Monday, February 25, 2008

The war is over... damn you Sony

I really respect Sony for the many achievements over the years in Hi Fidelity equipment. Hell, my home theater amplifier (and speakers) is a Sony, and I love it. Sony has been very creative, and well known (at least in Egypt), that every portable cassette player was called a "Walkman", and every portable CD player was a "Discman". But throughout history, Sony has been trying to force standards in such a way, that it is becoming sickening. Of course, the free world is against bowing to a certain standard, and Sony has been rejected for a long time, except for now, Sony finally got a break.

A few years back, when they invented home video playback devices, there were 2 standards; the VHS and BetaMax (VHS was the ugly big cassette that records and plays video, while the BetaMax was the small slick one). If you aren't as old as I am, you'd probably not know about the format war that happened at that time, where people didn't know which format to choose. You couldn't get a certain movie on VHS, and you couldn't get another movie on BetaMax. If you spend 2 seconds on the internet searching for BetaMax, you'll find one name that pops out.... Sony.

In the 90's, we all got CD players after ditching out our analog cassette players, along with the tapes themselves. CD was mainstream, until Sony wanted to enforce a new standard, the MiniDisc. Many haven't even heard of it, because for some reason people rejected it.

Later in the 90's, when they invented memory sticks, everyone was using the standard SDRam or the MMC. Sony had to come up with something else... the Sony Memory Stick. People kept using the standard sticks, while Sony, until that day, is using its own proprietary memory stick.

The final story that gave Sony a break, was the latest format war, HD DVD vs. Blu-ray. With the invention of "blue-laser", which is basically a thinner laser than the one used in DVDs, they were able to cram 15 GB on one side of a disc, compared to the 4.7 GB of the normal DVD. Again, Sony wanted to set foot on standardization, and created... Blu-ray. Blu-ray is one of the standards used to play High Definition Video (HD Video). On the other side, Toshiba (leading the DVD forum) wanted to create a non-proprietary format; the HD DVD.

Again, people didn't know which player to buy, since major studios have signed contracts with either side, for example, you couldn't buy an HD Spiderman 3 except on Blu-ray, while the HD Last Samurai was only on HD DVD. Blu-ray was much more expensive than HD DVD. However, HD DVD used Microsoft's HDi as a platform, while Blu-ray used Java. And... Blu-ray was considered an "incomplete" format, since the early versions had problems, and the players were not updateable, while all HD DVD players were ethernet ready, with a writeable bios. That means that the Blu-ray's early adopters were chuffed.

However, Sony's sleazy trick of installing a Blu-ray drive in PS3s, and after Sony had paid off a lot of the major studios (which is an unconfirmed rumor), most of them switched loyalty to Blu-ray, and finally Toshiba gave up by announcing that HD DVD is dead.

Finally, the consumer is happy, regardless of which format has won, but at least you will be able to buy just one player, that plays all your favorite movies.

I believe that however the Blu-ray was incomplete, now every major manufacturer, and the god-blessed open source community can work together to make it complete.

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