HD DVD and Blu-ray
September 8, 2007 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Please, tell me who is winning the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Both data and (well-founded and -referenced) opinion welcome.
posted by Kwantsar to Technology (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No one.
posted by Jairus at 7:18 PM on September 8, 2007

"According to Home Media Research, Blu-ray outsold HD DVD 2-to-1 in the US during the first half of '07", but after the recent Paramount announcement, no one.
Reading up on news stories about it will give you some of the latest insight. 1 2 3, and some random stats - 1 2
posted by FreezBoy at 7:18 PM on September 8, 2007

On Thursday Sony said them, and then straight away Toshiba said no, it's HD.

Either way, it's not really a case of who's winning, more one who's losing least.
posted by forallmankind at 7:21 PM on September 8, 2007

Neither is winning now and it looks like it'll be a cold, cold Christmas.
posted by Nelson at 7:26 PM on September 8, 2007

Response by poster: I appreciate every answer and link so far (in fact, the way some of the answers are framed is telling me something); please understand that I didn't walk into this question blindly.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:37 PM on September 8, 2007

I work in the industry. I will not identify my sources.

The people in charge of authoring HD DVD at a major industry company (one that handles both formats) were considering throwing in the towel in June, but by July they had changed their minds.

As far as I can tell, there is still no winner yet. From my experience, it is easier to make an impressive HD DVD, but an impressive Blu-ray disc can be MUCH more impressive.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:46 PM on September 8, 2007

I've heard that the format chosen by the porn industry will essentially be the winner. Does anyone have any insight into whether or not that is true? (I believe the reasoning is simply that the massive amount and constant production of pornography will outweigh that of other productions, and that the industry will be driven toward the format that has the most potential product.)
posted by voltairemodern at 7:53 PM on September 8, 2007

You could always go buy an LG dual format HD DVD player or wait for other brand releases of the same type of player.
posted by Atreides at 8:13 PM on September 8, 2007

At CES the Blu Ray group pronounced HD-DVD dead. Yeah.

It's a format war. No real winner (yet). Loser= consumer.
posted by filmgeek at 8:26 PM on September 8, 2007

Regardless of which one currently outsells the other, the sales volume for both is still pretty low. According to this recent article, Sony is talking about just reaching 1M sales of Blu-Ray discs in the US. Presuming multiple disc purchases per player, that accounts for only a few hundred K units of Blu-Ray compatible hardware in use. Word is that the PS3 comes with a few vouchers for Blu-Ray movies, so it’s probably the PS3 owners who are driving adoption of that format.
posted by ijoshua at 8:46 PM on September 8, 2007

As Atreides says, in the long run it isn't going to matter to consumers. The big winner will be whoever comes out with a reasonably cheap dual-mode player. They already exist but they're not cheap yet. But they will be, and then the format won't matter to the consumer.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:06 PM on September 8, 2007

Software (movie) sales for both media are trending down, and there are not one but two new competitors waiting in the wings.

And in reality there is a third lurking competitor, the wildcard of direct downloads. It's a sure bet that eventually downloaded HD content will be mainstream, the only question is if one of the physical media formats will have a period of dominance before then. As late as a few weeks ago, a longtime industry watcher who qualifies as both informed and impartial in this fight convincingly called the physical media fight for Blu-ray, but now it looks as unsettled as ever to me.
posted by NortonDC at 12:41 AM on September 9, 2007

Beta is clearly a superior tape format to VHS, yet Sony lost bigtime with Beta. I'm predicting they'll screw up Blu-Ray just as badly, probably by being the last to give up on DRM.
posted by flabdablet at 5:28 AM on September 9, 2007

NortonDC is right -- there's a more-than-fair chance neither will win because downloads and on-demand will eat both their lunches.

It's not just the format war that is slowing adaptation, it's the lack of compelling proposition. For consumers, DVD was a huge step up over VHS no matter how cheap or paltry your video set-up. For video stores, DVD had huge advantages as well: better form factor, far more turns of inventory without physical defects, etc.

The same is definitely not true for the hi-def formats. They offer zero to anyone who still has a 480i standard television, or one of the transitional 480p ("EDTV") panels. They offer very little to someone who has a 42" or smaller HDTV, and the only offer a modest improvement to someone who has a 720p/1080i HDTV in 45" / 47" / 50" and that assumes that such a person will properly configure the connections and outputs. It's only when you get to 1080p (properly configured) in the 45" and higher range, and 720p/1080i in the 55" and higher range that you really get an appreciable step up in performance. That's a very small percentage of the consumer audience.
posted by MattD at 5:45 AM on September 9, 2007

Very untrue with the differences in screen size and resolution. In fact, it's directly comparable to saying that running a monitor at anything higher than 640x480 will only do you good if you're running on a monitor bigger than 42 inches. We have quite a few 24 inch hd sets at work, and if you can't tell the difference between the three resolutions, you lack attention to detail. Even HD signals downconverted for a 480i/p set will look better.

But, back to the subject. Check this out, but understand that what flabdablet said is true. Betamax, minidisk, etc. All good formats, all destroyed by stupid bullshit.

The winner will probably be the one that pisses off the entertainment industry the less (ie: Paramounts HD-DVD switch.) Sony tends to lack the ability to play nice with people.
posted by onedarkride at 6:42 AM on September 9, 2007

Er, least. Pre-coffee.
posted by onedarkride at 6:43 AM on September 9, 2007

The cheapest Toshiba HD-DVD player are down to $226. Looks like Blu-Ray's lowest is still $400+.

It's pretty clear the volume is at the bottom end, and HD-DVD is winning the race there at the moment. I figure they'll have Chinese players priced at $150 at Walmart on Black Friday. If they can make it the big gift for this Christmas, Blu-Ray is screwed.
posted by smackfu at 8:31 AM on September 9, 2007

I don't have too much to add, but..

There are several useful format war comparisons, I think:
  1. VHS/beta
  2. DVD-R/DVD+R
My guess is that the list is in reverse order of likelihood (i.e most likely nobody will want either, but if they do want an HD format, dual mode players mean that nobody will care which).
posted by Chuckles at 6:42 PM on September 9, 2007

I'm going to have to agree with MattD -- as an amateur video geek in a former life and an owner of a 37" LCD in the current, I found myself watching the Cars DVD this morning and having to remind myself that I was seeing an "SDTV" signal.

I have no doubt that it'd have looked considerably better if it'd been coming from a high-def source, but I couldn't be less compelled to spend the money on a new player right now with my current std-def setup looking so good and I'd have to imagine that'd be at least as true for the vast majority of others. I don't expect this will be a generation that I feel compelled to re-buy much of my old stuff on the new format, regardless of the winner.
posted by BaxterG4 at 7:12 PM on September 9, 2007

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