The 2007 Christmas shopping season is here. HD Ready flat TVs are destined to be big sellers yet again, but what about the high-def kit to go with them?
Once more the next-generation disc formats are fighting for supremacy, much to the relative indifference of consumers.
The electronics and film industries got it right 10 years ago when DVD was created. It was a single, unified format that was a notable step-up from VHS. It was also smaller and cheaper than the little-used LaserDisc.
AdvertisementBack then, you had to change format to get clear benefits from new technology. Nowadays, digital upscaling is able to pull quite a decent performance from otherwise ageing media - it has inadvertently turned out to be a thorn in the side of HD discs.
Some analysts believe that people will come around to the new HD disc formats, probably due to the 'Trojan Horse' tactics employed by the likes of Sony.
Sony has based its PlayStation 3 games console around a Blu-ray disc drive, despite that device trailing its rivals from Microsoft and Nintendo. However, any successes now may be short-lived.
Scroll forward 10 years or so and people will probably find bootleg HD DVD sellers stalking their local supermarket car park, while genuine HD discs are in the bargain bins in garage shops, and the current high street music and video retail or rental stores have vanished like their predecessors MVC, Our Price and Fopp.
The mass market is likely to be an ultra-high-speed broadband service supplying a wide range of hi-def content on demand - some free to watch, some pay per view, others tied into subscription bundles.
Unlike the current situation where numerous rival online services each offer a relatively limited selection it's conceivable that people will see something more like today's digital TV line-up, with a manageable number of major providers and some overlap between all of them.