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September 24, 2007


Rick Darby

The minds of marketers are an undiscovered country to me. Who are these bright sparks who introduce an improved video technology, forget to provide many discs to take advantage of it, and expect people to run to the store and sink $400 in a player?

And of the discs that are available in Blu-Ray or HD DVD, they are mostly summer-blockbuster type stuff. That might seem intuitively smart, but I think it's wrong. Teenagers and "Pirates of the Caribbean" fans don't care about visual refinements beyond ordinary DVD. The people who are ready to plunge on a new high-def player aren't bubble-gummers. They're much more likely to be affluent, technologically sophisticated, "cultural" types who watch middle- to highbrow films.

Way back in the '40s, when Columbia records introduced the LP, they had the good sense to make sure that lots of recordings were available in the new format when the launch took place. And plenty of the original titles appealed to an upmarket audience. Why can't the MBAs who are trying to create a user base for high-def video understand that pitching it to the iPod generation isn't the way to go?


Hey Spin Doctor- I'm a new HD tv owner, the things are great. I'd be interested in a HD Dvd player, I just want them to settle on a single format before I buy. Does anyone have a clue who will win, if there is a chance to settle on a single format? Also, I think the Toshiba player is reasonably priced, especially when I remember that I paid about $440 for my first VCR.

Glenn Abel

Thanks for the comments, gents.

Rick -- Great post. The slow-to-market issue with high def titles reminds me of the CD rollout back in the early 1980s. You could get the big sellers like Sade and Aerosmith, but there were no signs of the Clash or Nick Drake or Charles Mingus. Sure are a lot of Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp movies out there in HD.

Pat -- I don't sense a consensus building on either of these formats. Two months ago I'd have guessed Blu-ray.

My advice is to look at which studios are using which format. Go look at your DVDs and see if any studios stand out. Or think about which film franchises you might like to collect.

For example, Disney, Fox and Sony are Blu-ray. That gives you classic kids titles, some edgy/foreign fare and "Spider-Man." Paramount just went all HD DVD. Universal is HD DVD. They have rich catalogs of mainstream films. Warner swings both ways, for now.

If you rent a lot from Blockbuster, go Blu-ray.

Then there's the gaming factor: If a PlayStation is on your wish list, do it and you've gone Blu-ray. Have an Xbox 360 or want one for "Halo"? Go with HD DVD.

Maddening, huh?

If all else fails, I think you look for the newest, best-reviewed machine you can find in your price range, either format. Someone always has the hot new machine.

Make sure it is strong on up-conversion of standard DVDs (my Samsung Blu-ray does a hell of a job). Make sure you get your free promo discs and then forget it: enjoy the titles that do work on your machine.

This is not a game consumers win.

William Bryson

Great article. I agree completely; in time, we'll see either Blu Ray or HD DVD go the way of Betamax (obsolete), and early adopters of the losing format will suffer.

I'm more than happy with my Oppo upconverting DVD player, with near HD resolution. And, I can enjoy my collection of DVD movies as is; I don't have to upgrade my collection to a new format that may become obsolete in time!

In reality, the player that is winning the Blu Ray vs. HD DVD war isn't being discussed anywhere near as much, but it is, indeed, the upconverting DVD player!

Happy New Year and thanks again for the article.


Looks like you're the last comment of the year, William.

The high quality of images from the up-conversion DVD players was a real surprise to me.

Going with the classic machine, Oppo, or any of the reasonably priced alternatives available at the big-box stores makes a lot of sense for those unwilling to play the HD game.

Not HD, but clearly a step up from standard DVD playback. A good way to sit out the war.

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