The war officially ends today

February 19, 2008

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After two years, the war is finally over. I'm talking, of course, about the format war between rival high-def next-generation DVD formats HD DVD (manufactured by Toshiba) and Blu-ray (Sony).

The writing has been on the wall for about a month now, as media companies — some that had remained neutral until recently — have been slowly aligning themselves into Blu-ray's camp and tipping the scales of the stalemate. But today Toshiba made it official with their announcement that they will discontinue all manufacturing operations for HD DVD players.

The dominoes have fallen and the implacable truth has arrived: HD DVD is dead, and Blu-ray is the future.

Paramount and Universal are still officially supporting HD DVD, but announcement of a reversal of that position is inevitable and likely to happen in a matter of weeks, if not days.

Toshiba's surrender marks a major victory for Sony, which will have finally won the war they were determined not to lose. As you may remember, of course, they were also determined not to lose the other major home video format war ... in the 1980s when their Betamax went up against (and ultimately lost to) JVC's VHS. For Sony, vengeance, at least today, is theirs.

So if you've been sitting on the fence, go out and buy yourself a Blu-ray disc player. If you even have an HDTV, that is. The format should be good for a while — until on-demand downloads render disc-based video media irrelevant. But that looks to be a ways down the road.

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20 comments on this post

    I just got an HDTV and the HD channels looks really great, but I've never been watching a DVD and thought to myself: "Gee, the resolution on this is shitty." Now that the format war is over I might go and pick up a Blu-ray player (hopefully the Xbox will get a Bluray expansion now that HD-DVD is out), but it's not like I'm desperate to get one. I hope they re-release the Star Trek HD eps on Blueray. Do you know if they have rescanned the original prints for the HD version, or if they have just re-upped the DVD version? I may wait for the series with the new effects. What are your feelings on those episodes, Jammer?

    Yeah, seems like Universal have already announced they'll be releasing stuff on Bluray now, a no-brainer really. By the way, if you haven't checked out BluRay (or HDDVD stuff too I guess), I would strongly recommend purchasing a series called Planet Earth as your first and 'show off' title. Aside from being an astounding series in and of itself, the HD picture quality is truly amazing, and will likely make anyone who has never seen it in action before drool with envy. Trust me! And all I can say about this 'war' is I'm glad its over. I miss not having the Bourne Trilogy available on BR, and I was worried Cloverfield would end up on there too, doesn't look like it now thankfully!

    I'm still at the fence over this whole issue. HD-DVD wasn't a bad deal at all. At least they sold at a fair price. Now I'll be forced to pay a lot more money for a player that's marginally different from HD-DVD and even more so for films and TV shows. In the end, I end up forking over more money than I should have. This wasn't the outcome I was expecting. And I don't think this is over at all. I'm still expecting the moment movie piracy cracks the Blu-Ray market.

    From what I've read, HD DVD's prices had been slashed recently because they were hoping to use pricing as a way to entice consumers to their side. They sensed they were losing the market, and that's why the prices became better. I believe I heard that HD DVD units were being sold for a loss; that's how much Toshiba wanted to get people on their side. Long-term, look for Blu-ray to eventually come down in price to something more reasonable. Is Blu-ray currently worth it versus upconverting DVD players? It may not be for a while. Not to mention the fact that I'm not going to replace my DVD library with Blu-ray. Too expensive, and most of the titles aren't available anyway.

    I'd put it as a very long-term pricing slash. Actually, this means possible bad news for anyone who collects Trek. Given the way Paramount priced the DVD sets over 100 bucks per season (I've spent close to 1.600 bucks on TNG and DS9), I can only wonder what their price range for Trek will be.

    I believe you're right, that Toshiba was selling HD-DVD hardware below cost. On the flipside, Sony did its share of selling below cost, too, with the PS3. In the end, blessing the PS3 with a Blu-ray player was a good move on their part, although I was skeptical at first. I'm a gamer, and bought a PS3 for that reason, but the included Blu-ray drive was a nice bonus. As recently as two months ago, I came very close to pulling the trigger on the Xbox 360's HD-DVD add-on drive, because I wanted the Bourne trilogy and the new Star Trek TOS:R which are HD-DVD exclusive as Matthew noted. This just underscores how detrimental the format war was to the consumer. I wonder how long it will take Paramount to come join the Blu-ray party? I agree with Eduardo, though, that I cringe at the thought of what they will charge for any remastered Trek they may release on the format. I started collecting Trek DVDs with the old two-episode TOS orange boxes in 1999 -- I've probably stuffed thousands of dollars in Paramount's pockets as it is.

