Casualties of the format wars

Throwback Thursday

While looking through pasts post, I came across this one from 11 years ago and I had to smile. Format wars were going on long before HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray. As a member of the Generation X cohort, I remember when we were told 8-track tapes for music, and laser discs for movies were the way of the future. Even 11 years ago, it was hard to imagine that music and movies are now distributed via streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Unlimited Music. It will be interesting to see what the future holds. In the meantime enjoy a bit of the past.


It is always a risky decision to make when competing formats are at each other’s throats for market dominance, but what if your early adoption choice is on the wrong end of the format wars? If you don’t know what I’m referring to here, you probably haven’t made a choice between Blu-Ray or HD DVD. Recent developments have basically put the nail in HD DVD’s coffin.

What should one do with the HD DVD player and discs that are basically going to become relics of the latest format wars of home entertainment? Well, you could try and return all of your HD DVD merchandise if you have the receipts and are within the return date cut off. But, what if that ship has sailed? Are you supposed to hold on to this dying format only to pull it out in 20 years to impress your technophile friends with this short-lived format?

Should you resort to listing it on eBay or Craigslist? It seems that a lot of people already have that idea. Could you use the discs as coasters for your drinks? Not really a great idea either. Unfortunately, I think you just admit that it’s time to move on and buy a replacement Blu-Ray player. If you choose to dispose of your old player, be sure to read our post on disposing electronics first.

I’m going to hold off buying a new DVD player for a while and rely on digital distribution for my HD movie viewing pleasure. Services like Amazon’s Prime Video and my cable provider’s On Demand make this relatively simple. It is definitely the most uncluttered of all the options, and I’m in no hurry.

For those of you who have all the hardware needed to convert HD DVDs to Blu-Ray, Wired has a tutorial on how to do just that.

18 Comments for “Casualties of the format wars”

  1. posted by Sarah on

    Big fan of On Demand! No clutter!!
    AND, it’s much better for the environment.

  2. posted by Cyrano on

    I use Amazon Unbox with my Tivo constantly.

  3. posted by ciara on

    we have dvr w att…but i’m in no hurry to get rid of the ol’ relic of a dvd player that i have or to spend the money on those blueray discs. we use on/in demand, too.

  4. posted by SuperChuck on

    I think the HD formats just plain don’t add enough value to become as dominant as DVD. DVD, after all, is no better than S-VHS, but offers many more conveniences: no rewinding, no degradation, bonus features. Even as a videophile, I’m wary to drop an extra $10+ per disc for better color depth.

    On Demand services, though… That’s the future… Xbox Live’s Video Marketplace, Vudu, Amazon Unbox. I have my eye on Vudu, but that’s just me.

    Last year, I built a media server complete with 2 XBox Media Center PCs. This gives me access to my ~260 DVDs without touching a single disc. I don’t think I could go back to sorting through stacks of boxes to find something to watch.

  5. posted by angela on

    What “recent developments” have swayed the market to Blu-Ray? The porn industry sided with HD DVD just like it sided with VHS. That pretty much wraps up the debate IMO.

  6. posted by Erin Doland on

    @angela — There were 15 or so events over the last month that worked against it. The “nail in the coffin” was when Toshiba announced it is no longer producing or backing HD DVD.

  7. posted by Michael on


    I think the PS3 was the thing that did it. Plus Toshiba (HD DVD) just recently gave up and let Sony (Blu-Ray) win instead of drawing it out longer.

    Blu-Ray is superior to HD anyways, if you bought HD DVD it’s your own fault. Basic physics tells us that blue light has a shorter wavelength than red light, so it’s physically capable of reading smaller indents on the disc.

  8. posted by Christine on

    I thought everyone got porn on the internet these days LOL! Anyway…

    I had this happen with my cassette tapes. I realized that I no longer had a cassette player…not a huge deal with most of the stuff. I mean, who wants to listen to them anyway. But, I have some tapes of voice recordings…I’d like to try to preserve those in some way.

  9. posted by Stephanie on

    I recently donated all my music compact discs to my local library. That is now an old format for me since I have gone digital. They were very happy to have all of the CDs to add to their collection. I would do the same for DVDs. There are plenty of people out there who still use “old” formats via their local library. If you have discs that are not suitable for donation, there are companies that recycle them. I found several that do in a simple internet search. I may have to fork over some cash to mail them to a recycler but it feels better than knowing that the discs would be sitting in a landfill for centuries to come.

  10. posted by Daniel on

    @ Michael

    You think Blu-Ray uses a shorter wavelength than HD-DVD? What, because they put “Blu” in the name?

