Toshiba’s slim HD DVD burner for Europe, and the format war in the press

At IFA this week, Toshiba unveiled an slimline external USB 2.0 HD DVD Super-Multi drive and HD DVD burner for PCs. The burner supports HD DVD-ROM and single- and double-layer HD DVD-R, as well as DVD+/-RW, and CD. (No BD, of course.) The Super-Multi is the same, sans HD DVD-R support. Both are just 128mm x 126mm x 13mm and weigh 165g. Prices start at £200.

From Crave via EngadgetHD.

And both CNET and The Register have articles on the ongoing Blu-ray / HD DVD format war. CNET’s article is more middle-of-the-road – basically neither side is even close to giving up, and the war will probably drag on all through 2008 now that Paramount and Dreamworks went HD DVD exclusive. But it doesn’t look like either format will win in 2008, and overall HD disc adoption is still slow, so there is plenty of time for the war to drag on before any decisive sales levels are reached. Not really good news – and the war will only continue to slow adoption. Some semantic games are played:

Eight of the 15 top-grossing films of the year, including Shrek the Third, Transformers and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, were released by studios that distribute exclusively on HD DVD or on both formats.

Sounds good for HD DVD, right? Sure… but notice the or on both formats. Aka, anything from Warner. Those other 7 films? From Blu-ray exclusive studios. Combined with Warner ‘both formats’ Bros., BD actually has more of the top 15 films. Why write it that way? Seems like it was deliberately worded to favor HD DVD. The article also repeatedly refers to the 18-month exclusivity window for the Paramount/Dreamworks deal. This is something I’ve seen a number of HD DVD fans claiming is just a bogus rumor – but for a bogus rumor it is getting a lot of press and I haven’t seen Paramount or Dreamworks deny it.

The Register goes into detail on what both sides have been slinging at this week’s IFA show. The BDA is claiming that they have led HD DVD in sales since August 12, 2006. Up to August 12, 2007, over two million BD discs had been sold in the US, 1.71m of them just in 2007. For the YTD 2007, 66.3% of next-gen discs sold in the US were BD, and 70% in Europe.

The next day the HD DVD camp had their press conference and responded that they had 70% of the European IT market (PC drives) as well as 70% of the standalone player market (ignoring the PS3, and probably the 360′s drive). And, again, they played the numbers game that annoys me so. The Reg has a picture of one of their slides, which has the following lines together:
* 70% share of European standalone players
* Attach rate: 4 to 1 for HD DVD, 0.5 for Blu-ray.
So, again, they’ll ignore the PS3 when it makes them look good (percentage of players) but include it when it makes them look good (attach rate is based on including the PS3 for BD). And both approaches are crap.

To be far, I’ll call the BDA on their shenanigans too. They claimed that so far in 2007, for Europe’s six largest economies, 94% of devices capable of playing next-gen discs were compatible with BD, and just 6% for HD DVD. I’m sure it is true, but that includes a lot of PS3s that will never play a movie.

Both sides play games with numbers – but the bottom line remains that BD titles are outselling HD DVD by roughly 2:1 in both the US and Europe.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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