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Pity the Plight of the HD DVD Player Owner

1 Apr, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

I feel bad for my sister, I really do.

When the format war abruptly ended, instead of being excited that her brother's magazine had broken the news, Holly was actually pretty peeved. I had ruined her week. Maybe her month.

She and her husband have an HD-A3 HD DVD player and nearly 150 HD DVDs to play on their giant HDTV. They love the better picture and crisper sound. Like many HD DVD owners, you won't find anything that says Blu-ray Disc in her home. In a few years, those HD DVDs that aren't combo discs will be good for nothing.

“It's a bummer,” she said. “We aren't planning on getting a Blu-ray player anytime soon.” Sure, she got her high-def collection started with the help of family members who cover the industry, but she's a good example of the second-biggest problem now facing Blu-ray.

Most of the early adopters out there picked a side and were not format agnostic. Investing in two players and picking up high-def discs in two formats was too big an investment and hassle for most.

And those who chose HD DVD won't be quick to jump on board with Blu-ray. Profile 2.0 players are just emerging and still remain roughly three or four times as expensive as the cheapest HD DVD offering. Blu-ray movies were generally more expensive than their HD DVD counterparts. And many who picked HD DVD did so for the same reason others picked Blu-ray: They found fault with the other format.

We can identify Blu-ray's biggest problem with ease: satisfaction with DVD. Convincing the general movie-watching public to start upgrading their home-viewing experience will be an uphill battle, even with one clear choice.

But the next obstacle is convincing those consumers who sided with HD DVD that it's OK to let go of The Look and Sound of Perfect, and accept that The Future is Blu. And that's not going to be an easy task.

As for Holly, she'll likely wait until a Blu-ray player hits under $100 before she makes the leap. Until then, she'll just have to hope her “upconverting DVD player” holds out as long as possible.

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