Blu-ray destined for Betamax wasteland?

Comments made by Microsoft man Chris Lewis in an interview with German rag Der Spiegel have added fuel to the raging fire between Blu-ray and HD-DVD i

Comments made by Microsoft man Chris Lewis in an interview with German rag Der Spiegel have added fuel to the raging fire between Blu-ray and HD-DVD in the race to get high-def DVDs to the masses.

Lewis is reported to have said that Blu-ray reminded him of another Sony mishap: Betamax. The comparison is telling; VHS may have trampled Betamax into the dust but technologically it wasn’t actually the better of the pair. The same goes for Blu-ray, being the superior format to HD DVD.

According to market research bods ABI, even though HD DVD is being sold at three times the price of today’s DVDs – Universal’s first HD DVD movie, Serenity (above), is $35 dollars or £20 – it will be hogging nearly 70 per cent of the high-def disc market by the end of 2006.

This is mostly because HD DVD got its foot in the door first - Toshiba’s  HD-DVD players are lining US stores now, whereas Sony’s Blu-ray efforts are still in the pipeline. Panasonic is promising to ship an internal Blu-ray disc writer this summer, but that’s well behind the competition.

Toshiba may have managed to slash the price of its player to around half that of Blu-ray’s, but Blu-ray movies will be around $24 (£14) – significantly cheaper than the competition - and with PlayStation 3 on the horizon, there’s every chance the Blu-ray camp can even out the playing field.

Who will be the winner? Only time, as the wise man said, can tell. Let’s hope that, for our sake, quality wins out over marketing.

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