Have you amassed a large collection of DVDs? Well, I have (well over 300). I just love watching movies and old TV shows on DVD over and over again. And when I read in the newspapers that my DVD collection is going the way of cassette tapes, I get a little worried. I have had others ask me if they should stop buying DVDs in their current format and wait until the next generation of DVDs hit the market. That’s a tough question to answer, but so far I usually answer something along the lines of “it’s up to you,” or “it depends if you are willing to have a large collection of potentially outdated technology.” Not very direct or helpful, I know.
The problem is that there are two competing formats coming to the market, Blue-ray and HD DVD. Some are making the competition out to be something like the Betamax vs. VHS war of the early 1980s. I don’t know if it really is a war or if one format will be more popular than the other. There are a lot of factors that play into how well either Blue-ray or HD DVD will perform. I can, however, give you a brief introduction to the two formats and let you decide which is best for you. As for me, I am still buying regular old DVDs partly because they can be pretty inexpensive (if you buy used DVDs) and I don’t want to wait for the debate over the new formats to play itself out. Even if one or both formats become more popular than ever, I’ll still be able to watch my current DVD collection. Old episodes of M.A.S.H. are not going to look much, if any, better on next generation DVDs than they already do.
Both Blue-ray and HD DVD players use blue lasers to read the discs. Current DVDs and CDs are read using a red laser. Blue lasers can read data from much smaller and compressed areas allowing for more data storage on discs. More room for storage means that higher definition video can be crammed onto DVD size discs. Thus, Blue-ray and HD DVDs hold much more data than current DVDs.
Blue-ray and HD DVD discs are the same size as current DVDs, so it should be easy to get used to using them. You should be able to watch your current DVD collection on both Blue-ray and HD DVD players. There are some things that need to be worked out with Blue-ray players, however, before this can actually happen. Just in case, make sure either player can play your current DVDs before purchasing a new player.
HD DVDs and players are already on the market (as of April 2006). You can head down to your local electronics store and pick up a player (for at least $400 US) and a few movies. The first movies released for HD DVD were The Last Samurai, Million Dollar Baby, The Phantom of the Opera, and Serenity. Blue-ray movies and players have yet to hit the United States market. You should be able to buy them later in 2006 or early 2007 (the official release date keeps changing). The first Blue-ray player in the US is supposed to be on the Sony Playstation 3, which is set for release worldwide in November 2006.
Blue-ray vs. HD DVD
Check out a brief introduction to Blue-ray and HD DVD discs in the next blog.