The fat lady has sung.
HD DVD´s fortunes vs. Blu-ray in the high definition DVD format wars suffered several setbacks lately. The first serious bump in the road was Warner´s announcement for exclusive Blu-ray support on the eve of the CES show in January.
The next blow and sign of empending collapse arrived in my in-box a few days ago. It was an e-mail from Netflix letting me know that since most of the major studios have decided to go exclusively with Blu-ray, they would no longer support HD DVDs and would go exclusively with Blu-ray as well. I was informed that movies in my queue that were previously available in the HD DVD format would be changed to standard definition DVDs. Bummer.
Best Buy had recently made a similar announcement regarding their support for HD DVD and Blu-ray in their stores, followed the next day with a similar announcement by WalMart.
Then, on Saturday, February 16, rumors started from Toshiba insiders suggesting that Toshiba is pulling out of the HD DVD format. They will sell the players they have, the HD DVD movies will be sold, and then good bye HD DVD. The official announcement is expected sometime this week.
For me this is good news and bad news. The good news is that this format war was not the best thing for the industry and the transition from standard to high definition DVDs, so now there will be just the one format. If I can watch broadcast and satellite TV exclusively in high definition, it is silly to not have DVDs in high definition as well. The format war slowed down this transition. Having a single high definition format is a good thing and certainly should eliminate the consumer confusion and resistance caused by the format war.
The bad news is I really like my Toshiba XA2 HD DVD player, and it will be a pity to see its use come to a halt other than with the HD DVD movies that I have already purchased and/or will purchase in the near future. On the other hand, my Panasonic Blu-ray player will now become the workhorse for my high def disc collection.
So, for the early adopters like myself, if we bought both players, one will become obsolete. For those of you who just bought one player – HD DVD – well, you guessed wrong. So did I at first, so we both lost an investment. I am not about to replace the HD DVDs I own with Blu-ray DVDs, so I´ll likely keep both players hooked up for a while.
In fact, you will undoubtedly be able to pick up HD DVD players and stacks of HD DVD movies on several websites over the next few months. Some movies were released in HD DVD and not Blu-ray, so you will need a player if you want to own those movies. The cost will be very little, I am sure, and it will probably be some time before those movies are re-encoded in Blu-ray format, so if you want them now, go shopping on the cheap.
If you have been waiting to see which format is going to win the war before you purchase a player, the victor has emerged. If you are waiting to see the price drop, maybe one more year before we see the $99 Blu-ray player at the grocery store. But, if you do wait, you are missing some of the most spectacular home theater images you will ever see.
Long live Blu-ray. Now let’s just hope Sony gets it right!