Monday, January 7, 2008

Gear: The Beginning of the End for HD-DVD?

The big news in the HD movie format war is that Warner Brothers has chosen to release movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. They expect to complete the transition by May 2008. This appears to be more of a loss for HD-DVD than a gain for Blu-ray as Warner had previously been releasing movies in both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats, the last major studio to do so.

Admittedly, my assertion that both formats would continue to exist now has very little possibility of happening. While HD-DVD still maintains a significant lead in the cost of players, from a content perspective, the format war has moved from a 5-to-3 studio lead for Blu-ray to a 5-to-2 lead. Without Warner Bro., it seems impossible that HD-DVD can continue to produce content at a similar rate to Blu-ray. A cash infusion to induce a flood of catalog releases by the remaining two HD-DVD exclusives could keep them competitive for awhile, but they simply won't be able to compete on the new releases front. Further, the handful of movies released by Warner exclusively on HD-DVD because of interactive features available on HD-DVD players (such as Batman Begins and The Matrix trilogy) will move to Blu-ray in May.

I have a soft spot in my heart for HD-DVD because their cheaper player price allowed me to enter the market last Christmas. I recently bought a Toshiba HD-A3 player so that I could more easily play my HD-DVD collection. However, I have to admit that the Christmas sales on players and movies also moved me to purchase a Blu-ray player. My early December purchase of a Samsung BD-P1400 Blu-ray player now seems prescient in light of Warner's decision. I would be lying if I said I saw this coming, but this possibility was definitely in the back of my mind when I made the purchase. At least I'm now future-proofed.

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