Sigh Definition

I am 480p, but I have an extra documentaryHey, “The Departed” arrives on DVD today! Someone should write a column about it or something!

(Although they should probably come up with a better name for that column than “DVDrop”. Doesn’t please the eye, somehow.)

In addition to the standard DVD release, “The Departed” is also arriving on both high-definition formats today, wading right into the middle of the latest developments in the format war.

See, yesterday Sony saw fit to declare to the world that the high-def format war has ended, and Blu-ray — which just happens to be Sony’s bestest widdle baby — has won.

It’s just like the statement from the Blu-ray group last month at CES, which said the same thing. Except that, y’know, in neither case did anybody provide any real evidence to support the statement.

It’s just, like, a feeling, man.

Of course, one element of Blu-ray’s swagger has always been the promise of an enhanced copy protection, called BD+, that will add another layer of defensive power to the AACS copyguard present on all high-definition discs. Funny thing, though; while I’d mistakenly believed that BD+ was already present on Blu-ray titles, it turns out the protection has yet to be applied to any releases … meaning that Blu-ray’s added level of security — which was surely a big part of the format’s appeal to its many studio partners — is just a bit of elegant marketing spin.

Imagine how those studio partners must feel now that AACS has been cracked. Actually, it’s more like it’s been surgically removed, since the process requires no actual hackery, just careful observation of a given computer’s memory to find the master processing key for AACS itself, rather than the AACS encryption protecting a specific disc.

(Sweet Jebus, is there nothing Norwegian teenagers can’t do?)

Still, I can’t imagine this will be a body blow to either format, any more than the release of DeCSS and the subsequent flood of ripping programs crippled DVD in its heyday. Both formats are still in the “Ask Again Later” category, as far as I can tell; each has its merits, each has its drawbacks, and almost a year into their respective runs, neither has found the killer app that’s really grabbed consumers’ attention.

Then again, “Casino Royale” comes to Blu-ray in four weeks. Can the HD-DVD of “Man of the Year” really compete with that? And truly, do we want to live in a world where it does?

187 thoughts on “Sigh Definition”

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