Hi-def DVD war not an epic struggle yet

Hi-def DVD war not an epic struggle yet


It’s too early to tell.

That seems to be the verdict from those who make their living from identifying and tracking trends in the high-tech environment. The subject is next-generation DVD, and the players are Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

HD-DVD arrived first, of course, and should be way ahead because of Blu-ray’s constant delays. Blu-ray is just now making its presence known in the marketplace. Yet HD-DVD is not running away with it, according to In-Stat, a tech research firm out of Arizona.

Statistics don’t lie, some say, and the stats say that fewer than 5,000 hi-def players have been sold so far. That’s not too surprising, given that even HD-DVD is only a handful of months old. Yet, the DVD market is a booming business, and experts expected a pent-up demand to explode once the players were finally available.

Another reason, of course, is that consumers can’t make up their minds about which format to buy, if any. Hesitation often convinces one not to attack until more information is available. It is entirely possible that consumers are waiting to see which format wins the “war” before wading in, not wanting to be the proud owners of another Betamax machine.

The scary end of this thinking, though, is that consumers just don’t care. Traditional DVDs are still capable of showcasing widescreen movies and graphics-rich video games, and the hi-def DVD players are still rather expensive, in large part because they are new and demand hasn’t taken hold yet.

Both HD-DVD and Blu-ray deliver quality of up to six times greater than regular DVD, but Blu-ray discs can hold more data than HD-DVD discs. Movie studios and computer manufacturers have embraced one format over the other. But the ultimate arbiter will be the consumer, who, so far, hasn’t become engaged in the debate in a meaningful way.