RIP HD DVD (2006-2008)

February 16th, 2008

The reports are starting to come in that Toshiba is giving up and killing HD DVD.

This really sucks, but with the news the last few weeks that Netflix, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc. are either abandoning HD DVD or strongly favoring Blu-Ray, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that Toshiba would soon pull HD DVD off life support.

The competition was great while it lasted. I don’t believe that prices for players and discs would’ve dropped as low as they are now if there was only one format. And those sales. Buy One Get One Free or 50% off sales are nothing to sneeze at and have made prices of brand new movies in both formats much more tolerable.

A common refrain in discussions was that people were waiting until one side “won” the format war and then they would adopt whichever format that was. While on some level this makes sense, maybe moreso when the cheapest players were several hundred dollars, I don’t know that only one format is the best for consumers. People seem to do ok with multiple video game consoles coexisting each cycle and driving competition (although it can be brutal for the losers). Often one or two exclusive games are enough to influence a purchasing decision. Similarly, with nearly all of the movie studios exclusive to one format, purchasing decisions were strongly influenced by the movies available and which studio was aligned with which format. However, the differences between HD DVD and Blu-Ray for most people were very minor and don’t usually factor in to decisions as much as they do for video game consoles. Now that Blu-Ray has effectively won, it’ll be interesting to watch the next few months to see if the rate of uptake changes and if prices continue to fall or start to settle.

We’re definitely going to hang on to our HD DVD player. Maybe someday the ten or so movies we have now will also be released on Blu-Ray, and also cheap enough to pick up again, but I don’t see that happening for some time. Additionally, the player works well as an upscaling DVD player, so we’ll still get use out of it that way. The big question now is if it’s worth picking up a few more HD DVDs while they’re cheap. Amazon.com and DeepDiscount.com are making me think ‘yes’.

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