HD-DVD is Dead

by Mike Shea on 17 February 2008

I'm always on the losing side. First NBC pulls my two favorite shows off of iTunes, lowering the value of my Apple TV, and now I find out that my HD-DVD player is obsolete at less than a year old.

Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Netflix all announced they will no longer carry HD-DVD movies. Toshiba said they will cease production of HD-DVD hardware. Of course, I opted to invest in an HD-DVD player for my Xbox 360 so now I'm out in the cold.

Why Hollywood and the big electronic megacorps were allowed to leave that smoking room with two formats still boggles my mind. Everyone knew it was a bad idea. We did, the media did, Hollywood did, the electronic industry did. Everyone knew it would stunt growth and cause bad blood. It has with me.

I'm not going to buy an HD-DVD player. I'm much more likely to buy an up-converting DVD player when I get a TV that includes HDMI. I already own about four HD-DVD movies including two that I want to keep - Blade Runner and The Fountain. After seeing how good movies can look upconverted, I see little reason to invest in a new player and new software for it.

It's unfortunate that only one side suffers in this format war defeat. Even though their player is the declared winner, it should be clear that the format war was costly to everyone.

Of course, a format war between two DVD formats isn't even close to the format war that exists on the digital front. Every single provider of digital video has a different incompatible format there. Apple, Microsoft, NBC, Netflix, Amazon, and a dozen others all offer expensive incompatible, and limited digital copies for download. You're still better off buying the DVD and upconverting it with Handbrake in an open H.264 or Xvid format.

The big media industry is in a really sad state right now. All of the next-gen formats, both digital downloads and high definition DVDs offer products with greater limitation than products we were able to buy ten years ago. It's confusing and costly to customers, offers little increased value, and does nothing but fuel a broken business model for Hollywood. It may be decades before we're able to come out of the other side. In the mean time, expect to pay for the same content multiple times in a lower quality format that will not last more than a few years.

Avoid it by buying a good DVD upconverter and subscribing to Netflix.

Goodbye to a good friend.

For the past twelve years I had a friend and companion who traveled with me across country, lived in four different homes with me, survived two different dogs, and always greeted me with a raspy meow every time I came home. She brought me happiness and relaxation every day of her life. Yesterday, after a massive kidney failure, my wife and I had to put our cat, Taniko, asleep. We miss her dearly. Even Jebu, our shepherd, is mopy.