Tom's Hardware by Scott M. Fulton Blu-RayLAS VEGAS (Nevada) - By now, you're familiar with the headlines: Sony and Philips developed a compelling next-generation video disc standard. Toshiba and NEC developed a competitive format that used more conventional materials, was cheaper to implement, and had some intriguing technological frills. The major US movie studios were divided 50/50 among whose format to support as recorded movies evolved from the existing standard. The year was 1996. That year, a compromise standard was finally reached, and the DVD industry could formally launch. But for a few years prior, the retail video industry waited in a tense state of limbo, dreading a rematch of the format wars between VHS and Betamax that generated so much consumer confusion a decade earlier. Yet the manufacturers' final compromise seemed to manifest itself out of thin air, as if warring standards were, in fact, designed to weave themselves together. Fast-forward toward the end of DVD's shelf life as a retail product. Two weeks ago, the Video Software Dealers Association - a trade group representing rental and sales outlets such as Netflix and Blockbuster - signaled what many video aficionados have always known (and what I've had to overcome all my life): Very few sequels bearing the Roman numeral "III" are all that interesting. The Association doesn't want a rematch of the rematch of the video format wars of the 1980s. In a press release, VSDA's president, Bo Andersen - channeling another president - said, "Now we are engaged in a great format war, testing whether the next generation of packaged entertainment can long endure." read more...

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