Except for Sony’s decision to make a pricey Blu-ray player standard in the upcoming PlayStation 3 game console, I haven’t been paying much attention to the jockeying over high definition DVD formats lately. However, Blu-ray players and movies are shipping next week, so it’s time to re-examine the state of play. Thomas K. Arnold at Reuters:
With rival HD-DVD enjoying a head start in the market, Blu-ray Disc, the next-generation optical disc format backed by the lion’s share of studios and consumer electronics manufacturers, makes its long-awaited — and oft-delayed — debut next week.
The first batch of seven Blu-ray titles, all from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, are scheduled to arrive in stores Tuesday. The first Blu-ray player, from Samsung, is slated to go on sale five days later.
SPHE president Benjamin Feingold said about 15,000 copies of each title are being shipped to retailers that also will carry the player, including Best Buy, Circuit City and Amazon.com.
“It’s really about where there is hardware,” he said.
Retailers also are receiving corrugated cardboard displays with the Blu-ray Disc logo and the sell line, “Experience High Definition Today.”
Samsung’s BD-P1000 player, which lists for $999, will be the only set-top Blu-ray machine available until Sony releases its BDP-S1 in July, a month behind schedule. Pioneer also has delayed its player, until September.
A Sony VAIO notebook computer with a Blu-ray drive is due June 24, with a desktop to follow June 30.
Hit the link for the movie titles if you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, but it’s clearly early days. Over on the HD DVD side:
The Blu-ray launch comes two months after HD-DVD — currently supported by three studios and one consumer electronics maker — came on the market.
The HD-DVD launch has been challenged by meager software support — at this point, there are only 26 major-studio titles available, 12 from Universal and 14 from Warner — and a problematic first-generation player from Toshiba, which developed the high-definition format.
Early adopters who bought either of the two Toshiba players, the $499 HD-A1 or the $799 HD-XA1, complained of slow boot times and other disc-playback problems. Toshiba now is offering customers a firmware upgrade as a fix.
Sales are claimed to be strong, but it’s early days in that camp too. Microsoft, of course, strongly supports HD DVD, but they don’t rate a mention in the article. Their day, for better or for worse, will come later in the year.