I don't think anyone knows for sure. But based on everything I've read, I would guess that either HD-DVD or Blu-ray or both will be out some time late next year (in the US, Japan may be another story). But don't look for much software being available for even longer. Regular old DVD is doing gangbusters for the studios, so they don't have much incentive to come out with HD-DVD at this time.
A salesman at the Good Guys assured me a few weeks ago that a Blu-ray player from JVC would be out in August of this year, per his JVC sales rep. When I tried to make him a bet that we would not see Blu-ray before next year, he didn't want to take me up on it. He did growl at me though, which I thought was very unbecoming of him.
You will see WMV9 players very soon, the HD Microsoft format. There is already a small amount of software for that format, including Terminator II. And the Chinese have their own HD format that is out now, known as HDV. One of the players is for sale at www.hivizone.com
James, it's way too soon to be making plans. The DVD Forum industry consortium which sets the specifications standards, has agreed to Toshiba's proposed high-def optical format, but most of the industry heavyweights are throwing their support behind Blu-ray. It therefore appears likely that we will be looking at two different formats. (And remember that Blu-ray is not DVD.)
One scenario is that when the formats street, studios will likely support the DVD Forum's format with prerecorded product. But, as Jay told you, the studios are a bit reticent about it at present (excepting, maybe, Warner). They were skittish about DVD at first, fearing that they would be selling de facto archive, reference copies of their intellectual property. Of course, DVD is now the chief revenue-generating source of the studios.
A high-def optical format really makes the studios skittish (in their view, they may as well be selling release prints). And all their fears can be distilled down to two words: copy protection.
I'd say it will be 3-5 years away, even if players appear earlier (at outrageous prices at first no doubt) it will take years before any significant titles appear in the new format. It took years before there was a lot of DVD discs avaiable (and years more before rental DVDs) from the time the first DVD players appeared. The blue-laser formats are hoped for since they have the highest storage, we don't want a smaller storage disc with Microsoft compression!
Didn't I just read recently that Sony is vying to purchase MGM studios? And that they're doing that just so they can have some immediate software for Blu-Ray from a studio other than Columbia Tri-Star (which they already own?)
The bottom line is Columbia Tri-Star has already announced that starting in Fall 2005 every title that they release to DVD will also simultaneously be released to Blu-Ray. Add the MGM library to that and the "war" with HD-DVD will be over before it starts!!
So ... I really believe that by Fall 2005 we'll see Blu-Ray players in the $500 range that will be able to play standard DVDs (via a combined red laser/blue laser lens pickup). Since standard DVD's will probably play back even better on the Blu-Ray machines than they do on today's legacy hardware (due to improved deinterlacers, scalers, and 3:2 pulldown detection circuitry), it's reasonable to assume that people will immediately begin to purchase Blu-Ray decks as their ancient DVD decks bite the dust.
I'm fairly sure that the first prerecorded Blu-Ray discs will blow SD-DVD out of the water when displayed on 1080i monitors and/or 720p projectors. So I expect that all during 2006 and 2007 Blu-ray will gradually increase in sales to the point that by December 2007 (when LOTR hits Hi-Def for the first time) new sales of Blu-ray discs will start to overtake DVD sales.
Then we'll all be on here moaning about not being able to purchase the original 1977 Star Wars movie on Blu-Ray!
I doubt that Blu-ray will blow away SD-DVD. I already have hi-def D-VHS tapes recorded at a higher bit rate than Blu-ray is supposed to be recorded at, and the D-VHS tapes in no way blow away the same films on SD-DVD, at least not SD-DVD scaled to 1080i. There's a difference, but I doubt there is enough difference that SD-DVD is going to go away as fast as say laserdisc went away after the introduction of DVD, and perhaps not even as fast as VHS tape is going away. The masses just aren't going to go, "I gotta have it!" when they see HD-DVD.
And Warner brothers with their huge film library aren't going to go away without a fight. Remember, without Warners pushing DVD, DVD might never have survived the first couple years. Don't underestimate the capacity for the studios to screw everything up. They will probably also at first try to price HD-DVD closer to the price for laserdiscs, and that won't fly with the mass market.
HD-DVD/Blu-ray will eventually win over the masses, I'm sure, but it will take time, and it will also take time for one of the HD formats to clearly come out on top. DVD only took off after DivX shut its doors.
My prediction, HD-DVD in whatever format it takes, won't begin to challenge SD-DVD for at least 5 years, and maybe 8 years.
But then again, I'm usually wrong about these things.
Have there been any HD-DVD players come out yet? I was hoping they would be out by christmas but I havn't seen any....can anyone explain I have been out of the loop for about 3 months did something change?
To put it bluntly, the hardware is ready, everything is ready, except the Hollywood movie studios haven't agreed on a usage-control technology they like. They want something which will not only prevent copying, but allow them to control what you can do with the disc content on PCs and set-top players both, and they haven't got the details worked out yet. Obviously, without discs to playback, High Definition players are a non-starter.
HD-DVD and Blu Ray players will not output anything higher than 480p over component cables. The HD scanrates will only be output via HDMI, and your KP53HS20 doesn't have an HDMI input (nor does my beloved Sony KP57HW40).
Unless some enterprising Chinese company comes out with an HDMI-to-component converter neither of us will be able to take advantage of HD-DVD or BluRay. This is true for thousands of owners of HD capable sets that have only component video inputs.