Blu-ray vs. HD DVD: I don't care who wins!

Outside of the protagonists and their immediate families, does anyone really give a darn who comes out on top? CNET's Charles Cooper sure doesn't.

The folks behind the HD DVD standard repeat to anyone within earshot that it ain't over 'til it's over. They still hope to defeat Blu-ray in the battle over high-profile video formats.

Little do they realize, however, that Yogi Berra's famous apercu gets superseded by Cooper's Corollary: it should be over.

Warner Bros.' decision to exclusively support the Blu-ray format may help settle a very muddled matter. When the biggest company in the home-video business chooses sides, that's big news. By my count, that now makes five of the seven major Hollywood studios backing Blu-ray. My hunch is that most retailers will follow suit.

The unanswered question is how long we're going to have to wait until the HD DVD camp gives up.

Too many times consumer electronics companies go stone deaf after leaving their customers in the lurch.

These things have a way of dragging out longer than they should. So it was that Toshiba, the chief technical brains behind the HD DVD standard, doesn't give any sign that it's willing to pack it in. Akio Ozaka, who runs Toshiba's American consumer products business, isn't ready to run up a white flag.

If you believe Ozaka, his team will still come out on top. I was reminded of a hysterically funny scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the Black Knight gets chopped to pieces by King Arthur but refuses to give up. "It's just a flesh wound," the Black Knight says.

Maybe this is just a flesh wound. Or maybe it's something more.

I understand why Ozaka is performing the stiff-upper-lip routine. Competing camps in any standards battle have a lot riding on the outcome. And so it is in this case, where the victors will help themselves to a big pot of gold brimming with billions of dollars in revenues.

But let's get real. Outside of the protagonists and their immediate families, do you really care who comes out on top? And is there any good reason you should?

For the rest of us, it's just inside baseball, and frankly, I'm bored silly after two years of listening to claims and counterclaims. When it comes to making their case, both sides are guilty of hideous hyperbole.

Is Blu-ray better than HD DVD or vice versa? I don't know, but I'm not swayed by the opinions of experts either camp trots out to convince me. Anyway, you can buy supposedly impartial opinions 20 cents on the dollar and pawn them off as "authoritative" and "unbiased." Everybody's for sale, so buyer beware.

Just make things easy so I don't get hosed. Too many times consumer electronics companies go stone deaf after leaving their customers in the lurch. If you want my loyalty, make sure my stuff runs on a platform that won't get dumped a couple of years later. I hold grudges about that sort of thing.

Until now, I've held off upgrading to a new player because of the uncertainty over this standards nonsense. I remember VHS versus Betamax and that episode taught a valuable lesson. Nobody in their right mind wants to get stuck with a loser, so it's prudent to wait on the sidelines until things get sorted out.

When I covered sports for a living, a veteran pulled me aside on my first day and said, "There's no cheering in the press box. You cheer for the best story."

Pulling on my user hat, I'm now ready to cheer. Not because I have a vested interest in HD DVD or Blu-ray. I just want clarity. Folks, it's time to move on.

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