Blu-ray Disc--The New VHS?

Hello Blu-ray ... adios, HD DVD. There was no doubt in my mind when I heard that Universal studios lined up with Warner Bros in its support for Blu-ray. Hold off on your calls and letters. I know--Universal is still supporting HD DVD too; see "Universal Denies Reports That It's Leaving HD DVD."

At the same time, if you read "Toshiba Slashes HD DVD Prices," you'll see that Toshiba appears to be dumping HD DVD players faster than Windows Vista users are switching to Macs. And Microsoft has said it couldn't care less about HD DVD (see "Microsoft: No HD DVD Xbox.")

Don't misunderstand. My decision is only in principle: I'm too cheap to actually run out and buy a Blu-ray player. Besides the cost of a player, I'd also have to buy new cables. Then there's the hassle of installing it and dealing with the schmutz behind the big-screen TV. So I'm waiting for prices to plummet.

I realize you'd rather do your own research. Sure, I agree, and here are a stack of articles for you to scroll through.

Dig This: "I should have seen that one coming." Among birders, there's a rule about looking up. Here's why. [Thanks, Moe.]

Dig This, Too: Your cell phone's outdated if it doesn't have a set of functions like this one. (Fair warning: Not suitable for children or adults who disapprove of "potty humor.") [Thanks, Shirley.]

Disc Players--HD DVD, Blu-ray, and Both

A couple of recent models--Samsung's BD-P1200 Blu-ray player and Toshiba's HD-A20 in the HD DVD camp--have great performance and reasonable prices, our Melissa Perenson says.

You might also take a look at our roundup, the "High-Def Video Superguide," which reviews scads of players and ranks the nine best available at the time into a handy chart. We did the roundup about a year ago, but most of the models are still around--and they cost a lot less now. For example, the Samsung BD-P1000 that started out at around $800 now sells for $500 or less.

Of course you can hedge your bets and get a combo player. Samsung has one--the UP5000 HD DVD/Blu-ray combo player. It has high-end features like HQV processing and the ability to decode DTS-HD Master Audio. Here's a review: "Samsung Dual-Format High-Def Player Does Blu-ray and HD DVD."

Dig This:Here's a video of a bunch of Darwin Award nominees handling a difficult situation. It had me chuckling all morning. (And no, the dopey guy pulling the car from the bottom doesn't get crushed.)

Dig This, Too:Word Sandwich is an annoying game. That's because I had to think and reason, and went absolutely nowhere. The game plan is to guess a five letter word; you get hard-to-use clues. Lemme know if you get anywhere. [Note to Alex: I wasted 30 minutes; don't send me anything this difficult again, eh? Thanks.]

What Readers Have to Say

So in my blog the other day I asked loyal readers, "So whaddya think you'll do--HD DVD or Blu-ray?" Here's what they said...

"I'm all for HD DVD, but in the long run I see Blu-ray taking the ball...if either succeed. Video-on-demand seems to be taking off too. That's why this 'war' has lasted so long. Other ways have emerged to get movies now."
--joker1231978

"The average Joe Blow does not want to spend a minimum of $425 for a Blu-ray player when he can get the HD DVD for $150 to $200. ... Time will tell, but I wouldn't count out HD DVD just yet."
--kasjun

"Blu-ray may outsell HD DVD. ... [but] until Blu-ray also plays DVDs it can't win."
--shanedr

"Just bit the Blu-ray bullet here as well, Steve. 'Lost, Season 3' on its way, first Blu-ray purchase, no looking back. My only quibble with the entire edifice is this: ... I'm stuck with VHS and DVD and Blu-ray crap littering shelves and boxes in an attempt to have an 'authoritative' collection."
--mattpeckham

(Matt is our gaming guy and I'm delighted to see he's reading my blog and commenting. Check out his "Game On" blog.)

"Universal is very firmly in the HD DVD camp, unless something has changed in the last 30 minutes. So HD DVD still has two very large Hollywood studios, and with Toshiba's current fire sale ... things could change quite quickly. Consider that the overwhelming percentage of the public haven't made a decision either way (despite the blustery bravado of pimple-faced PS3 owners), but now might just pick up one of those HD DVD players for chump change. I wouldn't call this war over by a long ways."
--dforbes

"This 'pimple-faced' PS3 owner is 33 with a PhD, and it is the centerpiece of my HE system. I picked up five of the $99 1080i HD DVD players from Wal-Mart, so it is not a problem for me who wins. However, I am pulling for Blu-ray, and I will be so glad when this is over.... The PS3 [which plays Blu-ray Disc] is one of the most underutilized pieces of equipment available."
--Physics

I'd really like for you to chime in and join in on the brawl; click "Post a comment" at the bottom of this page. The only catch is that you have to be a PC World member to add a comment. If you're not already, don't fret: It's an easy, 2-minute process and you can do it here.

Dig This: I know you've seen tabloid pictures of people with a black rectangle covering their eyes. They're obviously trying to disguise the identity of the person in the image. But did you know how that was achieved before Photoshop? I didn't think so...

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.

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