Click to viewThe war between Blu-ray and HD DVD takes center stage, but now we're starting to see rumbles within the vast Blu-ray coalition. How long did you think a truce between longtime rivals Sony and Panasonic could last, anyhow? To be sure, everyone is being perfectly civil to one another, but while Panasonic, Samsung and Denon are blazing the way with "standard" Blu-ray players, Pioneer and Sony still remain hung up on the "initial" Blu-ray spec. After talking to top brass at all of these companies, we have pieced together a sense of where Blu-ray hardware is headed, and why it's taking so long.
The root of the problem is that Blu-ray did not have a finished specification when devices went into production. Instead, there were two or three "profiles," outlined in the chart above. After November 1, any Blu-ray player had to meet 1.1, sometimes called "final standard profile." Panasonic planned a mid-November launch of its 1.1 player, and a production delay caused Samsung to update its player to the spec. Denon always planned to ship its first Blu-ray player in December, so it planned for 1.1 all along. Meanwhile, Sony, Pioneer and others introduced Blu-ray players in the fall that shipped just before the November 1 deadline, thereby ensuring that they did not have to be "final standard." Instead, they met the requirements of the simpler "initial profile.