Friday, March 09, 2007
There are already some notable failures when it comes to offering high definition movies for download over the Internet- or at least services that need stark improvement even if they aren't outright failures. The movie download service that Microsoft has set up for users of its Xbox 360 video game system (which is high def enabled and can play high definition movies off of its hard drive or off of an HD-DVD if it has the special HD-DVD drive peripheral). Reportedly, the Xbox 360 can require up to ten hours to download a full length high definition movie. That's simply a lot longer than most people will be willing to wait for a movie download. If it's going to take that long, they might as well go to the video store or have dial up Internet access.
Blockbuster Video is banking that most people will want to avoid the frustration of downloading high definition video off of the Internet by just going out and renting a high definition digital video disc instead. Of course the problem with just going out and renting a high definition DVD is that most people are waiting for either Sony's Blu-ray format or its rival Toshiba's HD-DVD format, to win the format war between the two before they sink money into a device that can play high definition DVD's. While both types of discs are the same size (that of a normal DVD or CD), both formats can store enough data for an entire full length movie in high definition format plus bonus features and they use similar types of technology, they aren't compatible with each other in the sense that a Blu-ray player cannot play HD-DVD discs and an HD-DVD player cannot play Blu-ray discs.
The fact that there is a format war between these two high definition digital video disc formats could contribute to making Blockbuster's trust in high definition DVD's misplaced. If the format war keeps up and the technology to download high definition movies improves, movie downloads may be a realistic alternative for high definition enthusiasts. The fact computer equipment that can handle high definition video is becoming increasingly common, combined with better video downloading technology and faster Internet connections, may make the whole format war between Toshiba and Sony a moot point.