Andy Pennell's Blog

See me blather about software development, Gadgets, Technology, Fatherhood, plus anything else that gets me going.

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  • Blog Post: Blu-ray fails to overtake DVD as many predicted

    Two years ago Disney predicted that Blu-ray sales would overtake DVD in two years . Like pretty much every prediction about Blu-ray this has failed to occur. In fact the studios have actually reduced the number of BDs they are producing: this year there are actually 10% less BD titles released than in...
  • Blog Post: More HD DVD players than Blu-ray players in America. Still. In 2009.

    In frankly amazing news even to me, a new Harris Poll shows that over a year and a half since the format war ended there are more Americans with HD DVD players than with Blu-ray players , and in fact 2009 was a pretty good year for HD DVD players, in 2008 6% of Americans had an HD DVD player and now...
  • Blog Post: HD DVD Is Back!

    Following last week’s announcements regarding Blu-ray and the Sony Playstation 3, it looks like HD DVD will be coming back as the high definition movie format of choice. Call me amazed but happy! The first clue, which few seemed to notice, was that Sony Electronics didn’t show any new Blu-ray players...
  • Blog Post: How Do You Debug A Movie?

    How do you debug a movie? Before I get too old and forget, here is the story of one bug that I had to find when playing King Kong in the Xbox HD DVD player. It concludes with yet another reason I am so glad we’re not doing a Blu-ray player. The HD DVD team originally wrote the player software for...
  • Blog Post: Blu-ray on Xbox 360: Never. Thank goodness for that

    The President of the Entertainment & Devices group has made it crystal clear, hopefully for the last time: Xbox 360 won't ever get Blu-ray . Woohooh! Glad to see we're not about to throw money into that particular pit and support that other HD format. Maybe, just maybe, the crazy rumors might...
  • Blog Post: What did you do in the Format War, Daddy?

    My kids are 2 and 4 yrs old so have little concept of what Daddy does, though they do know the words DVD, Xbox, and Lightsaber. However in a decade or so they might be able to understand what Daddy did in the format war, so here’s how I plan on explaining the last three years of my work: In early...
  • Blog Post: Why HD DVD Really Lost The Format War

    It's all my fault. I'm terribly sorry. Something critical happened in October 2007 that I forgot to add to yesterday's Diary posting . Before CES 2007 I was going to do it, but I was worried that something bad might happen at CES so I didn't. After the Paramount announcement I figured that CES 2008 was...
  • Blog Post: Diary of a High Definition Format War

    Here are my personal highlights (and lowlights) of the format war, from down in the trenches of the HD DVD team at Microsoft. To make it a bit clearer, here is a graph of the peaks and troughs of the last three years: April 2005: I join the Profession Content Group. Immediately start work on iHD...
  • Blog Post: Come see HDi at the Sundance Film Festival

    If you are attending the Sundance Film Festival, please drop by the Microsoft House on Main Street and say Hi to representatives of the HDi team and see some cool demos and movie screenings. I'll be there myself from the 24th to the 26th, and someone else will be there to assist you on the other days...
  • Blog Post: Xbox 360 HD DVD Version List

    Here I will try and document the various releases of the Xbox 360 HD DVD player, in reverse chronological order. Major releases are in bold (a major release either has new features or has a boat-load of changes, minor releases are pure bug fixes). To see which version you have, while playing a disc press...
  • Blog Post: Now Available: HD DVD Emulator for Xbox 360

    As of this morning the product I have been focused on for much the last year or so has at last been released: the Xbox 360 HD DVD Emulator . This is based on the Xbox HD DVD player, but designed for content authors to test and debug their titles without having to burn a disc. Content is created on a...
  • Blog Post: Vote for HD DVD

    Its November and its time to place your vote. No, not for US Presidential candidates, but for the optical high definition format you want to be the winner in the format war, which of course for me means HD DVD. This holiday season might be the last chance for your vote to be considered by the studios...
  • Blog Post: Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive: Movie Specific Known Issues

