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Posted: 19 Feb 2023, 03:09 

Everyone knows the story of the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray format war. Ultimately, Blu-Ray came out on top and relegated HD-DVD to wallow on clearance shelves around the world. But what if I told you that that wasn’t the end of HD-DVD? That there was actually a derivative format? I give you: CBHD

CBHD, or China Blue High Definition, was a video format released exclusively in Mainland China (big surprise) primarily as a way to both prevent piracy and avoid needing to pay Blu-Ray royalties.

WB was the main international backer of CBHD, but Universal, Paramount, and BBC/Discovery were all backers of the format. It should be noted that I’ve yet to find a Universal, Paramount, or BBC/Discovery CBHD.

Now why isn’t this in the HD-DVD forum? Because CBHD is its own format. They are incompatible with each other, so they do not fit together (at least in my opinion).

This project to get CBHD discs and a CBHD player took overall about eight months. This is due to primarily two things: Shipping and Customs. Shipping from Mainland China always takes a long time (so that wasn’t unusual), the one thing I was not expecting though was for US customs to hold my CBHD discs for THREE MONTHS. Overall, just as much time was spent waiting for the discs to be released from customs as it took me to do basic research and decide on what I was going to buy.

Six CBHD players were ever released. Four by Shinco and two by TCL.
The Models are:

Shinco CBHD-9100
Shinco CBHD-3800
Shinco HD-2100
Shinco HD-3700U

While not a lot of players were made, according to reports from the China HD Association, Shinco was selling just under 11,000 CBHD players every month between mid-2009 and mid-2010. I do not have numbers for TCL unfortunately. While there are definitely fewer CBHD players available compared to EVD and even Blu-Ray, they aren’t rare either.

The player I ultimately ended up buying was the HD-3700U for three reasons:
1)I could get it new in box
2)It was one of Shinco’s two “high-end” players (The other being the CBHD-9100)
3)It was the cheapest one brand new

The HD-3700U is not just a CBHD player, it is also a Satellite TV Box. It has a port on the back for a “UTI” connection that was essentially a Satellite CableCard equivalent.

Here are some photos of the device:

The accessories that came with it:


It’s actually really well put together as far as Chinese DVD players go. I was expecting the build quality to be a lot worse, but it’s a solid machine.

The HD-3700U’s manual is well done as well. Easy to follow, even if you don’t understand Chinese fluently (like me).

The manual even has a section explaining how to go online and pirate media through the operating system of the HD-3700U. Unfortunately, as you can see above, there’s no wifi card in this model, so I cannot test. All other Shinco models use the same OS, so the others may support the piracy feature still.

My biggest gripe with the player though is that YOU CAN’T PAUSE A CBHD! You can pause DVDs and VCDs just fine, but the only way to pause a CBHD is to stop the disc entirely. I don’t know why that is, but it’s extremely annoying since on restart, it skips a half-second of video before showing up on the screen again. It’s not terrible, but it’s noticeable and shouldn’t even be an issue in the first place.

Before anyone asks, no, you cannot play HD-DVDs in it. They show up as ISO images that you can browse in the interface.

The HD-3700U supports playing CBHD, DVD-9, DVD, EVD, HVD, VCD, SVCD, CD, and SACD discs. It can also play AVI media either from USB or disc.

It supports both PAL and NTSC modes, as well as 2.1 and 5.1 surround sound. Whenever I set it to 5.1, it makes my Marantz NR1711 AV Receiver freak out and it will either not play the audio, or will not show video. I’m not sure exactly why that is, but it at least proves that the DKAA anti-piracy feature is different from HD-DVD or Blu-Ray.

The settings and UI:

I ended up being able to purchase 22 different CBHD discs. Unless someone comes out of the shadows, I believe this makes it the largest collection of CBHD discs in North America :P. Here they are (ignore the DVD-9 copy of Harry Potter 6 and VCD Star Wars III):

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's menu:

The only brand new one I was able to get is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but all the rest of them played fine without issue. The video and sound quality are honestly great. Would I purchase a CBHD over a 4K Blu-Ray? No, not at all, but against a normal Blu-Ray? Maybe, depending on the price. Most CBHD discs in China were roughly half the cost of a Blu-Ray disc in 2010, 30 yuan vs 55 yuan. However, the players were about 300-400 yuan more (depending on model). I can’t find solid pricing on what the HD-3700U originally cost, but the CBHD-9100 cost 2580 yuan ($375) at launch. Nowadays you can find one for around 1/10th that price.

