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Format War's End Kills Bloggers' Main Topic

22 Feb, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

Perhaps those most disappointed with the end of the format war — outside of Toshiba Corp. of course — are the fans.

For nearly two full years, thousands of early adopters and curious spectators bantered back and forth on dozens of Web sites, arguing in favor of either Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD. Whether it was due to studio support, bonus features or hardware specs, fans resolutely lined up on either side, discussing and defending their high-def choice.Sometimes the debate was rational. Most of the time it was heated. And it went on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But now that the war is over, after spending so much time and effort discussing HD, what do fans do with their free hours?

“We do it just like we did 10 years ago after DVD vs. Divx [the ill-fated DVD competitor],” said Bill Hunt, editor of TheDigitalBits.com. “We get back to talking about great movies on disc. I suspect it won't be too hard.”

Jed Rosenzweig, publisher of HighDefDigest.com, said: “Obviously Blu-ray supporters are thrilled, while some ardent HD DVD backers are not. With the format war behind us, I think all eyes are on the studios' Blu-ray release slates.”

It's no surprise HD DVD fans are in mourning, and Blu-ray fans are rejoicing. Yet home entertainment die-hards, red and blue, are now talking more about the movies than the way they're delivered.

“The reader reaction on our site has been surprisingly civil, as compared to the gloating that has happened on some forums,” said Tyler Pruitt, editor of FormatWarCentral.com. “Most of our readers want to focus on pushing Blu-ray into the mainstream so that it doesn't become the next laserdisc.”

Geoffrey Kleinman, editor in chief of DVDTalk.com, said: “Overall I think there's a real sense of relief. Everyone knew the format war would end at some point. So I think people are relieved that there's now a clear winner, and there's no more fear about buying into a format which might end up in your attic.”

Now that there is a winner, anyone who may have been on the fence is out of excuses.

“There's real excitement from all those folks — and there are a lot of them — who have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for this thing to be over so they can finally buy a player of their own,” Hunt said.

And the high-def discussions aren't over. Will the studios ratchet up their high-def releases? Will Blu-ray ever compete with DVD? Will digital downloads make Blu-ray obsolete before it can really get off the ground?

“If anything, we've actually seen more traffic since the Toshiba announcement,” said Ben Drawbaugh, an Engadget.com HD reporter. “I believe watching Blu-ray take on DVD and downloadable media will be more than enough to keep us occupied.”

But not every Internet forum will be able to survive in this post-war world. Some Web sites are dedicated completely toward advancing one format or the other, and attrition is inevitable. “Some will die. That's the cold hard truth,” Kleinman said.

Seeing the end of the format war discussions won't be entirely disappointing to some. “While it was fun, I won't miss some of the nasty comments we saw,” Drawbaugh said.

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