HD DVD is dead

HD DVD is dead

Summary: Bowing to the inevitable - finally! - Hollywood Reporter says:The format war has turned into a format death watch.

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Bowing to the inevitable - finally! - Hollywood Reporter says:

The format war has turned into a format death watch.

Toshiba is widely expected to pull the plug on its HD DVD format sometime in the coming weeks, reliable industry sources say, after a rash of retail defections that followed Warner Home Video's announcement in early January that it would support only the rival Blu-ray Disc format after May.

The marketing VP for HD DVD, Jodi Sally, says no decision has been made officially, but

Given the market developments in the past month, Toshiba will continue to study the market impact and the value proposition for consumers, particularly in light of our recent price reductions on all HD DVD players.

That's marketing speak for "we're done." Even Microsoft's HD DVD evangelist isn't returning phone calls.

Update 2:Feb 19: Toshiba announced today that it is immediately closing out the HD DVD business: ceasing production of the players and recorders and liquidating everything by the end of March. Nice upconverting DVD players AND some great HD movies for very little scratch. End update.

Update: Wal-Mart announced yesterday that it is dropping HD DVD as well. Retailers are concerned that downloading will replace buying. While I'm skeptical that will happen any time soon, some of the reviews of the new Apple TV suggest it could happen, especially as network speeds improve. End update.

Heroic resuscitation efforts Toshiba cut prices 50% on its players, bought a Superbowl spot, and - nothing happened. The best-selling Blu-ray disk moved 3x the best-selling HD DVD disk. Blu-ray accounts for 81% of HD disk sales - which themselves are a tiny fraction of declining DVD sales - and 2/3rds of HD hardware sales.

Brutal market Storage is a brutal market. People want standards and they want cheap. You get cheap from volume and you get volume from cheap, which means big upfront investments.

Sony won the volume war by putting Blu-ray in the PS3, the finest Blu-ray player available, at the enormous cost of taking the #3 position in the lucrative gaming market. MBA students will be studying this case for decades and asking "was it worth it?"

The Storage Bits take Toshiba could have saved $100 million and a lot of embarrassment if they'd quit 8 months ago as I suggested (see Blu-ray vs HD DVD: game over). Now they have no leverage with the Blu-ray group and even the dullest tech consumer knows that HD DVD is dead.

Paradoxically, as a savvy reader commented on Is Blu-ray worth it?, this is a great time to buy an HD DVD player. They reportedly work better than the buggy low-end Sony Blu-ray player I bought, upconvert standard-def DVDs beautifully and they're cheap. Plus you can expect to see firesale prices on HD DVD content, like the Bourne Ultimatum I've been jonesing for.

Movie studios are desperate to kick-start declining home video sales. Expect major Blu-ray promotions before year-end. Hey, maybe they'll even stop treating customers as downloading criminals!

Nah, even Hollywood has limits.

Comments welcome, of course. All you HD DVD advocates, can you now explain why you were so wrong 8 months ago?

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Toshiba

About

Robin Harris has been a computer buff for over 35 years and selling and marketing data storage for over 30 years in companies large and small.

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146 comments
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  • It's not dead yet...

    ...but it certainly isn't well.

    Toshiba should have learned from DVD and DIVX that competing means someone will lose.

    The sooner Toshiba cuts their loses and bails, the less money they will lose. Anything else just prolongs the pain.

    Blu-ray isn't perfect and its players need some upgrades and refinement. Let HD-DVD go the way of Beta and Divx so BR can flourish.
    Eriamjh
    • That is the question, isn't it?

      Will BD flourish? I have no intention of buying one, and I have an HD TV. I also have a HD-DVR with my satellite system, and am planning to purchase a media player set top box to connect to the content on my computer. I do have a HD-DVD player, which is far more mature than BD, and upconverts my DVDs very nicely. I will buy HD-DVD content, but for those movies that are BD exclusive, I will either download them or buy the DVD version instead. I also have the option of just capturing them from my HD-DVR. BD is too buggy and expensive for the mass market, and I would not bet on its survival.
      itpro_z
      • I'm with you on this one...

