Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DVD is back to standards competition

On August 28, 2005, I wrote a blog about the upcoming DVD standards competition. Well here it is. In the weekend Intel and Microsoft announced that they have chosen HD DVD as the successor to the present DVD.

Intel Corporation and Microsoft Corp. will join major consumer electronics manufacturers, content providers and other companies as members of the HD DVD Promotion Group. After extensive review, both companies determined that the HD DVD format developed by the DVD Forum meets important criteria and delivers unique advantages, including PC and connected device interoperability and an easy, affordable transition to high definition for consumers. HD DVD can bring the excitement of HD video to the consumer faster than competing formats, with the potential for more affordable hardware and more interactive experiences.
Intel and Microsoft are the two most recent additions to the 100 member HD DVD Promotion Group, joining such companies as NEC Corp., SANYO Electric Co. Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. and content providers such as Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures Corp.

The joining of the HD DVD camp is a blow for Philips/Sony which support the Blu Ray standard. Intel and Microsoft say that they have determined that HD DVD is the only viable solution at this time, but that they keep working toward one format that meets consumer and industry requirements. For the consumer this will mean two DVD players (HD DVD or Blu Ray) if he/she wants to see everything on DVD. Products will be more expensive as the volumes will be smaller.

Microsoft and Intel cited the following consumer and industry requirements of any successful next-generation optical format for high definition, which is reflected by what HD DVD delivers:
- Managed Copy: A first for DVDs. Managed Copy is a guaranteed feature within HD DVD that gives consumers the freedom to make copies of their discs to a hard drive or home server, including Media Center PCs using Intel Viiv technology, and enjoy them in every room of the house over their home networks. HD DVD discs also will allow copies of the movie to be played on portable devices.
- "Future-proof" compatibility. Using proven HD DVD "hybrid disc" technology, a single disc can store both high-definition and standard-definition versions of a film, allowing consumers to immediately enjoy the standard-definition movies stored on these discs on today's DVD players, while HD movies can be replayed later on the HD DVD platform. This is an opportunity for consumers to buy discs at launch that future proof their collections -- in other words, helping assure customers that the discs they buy will remain viewable in the future.
- Proven low-cost, high-volume manufacturing. HD DVD discs use essentially the same manufacturing equipment as existing DVDs, meaning that production of HD DVD can ramp up easily and with lower costs.
- Capacity. HD DVD-ROM discs will offer dual-layer 30GB discs at launch, compared with BD-ROM discs, which will be limited to 25GB.
- Interactivity. HD DVD discs will offer greater interactivity using iHD technology, allowing for enhanced content, navigation and value-added functionality for high-definition films. For example, HD DVDs can offer advanced picture-in-picture capability so that other video, such as a director's commentary, could play on top of the movie.
- Format for notebook PCs. The compatibility of HD DVD with standard DVD facilitates and simplifies development of slim disc drives for integration in notebook PCs, one of the fastest-growing segments of the PC market.


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