New DVD formats look great, except on the shelf
Like the record labels, movie studios enjoy re-selling us our collections, and now they're looking for a new DVD format so they can do it again. They have a couple: a high-definition disc called HD DVD, and Sony's Blu-Ray format, which promises to hold all three Lord of the Rings movies in hi-def on one standard disc. Hewlett-Packard is backing both, which makes it likely that there will be a format war like VHS vs. Beta in the '80s. (Sony's Betamax lost, leaving a lot of people with unfixable machines and worthless tape collections.) Speaking of the Betamax, the first batch of new hi-def players are evoking memories of those huge, clunky old machines. CNet's Daniel Terdiman just saw them at the Consumer Electronics show: "This thing was big and bulky and plodding, even as it produced stunning video. It felt odd seeing such great looking pictures from something that looked so utterly out of date."