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HD DVD vs. Blu-ray: Which is the Christmas winner?

With Blu-ray and HD DVD now infiltrating our high streets, which of the two formats is proving most popular?

If you're anything like us, you've probably started to think vaguely about what goodies you'll buy during the inevitable last-minute Christmas Eve shopping frenzy. While you contemplate which colour socks and underwear to purchase, spare a thought for Blu-ray and HD DVD -- two of the hottest tech brands for this Christmas and next year.

Films and players for the new formats have both gone on sale. You can pop into your local Currys.digital store and buy a Samsung BD-P1000 for around £1,000 (or buy one online for £840), and as of Monday (18 December), you'll be able to pick up the new Toshiba HD-A1 for about £450 -- not to mention various Media Center PCs and laptops.

But which of the two formats are people clamouring for this Christmas? Opinion is divided: Crave has seen more Blu-ray devices than it has HD DVD devices, but according to Web site eproductwars, it's HD DVD that has the early lead.

As we type, the HD DVD format has the greatest number of movies in the pipeline: 133 to Blu-ray's 122. The top films on HD DVD also appear to be selling more than the top films on Blu-ray: Batman Begins, number one for HD DVD, is ranked at 495 on Amazon.com, whereas Blu-ray's number one title, Superman Returns, is ranked at 1,128. In addition, all HD DVD titles in the top ten appear to be outselling their equivalently ranked Blu-ray counterparts.

Whether these figures are anything to do with HD DVD players being half the price of Blu-ray players, we have no idea. As things currently stand, HD DVD seems to be the more attractive of the two formats, though every man and his tech-loving dog is backing Blu-ray to come good once the Sony PlayStation 3 gathers momentum.

Crave will be keeping a close eye on the situation over the next few months, particularly when we make the trek to CES 2007, the International Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas in early January. Here we will gorge ourselves on milk from both hi-def teats in an effort to see which is the tastier. -RR