Friday, April 07, 2006

She's a Superbit, Superbit!

by Count Olaf
she's superbit-tay, yeow....

Back in August I posted about my recent HDTV purchase and how plain DVDs were looking on it. The wait for high-def DVDs was still on. With Blu-Ray and HD-DVD fighting it out, I'm not budging anytime soon. Let the format wars shake themselves out and I'll purchase a player at the end of it all.

So, while all this was going on in my mind, there was something else going on in the back of my mind. I remember seeing Superbit DVDs for sale 5 years ago and wondered what all the hubub was about. It seemed like a good idea: double the bit-rate of encoding and you get a higher-quality picture. At that time I read that there may have been some incompatibility with old players and that people with standard TVs really couldn't tell the I held off again. Plus there were no extras and it just didn't seem worth it.

The thought hit me again this year as I was buying a DVD for my wife. Try not to decry the choice in movies, but we had just been talking about Hook so I thought I'd pick it up. At Best Buy they had the regular and Superbit versions. Both were the same price, and there no real extras to speak of on the regular DVD, so I picked up the Superbit. This was my chance to see real improvement on my "big" screen. Looking back, it was probably not the best choice.

Upon putting it in last night I was amazed at how...ordinary it looked. The transfer was not the best. My guess is that it just hasn't aged well, but the quality looked like something out of the 70's. Nothing was sharp; everything was grainy; I wondered if they just transferred it off the VHS version. OK, that was a bit harsh. It looks fine by no-frills 1998 DVD standards, but this was supposedly a 2003 edition. What gives?

Perhaps The Fifth Element or Crouching Tiger would look better on Superbit, but thus far I am unimpressed.

Has anyone else had any experience with Superbit? Is it just a marketing ploy? Any ideas?


Blogger Chris said...

I don't think I have any superbit DVDs, I like extras.

And I liked Hook.

4/07/2006 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

It is something of a marketing ploy. There are other studios putting out DVDs with most of the extras on a second disc so that their release looked as good as a Superbit release, and they didn't charge a premium for it. And then there have been a few Superbit releases that did have extras, so.... My offense at the idea was great enough that I have yet to buy one, though I had thought about it.

I had never heard of a Superbit incompatibility problem with older DVD players, btw.

My ideal DVD is a two-disc SE on sale for $15 the week of release. You do that, you've got me. Anything else lately I hesitate over. There are all the ones that end up on sale at ridiculously cheap prices just a few months later. I just picked up A Very Long Engagement two-disc SE for something like $10. We've come a long long way from the $100 SE laserdiscs, haven't we?

4/07/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I have The Mask of Zorro Superbit, and it looks great ... on a regular TV. So that's probably not much help.

4/07/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Never heard of Superbit before. Must be one of the few American developments we actually managed to avoid. Like Betamax, Starbucks and ex-bodybuilder governors.

4/09/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

So you're saying the members of ABBA never held government positions? I thought it was just a given!

4/10/2006 11:14:00 AM  

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