Monday, March 12, 2007
This is causing a lot of trouble for the widespread adoption of either format. That's because the last time there was a format war, a lot of consumers who jumped the gun got stuck with a bunch of useless Betamax cassette players. Now consumers are more cautious and are holding out to see which format comes out on top before they invest their hard earned money into new- and still expensive technology.
The two formats are pretty close to being equal in technical specifications. The Blu-ray disc format from Sony is the winner in terms of the amount of data that it can store. Each side of a Blu-ray disc can store up to twenty five gigabytes for a total storage capacity per disc of fifty gigabytes. The rival HD-DVD format from Toshiba can only store fifteen gigabytes per side for a total of thirty. The HD-DVD format has the advantage in terms of the fact that HD-DVD players tend to be about half the price of Blu-ray disc players. Of course if the Blu-ray format were the one to survive the prices of its players would probably come down enough to become a moot point.
Considering that, the Blu-ray format can store more data, it would be the obvious winner on purely technical grounds. Unfortunately, the market for these things isn't quite that simple. It seems that both Sony and Toshiba are trying to win following based on making their technology more attractive than the other's. Complicating the situation even more is the fact that big names in electronics, software, and movies have gotten behind each format. For example, Microsoft favors HD-DVD and offers an HD-DVD drive that attaches to its popular Xbox 360 gaming system and allow it to play movies off of HD-DVD discs. Some computer manufacturers are also putting HD-DVD drives on their new computers while others are putting Blu-ray drives on their computers. Then there are the major movie studios. Some are releasing movies on Blu-ray disc, others are releasing movies on HD-DVD, and still others are releasing movies in both formats just to hedge their bets.
In all, this high def DVD format war has gotten ugly just when HDTV is ready to go completely mainstream. Unfortunately this bump in the road shows no sign of being fixed any time soon.