Why HD DVD Should Win the Format War for High Definition Movie Storage

hddvddisk.jpgNow before people start seeing through angry red eyes, this is just ‘my’ personal opinion and should be taken as such! I have been following the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray for months now and although I am not an expert who delves into every last statistic, I have certainly come to appreciate the two new technologies released. Having a format war of any kind doesn’t help anyone (although it may lower stand alone players prices, which way do you swing?) unless you have the cash to purchase a dual format player or two separate stand alone player units of each format, which the mainstream consumer isn’t going to really consider as a viable alternative to standard DVD.

The war has also created its own set of fanboys on each side, stating every rumour, quote and statistic they can grab their sweaty hands on, but what are my thoughts on this sorry mess? Well lets not get into the usual picture and audio quality issue as I am sure most people realise that they are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Yes there are differences, but not enough to make any typical movie purchaser flinch before investing in a copy in either format…

hddvdplayer.jpgHD DVD should (in my opinion) win for one very important reason… It has had a standard set of features since day one! By this I mean persistent storage, Internet connectivity, Interactive abilities, picture in picture (without cheating!) among others. Blu-ray seems to be the format that evolves slowly over time, which is fine if the stand alone player could be upgraded, but this is not just on the software level, but hardware as well, leaving consumers with the requirement to upgrade if they want additional features that become available on newer disks. If we all want to really see high definition movies enter the market as a true mainstream product, we need a standard and the sooner the better for all of us. Although the argument that downloadable movies is a valid one, I still can’t see a true solution that will convince the same people who buy movies on disk to move over any time soon, so either HD DVD or Blu-ray certainly has a place… for now.

transformershddvd.jpgThere is also an element with the Blu fanboyism that interactive features are not as important as the movie itself. Well of course they are absolutely right here, but don’t you also want all the disks to support all of the features your player can provide? This is the problem with Blu-ray as it has different levels of capabilities that the stand alone player might be capable of. Eventually Blu-ray will have a standard player that supports pretty much everything HD DVD boasts and maybe a little more, but until then there are going to be varying degrees of movies and players that vary quite wildly with abilities. Evolution is great, but not when it confuses everybody in the process and takes so long for everyone to own. This can stifle the adoption of all the fascinating next generation features.

Standards also encourage the actual creators of the movies to add functionality if they know it exists. Why spend money on developing movie extras and features that maybe only a quite small percentage (if you are lucky) of the viewing audience own? It will be a long time before we see Blu-ray taking the strides HD DVD has in creating feature rich content that can connect to the Internet as well and remember the HD DVD connection to the Internet is compatible on every HD DVD player no matter when it was purchased!

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Quite simply, I really hope HD DVD can secure its place and be the true successor to the DVD, but the war is going to rage on until movie studios manage to come to some kind of compromise. Blu-ray is a little bit of a turkey, masquerading its much greater disk capacity over standards and features at the consumers peril. I really love high definition movies and look forward to the day when I can purchase a HD disk and know that it will be around for many years to come.

One last issue before I end this post though and that is the 51GB HD DVD disk that has caused quite a few discussions on the Internet. It is still unclear whether this disk will be compatible on existing HD DVD players and Blu-ray supporters rightly so will be the first to scream that there is a possibility that the supposed standard HD DVD has set, will now be changed and therefore no better than the Blu-ray evolution. This will rage on until we finally get some clear answers on this subject, but separate movie and extras disks (with documentaries, trailers etc) are hardly frowned upon in the DVD community so shouldn’t be in the next generation movie format either, so is the disk really required? I don’t really think so. If (and this is a big if) the new 51GB disk doesn’t play in existing HD DVD players, well I will be one of the people condemning this area also!

Note: Images of web enabled content found at shootfortheedit.com

James Woodcock

Freelance Journalist, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming and technology. Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, while also interviewing well known industry figures for popular online publications.

