Remember the big VHS vs. Betamax war when video recorders first came out in the early 80’s? The stakes were high, with control of the burgeoning home video market the prize, and billions of dollars in revenue up for grabs. Despite being the superior technology, the Sony-backed Betamax format lost, and VHS became the standard for years to come.
Skip forward to this generation, and a new war is brewing, with just as much importance laid on the outcome as there was the first time around. Once again, Sony is in one corner with its Blu-ray format, while the likes of Toshiba and Microsoft are in the other with their HD-DVD format. This time, however, it’s not just limited to the home video arena, and the winner has a lot more to saviour than just sales.
So What Is Blu-Ray And HD-DVD
The next evolution in DVD’s, both Blu-ray and HD-DV (High Definition DVD) offer excellent quality and sound, due to increased capacity on the discs. However, much like Betamax and VHS before them all these years ago, they both use different software, making them incompatible with each other.
They will still both play the “old” DVD discs, but if you really want to benefit from the explosion in high-definition viewing, then Blu-ray or HD-DVD is the way forward. So what are the differences, and which format should you go for?
· Blu-ray offers storage space of up to 25GB on a single-sided disc, with twice that amount for a double-sided disc. With high-definition movies running at around 15GB for an average length movie, you can see the benefits that the extra space Blu-ray offers will have. It could feature multi-language editions, special features such as the making of documentaries, even games tied in to the film.
· HD-DVD offers slightly less storage space, with 15GB on a single-sided disc and 30GB on the double-sided version. However, although this is certainly less than Sony’s Blu-ray, it’s still enough for an HD movie, while the second side can host any extras.
The cost is another factor – at the moment, Blu-ray players are on average around twice the price of an equivalent HD-DVD player. Whilst you can pick up an HD-DVD player for around $400, you can expect to pay at least $700 – $800 for a Blu-ray DVD player.
Not Just For Movies
However, another point to keep in mind is that, unlike the Betamax/VHS war of a couple of decades ago, this time there’s a lot more involved. Microsoft has released an HD-DVD add-on for its Xbox 360 games console, while Sony’s PlayStation 3 uses the Blu-ray technology for its games. Although games might not seem important to someone who has no interest in them, the success of one format there will have a direct effect on what wins in the DVD battle too. With no clear winner in sight, perhaps it’s a case of wait and see before choosing. One thing is for sure – this Christmas promises to be one of the hardest fought yet.
You may wonder, which did I buy? Neither. I still temporarily store my movies on a hard drive on a device called a “media server.” I believe Internet bandwidth will become fast enough that many people will receive HD movies digitally rather than buying them on either Blu-ray or HD-DVD.