Monday, January 09, 2006

More Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD fun

The Consumer Electronics Show 2006, a veritable Disneyland of technogeekdom, was held last weekend, and the lion's share of the attention was centered on the upcoming HD home video formats. One writer on CNET has wryly commented that while the players are producing stupefingly gorgeous video, the units themselves look pretty fugly.

HD-DVD looks like it's going to be first out of the gate, releasing its first players in late spring at an average MSRP of $400-$700, a price point that is surprising everyone. (Even the first DVD players in 1997 were higher.) This is seen as an obvious attempt to undercut the Blu-ray faction by hitting the streets first with much less expensive hardware. The first Blu-ray players are due later in the year at a breathtaking average price-point of $1800. But still many analysts are predicting Blu-ray will prevail, with better copy-protection than HD-DVD, among other things. The X factor? Gamers.

Sony's PlayStation 3, due around late spring/early summer, will, as all game geeks know, include a Blu-ray drive, while Microsoft — ever the contrarian — has announced it's throwing its weight behind HD-DVD and will release an external HD-DVD drive for the XBox 360. Immediate problem: this is a peripheral, which will cost more in addition to the $400 an XBox 360 already costs, while the PS3 will have Blu-ray built in.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard have thrown up their hands, said "Fuck it," and announced their support for both formats.

Then there's the upcoming Macworld Expo (go Mac!), where Steve Jobs will do his usual routine of announcing all their amazingly cool, top secret stuff, little of which is ever fully secret but, hey. In addition to expected announcements about a new line of turbocharged Intel-powered laptops and some new iPods, there could be elaboration on the company's HD plans (they're behind Blu-ray). Jobs has hinted at Apple's moving boldly into the "digital living room" thing.

So...lots of activity on the HD geek front. We'll see where the proverbial dust settles.

Meanwhile, here are some cool pics the Digital Bits guys took at CES. Technoporn! Yum.

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