Click to read about the best places to eat on campus, freshman packing tips, and how to keep in touch with friends.

DVD format squabble could hurt customers

Remember Betamax? Most college students are probably too young to remember the squabble that erupted when both Sony and JVC attempted to bring video recorders to the market, each with a different format.

Many consumers who had bet on Betamax, the format that was pushed by Sony, got burned badly when the equipment they purchased quickly became obsolete.

Now the same scenario could happen with DVDs as two rivaling factions push their own formats.

Sony and Toshiba, the companies behind the two formats, made attempts to consolidate their efforts and agree on a single standard instead of competing. But negotiations broke down Tuesday.

As a Toshiba representative told, “The Sony side failed to provide enough evidence that its format has a clear advantage over ours in terms of cost and range of applications.”

Consumers would warmly welcome a new DVD standard that delivers video at higher resolutions. As HD television sets are selling fast, a market for enhanced DVDs is established and growing. When Betamax and VHS were competing, VHS emerged the winner, even though Betamax delivered a better video experience.

This time around, there isn’t even a clear leader in terms of quality. Both standards deliver the same experience, so it appears it boils down to a matter of pride. But for customers, confusion and frustration seem the likely outcome.