UPDATE (January 15, 2008): We now recommend choosing Blu-Ray over HD-DVD.

Please see our updated post here

When I began researching this post, I was aiming to write an article laying out the specifics of HD DVD and Blu-Ray, attempting to make sense out of this DVD format war. What are the advantages/disadvantages of each? Which should I buy? I discovered, however, the CNET already has those topics covered, with everything you never wanted to know about HD DVD and Blu-Ray in their Quick Guide. To avoid redundancy, I'm not going to repeat their expertise.  Instead, I'm going to take a different angle–figuring out what movie studios and dvd providers are working in which format, as well as the affordability of HD DVD and Blu-Ray players.  After all, these factors are what will probably influence most consumers' buying choices, rather than the actual technologies themselves.

Studios and Retailers

HD DVD Blu-Ray

First Look Studios

Sony Pictures
The Weinstein Company Blockbuster Stores
X Box 360 20th Century Fox
Universal Playstation 3
Viacom (Paramount, DreamWorks, MTV, Nickelodeon) Disney
  Buena Vista
  Target will sell only Blu-Ray standalone players, but both formats in their DVD selections

On first glance, it may seem like Blu-Ray has a clear advantage here. But, It's important to keep in mind that Paramont has the largest market share (16.81%) and the highest gross ($1,193,497,557) of all the movie studios in 2007. So getting an exclusive deal with Paramount is big for HD DVD. Also, New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers appear to be supporting both formats.  Also noteworthy is that pornographic dvds will not be available in Blu-Ray, which could be a deciding factor for some.

The other big decision to make when talking about high-def DVDs is not not only what movies you will watch, but how you will watch them.  Here's a quick rundown of HD DVD and Blu-Ray players.

When comparing HD DVD and Blu-Ray players, you can quickly see that HD DVD players are more affordable than their Blu-Ray counterparts.  According to products listed on CNET.com, you can get an OPPO DV-970HD HD DVD player for $149 on Amazon.com.  Other affordable options are the Xbox 30 with an HD DVD player built in–you can find this for under $200 at several places online (view a comparison of cheaper HD DVD players here).  In addition, OPPO and Toshiba offer several other HD DVD players for under $300.  On the other hand, Toshiba and LG have some high-end options where you can spend almost $1,000 on an HD DVD player.

On the Blu-Ray side, you'll be hard-pressed to find a standalone player for under $500.  The most affordable option listed on CNET seems to be the Samsung BD-P1400 for $469.99 at Circuit City. 

The LG BH100, $849 at Circuit City, supports both HD DVD and Blu-Ray.  Get ready to run up your credit card if you want one of these.

Also noteworthy is the HP Pavilion m7690n is HD DVD-enabled for under $2,000.

So for people looking to pick a side in the DVD format war, things are pretty complicated. It seems that while Blu-Ray might have a larger current library of titles, HD DVD definitely has more viable options for high-def DVD players.  In this situation, I tend to agree with CNET–hold off on buying a high-def DVD player until the market becomes more stable.  If you really need a new DVD player now, I would recommend going with a cheap but good quality mainstream DVD players. These can be had quite easily for relatively little money, and thus serve as a great "transitional" DVD player for those who plan to go high-def in the future.  Sony has a lot of great low-priced options –I bought one last year and think it's fabulous.