Last year it was the launch of the Apple iPhone that kept attendees of the International Consumer Electronics Show buzzing. This year, it's the major victory scored by backers of the Blu-ray Disc DVD format as Warner Bros. Entertainment Friday said it is committing to Blu-ray and will stop releasing movies in the rival HD DVD format.
In the wake of Warner Bros.' announcement, the HD DVD Promotion Group, chaired by Toshiba, canceled a CES press event scheduled for Sunday night. "We are currently discussing the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluating next steps," the group said in its cancellation notice. "We believe the consumer continues to benefit from HD DVD's commitment to quality and affordability -- a bar that is critical for the mainstream success of any format."
Warner Bros.' decision to release its high-definition DVD titles exclusively in Blu-ray gives the format a decided edge in the ongoing battle between the two standards that many liken to the VHS vs. Betamax video tape war that raged in the 1980s. The studio said it will continue to release high-def titles in both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats until the end of May, 2008, after which Blu-ray gets the nod.
Warner Bros. joins a variety of movie studios that have already committed to Blu-ray, which is spearheaded by Sony, including 20th Century Fox, MGM, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Walt Disney, among others. Toshiba is the primary home electronics company backing HD DVD and is joined by studios such as Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures.
All of this back and forth has left many home integrators and their customers on the sidelines, waiting for one format to emerge victorious before investing in high-def equipment and DVD titles.
Luckily, for those that don't want to wait, LG Electronics is on-hand at the event showcasing its recently launched LG Super Blu Player Model BH200, which supports both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats. The combo player is available now for a retail price of roughly $800.