Warner Offers HD-DVD to Blu-ray Title Upgrades

Early adopters get to sample new products and technologies long before everybody else. But the price they pay for the opportunity and the bragging rights is often spending a lot more money than if they had only waited longer, potentially problematic hardware that hasn't had all the bugs worked out yet, and (in a worst-case-scenario) sometimes investing in a technology that has a very short shelf life.

With the possible exception of buggy hardware, this is exactly what happened to those who jumped onto the high-definition (HD) movie disc bandwagon and invested in HD-DVD players and titles. HD-DVD and Blu-ray technologies both hit the market around the same time (technically, HD-DVD launched first) and they duked it out to see which would win top dog as the new HD movie disc format. This was reminiscent of the VHS versus Betamax war of the late 70's and early 80's. And like VHS, there was only one winner: Blu-ray. When one of the principle backers of HD-DVD, Toshiba, finally threw in the towel in February of 2008, the short-lived HD-DVD format was suddenly obsolete. Other than products that were already too far down the production pipeline to be stopped, nobody was going to make HD-DVD players, recorders, discs, or produce new titles anymore.

For those who initially invested in HD-DVD titles and still have them laying around, but have subsequently succumbed and made the switch to Blu-ray, Warner Brothers Entertainment has a deal for you. For any Warner HD-DVD titles that are also currently available on Blu-ray, Warner will let you trade in your HD-DVD titles for Blu-ray titles. This is a same-title-for-same-title trade, so you can only trade the HD-DVD version of a title for the same title on Blu-ray.

Warner has launched the Red2Blu Website for conducting these trade-ins. There are 128 Blu-ray titles available for trading on the site, including titles such as 300, Batman Begins, and I am Legend. The cost is $4.95 for most titles, while some "collections" cost more, such as Blade Runner (Five-Disc Complete Collector's Edition), which costs $14.95. Each household is limited to a total of 25 titles and you may only trade in one copy of a movie (if you have doubles of any title, or were hoping to help out a friend, you are out of luck). There is also a $6.95 shipping fee for the complete order.

To trade in your HD-DVD titles for Blu-ray titles, you select the titles you want to "upgrade" from the site, pay online, and then receive a pre-paid mailing label via e-mail. You don't actually have to send in the discs, but you do have to send the original HD-DVD title cover art sleeves--fully intact with the UPC--in order to prove you actually own the titles. Once you send in the sleeves, it should take about four to five weeks for the order to be processed and for your Blu-ray titles to be shipped out to you. This promotion is set to last through the end of the year.

Those who feel that they got burned by HD-DVD might be somewhat reticent to invest in Blu-ray now, lest they wind up investing in another technology that soon becomes similarly obsolete. While there are no guarantees and there are potential format rivals on the horizon, a number of recent reports show that Blu-ray is not only increasing in popularity, but that we're starting to see some significant drops in prices--with a number of consumer-friendly affordable options expected to hit by the third quarter of this year. This doesn't necessarily mean that Blu-ray will be around as long as the DVD format has, but at least it's starting to look like Blu-ray will continue to be around for some time.