Friday, July 13, 2007

HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray (cont.)

So what are your thoughts on the matter? I've been hard on Sony for a long while about their quest to assure the success of Blu-Ray even at the cost of their game division. Now I'm considering taking the plunge myself and getting a hi-def DVD player. So what should I get? The evidence is contradictory.

Let's start with the raw numbers. 1.3 million Blu-Ray machines have been sold, versus only 150,000 HD-DVD machines. However, of those 1.3 million Blu-Rays, 1.2 million have been PS3's. So of the stand-alone boxes, the two systems are very close. You can see how close, exactly, by looking at the number of discs of each format which have been sold: Blu-Ray has the slight edge with 1.5 million units versus 1.2 million for HD-DVD. Which suggests that the PS3's are not being used very often as DVD consoles, meaning that the 1.3 million Blu-Ray player number isn't as important as it might seem.

Then there's price. On both lines, the price is falling. But Blu-Ray is still significantly more expensive. $499 seems to be about as low as they go, whereas you can find a second-gen HD-DVD player for about $220. So far, most of this seems to point towards HD-DVD.

That said, Toshiba is pulling back their expectations on sales numbers and this essay calling the fight in favor of Blu-Ray is interesting, if not dispositive. The nub of the argument is that looking at the top movies of 2007 so far, 52% of them will be exclusive to Blu-Ray, 10% will be exclusive to HD-DVD, and 37% will come to both formats. Looking at the top 100 movies of 2006, the numbers are even more in favor of Blu-Ray: 60% were exclusive to that format.

That's a big deal. But the question becomes, will the content drive the medium, or the price? I'm not sure. Ordinarily I would lean toward content, but in this case "exclusive" doesn't really mean exclusive, since you can buy the movie on regular DVD and upconvert, which I would think allows consumers to be more sensitive to price. But maybe I'm wrong.

Anyway, all of this points to waiting a while longer--unless you happen to need to buy a new DVD player now. Which I do. So, any thoughts? Do I stick with a normal upconverting player? Or take a chance on one of the other formats?


C P said...

JVL - I would pause and continue to observe the HD-DVD/Blu-ray battle from the sidelines. The numbers and data you cite seem to favor Blu-ray, but it's still not clear cut which, if either, will win out. This isn't like the late-90's DVD/Divx format war, where compatibility wasn't much of an issue, and the winner was easy to spot.

It also seems to me, the 2.7MM discs sold (1.5MM Blu-ray + 1.2MM HD) is a rather paltry, crap number.

On a personal note, I'm not so excited about the coming of HD DVD's. I still have a large pile of regular, unwatched DVD's from my years of buying sprees (mostly from HMV store closings in NYC), my HD DVR records plenty I don't have time for, and all the British stuff I want to watch I get through Bitorrent.

HD things I'm excited about: baseball and that BBC Live Earth set I see prominently displayed everywhere I go.

That's not enough for me to care about even considering a HD DVD player.

At the very least, you should just wait until Heat gets the HD-treatment.


Ralphie said...

I agree. Buy a cheap unconverter for now (mine was about $50) and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

We're getting an HD-DVD player? Wait, what? : )