The sides are lining up for the next format war. At this week’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the two camps behind competing formats for next-generation DVDs announced their launch plans. HD-DVD players will debut in March, with Toshiba selling a $800 model and a simpler $500 model. Blu-ray will debut in late April with a Samsung player, with pricing yet to be announced. In the summer, though, Pioneer will sell a $1800 model and a $1000 model.
Hollywood studios have also revealed their plans. Universal, Warner Bros., New Line, and HBO have announced titles and release dates for HD-DVD films, with “Batman Begins” and “King Kong” leading the pack. In the Blu-ray camp, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Fox, and Disney’s Buena Vista revealed some titles, such as “Lord of War” and “Aeon Flux”, but no firm release dates beyond “summer.” Warner Bros. and Paramount will release films for both media. The pricing for movies in either format have not been announced, though they are expected to be slightly more expensive than current DVDs.
In the computer arena, each side has its allies. HD-DVD is being touted by Microsoft and Intel. Blu-ray has the backing of Apple, Dell, and HP. Computer drives for both formats, with recording capabilities, will also be in stores in the spring.
There is a messy battle ahead. Though Blu-ray is technically superior (25 GB capacity vs. 15 GB for HD-DVD), it seems Sony may have an uphill battle. HD-DVD will be out first, and with less expensive players. The costs of manufacturing HD-DVDs are also supposed to be lower than for Blu-ray, which may result in HD-DVD discs costing less than Blu-ray discs. It seems Sony is counting on its upcoming PlayStation 3, rumored to launch May in Japan and later in the U.S., to give it the advantage. But, as Sony has seen before with Betamax, technical superiority does not equal success.