Although the debate over which next-generation DVD format will win over consumers--High Definition Digital Video Disc (HD-DVD) or Blu-ray Disc-- is still alive, this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) suggests that HD-DVD has the early lead. According to HD-DVD backers such as Toshiba, more than 600 HD-DVD movie titles will be available by the end of 2007, by which time the company expects to ship more than 1.8 million HD-DVD players in North America alone.
Sales of HD-DVD players during the 2006 holiday selling season were far above projections as well, and Microsoft actually sold out of its $199 HD-DVD player for the Xbox 360, an inexpensive add-on device that turns the video game console into a multimedia hub. Sony's PlayStation 3, of course, plays Blu-ray Disc movies, but that console was made available only in limited numbers by the end of 2006.
2007 will see a rapid increase in the number of hardware makers selling standalone HD-DVD players as well as recordable HD-DVD drives for PCs. These companies will have their work cut out for them: The powerful Blu-ray Disc lobby is backed by heavy hitters like Sony and Warner Bros., and there should be more than 300 Blu-ray Disc movie titles available by the end of 2007. In addition, the Blu-ray Disc standards group claims that more Blu-ray Disc titles than HD-DVD titles were sold in December.
Incompatibilities between the two formats could become moot if new efforts at creating hybrid discs and players bear fruit. For example, LG Electronics announced at CES that it will ship an HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc combo player in 2007, and Warner Home Video recently applied for a patent on a hybrid multilayer /HD-DVD/ Blu-ray Disc manufacturing system.