Today Toshiba announced that they are abandoning their HD DVD format, meaning that Sony’s Blu-ray will take over as the industry standard for disc-based high definition home entertainment. All I can say is, it’s about time! Consumers have been suffering for several years now, unable to purchase either format without worrying that it might become obsolete at any moment. Technology changes at a fast enough rate that most of our electronics already become dated in 3 or 4 years. And who wanted to buy a $600 player that could only play half of the titles available in HD anyway? Until just recently, the studios were split evenly as to which format their titles would be released on.
With the improvement of Blu-ray technology and HD television signals finding their way into more and more U.S. homes these days, the initial overhead cost of being able to watch movies in HD is falling steadily. For a few hundred dollars’ investment, people who already own HDTV sets can experience the crisp detail, color, and sound of films the way they were meant to be seen. Every time I walk into a Best Buy and see a demo movie in 1080P (“full HD”), I am absolutely blown away by the quality.
Until digital distribution becomes the standard for buying and renting video content (I’m confident we’re at least a few years away), it will be nice to have a single, large-storage-capacity (50 GB!) DVD format. Now let’s just hope the studios use the technology to it’s full potential, educating the public about the differences between HD and SD (many are still clueless), and packing each disc with a multitude of extra content and features that standard definition discs cannot handle. Until they do that, the majority of consumers will be reluctant to replace their existing home theater equipment.