Sony WINS, but you Lose!

Sony looks like the big winner of the next generation video format war. At Januarys CES 2008 in Las Vegas Warner Bros. took sides and announced they would no longer support both formats. This appears to be the last straw for HD-DVD. BluRayWith Warner Bros. announcement the majorly of the major movie studios now support ONLY Blu-ray.

It appears that Warner Bros looked at next gen disk sales in December 2007 and notices the Bul-Ray was out selling HD-DVD. So to help encourage the adoption of a single next generation video format, Warner Bros decided to support only Bul-Ray.

Does this really make sense for the consumer? If you look at both formats Blu-Ray and HD-dvd they have similar specks. Blu-ray does have a greater storage capacity. On the other hand Sony Blu-Ray is an evolving standard. To get in the market Sony Blu-Ray decided to do a phase in of the standard. Kind of developing the product as they go. This means that when you buy a Blu-Ray disk and get it home, then pop it into the player it might work and it might not.

Surprise, you see a screen with big letters saying that YOUR Blu-Ray player does not support THIS Blu-Ray disk. Great now you just spent $30 plus on a disk and it will not play. So now what do you do? Will there is this convoluted firmware upgrade procedure you need to do before the disk will work. And oh by the way it requires a PC, with a DVD burner and an internet connection (on the LG BH-100). Great, so now I need to spend an hour or so to find, download and burn a DVD that will play in a DVD player.

I never had the upgrade problem with a HD-DVD disk. The HD-DVD standard was complete when the product was released. I have never had a problem playing an HD-DVD disk. All my problems have been with Blu-Ray. And the problem are not limited to the disk will not play. Other problems I encountered with Blu-ray are audio track drop out and audio and lip sync problems.

Oh and by the way The HD-DVD standard includes a migration plan for the consumer. The HD-DVD speckHDDVDcombo[1]includes the option for the studio to put the HD-DVD format in different layers of the disk and the older DVD in a another layer( kind of like having side A & B). That way you can play the movie in your bedroom on your old DVD only player. OR you had the option to buy the new movie on a combo disk in the anticipation that you were going to by a new Generation HD-DVD player in a few months, but wanted to watch the movie on a standard definition DVD player now.

So Toshiba was offering the consumer a reasonable migration plan to the next generation high definition format. A completely formulated software standard, that works. Plus Toshiba also offered HD-DVD player for a reasonable price, at times under a hundred bucks. True the player did not have every gee whiz feature, but you could still afford a next generation player.

Now, Sony, on the other hand wants you to pay for the movie for each and every format. That would be DVD, Blu-Ray, PSP etc…. And the price of the Blu-Ray players is three to four times that of the HD-DVD entry players.

Sony also paid studios hundreds of millions of dollars to get the movie studios to back the Blu-ray format. Sony was not going to lose another format war. Sony lost the video tape format war when Betamax lost out to VHS. Sony’s MiniDisc audio format never caught on in the shadow of the infamous Compact Disk (CD). Sony did not hold back on next generation video the format war.

So who pays? You and Me we pay. We all pay through higher prices for Blu-ray players and Blu-ray Disks. After all someone needs to pay all the hundreds of millions of dollars Sony spent winning the format war.

So You (the consumer) lose!

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