So, the next-generation DVD format war is coming to an end. I don’t imagine HD DVD will just quietly lie down and die, but now that Warner has decided to back Blu-ray exclusively, you might as well engrave the HD DVD tombstone—at least, in the arena of home-video entertainment.
On one hand, I’m relieved that a clear victor is finally emerging in this ridiculous, frustrating war. High-definition DVD is definitely the future of home video. Once you see its potential, you really can’t go back. On the other hand, I really thought HD DVD would come through. I gotta say, I’m a little disappointed, and not only because I took the (very cheap) HD DVD plunge back in November, when Toshiba was clearing out its HD-A2 machine. I’ve actually gotten great joy out of the player, amassing (also at cheap prices) a modest collection of HD DVDs that I’ll enjoy for a long time. You should see the pristine video detail of Corpse Bride and King Kong on HD DVD. On a 1080p-resolution HDTV, it's enough to make you quit your job, sell your children, and find religion in your home-theater.
No, I’m more disappointed because, after examining the two formats (admittedly, Blu-ray from afar), I just liked HD DVD better. It had the better name recognition, first of all. And second, it seemed to offer better, more dynamic interactivity in its special features. This isn’t to say that Blu-ray won’t incorporate some of that interactivity and even change its name, but I have to admit, I’m just feeling for the HD DVD camp today. Plus, Blu-ray is backed by Sony, which has a history of failed formats and proprietary technologies (not to mention malware-carrying music CDs). Maybe I just have a Sony grudge—although, full disclosure, Sony made the most reliable, user-friendly DVD player I’ve ever owned.
Having said all that, the future of high-definition DVD is brighter today that it has ever been. You can see more and more consumers aiming their focus at Blu-ray now, with the understanding that it has prevailed. At stores everywhere, I’m already seeing Blu-ray displays blossoming with titles while the HD DVD displays shrink and disappear. We have a winner, folks, and now’s the time to embrace high-definition DVD.
I’m already over my HD DVD sadness. I’m looking to the future. Long live Blu-ray!