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Is Netflix Jumping The Gun With Its HD DVD Offers?  Print E-mail
Home Theater News HD DVD Software News
Written by Scott Selter   
Thursday, 25 May 2006

Having just purchased a Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD player for my entertainment system, I was eager to get my hands on some High Definition software titles. I already knew that titles were limited, but there were still a handful of movies that I couldn’t wait to see in the new HD format. Not wanting to hassle with in store purchases of the titles, I thought I would get online and check out what Netflix had to offer. And this is where the confusion began.

The first page of the Netflix website led me to click on the “Browse Selection” tab, before I logged into my account. On the next screen I noticed a “HD DVD” category in the right hand column. I promptly clicked on the link and was taken to a page where 20 HD DVD titles were listed. My initial reaction was one of excitement, however, a closer look arose some questions. Namely, how are half of these titles listed as “Rent Today” when no official release date for them has been set by the two studios leading the way in HD DVD releases, Warner Home Video and Universal? In addition the HD DVD listing on Netflix was lacking in some titles that I was certain had been released, ie; The Unforgiven and Goodfellas.

Instead, mixed among officially released titles were names like, Troy, Terminator 3, Constantine, Dukes Of Hazzard, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Immediately hitting up Google, I found that none of these titles have been released, nor had the dates for their release been announced. Intrigued, I took the next step and logged into my Netflix account. Now, the truth began to unravel.

Using Batman Begins as my test subject, I browsed for the title using the search method, and I added the title to my Queue. Upon viewing my Queue list I noticed that Netflix added the Standard Definition DVD to my list. However, it had an “also available in HD DVD” notification. Continuing on, the HD DVD link took me to the first big step in Netflix’s High Definition campaign. I was taken to a screen that gave details about High Definition DVDs and players. The details were vague and basically communicated the already known fact that HD DVD provides sharper images and more features.

The next paragraph began to describe the difference between Blu-ray and HD DVD. Yes, that’s right. Let’s not forgot about Blu-ray, which is still waiting in the starting blocks. Of interesting note however, is that Netflix stated their support of both formats. “No matter which format of DVD you choose, Netflix will carry all HD DVD and Blu-ray movies that are released. You will need a new DVD [sic] player that can play the format you choose, as well as a high definition TV and cables that support high definition images.” Props have to be given to Netflix for their education to the consumers and for their dedication to both formats.

At the bottom of the setup page, you are given the option of “I have Blu-ray” or “I have HD DVD”. Obviously Blu-ray is out for the time being, so I selected the HD DVD option. This brought me to the second setup page. This was a confirmation to make sure I really wanted HD DVD and had the components to play an HD DVD title. Checking the box and clicking Continue I was taken to the final page which asked me which format I wanted to be the default when adding items to my Queue, SD DVD or HD DVD. I selected HD DVD and clicked Finished.

Netflix took me back to my Queue page where I scanned to see if Batman Begins was listed. I was unable to locate it in the Queue list. Scrolling further down the page I noticed it was listed under “Saved”. Clicking on the movie title brought me to a page which told me the current title is unavailable in HD DVD format, release date “UNKNOWN”. And the truth shall set you free.

So it was at this point that it became clear that Netflix was preparing all movie titles that had even an inkling of being released on HD DVD in the near future as selectable on their site. While it was a bit confusing at the outset, one has to admit that Netflix is doing a good job in educating the consumers on the new format revolution as well as offering their subscribers the chance to get those new HD DVD titles delivered right to their door upon their release.







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