It had to happen soon ... HD-DVD R.I.P.

Ever since the announcement that Toshiba was withdrawing from the high-def market, things took a turn for the worse in the HD-DVD camp. A 3-year format war finally comes to an end with Blu-ray emerging the winner. Parent company Sony is obviously happy with this outcome alongside other partners such as Buena Vista/Disney and SPE.

The first nail in this coffin was the announcement made over new years when Warner Bros. defected to the BD camp after sitting on the fence. An earlier annoucement by fence-sitter Paramount to support only HD-DVD also garnered some attention but not to this extent ... mostly because WB had more titles in comparison and predictably more market share. Supposedly Paramount had an escape clause in their T&C when they went over to the HD-DVD camp, but they got egg on their faces these past few weeks. Soon after Toshiba's announcement, Paramount had to release another statement that they were returning to the BD camp alongside Dreamworks and another company that I forget (Google if you want to know).

So what happens now? HD-DVD players will still continue to play until they break down and releases will be sold until stocks run out. This will probably be VERY soon as most stores are slashing ... no ... obliterating their profits to get rid of stocks. Previously priced HD-DVDs at US$39 now go for as low as US$4. Scary huh? Its a FIFO war now at video stores to stock up whatever titles that remain. The same scenario is happening in UK and Australia.

What about Malaysia, some may ask? A better question would be HD-what? High-def probably runs a low priority here plus with the price of players remaining quite high (Toshiba's AX player still runs around RM3k) the uptake in the market is comparatively slow. I think there was even an ad in the local newspaper promoting a full-priced Toshiba HD-DVD player with 3 free titles on the day the annoucement was made in Japan ... talk about slow response.

Another thing is that most households are NOT fully HD ready ... even those with plasmas and LCD screens are the ones with the WXGA resolutions that cannot display the minimum resolution required to view TRUE high-def (min 1080p resolution people!!). Budget screens .... *sigh* Can't blame them though, a standard 32" WXGA LCD panel can be bought for as little as RM1899 (approx US$590)

Additionally, piracy still reigns supreme. Legal high-def discs now retail are RM139 onwards per title (for both HD and BD) but the neighborhood pasar-malam vendor sells DVDs for RM6 onwards ... a pittance in comparison. Heck, VCDs still sell quite well here so high-def still has a long way to go in the SE Asia region. Legal DVDs range from RM12 to RM129 per title depending on whether they are Region-3 or Region-1 or special editions.

When high-def players drop to the sub RM500 range and titles go for RM60 and below then we can talk people .... anything before that, just shaddup and just enjoy the movie (pirated or legal your choice!)

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