Call me a flip-flopper all you want, but me thinks HD DVD might kick Blu-ray to the curb. That being said, allow me to preface this by saying that the so-called format war is lame and it will undoubtedly drag on for at least another year. The average consumer isn’t going to pony up a few Gs on a home theater system. I think that’s a pretty fair assessment of the situation. HD DVD is cheaper and way more accessible. The players have internal storage and can connect to the Internet pretty easily. I know the PS3 has Wi-Fi, but not everyone has the PS3. But it’s not really a battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD. It’s a battle between HD DVD and DVD as well as Blu-ray and DVD. Although, Blu-ray just wants to pick fights with HD DVD. It’s obvious that the Web is future for both formats. HD DVD just unleashed a beast and who knows how Blu-ray will respond.
With the release of Evan Almighty comes U-shop. U-shop allows you to shop for items you see in the movie you’re watching. For example, Evan Almighty is eco-centric so all the products available form U-shop are eco-friendly. A little pop-up appears during the movie if you choose to enable it. I also like the fact that there are no trailers on HD DVD discs. If you want to see trailers than you download them on the fly whenever you please. That’s what’s annoying about Blu-ray and DVDs in general. Going back to U-shop, you setup a profile for yourself with the online store and whenever you want to purchase something it’s already setup when and if you want to purchase something related to the film you’re viewing. The only downside is that you have to use the remote to navigate and that appeared to be cumbersome during the demo I watched. I personally wouldn’t want an annoying pop-up alerting me of things to buy, but some people are into that sort of thing.
You can also create a Best Buddies list that enables you to connect to other HD DVD users over the Internet and share your favorite clips from any HD DVD title. It’s all so very exciting that I’m not sure what to think of the so-called format war, but HD DVD certainly seems to have an edge right now. Your move, Blu-ray.
Universal City, CA (October 03, 2007) – Today, Universal Studios Home Entertainment raised the bar on HD DVD’s unique web-enabled experiences by unveiling an Internet infrastructure that allows it to take advantage of the guaranteed Internet connection in every HD DVD player and deliver compelling, title specific features. Heroes: Season 1 on HD DVD was the first title to take advantage of web-enabled capabilities, but with the forthcoming availability of Evan Almighty on HD DVD, Universal is setting the stage for new home entertainment experiences with web-enabled features such as the Download Center, U-Shop, and much more. Taking advantage of the infinite possibilities of web-enabled experiences, Universal is utilizing HD DVD to explore the promise of digitally distributed scenarios and infusing movie content with e-commerce and social media capabilities.
“HD DVD provides a consistent platform that allows us to go beyond DVD to deliver the best possible next generation HD experiences and begins to introduce consumers to the infinite potential of web-enabled content,” said Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures Digital Platforms. “With our web-enabled features, we wanted to deliver capabilities that compliment the HD movie watching experience while also offering a destination online that gives users the opportunity to dive deeper into their favorite movies and TV shows. We’ve just begun to explore HD DVD’s potential and this infrastructure lays the foundation for us to easily evolve with consumer preferences.”
In addition to title-centric experiences available through any HD DVD player, a new website, www.UniversalHiDef.com , will serve as an online destination for PC-based interaction, enabling cross platform consumer engagement with additional content, fan communities and much more. The site also establishes a cross-platform integration point to take advantage of the growing web properties already in place across NBC Universal.
This new infrastructure augments all the great features available through recent HD DVD releases, such as Heroes: Season 1, Knocked Up and the forthcoming Evan Almighty. Fans can download bonus scenes and make an online profile, or even add new, downloadable experiences long after a title leaves the store shelf. The interface allows consumers to register and create a personalized experience, while taking the first step toward participating in a fan community around their favorite movies or TV shows. Once registered, the account will be recognized by a consumer’s player whenever a new web-enabled Universal disc is inserted. It can remember user preferences and multiple accounts with different passwords all registered on the same player.
The popularity and demand for such capabilities is evident with the recent release of Heroes Season 1 on HD DVD. Within the first two weeks following the release of the popular television series’ seven-disc HD DVD set, nearly 40 percent of purchasers had registered an account in order to access unique connected features like the Heroes Ability Test and the Download Center.
One of most exciting new additions is the new U-Shop feature, an online store launching with Evan Almighty on HD DVD. By accessing U-Shop during the movie watching experience, consumers will be exposed to online purchase options related to the movie – from the latest featured fashions to movie-themed collectables.
The experience from your living room is also easy to use, designed with tailored, remote control friendly navigation tools to access information. An “above the fold” picture navigation offers pull-down menus and allows the consumer to easily descend into the subsequent pages.
An overview of some of the features coming to future Universal HD DVD titles and on UniversalHiDef.com includes:
The first functionality of U-Shop will be enabled with HD DVD release of Evan Almighty. With Universal U-Shop, viewers have the opportunity to shop for items from the movie right from their living room. Consumers can access the entire store from their HD DVD player and start purchasing exclusive items from titles that offer this feature.
Users will be able to scroll over numerous stills of the many interactive experiences that are already released on HD DVD. Web-enabled features allow consumers the opportunity to download exclusive trailers, content and games right to their HD DVD player, allowing one-click access to the Download Center. Consumers can also sign up for newsletters, sweepstakes and partner offers.
Best Buddies/My Scenes
Users will learn how create a Best Buddies list and collect and send their favorite movie clips to friends. Here, users will register their best buddies, who will be uploaded to the server and then accessible from their HD DVD player. Users can manage their buddy list using the HD DVD playback experience or via the PC to build a connected community of friends and movie fans.
The support section features instructions in the “screen grabs” format for easy step-by-step instructions. A list of error codes will also be provided to help identify any issues, along with links to customer support sites for Xbox and Toshiba are also available.
In addition to the current web-enabled titles of Heroes: Season 1, Knocked Up and soon Evan Almighty, experiences on Universal HD DVD titles and UniversalHiDef.com will continue to grow and evolve with the fan community, offering synched live events, user-generated content, user commentaries, 360 experiences, and more. The possibilities are endless with HD DVD’s guaranteed web capabilities on every player regardless of make, model or price.