Psychic powers weren't required to have seen this coming -- although it was rather sooner than expected -- but today Toshiba announced that it would no longer be supporting its own format, HD DVD. Blu-ray is officially triumphant and tech journalists worldwide now have one less thing to write about.
Although the format war is over and we can all buy into hi-def content with an easy mind, the death of a rival to Blu-ray should be mourned, for several reasons. There's now no incentive for Blu-ray player makers to reduce their hardware prices. There's no competition now, and that means there will be no massive price battles at strategic holiday periods any more. Say goodbye to those increasingly ridiculous 'seven free disc' offers that were all over the place before Christmas.
We can also say goodbye to the combo disc, the HD DVD with a DVD included, that could play on either machine. This was handy for those with lots of DVDs or people who were waiting before buying an HD DVD player, but wanted to have discs to play when they made the switch. Needless to say, Blu-ray doesn't offer such a friendly option.
It's also time to welcome back that consumer favourite, the region code. HD DVD had the decency to dispense with the stupidity that was regional locking. Blu-ray, on the other hand, isn't so forward-looking. Although many distributors opt not to add a region code, there is no guarantee this will last.
Sadly we'll also be cursed with a lifetime of bad spelling. HD DVD is simple -- people sometimes inserted an errant hyphen, but that was nothing compared to the possible errors with the Blu-ray name. Here are some of the many mis-spellings we've seen: Blue ray, Blue-ray, Blurray, Blurry and Blu-Ray.
Of course, if you were an early adopter, you'll almost certainly have some HD DVDs that you've purchased over the last year. Don't worry too much, they'll continue to play and your HD DVD player won't suddenly explode. With luck, you'll have a good few years left in your HD collection before you have to replace any of the discs. That said, we think the movie studios should offer to replace all HD DVDs with Blu-ray versions for people who want to switch over.
Rest in peace HD DVD, you will be missed. –Ian Morris