Another Blu-ray/HD DVD Combi Player On The Way
Samsung's choice and timing here is more than a little curious. Samsung has previously supported Blu-ray exclusively, and recently released its second-gen Blu-ray player, the BD-P1200. Blu-ray has recently started to show signs that it's separating itself in the market from the HD DVD format with strong software sales.
Blu-ray software has been outselling HD DVD by a 2:1 margin throughout this year, and won head to head battles of major titles released on both formats like The Departed. In addition, Sony's Blu-ray exclusive release of the James Bond flick Casino Royale landed on Amazon's Top Ten DVD sales chart and has already sold over 100,000 units, both firsts for either HD format. More major Blu-ray exclusive releases are on the way as well, with Disney releasing both Pirates of the Caribbean movies to the format just in front of the third film in the series hitting theaters in May, and Pixar's Cars will follow in June.
So, why go HD DVD now? Universal is the only Hollywood studio exclusive to HD DVD. Universal's Craig Kornblau was quoted in Home Media Magazine stating his belief that a flood of inexpensive HD DVD players from China will turn the tide in HD DVD's favor, much as they did for DVD.
I'm personally not quite as sure. DVD had the advantage of support from all the Hollywood studios, nearly from the get-go. Cheaper players merely took DVD from being the fastest growing CE technology ever to being as ubiquitous as the VCR. I'm not sure it will matter how many cheap HD DVD players there are if studios like Disney and Fox maintain their Blu-ray only stance. What difference does it make if you have a cheap player if it won't play the movies you want to watch?
And really, like Warner's announcement that it will be releasing Total HD discs late this year with Blu-ray on one side and HD DVD on the other, my concern is that in spite of pretensions of allaying consumers' fears, these moves might merely prolong the format war. There are clear signs that the buying public is choosing Blu-ray, and I think moves like this actually muddy the waters more than they clear them. At the very least, doesn't this give some consumers two reasons to wait until late this year before buying into either HD format?