Saturday, October 27, 2007

HD-DVD Vs. Blu-Ray: A Consumer and Entertainment Value Comparison

In this cross-blog feature, I'm taking a look at the optical media format war currently raging across the world.

Optical media is currently dominated by the ubiquitous Digital Versatile Disc, DVD. The DVD was in the right place at the right time, smashed VHS thanks to better pricing, better quality and more features.

It also schooled the older CD standard in the data optical disc market, thanks in large part to an increase of over 300% in per-layer capacity. Most households in the West now contain at least one DVD player, many have several. Additionally, most computers ship with one or 2 DVD drives.

But with the HD era approaching and the capacity of the DVD not really sufficient to hold enough content at HD to justify the effort - never mind the increasingly bloated size of video games - a new standard is needed. 2 competitors have emerged to take this role.

HD-DVD, Toshiba and NEC's direct successor to the DVD (In name only, it is technologically different) and the one endorsed by the DVD Forum and Sony's Blu-Ray Disc.

Both have upsides. In this part of my cross-blog feature I'll be looking at the discs from the perspective of consumers as well as at their value as an entertainment distribution model.

The movie industry has put a lot of weight behind Blu-Ray, including the object f this blog's focus, Disney. But were they right to do so? Well, yes and no. it depends on what's more important to you as a consumer.

The studios chose Blu-Ray because, as I outlined in the first part of this feature, it is technologically superior. On paper, it's an obvious choice.

With higher storage capacity studios can put more HD Content on one disc, which is a plus that one would have difficulty in reasonably ignoring. Disney, for example, are able to release the High School Musical 2 Extended Edition in HD and add more special features without adding any more discs over the DVD release.

This creates possibilities for consumers which are universally good - less disc-swapping chief among them. But there is one thing Blu-Ray doesn't do well for consumers - relax their wallets.

HD-DVD players and in some cases discs are comparatively very low-priced. Players can be had for as little as £115 for the Xbox 360 branded USB model and even standalones run as little as £200 - compared to a starting price for Blu-Ray players of around £300 for the PLAYSTATION 3.

Speaking from a consumer's pointof view, it's easy to choose HD-DVD.

But from an entertainment-lover's view, it's difficult to choose one over the other. A bi-partisan approach would be best. get both, then you can't lose.

All Your Time Are Belong To Us: The Technical view
All Your Disney: A Consumer and Entertainment Value Comparison
All Your Time Are Belong To Us: It's Not That Simple

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