Waiting to see which high definition format has the legs to remain standing has become like watching two tired boxers dance around the ring in the later rounds. Spectator interest is still there, but the heavy weight action is not, and every time one finally swings a punch, we sit on the edge of our seat happy just to see some action. Let's have a look at the latest jabs from each and see which one's hitting harder:
Much to the delight of Sony, the company trying to force feed a $600 Blu-ray equipped console into your living room diet, rental giant Blockbuster recently announced they'll only be serving Blu-ray dishes in almost all of their nearly 1,500 locations. At a glance, that would seem to signal the impending end to the high definition format war, but is the end really near? For those of us that have joined the online rental revolution, Blockbuster stocks, and plans to continue stocking, HD-DVD titles (here's a hint; navigate to Collections , then scroll down). So does Netflix, for that matter, but unlike Blockbuster, they're not backing either camp, half-heartedly or otherwise. I say half-heartedly not just because of HD-DVD's online presence, but from what I've seen this past weekend in my local Blockbuster store. Instead of being overwhelmed with an extensive Blu-ray only section, there was but a single shelving unit stocked with a modest amount of titles. I have no doubts that will expand over time, but for now, I'm not seeing any nails in HD-DVD's coffin.
While Blu-ray has the blessing of Blockbuster and a capacity advantage (up to 50GB, compared to HD-DVD's 30GB on dual layer media), HD-DVD continues to chip away on the pricing front. Microsoft recently announced that, starting August 1st, they're cutting the price on their Xbox 360 HD-DVD player from $199 to $179, and throwing in 5 free movies as added incentive (albeit from a list of 15 mostly crappy titles). And if you don't own an Xbox 360, remember you can hook the drive up to a PC, giving HTPC owners a low cost upgrade to high definition content. But it's not just the Xbox 360 drive that hits easier on wallet, stand alone HD-DVD players typically run a couple hundred dollars less than Blu-ray, which could be a factor this holiday shopping season and help build up enough market penetration to keep the format wars raging on.