Have high-definition DVD formats already failed?

Have high-definition DVD formats already failed?

Summary: Yesterday I came across an article on the Audioholics website by Clint DeBoer entitled "10 Reasons Why High Definition DVD Formats Have Already Failed". I read the article with an open mind and while I didn't agree with everything said in it, I found myself agreeing with quite a lot of it.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

Yesterday I came across an article on the Audioholics website by Clint DeBoer entitled "10 Reasons Why High Definition DVD Formats Have Already Failed".  I read the article with an open mind and while I didn't agree with everything said in it, I found myself agreeing with quite a lot of it.

  • Nobody likes false starts
    HD DVD at 720p/1080i video modes just didn't inspire people.  Companies rushed to get technology out of the door with the HD label and damaged both their reputations and customer confidence in the technology as a whole.
    False starts seem to be becoming the norm in technology circles - just take a look at the amount of draft 11n WiFi gear that's already flooding onto the market.  Companies are making short-sighted business decisions in the hope that it will give them a temporary advantage over the competition at the expense of the customer.
  • Format wars don't sell players
    When buying new technology, many people, especially early adopters, don't buy blind.  They do their homework first.  A lot of people are wary of format wars and the wise stay on the sidelines until a winner emerges.  The format wars between the HD camps are not healthy competition where the customer wins, but instead are in-fighting between big corporations, with the customer stuck as piggy in the middle. 
    The real truth is that while there is technically little to distinguish between Blu-ray and HD DVD, there is only room in the market for one overall winner.  There are going to be people who bought players that, in a year or so, will no be able to buy any more discs for them.  That kind of thing damages the technology as a whole.  While customers feel that they might be gambling their money on a format war, most are going to keep their wallets closed. 
  • HD DVD and Blu-ray are not quantum leaps in technology
    Now we're starting to get to the core of the HD issue.  CD and DVD killed the competition by being so much better, easier to use and more convenient than the technology they replaced.  Compare a CD to a record and a DVD to a VHS tape and the differences are astronomical.  However, compare DVD to HD DVD or Blu-ray and the differences seem less significant.  More disc space ... yawn ...
    Even the promise of higher definition comes at a great price - HD hinges on too many other technology changes.  The market base of people likely to replace their entire home theater system in order to get the best out of HD is likely to be small.  Compare this to DVD, where people could go out, buy a player, hook it up to their existing systems and see the benefits instantly.
  • Studios are conservative, greedy and unmotivated
    They sure are conservative and unmotivated (I'll let you decide if they are greedy :-) ).  The studios are onto a good thing with DVD and they don't want to mess with that market.  They certainly don't want people to start wondering whether DVD is on the way out because again that's going to make buyers wary. 
  • PS3 cannot save the world
    There's a massive pressure being put onto the PS3 by the HD industry to make HD mainstream.  I have to say that this feels a lot like wishful thinking to me.  The PS3 is going to be first and foremost a gaming platform, not an entertainment system.  Given the investment that people are going to make in a new PS3, I can see many buyers being reluctant to see it tied up as a entertainment platform rather than a gaming platform.
    The other drawback with the PS3 is the two versions - the lack of an HDMI output in the 20GB model is likely to cause problems with restricted output resolution on Blu-ray video.

There are some other issues that HD DVD/Blu-ray has to face.  One of the biggest is cost.  Paying $30-35 for an HD title is a lot when compared to DVD titles that retail for $15.  Enthusiasts will have built up a substantial DVD library, and the idea of having to upgrade that to HD is going to raise issues of cost.  Even if there are enthusiasts out there with $100 bills falling out of their pockets ready and willing to upgrade their DVD library to HD, they are not going to find anyone to take their money - the current offering of HD titles is pathetic.

The bottom line is that I agree with DeBoer - it looks more and more unlikely that HD will become a mainstream technology, and is likely to have to scratch out an existence in a niche market for years to come.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Abso-freakin'-lutely

    That article hits the nail squarely on the head. There's no compelling upgrade here. When you switched from VHS to DVD, you got superior quality picture, convenience, speed, reduction in storage space, longevity, the ability to skip around, bonus features, etc., etc. Ditto the move from LP to CD. Here, what do you get extra? A better picture, if you have the right tv and player. Big whoop. In previous cases, the RIAA/MPAA profited heavily from people replacing their already-owned material with new versions. That won't happen here, which means no big launch for the technology, no real boost in spending.

    Apparently, they're trying to make up for this by charging us twice as much for basically the same product.
    tic swayback
    • That's what I've said from the beginning...

      Since it's not a dramatic shift like it was from VHS to DVD I can't see it being a huge money maker as they think it's going to be.

      It's also released too soon after people have invested lots of money into DVD (I am one of those people).

      I will not go and buy a new tv, surround sound, and my entire DVD collection just for a bit more quality. The quality as it stands now suffice's.

      I can see the generation after Blu-ray/HD-DVD being a bigger money maker.
  • The format war is the big knife in hi-def DVD's back.

    Consider that standard DVDs... the recordable and rewritable ones anyway... are in a bit of a format war. We have the -Rs and the +Rs, each with their own advantage. This could have concievably resulted in a format war, but there was enough similarity between them that DVD drives could be made to handle both.

    By the sound of things, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are two different and incompatible technologies. Toshiba has enough guts to call for [url=http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1040_22-6088269.html]a unified hi-def DVD format,[/url] unfortunately those calls seem to be falling on deaf ears. That means that someone will need to make the hardware that can play/record both formats. I don't see that happening.

    Unless some middle ground can be found, it will be VHS vs Betamax all over again. Only difference is both sides will lose.
    Mr. Roboto
    • Political not technical

      Some bright boy might be able to make a machine
      that can read Blu-ray and HD-DVDs as well as
      old DVDs and CDs and Divx etc.
      The problem is getting rights to the patents.
      Nobody wants to sell rights to the other makers.
  • The DRM kills it for me

    I have a HDTV that doesn't have the HDMI. I maybe mistaken but what I understand is if I don't have the HDMI I don't get HD quality.

    Sorry, I am not buy another expensive HDTV.
    • Spend more money...

      ...get a new product that does less than what you already own.

      Doesn't sound all that appealing to me.
      tic swayback
    • you will also get high definition over DVI(nt)

  • 1080 sucks

    When "Star Wars III" came out in 1080i, it sucked.
    720 is worse. Call me when 1280 non-interlaces
    is running. New films should be shot for
    IMAX! They spend 100mil on actors and sets,
    spend a couple extra for the good film.
    Go see "Lawrence of Arabia" on the big screen
    for incredible picture.
    I have a 38" tube, and it still looks better
    than most HD flat screens I have seen.