Its November and its time to place your vote. No, not for US Presidential candidates, but for the optical high definition format you want to be the winner in the format war, which of course for me means HD DVD. This holiday season might be the last chance for your vote to be considered by the studios, and its they who really hold the key to how HD DVD vs Blu-ray is going to work out in the long term. If lots of players get sold this quarter, that will translate into lots of movies sold for the format, which is what the studios look at when deciding their HD future.
Lets look at the most common reasons that people give for not choosing between HD vs BD right now:
Players are expensive
Well BD players certainly are, but HD DVD players start at around $200 now (and even $99 on occasion). That's about the same price as the Oppo players, and they don't even support either of the HD formats. If you already have an Xbox 360 then you can get the add-on drive for less than that. Most players include five or so free movies to boot. If you see a suspicously cheap BD player tread carefully: chances are high its a Profile 1.0 player and those won't be able to play some of the features of the BD discs coming out next year. (HD DVD players have had these same new-to-BD features for years now). If you want to hedge your bets, and can afford to, look at one of the forthcoming dual-format players that also plays BD.
I'm Waiting for a Clear Winner
Be careful what you ask for. If you don't bother choosing now, you may not have a choice at all and be stuck with a consumer-unfriendly format controlled by a big studio that only offers overpriced player hardware. Remember: without the competition, BD would be a 25G MPEG2/PCM only format and titles would look as bad as The Fifth Element.
I live outside the USA, what does it matter?
If you are European or Australian then either vote for HD DVD, or quit moaning about region coding. If you hate region coding, then HD DVD has to be your format of choice because it doesn't do that. Buy a disc anywhere on the planet, play it anywhere on the planet, giving you the maximum choice of movies.
I can't tell the difference between high definition and standard definition
I'd wager that your TV must be connected via a composite cable (or s-video): upgrade to component or HDMI cables. You don't need a 1080p set either: the difference in video quality is huge, even on small TVs (I have a 30" 720p LCD and the difference is clear), plus you get more features on the HD discs (picture-in-picture commentaries, network downloads, in-movie extras etc).
I don't have an HDTV
Well get with the program: its almost 2008. In the USA analog TV is going to be turned off in just over a year, as a part of your TV upgrade you should also get an HD DVD player. Your new TV will be upset if all you feed it is a low quality standard def TV feed.
OK, You Convinced Me: I Want To Vote!
- If you don't have an HD DVD player, go out and buy one before the end of the year. There are probably going to be some great bargains around Black Friday and through the holidays.
- If you already have a player, make sure your favorite HD DVDs are on your Xmas list. If Santa doesn't deliver them, be sure to go out and pick them up yourself.
- If you've done all that, then go tell your friends. Show them now great it looks. Explain to them what a tragic waste their HDTV is without something decent to show on it.
- Remember: your vote counts!