Saturday, September 09, 2006


HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray

Kicking off my tech articles, I'd like to first dust off the and examine the format war between Sony's Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. As many of you are aware, these are supposed to be the next great format to replace DVD. Unfortunately what was originally supposed to be a single replacement format, turned into two, when the companies involved couldn't agree. This then led to there being two formats which are incompatible with eachother. Of course some companies looked into creating systems which support both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, but to my knowledge, there was a clause built into Sony's agreements that any manufacturer of Blu-Ray systems is strictly prohibited from building in HD-DVD support. So, the net result is of course a format war, one on the scale of VHS vs. Beta.

So, who's going to win the format wars? Right now, the line has been drawn and both formats are readily available at your local electronics store, but there is no clear winner thus far. Sony is banking on their PS3 which has a built in Blu-Ray player as adding to their market share, but at $599, the PS3 isn't going to be affordable to most. Microsoft (a supporter of HD-DVD) is supporting having HD-DVD drives in their Xbox 360's, also to increase the number of players in the market.

Of course, most of the companies involved in the format war have neglected to see what the consumer wants. All current systems to play the new formats cost in excess of over $600. The titles out there are currently limited (although growing), and many consumers do not see the need for a new format. Most of the companies involved in the format wars are thinking several years ahead, when most consumers all have televisions which support higher resolution, and most consumers have plunked down and paid to get specialized equipment that supports these formats. Yes, that's correct, you'll need to buy specialized equipment to view these formats correctly! As part of a security feature built in, the HD-DVD will only play at full resolution on special screens when played from your computer (so you'll need to go buy a new monitor to watch a new movie). Another added security feature is that these systems will be connected to the internet to receive updates, so in case you modified your system to play say a pirated blu-ray disc, the system be updated to prevent this vulnerability. Oh, and if you happen to not want it to update automatically, and say you don't let it update, it'll eventually shut down and not let you play any more content until it's updated. Also standard is more annoying anti-piracy technology (which of course will be cracked at some point) and will remain a pain for the average person. Most consumers are also happy with the current formats, they're at a high enough resolution for most, they're cheap, and familiar. When DVD first was introduced to replace VHS, it was a major jump forward, higher quality picture, digital sound, and no need to rewind. Jump ahead a few years, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray only offer two new things, additional storage space, and higher a premium. So the net result of all of this, is as of now the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats are really just a novelty, you may have one of these systems if you're an early adopter, but there are still bugs to be worked out. Many of the Blu-Ray movies out now were not scanned and cleaned up, so when you watch a film, you can actually see hairs and specs on the original film.

Competition is almost always a good thing, however, after many consumers got burned on the last major format war, most consumers are holding off on buying one of these just yet. Fortunately, as time goes on and one of these formats does take over, the price on these systems will go down, and it's likely many of the technological kinks that these systems currently face will also be ironed out.

Please let me know if anyone enjoyed this or if anyone had any thoughts or ideas they'd like me to incorporate into future articles. More or less I wanted to start off with something most may have heard about and delve into it without going into the complicated specs that each system has.
Fascinating. I'm interested in how the market will work this one out.

I'm going to sit back and wait until there's a clear winner. No need to waste money on a technology that'll be obsolete in a matter of years.

Any word on whether the new systems can play normal DVDs?
The new systems play normal DVDs, but each system cannot play the competing format (i.e. Blu-Ray systems can play normal DVD and Blu-Ray, but not HD-DVD, and vice versa).
That's good news, at least.

However, I'm still waiting. I know too many people who were burned by the laser-disc fiasco to jump into any new technology.
Post a Comment

<< Home
CrispAds Blog Ads

Does someone you know deserve flowers?
Web Site Hit Counter
Dell Canada

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?