HD DVD and Blu-ray of similar quality but differ in price

John Manalang

Consumers have decided to delve into the world of high-definition movie entertainment. After splurging on a shiny HDTV and a mind-blowing surround sound system, what better way to show off their technological monuments than by purchasing a high-definition disc player?

The dilemma is which format to choose: HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc?

Reminiscent of past video format competition between Sony’s Betamax and VHS, Toshiba’s HD DVD and Sony’s Blu-ray disc format have constantly persuaded consumers to invest in their product. Both companies are the founders of each format. Both formats promise to deliver an unmatched, cutting edge high-definition experience.

HD DVD, which stands for “High-Definition Versatile Disc,” was first marketed to the U.S. during the spring of 2006. The costs of the first HD DVD players by Toshiba ranged from $500 to $800 depending on the model, a hefty price for the average consumer. The prices of the players are the same today. For those who own Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console, an HD DVD player add-on can be purchased for only $200. HD DVD was designed to be the standard DVD’s successor. A single HD DVD can store up to 30 gigabytes of data compared to a standard DVD’s capacity of only 4.7 gigabytes.

Sony’s Blu-ray players were marketed in the U.S. in the summer of 2006 with whopping price tags ranging from $1,000 to $1,800. The reason for the higher price is the capacity of a Blu-ray disc. A Blu-ray disc can hold up to 50 gigabytes of data, a 20 gigabyte difference between HD DVDs’ capacity and eight times the maximum capacity of a standard DVD. Sony’s Playstation 3 game console, released for sale in November 2006, is capable of playing Blu-ray format movies and games. The price of the system ranges from $500 to $600, depending on the model.

Both formats play back movies with an unparalleled increase in resolution compared to a standard DVD player, resulting in a clearer, sharper and more detailed image on a compatible high-definition screen. They also support a High-Definition Multimedia Interface input, dubbed HDMI, for a digital data output, allowing multiple channels of data to pass through for clearer pictures and sound. Although the Blu-ray format has a distinct advantage over HD DVD in capacity, it delivers the same picture quality. That is because both formats utilize the same type of optic-laser in reading discs, which results in a similar output.

If consumers want a potentially superior product, purchasing a Blu-ray may be their best bet. But if consumers want a high definition player, that delivers the same quality as the Blu-ray with a relatively cheaper price tag, HD DVD should suit them well.