Friday, May 18, 2007
One variable in the equation that could cause the two formats to coexist is the fact that Samsung has released a high def DVD player that will play both Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs. While Samsung used to exclusively manufacture Blu-ray players, the introduction of a dual format high def DVD player could be a response to the fact that Sony has seriously undercut the prices of both its own as well as other companies Blu-ray players with the introduction of its cheaper Play Station 3 that can also play discs in the Blu-ray format. While the Samsung dual format high def DVD player may be more expensive than a normal Blu-ray player, it's still cheaper than a Blu-ray player and an HD-DVD player bought at the same time. That makes it a good buy for anyone who wants a player while hedging their bets on the winner of the format war. Besides, as more companies produce dual format players and competition drives down prices, they'll probably be even more affordable.
Another type of technology that could very easily cause both formats to coexist for years to come is the dual format disc. While this development doesn't get the same kind of attention that the dual format player gets, it has a lot of potential to prolong the format war. Dual format discs are based on the fact that the HD-DVD format encodes data in a deeper layer of the disc than the Blu-ray format. This allows duplicate copies in each format of the same movie or software to occupy the same side of a disc at the same time. (One interesting fact is that using this technology, a disc can hold both the fifty gigabytes allowed by the Blu-ray format plus the thirty gigabytes allowed for by the HD-DVD format for a total storage capacity of an amazing eighty gigabytes! Theoretically, all of that data could be accessed by a dual format player or disc drive!) While it's obvious that the dual format disc may not eliminate the format war, if all movie studios and software companies begin to use it, then there won't be much motivation to buy the expensive dual format player or the more expensive Blu-ray players. Toshiba's relatively cheap HD-DVD players will be more attractive because no one will have to worry about getting technology that won't be able to play any discs which is the major fear that's holding up widespread adoption of High Def DVD technology.
It may be that two High Def DVD formats will be a fact of life that we'll just learn to live with.