Sunday, November 25, 2007

HD DVD vs. BluRay - Which will win?

HD DVD vs BluRayThis blog post is completely off topic, but I'm going to do that every once in a while just to keep things interesting.

I talk a lot about this subject with Rick, who always is raving about how great these next generation disc look on his awesome TV. I of course have stayed out of the fray because I still have my ten year old TV so it won't really matter if I pick up a next-generation player. But I follow the war with some interest only because I find these types of battles to be interesting.

As I shopped around this Black Weekend, one of the things I did look for was to see what types of deals were available for either type of player. I saw multiple places with a Toshiba HD DVD player for $199. Amazon has it for even less. I didn't see a Blu-Ray player for less than $399. There were a few of those, along with of course the PS3, which can act as a Blu Ray player itself, and at this point is the best value if you are going to go down this path.

Despite the fact that I'm a bonafide geek, I am also extremely careful with my money (wouldn't know it from what I'm doing here would you?). I am a "mainstream" consumer in the sense that I prefer to let technology come way down in price before I buy it. I generally don't see a reason to be on the cutting-edge, because the premium you pay is so much greater than the actual benefit you receive from the new technology. No doubt that these next-generation formats look great, but when I can buy a DVD player for $20, and the quality look absolutely fine, am I really going to pay 8x or 16x more money? Am I really going to repurchase an entire DVD collection I spent years building? Doubtful.

Many tout that the Blu-Ray technology is better. It might also have the better stable of movies with all the Sony and Disney pictures exclusively on Blu-Ray. But in the end, it's about price, it's always about price. I've stated my position. The first format to break the $100 mark for a widely-available player wins. At the price, people stop trying to save up for the purchase, and just go buy it. It becomes a mainstream purchase. If I have a choice between a traditional DVD player at $70 (which is what I spent on my player) or a newer technology at $100, then I would likely choose the newer one, just to future proof myself.

Anecdotally, the Circuit City I went to was sold out of their Toshiba HD DVD players, but had plenty of the Blu Ray players. Best Buy had plenty of both.

So what do you think? Have you picked sides in the war yet and why? Or are you like me, just waiting it out until someone makes it cheap enough to be worthwhile?


  1. It seems that the HD DVD format is trying to win the format war...

    ClickforNick-Cyber Monday 2007

  2. Blu-ray has the cooler name :D And, you can turn a blu-ray player into a Star Trek phaser. As for the format war, I think neither will win, neither will lose. Thanks to the internet, the porn industry no longer has the deciding vote in the matter. Player manufacturers are simply going to have to start making combo players. Even Sony will have to give in eventually... IMHO.

  3. I like using my PS3 for watching hi-def movies more than my XBOX 360 + HD-DVD add-on. Part of that is the remote for the PS3 is so much nicer to use; the XBOX's is clunky and you have to point it in the right direction or it won't recognize your button pushes.

    Also, more Blu-ray movies have uncompressed audio tracks. If Transformers had been on Blu-ray it would not have to settle with a 640kbit Dolby Digital soundtrack :( And I'm still not sure whether HD-DVD has official support for 1080/24p other than setting the player to 1080/60i and hoping that your TV does proper deinterlacing and inverse 3:2 pull-down.

    They both support all the same audio and video codecs. Any title that comes out on both will probably use the exact same bit-data -- basically they master it to fit on a HD-DVD and then "xcopy" it over to the Blu-ray disc.

    Personally I hope Blu-ray wins, because it can store more data. But for consumers, the only real difference is the title library and the price. Try this as a salesman to anybody who comes in asking what hi-def stuff they want: "Do you have kids? Do they like Disney? Ok you'll need Blu-ray."

  4. Blah blah blah blah blah. Blah Blah Blah? Blah blah blah blah blah.

    That's how I think most everyday people would read your post :) Most don't care about 1080P or 640Kbit Dolby Digital (need to be careful what I say here in case Sergio, who works for Dolby, is around). People care about what they can watch and how much is it going to cost them.

    I would dare 90% of the population to tell me the difference in sound or picture quality between the two formats on whatever system they have set up in their home.

  5. I have a friend that designs in-store displays for DVD releases and he seems to think that it's only a matter of time before they figure out a better/faster way to download movies legally. Amazon's Tivo/Unbox is one solution, I don't know if they support HD movies though. I think that if people can download an HD movie to their DVRs (or some kind of streaming On-Demand system), the format isn't going to matter much. I think that much like how the music industry is rapidly changing, the home-entertainment industry is going to go through similar changes.

  6. If they don't care, why are they buying hi-def in the first place? They'll just stick to regular DVD's.

  7. I think people certainly care that the picture looks better, but that's about all they care about. They aren't really going to be able to tell the difference between, in my opinion, minute details in the different formats.

  8. Great point Tyler. I prefer to be able to download and store to hard drive, but there is something about DVDs that drives people to collect and display them. Don't know what it is, but so many people, myself included, bought movies on DVD when they would have never done it on VHS.

  9. I totally agree with this. Soon, blue ray vs. HD DVD will be as important as DVD+R and DVD-R is today. Players will just deal with whatever format you give them.

    I also agree with Terrence that this will happen when the players become affordable. There already are some combo players on the market (no idea of how good they are). It's a matter of time before those players are affordable. This format war nonsense will be banished to the backwaters of internet alongside the debate between MP3/WMA/OGG/etc.

  10. I think there will always be some kind of packaged format, like you said, people like to collect and display things. One main reason why I think people buy DVDs is the price. You can find movies for $5 on DVD (I have dozens of those) and the only way you could have found a movie on VHS for that price is if it was used and beat up (If I remember correctly, even $14.99-$19.99 was a really good deal for a brand new movie on tape). VHS tapes wear down, the sound quality wasn't as good, you have to rewind them, you can't skip to a scene you want to get to, there weren't any bonus features, there are a lot of reasons why people have bought more movies on DVD than on VHS. I think my VHS collection was at about thirty movies, whereas I've probably got over 200 DVDs.

    The strange thing is why Laserdisc never really took off. Again, I think it comes back to the price. The players and the discs were expensive.

  11. [...] I would follow up on my original post about trying to pick a winner between HD DVD and BluRay now that the industry is starting to pick sides. Warner Brothers announced that they would only [...]