Similar Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD provide superior viewing quality

Ryan Haidet

It feels like they are in the room with you. Movie characters fighting off serial killers, protecting Gotham City or flying an airplane.

It’s every DVD movie fan’s dream – being able to have a crisper image, better sound, higher capacity for more bonus features – but the latest in the digital discs costs a pretty penny.

The new wave of format wars in the home movie industry is here.

It went from VHS to DVD to two new formats competing for consumers’ cash.

When walking along the shelves of any electronic store that sells DVDs there is a growing section of more costly editions of movies that provide all the goods a DVD fan would crave. They are in slimmer cases than a standard DVD and have the same appearance, but they have different brand names: Blu-ray Discs and HD DVD.

But which is better and what really is the difference between them?

Turns out, there isn’t too much difference.

Jeff Wines, a media supervisor at the Best Buy in North Canton, said one major difference is certain studios are putting out products on only one of the two new formats.

“Sony is really backing Blu-ray, which recently picked up all the Disney titles and HD DVD just picked up the adult industry,” Wines said.

Of the titles released each week, some are on both formats, while others are only on one. It’s kind of like a video game system where some games are available for certain consoles.

What makes these so special?

According to, the new high definition DVDs have a better quality. “It’s all about lines of resolution,” the Web site states. “If you own an HDTV, your television is capable of outputting up to 1,080 lines of resolution. But current standard DVDs only output 480 lines of resolution, so the quality of the picture is vastly improved.”

That’s a 225 percent improvement over the standard DVDs – but all this comes at a cost.

Whereas many standard DVDs can be purchased under $14.99, most Blu-ray Discs and HD DVDs are nearly $30.

This week, Best Buy has Poseidon listed for $29.99 on HD DVD, but only $9.99 on the original DVD format.

Each week, more titles are released on the new formats, which require high definition units to play them – and they are far more expensive than DVD players.

At, there are several Blu-Ray players available, the cheapest selling for $799.99. If it’s an HD DVD player you’re looking for, the least expensive one will cost $499.99. If a shopper wants both formats to be able to play in one unit, one for $1,199.99 does just that.

It’s for that reason that Wines doesn’t think either format will likely prevail, since there is one unit able to play both.

Is the movie quality worth the price?

“If I could afford it, it would be worth it to me,” Wines said. “Unfortunately I’m not in a position to be able to afford $30 or $35 for a DVD.”

He said he has seen some customers go crazy over the new technologies, purchasing up to seven of them each week. Sales of the new formats are increasing, too.

“It’s really started to pick up in the last month, maybe because of tax season,” Wines said.

Katie Morris, a senior interior design major and customer service representative at Family Video, said quality isn’t a big deal to her.

“I guess it depends on the person’s taste,” Morris said. “I don’t care about the quality. Some people come in and their movies have to be perfect.”

Currently, Family Video doesn’t have them available.

“We don’t offer those yet just because not enough people have them (players) right now to make a profit,” Morris said. “We just recently started getting rid of all our VHS. That’s kind of like a dying technology so we’re working on that.”

Blockbuster doesn’t rent them yet, either.

“They usually wait until about six months to a year after the new product has come out before they start carrying it,” said Jeremy Armstrong, a Blockbuster customer service representative. “It took about six months to carry the Xbox 360.”

Armstrong, a sophomore physical education/health major, said customers aren’t asking much about them either.

Currently, the only major business renting the new DVDs is online rental service Netflix, which offers both new technologies for rent.

But will the standard DVD be a thing of the past, like the vanishing VHS?

“Not for a while,” Wines said. “We only stopped selling VHS three years ago. Your consumers are always looking for bargains, and DVDs are getting cheaper and cheaper to make. So I think DVD will be around for a while.”

What does the future hold?

The next format is reportedly already in the works. Known as a Holographic Versatile Disc, or HVD, the storage capacity, according to, is said to hold a terabyte of data – upward of 200 gigabytes.

Until then, sit back and relax as the formatting wars continue.

Contact features correspondent Ryan Haidet at [email protected].