What use is my HD-DVD player now? The arguments over which was the superior high-definition format –Sony's Blu-ray or Toshiba's HD-DVD – raged in distant corners of the internet; most people didn't care, and were happy to wait for someone else to decide the outcome. That moment came last week when Toshiba announced the end of HD-DVD. But now the people who splashed out on a Toshiba unit are asking what they should do with it.
The machine will carry on playing the crystal-clear images from the few HD-DVD titles that were released, along with regular CDs and DVDs – but no new video releases will appear in HD-DVD. It was Warner's decision to support Blu-ray that sealed the other format's fate (watch a nice mashup of the story with a scene from the film Der Untergang at www.tinyurl.com/ yq6g9p), and Universal and Paramount were the final two media companies to switch off the lights. Blank discs will also become scarce – limiting HD-DVD's usefulness for computer backups – so we can probably look forward to a glut of the machines on eBay.
"I bought one just before Christmas," commented John Bender on the Cyberclinic blog, "but it looks as though mine will be the last of the breed." Toshiba's president, Atsutoshi Nishida, was asked whether he feared a class action from disgruntled consumers. He replied that "early adopters" will always face a risk.
In the end, arguments over quality of the formats were irrelevant. The 300,000 people who bought an external drive for their Xbox 360 games console – which was also HD-DVD – may feel particularly narked, as they're paying for Microsoft guessing wrongly. But with HD-DVD in the museum of obsolete tech – along with Betamax, the Digital Compact Cassette and SmartMedia – perhaps more customers will take the plunge with Blu-ray, driving down prices. Maybe I'll even end up buying a high-definition telly.
Email any technology gripes to email@example.com, or join the discussions on the daily Cyberclinic blog at www.independent.co.uk/cyberclinic. Currently under discussion: Can I play songs I've bought from iTunes on a non-Apple player? Coming up this week: Do you know anyone who has actually bought a font for their computer?
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