Why HD DVD combo format discs suck


Why HD DVD combo format discs suck
If you have been following the HD DVD format at all, then you have probably heard of the combo disc. A combo disc is a hybrid HD DVD format that contains an HD DVD on one side and a standard DVD on the other side (you must flip over the disc to access the other format).

Why do combo discs suck?

The combo disc may look like an innovative and interesting idea at first glance, but in reality, it simply adds more cost to an already higher priced HD DVD movie title. While browsing the HD DVD titles at a local Circuit City electronics store, I took note of the pricing of ‘standard’ HD DVD titles and compared them to the pricing of combo format (HD DVD + DVD) titles.

Most ‘standard’ HD DVD titles were priced at $24.99, with some titles priced at $29.99. On the other hand, most of the combo format HD DVD titles were priced at $34.99, with a minority priced at $29.99. This means that consumers will have to cough up an extra $5-$10 per title if they want a movie in the combo format. The worst part of this deal is that most combo format titles are not available as a ‘standard’ HD DVD, which means that you are forced to put out the extra $5-$10 for a title, even if you don’t want the crappy DVD that is glued to its’ rear.

Other combo format disadvantages are that the discs are more easily prone to scratching and fingerprinting due to the flipper style disc, missing disc art and in some cases, player compatibility problems.

Combo format discs are not needed

If I wanted a standard DVD, I would buy a DVD, not an HD DVD. If I wanted a standard DVD to go with my HD DVD, I would rip my HD DVD, convert it and burn it to DVD (once I get an HD DVD PC drive). Another option would be to buy a ‘standard’ DVD via ebay or another source “on the cheap”. Either way, this forced combo disc nonsense and extra cost is hurting the HD DVD format in my eyes. On the bright side, at least Universal Studios has changed their ways on catalog releases. What do you think about combo discs?

About Wes Novack

Wesley Novack is a Technologist working in the software industry, with extensive experience building and managing highly available applications, services, and systems in the public cloud. He has a breadth of experience in online publishing, the consumer electronics industry, and building internet communities. Wes enjoys hanging with his family, skateboarding, hiking, the vegan lifestyle, and a good cup of tea. You can find him on Twitter @WesleyTech.

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39 Comments on “Why HD DVD combo format discs suck”

  1. It’s all about marketing…nothing to do with technology here. If they force people to buy these new combo disks when buying either format then they are just advancing one step in the format war by getting the HDDVD product to the non HDDVD user…

    It does suck but who care’s about crappy optical media anyway 😛


  2. Well, in the eyes of the MPAA youd be doing sompthing very illegal if you did things your way, you cannot “rip” a hd-dvd or bluray disc legally in any way (there are some very inventive hackers out there that make it possible, but its illegal, and if there cought, they’d goto jail) if you want to complain about the media the content is printed on, why not also complain about the exxesivly restrictive licence, the crappy content, and the myrad of other issues that plauge the american content creation system, it seems more companies (and some people) are more worried about keeping their massivly distributed content private than producing good content…. anyway back on topic, the idea does suck, but i would say it stems from the fact that the marketing department can always higlight the point that it “just works (TM)” on everything but BluRay Players…. hence keeping consumer confusion to a minimum, and getting the locked down, restricted content into the hands of many more people, helping to ensure it becomes a “standard”…. (or goes the way of the betamax in its attempt)… i for one, welcome our new AACS overlords and their shitty media and content…

  3. Actually, it is not “illegal” to rip a high def DVD in every country.

    In the US, ripping an HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc is probably “illegal” because of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). The DMCA states that you can not circumvent or get around copy protection mechanisms. In order to rip an HD DVD, you must “circumvent” AACS.

    Even the legality of backing up a standard DVD has not been tried in US courts, so at this point it is not legal or illegal. It is the courts job to interpret the law and there has not been a court judgement on this specific matter…

  4. My wife actually bought the HD combos before we had the player. Her rational was was are going to buy one why not go ahead and get the combo disk.

    Seems unnecessary to me.But now when the kids go to grandma’s they can take the HD disk and use the standard side.
    we’d rather a cheaper disk then a dual disk.

  5. I have an HD-DVD player at the house, but the Tahoe and the TV in my room only have standard DVD players. The flexibility is well worth the extra $5. It’s also a nice way for people who are waiting for HDTV tech to settle before investing in one to future-proof their libraries.

    Oh, and if a 2 sided disc has compatibility issues there’s no reason to believe that it’s because the DVD format on the opposite side any more than a single sided disc that has issues is because of the label/printing on the unrecorded side…

  6. So two rival competitors put out conflicting products, and expect the consumers to cough up the extra money to buy a duel format drive so we can buy both of their products? Screw that, i’m buying NEITHER

  7. Thanks for the tips on Fry’s and Amazon iDorkas.

    lollercopter, the combo disc compatibly issues are most definitely linked to the extra DVD on the rear side.

    steve, I assume you’re referring to Blu-ray vs HD DVD.

  8. The only valid reason for buying a combo disc would be for someone like me. An movie lover who really wants to get in HD DVD but can’t afford a player yet. If a new movie comes out, why not buy the combo disc so i can watch the movie now and my standard dvd player and when I do upgrade, I already have the movie and don’t need to rebuy it

  9. One interesting thing about this, which may or may not be a factor in reality but is worth thinking about, is if it’s possible that studios will release more movies in HD DVD because they can do a combo disc rather than have to stock, ship and market two separate items.

    I guess the telling factor would be how many of the combos are also still produced in DVD-only format, which might be hard to determine for a while unless you get actual manufacturing info from the studios.

  10. I agree 100%. My HD DVD collection only consists of 4 movies at the moment, and every time i look at venturing out to expand that collection all the movies I’m interested in are marked 5-10$ up with the “Combo” non-sense.

  11. hd dvd is obsolete to blu ray. just wait till the dual layer blu rays. u will have no reason to use hd discs when blu ray will hav nearly twice as much space.

  12. How many Steves are there?

    Jarrod, dual-layer Blu-rays have been out since November 2006.

  13. It’s nice to have both: HD-DVD for home play, and regular DVD for laptop use while traveling. Brilliant!

    Gawd, quit whining about price. Remember crappy laserdiscs 20 years ago for $100+, and they were humumgous…

    No need to rip HD-DVDs… just rent it again on Netflix if you desire to re-watch.

    I must say, I have a “friend” who has yet to watch any movies they’ve ripped… they are too busy watching new movies they haven’t seen.


  14. HD DVD has long touted that they have a “price advantage” over Blu-ray. With the extra costs of the combo format, that price advantage disappears on movie titles. Just say no to combo! 😛

  15. I think that it is a brilliant idea: You can purchase the Combo disk now and watch the DVD side of it, and next Christmas you can get the HD DVD player, Plasma Screen, Surround Sound, and then watch the same movie again, only this time the full HD DVD!!

    What sucks is that there is the $5 – $10 price increase!

    If the retailers were clever about this, they should give you the combo disc for the SAME price as the standard HD DVD disc!

  16. Yep, I agree that the price increase is no good (the compatibility issues don’t help either). They need to keep the cost the same as a standard HD DVD disc if they want to attract consumers to the combo disc.

    Another option they could go with would be to offer the ‘standard’ DVD version of a film free via a download service if you buy the HD DVD version. This would allow the consumer to then burn the DVD 480p version of a film to a DVDR, without the need to glue a DVD to the arse of the HD DVD (which would reduce the manufacturing costs). Now THAT would be cool!

  17. The problem with Combo’s is how they’ve been introduced. They should have been introduced as a direct replacement for DVD’s. This would have made a huge difference, assuming pricing could stay at DVD prices.

  18. Personally, i’d find a combo disc useful. My house has multiple TV sets with DVD players, being able to whack the disc in those, and in an HDTV set would be useful and the tiny cost extra is more than worth it.

    “Combo format discs are not needed”

    Yes, if you have either all your TV sets and movie players as HDTV with HD DVD players, truth is, most of us don’t.

    Still, I do concede that we shouldn’t be forced to buy combo HD DVDs. It would be nice if the titles were offered in both formats; but again, it might save on some confusion and stocking issues.

    Interesting read nonetheless, thanks!

  19. I don’t get it either – I thought HD DVD players could play normal DVD titles, so if you bought a HD DVD player, wouldn’t you only want the HD DVD title?

  20. Is the only downside that you don’t wish to pay a little more?

    I want the HD-DVD but the rest of my family own regular dvd players so this is a good compromise for me.

  21. Forgot to mention my cousin doesn’t have an HD-DVD player yet but combo disc’s allow him to buy the regular DVD’s now and have the HD-DVD ready for when he goes up to HI-Def.

    This has been sparked mainly by the 300 dvd release on Combo HD-DVD.

  22. There are other downsides to the combo format that I didn’t mention in the article.

    A double-sided disc (combo format) is more easily damaged and/or scratched than a single sided disc.

