Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD update.

Sony lost the VCR battle in the 1970s when its highly regarded Betamax technology was trounced by VHS, a more widely accepted alternative. Despite being technologically superior, the Sony Betamax machine failed for a variety of reasons, and history may be repeating itself.

Reminiscent of its failed Betamax legacy, difficulties have now been encountered with the Blu-ray technology that have led Sony to acknowledge that it might delay the release of its PlayStation 3 gaming product, which is built on the Blu-ray format, partly because technological details are still being worked out.

This expected delay can only add to the decline of the Blu-ray group’s once-commanding lead in the next generation of high-definition DVD players.

Added to this, HD DVD players from Toshiba are now available for sale; they also play back conventional DVDs and retail at $499—about half the price of the least expensive Blu-ray unit.

It appears that the momentum is now shifting back to the HD DVD format. A few months ago, HD DVD had all but been given up for dead, but with strong support by Microsoft, the technology has gained significant traction. Intel has also joined Microsoft in backing HD DVD, and Hewlett-Packard has now moved away from its exclusive support of Blu-ray.

At first I was “bullish” on Blu-ray, but my “gut” now tells me that HD DVD may be the better option.

As Yogi Berra once declared, could this be “Déjà vu all over again” for Sony? Stay tuned.
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