Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Blu-ray disc “wins”, X-Box owners lose

It seems appropriate for me to take a moment to discuss the things in life that really matter. Today I’m going to talk about how gigantic corporations affect your life.. or, maybe not.. I haven’t decided yet.

All over, in all the info-tainment media (those folks who pass themselves off as “the news”) has been the headline that Blu-ray has won “the format wars”. (Yes, folks–there’s been a format war going on this whole time!) The info-tainment geniuses, future-predictors, and PR shills (aka “reporters”) also tell us that it was Target’s announcement of its decision to stock only Blu-ray that ended the war and sealed HD-DVD‘s fate.
Wrong.

The fact is, Microsoft recognized that their Halo 3 blackmail got just about as many of their mediocre Xbox 360’s sold this Christmas as they were ever going to sell, that nobody was buying the HD-DVD “add-on” box, and are (probably) pulling out of the competition.. In essence, surrendering to the PS3 and the Wii (Sony and Nintendo). It was Microsoft that was keeping the HD-DVD format in the picture, so that it could compete with Sony’s PS3 which was enormously (outrageously?) expensive because it included a (proprietary) Blu-ray drive, and MS figured they needed a Hi Def drive too.
The real winner — and the sales figures tell you why — was Nintendo and the Wii (fun, affordable, and not crud.) And, (this is a hoot) the PlayStation 2 sold more units last Christmas than the X-Box or the PS3.

So yes, folks, there was a “war” being waged, but it wasn’t a disc format war, it was a game console war.

Why should you care about any of this? Well, let’s review a little: HD-DVD and Blu-ray are both laser-written disc formats.  For the computer user, this primarily means storage (recording); and for the movie watcher, this means making sure you bring home “the ‘right’ kind”.

Let me first deal with the folks who care because it is what the movies they buy/rent come on, and get them out of the way. Have you asked yourself, why are you even dealing with discs? Can’t you get “Premium” Channels? (I realize some can’t.. or won’t.) Is pay-per-view too convenient? If you have broadband, there’s also IPTV. There’s TiVo. There’s Netflix and iTunes. Before very long, all entertainment “content” is going to be provided “on demand”.. movies, your favorite shows, the “news”, all of it. Download and view, or watch it “streamed”. The discs are already obsolete. You’re going to be storing your shows on hard drives.. if you aren’t already. When On-demand reaches us adequately.. we won’t even store it at all.

For computer users, the keyword is “storage” and (1st generation) Blu-ray can hold 50 Gigs to HD-DVD’s 30: a no-brainer. HD-DVD allowed me to “skin” my face over Harrison Ford’s so I can make it look like I’m piloting the Millennium Falcon??? Pleeeease.
But since we often need to backup more than 50 GBs, and you can get 750GB hard-drives for much less than a Blu-ray burner (which also write faster)…
The technology could have and should have come out 5-7 years ago.

All the media attention to this topic adds up to much ado about nothing (including this article). Both formats were obsolete before they even got started. And I blame the gaming console… and I think it’s worth repeating– the older PlayStation 2 out-sold both of the newer consoles!
Who knew Target had so much power?

*To any dedicated journalist out there: I wasn’t referring to you, but to those other guys.

[update: I read that last month in Japan, the Wii sold 331,627 consoles, the PS3 89,131 (¼ as many), and the Xbox… 14,079.]

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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February 23, 2008 - Posted by | computers, hardware, PC, tech | , , , , , , , ,

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