HD-DVD RIP tombstone

Farewell friend -- we hardly knew ye.

Yes, with the news that Toshiba is pulling out and Microsoft has announced that it will discontinue the HD-DVD player add-on for Xbox360, the format war is over. And that is a good thing.

While we early adopters may have had to bet on two horses, mainstream consumers can now start adopting the next generation of entertainment, high-definition, in the masses. This means that Wal-Mart and Best Buy (and every other consumer venue) get some shelf-space back, and that studios are now more free to proliferate the newer format.

As for me, I already had both (see earlier blog):

  • An Xbox360 HD DVD add-on, which I really had hoped would win the battle
  • A Sony Blu-Ray player – originally purchased for the hi-def Disney and Sony Pictures movies that were already Blu-Ray exclusive.

And with the format war decided, we can now all jump on the high-definition band wagon

  • Blu-Ray movies will continue to increase in production
  • Blu-Ray players will hopefully continue to drop in cost for broader adoption

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But I will admit that there are some HD DVD features that I will miss:

 

Combo Format

Yes, you had to pay $5 more for the Combo-format when available over the HD-DVD only releases.  But, while I am sure that Sony would love to see the whole world throw away their low-def DVD players and purchase Blu-Ray instead, that isn’t likely for a few years or more. So, I am now stuck whenever I purchase a family movie.

  • Will the kids want to take this to grandma’s house?
  • Will we want to play it on our next family road-trip?

Forget the kids, what about the movies that I want but my wife doesn't want to watch?

  • Will I want to take it on my next business trip and play it on my laptop?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these, then I have to debate whether to buy standard-definition (portable) or Blu-Ray (at home only).

Frankly, if Blu-Ray offered combo-format media, I might have been on their early bandwagon, too.

Internet Extensibility

The HD DVD player and movies supported Internet extensions for the movie extras. While not all of them tapped into it, this showed some great potential for adding a much richer and dynamically update-able experience.

As studios adopted it, we could have seen some really cool add-on’s and extra materials available from the Internet to supplement what was on the media. I have been told that “Blu-Ray could offer that, if customers wanted it”.

But I am not optimistic. If the players are coming with an Ethernet jack and the original year or two of media don’t have it, I am not expecting it until the next generation beyond blu-ray. Oh well…

The last one is smaller… 

 

Xbox 360 Add-On for Blu-Ray Xbox360_HDDVD

I have a great high-definition setup on my Xbox360. And it was soooooo easy to add the HD DVD player to the setup, so I would rather not purchase another Blu-Ray player for my room.  The setup in the family room is fine, but in the interest of foot-print (space), I am truly hoping that Microsoft releases a Blu-Ray add-on.

Official disclaimer, I work in the Microsoft Server & Tools group, not Xbox or Games. I have no knowledge, official or otherwise, regarding Xbox360 product direction.

I am just like you in this area -- a consumer who has read the same rumors as everyone else around a Blu-Ray external drive add-on for Xbox360”.

Taking off my Microsoft employee hat and speaking as a consumer, this makes total sense. While the PlayStation3 is a game console that happens to play also Blu-ray movies, the Xbox360 really is a family-room -style hub for entertainment.

My wife plays all of our music from the Xbox360, tapping our collection that is stored on our Windows Home Server.

When other family comes over, we show our latest family pictures from the TV, through the Xbox360, again hosted on our Windows Home Server.

Yes, we play lots of games on it too…

And there are rumors that some of my international friends are seeing advertisements from being able to receive their television programming from their Xbox360 console.

Xbox Live Marketplace continues to broaden its offerings in TV and Movie content.

So, sure, it would be nice to also play high-definition (Blu-Ray) movies from there.

So, I (like you) hope that with the format war over, we will take all of those HD-DVD add-on chassis', with their easy power and usb cables, and start retrofitting for Blu-ray players.

Putting my Microsoft employee hat back on, this still makes sense. We listen to the customer, we want to continue the Xbox360’s strong adoption as the next-generation, high-definition entertainment platform of choice, so I hope we do it – and sooner than later.

Alas, I don’t get to vote on that one. I can affect storage technologies, data protection, etc. – not Xbox peripherals.  So, I will wait eagerly, just like you…

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So, a few last notes:

To any Microsoft Xbox360 team members reading this:

Please take those HD DVD add-on casings and put in something Blu.  Its a great add-on for the Xbox360 platform.  Oh, and if you are looking for an evangelist and blogger, I am definitely available.

To any Sony product team members reading this:

Please consider adding combo-format to the specification. Yes, we want the higher definition and will eventually purchase players everywhere, but to make the adoption of this format even faster, please eliminate any reason why we would not purchase the newer media.

The other HD format is now gone, but we still have to decide between low-def versus high-def, based on where the media will be played. Deliver combo-format and we won’t have too. An Internet capability would also be appreciated.