By David Peralty
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
As we approach on the Christmas season, some people are wondering what they are going to pair their high definition televisions with. Will you buy a Blu-ray or HD DVD player? The format war is still on, and its as confusing and as fierce as ever. Some people have already given up and purchased one of the two formats, while others are going to skip the format war, and promote online distribution through iTunes and other services.
I am here to give you a rundown on what is going on with HD DVD and Blu-ray so you can make an informed choice on what to save up for over the next two months.
Many reports have Blu-ray outselling HD DVD by a factor of two to one. This is most likely fueled in part by Sony’s PlayStation 3, but also by the line-up of studios that produce content on Blu-ray. With Fox and Disney on the Blu-ray side, many action and kids movies will require Blu-ray technology to play.
The technology is also considered “more advanced” by many due to its use of blue laser technology as well as its ability to store more data per disc than HD DVD. If you are going to buy a PlayStation 3, you are going to get a Blu-ray player. Otherwise I would say hold off for now as the time still isn’t right. Many of the players that include Blu-ray technology are still in their first or second generation. The market needs more time to mature before it makes sense to replace your regular DVD player for a Blu-ray one.
On the other side of the fence, we see much of the same. Microsoft released a HD DVD player add-on for their popular Xbox 360 game console. And really, that is at this point, the only HD DVD player I would recommend.
There is good news for shoppers this fall though, as Wal-Mart has been seen selling a HD DVD player for under $200. This blows away the competition’s price, as the cheapest Blu-ray player is priced at four hundred dollars or more.
The $200 player from Wal-Mart isn’t some knock off brand either, and is instead the Toshiba’s A2. Some say that this price drop has something to do with the HD DVD backers being worried about losing to the Blu-ray group, but I think it is another sign that Wal-Mart is supporting HD DVD over Blu-ray, and Wal-Mart is not a small company. This inexpensive player could quickly see HD DVD take the lead in the homes of the average consumer, which mean that studios will have to release their content on the device, or have it not be watched by a large segment of the population.
Lastly, you might not need to chose between the two formats, either because web based delivery systems will become more commonplace or because of multi-format players like the new Samsung device that was just revealed.
The Samsung BD-UP5000 will include both HD DVD and Blu-ray support and will set you back around $1000 USD. Hopefully, it will go through a price drop or two by Christmas, allowing consumers to snag an amazing multi-format device for about the same as what the PlayStation 3 originally retailed for. Sure you can’t play games on it, but then you will be safe in knowing that you don’t need to worry about which format comes out on top of the whole struggle for media domination.
I think many people are smart in waiting for players that can play all the media that the studios want to throw at us. Despite all the craziness, we might be a long, long way from having one format come out on top.