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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's official: HD DVD is dead. Long live Blu-Ray!

After months of build up and days of rumours, Toshiba today officially announced that it's giving up on HD DVD. And not a moment too soon. By end of March, it will not have any more HD DVD players, recorders or other gadgets. That's only a month (and a few days) away!

Of course, Apple has always been in the Blu-Ray camp. Intriguingly, though, it has not released any Blu-Ray device yet. Perhaps it was waiting for the "war" to end before revealing its hand?

Or maybe Apple TV Take 2 and MacBook Air gives a clue about its strategy. Both devices eschew an optical drive in favour for downloads or streaming. Apple TV receives its content from a host computer wirelessly, including HD content, or logs onto the Internet to grab YouTube videos. MacBook Air is too thin to fit an optical drive in, and relies on another computer's drive (again, connected wirelessly) to load software from discs.

Then there's the iTunes Store, which has shown that people are willing to pay for media-less content at a fair price. Finally, even backing up a hard disk no longer requires removable storage. Case in point: Time Machine. The contents of your computer are automatically backed up to another hard disk. Especially with prices of hard disks continuing to drop, there's really no need to rely on DVD or even Blu-Ray for storage.

All of which just goes to show: is the optical drive still necessary? And if not, then was the Blu-Ray vs HD DVD war even worth fighting over?

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