Help Me Decide: HD DVD or Blu-ray?

HD-DVD vs. Blu-rayA few months back I purchased a high-definition television (HD-TV) but have yet to experience its true capacity (sharper images, etc.). The apartment complex I live in has me locked into one satellite provider which does not offer any HD broadcasting. And I have been reluctant to purchase a next generation DVD player because of the format wars.

For those not up to speed, Sony’s next generation DVD is called Blu-ray whereas Microsoft and Toshiba have a format called HD DVD. The two are comparable in terms of the higher picture quality they offer (unless you want to nitpick) but are, of course, incompatible with each other. To make matters worse, most movies are only released in one format or the other. For instance, Disney movies are only available in Blu-ray whereas Universal Studios movies are only in HD DVD.

Some are speculating that a clear winner won’t be crowned until at least 2009, and even the CEO of Sony wishes he could go back in time and avert the ensuing battle. So that leaves you and me, as consumers, as the losers. Why purchase a new type of DVD player if only half the movies work on it, and it could be obsolete within a couple years?

Well, to answer my own question, I have seen the improvements of high definition and want to experience the higher standards now, not when bigwigs in boardrooms decide its time to think of the consumer (because that can apparently take a while). So how to make the decision? Two major points come to mind: price and movie availability. HD DVD clearly wins in the price category, as many new player are now offered below $200 (and my brother just found bought one for $99!). Blu-ray doesn’t even come close to those prices.

As for movie availability… This requires me, as a consumer, to do way too much homework. I mean, before this, did I really care which movie came from which studio? Not at all, I just watched what I wanted to watch based on my interests. Thus, with some studios on one side and others on the other side, it’s difficult for me to know where I’d find the most movies I’d enjoy.

So, I’m leaning toward HD DVD as my standard of choice (for now) mostly due to price. Though one thing is for sure, I don’t think I’ll actually buy any new HD DVD movies. We here at TechConsumer are big fans of Netflix. And how does Netflix handle this? To quote directly from the company’s site:

“No matter which format of DVD you choose, Netflix will carry all HD DVD and Blu-ray movies that are released… enable your account for HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc. Add movies to your Queue like you always do and if it’s available on your preferred format, we’ll automatically send it to you just like we do with standard DVD movies.”

At least one company is doing its part to help out the consumer (Blockbuster, on the other hand, has picked Blu-ray exclusively). So is there anything else you think I should consider? Drop me a line in the comments.

*Update* Amazon Made Me Do It: HD DVD Wins Over Blu-ray, Player & 10 HD DVDs for $174