Many of us can think back to the VHS vs. Beta days. Neither side was willing to give in and use the other’s technology as blueprint for their own, ultimately one had to go. This will be the ending scenario for either HD DVD, or Blu-Ray media.
And now, it appears that the talks that had recently been going on have ended in no agreement, in the same way that they ended last year. A statement from Matsushita, which owns Panasonic, confirms what many have suspected for months: “The market will decide the winner.”
HD DVD has won the race to market. Toshiba is leading the charge with players already in stores. Microsoft is onboard as well, working on an external add-on HD DVD drive for the best-selling Xbox 360 game console. Movie studios such as Paramount, Universal, and Warner Bros. are in the middle of all this as well, being on record as backing HD DVD over Blu-ray. Intel, NEC, and Sanyo are on board, too.
But Blu-ray has its proponents as well. Among those are Panasonic, Sony (both movie operations and the wide-selling PSP), MGM, 20th Century, Disney, Apple Computer, Dell, Hewlett Packard, and game makers Vivendi and Electronic Arts.
Of course, Blu-ray execs think that they will win the war. The Blu-ray format is more dense and allows for a greater amount of storage on its discs. HD DVD numbers are 15GB for single-layer capacity and 30GB for dual layers. Blu-ray, by contrast, will allow up to 25GB and 50GB, respectively.
Blu-ray discs are not on the market yet because final testing and preparation are being done. The first discs are expected in a few months yet.
Neither disc is designed to work in a drive formatted for the other. This is probably worse for you the consumer, who has to look carefully at the packaging when you’re buying recordable or movie DVDs.
Which is the VHS and which is the Beta? It remains to be seen. I was hoping for a flash-memory chip solution to rid the curse of scratched non-functioning media, but it looks like we still may be far off from that dream.