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Blu-ray Won - What’s Next For…

OK - Blu-ray won. Now what? Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, etc.

By Mike Curtis | February 25, 2008

As I guessed (once it was getting pretty obvious), Blu-ray has won the high definition optical disc format war. After Warners announced they were going exclusively Blu-ray, then Netflix, Best Buy, Blockbuster and Walmart said they were too, and Toshiba finally acquiesced and took HD DVD out in the back yard and shot it. Poor Old Yeller, but he had to be put down.

OK, so what will this mean? Lets run through repercussions for us as consumers, and more interestingly, as content creators.

FOR CONSUMERS:

-HD DVD is dead. Long may it fester *. But in the meantime, there are still a ton of players out there that will be firesaled, and there are a lot of discs out there. If you are like me and already own an HD DVD player, it is worth looking around for some ultra cheap movies to pick up on HD DVD rather than waiting for them and/or paying more to be re-released on Blu-ray. The downside? Once your existing HD DVD player keels over, those movies aren't playable anywhere else, nor can you play them anywhere else other than the existing HD DVD players. Even though HD DVD players will be available for a song, and they are giving away a bunch of movies with them, I still don't think it is worth picking one up, UNLESS you want somthing not available in Blu-ray now and aren't willing to wait till Christmas for the next round of Blu-ray player price drops.

* Not really a fair statement, just fun to say. I have a player and several discs, and I like the overlay menus, but I dislike the "acts like a slow computer struggling to play the content" aspect that the PS3 doesn't have with Blu-ray discs.

It'll be interesting to see, now that the format war question is out of the way, what the REAL level of consumer interest is for high definition content. The analysts and "research" have been indicating that of those interested in high def content, one of the major reasons for folks not purchasing was fear of picking the losing format. OK, that barrier is out of the way. Will consumers rush to buy in the coming months? Or will it take more titles being available on Blu-ray? Or more price drops, most likely come Christmas? The biggest fear, I'd imagine, is that the truth of the matter is that the biggest competitor to Blu-ray isn't HD DVD, isn't pay-per-view high def movies, isn't even AppleTV - it is plain old upconverting DVD players, ubiquitously available for under $100. For most folks, upconverted regular DVDs on their HDTV looks pretty darned good, and the thought of spending $250-$600 on a player isn't appealing.

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Comments

Daniel K: | February, 25, 2008

In my view, Playstation3 is the best player for HD content viewing. Above form the blu ray, You can actually capture hdv to the computer, burn the native hdv m2v files on a regular dvd and view them straight on the ps3 with no recompression whatsoever. Of course also hd divx and mpeg4 can be viewed, so until blu ray burners and blank media become reasonable, its the best self created content viewer available.

Jeff Bach: | February, 26, 2008

Hi Mike
Great article! Apple’s lack of action is pretty odd. If I add that together with other bits from the blog world, I get the sense that Apple is looking forward to download-over-the-net as their next platform. In other words, they are skipping the last optical drive stage and going (waiting is the better word) for the download model. Assuming this is at least partially true, how can they, and others, ignore the lack-of-bandwidth and congestion issues?

Also, wrt the HD format war, there was never much to be read about the 3rd party corp video people and their needs and contributions to the HD world. Are we really that small and insignificant? 

How can the Blu-ray camp ignore the shortcomings of BD-J interactivity? I don’t know any DVD authors that are also Java programmers, which is what you need to be do BD-J authoring. How come there is still not an available affordable tool to encode high definition video? How come there is not a solid workflow (with tools to match) that allow for the authoring/muxing/burning to take place? (by the way, in my opinion, Netblender is coming quite close to solving this problem.)  For that matter why are blank media still so hard to find and still so expensive?

The big answer to all of the above is that this gig has ONLY JUST started. There is still a long ways to go.

In retrospect, having written all that, Apple’s hesitance to jump into the HD world makes more sense!
Jeff Bach

Anthony Burokas: | March, 01, 2008

I agree wholeheartedly. There are a few other fringe players, like Toshiba’s HD on a standard (red) DVD, and the VMD standard pushed out of China, but they are irrelevant to the production community.

I noted as much on my very similarly themed article on this, written about the same time:
http://techthoughts.org/2008/02/27/hd-dvd-dead-lets-move-on/

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