HD DVD Takes Early Lead over Blu-Ray, but the Final Battle Ahead

HD DVD Widely Available, Less Expensive than Blu-Ray

by Anton Shilov
11/22/2006 | 04:34 PM

Affected by product delays and other issues, Blu-ray still has not outperformed HD DVD format amid higher amount of movie studios and consumer electronics companies that support the standard backed by Sony. To date, HD DVD still enjoys larger amount of players on the marker and considerably higher amount of content.


The difference between the Blu-ray and the HD DVD may seem negligible, but the war between the two formats may be outrageous. Both Blu-ray and HD DVD use 405nm wavelength laser to read data from the recordable media of the discs. However, the data layer of the Blu-ray discs is located 0.1mm from the disk’s surface, whereas the HD-DVD data layer resides 0.6mm deep from the disk’s surface. HD DVD discs can store up to 15GB on a single layer and up to 30GB on two layers. Its competitor, Blu-ray, can store higher amount of information, up to 27GB per single layer and up to 50GB on two layers, but Blu-ray discs are more expensive to produce.

More HD DVD Players at Lower Price

So far, Toshiba Corp., a leading maker of consumer electronics and other devices, has released two HD DVD players in the U.S. (HD-XA1 and HD-A1), a pair in Europe (HD-E1 and HD-XE1) and a couple of what the company calls “second-generation” HD DVD players (HD-XF2 and HD-XA2) in Japan. In addition, a company called RCA, which is a division of Thomson Consumer Electronics, sells its HD DVD player (HDV5000) in the USA . Meanwhile, the Blu-ray camp, which consists of successful makers of consumer electronics, only has managed to roll out three Blu-ray disc players from Panasonic (DMP-BD10), Philips (BDP9000) and Samsung (BD-P1000). Unfortunately, Sharp, Pioneer, Sony and others are still unable to ship their products to the market.

Albeit Blu-ray has numerous advantages over the HD DVD and the most important one is capacity, the fact that the HD DVD hardware (HW) in the consumer electronics market is much more affordable than the Blu-ray disc HW may play a big role in the adoption of both technologies.

Apparently, HD DVD player can be acquired starting from $320 in the U.S. At the same time, a Blu-ray disc player from Samsung Electronics can be purchased for about $799, while the rest in the BD camp try to sell their players for over $1000.

More Content, More Affordable

The Blu-ray disc association, headed by Sony, claims that currently there are about 70 Blu-ray disc titles available for sale and many more are set to come. Meanwhile, HD DVD camp, which is headed by Toshiba and Nec, says that 164 titles are available now and 214 will be available by the end of the year.

Still, HD DVD seems to be enjoying price advantage over the Blu-ray titles. According to Amazon.com, a leading content supplier, HD DVD discs are a bit more affordable than the Blu-ray disc titles. Typically, HD DVD movies cost $20 - $25, whereas Blu-ray movies cost $20 - $27.

The Bottom Layer Line

Even though currently Blu-ray disc is not widely adopted by the masses, Blu-ray still has the advantage of wider support by both consumer electronics manufacturers and Hollywood studios.

At present, the Blu-ray is currently supported by such leading manufacturers as Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Sharp, Sony and others, meanwhile, Toshiba relies only on itself and RCA/Thompson.

Amid Hollywood studios HD DVD is supported by New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Blu-ray disc is supported by Paramount Pictures, Sony Picturtes, Twentieth Century Fox , Universal Pictures, Walt Disney and Warner Bros.

A problem for the Blu-ray camp is the amount of HD DVD titles and players to be sold while the Blu-ray supporters are managing to make their players more reasonably priced and BD titles widespread. Even though Toshiba is not the absolute leading maker of consumer electronics, if it and its partners (RCA/Thompson and others) manage to sell loads of HD DVD players in the meanwhile, content makers will obviously create more HD DVD titles, making them more affordable in general, transforming the HD DVD market into more lucrative and calling other makers of consumer electronics to join the HD DVD camp. Following that, the demand towards HD DVD may increase substantially and other makers of CE - not the producers within HD DVD camp - may introduce their HD DVD products.

Obviously, the PlayStation 3 game console is likely to make the Blu-ray standard more popular [than it would have been without the PS3], however, it should take some time, as the Blu-ray discs will not become widespread in the children’s rooms unless the PS3 consoles become more affordable and more widespread. Moreover, the content for the PS3 is more than likely to be targeted at children, who generally do not buy new discs themselves.

For the Blu-ray camp there is still an opportunity - thanks to broader support by consumer electronics producers and movie studios - to create a snowball, where there are more affordable high definition players and high definition movies compared to the HD DVD format. However, at this moment this is a ball that the HD DVD camp definitely has.