Projector Reviews

Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD – Big news favors Blu-ray

Well, the war isn’t over yet, but the Blu-ray camp gets a big boost with two major studios dropping HD-DVD.

Of course, when I wrote on this last, it was August when Paramount joined Universal as HD-DVD only, announcing they were dropping Blu-ray. Paramount’s exclusive does not include Spielberg’s extensive collection of blockbusters. Universal has always been exclusively HD-DVD

This time though, it is Warner, and they announced they were going exclusively Blu-ray, and that was followed by New Line Cinemas doing the same thing.

I don’t follow the market shares of the studios, but Warner I understand, has the largest film library. And with New Line Cinema’s move, that means the long awaited, (and still no date), Lord of the Rings, will also be a Blu-Ray exclusive. Some of Warner’s major recent movies include, the Oceans 11 series, Harry Potter, The Departed, Lethal Weapon, Phantom of the Opera, etc. I just found a Warner Press release from last January, saying that at the time, they had 6 of the top 10 top selling HD-DVD titles… Hmmm.

The war isn’t over, but this is definitely really bad news for HD-DVD. Perhaps HD-DVD has something still up their sleve, certainly the Paramount deal was a coup for them, maybe they have another surprise. I just can’t thing of what it might be. Just remember that only a very, very small small percentage of people who own DVD players, have purchased a hi-def player. Or maybe, HD-DVD will just give away 10 million HD-DVD players. That might just do the trick. Ok, back to reality for a moment!

So where does that leave consumers? HD-DVD still has the advantage in terms of lower priced players, but after that, Blu-ray now has a dramatic advantage in number of movie titles available. Retail wise, before this, Blu-ray retail sales, have been beating HD-DVD every week. In addition, Blu-ray has an even larger marketshare in Europe, and in Japan, it’s something like 8 or 9 to 1 over HD-DVD.

Should you still consider an HD-DVD player? It may not be a totally unreasonable idea, afterall, those discs you invest in now will still work fine in a decade, and even if your player breaks, no doubt there will be new HD-DVD players available for years. (And they will be cheap.) And if you can’t find $99 players, I expect you will be able to very shortly. Think this way, the typical HD-DVD disc is about $5 less than Blu-Ray. So, if you buy 20 discs on HD-DVD, the savings pays for your player…

But, at this point, I have to think that the smart money will find the extra bucks for a Blu-ray player. Certainly, many rationalize the extra upfront expense by buying Sony PS3’s as an excellent $399 player, and a great game console, to boot. Or, look for one of those deals for a Blu-ray player, at $250 – $300, with $100 to almost $200 in free movies.

Personally I’ve been cheering on Blu-ray, for quite a while, so I’m pleased, but I’m not fanatic about it. Still, the sooner this is all settled, the more people that will jump in. And when we can get up to some serious numbers of users, we hopefully will see prices of the movies start coming down. I hate walking into Best Buy and seeing most movies at $29.95 and many more at $34.95, while relatively few at $24.95.

I’m looking forward to the day when most are at $20, and Wal-Mart has a blow out bin of $8.99 Blu-ray discs. Sadly, that is probably not going to be the case for a couple of years.

One thing I think the Blu-ray camp is not addressing, is that most people today have more than one DVD player in their home. We have one with each TV, and that’s not uncommon. With players still somewhat expensive, people are concerned that they can only watch their new movie in the one room they have a blu-ray player in.

You never know, maybe we’ll see a smart promotion – buy any 10 Blue Ray discs, for $300, and get a free Blu-Ray player…?

Well, that’s the news so far. I’ll be at CES this week, and if I hear any other staggering news on the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD wars, I’ll do a post. -art