Those of you who know me know that I am a techie. A geek. A technophile. A futureist. A lover of all things gadgety. So it should come as no surprise that I am incredibly interested in the Blu-ray / HD-DVD format wars.
The basic principles are these: Like Latino street gangs with a grudge, Sony and Toshiba have been spatting with each other for format supremacy with the next generation of digital video – High Definition. High Definition really just refers to image quality – most typically 1080 (i or p) but also including 720. Without getting more technical than a Japanese VCR manual, 1080 refers to the number of vertical lines of information per frame and is more than double that of regular definition (480).
There’s way more to it, but that is the overview. If you want more you can wikipedia the formats or leave a comment and I’ll fill in more.
I’ve long held the opinion that Blu-ray would win this war… Sony’s Samurai-like way of cutting down the competition pitted against Toshiba’s Sumo-like way of smothering and sweating on their adversaries means a tough battle but as any kid who’s played “rock, paper, scissors” knows – sword beats fat any day. The Blu-ray format has two main things going for it – higher capacity as a computer storage medium and a more significant perceived change in technology. People are not going to replace their movie collection (again) if they don’t think it will be a major improvement and HD-DVD just doesn’t give off the same vibe of newness that Blu-ray does.
Add to that the observation that movie studios continue to sign on with the Blu-ray Association (there really is such a thing… see?) like pot heads for free pringles, and that Blu-ray disc sales are now accounting for 93% of HD disc sales and HD-DVD can’t be expected to hold on for much longer…
Microsoft is really the only major player that Toshiba has on their side right now – and they have even made some suggestions that they would go Blu-ray if Toshiba throws in the towel. You only have to look at the XBox 360 to see that MS is being cautious (they only offer HD-DVD support through an external device, not integrated like Blu-ray is in the PS3).
This format war is often likened to the VHS/BetaMax format wars that happened in the late 70s and point at the fact that BetaMax was proposed by Sony as an indication that Blu-ray will likely lose this war too. But the numbers are definately in Sony’s favor this time and it looks like they’ve learned a thing or two from the demise of their earlier format.
As the tables are turned and Blu-ray ascends the throne of ubiquity while HD-DVD dies the slow lingering death of BetaMax, I leave you with this: