Kamen Gordon posted a couple days ago one of the best blogs I’ve seen in a while, called the FAIL Blog. It’s filled with pictures of things failing/not working out. Funny stuff. Well, I have another one for the list. It’s game over for HD DVD. Toshiba finally pulled the plug on it today. It’s about time. Blu-ray has been killing the format for a long time now. Finally, no more format war, no more wondering what’s going to be the next generation disc. Prices will start to come down and DVDs will eventually start to be phased out (don’t worry, you can play DVDs on Blu-ray players).
Toshiba’s HD DVD format is pretty much completely dead. It’s been a long, drawn out, horrendous death, with Blu-ray stabbing it in the back repeatedly. It’s about time someone pulled the plug on the life support so that we can move on and prices will drop on Blu-ray discs and players as they begin to replace DVDs over the next few years (Don’t worry, your DVD library will not be obsolete, as Blu-ray players are backwards compatible). Another great thing about a single format is that you’ll now begin seeing Blu-ray players come standard in computers and other devices over the next year or two.
Four of the six major movie studios have yanked any and all support for HD DVD away in favor of Blu-ray, and now Netflix has made a solid blow at the format, choosing to do the same. Seems similar to the VHS vs. Beta tape struggle of the 1980s, only this time Sony is on the winning side (they developed the long-lost Beta tape and are now behind the Blu-ray technology).
Netflix chooses Blu-ray over HD DVD
Each week, we seem to see more signs that HD DVD is brain dead. Someone just has to turn off the life support. The latest sign: Los Gatos-based Netflix, the DVD rental service, said [Monday] it is phasing out HD DVD deliveries and will only support Blu-ray DVDs by the end of the year. The company will not be purchasing any more HD DVDs and will only be buying next generation discs in the Blu-ray format.
Netflix said the decision was based on the fact that four of the six major studios have publicly declared exclusive support for Blu-ray. The biggest one, of course, was Warner Bros. which made its announcement last month on the eve of the CES show in Las Vegas. “We’re now at the point where the industry can pursue the migration to a single format, bring clarity to the consumer and accelerate the adoption of high-def,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix.
It’s not such a big surprise that Netflix went to Blu-ray. Competitor Blockbuster made a similar decision last year.
The question is when does Toshiba, the company behind HD DVD, finally throw in the towel? The company responded to the Warner Bros. announcement by cutting the price of the HD DVD player. But the writing seems on the wall. HD DVD can still live on as a kind of premium DVD player, with its ability to upscale current DVDs. But as far as a true next generation DVD player, it doesn’t appear like people are gonna be looking in HD DVD’s direction.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs just finished his keynote at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Apple released all sorts of exciting new things. I watched a video stream of it online. Here are my takes on what was released:
First up was Time Capsule. It’s an AirPort Extreme base station (wireless N router) that also backs up your computer’s contents wirelessly. It comes in 500 GB and 1 TB versions.
Next up was iTunes Movie Rentals. This was expected. All major movie studios are on board to offer newly released movies for $3.99 and older movies for only $2.99. The movie is yours for 30 days, but once you start watching it you have 24 hours to finish. Downloads take only about 30 seconds over broadband and are available in DVD quality or HD for $1 more.
iPhone and iPod Touch software updates were next. The Google Maps feature on the iPhone finally has real-time GPS using cellular triangulation (finds the three closest cell towers to you and determines your position pretty accurately). You can now send text messages to multiple people at the same time, too. It’s about time. Web clips now let you make applications out of websites you visit that are already optimized for iPhone (for example, I use the iPhone versions of Facebook and Fandango). You can now put these and any number of other websites on the home screen. You can also now have multiple home screens and reorder your icons in any way you desire. Nice move, Apple. The only thing missing? With all these cool features, I still cant send or receive multimedia (picture/video) messages? Strange, no? The iPod Touch is finally receiving what iPhones already have: Mail, Stocks, Notes, and Weather applications. It should have had these in the first place, but Apple is charging $20 for them. Why?
Apple TV saw a major upgrade. Not the hardware itself, but a huge software update. You can now buy music, watch YouTube videos, rent iTunes movies in full HD, etc. all without a computer. Finally, this once dud of a product in Apple’s otherwise excellent product lineup should see a much more positive consumer response.
Finally, the much rumored MacBook Air was introduced. It’s being dubbed the world’s thinnest notebook, measuring only 0.76 inches thin. Incredible. It comes in an 80 GB 1.8 inch hard drive version (same size drive used in current iPods) or a much faster 64 GB SSD (solid state (flash memory) drive). There’s no optical disk drive, but you can wirelessly install software from other computers on your network. The track pad even has multi-touch just like the iPhone! Very cool. I’m in awe at just how thin, sleek, and beautiful this thing is. I know, I’m a full-fledged Apple geek.
A few things that many people were expected but weren’t announced were a new iPhone model and a Mac notebook docking station similar to the look of the current iMac model.
One thing I don’t understand is Apple’s logic on giving away a big update for the iPhone (as they should) as well as a huge overhaul software-wise for Apple TV, but yet they’re charging $20 for applications that should have originally shipped with the iPod Touch? That makes no sense at all, and I bet the update will become free when people realize how little logic there is in their strategy.
I didn’t think Apple could top last year’s Macworld Expo Keynote (where the iPhone was announced), but I was wrong. Great job, Apple.