Is Warner’s Hybrid “Total HD” Disc Dead?
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, in an unexpected move, has announced a delay in the launch of the Total HD disc format until next year. Total HD discs are two-sided discs that have HD DVD on one side and the competing Blu-ray format on the other.
Proponents of the Total HD Disc format say that it gives the consumers both HD formats on one simple disc at a fair price. Critics suggest the idea of two new formats on one disc only complicates HDTV and disc format decisions for consumers who are already understandably confused.
Currently, Warner Bros Home Entertainment and Paramount are the only two movie studios producing movie titles in both high-definition formats. Universal remains loyal only to the HD DVD format while Disney/Buena Vista and Sony are dedicated solely to the Blu-ray HD disc format.
The launch delay is due in large part to the idea that Hollywood movie studios are truly divided over the two HD disc formats. Consumers remember the VHS versus Beta format war and are adopting the new HD formats with less enthusiasm than they did with DVD because of the uncertainly over both formats. More importantly, copy protection issues make it difficult for consumers to get their players physically working. Additionally, studios are slow to release a meaningful volume of high profile, new films on either of the HD disc formats. Lastly and despite the boom in HDTV sales, players are priced at many times that of a traditional DVD player, leaving consumers wondering if the upgrade is worth it right now. If HD disc players drop to $199 or lower for the holidays this year – expect one or both of the formats to boom. In this case, Total HD could be a viable solution but more than likely “universal” players, like the ones seen in the awful audio format war between DVD-Audio and SACD, would be more the norm on store shelves.