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  On February 19th came the sad news that Toshiba the company that was the producer of HD DVD and it’s players had decided to give up the ghost and hand the format war to Sony’s Blu Ray. For me this was pretty gutting as at the end of December I had picked up my HD DVD player! I already had Blu Ray through my Playstation 3 but was annoyed by the fact I couldn’t get some films on the format, then I saw a Toshiba  HD player for only £180 with seven free discs and thought it was time to join the HD DVD  camp as well. One of the first discs I got was Transformers which looked amazing, and was everything I hoped from High Definition. The one thing I really love about HD DVD is the lack of Region Coding which was a real pain on DVD till the region free players came out, and is a system that has been adopted by Blu Ray. With the pound being so strong against the dollar importing discs from America is very cheap and worry free due to no coding, I have alreay got a nice selection. Another great Idea with HD DVD was the combo discs, a lot of the US releases had the HD format on one side and the standard dvd on the other, which meant I could lend the discs to my parents, something I can’t do with the Blu Ray unless they get a PS3 and they aren’t really big gamers, though my mum does have a DS!

  Almost a week after geting my player I heard the news that Warner Brothers, who were one of the few companies to release their films on both Hi Def formats, were going to go Blu Ray exclusive and that was the first nail in the coffin. It was only a matter of time before the other studios followed suit and when Toshiba made their announcement Paramount and Universal all jumped ship. The players all dropped in price as well, my player is now about £70! and the Xbox 360 HD drive is only £39.99, strangely though the discs haven’t dropped in price yet, well not in rip off Britain. Most annoying was that the studios said all discs that have already been announced would be released, which included Sweeny Todd and There Will Be Blood, then the other day they decided they couldn’t be bothered. So two discs I was really looking forward to have been ditched.

 So where did it all go wrong for HD DVD? It’s hard to say as they seemed to have done everything right, unlike Blu Ray which as a format is still evolving, HD was set out from the start and didn’t change it. The interactive feature on the discs are brilliant, the video commentary on MI:III was impressive and so far I have been impressed more with picture quality on HD over Blu Ray. As already mentioned they have the region free status and the players are actually cheaper. What I think was the death knell was the Playstation 3. The console wasn’t doing that well, compared to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii, but by putting a Blu Ray player in the machine as standard they brought out the cheapest Blu Ray player on the market providing people with an easy entry into the world of High Def movies. If Microsoft had put the HD drive into the 360 as standard I think the format war would have gone the opposite way. Sony have usually been the losers in format wars, from Betamax video, to Minidisc and the UMD format for the PSP, so it is a real shock they have won this time. The thing is they really need to sort it out properly though to win over the average consumer, the format needs a proper set format. They also could do with dropping the Region coding which is just a money making tactic. The one company that uses it the most is 20th Century Fox, all their US blu ray releases are region Coded, so what, you say I’ll wait till it comes out over here. Well when they are released in the UK they are priced at £24.99 in the US they are £17.99, but because of the region coding we can’t import the cheaper disc. Imagine having to pay nearly £7 more for the Star Wars films, it’s just wrong.

  So it’s all over for a great movie watching format, hopefully I can get some cheaper discs now and with over 300 available discs there are plenty to pick from. Last night I watched the directors cut of Beowulf on HD DVD and it was simply stunning it’s a shame that for people to watch it in high def from now on it will probably be on an overpriced disc.

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