Ben Arnold, our Guest Blogger, is a long time worker in the tech support industry and loves to get his hands dirty supporting the latest gadgets and computer technology; that is, when he's not battling the frigid Eastern Iowa winter weather. He wanted to share his latest thoughts on the format war with the readers of InventorSpot.com.
Here's his article:
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If you've paid attention to any gadget news over the past week then you are probably aware of the big news in the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc for the title of successor to the DVD. First, last week, Warner Brothers announced that they would be moving to Blu-ray Disc exclusively. Then, Toshiba announced that they are officially bowing out of the format war. This is all well and good, those of us who still remember the Betamax vs. VHS format war have been hesitant to pick a side in this struggle. But now that the dust is potentially settling on this conflict, a consumer has to ask themselves, "did the right format win?"
This question may be harder to answer than it initially appears. Both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc have features that are identical or very similar. For instance, both formats rely on a blue colored laser whose shorter wavelength (405nm) allows for more data to be stored on the physical disc. The discs for both formats will appear identical as they are the same diameter and thickness. Both formats support the same video and audio codecs and both discs share the same 1920x1080 maximum video resolution.
With a few exceptions, the differences are a little less apparent. The biggest difference is the capacity. HD DVD holds 15GB on a single layer disc and 30GB on a dual layer disc. Blu-ray Disc holds 25GB on a single layer and 50GB on a dual layer disc. Although not an issue as of today, the second major difference initially was the amount of support for each standard. Blu-ray Disc came out of the gate with seven of the eight major movie studios on board while HD DVD only had three of eight. Various other differences in the underlying technologies do exist, such as their interactive content engines (Blu-ray Disc uses BDJ - or Blu-ray Disc Java and HD DVD uses Microsoft's HDi). Although HD DVD has a very slight edge in data transfer rates for data, Blu-ray disc has the edge in data transfer rates for audio and video content.
It would seem, then, that Blu-ray Disc had an advantage from the get go, both in terms of the technology - higher capacity discs and faster throughput speeds, as well as in adoption. Inclusion in the Sony Playstation 3 seemed to be a big boost to the Blu-ray Disc camp, but the lukewarm response to the PS3 resulted in a lower impact than expected. HD DVD's lower hardware costs were a prime boost to their sales numbers early on.
Ultimately, if Blu-ray Disc equipment goes down in price in the first half of 2008, then the outcome of this format war will be advantageous to consumers. With a higher capacity disc, higher performance specifications, and now seemingly ubiquitous adoption, Blu-ray Disc will hold more content and put it into the hands of consumers. The final variables in this equation are yet to be decided. How fast can the remaining supporters of HD DVD switch gears to their long-time opposition? How will consumers who jumped on board with HD DVD respond? How will Blu-ray Disc fare against online content? The answers to these questions and others remain largely up in the air at the moment.
References: blu-ray.com and thelookandsoundofperfect.com
(Updated to correct error per comment below.)