  • Mattitude

    I also hope that HD-DVD wins the format war, but I’m still not willing to commit by buying anything until there is a definitive winner.

  • Frank S.

    I agree. Complete and better format from Day 1. Even in terms of picture quality. Blu-ray players cost more, and offer less..

  • Tyler

    HD DVD is fanastic. I’ve had both HD DVD and Blu-ray and ended up getting rid of all my Blu-ray movies (about 22 of them), which gave me too many problems at the slightest fingerprint on the disc (and Blu-ray discs from netflix often did not play because of damn cracking). I had one problem with an HD DVD that I accidentally dropped and stepped on but a friend of mine had a repair kit that fixed the HD DVD like new. Try doing that with a Blu-ray disc (doesn’t work!). I also love the extras on HD DVD that Blu-ray doesn’t have, such as the web enabled content on Transformers (very cool stuff).

  • Mike

    Nice article. I do agree heavily with this statement

    “Blu-ray is a little bit of a Turkey, masquerading its much greater disk capacity over standards and features at the consumers peril.”

    Luckily the Profile 1.1 players which can handle the PiP that HD DVD can do look they are finally starting to materialize. However from my understanding Blu-Ray profile 2.0 will never be a standard for Blu-Ray, that means the online features which us HD DVD is capable of wll never be standard on Blu-Ray. So if Blu-Ray wins there will never be nearly as many discs with online features as HD DVD discs.

    Digital Playground has recently stated that Blu-Ray disc replication costs 3-4 times as much as HD DVD replication. This is one of the reasons stated by Paramount Home Entertainment which lead to their decision to drop Blu-Ray disc in favor of HD DVD exclusivity. However HD DVD does need to pick up exclusive support from Time Warner (Warner Bros, New Line) in order to lead to the conclusion of the format war. Based on the history of Warner Bros including offering HD DVD better audio on some titles (Superman Returns, Happy Feet) offering more advanced features on HD DVD discs (300, Harry Potter) and offering HD DVD movies which aren’t available on Blu-Ray (Casablanca, The Matrix) all seems to indicate that Warner will end up supporting HD DVD exclusively. Not a matter of if, just a matter of when.

  • The most important point to me is regional code. I hate it in DVD and I hate it in Blu-Ray.

    I use both formats connected to 46″ Full HD panel. Other than some of the titles not available in HD DVD, I see no reason to buy any Blu-Ray disc.

    Just my 2 cents
    sutjahjo

  • Jack S.

    I buy HD-DVD movies. I have the XBOX 360 HD-DVD because it was a cheap upgrade. I want to buy HD-DVD movies. The studios that release movies only to DVD & BluRay aren’t going to get a dime from me. They think that consumers will buy a BluRay player to buy their HD movies, but they’ve completely misjudged their market power. I really want to buy HD-DVD movies. They apparently don’t really want to sell me HD-DVD movies. There’s about 6 million XBOX 360 players who have HDTV and are only $129 away from getting HD-DVD. Blu-Ray is $300-$400 away. I would much rather have $300-$400 more sunk into my HD-DVD library. But studios don’t want my money.

  • This is a really good write-up, I’m really disappointed this format war is still going on and personally would favour HD-DVD too for the reasons you say and also I’ve read that those discs are cheaper to produce since they can use some of the same equipment as for DVDs.

    I’m personally holding off going to HD format until I buy a 1080p tv to replace my current 720p screen, until then my good upscaling DVD player will see me through.

    The sooner the war is over the better!

  • wendy

    there are people who are hoping hd dvd wins because they feel it is the best consumer friendly product.
    and they are right yet sitting on the fence and not backing hd dvd is what could be its down fall come on guys buy hd dvd and lets get this system going good and proper!!!!!
    yes we could lose £150 on a hd dvd player
    but at least we will not lose £250 on a blu ray
    blu ray is a big steam engine ploughing its way into the consumer without regards for what people want.
    but at least we could be a fleet of little thomas the tank engines and give sony a good seeing too!