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Another Fourth-Quarter HD Delay Could Be Costly

17 Jul, 2006 By: Stephanie Prange

I just walked into a Sony Style store — as I do periodically to take stock of that company's plans — and the clerk told me the Sony Blu-ray player would not be ready until October. Last I'd heard it was September. Again, the only available Blu-ray player in the store was the Viao laptop, at about $3,500. Needless to say, it was a bit disappointing.

Meanwhile, I think Sony did a great job of putting on the Blu-ray Caf? during the recent VSDA convention in Last Vegas. HD DVD, too, did a good PR job with its 18-wheeler tour announcement, but Sony really stepped up to the plate with the Caf?, offering tutorials and product demos to whet the appetite.

Basically, the HD war is Sony's to lose this fourth quarter. If they don't produce some reasonably-priced hardware, HD DVD could gain an insurmountable advantage.

Certainly, getting out the nearly $1,000 Samsung Blu-ray player is a start. According to a Samsung rep at the show, it takes the Samsung Blu-ray player 48 seconds to load and start a disc — 15 seconds less than the Toshiba HD DVD player. That's a good thing because one of my biggest complaints with the Toshiba player was the slow startup time. But is 15 seconds worth almost twice the price?

PlayStation 3, of course, will be the true test of the Blu-ray technology this fall. More reasonably priced than the stand-alone Blu-ray players, and billed as the ultimate home entertainment device, the PS3 looks like a great value — if it delivers.

I don't think the high-def disc format can wait through another holiday season. If Sony doesn't counter the HD DVD thrust, the battle could be over.

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