HD-DVD's Long Walk Back to the Locker Room of Shame
It would be a mistake to say that HD-DVD will cease to exist tomorrow. In fact, expect to see just the opposite of that. HD-DVD continue on as an underground favorite format, much like Betamax did in the 70s and laser discs did in the 90s. Remember laser discs, the giant optical discs that came before DVD, the stuff of early home theater buffs who could tell you a thing or two about digital mastering way before half of Hollywood was even Bar Mitzvah'd? No? How about beta, the superior tape format that Sony wanted you to buy instead of VHS?
I originally thought HD-DVD was completely done for before the Consumer Electronics Show. Warner's Blu-Ray-exclusive announcement and the HD-DVD group's decision to back out of their keynote made it sound like they would go away with a whimper. On the final day of the conference, however, I took one last walk by the HD-DVD booth just to see what was up. After all, I'm a sucker for a good heartbreak story.
"So I looked on bestbuy.com this morning," began the booth attendant, speaking to three half-asleep attendees who, by my estimation, were there more for the chair rest than the presentation. "You can now buy an HD-DVD drive for $179. That also comes with ten free discs. Ten free discs! That easily makes HD-DVD the best deal in high definition."
The guy had a point. Think about it -- for $179, you can get a high-end HD-DVD player that will also upscale your regular DVDs to high-definition resolution. It will also play your Super-Audio CDs. You also get ten free HD-DVD discs. Go try to buy ten new regular-definition DVDs for $179 -- I dare you. That evening I was ordering an HD-DVD drive from bestbuy.com. Call me a vulture if you will, but I'll be enjoying this winter in high-def heaven. Heck - I might even cancel my Netflix account for a few months and save another $50 or so.
That closing value on the HD-DVD format really is hard to beat. Even if another HD-DVD title never comes out, the closing cost of the format -- along with its hardware -- is easily worth the cost to anyone with a high-definition television. Is it an investment for the far future? Not so much, but most of us who already have home theaters and high-definition televisions aren't exactly known for our electronics long-term investment acumen -- we'll all have new TVs, receivers, and speakers in a few years anyway.
Anyway, with Apple's new iTunes Movie Rentals and NetFlix opening up the "View It Now" service to unlimited views, disc-based movies' days are numbered.
Enjoy the fire sale. I know I will.