Special Report: DVD Decisions

By  | 

They say it’s like going from black-and-white to Technicolor.

"You're gonna get better picture, better sound. See more of the picture. Like tape to CD," Lansing Best Buy Home Theater Manager Justin Bruner said.

It’s a new generation of movies and high definition DVD players.

"Just like high definition is better than standard programming, it's the same idea with DVDs. (People say,) well I've got HDTV when I’m watching my local stations and cable or satellite, I want to do movies in high definition, too," Bruner said.

But it's not that simple. If you want your movies in high definition, you have a decision to make: Blue Ray from Sony, or HD-DVD from Toshiba.

If you buy one, you can't play discs made for the other.

We asked Lansing Best Buy Home Theater manager Justin Bruner to explain the systems.

"If you want a comparison is between Betamax and VHS a few years back," Bruner said.

VHS won that format war, so what should you buy now?

"They have yet to make a decision. And just like with the Betamax, if you get on the wrong side, now you've bought all these movies that are going to be obsolete and the player's going to be obsolete," he said.

What about all those regular DVDs? Our expert says don't worry; both of the new players will play the old discs. What you might have to worry about is playing the latest movies in your old player.

"If one format takes off or both take off you might see DVD players becoming obsolete," Bruner said.

One format is out already: Toshiba's HD-DVD.

"HD-DVD may be a little cheaper but it doesn't hold as much memory," Bruner said.

Still, since it's out now, Toshiba could get a head start and become the dominant format. But there could be another element to your DVD decision.

"Both XBOX 360 and PS 3 are High Definition-ready," Michigan State University Prof. Brian Winn said.

"The PlayStation 3 is coming out next fall with the Blue Ray in it. I think Sony is thinking that's the way to get into people's living rooms with it," said Winn, who heads MSU's game design program.

That might give Sony's Blue Ray format an edge. But another technology giant is ready to enter the DVD debate on the side of Toshiba's HD-DVD.

"It's been equalized a little bit recently with Microsoft jumping on the bandwagon for hi-def DVDs," Winn said.

But before you get on the hi-def DVD bandwagon, you might want to check the price.

"The HD-DVD player runs $800, the Toshiba. The Blue Ray players are expected to cost $1000. Movies go from about 15 to 20 to 30 or 35 dollars," Bruner said.

Even if you're taken in by the flash and willing to shell out the cash, our DVD expert has one last piece of advice.

"I would say for people to sit back so they don't get on the wrong side of the fence, because it's not clear who's going to come out on top," Bruner said.

He says you're better off waiting six months or more to make a DVD decision.