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The death of HD-DVD: Toshiba abandons HD-DVD.

February 16th, 2008 by Maxim · 3 Comments · 5,116 Views


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It has become known on Saturday that Toshiba will abandon its HD-DVD format, resulting in the complete victory for Blu-Ray by companies like Sony, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, Hitachi and Sharp. The format war has been going on since 2003. HD-DVD format has many advantages over Blu-Ray, but Sony and its partners had managed to attract movie studios, one by one, on its side. With fewer titles that will be available on HD-DVD, more studios and later consumer electronics retailers like Best Buy had decided to support Blu-Ray exclusively. The tide in the war has turned completely after Warner Bros. studio decided to switch from HD-DVD to Blu-Ray. Soon after Netflix has announced that they will become Blu-Ray-only shop, while Blockbuster had been offering only Blu-Ray for more then a year now. The last nail in the coffin of HD-DVD has delivered by WalMart’s announcement on Friday that they too will sell off their HD-DVD inventory and offer only Blu-Ray starting from June.

Toshiba has fought back with reduced hardware prices, but the move has been too little too late to turn the tide.

Toshiba still makes laptops with HD-DVD drives, and will probably continue making them for while, but they will stop new developments.

Both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats deliver same quality of video, they even use same codec, but are incompatible on hardware level. Because of this consumers were waiting on sidelines for the format war to end. Now Blu-Ray has become the only choice. However, Blu-ray hardware is at least $200 more expensive then any of the HD-DVD players. Hopefully for consumers the prices will go down as more manufacturers begin producing Blu-Ray players. The problem with existing Blu-Ray players, however, is that Blu-Ray format specification was not finalized when early players were rushed to market in response to Toshiba and LG releasing their HD-DVD players. HD-DVD specification was finalized at that time, and mandated certain features to be implemented in all players, such as network/Internet connectivity and minimum 256KB of flash memory. As the result, many of the early adopters of Blu-ray players had received inferior products that are hard or impossible to upgrade. Consumers were upset, which resulted in the recent class action lawsuit against Samsung for claiming to support Blu-Ray profile 1.1, but in fact weren’t even implementing all of the features defined in Profile 1.0 of the Blu-Ray specification. Blu-Ray profile 2.0 should be ratified by autumn of 2008, and only a hand-full of players are upgradable to the new Blu-Ray format. In fact at the latest Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas the only player that was recommended by the Blu-Ray Alliance was a game console – Sony’s PlayStation 3. It’s the only future-proof Blu-Ray player on the market right now. It too has it’s downsides, like absence of infra-red remote – PS3 used Bluetooth connectivity for all remotes.

That and other reasons like high cost may keep Blu-Ray from being widely adopted even now, after the death of HD-DVD. It may well be that Blu-Ray itself is doomed to die or become a tiny niche soon, replaced by video downloads.

** Update (Feb 24, 2008) **

Microsoft today accounced that it will discontinue production of its HD-DVD add-on for their XBox gaming consoles. They, however, will still provide warranty services on estimated 300,000 existing XBox HD-DVD players.

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Tags: Additional Articles · Hardware · Home Theater

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 admin // Feb 17, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Right. Doesn’t make sense to buy Blu-Ray until October because Profile 2.0 will be finalized only then, unless you are going to buy PlayStation 3, which costs at least $399 and doesn’t quite work well with your home theater because it needs a separate remote with Bluetooth. By the time Profile 2.0 comes out, Netflix would have started their video download service with LG set-top boxes.

  • 2 Who is winning the format war: Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD | Maxim's Movie Reviews and Opinions Blog // Feb 17, 2008 at 1:05 pm


    [...] The death of HD-DVD: Toshiba abandons HD-DVD. [...]

  • 3 Tom // Feb 17, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Reply  |  Quote


    This sucks for people who bought HD-DVD. I don’t have either and if your prediction about prices hold true, I probably won’t buy one for some time.

  • 4 Maxim // Feb 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Reply  |  Quote


    Right. Doesn’t make sense to buy Blu-Ray until October because Profile 2.0 will be finalized only then, unless you are going to buy PlayStation 3, which costs at least $399 and doesn’t quite work well with your home theater because it needs a separate remote with Bluetooth. By the time Profile 2.0 comes out, Netflix would have started their video download service with LG set-top boxes.

    Buying Blu-Ray player before Profile 2.0 is out would be a mistake: there’s no incentive for manufacturers to constantly improve their firmware – there’s no money in it. They just want you to spend money on another, newer player.

    As far as feeling bad for owners of HD-DVD players,

    • Toshiba’s players are fantastic at up scaling standard definition DVDs
    • There are still hundreds if not thousands of HD-DVD titles available, although once Netflix phases them out by summer, they will only be available on eBay
    • There’s a possibility that given low rate of adoption of Blu-Ray technology and at fear of lawsuits, the Blu-Ray manufacturers may offer a trade-in or another incentive program for HD-DVD owners to “trade up”. Hopefully the death of HD-DVD will encourage more competition on Blu-Ray player market, which should encourage innovation and drive prices down.
    • Again, by the time Blu-Ray is finalized and more or less widely adopted, it may be doomed to a quick death because it will be mostly, if not entirely replaced by video download services.

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