If you've been sitting on the sidelines waiting to see which hi-definition format would win, it's time to make the move to Blu-ray! Although HD-DVD jumped out to an early lead, the technology just didn't have enough support from film studios to win the hearts and minds of consumers.
History of the hi-def format war
Sony, the primary proponent of Blu-ray, and Toshiba, backers of HD-DVD conceived these competing but incompatible formats around 2002. Despite several attempts to compromise and settle on one format, the two companies decided to battle it out in the home electronics world.
Toshiba & HD-DVD: First out of the gate
Toshiba jumped out to an early lead by releasing their players a year ahead of Sony's Playstation 3 (the 1st Blu-ray player to be released). Blu-ray was initially plagued by quality issues. Some of the initial batch of Blu-ray discs were plagued by poor compression which produced video 'artifacts'. Also, the first player to be released, from Samsung, artificially softened images which made them far less sharp then those of the competing format.
Blu-ray stages a comeback
The tide began to turn in Blu-ray's favor in late 2007 when sales of Sony's PS3, an outstanding gaming console that supported Blu-ray out of the box, began to increase. Although Microsoft's Xbox 360 would play HD-DVDs, it required a $200 add on unit to do so.
As of January, 2008 the PS3's installed base was over 10 million units. This does not even take into account all of the other 'freestanding' Blu-ray players that have been sold. With HD-DVD's installed base of just 1 million units for all players (including the HD-DVD add-on to the Xbox 360), the writing was definitely on the wall.
Blu-ray declares victory- Toshiba admits defeat!
When Warner Brothers announced it would begin publishing titles exclusively in the Blu-ray format, Toshiba new it was the beginning of the end. That announcement was followed by Netflix saying they would support Blu-ray exclusively, then by Best Buy's announcement that they would 'officially recommend' Blu-ray over HD-DVD.
Wal-Mart, Target, and Blockbuster followed with similar announcements shortly thereafter. Toshiba conceded defeat on February 19th, 2008 with the announcement that they would cease production of all HD-DVD hardware.