HD DVD is dead. Officially. That may mean a whole bunch for the early-adopter tech geek crowd that's been wading in the kiddie pool of technological bickering and backhandedness for years, but what does it mean for the average consumer with only a cursory interest in high-def DVDs? Here's our cheat sheet Q&A for you to whip out if you ever have to explain the high-def format wars to your parents.
Q: I chose sides early in the HD DVD/Blu-ray shenanigans and unfortunately, made the right decision and supported HD DVD. What do I do now?
A: Try and sell your HD DVD player or Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on as fast as you can. Go list it on craigslist or eBay already. The mainstream hasn't heard about HD DVD's demise just yet, which means you can find some chump to buy your player and movies on the cheap. How soundly you sleep at night is up to you.
Q: Really? You mean my player is useless? Won't there be any more movies released on HD DVD?
A: A few more releases that are already in the pipeline might trickle out in the next couple months, but just watch as all the studios abandon the format and go exclusively Blu-ray. You're better off just selling off all your stuff unless you want to keep it around to win our retro Gizmodo tech contest of 2028.
Q: But what if I already have a gigantic HD DVD library?
A: It depends on how gigantic it is. If it's not too big, you can re-buy your library on Blu-ray. If it's huge, you might want to buy a combo player, like the one from LG, in order to ease your transition. Either way, you're going to be out a bit of money. You might want to just shoot yourself in the face now and be done with it.
Q: I chose sides early in the HD DVD/Blu-ray shenanigans and chose Blu-ray. What do I do now?
A: Besides calling up your grandmother to rub it in her face, there's not much you need to do. Just sit and wait for your favourite movies to come out on Blu-ray.
Q: Right, but how long do I have to wait, exactly, before I can watch Batman Begins on my PlayStation 3?
A: Beats me. Now that Blu-ray is the de-facto format, the studios should be falling over themselves trying to remaster their already released HD DVD movies onto Blu-ray. If we had to guess, it'd be within the year.
Q: OK, now that the war is "officially over", is it time for me to buy a Blu-ray player?
A: Maybe. It's still relatively early in the technology's lifespan, which means prices for Blu-ray players are still quite high when you compare it to the sub-$100 upscaling DVD players you can find at Harvey Norman. Plus, the BD library is incredibly thin when compared to DVD, so you might not be getting much use out of the player in your day-to-day movie watching. But if you really do want to get into the HD game (and have an HDTV to back it up), it's finally safe to buy a player.
Q: So you're saying that I'm going to be paying more for these movies on Blu-ray? When will the prices drop to DVD levels?
A: That's tough to say. For example, Superman Returns is only US$14.98 for the DVD version but US$23.95 for the Blu-ray version. It's going to take a few years yet for that 23 to drop to 14. If you had to force us to guess, we're going to say about three years. That's 2011.
Q: I don't buy movies, I rent them. When are Netflix and Blockbuster going to get in gear and stock a bunch of Blu-ray movies?
A: As soon as the major studios start releasing Blu-ray movies in bulk. If you recall the VHS to DVD transition, it took quite a while for VHS tapes to phase out, and this transition will be quite similar. Again, if you forced us to guess, we'd have to say 2010.
Q: Screw it, I'm convinced. I'm going to go out and buy a player today. Which player should I buy?
A: Unless you're morally opposed to gaming or having a gaming device in your living room, you should go with the PlayStation 3. It's software-upgradeable, plus it's relatively cheap even when compared to standalone Blu-ray players. You even get a gaming system thrown in.
Q: Speaking of gaming, what if I already purchased an Xbox 360 and want to be able to watch Blu-ray movies? Will I have to buy a PS3?
A: Maybe not. Even though Microsoft backed HD DVD and released an HD DVD add-on, they weren't staking their entire console on the format (hence, the add-on). This means that Microsoft has a big minus in their column when comparing the 360 to the PS3 in terms of high-def DVD playback. It's a hole they're going to want to patch up right away, so don't be surprised if you see a Blu-ray add-on for the 360 some time in the near future.
Q: Can you sum up what I, the average consumer, should do at this point in one sentence?
A: Wait one more year for the Blu-ray format to mature, for more titles to be released, and player prices to drop before jumping in.