Now that the market for high-definition televisions is heating up, the electronics industry believes the time is right for high-definition DVD players. But the future remains unclear for this next generation of digital video players. As a result, electronics manufacturers are waging a fierce battle to determine whether the Blu-ray or HD-DVD format will dominate the market.
The two competing types of HD players have their supporters: the Blu-ray (backed by Samsung, Sony, Apple, Philips, Panasonic, Sharp, Pioneer, and Dell) and the HD-DVD (backed by Toshiba, Microsoft, Sanyo, and NEC). Both formats offer high-resolution pictures and sensational sound, along with pop-up onscreen menus, picture-in-a-picture features, and the ability to change languages or scenes. Blu-ray goes a step further by offering an enhanced scene search function with a clickable menu of the actors and scenes in which they appear.
In either case, consumers don’t have to worry about obsolescence when it comes to their old DVD collections, since both Blu-ray and HD-DVD players are compatible with current disc formats.
Despite a limited selection of available movies, the first Blu-ray DVD player, Samsung’s BD-P1000, arrived in stores in June with a price tag of $1,000. So far, there are a total of 24 Blu-ray movies available, including Hitch, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and The Fifth Element. At least 130 additional Blu-ray formatted movies are expected, but release dates have not yet been announced.
Earlier this year, Toshiba released a pair of HD-DVD players: the HD-A1 ($499) and the HD-XA1 ($799). Although they are priced relatively higher than standard DVD players, they cost significantly less than Samsung’s Blu-ray version, which may be a factor in attracting early adopters.
Blu-ray and HD-DVD at a glance
Blu-ray was jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association, a group of the world’s leading consumer electronics, personal computer, and media manufacturers.
On Nov. 19, 2003, the DVD Forum, an international organization composed of hardware, software, media, and content companies, decided that the HD-DVD will be the HDTV successor of the DVD.
For more information, visit www.blu-ray.com and www.hddvd.org.Samsung BD-P1000, $1,000
Although the selection of DVD movies formatted for Blu-ray is meager, Samsung is charging out in front with this model, which is compatible with most of today’s standard DVD formats.
Toshiba HD-A1, $499
This affordable first-generation HD-DVD player produces an impressive high-definition image, offering more than five times the resolution of standard DVD.