        HD-DVD may be dead but the content that is out there already and with prices falling make this a good time to buy. How long does a DVD or HD-DVD player last one maybe two years on average? Buy one and get the extended warranty so that in two years when this war is finally over and your drive goes out you will either get a new HD-DVD drive or be switched to what standard is available. Personally I like HD better because it has not been trojan horsed into homes like BD. It's too bad that people have too much money and not enough sence to make smart purchasing decisions. So until then I will enjoy my HD-DVD player which I got close to a little over #100 and wait for the next standard that will replace BD.
        pooby4444
        • One to two years for a player?

          I'm sorry, but if you are only getting one to two years out of a next-generation player or even a DVD player....... you are getting ripped off by whatever company you are buying it from.

          Even a DVD burner should last at least 3 years under normal usage.

          I also have to say that Blu-Ray players (which I personally don't like because of their DRM scheme, which hasn't been fully implemented yet thankfully) are pretty good. As to the crashing problems...... I haven't seen many instances of that where a disk hasn't been so scratched that a regular DVD player if it was a DVD disk would crash, lock-up or throw back an error message.
          Leria
        • I see Betamax visions

          I bought a Betamax machine in the early 1990s and purchased dozens of tapes that
          I thought were a pretty good deal! 8 years later when my Beta machine broke down
          and I could not replace it because they weren't being made any longer, I was stuck
          with a box full of Beta tapes and no machine to play them on.

          I would not advise anyone to rush out and purchase a machine along with discs.
          Sure, you're going to get a good deal, but it's not really a good deal when it's
          destined to become obsolete within a year. Machines don't last forever, and what
          will you do with the HD-DVDs that you bought?

          The best thing to do is go out and buy a Sony PS3. That way you'll have a Blu-Ray
          player that is very decent and not so buggy, along with a high-end gaming
          console. You can't beat that. As the article said the more people who buy Blu-Ray,
          the lower the cost of the Blu-Ray discs will go.

          Eventually when no more HD-DVD discs are being produced you are going to have
          to buy a BD player anyway. So you may as well take the money and put it towards
          something that you know will be around in 10 years. After that, who knows.

          Downloading is an option too as someone mentioned, but there are problems
          associated with downloading movies. One, there is no physical disc to own, and
          you have a limited amount of time to watch a purchased downloaded movie. If you
          are downloading illegal copies, well that's illegal for one thing, and secondly the
          quality of copied versions of movies is generally not there. It's risky at best. If you
          want a movie that is still playable over the next few years - get a Blu Ray and don't
          waste your money on any HD-DVD equipment or movies - even if they are
          cheap(er).

          That's my opinion.
          dks_z
          • I Got A Beta Machine

            That I bought in 1984 and it Still Works. I can play and record on it.I will have Sony clean and align the heads soon, and keep it until it does not work anymore.
            eargasm
          • "The best thing...

            ...to do is to go out and buy a Sony PS3"

            Sorry, I have no interest in anything Sony, especially the P(O)S3. The reason that I supported HD-DVD was that it was not Sony. The fact that it was reasonably priced, had more mature software, and lower priced discs was a bonus, but not being Sony was the major point. My next purchase will be a set top box to connect my HD-TV to content on my computer, not a BD player. I can capture movies from my HD-DVR or download them, so why should I pay $400 for a Playstation and $35 each for a disc? For the price of one BD disc, I can buy a month of HBO and Showtime and several PPV movies, and I don't have to give Sony one cent of my money.

            You can keep your "high-end gaming console". My PC is a far better gaming system than any console, and I have better options for HD video as well.
            itpro_z
          • ps3's etc.

            I have no intention of buying a PS# or ANY gaming machine, period. Sony, Microsoft, etc. The only games I play do not require such. My PC is not a gaming machine, never will be. My game is TV, I have an MCPC. As for Sony I have a Sony DVD rcorder/VCR combo, have had no problems with it, have had if or a couple of years do daily recodrings on it--DVD as well as tape. I would have liked to see the HDTV format win, but I won't be buying anytime soon. I would rather have a DVR--more versatile. My only DVR at the time is my MCPC. I don't have an HDTV or even a digital TV yet. Someday. I still use an outside antenna. With 20 or more over the air channels, I don't NEED cable/sattelite, even though I have been looking at Satellite through AT&T as they are our LD, local Carrier and offer bundles.
            dhays
          • Why?

