Saturday, June 02, 2007

Format Wars

I don't have an opinion on this subject, but I do enjoy DVDs. I have not seen either of the new generation of high definition DVDs, those being Blu-ray and HD-DVD, in action. I understand they are both pretty awesome looking and sounding if you have a high definition TV.

I was working in a music and video store in Seattle when DVDs came on the market. VHS was still a bigger deal, but there was a competing DVD format, too, known as Divx. Divx was a low-cost DVD that worked with a player that was connected to a modem. After an initial free period, subsequent uses of a Divx DVD were charged to your credit card. This seemed to me self-evidently a terrible idea. The format was disontinued due to a lack of support from both consumers and the movie industry. As far as I know, though, there is no such distinction between Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Harry Knowles of Austin, Texas and Ain't It Cool News wrote this past week that he had bought an HD-DVD player, and predicted that this would be the ascendant format. Then, a day or two later, the website The Digital Bits posted a rebuttal in which they explicitly endorsed the Blu-ray format. Incidentally, they seem like nice people on that website, and also Midwestern.

Here's Harry Knowles' HD-DVD posting.

Here is the Digital Bits response favoring Blu-ray.


Fox said...

I don't know much about technology, but I love it, and I love DVDs.

This new HD DVD, Blue-Ray thing gives me anxiety, simply because - like most things techie - I feel left behind.

I mean, I still don't have an iPod, or even really how to work with MP3s.

I just hope that they end up making machines that can play both HD *and* Blue Ray DVDs. Aren't video games made exclusively for Nintendo OR PS3 right now? I guess that's a bit different, but still, it would suck to have to have two machines.

bryan h. said...

I think there are some new, expensive players that play all three formats, but i may be wrong. At least, there are DVDs being released that are compatible with both HD-DVD and Blue-ray players, which is nice. But I know what you mean about feeling left behind. I can't even keep track of which video game systems are current, for instance. Obviously, the DVD market is more important to me, but I also worry about it someday being totally alien to me.

One of the things I appreciate about the Digital Bits website, though, is that they've maintained throughout the HD-DVD / Blu-ray saga that people should not get nervous about their stuff being antiquated; regular DVDs are not going anywhere. They also encourage everyone with only a casual, regular consumer interest in DVDs and home video to just sit back, and save your money, and wait to invest in whichever of the high-def technologies becomes the default or dominant one.