HD-DVD & Blu-ray – No end in sight


The current state of the high definition DVD market is reaching all time lows with both formats jostling for the lead position in the eyes of the viewer and among support with the major movie studios. New news stories are posted weekly in papers and magazines and on hundreds of news sites. One week they talk about how Blu-ray has the lead, the next its HD-DVD. It did look at one point as though Blu-ray was going to edge it out, with Blockbuster showing more support for them in the rental market by only carrying the Blu-ray discs in certain stores. The PS3 Sony console also meant that Blu-ray was infiltrating the market through different avenues, and at the time Blu-ray had the majority of studio exclusive support. The field has now been levelled up a bit, with Paramount studios recently deciding to drop their Blu-ray support and instead choosing to back HD-DVD exclusively, this means that’s its no where near as one sided as it previously looked. Unfortunately there is no end in sight for the immediate future, this will continue far beyond the expected grand showdown this Christmas time.

For the regular DVD buyer this causes big headaches you have a few options available to you at the moment, so let’s take a quick look at the realistic current options of someone who wants to go high definition, One shining light in this turmoil is that some movies are being/or will be released on a dual disc package. This means a HD-DVD with a bundled standard DVD also, this means you can buy now and then upgrade later to HD-DVD safe in the knowledge your money isn’t being wasted on old formats.

Choose HD-DVD – You get 2 exclusive studios supporting the format and a cheaper initial outlay for the equipment. The 2 studios backing HD-DVD at the moment are Paramount and Universal. On the downside the discs can’t store as much raw data as a Blu-ray disc, this isn’t going to affect the average movie watcher but it does affect the format as a whole. Eventually one of the discs is going to be the pc standard and for backup purposes, storage size does matter.

Choose Blu-ray – You get 2 exclusive studios Sony Picture and MGN and potentially more room for extras on the disc due to its larger storage size. The discs are more at risk from scratch damage due to the read layer being closer to the surface, and the early Blu-ray players cant access all the features of the later models.

Stay with DVD – For now it’s cheaper, it plays on your old player and still provides a decent quality image if you don’t have a HD ready TV yet. On the flip side it’s a dying format, why buy discs in DVD when you could be building a high definition collection, and the prices aren’t that different.

Choose Dual Format – You buy a player which can handle both discs so you are never limited. For the privilege of having both formats you are going to pay considerably more money. Currently there is only one company manufacturing a machine like this, but in the future lots of companies will be going this route.

Buy two Players HD-DVD and Blu-ray – You can mix and match, buy a PS3 and then buy a normal HD-DVD player, or buy two separate players in each format. You’re going to pay much more and will have twice as many units under your TV, plus twice as many cables. Your going to need a TV with enough inputs to handle all your devices, and not everyone has this option, going behind the v every time you switch is an annoyance that no one wants.

Add the high definition drives to your PC – This is slightly cheaper option to owning both machines, as you can add the drive to your PC and cut the cost of all the other components that go into a high deaf DVD player, as your home pc will be used to power the drives. The problem in that to run a high definition drive you will need to have a pretty powerful home computer, this means no more than 2 generation old chip architecture, preferably one, which means your computer should really be less than 2 years old, although less than 1 year old is even better.

On top of having an up to date computer having a dedicated graphics card to offload some of the CPU cycles will also help in keeping frame rate playback smooth . This is currently a complex solution for the average user with you requiring all manner or technical knowledge, using HDMI cables, a HDCP enable HDMI graphics card for protected content and you can see how overly complex and full of standards and requirements it already is.

Check back later for part 2 of this article.