Is Blu-ray the new VHS?

This decade's format battle, largely ignored by everyone except the entertainment industry and unmarried nerds with lots of disposable income, has been the fight between the two HD disc formats--HD DVD and Blu-ray. In the past year, the movie studios have been releasing some movies in one format, the other, or both. Normal people have not been interested in buying movies in formats that could disappear in a year or two, so sales have been tepid.

But Warner Bros. has announced they are ditching the HD DVD format and releasing everything in Blu-ray only. This may be enough to force the issue and get the entertainment industry to agree on a single HD format. The good news is that the quality difference between the two formats, unlike VHS and Betamax, is virtually identical (Betamax was noticeably better, but lost because Sony was inflexible).

This is one more step towards increased demand for high capacity broadband as well. Once the format war is over and fence-sitting consumers are willing to make investments in HD TVs and storage devices, they will also want increased access to downloadable HD content. The 25 gigabyte capacity of recordable Blu-ray discs will also mean easier backups for home computers. The convergence on a single HD format means that more and more computers will come standard with a Blu-ray drive, or that will be available as an option.

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