  11. posted by Lilann on

    You could also keep your HD DVDs for many years and enjoy them.I’m someone who purchased an HD DVD player and HD DVD discs and once the format war ended I moved on with a Samsung combo player. The Samsung player plays HD DVD, Blu Ray and DVD. So a combo player is a nice unclutterer solution.Combo players by Samsung and LG dropped dramatically in price once the format war ended and were purchased by many HD DVD fans. The price drop allowed me to purchase a top of the line “open box” combo player for less then the cost of a Blu Ray player back in 2008.The Samsung also has the best upconversion technology which makes my dvds look better then even. Since the end of the format war I’ve purchased some Blu Rays movies and rented many others from Netflix. I’ve also purchased several HD DVDs as HD DVDs can be purchased new usually for $5-$10. I recently purchased Slither for $5 and Atonement for $7 on HD DVD. Neither of those films has made it to Blu Ray.

  12. posted by terriok on

    Hmm. Records, 8 tracks (I finally tossed them, lol), cassettes, CD’s, DVD’s…

    Whatever the format- it is not going to be around very long. Now that is a waste!

  13. posted by Sheila on

    Anybody got any use for 5-1/4″ and 3″ computer floppies?

  14. posted by Darrell on

    Great to see this throwback Thursday post. Brings back a lot of memories. Even back then, I had a shelf full of VHS movies, and one shelf dedicated to DVDs – about the same amount of movies as VHS due to the lack of space dvds take up.

    I donated my VHS collection to the library around 2009, and eventually sold all my DVDs on eBay back in 2012. Blu-Ray? My only blu-ray player was my PS3 and I didn’t even unwrap the introductory Blu-ray Disc that came with it. For some reason, I just wasn’t getting behind it. Netflix was rumored to be experimenting with streaming at this time, and Apple was adamant of not including Blu-Ray in their MacBook Pros. I waited it out, never bought (or even rented) a blu-Ray and look where we are in 2019.

    No one knows what will happen in the future, but our homes should not be testing grounds for products that don’t have much of a lifespan.

  15. posted by laura ann on

    Blue ray will probably be obsolete soon too. We decided not to buy one.

  16. posted by Sarah on

    I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here. WHY would I get rid of CD’s & DVD’s I already OWN and can play “on my own demand”? So I can pay for a streaming service? No way!

    And hey, the idea that these formats are “dead” is pretty much not true, given that you can see what happened in recent year after the vinyl record and turntable were pronounced “dead.” I have a friend who has maintained in fully-working condition the equipment to deal with everything from vinyl albums to reel-to-reel tape recording, mini-tape, VHS, laser-disc, DVD, and anything else you can think of in between (but NOT Betamax, LOL!). And when someone comes across an older item and needs a way to look at it, my friend is the one they go running to.

    I maintain a VCR that can copy VHS to DVD and vice-versa. It has come in handy more than I ever imagined. And I enjoy playing CD’s on my very nice sound system. I also don’t find that these items take up such a monumental amount of space in my home either (as opposed to my books, which do take up a lot of space).

    I’m definitely not going to pay for any streaming service, except on an as-needed or one-time-need basis. I have friends who spend so much for their streaming (or for their “bundle” service) that they could almost be making a small mortgage payment every month with that money – which I consider crazy.

  17. posted by G. on

    I agree with Sarah – if you currently own outdated tech and it still works, you don’t need to go replacing it all. Enjoy the old while it works, when the player breaks, then think about if you used it enough to replace the disks in newer format. Maybe you’ll find you’ve moved on in what you want to watch or listen to. As far as physical media becoming obsolete, that presumes that every place has access to decent, reliable, fast, and affordable internet. Go to rural areas and you’ll soon find that’s not the case by a long shot.

    And those 5 1/4″ and 3.5″ computer disks – it wasn’t too long ago there was an article about someone who makes a decent living re-formatting and cleaning up those disks to resell. They said it’s scary how many places still use systems that need them, esp the government.

  18. posted by Bill on

    I like to own a physical copy of a DVD, so I have hundreds. I also tend to re-watch films many times…would be more expensive if pay-per-view. I also like mostly classic movies and TV shows…some obscure enough to be unlikely to be available with the various popular playback services. I don’t store CD’s or any other audio format, however, as I tire of the same old music….so I tend to borrow from the library or listen to the radio. Amazing how audio vinyl is popular as that’s a real space hog, as videocassetes were….glad those are gone.
    I like to buy and hold onto books too…just not that many as they take a lot of space. I buy (used only) a few at a time and dispose of them when read. I like movie bios, and many take a while to read and I like to take my time. I typically don’t spend more than $5 for a book, so no great investment….love Amazon and Ebay for the low prices on used DVD’s and books.

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