Blu-Ray discI just found a Reuters news story titled, “Toshiba to exit HD DVD, end format war.” Even if you’re a casual follower of tech news, you’ve probably heard that two high-definition DVD formats have been competing to replace the original DVD format as the next format for feature film, TV, animation, and documentary video.

Soon after Wal-Mart announced that it would carry only Blu-Ray discs and players, supported by Sony, Toshiba threw in the towel and announced it would halt production of HD DVD (high-definition DVD) devices and discs. The story says:

Toshiba is expected to suffer losses amounting to tens of billions of yen (hundreds of millions of dollars) to scrap production of HD DVD players and recorders and other steps to exit the business, Japan’s NHK said on its website.

If you are of a certain age, like me, this competition will make you think immediately of the 1980s triumph of VHS videocassettes over Sony’s Betamax format. (I remember thinking at the time that Betamax cassettes were cooler and the video images looked better, but tech wars often have little to do with which product is superior.)

So I guess what goes around comes around – Sony wins big this time, and we now know which format we’ll be adding to our libraries’ video collections over the next few years. But I wouldn’t assume that we’ll be spending all of our video budget on Blu-Ray discs just yet. I’m still guessing that downloadable films will become the norm over the next five years, discs will gradually disappear, and libraries will be loaning movies through their Web sites instead of requiring people to come in and check them out.

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