There's something of a battle underway right now between two different blue-violet laser-based high definition DVD formats: HD-DVD and Blu-ray. Despite that, we believe there's enough good gear of great interest on both sides of this contest to warrant a buyer's guide for equipment using one or both standards. In this article we will take a look at two kinds of equipment offerings that involve HD-DVD technology: standalone HD-DVD players; and PC-oriented HD-DVD players and burners (some internal, others external).
For this guide, we ignore the growing crop of notebook PCs that include HD-DVD drives, or offer them as configuration options; you can read more about some of those in our recent review Two Big-Screen Multimedia Notebooks with HD-DVD Players. What we concentrate on instead is the current crop of first and second generation HD-DVD players (and the odd burner) that buyers will find in today's marketplace. We also provide a few comments and speculations about what else is coming soon (or already here) that may bear consideration as well.
We'll also be doing a companion guide on Blu-ray players as a follow-up to this piece, wherein we will also discuss an emerging but very expensive crop of hybrid players that can handle both HD-DVD and Blu-ray formats (albeit with some occasionally interesting caveats). But first, a technology overview, including speeds and feeds, and potential but not always potent differences between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray formats, and related technologies.