HD DVD gets Betamaxed

It's beginning to look like the high definition format war is winding down, with Sony's Blu-ray format coming out as the winner

Tags: Blu-rayHigh-definitionSony Corporation
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By  Mark Sutton Published  January 8, 2008

It's beginning to look like the high definition format war is winding down, with Sony's Blu-ray format coming out as the winner. At the start of the week, Warner Bros, one of the biggest producers of home entertainment discs, announced that it was dropping the HD DVD format in favour of Blu-ray, giving Blu-ray around 70% of the high definition disc market. Now it seems that Paramount, currently an HD DVD supporter might follow suit, thanks to a rather crafty contract clause, as reported here.

I'd definitely agree with Warner Bros that it's high time that the format war was decided. It would have been better if the interested parties had been able to come up with a single format in the first place, but as competition is inevitable, the industry and consumers have had to wait and see once more, or take an expensive guess at which format to opt for. The ongoing confusion over format, and around HD in general, hasn't been good for anyone.

Hopefully now that Blu-ray seems to have dominance, we'll see the cost of players and discs coming down, and the number of titles going up. Of course, not everyone is happy that Blu-ray has won, with plenty of online complaining about regional locking on Blu-ray, (HD DVD has capacity for regional locking, but it was not activated), but all in all, it looks like the better format has won out for once.

All of which is in no small way down to the Playstation 3 and Sony's clever inclusion of a Blu-ray player as part of the console. With 1.2m PS 3s sold in the US over the christmas period alone, the number of Blu-ray player owners has crept up steadily creating a much bigger base of Blu-ray customers than HD DVD could match. Microsoft supported HD DVD, but chose to make the HD DVD player an optional extra to its Xbox console, an extra that not many buyers found to be attractive. Of course, Microsoft didn't have as much stake in the HD DVD format as Sony does in Blu-ray, but it could have been a different story althogether if all of those Xbox owners were also potential HD DVD buyers..

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