Consumer electronics writers have begun to weigh in on the new HD DVD players distributed by Toshiba this week, and most are unimpressed. Several cite an intolerably long boot-up period, a confusing menu system, and incompatible sound. But nearly all express disappointment in the picture. . . . Writing in the Los Angeles Times David Colker remarked that on larger screens he could detect a subtle difference. He added: "I tested my perceptions by switching between the two formats. I asked a colleague to close his eyes while I chose a version, then had him open them and guess: DVD or HD DVD? He got it right only about 75% of the time.
That's bad news for HD-DVD but I think it might be worse news for Sony. A lackluster $500 hi-def DVD player is better than a lackluster $1,800 player.
Up until now, though, I hadn't considered this possibility: What if both standards fail?
In historical terms, the change from VHS to DVD took much longer than the switch from DVD to HD DVD (or Blu-Ray). The first mass-market DVD players didn't hit until about 9 years ago; the DVD revolution only really completed itself about four years ago. What if it's too soon for a new format that only offers marginal improvements at a very high price point?
Here's the rest of the Colker article.