The two formats, HD-DVD and Blu-ray, fiercely compete to be the top DVD high-definition format video players, trying to replace the standard DVD. A format war soon followed, leaving the consumers confused and seemingly stuck with an impossible choice. However, eventually everything got weary and it started to look like neither format is going to get any support until 2008 when Blu-ray got earmarked as the clear winner.
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Difference between Blu-ray/HD-DVD and standard DVDs
The major difference between these formats is their effectiveness in taking complete advantage of HDTV. Even though a DVD can be viewed on a HDTV, somewhere or the other, the TV’s entire capabilities are not fully utilized; especially the latest TV sets that can display images up to a resolution of 1920 x 1080, commonly known as 1080p. This depends on the laser technology and the DVDs’ storage capacity. With 1080p, HD-DVD and Blu-ray are capable of producing such clear sound and pictures; you’d often find yourself privy to a wholesome theater experience, especially, if the screen size is 42 inches or more. Even so, the quality differences between the old and the new technology won’t be readily clear to an average viewer. HD DVD and Blu-ray systems play standard DVDs, however they don’t support each other’s discs formats.
Difference between HD DVD and Blu-ray
The first and foremost difference between the two formats will be the storage capacity. The Blu-ray discs store a limit of 50GB (extendable till 200GB), while the HD DVD discs currently hold around 30GB memory (extendable till 45GB). As it goes by the conventional belief, the more you are able to store, the better format it is. But the Blu-ray recorder and player technology makes its consumers pay through the nose for the extensive technology. Currently, a HD DVD player is available for $400 or more whereas the starting price of Blu-ray players is $600. The pre-recorded discs for both the formats are available at roughly the same price. Blu-ray is aligning with several studios; for the same reason, it has acquired the titles of many newly released major hits and several other movie titles. But this could be volatile as the popularity is dependent on various factors and the market is rapidly evolving. Interestingly, Sony is evolving its PS3 systems to include the Blu-Ray capability, while Microsoft’s Xbox uses HD DVD as an add-on. This led to some speculation that the battle is over dominance on the game console business between the two giants of the electronic industry.
However, many reviews have declared that there is much less difference in the picture quality of the formats, although Blu-ray may possess an extra notch in terms of audio quality. Furthermore, this technology got released only last year which makes people a little wary of the technology running behind the very source of Blu-ray quality.
Similar semblance to the Betamax/VHS wars
The current scenario reminds many of the Betamax/VHS when Sony ill-headedly pushed its format of Betamax, while a group of many other manufacturers, spear-headed by Matsushita, pushed VHS. It was widely believed that Betamax had the most superior format and people expected it to win. But given some unpredictable incidents, VHS managed to triumph over Sony’s Betamax.
Similarly, like the Betamax/VHS war, this battle was also not clearly decided on purely technical merits of the formats. Other factors like company politics and marketing were more prominent.
Tim Johnson is head buyer for an electronics retail chain in Brisbane. He spends most of his hours testing new gadgets and home equipment before deciding which ones to carry in the stores. He currently enjoys testing the latest blu-ray recorder.