Brian Keller

Director of ALM Evangelism for Microsoft

First three movies available on both hi-def formats.

First three movies available on both hi-def formats.

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This article marks a landmark in the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray format wars: the first batch of movies are now available in both formats, which has allowed for some great head-to-head comparisons. (If you visit the article be sure to drill into the movie-specific reviews, then skip past the "The Movie" sections to go straight to the good stuff.)

Despite my affiliation with Microsoft I've been trying to remain truly unbiased in my evaluation of these format wars (I've avoided blogging about the subject until now). But this whole war doesn't seem to be faring too well for Blu-ray. Not only are the Blu-ray players more expensive (about twice as expensive right now) but HD-DVD has won in almost every technical category of every review I've seen. Which begs the question - who is buying Blu-ray players? In my opinion the only thing Blu-ray has in its favor right now is the fact that some people associate a higher price point with higher quality - but even if that's true, how many people are going to drop $1000 on a new player without doing a bit of research?

If you want to learn a bit about the differences in the formats check out Major Nelson's Show #183 The One About HD-DVD. I realize, of course, that this interview is conducted by Microsoft employees so the potential for bias remains. But if anybody has any contradictory information please post away. I am very interested in hearing what people think about which format will win and why - I just don't see Sony winning this one. I'll be voting with my pocketbook this holiday season when I can buy an HD-DVD drive for my Xbox 360. I already have HD-DVD movies lined up in my Netflix queue.

Flame away... <g>

  • The HD Beat blogcast suggested that Blu Ray players will be pushed by retailers looking for bigger margin and salespeople getting more commission for them.
  • Richard - you raise a good point. I went to my local Best Buy when the Blu-Ray drives came out and "played dumb" with a sales associate to see which one (HD or BR) he would sell me on. Not surprisingly he gave me a lot of (mis)information about how Blu-ray was better. I realize on some levels this is a subjective debate, but most of the things he was saying were just plain wrong. That's just one data point but it wouldn't surprise me if this happens throughout the industry. It will be very interesting to see how it plays out. I think Toshiba needs to educate the retailers on how they stand to make _more_ money by selling HD-DVD systems since it in turn accellerates the adoption of complementary items (HDTV's, Hi-def stereo systems, HD movies, etc.) and not to mention the accessories which retailers make crazy margins on (gold-plated cables, etc.).
    -Brian
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