If you wondered when the mandatory inclusion of an Ethernet port on all HD DVD players would really start to make itself known, then Universal has some good news for you. Starting with Evan Almighty on the 9th, the company is now ready to roll out the interactive sites intended to support the online capabilities of HD DVD discs and players.
Viewers will be able to access Universal's U-Shop, wherein they will find movie-related memorabilia to purchase direct from the player as well as additional content, such as deleted or bonus scenes. They'll also be able to interact with other owners, enabling them to share opinions and give feedback.
Not all of the additional content is going to cost extra and, while the Blu-ray camp can offer a larger disc capacity to fit all this extra data on, if HD DVD's online stores get off the ground, the potential for just offering anything that wouldn't fit on the disc could really catch on.
Obviously Blu-ray could also add similar services, but since Ethernet ports weren't required in the initial Blu-ray spec not all players have them, which is obviously a problem. Moreover, the interface used to drive the portal would no doubt be Java based, which again isn't supported on many early players. HD DVD on the other hand, gets the benefit of having had one constant standard since launch.
So, if you consider yourself likely to have the compelling urge to buy a limited edition Incredible Hulk action figure half way through the film and don't want to venture onto your PC or to the shops, HD DVD has yet another (albeit probably temporary) small victory over its rival. Question is: will there ever be a final blow? Lord knows, we pray for it everyday!