Why Don't You Weigh In On The Video Format War?

Reader James writes:

I know that you guys have already covered the “format war” to some extent in the past. As I recall your site stated that the “format war” is indeed anti-consumer, which I agree with wholeheartedly. However, I do think that it would be incredibly helpful if you guys would revisit the story, and determine for yourselves which format is the most “consumer friendly.”

I realize that if you all were to essentially cast your vote then it would subject you to a lot of “hate” mail and such, but I believe that depending on how you present the information there will be no room for debate…


That wasn’t your entire email, and we apologize for not reprinting it in full, but we need to move on to the topic at hand. Why doesn’t Consumerist pick a format?

Let us be frank with you. One of the reasons we enjoy writing for this site is that does not require us to blow smoke up our reader’s asses. We think… We hope… they appreciate it, even though our advice isn’t always fun. We could tell you that XYZ new cool thing is inherently better, stronger, faster… but then we’d be Gizmodo. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) Newer, better, cooler stuff will always be available. It’s our job to tell you how to avoid being a pawn in a stupid format war.

Sure, you may not like hearing that by choosing to enter into the market before a format is settled, you are taking a needless risk. You may not like hearing that early-adopters are not smart consumers. We’re sorry. You seem like a nice guy, and you are probably very smart. The truth is that it’s not always the “best” format that wins the war. We cannot in good conscience evaluate and choose a “consumer friendly” format in a war that could have easily been avoided, and that is bad for consumers.

To do so would be a disservice to our readers. Some of them, like you, are early-adopters. They bristle when we tell them to wait, but on some level they know they’re taking a risk. Many, like you, have done research and feel that they are making a wise choice. Some of them will be right. Some of them will be wrong.

Our advice is to wait. If you don’t want to wait, that’s your choice, your risk, your decision. Weighing in on BluRay vs. HD-DVD helps no one. Reminding consumers that it’s smarter to be patient helps us all… even if it makes us boring and uncool.