Toshiba surrenders HD-DVD

The AP reports that Toshiba has thrown in the towel on the next generation DVD format.  Sony’s wins this time around after its Betamax losing to JVC’s VHS format back in the 1980s.  The sad thing is that HD-DVD was the superior format and cheaper.

Analysts say people interested in getting a Blu-ray player would do well to wait. For one thing, it will take 12 to 18 months for Blu-ray players to become as cheap and full-featured as HD DVD players, which have been selling for just over $100, according to ABI Research.

So HD-DVD had more features and were cheaper, yet it lost.  I fear this will cause Blu-ray to become the next LaserDisc or SACD.

Even with the HD DVD out of its way, Blu-ray isn’t likely to be the success that the DVD was, given the many viewing options consumers have.

The big advantage of the DVD over broadcast and cable has been that the viewer can choose when to watch what. But that advantage has been eroded by video-on-demand from cable companies, many of which are now in high definition. Comcast Corp., the country’s largest cable company, plans to offer more than 1,000 high-def movies this year.

Just last week, Apple Inc. upgraded its Apple TV set-top device to enable downloads of high-definition rental movies from the Internet. Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 game console also shows downloaded HD rentals.

“Blu-ray Disc has passed its first real test by beating HD-DVD,” wrote David Mercer, an analyst at Strategy Analytics in London. “But a much bigger challenge now lies ahead if BD is to become as successful as DVD, and content owners, retailers and manufacturers must now demonstrate that they can work together to promote BD effectively.”

If you have read my columns on electronics before, you know I like Don Lindich’s columns and blogs and he had predicted (before Warner Bros jumped ship, which was the nail in the coffin) that HD-DVD would win out based on the better features, completed specifications, and cheaper price.  This isn’t to point out him being wrong, we are all wrong at some point, especially when there are things outside of our control, but to remind you that the superior product has left the market.

So if you want to buy Blu-ray, then read Don’s other column on it in which he recommends that you buy a PS3 since there still isn’t a final spec for stand alone players.

Why do I plan on solely recommending the PS3 at this point in time? It’s very simple: performance, future upgradability and value. The PS3 is undoubtedly the best BD player available in terms of performance and reliability. It’s easy to update wirelessly and will support announced future profiles and with its supercomputing power, it loads discs quickly and playback performance is impeccable. The 40GB model sells for $399, the same as current Blu-ray standalones and only $100 more than the announced Funai profile 1.1 player I saw at CES. If you ask me, the extra $100 is money VERY well spent to get the best and avoid obsolescence, and that’s why I will be telling people to get the PS3 and avoid standalone players for now. There is resistance by some to get a game machine as their player but once you get past that and look at the benefits, it really is the way to go. Can the current standalones play movies? Sure. Is it worth it to buy one when a PS3 is the same price (sans remote) or only $100 more at most? I don’t really think so. As prices drop and Blu-ray players become more advanced, then I will start recommending them. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine… but to ignore potential consumer issues with profiles, BD+ and BD-Java is being unrealistic as they are all well documented. If you get a PS3 you get top performance and no worries. It’s an investment that will satisfy for years to come.

In my home you will find.

Sony:

  • Receiver STR-965 probably 1995
  • CD player CDP-C315 from 1991 which just recently died
  • Cassette player TC-RW 670 from 1991, rarely used
  • VCR SLV-970 probably 2003
  • 1 dead DVD player and 3 dead VCR players over the years

Toshiba:

  • 2 TVs, 20 inch from 1991 and 32 inch from 2002 both work great.

More recently I have been using Onkyo components.  I really like them and they work well.
-Josh

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