HD future

IN THE LONG RUN…  heh – yes, I expect bad economic times, but am optimistic we’ll get through it.  Thus this sort of post.

Right now there are two competing formats for the DVD of the future – the one for High Definition.  The two are Toshiba’s HD-DVD and Sony’s BluRay.  Blu-Ray is technically better.  It’s going to lose the war.

First, Toshiba’s not that much worse – and on a cost per production basis is a LOT better.  But Sony could conceivably beat that.

Second, Toshiba’s disks can be burned without requiring a DRM key.  Sony requires that all players read for the DRM key and refuse to play if it’s missing.

At that instant, you’re comparing laserdiscs to VCRs.  Yes, the former were better in technology – but people wanted to record.  Say goodbye, laserdiscs.   But there is a third, more critical (though less known) factor.  Porn – or pr0n of you’re a computer nerd.

Sony won’t give a license to put porn on their discs.  Toshiba will.  Now if you go to the Betamax wars – the battle over the VCR format – you run into exactly this issue.  Sony had better quality, cost a little more, but refused to allow porn (and by implication any “unapproved video”) to be put on their machines.  The lesser system won because that’s what most people bought.

Which would imply that Toshiba will win the war.  And for a while, they will – but only for a while.

See, the internet gets better and better at transferring video.  And it’s now extremely easy to connect the internet to your gamebox (xbox 360, wii, computer, whatever)  and watch it through that player — which will handle HD just fine thank you very much.  And as the song goes, “the internet is for porn.”

There’ll be some kicking and screaming.  And the current muddle out in entertainment land (the writer’s strike) – along with the upcoming strikes for actors and then for other industry workers – will cause some disruption and confusion.  But the bottom line is quite apparent…

The future of HD is the internet.  Hardcopy devices will be secondary.

ps – with disk drives so cheap, who needs plastic disks.  Cheap?  Right now I can by a 1 TB drive from Tiger Direct for US$270.  For those who don’t speak computer, 1 TB is ~1000 GB.  Your “average” DVD is 4GB – 8GB for the doublelayer.  The HD stuff is looking at holding as much as 50GB.  That means I can “only” put 200 HD movies — plus extras (and they ALWAYS have extras) on my hard drive.  8GB flash drives are running as low as US$50 — and to repeat myself, that’s a double-layer DVD.  I’ll put up a small verbal wager.  I bet that the REAL next format is a ram-chip.  Industry will fight it, of course – they always fight the new stuff that is so portable.  As I said, though, this will be a secondary data device.  High portability, carrying when you’re not going to have access to the net or your large HD, all of that.   What, you don’t think so?  sigh…  8GB for US$50.  Re-writable is always more expensive – double, easy.  And this is still retail.  Which means… I can burn proms with a USB port for under US$20.  You price DVDs recently?

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