Warner Bros. announced they were becoming an exclusively Blu-Ray studio this weekend, apparently completely pulling the rug on the HD-DVD camp. Said a Toshiba press release:
TOKYO, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/—Toshiba is quite surprised by Warner Bros.’ decision to abandon HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray, despite the fact that there are various contracts in place between our companies concerning the support of HD DVD. As central members of the DVD Forum, we have long maintained a close partnership with Warner Bros. We worked closely together to help standardize the first-generation DVD format as well as to define and shape HD DVD as its next-generation successor.
We were particularly disappointed that this decision was made in spite of the significant momentum HD DVD has gained in the US market as well as other regions in 2007. HD DVD players and PCs have outsold Blu-ray in the US market in 2007.
Toshiba‘s one of the HD-DVD founders and following this announcement, they pulled their CES conference entirely. A bit of a death knell ringing for the HD-DVD side, with rumors swirling that Microsoft may be pulling their HD-DVD support as well.
It makes the free HD-DVD press backpack/roller bags a bit of a sad affair.
It seems that Target is semi-following in Blockbuster’s footsteps as far as the next-generation high definition DVD format war goes, as they have made a move that solidly puts them behind Blu-ray this holiday season. Target announced today that it would start selling standalone Blu-ray players in their brick-and-mortar locations beginning this fall. This obviously leads into the holiday rush. Consumers will be able to purchase the Sony BDP-S300 at $499 USD, as well as have the option to select from an expanded selection of Blu-ray movie titles. This is the first standalone high-definition player that Target has made available in stores, but they do also sell the Blu-ray PS3 and Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on.
Back in June, Blockbuster announced Blu-ray exclusivity in it’s retail stores as well, citing that in test markets the format was rented far more than HD DVD was. They do, however, continue to rent HD DVD through Blockbuster Online and Blockbuster Total Access. Target will also continue selling both HD DVD titles and Blu-ray titles in stores, but we expect that Blu-ray section to grow a bit larger.
Target spokesperson Brie Heath told the Associated Press that this isn’t a political move. “We are not proclaiming one format vs. the other as the preferred consumer technology, and software will continue to be available to our guests in both the Blu-ray and HD DVD format,” said Brie. We’ll see how this all plays out in the fourth quarter.
Samsung has finally announced its BD-UP5000 hybrid Blu-ray HD DVD player today. This is going to be the home theatre device to watch this holiday season, as it launches in the fourth quarter of 2007. Those consumers who worry about the format war finally have a player that should fully support the features of both formats, unlike the LG Super Multi Blue BH-100 player, which doesn’t fully support HD DVD features.
The BD-UP5000 features 1080p playback, HDMI 1.3, VC-1, H.264, and HD JPEG decoding. It also features built-in storage and Ethernet to fully support the HD DVD spec. A device like this doesn’t come cheap, so expect the BD-UP5000 to launch at $1,049 USD.
We know the HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray war is going hot and heavy, and LG looks to capitalize on that with their BH-100 hybrid Blu-ray HD DVD player. If you don’t get it yet, this bad boy can play just about any optical media you can throw at it, supporting DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and HD DVD content as well. Price is a bit steep at $1199 USD, but true videophiles may not even notice when they realize that, for them, the format war no longer exists. The LG Super Multi Blue BH-100 Player officially hits retail stores today, despite being available in small quantities for a little over a week now.
Okay, forget all the corporate-speak we have been getting on the issue. We went around and ask people wandering the floor at CES which format they liked and thought would win out in the end. We got quite a few interesting responses, many of which seeming to come from people who don’t even know that a format war even exists.
Toshiba has announced the release of their HD-A2 and HD-XA2 HD DVD players. Both output HD DVD content through the HDMI interface in 720p or 1080i. The HD-A2 incorporates a 297MHz / 12 bit Video DAC with high-quality, 4x oversampling, while the HD-XA2 also features 1.3. HDMI for 36-bit (RGB or YCbCr) color depth.
Both models come with picture setting functions that allow you to optimize picture quality with settings for color, contrast, brightness, edge enhancement, and noise blocker. Set to be released in October, the HD-A2 carries a MSRP of $499.99. For last minute Santas, the release of the high end HD-XA2 will follow in December at a MSRP of $999.99.
Read More | Toshiba News Release
HD DVD firmware is scheduled to be moving to version 2.0 sometime today. If you have your HD DVD player connected to the Internet, be prepared for the automatic download that will bring you support f or 24-bit/96kHz discrete audio with TrueHD 5.1 sound, something that Blu-Ray players still lack. We must say, we are impressed with the speed at which features are being added to the HD DVD players, as the 2.0 firmware upgrade is the fourth one to be pushed out in just as many months. Of course, there is also something to be said for launching a product that is feature-complete to begin with, but we won’t go there.
Read More | HD Beat