This Week's Reader Mail

Posted Fri May 26, 2006 at 01:06 AM PDT by
Old-Fashioned Letter Mailbox It's the latest issue of High Def Digest's Reader Mailbag, where we answer all your questions on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, industry trends and our site's news and reviews.

Got questions of your own? Send them our way, and we'll try to answer them on the site in future issues of our Reader Mailbag.

What's in an acronym?

"I love your site, but I feel it is important to point out the fact that you don't express the names of the formats the same as the creators. If you go to both the official HD DVD or Blu-ray site you will notice that they call themselves HD DVD and Blu-ray not HD-DVD and BLU-RAY. I don't mean to be picky, but I thought you might care. Thanks again for the great content." -- Ben D.

Dear Ben: Thank you for the fantastic vote of support, despite our admittedly altered acronyms for the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats.

The reason? In the case of HD-DVD, though you are correct in that the official HD DVD consortium drops the hyphen from its website and promotional materials, and thus most media outlets have adopted it likewise, we here at High Def Digest have received a number of emails that HD DVD is often confused as an acronym meaning "high-def DVD" in general, and not specifically the HD DVD format. So we added our own hyphen to prevent any confusion, especially since we use the terms HD DVD (to mean high-def DVD in general) and HD-DVD (to mean the HD DVD format specifically) so much more extensively than most media websites.

In regards to Blu-Ray, or, rather, Blu-ray, we initially began using the uppercase spelling purely as it looked "more correct." Though, as again you rightly point out, the official Blu-ray consortium does not capitalize the "R."

So, readers, what do you think? Should we drop the "-" from HD-DVD, and drop the capitalized "R" from Blu-Ray? Let us know what you think -- we are happy to listen to our readers and make sure High Def Digest is the best and most accurate site we can make it.

No HDMI, No Buy?

"I need to know if my TV monitor does not have a HDMI connection am i wasting my money buying an HD-DVD player. All I have is Component/S-Video on my monitor. Will I see the HD picture connecting with Component connections? Please advise." -- Ron

Dear Ron: Rest assured, your question is one shared by just about every potential consumer out there who is thinking of buying a new high-def DVD player -- HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. I assume you are referring to issue of the Image Constraint Token (ICT), a fancy term which means that content providers (i.e., the studios) can chose to enable ICT on any given software title, whereby the image quality will be "down-converted" to standard DVD quality over any connection other than HDMI.

Unfortunately, as of today, your question is impossible to answer with any certainty, largely because the studios themselves have not made any official decision on whether they intend to implement ICT on any or all of their upcoming software releases.

However, we can tell you that so far, none of the HD-DVD titles we have reviewed from either of two current HD-DVD-supporting studios, Warner and Universal, have ICT enabled. However, some studios who plan to release HD-DVD and Blu-Ray titles in the near future, including Paramount and Sony, have made public comments they may potentially flag some or all of their high-def disc releases with ICT. Warner has also stated they may elect to implement ICT on their high-def DVD sometime in the future as the installed based of HDMI-capable HDTV monitors grows.

We wish we could advise otherwise, but right now, there is simply no way to be sure that the HD-DVD player you buy today will continue to deliver full HD resolution with the discs you buy tomorrow, at least if you have a non-HDMI equipped HDTV. So that means only you can decide if the financial outlay required to purchase a new HD-DVD or Blu-Ray player makes sense for you right now. But we'll definitely keep you posted as soon as the studios officially announce any future plans regarding ICT-enabled software.

TrueHD Hook-Up

"Why don't you guys review the TrueHD Dolby Digital track using the PCM outputs of the HD-DVD player? You don't have to wait for HDMI 1.3 receivers to decode the TrueHD Dolby Digital bitstream. The HD-DVD player will decode two channels of it and pass everything out the HDMI 1.1 as PCM. Just need to find a receiver that has multichannel PCM inputs via HDMI." -- Cody

Dear Cody: Thanks for your question, and it is indeed one we've gotten a lot of email about. The reason we have elected to not review the TrueHD soundtracks released on HD-DVD so far (of which there are currently only two available, on 'Phantom of the Opera' and 'Training Day') is answered in your question. Namely, because Toshiba's current first-gen HD-DVD players will only decode two channels of a TrueHD soundtrack and pass it along as PCM.

We feel that to truly make a comprehensive evaluation of all the audio formats provided on an HD-DVD (or Blu-Ray) disc, whether it be Dolby Digital-Plus, Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD, the source soundtrack should be decoded fully and processed accordingly. Until commercial A/V receivers hit the market that can properly decode a TrueHD track in all its 7.1 channels of glory, any comparisons would be unfair and potentially misleading.

Certainly, we will begin reviewing TrueHD (as well as DTS-HD) soundtracks as soon as we can get our hands on high-def players and receivers that can present these wonderful new audio formats to their full potential.

Tags: Reader Mail (all tags)