With the release of Blu-Ray enabled Sony notebooks this month and HD-DVD notebook equipment already available, the battle for public hearts and minds has begun. Which way will consumers jump? For those who remember the scuffle between VHS and Betamax, they’re understandably shy of backing a losing format. However, disc formats naturally evolve over time, increasing capacity. The question we posed was, what kind of evolution will we see in HD-DVD or Blu-Ray and how will those futures compare? PC Authority spoke to Sony and Toshiba in Australia to unveil future plans.
Carl Rose, Deputy Managing Director of Sony Australia, points at future capacity as a reason for adopting Blu-Ray. ‘Blu-Ray has an expansion path. As more and more HD content comes, then Blu-Ray is going to be able to cope with that.’ He emphasised the ability of Blu-Ray to add additional layers, (increasing potential quality) which increases the capacity of a given disc by 25GB per layer. Another Sony representative claimed that Sony has successfully created eight-layer Blu-Ray discs in the lab. That would give them a whopping capacity in the vicinity of 200GB on one side. Pressed to select a likely victor, he was diplomatic: ‘We’ll let the consumer decide.’
Matt Codrington, Product Marketing Manager at Toshiba Australia highlighted HD-DVD’s ability to press a disc with a standard DVD format movie on one side and the same movie in HD-DVD format on the other side, creating a two-sided disc that’s compatible with both old and new generation DVD players. He also questions interactivity. ‘Additional interactive features (iHD) are mandatory on HD-DVD format, but not on Blu-Ray. So will they appear?’ he asks. Regarding disc layers, Mr Codrington stated that triple layer HDDVD ROM discs are already planned for release, with a capacity of 45GB on a single side (15GB per layer). He also notes that Toshiba are negotiating with several Hollywood studios to bring forward launch dates for HD DVD content for Australia and New Zealand, saying: ‘I’m confident that we’ll see the first HD DVD discs in plenty of time for Christmas Stockings.’
Perhaps most telling is the mix of industry players backing both horses. The Nichi Corporation, holder of the Blu-Ray laser system patent, sits as an associate member of the HD-DVD promotion group. In another example, Apple, sitting on the Blu-Ray board of directors, supports HD-DVD authoring in its DVD Studio Pro software. Whichever way the battle fares, these parties are clearly playing to win.
This Feature appeared in the September 2006 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine