Universal loves customers?

(via Engadget)

Now here I go, just minutes after posting my rantish article about Universal hating digital distribution and customers, I find this article indicating Universal won’t downsample their next-gen hi-definition DVDs when displaying on non-HDMI capable hi-def TV sets. At least, not initially. How odd that the movie studioes demand this feature which will force downsampling on non-HDMI sets, and then all but Warner Home Video announce they won’t be using the feature (again, at least no initially). Could this be an indication that movie studios believe fans will use their products legally given the chance? Or is it just a move by the studios to avoid pissing off the hi-def early adopters who are going to be so important in the early success of next-gen optical technology? I’m betting on the latter, but I’m just cynical that way.

New software included on both Blu-ray and HD-DVD releases, however, will automatically slash the image, making it only marginally better than current DVDs, unless consumers have a relatively new connector and cable called HDMI to hook up players to their televisions. Only one in 20 HD sets sold to early adopters over the past few years has the right version of the connector. Only 15% of new sets sold this year will include it, and deliver the full 1080 resolution capable of showing such detail.

Sony execs say a majority of Blu-ray content, at least initially, will play at the highest resolution possible on a consumer’s HDTV, regardless of how the player is hooked up. Four major studios — Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Disney, and Paramount say they initially will not use the new copy protection on their releases. Universal execs told BusinessWeek on Mar. 21 that they, too, will forego the protection. Execs at Warner Brothers declined to comment, but sources with knowledge of the studio’s plans say “at least some” of the 20 HD-DVD releases planned through April will use the software. “What do you have then? A very expensive DVD player,” says Sony Senior Vice-President Tim Baxter.

[tags]hi-def TV, next-gen optical media[/tags]