DVD Format War May Be Over

Just as the battle between PS3 and XBox 360 heats up and with the eruption of the the war of the DVD formats, two new devices are suggesting that the war may be already over.

South Korean LG has announced its dual DVD player, a device that will be able to playback both High Definition DVD formats. An even more practical solution is expected to become available as Warner Bros. releases its hybrid double-sided Blu-ray HD DVD disc. Both solutions to the DVD format dilemma will be showcased at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas starting 8 January.

Behind the rivalry between the two formats lies a struggle to gain control of the entertainment industry as two industries determine the success or failure of a format; the hardware industry and the entertainment industry itself. The manufacturers are split so that Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo, and some others are backing HD DVD; while backers of Sony's Blu-ray discs include Samsung, Dell and Apple. The entertainment industry is split so that Disney and 20th Century Fox have joined the Blu-Ray camp, while HD DVD support comes from Universal. Warner Bros., has turned Switzerland and pledged support to both camps, as its hybrid discs would imply. Behind the war of the insiders, Microsoft has also entered the fray by joining the HD DVD camp.

Sony's Blu-Ray and its success rely on consumer perception of a binary choice, it's either HD DVD or Blu-Ray, a choice which can go Blu-Ray's way when the consumer associates Sony's brand name with the format. If the choice between formats is not such an important issue, consumers may feel more tempted to try the cheaper HD DVD player, which currently comes at about half the cost of a Blu-Ray player.

It will be interesting to study the trends that will arise from this year's CES as they will serve as a first assessment of the DVD format war and although the success of either format is not very important to gamers in itself, the implications of a Blu-ray defeat could determine the future of a console that has shaped a generation of gamers.

Format Comparison

Blu-ray

Disc: 25GB or 50GB
Supporters: Apple, Dell, Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, Sony Studios: 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Sony, Warner

HD DVD

Disc: 15GB or 30GB
Supporters: Intel, Microsoft, NEC, Sanyo, Toshiba,
Studios: Paramount, Universal, Warner

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