Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The HD Format War - Be Neutral and Pick Both.

I should have written this post back in October, but been a little busy with other things...

The consumer electronics press likes to make a big deal about the HD format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Does anybody really care? Most of my friends don't even seem to know either exists. They seem quite content with their DVDs. I thought their lack of interest was because of the confusion created by the choice of two different systems and apparent changing of alliances from the major movie studios, but most haven't even been paying attention to any of that news.

For those of us that do pay attention, why not just use both formats, especially if you use an HTPC. Back in September I wrote a post about the LG hybrid drive that supports both HD DVD and Blu-ray. Actually, I first wrote about these way back in May, but I was more excited about LG's hybrid drive that could also burn Blu-ray discs. LG also announced that its "Super Blu" BH200 HD DVD / Blu-ray combo player is now available at retailers nationwide for a not so cheap $999.

Well, LG started selling these drives in Japan back in September. They finally showed up in North America toward the third week of October. NCIXUS, a Canadian vendor, was the earliest reliable source. They were offering them for around $275 and they were selling faster than they could get them in stock. For some strange reason they weren't available from US online vendors like Newegg.com and PCAlchemy until a few weeks later and they were priced a little higher at around $300.

Now there seem to be a lot of very satisfied owners who no longer have to worry about which format wins. I will probably join them in the near future. Originally, I was waiting for the drive that included the Blu-ray burning capability. Since the Blu-ray blank media prices are probably going to be prohibitively expensive, I'll probably wait to see if the price of the player-only drive goes down when the burner becomes available. I owned a double layer DVD burner for a long time before the media prices were reasonable. At least you didn't have to pay a premium for those DVD-DL drives. The current pricing for a single 25 GB BD-R disc is around $10 - $17.


  1. CNet advises, in a rather long :-) article, staying put and waiting.
    Curiously, CNet's Most
    and ConsumerSearch.com
    agree--sic--on two home theater choices, the Philips HTS3555 (below $300 range) and the Panasonic SC-PT750 (below 600). And yes, integrated DVD players are on both.

  2. Rael-

    For people that are anxious and willing to jump into HD formats, the hybrid players or drives are a good choice. I don't think a combo DVD/VCR drive is going to fit the bill.

    Those hybrid players are pretty expensive, but the hybrid drives for HTPCs are more reasonable.

    Personally, I'm going to try to wait until these drives drop a bit more in price and hopefully more software players will be released and the existing software players will be better because they will solve some issues with playing HD audio codecs.