A standards war between high powered electronics companies seeking to
determine the best way for us to watch movies and store data has
resulted in consumers being caught in the crossfire again.
The battle over the high definition future - which way to turn between
the Sony-led Blu-ray and the Toshiba-led HD-DVD format - is reminiscent
of the Beta vs VHS battles in the late-1970s. At stake is the next
generation of DVD recorders and players that will become standard in our
households over the next few years.
The Hollywood studios will ultimately decide which technology will
formats support more vivid reproduction of video at up to 1920 x 1080
progressive scan - the highest possible image resolution - as well as
top quality audio and more storage, opening the way for more
interactivity and special features for movies.
Next generation home entertainment players are already on the shelves
from a few suppliers at around $1000, and high-end computers are coming
out with DVD recorders and players that handle either or both formats.
battle is also being waged at gaming console level where Sony
PlayStation 3 comes standard with Blu-ray while Microsoft Xbox 360 Ė if
you buy the $250 add on - is HD-DVD compatible.
As well as 1080p resolution movies theyíll both still play your old CDs,
DVDs, MP3 music files and photo disks. Toshiba launched several players
here with a price point of around $1100. In Australia the price has come
down around $600 in a bid to gain leverage against Blu-ray.
Itís still early days for home recorders. Sharp has announced a one
terabyte (1000Gb) model, capable of recording 127 hours of digital
high-definition content for Japanese release at around $NZ3500. Sony,
Toshiba and Panasonic have also announced recorders for the Japanese
Blu-ray, backed by
Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Philips,
Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson uses a blue-violet laser, which is
shorter than the red lasers in previous models, enabling greater
precision for storing and accessing data. It offers more than five times
the storage capacity of traditional DVDs (4.4Gb) with up to 25Gb on a
single-layer disc and 50Gb on a dual-layer disc.
HD-DVD has 15Gb capacity in single later format and 30Gb in double
layer; because it is an
extension of the existing DVD format,
pricing for the new players is about 25 percent lower than Blu-ray
Microsoft recently partnered with Toshiba in the Advanced Interactivity
Consortium (AIC) throwing its muscle behind the HD-DVD format to try and
accelerate the adoption of next generation content and devices including
DVD players, PCs, TVs, cell phones, portable media players and game
Between mid-2006 and the end of September an estimated 4.98 million high
definition discs were sold, including 3.01 million in Blu-ray and 1.97
million in HD-DVD, according to research group, Home Media.
Coupled with high definition screens both formats will deliver a marked
improvement in quality but with only a couple of hundred movie titles
around, itís not exactly mainstream yet. There are expected to be around
230 Blu-ray titles by the end of the year and the HD-DVD consortium is
trying to push beyond the 50 titles. Some studios are releasing in both
Meanwhile both sides are offering free titles to help promote sales of
their players. PriceWaterhouseCoopers
in its Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2007-2011 believes
the competing standards could be inhibiting the market and there was
every likelihood all studios would eventually start releasing in both