Blu-ray Disc vs. HD DVD, the battle for HD Video supremacy
Do you remember the first time you saw a movie on DVD? The picture and sound quality was such an
improvement over video tapes. The same kind of improvement in picture and sound quality is once again
available to us, with the introduction of high definition video. Two competing formats are poised to
replace DVD. They are Blu-ray and HD DVD. Some feel that having a choice of formats is bad; it will
leave us confused, right? Wrong! Competition is our greatest asset!
Competition makes things affordable. Case in point. WordPerfect, the dominant word processing software
in the late 1980s and early 1990s, used to cost about $500 per copy to purchase. It was dominant in the
market because most of the printer drivers worked with it, and ultimately you wanted to print your document.
Some company called Microsoft, allowed the operating system to handle the printing chores; they also wanted
a piece of the lucrative word processing market. Microsoft had a word processing program called Word. They
bundled it with some other software (Excel and Access) and sold it for about $500. The office productivity
suite was born and as a result of competition we got 3 programs for the price of one. We also got a greater
variety of printers that we could purchase. Now we didn’t have to worry about whether our preferred
printer would work with our preferred word processor. WordPerfect responded by bundling a spreadsheet
(Quattro Pro) and a relational database program (Paradox) with the word processor software for about the
The concern that many people have with two high definition video formats to choose from is – is this
Betamax vs. VHS all over again? Consumers may as a result choose to adopt neither format. Instead, we
may sit and wait to see what happens. So the fear for the consumer electronics industry is that offering
a choice will cripple the wide- spread adoption of a next-generation video format. Profits from the sales
of DVD players have shrunk considerably. You can now purchase DVD players for $30 and a Progressive-Scan
up-converting DVD player for under $80. You can get a DVD recorder that can record and playback DVD+R/+RW,
DVD-R/RW, DVD+R DL and DVD-RAM, but can also playback CD, CD-R/RW, VCD, SVCD, WMA, MP3, JPEG, MPEG-4, XviD
and DivX formats, and up-convert DVDs to HDTV quality 1080i resolution for under $200. After reaching a
high watermark in 2003 with North American sales estimated at just over 24 million players, sales dropped
to just under 22 million in 2004, and dropped again in 2005 to just under 18 million. 2006 saw player
sales rebound with sales finishing just under 22 million, but most would agree that the writing is on the
wall for DVD.
With the world embracing HDTV, the time is right for the introduction of a companion HD video format.
The question for you and me, and everyone else is which one, Blu-ray or HD DVD? No one wants to end up
buying the equivalent of a Beta machine. To help choose the best course of action, consider the following: