Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: Can you say "BetaMax"? .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Can you say "BetaMax"?

A DVD Standoff in Hollywood

There's a battle going on in Hollywood, and it's not between Brad and Jen, or Tom and Nicole.

It's between studios, over who will prevail in the struggle over the high definition format that will become the standard for DVDs in the future.

Not getting this from entertainment rags, are you? That's because it's a silent war. Similar to the war between VHS and BetaMax decades ago. And we all know who won that war.

Although BetaMax had a better quality product, VHS prevailed on sheer numbers alone.

A similar battle looms.

Warner Brothers, Universal Studios and Paramount, which represent 43 percent of the home video market, are supporting the HD-DVD format.

Sony and Disney, with 39 percent of the market, are backing Blu-ray technology.

Blu-ray, which, like Beta, boasts greater resolution for the bandwidth, has the better technology.

But HD-DVD is merely enhacing existing digital video and is therefore more economical to produce, and is being agressive in releasing 89 movies this year in their format, hoping the public will invest in their players, made by Toshiba and NEC.

Blu-ray players, made by Sony, Panasonic and Hewlett-Packard, are still in the "beta" test stage, and will likely miss out on the initial push to Hi-Def this Christmas season, although they will probably have a better product by next year's holiday buying spree.

So those of you who remember the quality advantage of BetaMax and Apple will see a familiar trend. The lower quality, but cheaper, format will hit the market heavier than the better quality, but more expensive format, and therefore will capture market share.

Myself, I usually wait until the dust settles before I invest in high-end electronics. But if, when the dust settles, we're left with a VHS-like quality, I'll be dissapointed. But why would I buy a Blu-ray player if there's no product to play on it?

How much of the quality of our lives are limited by what the market supports? It makes one wonder.


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