhere, you bring the enclosure provided the other set box is in your listed official box. It's one thing the media has: portability without asking for permission first. But, at least, if someone stole the enclosure, he won't be able to play the movies because you will be able to deactivate that box.

Streaming would need a player or standard special box and an internet connection but will let you play from anywhere providing bandwidth issues is not a concern. You would only need to login to a central service. You would not need to keep a local copy, worry that the hard drive might failed or in what enclosure it's saved.


Going with media or going medialess bring all sort of pluses and minuses. Some of those issues will be resolved in time IF the industry talked to each other and check their egos at the door. They seemed to have forgotten something: Customer first!

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8 thoughts on “Blu-ray/HD-DVD vs downloading or streaming movies?”

  1. Actually, there is a company called that figured out how to stream High Definition video in full screen mode with a mere 100kbps bandwidth connection. They don’t require you to download any software and the player doesn’t even have to buffer. Others have tried to do what Blast can do but they need at least 10 times the bandwidth. Most other players that claim HD streaming are really only just using a process called progressive download (buffering).

    check out the BlastIPTV full demo site to see for yourself:

  2. B1-66-ER: I went to the site(publisher) but was not that impressed. Sure, you have HD resolution(720p) but not HD bandwidth that goes with it. I saw the pixelation.

    But I was surprised that the demo had almost the first hour of “300”(720p). I jumped within the movies and still had to wait. That, I understand.

    When I went to the “viewer” site(, no fees are mentioned, no faq … I did not register and give my information only to find out that I must pay something after that. It’s not very clear. You still need a computer.

  3. Hello, Steve
    Wow! Not impressed by HD streaming over 100kbps connection?!
    Then I’d sure like to see what does impress you…Do you know of a streaming site that can get close to that kind of quality over such a low bandwidth connection?
    Not sure what you mean by “jumped within the movies and still had to wait”. I have tried clicking right to the middle or end of the movies and it barely has to load at all (maybe 2 seconds if that).
    I also signed up on the site and it doesn’t cost anything (I think it just has the ability for payment in the future but not now cause it’s still just a demo site of what they can do).
    I’m telling you, I’ve been looking high and low and there’s nobody that can compete with Blast IPTV when it comes to quality and ease vs. super low bandwidth requirements.
    If you can show me someone who can, please by all means post the link!

  4. What is HD for you? Is it resolution(1920×1080) or bandwidth or both? Yes, 100kbps is good for HD resolution but like I mentioned it came at the cost of seeing a lot of pixelation during playback.

    I did have 2 sec. delay too. That’s why I understand the delay for buffering.

    I have a PS3 for Blu-ray movies now so I’m more demanding about the picture quality. Also, this post is over 1 year and nothing has changed since then in having a unified streaming format. Could it be them? I don’t know. Look, Netflix launched a “streaming box” by Roku last week for $100. Yet, it has no HD streaming and it has old movies(for now).

    Eventually, streaming will be the way but not now. Plus, when US viewers get a taste of quality HD next year, this will not cut it for them anymore. “HD light” is often mentioned by Sat/Cable viewers has being noticeable . This is even less than that.

    I’m not saying it’s bad but it’s not good either. At least, it’s a step in the right direction when they can offer more quality at an higher bandwidth. Just hope that your ISP don’t have a monthly cap 😉

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