Studios won't downgrade HD video... for now

If you've been holding off on ordering (or pre-ordering) an HD DVD or Blu-ray player because you're worried about Hollywood studios potentially using the Image Constraint Token to downgrade video quality displayed via analog outputs, you can cross that concern off of your list -- at least for the next four years. Though there's no official word, the major studios have apparently cut a backroom deal to keep their HD discs ICT-free until at least 2010. The move would allow owners of analog HD sets -- not to mention gamers who pick up Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD drive or Sony's non-HDMI junior Playstation 3 -- to watch their discs in full HD format, rather than being forced to endure downgrades to 540p. Of course, even if the unconfirmed agreement exists, after 2010 all bets are off. But, by then, you will presumably be ready to pick up a new HD set (or Xbox 720 or PS4). And, if we're lucky, the format war may be over by then as well, so you'll actually be able to buy an HD disc player that will be useful for more than a few months. (And, no, that screenshot isn't from the HD DVD version of "Blazing Saddles" -- though the fact that the movie is now out on HD DVD gives us at least one reason to consider picking up a player).

Read - HD Beat
Read - Ars Technica