Thursday, October 19, 2006

HD-DVD Vs. Blu-Ray...The Winner is: DVD?

Yeah thats right, plain ol' DVD.

Right now the format war PR machine is kicking into overdrive. Set top boxes are being released by multiple manufacturers albeit at a +$1000 barrier to entry. Let's not forget the behemoth that is the PS3 looming on the horizon. While I won't deny the increase in picture quality; is the public really ready? While HDTVs will continue to sell (expect a record holiday season with all the recent price reductions), is everyone ready to shell out 30 bucks a pop for a movie you may already own multiple copies of?

Having purchased an LCD HDTV earlier this year I have experimented with the gamut of upscaling dvd tech from STBs to HTPCs to a modded xbox. I must say that the picture quality was better than I expected. (note:scaled to 1080i-p, viewed on 1920x1080 screen) However, after being spoiled with actual HDTV, I like many others scoff at anything below 720p on my precious display. Even so, the prospect of replacing the dvd collection I worked so hard to amass is a scary thought.

Frankly, I don't think the market is ready for these next gen formats. HD is catching on fast but it is far from the standard in most American homes. Joe Blow is simply not ready to drop $4-500 (low end online hd-dvd price, the "cheap" neutered PS3 respectively) plus at least another $25 per movie. Until players drop into $1-200 forget about the mass market. Despite being on the market for quite a few months, I'll consider this fall/holiday season as the "start" of the next gen push. Intial sales will be promising, (giddyness of early adopters like myself will drive sales early on), think umds. More specifically umd movies. Remember how good those early numbers looked and how every movie teaser added its "coming to psp" stamp at the end. Beyond this, cue the tumbleweeds, sales will plummet.

Movie studio execs have become blinded by the cash cow that is dvd. Screw box office grosses, they're kind of nice but the real money is now coming in through the mighty golden disc. Salivating at potential profits at the even higher price points and conning you into buying that same movie for at least the 2nd if not the 3rd or 4th time (don't you just love the endless extended/unrated/uber/collector's ed. crap thats everywhere); has led them to literally rush these formats out the door. The Samsung Blu-Ray player speaks for itself and codec changes/optimization after the discs are released? Come on, seriously its ridiculous.

Its going to be a cold winter for the next gen formats after their initial burst of popularity. I know i'll be basking in the warm glow of my htpc upscaling my dvds to glorious 1080p. HD-DVD and/or Blu-Ray will eventually catch on, give it at least a year maybe 2 to be certain. Until then, long live the DVD!

Or have I got it all wrong, is DVD dead?

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Posted by TheTech @ 8:34 PM

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