Sound Advice: HD DVD leaves Blu-ray in the dust
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Q:Do you have a preference between HD DVD and Blu-ray? --
A: I enthusiastically recommend HD DVD because it's a better product and a better proposition for consumers. Signs are showing it is going to trounce Blu-ray, and soon. Surprised? Read on.
For those looking for a single sentence explaining why go with HD DVD: It's a better thought-out, more solid product than Blu-ray, it is half the price, and picture and sound quality are identical. At less than $200 including seven or more movies, HD DVD players are a stunning value. Why pay twice the money when Blu-ray has serious issues and the movies look and sound the same?
I smile when I see people buying HD DVD players based on bargain pricing, because they are unknowingly getting the Ferrari as well! Despite its purported superiority and much higher cost, Blu-ray is the emperor with no clothes. HD DVD has been superior since day one.
HD DVD has delivered as promised from the start, receiving critical acclaim for its spectacular picture and stunning sound. Hundreds of great movies are available, with more added every week. Check out amazon.com to see the wide, varied selection.
On the other hand, at launch Blu-ray's picture quality was horrible, generating barbs such as "needs to go to the scrap heap" and "who in their right mind would ever like this?" Though they have since closed the picture quality gap, almost all Blu-ray player models announced or existing are already obsolete. They conform to an early player profile that does not support upcoming disc features. Profiles should have been finalized before product launch! Blu-ray's record has been spotty at best, and if you say it sounds like they have been fixing it as they go along, I'd say you are right.
In the words of video industry legend Joe Kane, "Blu-ray is all about greed." Though a poor value, many retailers push Blu-ray because of the higher price and higher margin. It's easy to debunk Blu-ray's purported advantages:
• "More studios support Blu-ray, including Disney ... no 'Cars' or 'Pirates' on HD DVD." Well, HD DVD has plenty of exclusive support, too, and has never lost a studio. Conversely, Paramount and DreamWorks recently abandoned Blu-ray for HD DVD, calling it "the affordable, high quality choice." So, no 'Star Trek' or 'Shrek' for Blu-ray. The answer for either camp is to get the regular DVD if you can't get the HD version.
• "Blu-ray discs have higher capacity." Another nonissue as HD DVD has enough to do the job. Plus, expensive new equipment is needed to manufacture Blu-ray discs. Existing DVD factories need little modification to press HD DVDs, meaning lower costs from movie studio to consumer.
• "More Blu-ray players have been sold and more companies make them." Well, almost all of the "Blu-ray players" sold so far are Playstation 3 game consoles that happen to have a Blu-ray drive in them. Many, if not most of them, are used solely as game machines. HD DVD has the lead in stand-alone players. As for more manufacturers, what's the difference if there are one or 10 obsolete, expensive Blu-ray models on the market?
• "Blu-ray will win because it has sold more movies to date." Another nonissue because even combined, Blu-ray and HD DVD disc sales are an infinitesimal piece of the DVD pie, a few grains of sand in a sandbox. Blu-ray's tiny numerical lead will be obliterated soon anyway because kingmaker Wal-Mart has embraced HD DVD. In early November, Wal-Mart placed HD DVD ads on primetime TV and ran a promotion estimated to have sold well over 50,000 players in a single day. Other retailers showed increased HD DVD player sales in Wal-Mart's wake, with the events making national news.
For more, read the prophetic "Blu-ray: Can it survive?" at www.projectorcentral.com/blu-ray_2.htm. Dated July 14, 2006, it is right on the money!
With the premium offering at a lower price, DreamWorks and Paramount's abandonment of Blu-ray, and support from extremely powerful places, HD DVD, with its growing momentum, is showing signs of turning into a tidal wave this holiday season.
I know consumers are smart enough to see which way to go, and they're going to love their choice. Nice to get the best for half the price, isn't it?
First Published November 10, 2007 12:00 am