HD Disc Format War Heats Up For The Fall
Recently, major battles were fought in the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray HD disc format war. It began with an announcement that both Paramount and Dreamworks movie studios are going to exclusively release their HD titles on the HD DVD format. So far Paramount has pretty much sat on the sidelines of the format war, but with things heating up in the battle as the all-important holiday selling season approaches, they jumped off the fence and right into the middle of the fight.
Not to be outdone, Fox and MGM wheeled out the big guns by announcing their Blu-ray releases for 2007 which include big budget films well suited for high-definition Blu-ray including: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Live Free or Die Hard, Master & Commander, as well as many other titles.
The stakes are now higher heading into the holiday selling season, with Blu-ray pushing more and more quality titles while HD DVD having more affordable players. Critics say that the format war isnít good for consumers, but perhaps that isnít the case? Pressure for one format to win out over another is driving studios to roll out some of their best titles in the spirit of one-upsmanship. With more sexy titles luring consumers to buy new players, electronics companies will see sales increase if they can get players priced closer full featured DVD players, around $299 for the holidays. At this price point, mainstream American Costco and Wal-Mart customers are likely to start looking at one or both of the HD disc formats as a needed accessory for their new HDTV, especially when they see how much better both HD DVD and Blu-ray look as compared to HD from their cable box or satellite receiver. At this price, HD on a disc will pick up significant momentum.
Video game consoles will continue to drive both formats. Blu-ray has the clear advantage here as it is integrated into Sonyís Playstation 3 system. Microsoftís Xbox 360 can do HD DVD at a lower price but requires a separate drive. Both formats combined, and driven by the popularity of HD video game titles like EAís Madden Football 2008, will power more player sales that will in turn lead to more software sales, continuing to add fuel the fire.
When comparing the HD disc format war to the audio format war between SACD and DVD-Audio, it is important for consumers and early adopter enthusiasts to note that the battle for audio supremacy over the aging and under-powered Compact Disc never saw the quality of titles or supplemental material that we are seeing early from both sides of the HD disc war. Yes, Dark Side of the Moon, Kind of Blue, and Night at the Opera were good titles, but the movie titles are better already and arenít likely to dry up anytime soon as we saw with the failed D-VHS HD tape format.
For those with an HDTV who want the best possible video on their screen, right now it requires two separate players and isnít likely to change any time soon. Those playing the waiting game might want to stick their toes in the water this fall as the price to play is only a few hundred dollars plus a Netflix or Blockbuster account.
by: Jerry Del Colliano