Goodbye, HD-DVD, I Never Knew You

I’d like to bid farewell to the HD-DVD format, which died a quick death this week. Was it any good?

You see, I was one of the millions of consumers who stayed on the sidelines while HD-DVD fought it out with Blu-Ray for high-definition digital supremacy. Because I knew that this day was inevitable, I stayed away from both formats. So I never actually saw an HD-DVD movie. Not even in a demonstration.

After all, I’d already lived through this movie once before: only it was called Beta vs. VHS. I watched while a lot of smart people got burnt by picking the wrong format, so I figured that I didn’t need to see the remake.

Now that Blu-ray has out and out won the battle — and I’m not sure whether its a good thing or a bad thing that Sony finally won a format war — am I going to run out and grab a Blu-ray player? Eventually, probably. But not right away.

After all, what fueled the near instant ubiquity of DVDs were relatively cheap price points for both the hardware and software. It remains to be seen whether or not Blu-ray players — and more importantly, discs — drop into my spots. In my case, the vast majority of what I watch on DVD — TV shows — wouldn’t benefit at all from the upgrade.

I’m probably not alone: what really remains to be seen is whether or not consumers consider this an incremental increase in quality or a significant increase in quality. Especially those consumers who have already purchased hundreds of DVD titles. Those people may not want to repurchase their entire libraries. I know that I won’t . I did that once: replaced most of my vinyl with CDs, thanks to the CD clubs and used shops. But it took a lot of time and a lot of expense, and TV and films aren’t music.

I could be totally wrong, but even people who upgrade players might just decide that current discs are “good enough” and only buy Blu-ray for new titles and/or very very special older titles.

I also wonder if the entire concept missed its “cool new thing” window: the whole concept of high-def DVDs isn’t that new any more, and I wonder how many people just wrote the entire thing off in the same way that they wrote off the Laserdisc.

So Blu-ray could have won the war, but lost the battle. After all of this time, it’s entirely possible that nobody cares: the early adopters have already adopted or ignored it, and the mass audience is perfectly fine with what they have.

2 Responses to “Goodbye, HD-DVD, I Never Knew You”

  1. Tim G. says:

    Do you take the red pill, or the blue pill?

    I had a feeling that once Paramount adopted the HD DVD format exclusively that Blu-Ray would win. Call it a hunch. Put it this way: When it comes to home video, Disney knows what they are doing.

    I did have plenty of experience watching HD DVDs and it was, for the most part, great. But older movies, or grainy ones like U2: Rattle and Hum, gained nothing from the upgrade. If one now needs convincing that Blu-Ray may be the way to go, I suggest watching the Planet Earth documentary. This is where the format really shines. Normal TV shows, not so much. Count me in for new movies, music videos and nature documentaries. Count me out for replacing my library of movies.

  2. A year later and I’m still enjoying my massive HD DVD collection 😉 Some day I’m sure it will die off and join my basement full of laserdiscs.

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