High-Def DVD: Who to Believe?

The marketing and PR campaigns for the dueling high-definition DVD formats continue to heat up. Each side lays claim to the Number One position. The Blu-Ray camp has claimed that they have sold twice as many Blu-ray discs than HD DVD. Toshiba has countered that they have maintained a lead in sales of “high definition stand-alone video players” from the outset.

What’s the truth? I expect that both of these statements might be accurate. The Blu-ray player in Sony’s Playstation 3 no doubt made users curious about its capabilities, and so they went out and bought a movie or two to try out on their new console. Toshiba’s HD DVD players are priced way below the Blu-ray players from Sony and others, so it makes sense that they would outsell the more expensive technology. If you fold the PS3 sales into the equation, however, Blu-ray probably has a pronounced lead.

I still pick HD DVD to win in the long run, starting this fall. There are enough good movies available in HD DVD to satisfy many consumers, and the lower cost of the players will be a big factor in the holiday buying season. Expect to get more for less when Toshiba brings out its third generation models in the next few weeks. Also, Warner Brothers has a dual format HD DVD/DVD disc that would make life so much easier for Netflix and Blockbuster, as it would only require stocking one disc for both standard and high definition. (I was given one of these dual format discs at CEDIA last week, and plan to try it out soon.)

Blu-ray clearly has the early momentum, but I expect that to shift towards HD DVD in the coming months. If HD DVD establishes a significant lead, you can expect to see some of those “exclusive” commitments to Blu-ray by some movie studios begin to waver.