    A double-sided disc is also missing the disc art, which many collectors like to see on each disc.

  23. It would be better if they just supplied dual disc editions with both the HD and SD on different discs.

    That way people would get their SD now and have the HD for when they take the next step and giving HD-DVD a boost in the process.

    I own dozens of “special editions” of movies with a disc of extras I don’t watch. I can’t see it being much more expensive to swap this out with an HD-DVD version of the movie instead. If anything it would probably be easier than making a combo disc.

  24. I definitely agree with you on that one! I would much rather have two separate single sided discs (1 HD DVD and 1 standard DVD) in the same box instead of a double-sided disc.

    And yes, it probably would be cheaper to manufacturer than a “combo” disc!

  25. I own DVDs that are dual discs and actually don’t have a problem with them at all. The ones that I have have the fullscreen version of the movie on one side, while on the other side is the widescreen version. Why some discs are like this I am not sure, but it is a nice option though.

  26. Ok, so in this situation i disagree with the majority of you, but yet at the same time i agree, also. To me (having both HD DVD and DVD players in my house) the combo disc is a great idea! Because considering that my room is the only room in the house with a HDTV, and a HD DVD player (the 360 add-on), I love the combo discs, HOWEVER!!! I do agree with all of you that it is bullcrap that they force us to buy the combo format or no HD DVD format at all. I believe that (even though they’re racking up money and support on this [which is very smart on their part, actually]) that they should give the consumer the option to add $5 – $10 to their HD DVD title to get the standard DVD version also, instead of spending another $20 to get the seperate standard DVD. But hopefully, HD DVD get’s more support and can at least compete with Blu-Ray (which they have stepped it up A LOT) and maybe even win the format war (they’re in my favor).

  27. What a freakin’ whiner!!! If you don’t want to pay $34.99 for a combo DVD then don’t! I, for one, love the idea and I am happy to pay that price for mine. I wish the made more in the combo format. I’d gladly continue paying that price for them.

    Maybe instead of using your time griping on the world wide web, you could use that time more constructively and find a second job or start your own business so that you could actually have enough extra cash that you didn’t have to complain about stuff costing 34 bucks.

  28. +1 on loving the combo format. New Toshiba laptop came with an HD-DVD drive. Love the picture but the sound and screen size are lacking on a laptop. I’m not buying a player until I can affordably purchase a combo player. I have the money to buy one now, but I’m not willing to be an early adopter when the price is so high and I know it’ll be coming down shortly. I take care of my disks and the flipper format isn’t a big issue if you correctly handle a disk in the first place.

    TotalHD would suck IMO since Blueray disks cost more to manufacture than HD and you’d now be tacking even more additional cost onto the disk. The only way I’d support it is if the cost was still the same as a Blueray disk. Given the differences in programming content I doubt that’ll fly though.

    My ideal solution is mass produce the combo players, get the price down and studios release in whatever single format they want. At that point features and price will dictate what wins and HD-DVD will probably beat out Blueray over the $5 price difference.

  29. I’m not sure who wrote this article, however, whoever did, assumes that everyone has ran out and replaced every single dvd player they have with a hd-dvd player. I love the fact that I can play my purchased hd-dvd on either my new player or an old one. Knowing you don’t have to pay an additional $15 to be able to play it in a car or your child’s dvd player is worth the extra $5. I’m really interested in seeing Blu-ray is going to throw a counter punch to this ingenius idea.

  30. I have two combo DVDs and I am unable to play the standard DVD portion on any of my three DVD players. They just hang at random scenes and continue to keep hanging.

  31. That’s the dumbest argument I’ve heard. Interesting concept? Much more than that. The only reason I purchased an HD DVD player over a Blu-Ray player, was for the combo ability. Believe it not, alot of people watch their movies in other places than their living room. Laptops, portable dvd players, and vehicles. So you have to pay an extra 5 bucks? Isn’t that cheaper than buying the blu-ray version, and then buying it again on regular dvd? Yeah, I think so. I don’t know how the fuck blu-ray won this battle, but it’s bullshit.

  32. The HD-DVD DVD combo format is only unneeded crap. If I want a DVD, i’ll buy a DVD. If I want to buy a HD-DVD, I’ll buy one. But in which is it usefull for anybody to buy a disc with two different formats. Okay for those who want to buy a HD-DVD player in the future, however when they finaly bought one, the HD-DVD side will be useless/unreadable in cause of scratches and thinks like that. In the end its just nonsense. Its only good for the big companies to make money.

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