February 15, 2008

From the Trenches in the Hi-Dev DVD Format War

There has been a long battle waging for the definitive high-definition DVD format. Both Sony’s Blu-ray and Toshiba’s HD DVD offer vastly superior video and audio compared to traditional DVDs. Both formats have enjoyed some strong and exclusive support from various retailers and movie studios over the past couple of years. Both formats have attracted vocal support from early adopters. But only one can win.

And the winner is Blu-ray.

I bet on the wrong horse. I picked up a first-generation HD DVD player in mid 2006. The local Best Buy had a display model on clearance to make room for a Blue-ray display and I snatched it up at a reasonable price. It has been a great player. The video and sound are unbelievable. Not only is it a great player of HD DVDs, it is also the best player of standard DVDs I’ve ever owned. There have been almost 400 movies released on the format, including some of my absolute favorites (Blade Runner Final Cut, Matrix Trilogy). I was heartily recommending HD DVD’s outstanding features and lower price to everyone as recently as December 2007.

What a difference a few weeks make. Warner Bros. announced it was switching to Blu-ray exclusively on January 4. New Line Cinema followed suit quickly. Since then, WalMart, Neflix, and Blockbuster have announced that they will phase out HD DVD support for Blu-ray. Best Buy is going to begin recommending Blu-ray as the “customer’s digital format choice” in March 2008. Now there are rumors that Toshiba will be pulling the plug on HD DVD within a matter of weeks. It will not be long until HD DVD is related to a technology footnote next to LaserDisc. It is a pity, too, because I still think HD DVD is a better product.

Posted by Darren at February 15, 2008 10:07 PM