I’m sure that most of you are too young to remember the Betamax vs. VHS videotape format wars of about 30 years ago, but recently we saw history repeat itself with the great HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray battle.
And we finally seem to have a winner: Blu-Ray.
I haven’t covered this here on the site because frankly, while I’m a huge movie lover and I have a decent home theater, I’m not looking to buy anything new so the whole thing has been moot for me. Having said that, I have pretty much put my DVD buying on hold due to the new formats and if I was going to invest in a new player I wasn’t going to do so until the dust settled on this latest format war.
I won’t get into the “which is better” debate here – from what I’ve read both formats had pros and cons. It was always going to be a battle of marketing, and in retrospect Sony made a brilliant decision to include Blu-Ray players in their video game console.
Then there was the whole “studios picking sides” thing, which was a huge, monstrous red flag to the average consumer. How ridiculous was that? If you wanted to watch one studio’s films you had to have a HD-DVD player but if you wanted to watch another’s you needed a Blu-Ray because some studios only released Hi-Def movies in one of the formats.
Stupid, stupid, stupid – and that’s NOT hindsight: I thought so right when it was happening, and decided right there this was going to get ugly and end up with only one definitive winner.
Toshiba made a last gasp in late December with price-slashing on their players and a commercial during the Super-Bowl, but it was all for naught. The dominos started falling a few weeks ago with Warner Bros. defecting to Blu-Ray, and this past week, Best Buy, then Netflix and then Wal-Mart all decided they were going to discontinue sales/rentals of HD-DVD movies and players.
Some are saying that even the Sony victory is moot, because the next REAL movie format will be downloads, along the lines of music – but I disagree.
Movies aren’t as “portable” as music – people want to enjoy them at home. And most folks don’t have their computers hooked up to their televisions, which are larger than their computer monitors. Who the heck wants to watch movie after movie on a PC monitor?
I believe that movie fans like having a physical disc and case that they can proudly display on a shelf. Pop music songs come and go, but favorite movies are treasured and viewed months and years after the initial viewing.
So my question to you is: Now that it seems that there is a clear winner, are you going to commit? Will you be buying a Blu-Ray player and start replacing your standard DVDs with Hi-Res versions? Or will you stick with the existing technology and continue to buy regular old DVDs as new movies are released for home viewing?