Friday, July 6, 2007

HD Player Race: Dual-Format Discs, or Dual-Format Players?

During the 2007 International CES, Warner Bros. announced what many anticipated could be the solution to the ongoing high-definition DVD format war: a Total High-Definition Disc (THD) that would consist of a Blu-ray version of a title on one side, and the HD DVD version on the other. These discs were set to hit the market in the second half of 2007, but now Warner is delaying production. Why? Because only two movie studios offer films in both formats: Warner (no surprise there) and Paramount Pictures. Given this fact, the existence of a dual-format disc can't be justified at this point.

According to the Associated Press, Warner has decided not release THD discs until each studio delivers at least 10 titles in both formats. The firm feels this is more likely to happen by early next year, then by the end of 2007.

In an ideal world, the best solution, would be one, unified, high-definition format. But failing that, THD could represent the best of both worlds, and, most importantly, a win-win situation for the customer.

From the player manufacturing end, a few companies have also taken steps to end the format war. LG Electronics announced a dual-format, Blu-ray/HD DVD player at the 2007 International CES in Las Vegas. Although the first-generation player is limited in its ability to accomodate interactive menu features of HD DVD discs (it offers complete playback of Blu-ray), its very existence solidifies a strong point: why should consumers have to choose?

Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics has also announced that it will debut a dual-format player in time for this year's holiday season, although there has been no confirmation if the player will be available in Canada or not.

Assuming that a unified format is far from existence, the HD format war will likely become a chicken-and-egg race going forward: will more dual-format players come out of the woodwork, eliminating the need for a THD disc altogether? Or will single-format players continue to dominate, encouraging studios to back both formats?

No comments: