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Blue Is The Colour

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Back in July I wrote a column about the next generation DVD formats and how I felt that HD DVD was the better option at the time. HD DVD was offering such goodies as interactive features, online content and picture in picture, while most Blu-ray players didn't sport Internet connectivity or the dual decoders that were necessary for picture in picture extras. And that's before you considered that HD DVD players were around half the price of comparable Blu-ray players.

The catalyst for that particular column was the fact that Warner Brothers had chosen to release The Matrix Trilogy on HD DVD and not on Blu-ray. Just like the original DVD release of The Matrix, the HD DVD box set was stacked to the gills full of extras, exactly the kind of extras that Blu-ray players simply couldn't produce. The lack of functionality on Blu-ray players was hammered home once more when Warner Brothers chose to release 300 on both Blu-ray and HD DVD simultaneously - the HD DVD version was once again full of interactive extras, while the Blu-ray version contained barely more than the feature movie.
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It's fair to say that Warner Brothers produced some of the best high definition discs to hit the market, pretty much all of which were of the HD DVD format. It's therefore somewhat ironic that it's Warner Brothers, or at least its recent change of heart in the high definition disc market, that's ultimately responsible for the demise of HD DVD.

When Warner Brothers announced that it would be dropping its support for HD DVD and releasing discs solely on Blu-ray it pretty much knocked everyone for six. The timing of the announcement couldn't have been more damaging for the HD DVD camp either - just a couple of days before the Consumer Electronics Show 2008. With the whole consumer electronics industry and pretty much every technology journalist in the world descending on Las Vegas, the Blu-ray camp had well and truly pulled the rug out from underneath its competitor.

It therefore came as no surprise that Toshiba - HD DVD's biggest supporter - announced earlier this week that it would be ceasing to produce HD DVD players by the end of March, ultimately ending the so called high definition format war.
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Despite the fact that HD DVD was a ratified format by the time that hardware and software went on sale, and despite the fact that Blu-ray players still aren't offering the full complement of promised features, the latter looks set to be the ultimate replacement for DVD.

Of course Sony always had a few tricks up its sleeve in this particular format war that it didn't have back in the days of VHS versus Betamax. First up was the clout of Sony Pictures - when you consider that Sony owns one of the largest movie studios in the world, Blu-ray was always going to have a head start when it came to Hollywood support. Second, and arguably even more important, was the launch of the PlayStation 3. Yes the PlayStation 3 was late, and yes it didn't change the face of gaming the way that Sony would have liked. But what the PS3 did do was put a Blu-ray player into millions of homes, and not just any Blu-ray player, but a damn good one at that.

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