Opinion from the Editor-in-Chief of DVDTOWN.com
The headline may seem strong, but I really feel it is time to put my foot down. When you are an early adopter of any new technology, you are used to losing a few dollars now and then, and you expect a few errors. When Microsoft promised that Windows Vista was the most secure and easy-to-use Windows yet, we realized that it would still have security issues and that it might not be that much easier to surf the Web compared to their previous program. We all know this and accept it.
The same goes for the new HD formats. We knew that they were not perfect and that the companies behind them had to iron out some bugs. What we did not know and should not accept is hardware that may not be compatible less than a year after it is released. For a format to succeed, it is important that it has a set of mandatory features, something with which hardware and software must comply in order to receive a format's logo. This gives consumers peace of mind and the security of knowing that when they buy a movie with, say, a DVD logo, it will play in their DVD player.
Toshiba has been good in issuing firmware updates for their players to make sure they are compatible with future HD-DVD releases. You might believe this is the case with Blu-ray as well, but no. Recent comments from the Blu-ray camp indicate that they have yet to complete final specifications for the interactive component called Blu-ray Disc JAVA (BD JAVA). What this means is that when the specifications are finally decided upon in late October, 2007, one's Blu-ray player bought before that date may not play parts of future Blu-ray releases. Imagine the confusion in a store trying to figure out if one's machine will play a specific extra.
HD-DVD knew the importance of a strong set of features from the get-go, and they had their mandatory features ready from the start. They made sure that every HD-DVD player had an Internet connection (which is not required by Blu-ray), allowing easy updates of the player and opening up exciting on-line features that we will see on HD-DVD releases this fall. Their interactive layer, called HDi, has also been in place from day one, and we have already seen it in various releases. "Batman Begins" and "Miami Vice," for example, showcase picture-in-picture and the possibility to make one's own scene-selection menus. Warner Bros. recognized the current limitation in Blu-ray technology and decided not to release titles with interactive features on Blu-ray before they knew what to develop for. These titles include things like "Batman Begins," "Poseidon," "Troy," and the upcoming "Matrix" box sets, which are HD-DVD exclusive for now.
I must draw a conclusion from all this: Don't buy Blu-ray. Not before the Blu-ray camp have finalized the format's specifications. Not before the manufacturer will GUARANTEE 100% compatibility with future Blu-ray releases. If you don't want to buy HD-DVD, either, that's fine. Wait. Enjoy regular, standard-definition DVDs. For now, however, the only safe and sensible HD choice is HD-DVD.