Few ‘Blu’s For Those Switching to High Definition Formats

The War Between the Two New Video Formats, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, Heats Up

It can certainly be hard to recall the days of VCRs, given that it has been over 10 years since the release of the DVD player. It is not surprising, then, that those in the video industry are trying to sell new, improved video formats to customers.

The Sony Blu-Ray and Toshiba HD (High Definition) DVD formats were both released in spring 2006 and have been vying for consumers since, with neither gaining a significant edge over the other. Since the two are supported by different companies and are therefore incompatible, consumers have to choose which format they wish to purchase.

The major difference between the DVDs that have been sold for 10 years and the new high-definition formats is how information is stored and read.

The data on DVDs is stored in miniscule bumps on DVDs that are read by a red laser. For the new HD formats, blue lasers are used instead; since blue has a lower wavelength, it can read small bumps and therefore obtain more data.

Junior Jordan McDaniel owns a Blue-Ray player and had to make the choice between HD DVD and Blu-Ray. Jordan believes that the new formats will eventually overtake regular DVDs in the consumer market.

“[If you wear glasses], imagine that your vision without glasses is standard DVD,” Jordan said. “When you put the glasses on, that’s like HD—it’s much sharper.”

Blu-Ray and HD DVDs are quickly making their way into many households. Since Blu-Ray and HD DVD are backed by Sony and Microsoft, respectively, both companies sell these players with their corresponding game consoles: the PlayStation 3 (Sony) and Xbox 360 (Microsoft, $180 add-on needed).

Many consumers will probably wait until prices of the new players go down, but one reason Blu-Ray is more appealing is its larger storage space. A Blu-Ray disc can hold up to 50 gigabytes of data, compared to the 30 gigabytes of HD and the 8.5 of DVD.

Though Blu-Ray players cost $499 compared to $299 for the HD player, Blu-Ray is supported by both the PlayStation 3 and has a broader studio backing, another reason why Blu-Ray may emerge victorious.

Until very recently, each player only supported one format. Some new models, such as the Super BluTM BH100 Player from LG, can play both high-definition formats and regular DVDS. some suggest this may be the sign that Blu-Ray and HD DVD formats may coexist (for the lofty price of $1,200).

The selection of available DVDs is still limited, though many studios are announcing support for various formats. Before buying either format, make sure to see what studios are supported on each player.