Ultimately, CBHD had solid backing and could have stayed in for the long haul, unfortunately, internet streaming killed CBHD. Officially, CBHD never actually died. I can’t find any press releases saying that they were stopping production. Movies just stopped being released on the format around the time streaming sites like iQiyi started to take off. Due to this, I have no idea how many titles were actually released on the format. I have put together a list below, but it is far from complete. I feel like I find a new one every week!

Each CBHD came with a “sampler” set of CBHD discs to get you started, but these sets didn’t seem to be standardized at all. Some had Scooby-Doo and Harry Potter 2, some had the Polar Express and The Ant Bully. It varied wildly. The “sampler” sets came in groups of either five or ten discs. Some had their retail packaging, and some did not (as you can see above).

Official press releases are scarce after Q1 2010, but it was claimed in Q2 2010 that by mid-2011, CBHD would have over 1,000 movies released and over 10 million players would be sold. I think this is an absolute lie, and that the number was closer to their Q3 2009 estimate of 300 titles (if not below). I wouldn’t be surprised if the total number is above 100 though as I keep finding new ones.

EDIT 02-25: fix TCL model numbers

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Posted: 19 Feb 2023, 03:14 

LIST OF KNOWN CBHDs (in no particular order)
(pretty much guaranteed to be incomplete)

Last updated: 2023-03-20

WB= Warner Brothers
CRC = China Record Corporation

1) Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone - WB
2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - WB
3) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - WB
4) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - WB
5) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - WB
6) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - WB
7) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - WB
8) Happy Feet - WB
9) Bullit - WB
10) Slumdog Millionaire - Celador (distributed by CAV Warner)
11) The Ant Bully - WB
12) The Perfect Storm - WB
13) Firewall - WB
14) Music and Lyrics - WB
15) Song of Tibet - CRC
16) Scooby-Doo - WB
17) The Fugitive - WB
18) Rumor has it… - WB
19) The Knot - CRC
20) Sun WuKong - CRC
21) The Cost of Happiness - CRC
22) Fantasy Railroad in the Stars - CRC
23) The Warlords - CRC
24) Suffocation - CRC
25) Flood - CRC
26) Super Typhoon - CRC
27)A Love of Blueness - CRC
28) A Christmas Story - WB
29) Superman - WB
30) Superman II - WB
31) Casablanca - WB
32) 3:10 to Yuma - WB
33) No Reservations - WB
34) I am Legend - WB
35) The Polar Express - WB
36) Training Day - WB
37) Batman Begins - WB
38) Blood Diamond - WB
39) Speed Racer - WB
40) Matrix: Reloaded - WB
41) Beast Stalker - Emperor Motion Pictures
42) Ocean’s Twelve - WB
43) TMNT - WB
44) Phantom of the Opera - WB
45) The Aviator - WB
46) Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D - WB
47) License to Wed - WB
48) Pride and Glory - WB
49) Cop Out - WB
50) Batman: Gotham Knight - WB
51) The Green Mile - WB
52) The Prestige - WB
53) What a Beautiful Jasmine - CRC
54) The Red Star Enlightens My Way to Fight Battles - CRC
55) Lord Of War - Emperor Motion Pictures
56) Kite Story - CRC
57) JiuZhaiGuo: A Fairy Tale World - CRC
58) The Island - WB
59) The Matrix - WB
60) The Matrix 3 - WB
61) The Last Samurai - WB
62) Poseidon - WB
63) Inkheart - WB
64) Blackbook - WB
65) The Golden Compass - WB
66) The Last Samurai - WB
67) The Invasion - WB

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Posted: 21 Feb 2023, 22:44 

Wow, nice collection. So far I couldn't find any disc or player. Where did you get it?

The players are easy to get (other than the TCL CBHD-1038), they're all over taobao and idlefish. Discs are far harder to find. I got Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from taobao, but all the others I got from various places like idlefish, kongfz, and 7788.

Nearly all references to CBHD have been purged on the Chinese internet. Even the CBHD Baidu tieba was purged. Neither the tieba nor the official CBHD promo page were archived by the web archive, so it's been a lot of piecing together what actually existed and what didn't.

