Major Appliances

The History of Home Video: Part IV

With new “blue” laser diode encoded discs, high definition video at home was suddenly a possibility, a tremendous leap in both quality and storage capabilities for home video over the former video standard of DVD. But with the Blu-ray Disc Founders group and  the DVD Forum both pushing competing versions of the new technology, the question soon became which format would become the new industry standard.

In 2005, the two opposing organizations began to negotiate a compromise to avoid a repeat of the VHS and Betamax format war of the ’70s, but the talks didn’t get far. Instead, Microsoft and Intel sided with Toshiba and their HD DVD and plans began to go forward to develop high definition DVD players. Hewlett Packard similarly threw a hat in the ring, giving Blu-ray the ultimatum to either adopt HD DVD’s proprietary interactive format or loose their support. Blu-ray responded with a shrug and HD DVD gained another ally.

But Blu-ray had an ace in the hole in founding member Sony’s upcoming game console. The PlayStation 3 was set to be released during the 2006 holiday season, and as the next installment of the world’s most popular console by far, it was guaranteed to infiltrate millions of homes. Fans bought the system in droves for the games, but they also ended up with a new Blu-ray player by default. Sony’s gambit paid off. HD DVD couldn’t possibly compete with the enormous number of Blu-ray players Sony had just Trojan Horse’d into the world’s living rooms, and all major appliances and film studios soon followed suit with Blu-ray support.

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