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Tuesday, 08 January 2008 18:59

HD DVD camp says everything still on track

Written by David Stellmack
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CES 2008: We have come too far to just stop now

In light of the recent defection of Warner Brothers and New Line to the Blu-ray camp, you would figure that the HD DVD camp would want to use CES to send a message to consumers. Try as we might, the only comment that we could get from the HD DVD camp was “Everything is still on track with HD DVD and the Warner/New Line announcement. While unfortunate, this does not change anything.”

We have continued to dig for more out here at CES, but other than the fact that both the HD DVD and Blu-ray replication yields are not where they need to be, we continue to hear in the shadows that the HD format war has become a war between the studios more than anything else.

The problem with the reproduction of discs in both HD formats does spell trouble for both camps. According to what we have overheard, the Blu-ray dual layer format is very difficult to reproduce with accuracy to achieve the kinds of yields necessary to make it cost effective, not to mention the per line cost for disc replicators in getting a Blu-ray line up and running. On the HD DVD side of things, while the discs are much cheaper and easier to produce, problems reading produced discs (due to the design of the disc) are still present and that issue is only compounded when dealing with the dual layer or triple layer HD DVD formats.

Many of the people that we spoke with off the record say that they expect the format war to continue simply because the manufacturers (primarily Sony for Blu-ray and Toshiba for HD DVD) and the studios just have simply invested too much money to turn back now. All of the players have to achieve some level of return on their investment before they would be able to just abandon their commitment to their particular format.

One other source indicated that the primary problem and reason that we have not seen the low-cost players from sources other than Toshiba on the HD DVD side of things is simply because no one but Toshiba has been able to turn out the HD DVD required laser and laser assembly with the kind of quality yields necessary to produce low-cost players. This will have to change quickly if more HD DVD players are going to arrive from other affordable sources.

As for the dual format Blu-ray/HD DVD combo players, both Samsung and LG have them on display here at CES. We asked about the possible of them being discontinued quickly with the recent announcement, but both companies claimed that they have no plans to do so at this time. Also, neither company plans to drop the price of the Blu-ray/HD DVD combo players at this time.

So, at least for the time being, based on what we are hearing HD DVD is going to be around for a while. HD DVD owners should be able to continue to get movies from supporting studios. We suspect that if HD DVD is going to die, because of studio stubbornness and the amount of money that the players have spent, we are going to have to wait for a time before HD DVD finally decides to call it a day. In the meantime, we see no signs of the potential death of conventional DVD, which is to be expected since early adopters seem to be more interested in getting HD discs than anyone else.

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 January 2008 19:59
David Stellmack

David Stellmack

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