Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Let's Discuss ... how I survived the format war this Christmas.

Laserdisc. VHS. Betamax. HD-DVD. Each one was great in their own way; some vastly superior to others, each with a loyal army of nerds to champion them until their dying breath. Each one of them is also dead. Dead as dungarees. Dead from bullets to the brain, shot from the sniper rifle of the consumer in the great video format war of the late 20th and early 21st Century. True, each of these formats is now dead and gone, but you know who's still feeling the effects of the fallout? Me. 

And you. 

And your mate. 

Yeah, that one, the one with the face. 

In fact, it's any of us under 45 who still receive gifts from anyone over 45. 

This Christmas I asked my girlfriend's mum for Avatar on Blu Ray. Off she went shopping when it hit me, I wanted the three disc Special Edition of Avatar and I hadn't been anywhere near as specific as I should have been. I learned to be specific about these things at a young age; when I asked my gran for an N64 control pad and she called me back a day later to tell me HMV didn't sell "launch pads". I told my girlfriend to call her mum and ask her to get me Inception and I'd ask my mum to get me Avatar (good old mum, always has a pen to hand and always writes down exactly what I tell her to). But then, damn, I'd forgot to ask for Inception on Blu Ray. "Fuck me," I thought "She's going to think I'm a complete knob if I call her again and give her more details." Fuck it, if I get it on DVD I'll have to grin and bare it, the picture quality's probably not that different and I'll be able to take it anywhere and watch it instead of relying on my friends to have BR players. 

Then the call came, my girlfriend's mum had got me both. Jesus, I sound spoilt but these things never usually come off well for me. I could just picture me opening two DVDs on Christmas morning, rueing the day that Blu Ray had ever come into my life.

Two weeks passed and Santa came.

Not only did both films come, but Avatar was the three disc Special Edition and Inception was the Triple Play set with the holographic cover. Both on Blu Ray. Thank the sweet Lord.

This prompted me to think about the format war. Blu Ray isn't really competing with DVD, it's just waiting for it to join the other formats I've listed at the start of the post. This is inevitably going to take longer than it did for DVD to take the head of VHS as the majority of people don't see the point in upgrading to Blu Ray. Yeah, the picture's sharper and there's scope for infinitely more special features, but does average Joe Public give a shit? Let's face it, at the minute HD is a badge of honour, the same as DVD was in the late 90's. But I'm confident that, slowly but surely, studios will stop releasing films on DVD on concentrate solely on ol' Blu Ray. 

At least until 2018 when I'll have to ask for the four disc fanatic Ultra High Definition version of Avatar 3 for my 34th birthday. But I'll be sure to ask my girlfriend's mum for it though.

Have any of you become victims of the format war? Do any of you still rock HD-DVD? Leave me a comment.

Goodnight, and Merry Christmas.


  1. I am in the crowd that still buys DVDs instead of Blu-Rays. I only have three films on Blu-Ray, Fantasia (there's no other way of getting it, unless it's in the double set), Sherlock Holmes (RDJ) and Iron Man 2 (RDJ again). I don't like the way that places like HMV can justify charging an extra £10 for a Blu-Ray as they do for a normal DVD.

    I paid £20 for Sherlock Holmes, yet it was £9.99 on normal DVD. When the prices do start on come down, I may be changed, but until then, I am sticking to spending approx £10 on a new film instead of nearly £20

  2. HMV play people for chums. Yesterday I bought Toy Story 3 on Blu Ray for £9.99 for Play.com. I've seen it cost more on DVD. The moral of the story is to just shop around.

  3. Well, in my country Blu-Ray is available but doesn't seem even to try to exclude DVD. I have never watched a movie on Blu-Ray and don't really feel interested, as they still sell fine DVDs.