Home Entertainment

Crave Talk: When will the HD DVD vs Blu-ray madness end?

Sony does love a good format battle. It lost the last one, so no doubt it's determined to secure a win for Blu-ray this time round. But does its format have what it takes to kill HD DVD?

I have no doubt that by this time next year the skirmish between the two hi-def disc formats will be over. Who will win? I haven't got a clue, to be honest, but what I can comment on is what I like and what I hate.

I've seen slightly more of HD DVD than I have of Blu-ray. The Toshiba HD-E1 player has been in our office for a few days now, hooked up to a 50-inch Panasonic plasma, and I've been blown away by the quality. So far I've watched Superman Returns, King Kong, Happy Gilmore and most exciting of all, Serenity. I love the swish on-screen menu system on HD DVD -- it appears over what you are watching, which feels like a real improvement over clunky old DVD.

I've seen one Blu-ray machine too, in the form of a Hi-Grade DMS Xtc2 media centre PC and had a look at Black Hawk Down and Talladega Nights. I wasn't as impressed by these releases, something I suspect is mainly down to their being encoded in MPEG-2, rather than the slightly better VC-1 or AVC formats. And of course, PCs aren't much fun for media. We saw loads of judder (apparently an update may sort this out) and generally had a miserable time getting the PC to talk nicely to our spiffy HD Ready screen.

For now, HD DVD seems way ahead, and the fact that the porn industry has apparently plumped for this format seems like a significant shift in the balance of power. From what I've seen so far, HD DVD is comfortably (and indecently) ahead in terms of the technology, although Blu-ray has sold more hardware -- mainly in the PlayStation 3. But it's early days -- stay tuned for more news in the format war of the decade. -Ian Morris