HD format war finally over – hooray!

I’ve been reading a lot about Toshiba’s surrender in the high-def DVD format war. With the announcement that they are going to stop production of HD-DVD players, this signals the death of the HD-DVD format and leaves the way open for Blu-Ray to become the dominant standard.

While it is painful for all those people that have bought HD-DVD players and content, I can only view this as a "good" thing. I am old enough and ugly enough to remember the VHS vs Betamax war back in the early 80’s, and Sony lost that time around. There was even a third format from Philips called V2000 which eventually petered out. It was a hugely confusing and costly format battle that really should not have been allowed to happen again with the high-def standards.

Fortunately, this time around the battle only lasted a year or two, whereas VHS vs Betamax dragged on for years.

The only problem I can see is that without a competing standard there is no incentive to reduce costs, so we could all end up paying more for Blu-Ray players and discs. Players are already at least twice the price of HD-DVD players (in fact, HD-DVD player prices have fallen through the floor now with Amazon offering them for £70! – The format may be dead, but £70 for a player that will upscale your existing DVD’s is a bloody good price! And it comes with 7 HD-DVD discs too).

So where does this leave us all? Well it finally means that adoption of Blu-Ray will take off as consumers no longer need to sit on the fence waiting to see what happens. We will see an explosion in the amount of content available and the number of players available (hopefully prices will come down as more manufacturers support the format).

Toshiba should be congratulated for throwing in the towel, although one could suggest that all vendors should have made more effort to develop a single standard in the first place.

Sony were very canny buying up major film studios to ensure they had the content available for Blu-Ray – this is obviously a lesson they learnt from their Betamax days.

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