The format war over the high-definition video market has been going on for a few years, and it now looks like the eventual winner is pulling ahead. So I'm calling it for the blue corner - it's Blu-ray. Hope I'm wrong though, because I would much prefer HD DVD to triumph. Why? Because it would be better for the consumer.
The main pros and cons for Blu-ray and HD DVD are as follows: Blu-ray can hold more data than HD DVD, 25GB vs 15GB. Compare this with the 4.7GB that a standard DVD can store. However, it's also more expensive to make - an expense passed on to the buyer with a percentage slapped on top no doubt. Blu-ray discs can also be region-encoded. Again, not something the public would have voted for. (To be fair though, about two-thirds of all releases so far have been region-free.)
Early adopters who bought Blu-ray players when they first came on the market aren't best please either. The Blu-ray format was not finalised at launch, so now versions 1.1 and 2.0 have followed, meaning that owners of the v1.0 technology are missing out on new features. Don't burn customers this way!
Blu-ray discs can be played on the Playstation 3 console, and have the backing of Apple, Dell, and Panasonic as well as various studios; Sony, MGM, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros etc. A daunting line up. But on the other hand, XBox 360 owners get to play HD DVD on their console and are backed by
Microsoft, Toshiba, Acer, HP, Samsung and studio alliances with Universal, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks etc.
Why am I calling it now? Well, the big news last week was that Warner dropped support for HD-DVD. This is part of a trend. Blockbuster have sided with Blu-ray and internet video rental sites like NetFlix are reporting more hits on Blu-ray pages. HD DVD are being outsold 2:1. That's a conservative estimate - the figure could be as high as 3:1. Will a hybrid player that plays both formats be the eventual winner? Doubt it. Didn't happen for VHS and Betamax...
Quite often the lesser product wins through. We see it again and again. I think Blu-ray have got some momentum now and the branding machine is in full flow. Actually the branding was always there - you can tell that a marketing department came up with the name "Blu-ray". I mean, some no-nonsense engineer probably came up with "HD DVD".