The battle for the hearts and minds of consumers for the successor to the DVD continues unabated, with both next-generation formats, Blu-ray and HD DVD locked in a stalemate that analysts believe is unlikely to be resolved for at least another year. Both sides have trumpeted their successes in this war of attrition but what's alarming to all the parties involved - from the movie studios to advocates of the competing formats - is the trend of falling DVD retail prices, which coupled with already stagnant sales, only leads to lower profit margins. Obviously, the studios have been hoping that the higher prices of the new formats could take up some of the slack but their dismal adoption rates put this plan into jeopardy.
Besides the uncertainty over the two formats, the high cost of the standalone HD players is the major reason for the lackluster adoption rate. At the moment, the cheapest Blu-ray player is probably Sony's US$499 PlayStation 3 console, while HD DVD players are generally US$100 - 200 dollars cheaper than standalone Blu-ray players that are going for at least US$500. Price certainly looks like a huge barrier to adoption; look at what's happening with the uptake of HDTVs now that prices have fallen.
Moving beyond the living room, the situation isn't any better. The PC Blu-ray drives we have seen are exorbitantly priced, which is not surprising for new technology while we haven't seen any HD DVD drives personally yet. Since these PC Blu-ray drives in the market are capable of writing to Blu-ray (BD) media, it is perhaps reasonable to the early adopters but even the techie with his home media center system will find it quite a high cost of entry for HD content. Which is why a simple BD player-only for the PC is needed and that is probably the impetus behind ASUS' move to have Blu-ray reading capabilities for its new multi format drive, the ASUS BC-1205PT.
Able to write to all DVD formats besides reading BD media, this ASUS drive promises to be a compromise for those who don't require the additional BD writing capabilities, yet hanker for HD content. It was first shown at this year's Computex, where ASUS also had a similar HD DVD drive on show. While the HD DVD version doesn't seem to be available yet, the Blu-ray BC-1205PT is ready for retail and we take a closer look today at this drive. Below are its technical specifications.