MFDigital CD DVD Information Library
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
HD-DVD vs Blu-ray: A Primer
High Definition DVD (HD-DVD) vs Blu-ray is shaping up to be a battle to rival the VHS vs Betamax format war of the early eighties. Looking like they've learned nothing from the DVD +/- RW debacle, the companies involved, whether they are in the technology or content distribution industry (or in Sony's case, both), are set to slug it out over the next few years.The prize is the licence fees that will be payable to the format owners when the next generation of high definition DVD players and recorders start shipping in volume. As high definition television becomes increasingly popular, consumers will want a recordable format that has the capacity to hold at least a couple of hours worth of HDTV content. Both Blu-ray and HD-DVD were developed in response to the anticipated need for an HDTV recording medium and provide content whose quality would match the expectations of HDTV-owning customers. Additionally, the film distribution companies will cash-in as they release all the titles currently available on DVD in one or both of the new formats and convince consumers that they really should chuck out the DVD collection they've spent time and money building and start afresh with the new high definition versions.Rather than get together and agree a format for high definition DVD, the industry has split in two and is producing two different versions. In the red corner is Toshiba, which has developed HD-DVD and has signed up numerous film companies as supporters, including Warner Brothers, New Line, Paramount, and Universal Pictures.In the blue corner, is, if you'll forgive the pun, Sony's Blu-ray. Sony intends to use Blu-ray as the format for the next generation of the PlayStation and has signed up Disney, and MGM, and is expected to add 20th Century Fox to the list. Currently the major Hollywood studios are split down the middle with almost exactly half of them in each camp.HD-DVD has been developed by Toshiba and NEC and has the support of the influential DVD Forum, whereas Blu-ray is supported by Phillips, HP, Sharp, Pioneer, Panasonic, and Sonic Solutions.Microsoft stands to benefit whichever format succeeds as its Windows Media 9 video codec has been approved for use in HD-DVD and Blu-ray content. Apple's H.264 codec has also been approved for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Kenny Hemphill is the editor and publisher of The HDTV Tuner