The ongoing battle between Sony’s Blu-ray and Toshiba’s HD DVD formats hasn’t exactly been an epic struggle for consumer marketshare, but it certainly brings up images of the Beta versus VHS times when it was decided by the consumer that smaller was not better.
Officially, Toshiba has decided to retreat from the marketplace as of 2008, but Blu-ray has been slow in advancing on this opportunity. Although the quality and features available on Blu-ray are typically better, up-sampling DVD players have brought HD capabilities to most Televisions. This, combined with the high cost of production for Blu-ray, and lower consumer demand have kept this media at bay.
The Blu-ray disc is able to provide this higher quality because Blu-ray discs support 40% more data (25 GB versus the 15 GB supported by HD DVD), and the theoretical limit of Blu-ray is 8 times higher than current discs, giving hopes for more features and options in the future.
Until recently, this performance gain was negated by several challenges that kept consumers from choosing Blu-ray. Such challenges include the cost of Blu-ray players, which could range up to many times the cost of an HD DVD player, the availability of Blu-ray disc selections, and the fact that the Blu-ray standard is still evolving and new piracy protection methods, formats, and features support has caused players to require updates in order to play the latest movies.
But recent price drops in players has caused the Blu-ray option to gain adoption in the market. Some players, such as the Samsung BD-P1600 can be purchased for a little more than $100. Additionally, the backing from such giants as Sony Pictures, Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Lionsgate have increased the availability of movies created for Blu-ray players.
Many models support wireless connectivity through an internal or external wireless adapter which can be purchased for about $60. The wireless function is robust, and allows you to connect to a home wireless network, as well as for small businesses supporting wireless hotspots to add movies, web content, and high defintition television shows to their marketing tools. The wireless not only allows you to stream movies to your Blu-ray player, but also gives you the option to update your player as the Blu-ray standard evolves to ensure that are able to play the latest movies. Additionally, and not as touted for marketing reasons, is the ability to play HD DVD discs which is inherent on all Blu-ray players, but not vice versa.
Available streaming options include fee-based services provided by NetFlix, Blockbuster and others, but also free services provided by YouTube and other internet sources. For those without wireless networks, most models allow you to connect using a wired option, although the cost of running ethernet cable may well offset the wireless adapter.
If you are in the market for a new player, you may want to consider the Blu-ray as your entertainment platform. Not only can you play the existing HD DVD discs you have now, but you can expand your options to new technologies, wireless streaming, and the higher quality offered only on Blu-ray.