Posted by mike in Computers,Entertainment,News at 10:44 am on January 13, 2008

Or, at least, it should be soon.

Now that Warner Bros. has switched from being in the HD-DVD camp to siding with Blu-Ray, the dominoes are falling and hopefully we’ll see the end of “The Format Wars, Round 2” in the near future.

My primary interest in this is the fact that I’d like one format to win outright so that everybody can get on with adopting it. It seems clear that the majority of consumers have been waiting to see who wins before purchasing an HD home video player (although there’s some speculation that adoption will be slow, regardless).

The two formats are largely the same in terms of features, but the primary difference has been that Blu-ray offers a DRM scheme that the studios view as being superior (copy-protection features appear to be the studios’ main concern, and with good reason). Another difference–albeit a more minor one, as its use hasn’t been fully explored as of yet–is the fact that the Blu-ray format includes Java support. This also might explain why Microsoft, never a fan of anything Sun- or Java-related, has sided with HD-DVD, although even that seems like it might change.

And then there’s what I still consider to have been a shrewd and ingenious move on Sony’s part, the decision to release the PlayStation 3 with a Blu-ray player built-in. This forced a lot of high-end gamers to become early adopters of the Blu-ray format, whether they realized it or not. (On the down side, it initially drove up the cost of their gaming console, perhaps to the detriment of their market share; this issue has largely disappeared, however, since the introduction of the $399 PS3.) Personally, though, the presence of the Blu-ray player was the primary reason I had for wanting (and getting) a PS3; indeed, I do not own any games for it (yet), but I have already purchased several Blu-ray movies. An additional bonus to using the PS3 as a DVD/Blu-ray player (although one that’s not often talked about, for whatever reason), is that it does a great job functioning as an upscaling DVD player for standard-definition movies, too. After adding an IR remote, so that I can control movie playback on the PS3 with my Harmony 880, I’ve found that the PS3 makes a terrific centerpiece to my home theater setup.

I’m hopeful that the chips will continue to fall, and Blu-ray will be able to announce a de facto victory sometime in 2008. Then the studios can get on with producing more content for the format, more people will jump on the bandwagon, and hopefully prices will come down as well. Of course, as with all new technology, porn may serve as the tipping point.

Comments (4)

4 Responses to “War is Over”:

  • Jim Emerson has an interesting take on this. In addition to using a similar title for his post on the subject as I did, and including a funny video to go along with it, he points out that by the time HDTV adoption is broad enough, movies on plastic discs won’t matter, regardless of the format. I’m a bit skeptical that all-electronic delivery will come around that soon (or maybe I’m skeptical that it’ll be that long before HDTV becomes more widely adopted), but it remains to be seen, of course.

  • It appears as though it has come to pass even earlier than I’d anticipated.

  • Comment by Carl at 10:24 am on July 31, 2008

    Porn would tip my judgement. I agree with the Emerson guy. I don’t think either will win do to most peoples laziness and popularity of on demand. To big movie buffs such as yourself I’m sure it is a very important issue. But many of us don’t even watch movies. I’m not demeaning your energy towards the topic, I’m just saying I know a lot of people who don’t watch enough movies to care one way or another. O.K. I know like 2 people in total, but they both don’t care. I think the whole “On-demand” ability sort of threatens the usage of discs. When I was reading what you wrote I was thinking maybe I got ripped off buying a 360. But then I realized I would never use either the PS3 or the 360 for movies. I don’t think I’m the only person like that. We’ll see though. I hope your side wins. Good luck Blu-ray.

  • You’re a little behind the times—Blu-ray has long since won at this point, and HD-DVD is already a thing of the past. Which is good, because all hi-def movie releases are going to have to be on Blu-ray in the future, until the requisite bandwidth for an all-on-demand world exists (which I still say will be several years, especially at the resolutions we’re talking about).

    As for gaming systems, I think it just comes down to a matter of preference if the inclusion of the Blu-ray player in the PS3 isn’t a factor for you. From a purely economic standpoint, of course, you got ripped off if you consider that standalone Blu-ray players are still going for a few hundred bucks and you could’ve gotten the best Blu-ray player available along with your gaming system for only $50 more than what you paid for the 360. Even ignoring that aspect, though, there’s also the fact that Xbox Live charges a monthly fee, while the Playstation network is free.

    To me it’s not about sides and winning. It’s about making the most informed choice as a consumer and getting the best entertainment value in return. I think the PS3 gives that to me, especially factoring in the Blu-ray advantage, so I’m happy with the purchase.