Monday, February 18, 2008


If you perused the ads in Sunday's paper, you may have noticed that you can now get an HD-DVD player for a $150. Such a deal!

OK, maybe not so much. Unless your Betamax VCR is feeling lonely.

I've watched the high def DVD wars with interest - there wasn't much rhyme or reason to why Blu-Ray seems to have prevailed (other than perhaps a Microsoft endorsement is the technological kiss of death). It's amusing that Sony is winning this time, 30 years after Beta bit the dust.

The bigger question is, can any kind of DVD player survive in an age of online streaming and movie downloads? I'd argue yes, although the quality difference between regular DVD's and high-def DVD's may not be great enough to get a critical mass going before the equation does change.

Obviously, streaming offers unacceptable quality on anything larger than a laptop screen. And downloads are pretty slow, even over a highs-speed cable line. And high def downloads are an order of magnitude slower than that. So, if the easiest way to download a movie is to let your computer complete the download overnight, the time advantage versus getting the movie in the mail via Netflix isn't that great.

Moreover, the technology for getting a movie from your laptop to your TV is still rudimentary and much more of a hassle than many people want to do just so they can relax and watch a movie.

Now, I think those objections are going to be overcome, it's just going to take another three or five or seven years (depending on how quickly higher bandwidth can be rolled out). That's plenty of time for a movie lover to get a good return on their investment for a new DVD player. I'll probably get one, at least once you can buy a Blu Ray for $150.


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