This time last year the so-called high-definition format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc had become so entrenched that the buzz at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show was around combo players and discs, like LG's Super Multi Blue and Warner Bros.' Total HD format. People hoped for a manageable truce that would stop scaring consumers from choosing a side.
Neither combo players nor the dual-format discs really went anywhere, however. And 12 months later the predictions are not of which side will emerge the victor, but exactly how hard Blu-ray backers are laughing all the way to the bank. Convincing Warner Bros. in January to
But HD DVD backers have shown they're not giving up so easily, as evidenced by Toshiba's decision to
Q: Is the format fight over already?
Not yet, but it's close. HD DVD made big gains at the end of 2007, due mostly to holiday promotions
The Warner announcement on January 4 represented a seismic shift, though: The week of January 12 showed player sales distributed 90 percent Blu-ray, 7 percent HD DVD, and 3 percent for combo players. The week after, January 19, showed less polarized results, with Blu-ray getting 63 percent of sales, HD DVD 33 percent, and combo players 4 percent. NPD does not normally give out weekly data, and does not offer a more recent update of sales figures.
Momentum isn't the only thing that's shifted. Prices have come way down in the last year. HD DVD players now range in price between $150 and $500, and Blu-ray players between $250 and $1,000.
Of all the major Hollywood Studios only two, Paramount and Universal, have agreements to release their titles exclusively on HD DVD. The rest--Sony, Disney, MGM, and now Warner Bros.--are pledged to Blu-ray. And there's talk that even Paramount and Universal
Q: Is it time to abandon HD DVD?
Not quite. Much was made of Blu-ray's
Toshiba, the main backer of HD DVD,
"Are people organically running out and buying $400 Blu-ray players? Probably not," said Paul Erickson, director of DVD and HD market research for The NPD Group. "Are people going out in droves to buy $149 HD DVD players? Possibly, but obviously not as much as the HD DVD side would want."
And Blu-ray isn't necessarily the perfect solution even if it becomes the default high-def format. As CNET Reviews