            "Eventually when no more HD-DVD discs are being produced you are going to have to buy a BD player anyway. So you may as well take the money and put it towards something that you know will be around in 10 years. After that, who knows."

            Why would I have to buy a BD player? I already have a regular DVD player that can be upscaled.

            I suspect BD will be a niche market for HD-TV videophiles the same way SACD was for audio a couple of years back.

            Also, even *if* I did happen to be interested in a BD player, it would have to be backwards compatible with regular DVD. There's no way I'm getting rid of that collection.

            Without that, you can fughetaboudid...
            hasta la Vista, bah-bie
    • Well it will be soon...

      "...It's very ill."
      "I'm getting better."
      "No your not. You'll be stone dead in a moment."
      "Well I can't scrap him like that. It's against regulations."
      "I don't want to go on the cart."
      "Oh, don't be such a baby"
      "I can't take him"
      "Well can you wait around for a couple of minutes? He won't be long."
      "I promised I'd be at Yahoo!. They lost 1000 already."
      "When's your next round?"
      "Thursday"
      "I think I'll go get a movie"
      "Your not fooling anyone, you know. Isn't there anything you can do?"


      Sorry, couldn't resist. I'd finish it out, since Walmart's decision realistically is the blow on the head, but since it isn't quite officially dead yet, I'll refrain.
      jheine
    • You could do what I did...

      Just stop watching movies. And TV.

      Kill Your TV - Live Longer.

      :-)
      meryllogue@...
  • Matters not...

    Still not worth the money.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Actually it is ....

      The HD-DVD players are the BEST upconverters in the market. That is the reason I got an HD-A2 when it was offered for $99 @ Wal-Mart. I know that even if the HD-DVD format tanked (as it apparently did), I would loose nothing since I still have a great DVD player that upconverts to "good enough HD" for me.

      Today, the upconversion capability of all Blu-ray players is poor at best. Based on what I saw after asking for a demo at Best Buy (Sony and Sharp Blu-ray players), the image quality of an upconverted DVD quality is decrepit, even when compared to a cheap upconverter ($30 Magnavox).
      wackoae
      • Actually

        None of it is worth the money.

        HD is not worth the money. In any format.
        laura.b
        • "HD is not worth the money."

          Well, what is? HD is just another plate on the consumer buffet. As are computers... Personally, I promised myself I would not upgrade my computer until I had beaten all of the games I bought for THIS one. At my current rate I should be done sometime in the year 2015.
          e2001@...
          • Worth the money

            At least computers do something other than show grotesque detail on a too-large screen in the living room. ;)

            My point was that there isn't enough advantage of HD over standard DVDs to make it worth the switch for the vast majority of people. When the prices come WAY down, perhaps it won't matter that there are no real advantages, but right now, it's tough to justify spending all that on equipment and replacing movies for a better picture.

            The best "picture" is the real world. I would prefer to live there than on my couch counting Brad Pitt's nose hairs.
            laura.b
  • RE: HD DVD is dead

    Is it true that Toshiba is working with Microsoft on an HD DVD player that will have a hard drive big enough to download movies, similar XBOX live function. If this is true that would be the great. Wouldn't you be able to watch all movies in HD, the movies that are Blu Ray exclusives wouldnt aply to downloadable movies?
    titianbig8@...
    • Except for the fact that...

      ... Nobody wants a Microsoft set top box.
      SpikeyMike
      • no more than anyone wants a ps3 either lulz

        xbox+hd-dvd

        vs sony_playstation3+blue ray

        now were on to something here.
        pcguy777
        • so...what you're trying to say is...

          By standards, people hate microsoft and they hate blue ray and if sony had of came up with a HD-DVD player... then we'd all be set?