    Bottom line is that the Star Trek sets are overpriced. They were on DVD, and they really are on hi-def. I feel sorry for anyone who decides they're going to buy them yet again. I won't do it. When they released remastered TOS on HD DVD, the first thing I thought was "$130 per set; are they nuts?" and the second thing I thought was, "They expect us to buy these at this price when there's this format war going on?" and the third thing I thought was "I already own these! I don't need them again!" It really is insanity. Bottom line is that the original DVD sets did not even fully exploit the capabilities of that format. Picture quality, because of the limits of the original masters, was not as great as DVD could've been -- so I see little reason to think there's that much to be gained by seeing Trek on hi-def, even if it is remastered. I think Paramount, like Lucas with the Star Wars pictures, has sold and resold the same material within an inch of its life.

    I always thought DVD-qualiity was excellent until I saw it being pumped into my hdtv. Playing a BRD on my PS3 is a different level of clarity altogether. My dubiosity has been put to rest. I never saw an HD-DVD, but my one gripe was going to be that b/c Paramount backed them, I wouldn't be able to buy a BRD of the upcoming "STAR TREK" reboot (not so upcoming anymore, due to its release being pushed to Summer '09). Now that won't be a problem anyway.

    Jammer, I agree about Paramount's DVD sets not pushing the capabilities of the format. The TNG and DS9 sets I have are really unremarkable in quality, and I can't get over how awful the disc menus are. Hello...a brief synopsis of each episode would be nice? Instead, I have to run to your review site to read *your* synopses so I know what I'm getting into. After how substandard the releases are, charging such a premium for them is insane.

    It seems I'm the only person on earth who doesn't give a rats ass about different kind of DVDs

    Blu-ray looks great but we do not really need anything on more than a standard DVD, especially if it's out on that already. Sure it's great for new sci-fi blockbusters if you have a great home system, but Star Trek from the 60s? Come on! Only the most die-hard fans would fall for that one, but with a 2nd set planned there must be a lot. The adoption rate for BR will take a while, DVDs won't just die out and may stick around until something else comes along that is even better. Digital downloads might be it, but the ones that are as big as HD contents will not support our bandwidth for decades. David Lynch said the rest about smaller devices already, and I will never watch my shows on a phone, ever.

    I must claim partial credit for the 'victory' of BluRay. You see, I am the Angel of Death for technology. 2 weeks after I buy the HD-DVD player for theXbox360 (and a stack of HD-DVDs), this announcement comes out. This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last. I warned Toshiba that I was going to do it, but they didn't pay me the money I asked for, so I went ahead and buried them. If any of you want to make some good money sports gambling, just let me know. I will place a bet, and you can bet on the other team. Trust me, you will win EVERY TIME.

    Hey Jamahl, You bought the Star Trek DVDs? I thought you suckered your readers into paying for them for you so you could 'honor' them with reviews of twenty year old episodes. You got some nerve complaining about the price of the sets...

    I bought DS9 and TOS at $90 a set (that's 10 sets if you do that math). Okay, so I didn't pay for TNG. That doesn't change the point, which is that the sets were way overpriced and hi-def even more so.

    so will u need to get blu-ray dvds in order to finish the reviews of tng :)

    I can't believe I'm commenting on a 9 year old article. But I just wanted to say that 9 years later, the big irony for me was that while Blu Ray has become irrelevent (as predicted by Jammer) it wasn't for the reason he thought. Yes digital has killed disc based media as a whole, but let's face it - to this day, nobody cares about Blu Ray. Given the choice between a 19.95 Dvd and a 25.99 Blu Ray I'll take the DVD.

    Blu Ray was the upgrade nobody really needed or cared about.

    Gonna have to disagree with you there. I much prefer watching Blu-ray on HDTV. I have replaced numerous DVDs with Blu-rays. But I am a hi-res snob.

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