The Unreasonable Stance: HD DVD will be triumphant

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Welcome to the Unreasonable Stance, where our own Devin takes the minority opinion on a tech matter and defends it with convenient data, spun numbers, fanboyism, and insults until he proves, without a doubt, that those that disagree with him are filthy mouth-breathers.

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy. Well, maybe I am. But that’s just because I have crazy love for HD DVD and have faith that it will end up on top of this little format scuffle. The “coup” by Blu-Ray has inspired some interesting, if misguided satire (Godwin alert), and convinced the easily swayed masses of critics that yes, it’s over. But it’s far from over — and this was only a glancing blow. HD DVD will bounce back for the knockout punch.

They’ve still got a war chest, and they’re still willing to throw down, as we saw during the Super Bowl. $30 mil? No problem. When you’ve got $150 HD DVD players selling like hotcakes, you can afford to drop that kind of cheese. Sure, the PS3 is now coming into its own and is the “best Blu-Ray player,” but is your dad going to buy a $500 game console when all he wants to do is watch the Bourne Trilogy in HD? No, he’s going to go to Best Buy and pick up an HD DVD player and a ton of movies that are already out — as you know, HD DVD still has a tremendous selection despite some studios’ vacillating loyalties.

That’s a key point: an installed base. $150 is a birthday present, it’s practically an impulse buy. And the studios aren’t going to ignore the millions who decide that they’d rather go HD DVD and put that other $300 towards, oh, I don’t know, movies.

So what else is at that price point? Well, the Apple TV for one thing. But streaming video is still a pipe dream. People like discs (call it “force of habit”) and they don’t like being told when and where they can watch their movies. Apple TV is great for what it is, but a recent test of HD streaming video was worrying; people aren’t getting what they think they’re paying for just yet. It’ll get better, sure, but people have money now, and HD DVD’s superior compression puts its image quality above Blu-Ray, to say nothing of shady streaming stuff.

At this point, the studio count doesn’t even matter. They all hauled butt to get the best movies they had released for either player or both, so 90% of the library is ready to go; the rest is new releases, and who wants those? And with an installed user base growing with every bill-and-a-half set-top box, distributors can’t afford to ignore the whole market segment. Anyway, Paramount is still hanging out, and I don’t know if you’ve heard of a little thing called Star Trek, but combined with Iron Man and Cloverfield, I think we’ve got a pretty solid season coming up.

So don’t lose hope, HD DVD lovers. We, with our cheap players, great image quality, and solid library, will overcome. The studios are a fickle lot but they’ll soon realize their mistake. Microsoft (and possibly Micrahoo!soft) has got our back, and if all else fails, we’ll always have Transformers.

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