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Posted: 25 Feb 2023, 04:35 

I remember these back in the day. I believe the TCL were direct clones of Toshiba HD-DVD players. Earlier models even had HD-DVD logo on them. I remember some conversation on whether they would play HD-DVDs but don't recall the answer. This was well after HD-DVD went defunct. I remember WB discs were around $8-12 when Blu-rays were selling at $24.99 most of the time. If they rely on the HD-DVD tech, most of those discs are probably dead now. Approach with caution before you purchase many.

I don't know where you got your information, but no CBHD player has ever had HD-DVD support. HD-DVD was never released in China, so it doesn't make sense they'd include support anyways. The TCL CBHD-1008 was the very first model released, and there are no HD-DVD logos on it

Maybe it's because they were made later, but every CBHD I've had has played fine, no artifacting or rot at all. This is unlike my few HD-DVDs which all have issues when being played.

They may have licensed the design, but the internals are different and incapable of playing HD-DVD.

EDIT: There *was* a demonstration unit presented in late 2007/early 2008 that was a rebranded Toshiba unit, so that might be what you're thinking of. All retail units do not support HD-DVD.

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Posted: 25 Feb 2023, 20:19 

Nearly all references to CBHD have been purged on the Chinese internet. Even the CBHD Baidu tieba was purged. Neither the tieba nor the official CBHD promo page were archived by the web archive, so it's been a lot of piecing together what actually existed and what didn't.

That's interesting. Have you been able to find any old advertising material for it?

This thread was really fun to read over. Neat discovery.

I haven't. Most image links are long dead, so it's possible that they used to exist. From what I can tell, they leaned into the 1080p video quality thing heavily. It was over twice as expensive at launch than a standard EVD/DVD player, so it was a hard sell for the majority of the population.

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Posted: 25 Feb 2023, 21:27 

When CBHD was launched, they announced that they had technology transfer from Toshiba and this happened literally months after Toshiba pulled the plug on HD-DVD. Try and find pictures of Shinco CBHD-9100, it surely is a rebadged Toshiba HD-A35 which is the last generation HD-DVD player. I clearly remember seeing pictures of TCL units with both CBHD and HD-DVD logos on it. If I recall correctly, this was a Toshiba HD-A30 rebadge. It might have been an early production model or demo model. This was 2009 or circa and the information is scarce from that era.

HD-DVD was never advertised as one of CBHD players functions but people speculated it could be an unadvertised feature. Since the players are based on former HD-DVD players, the functionality might be already inheritedly embedded in there. So the claim has merits and makes sense. This was a speculation and I didn’t follow CBHD development to find out if it turned out to be true.

Here a quick search returns this

No CBHD players supported HD-DVD. As I showed in the original post, it just sees the HD-DVD as a standard, browsable ISO. Not as an HD-DVD/CBHD. This is because the formats are different. Yes, CBHD is based on HD-DVD, but the changes that Tsinghua and the Chinese government made, made the format incompatible and different from HD-DVD.

You asked about the 9100, well here are photos of it that I grabbed from idlefish (Sorry for the watermarks, idlefish adds them automatically):

It's more similar to my HD-3700U than an HD-A35. Besides the fact it uses the same OS as all the other Shinco players, if you look at the back, the entire mainboard is different. There's no optical audio or network jack, the power is a different connector entirely and on the right side (where the HDMI is on the HD-A35), and there's also S-Video out, which the HD-A35 doesn't have.

Here are pictures of all the other players:





Again, I apologize about the watermarks, they aren't my pictures. I only took them from listings.

Interesting fact about the HD-2100, it was meant to be wall mounted behind a TV.

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Posted: 21 Mar 2023, 19:35 

There are some HD DVDs without copy protection that cannot be played. These are programmed with advanced content, i.e. HDi. Standard content without AACS works.
Do you know if one of the players has a drive with S-ATA? I would find it exciting to remove a drive and connect it to the PC.

If you look at my teardown, you can see that the HD-3700U connects the drive directly to a PCB, then a SATA port connects off the PCB. I tried plugging it directly into my windows machine and it showed up as a standard DVD drive. It wouldn't load any CBHDs, but DVDs would load fine.
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