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HD DVD/DVD Combo a Smart Move

29 Apr, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Consumers who've sampled HD DVD have mixed feelings about this first of the two rival high-def disc formats. They love the end result, watching movies in high-definition.

But they feel the launch was rushed and point to problems with the player — slow boot times, no out-of-the-box support for Dolby HD 5.1 — and a dramatic lack of software. At launch, just three titles were available. Weeks later there still are only a handful of titles in the market — or even in the pipeline.

Warner's creation of a hybrid disc with standard DVD on one side and HD DVD on the other — formally known as HD DVD and DVD Combo Format — is a smart move for two reasons. It recognizes that not everyone's ready to plunk down $500 for a new player. Consumers can buy a disc they can play now on their DVD players and then, when they are ready to take the plunge into high-def, play the same disc on their new machines.

The hybrid also takes into account the “bedroom factor,”

recognizing that even those consumers who do buy a new HD DVD player still have standard DVD players elsewhere throughout the house — maybe even in their cars.

In both cases, the hybrid precludes consumers from having to buy the same title twice.

There's a third reason the hybrid makes sense: It makes the concept of HD DVD a little less strange. Consumers can buy a disc, and it plays on their regular DVD player.

Then, when they buy a new HD DVD machine, voila! It plays there, too.

Consumers are, by nature, wary of new technology. How long did it take Middle America to chuck its videocassettes and embrace DVD? It took a good six years for DVD to hit the 50% penetration mark.

Had someone figured out a way to create a combo DVD and VHS cassette, my hunch is the transition would have happened a lot quicker.

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