The New York Times has summarized the reasons to be cynical as high-definition DVD players hit the market.

“Just contemplating the rise of a new DVD format is enough to make you feel played. What’s wrong with the original DVD format, anyway? It offers brilliant picture, thundering surround sound and bonus material. The catalog of DVD movies is immense and reasonably priced. And DVD players are so cheap, they practically fall out of magazines; 82 percent of American homes have at least one DVD player.

“To electronics executives, all of this can mean only one thing: It’s time to junk that format and start over.”

The first Toshiba players are hitting the market now, physically large boxes costing $500 and moving slowly – a newly inserted DVD takes 45 seconds just to get to the FBI warning.

Players for Sony’s Blu-ray format will arrive at the end of June, with prices of a thousand dollars or more. The PlayStation 3 will include a Blu-ray player; Sony just laid an enormous egg at the Electronics Entertainment Expo when it followed an underwhelming presentation of the PlayStation 3 with the announcement that it will cost six hundred dollars, far higher than anything ever pitched at the console market. Here’s a summary of the unkind reaction from bloggers.

The New York Times article sums up the battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray this way:

“This might even be a race that neither horse wins; the public may well decide that regular DVDs are just fine as they are. (Remember SACD and DVD-Audio, two rival “high-definition audio” formats that also required new players and new discs? Didn’t think so. Both are well on their way to the great eBay in the sky.)

“You, and everyone else, have everything to gain by waiting until prices fall, the movie catalog grows and a single standard emerges. After all, how will you feel if you buy a player and a bunch of movies–and the one you picked turns out to be the Betamax of the new millennium?

“Probably more cynical than ever.”

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