Everything you need to know on the high-def disc front -- in easy-to-digest bytes.
Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD? If you're like most people, you've simply avoided that question. The two high-definition home-video formats, with their dazzling picture quality and innovative features, are battling to succeed DVDs. The problem is that Blu-ray and HD DVD are incompatible, each requiring a dedicated player. Many consumers are waiting for a victor to emerge or, more likely so far, are content with standard DVDs. The din for high-def discs isn't going away, though. You will notice a big push for high-def discs in stores no matter where you turn as the holiday season approaches. You're also likely to hear all kinds of claims about Blu-ray and HD DVD from acquaintances or salespeople, such as the 10 that follow. Which are true? Let's see:
ONE FORMAT LOOKS BETTER THAN THE OTHER
FALSE. I actually overheard a salesman tell a customer this once in a store. Don't believe it. While Blu-ray and HD DVD technology have different specs, they deliver the same high-def image quality. I've watched the same movies in Blu-ray and HD DVD on a 102-inch screen, and there are no appreciable differences in picture quality.
Good movies are available in only one format
WRONG. It depends on what you like. Only one major studio, Warner (and some of its labels, such as HBO and New Line), is releasing its titles in both formats. The other big players have chosen sides, with HD DVD being backed by Universal, Paramount and DreamWorks, and Blu-ray being supported by Sony, Fox, MGM, Lions Gate and Disney. Those companies are trying to get consumers to champion a format by releasing an unprecedented number of exclusive, high-demand titles in the coming weeks. Today, for example, Sony releases the "Spider-Man" movies in Blu-ray only, while Paramount recently issued "Transformers" in HD DVD only. Here's a look at what's planned through the end of the year on HD DVD and Blu-ray, and in both formats:
Just out: "A Mighty Heart,"Carlito's Way,"Face/Off,"Inside Man,"The Jack Ryan Collection,"Seed of Chucky,"Transformers."
Nov. 6: "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."
Nov. 13: "Pride & Prejudice,"Shrek the Third."
Nov. 20: "Star Trek: The Original Series -- Season 1,"Tremors."
Nov. 27: "Anchor Man,"Hot Rod,"Mr. Bean's Holiday,"Old School."
Dec. 4: "Arctic Tale,"Battlestar Galactica: Season 1."
Dec. 11: "The Bourne Ultimatum."