HD-DVD vs Blu-ray – who cares?

HD or not?In the last few days I’ve seen the reporting or ‘research data’ that suggests Blu-ray is sales are declining, while HD-DVD are gathering pace. But a few months back the same sites where reporting the opposite, with Blu-ray gaining a distinct lead in players sold and discs shifted.
I’m getting concerned by this coverage, because I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that both formats are failing. Why? Well the numbers they’re talking about are minuscule when compared with the sales and market penetration of DVD, and I don’t see the point at which the HD formats will take over on the horizon – even a long way off!
That’s not to say I’m not impressed by the technology. I’ve had the capability for both formats for a while, and a TV that can do them justice, and the results can be breathtaking. On well prepared discs (Batman Returns, being a prime example) the clarity of the image is exceptional, to the point that for many movies I’d be happy to accept this format than trundle down to my local Cinema.
But I’m lucky, I invested in a 1080p TV and the other equipment arrived in my lap because I’m an IT journalist. If that hadn’t been the case I’d of been looking at an investment of over £2,000 to get the full experience HD. That’s got to come down drastically before people start buying into it.
What also slightly disappoints me is the way that this technology went about achieving what it did, by increasing the capacity of the discs massively, requiring new laser diodes to achieve the data granularity they required. Anyone who’ seen a DivX conversion of a DVD will have realised that it’s entirely possible to put HD quality movies onto existing DVD format discs by using superior compression technology. So why didn’t they do that? The players would have been a £100, and the format could easily have been deployed on flippable discs. But no, we’ve got two opposing formats, each saying they are the one winning this battle, and the average Joe isn’t buying either.
I’d contest that something else is going to come along, possible a media-less HD download service, that’s going to kick them both into touch, which is probably what they deserve.


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