    The purpose of this post is to highlight the most common current title issues and, where possible, supply work-arounds. For general troubleshooting see the previous post first : the most common problems are described there. Items will be listed in reverse chronological order (ie newer titles will be...
  • Blog Post: Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive: General Troubleshooting

    I thought it might be useful to post about general troubleshooting on the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive. For issues with specific movies, see my other post , this one covers the more general case. (I use the term "title" which you can read as "movie", its a habit I have got into from working on this for the...
  • Blog Post: Tide is turning: Paramount declare HD DVD only

    An important day in the next-gen DVD format war: Paramount have announced that they are going HD DVD only, an important change from their previous neutrality. "Blades of Glory", "Transformers" and "Shrek the Third" are the initial announced titles. The press release quotes "market-ready technology" and...
  • Blog Post: HD DVD: Audio Mixing, and why you don't need HDMI

    There has been much confusion over multi-channel audio and HD DVD, so I thought I would try and explain how this works. As a side-effect you'll see why you don't need HDMI for the highest quality audio, and why you certainly don't need HDMI 1.3 for audio. DVD: The Original Way To start with...
  • Blog Post: Terminator 2 on HD DVD

    Thanks to the fact that there is no region coding on HD DVD, you can now get the Director's Cut of T2 on HD DVD, encoded with VC1. Previously the theatrical version was only available on Blu-Ray in the USA (in 20th Century MPEG2 format). As Canal+ were involved in the original movie's creation, I can...
  • Blog Post: Why HD DVD is more technically advanced than Blu-ray

    Since forever it seems that there is this idea that Blu-ray is "more technically advanced" than HD DVD. This was based on Sony's PR as far as I can tell, so now I feel it is necessary to call out the gaping holes in Blu-ray to prove how much more technically advanced HD DVD is in fact. [Note I am talking...
  • Blog Post: Fixing Letterboxed Widescreen content on HD DVDs

    HD DVD obviously rocks on HD content, but the SD content on the discs often grates me as it is displayed as widescreen content with black bars on the top and the sides. This happens because the original content (usually Extras) came from old fashioned DVD, and was 16:9 content letterboxed into a 4:3...
  • Blog Post: Xbox 360 HD DVD Update Now Available

    [Player version list now moved to separate post ] As of 2am this morning, the latest software for the Xbox HD DVD player is now available via Xbox Live (and will be posted on xbox.com in due course). The three teams involved (HD DVD, Xbox and the Codec folks) have all been hard at work for the last...
  • Blog Post: Matrix coming to HD DVD (only)

    At last: on May 22 we get the Matrix on HD DVD, according to http://www.homemediaretailing.com/news/html/breaking_article.cfm?sec_id=2&&article_ID=10426 Remember when The Matrix was released on DVD? It was pretty advanced in its day, so I'm expecting a similar step forward for the HD DVD version...
  • Blog Post: Xbox 360 HD DVD drive now in black

    We just got some goodies on our team: Xbox 360 HD DVD drives in black! These limited-edition drives were made especially for those of us who helped work on the product, and come along with a black remote control. All I need now is an Xbox 360 at home to plug it into and I'll be set! (It's no use...
  • Blog Post: Comparing the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on with the Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD Player

    With the release of the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive, I thought people might like to know how it compares feature-wise to the Toshiba A1 HD DVD player. I have owned a Toshiba since it was released, and have used the Xbox drive extensively at work and at home (as a part of the Take Home testing program...
  • Blog Post: Go See the HD DVD Tour

    There is a giant truck set up with kick-ass video and audio systems so you can witness HD DVD in all its fabulous goodness. The schedule looks like this: Chicago: Oct 30 Denver: done Dallas: done LA: Nov 20-22 Minneapolis: Sep 29-30 New York: Oct 10-15 Philadelphia: Nov 9 Richmond...
  • Blog Post: If you want the Truth about Blu-Ray vs HD DVD

    Please read the Joe Kane article in Issue 3 of the Widescreen Review Newsletter (sign up here ). Joe is the industry expert on video playback, and he has some very telling comments to make about what is broken about Blu-Ray: why its picture quality is so poor, and why its audio abilities are so limited...
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