Amazon, Microsoft Breathe Life into HD-DVD

Dennis Faas's picture

Owners of the HD-DVD format must feel as though they boarded the wrong boat.

While many HD-DVD buyers, yours truly included, feel as if Blu-ray is blazing across the high seas and plundering each and every movie studio along the way, owners of Toshiba devices and the Xbox 360 add-on are left wondering just what kind of craft their floating upon.

Lately, it feels like the Titanic.

Blockbuster's recent decision to stock its shelves with Blu-ray movies exclusively certainly felt as if HD-DVD had slammed into a massive Atlantic iceberg. However, there's still evidence that the HD-DVD format has life left in it. Aside from being preferred amongst North American and especially European independent filmmakers, HD-DVD will now be used by for special releases of future indie flicks.

Microsoft, whose Xbox 360 video game console offers a $199 HD-DVD add-on player, is reportedly behind the plan. The company's VC1 high definition software will be used to add extras, special features, and convert many independent movies to some impressive resolutions -- giving both HD-DVD and independent films a much-needed kick in the tush.

So, what's coming?

Expect a long list in the coming weeks, but for now Amazon is only announcing the Sundance Channel's "Big Ideas for a Small Planet" series. (Source:

Further drawing independent filmmakers into the idea is Amazon's bargain. The first 1,000 movies selected for HD upgrades will have their processing fees waived entirely. (Source:

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