I'll admit it. I was one of those who were suckered into buying HD-DVD. After just a couple of months into the high-def gamble, I was suddenly stuck with an obsolete format when Blu-ray won the format war. Until recently, I had no intention in the then foreseeable future to invest in a Blu-Ray player. After all, I had already amassed a sizeable collection of original region 1 DVDs and was not about to double-dip on the titles I already had. Then, while he was in the States, a friend convinced me to get one since he was planning on buying one for himself. At $150 plus free shipping (all the way to Manila), it was indeed a bargain considering an equivalent unit would most probably fetch twice that price if purchased locally (will probably do a review later on the Sony BDP-S360).
After buying a couple of BDs locally for an exorbitant price, I was underwhelmed by my first spin. Maybe it was because I already experienced HD in HD-DVD format and was expecting that it'd be an improvement over that. After extensive tweaking of both the player's as well as the TV's settings though, I can now see clearly why the format is starting to gain ground. Comparing the exact same DVD set at 480p resolution to a BD, the difference is like night and day. I swear that even the sound is better even if my current Onkyo receiver does not have HDMI and is unable to fully decode the high-def sound formats like DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD. With flat-panel prices dropping to half what they were when I first bought one, it'll be a matter of time before DVD gives up more of its market share to Blu-Ray. My only concern is that while newly-released titles sell hover in the $20 range if bought in the States, the same titles are sold here for at least 50% more. Perhaps the local distributors would do well to reconsider their pricing strategies to help the format take off.
As for my friend, he decided not to buy a unit for himself and has decided to stick to DVD... for now.