Shopping Product Reviews

Can the Playstation 3 help Sony and its friends win the HD format war?

As quiet as things have been, it would actually be hard to say there’s a format war going on right now for HD discs. On the one hand there is Toshiba (among others) with its HD-DVD format and then there is Sony (among others) with its Blu-ray format. Both offer a much larger disc capacity than standard DVD players and much higher quality pictures and sound.

Until now, neither HD-DVD nor Blu-ray have made much headway in reaching consumers’ homes.

However, that is about to change.

With the launch of Sony’s third-generation gaming system, the PlayStation 3, millions of homes will have a Blu-ray player. Sony made the decision to include its new Blu-ray player in the PlayStation 3 rather than go with a proprietary PS3 format or DVD player that it bundled with the PS2. Although Sony’s decision to include a Blu-ray player in its new PS3 has caused them many problems, such as forcing the company to take a much larger than expected loss on each unit* and production problems due to a shortage of the blue diodes needed to make the players, this strategy will probably pay off in the long run for Sony.

In fact, you have to wonder how Toshiba could even compete with Sony’s ability to bring Blu-ray players into the homes of millions of Americans. Toshiba doesn’t have a game system that people line up to buy.

Given what is likely to happen, it would seem that the answer is no. So far, neither format has proven to be better than the other by leaps and bounds. In fact, both are almost equivalent. Are consumers who already have a Blu-ray player with their PS3 really going to buy a Toshiba HD-DVD player? Not likely. However, many owners of one of Toshiba’s players are likely to go out and buy a PlayStation 3 to keep up with the latest gaming technology. It would seem that Toshiba’s HD-DVD format is destined to be another technological relic like betamax and DVD-Audio.

Also, it seems likely that the PS3 will help increase Blu-ray movie sales as PS3 owners will have a Blu-ray player and will probably want to get their movies in a higher quality format since they have the player. Even those who don’t have the high-definition equipment will probably buy some in the hope that in the future they will have the equipment to take full advantage of the new technology or even just to brag.

*It is common for game system manufacturers to suffer losses in sales of game units when they are first released to allow more people to purchase the system. Companies know they can get their money back when consumers buy games for these systems. Also, over time, the prices of the components to make the systems go down, so eventually the manufacturers make a profit on each system sold.

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