Well, it is that time of year – time for end-of-year predictions about what will happen in the coming year. And The Hollywood Reporter isn’t pulling any punches with the headline:Prediction: Blu-ray blows away HD DVD.
2008 is the year Sony’s Howard Stringer and the Blu-ray Disc will slay HD DVD as effectively as Joseph Turok dispenses with dinosaurs. If you’re unfamiliar with that metaphor, you probably don’t have a PlayStation 3.
I’m still a staunch Blu-ray supporter, and my super-deluxe Blu-ray Blade Runner box set arrived today which I’m all giddy about, but I’m not as confident as I once was in Blu-ray’s absolute victory. If anything, things are less certain now than they were a year ago. Paramount’s and DreamWorks Animation’s jump to HD DVD, payola or not, took some of the wind out of Blu-ray’s sails. And while BD player prices have been dropping rapidly, Toshiba has been able to retain the low-price lead. I think Blu-ray still has the support to beat HD DVD, but I admit HD DVD has surprised me by holding out as long as it has already. The big unknown is Warner. If they remain on the fence then the slow war of attrition will continue. However, if they do pick sides, they could decide the outcome of the war – either a permanent stalemate or a Blu victory, depending on which way they swing.
I think we’ll see a lot of hype from both sides next month at CES. I don’t know what HD DVD’s story will be – maybe touting the possibilities of their 51GB disk. But, aside from that, there isn’t really anything new in their camp from a technology standpoint. Toshiba’s only recently launched their 3rd generation players, so I don’t know if they’d want to talk 4th gen yet. Maybe they’ll announce some additional manufacturers.
Blu-ray, on the other hand, will probably be talking up the move to Profile 1.1, with the recent update to the PS3 and the release of Profile 1.1 players and content. And, beyond that, toward Profile 2.0 aka BD-Live players and content due in 2008. (The HD DVD camp at this point would point out they’ve had 1.1/2.0 features since the start, and rightfully so.) We’ll probably see a number of new players announced for several vendors. Hopefully some of those will be low-cost models that will drive BD player pricing down below $200 in early 2008. And we’ll probably hear more about higher capacity BD media, with 100GB and 200GB capacities being bantered around. There has already been talk of using such media for home 3D content, as Hollywood seems to be embracing 3D again (and, I admit, I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far) and the first TVs capable of displaying 3D content are already on the market. But 3D content would mean another jump in data storage needs, and that’s where Blu-ray’s growth capability would come in handy.
In any case, I’m looking forward to CES and my feet are already starting to ache in anticipation of all the walking I’ll be doing.