          I'll be 100% completely honest. I've never seen a hd-dvd player in action and I've never seen a blue ray player in action with a blue ray disk.

          I own PS3, and more for the gaming than the blue ray but the other day I played a burned movie from a friend (illegal or not don't care - it was for the kids to watch and they already watched the movie on a DVD player earlier.) in the PS3. I'll just say that the quality change was unbelievable. Like scenes we're better lighted and colour quality as well as pixel rate quality was better (Own and LCD screen).

          Now I'm not saying that a HD-DVD wouldn't have done the same, but I did get my moneys worth on the PS3 and it's nice to know that the systems format (which runs DVDs and Blue rays) works fine.

          In fact it will play majority of movie files that you upload to the system with the exception of AVI format. Otherwise, dvd, divx mpeg2, mpeg4 they all work. (at least have for me).

          Sure the price was influential - was a huge factor to buying the machine, and since the system in my house was meant for gaming first - the games available or only coming out for PS3 and their look also played a huge factor.

          The reality was that for the money I spent, I was able to make happy multiple ranges of people. And like many I didn't want a Microsoft box either (they suck at most stuff they do - period.)

          Now in terms of the HD-DVD and Blue Ray player, the only reason I would see why you would buy is if you already had a load of videos that were of that format. I mean it's the reason why they make some DVD / VCR players - because the tapes are dead technology but people still want to watch their old classics that some they can't find on DVD.

          But otherwise don't waste your money, the inevitable fact as a consumer (almost like Toshiba) is that there's always something bigger or better or whatever that comes along and takes the market and when that happens - the new rise will take control and exterminate all the old technology.

          I mean lets face it - how many people still burn cds and dvds. I don't, not for data or music and other file formats anyways, I could see movies but majority of stuff is handled by jump drives and flash cards now.

          As a consumer you just have to accept the fact that the companies goal is to take over the market and make their product #1, when they do this their next goal is to abolish all other format production. When that happens then you will be forced to purchase their products or go your own way and do without.

          So reality is (since I read several comments) even if it will be expensive to by 6 new players for all the places (and I completely agree with that statement, it's stupid annoying and unfair) you're eventually going to have to anyway because of the way the market works.

          Just think about all the technology transfers.

          Radio - Video (TV)
          CRT - LCD (and plasma and more)
          records - tapes - cds - mp3s - other digital media.

          those are just a few outside this world of videos.

          I mean if you want to look at durastic changes, look at 3 1/2 floppy disks, they got replaced by flash media with their production and the drives to run them completely as well as the software that used to work with them completely abandoned them in support.

          For those of you who don't understand what that means, 3 1/2 floppy was a major thing for dos cores and when systems upgraded to windows 3.1 and beyond they more and more tried to abolish the use of 3 1/2 floppy drives besides as a put in and take out storage (instead of uploading information and getting running commands off them (like a win98 boot disk)

          Ever tried to get a floppy boot disk for win xp? It's a bitch and I bet they wouldn't even consider it for vista. So that's just reality.

          This in no way means go out and buy this or that - ultimately you take a chance either way you go but you just need to come to terms with the fact of what you're buying and why.

          I chose PS3, because I liked PS1 and PS2 and they've lasted me for almost a decade between the two (which is great for video games). So with everything else it offered and already my previous support - Sony was my choice. Sure I've tried x-box (both platforms) but I just don't feel the need to endorse Microsoft products, specially when I can get a lot of features they offer and more for no more of a price.

          So people rag on the PS3 about not being as good of quality as x-box. Whether it be true or not, the games play great and the system works for me on a variety of basis. Plus I don't have to return it for malfunction as so many x-box users have (and both platforms).

          Well I'll just leave it at that - I think most of all you should do your research before you make a choice to buy something. Obviously you want the most affordable products out there but you should also look for long term usage. That's why the person who mentioned about 6 dvds and playing 1 dvd everywhere and then having 1 blue ray and playing it on 1 of the 6 platforms is right. You're looking for long term use and accommodation. So put the power of knowledge into your hands and wield it properly when you make a buying choice.
          kyleferreira111@...