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Blu-ray and HD DVD movies: Time to order?

You can now pre-order various Blu-ray and HD DVD movies, including Saw 2, Hostel and S.W.A.T. But would you want to?

By the time JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released last year, it had already been pre-ordered by over 100,000 people on Amazon.co.uk. The question is -- will the same happen with the much-hyped Blu-ray and HD DVD disc formats?

Online retailers Amazon.co.uk, Play.com and HMV.co.uk have now started accepting pre-orders for HD DVD and Blu-ray discs, bringing high definition another step closer to reality. HD DVD looks like it will be pipping Blu-ray by a few weeks, by releasing Saw 2, Gangs Of New York and various other titles at the end of September. The first Blu-ray movies will be released in mid-October, including thrilling titles such as Hostel, S.W.A.T. and Ultraviolet, according to the Play.com site.

The players to let you play these movies will be appearing around the same time with the Samsung BD-P1000 and Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray players due for release in October, and Toshiba's HD-E1 HD DVD player due for launch in mid-November.

The question remains, though: how many people are going to want to fork out upwards of £500 for a player, along with discs priced at twice, if not three times the DVD price? (And let's face it, these aren't exactly mouth-watering titles.) For example, while the standard edition of Hitch costs £5.99, the Blu-ray version is retailing for £13.99 on Play.com. Unless you're a big movie fan with money falling out of your pockets, you're likely to think twice before committing to Blu-ray or HD DVD. Then again, they always said there was no money in writing children's books, and look what happened to JK Rowling... -IM