Format Wars Redux: Blu-ray Disc vs. HD-DVD

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Ablang, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. Ablang

    Ablang Guest

    Format Wars Redux: Blu-ray Disc vs. HD-DVD

    The future of high-def recording rests with two competing optical
    formats: Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD. Here's why both matter.

    Melissa J. Perenson, PC World
    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    We've been down this road before. In fact, I can clearly see the ruts
    left behind by the wagon wheels that have already taken this path,
    long before Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD ever existed. (HD stands for both
    High Definition and High Density.) Format wars are nothing new; but
    this time, the stakes are sky-high on all sides--for Hollywood, for
    hardware manufacturers, and especially for consumers, who are facing a
    quandary akin to the Betamax-VHS battle.

    Why should we care about this latest format war? Simply put, the
    outcome will determine the way we get high-definition entertainment
    content. Since Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD are disparate and incompatible
    optical disc formats, the outcome will also determine what we buy to
    replace our living-room DVD player.

    The way things are going, though, later this year two competing types
    of player, based on two different formats, could replace the DVD
    player. If HD-DVD sticks to its stated timeline, we should be seeing
    the first HD-DVD players by this fall. Note I say should; external
    factors could conspire to throw off that ambitious timeline. The
    estimated ship time for the first Blu-ray products is a bit further
    out--end of this year, or beginning of next.

    Much Ado About Something

    At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, backers of the two
    formats trotted out the presentations and the proverbial dog-and-pony
    shows, each trying to one-up the other with product and alliance
    announcements. In HD-DVD's corner is the DVD Forum, the industry
    association that created the DVD format, and Toshiba and NEC; the
    Blu-ray Disc Association includes almost every major consumer
    electronics company, except Toshiba and NEC, who are backing HD-DVD.

    But slick prototypes and familiar rhetoric aside, most media attention
    focused on two big-ticket content announcements--and the fine print
    contained therein.

    In a glossy presentation at a ritzy Bellagio nightclub, the HD-DVD
    camp announced support by three studios--Paramount Pictures, Universal
    Pictures, and Warner Bros. Producing over 50 films in HD-DVD, as
    Warner Bros. intends to across all of its units (including HBO Home
    Video and New Line Cinema) is no small commitment. Nonetheless, I
    noticed that while some of the nearly 100 titles announced were very
    high-profile (including Warner's The Matrix and Harry Potter series)
    and Universal's The Bourne Supremacy), others were less impressive
    (Universal's Van Helsing and Waterworld, Warner's Catwoman and
    Gothika). The movie industry certainly made a flourish with these
    announcements, but they lacked sufficient meat to convince me that
    HD-DVD is Hollywood's sole path of the future.

    Even more notable was the lack of any announcement regarding New Line
    Cinema's crown jewels, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Had the company
    committed to releasing Lord of the Rings in HD-DVD, I might have felt
    this was more than just a toe in the water for the studios.

    As it was, I found the announcements vague and noncommittal. After
    all, per the fine print, none of the Hollywood studios is pledging to
    release films in HD-DVD only. It's entirely plausible we'll see
    content in two disc formats--on similar-looking media. At least with
    Beta vs. VHS, you could easily tell which tape cartridge was which
    (big and bulky=VHS); imagine moseying up to the store shelf to choose
    between similarly designed, same-sized packages for The Lord of the
    Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I can hear the internal dialogue
    now: "Is this movie in HD-DVD? Or Blu-ray? And which one do I need?"

    Meanwhile, the Blu-ray Disc Association wasn't silent. Although no
    movies were announced, Disney reiterated its support for Blu-ray. And
    with the announcement of gaming giant Electronic Arts' commitment to
    Blu-Ray, the Association cemented that format's future as the disc of
    choice for console games. Factor in Sony's backing of Blu-ray and the
    company's announced plans to support Blu-ray in its future PlayStation
    gaming consoles--and suddenly Blu-ray looks like it has the gaming
    market niche sealed up. No matter which way Hollywood goes, Blu-ray
    will exist, in this scenario.

    Microsoft has already thrown its weight behind HD-DVD for the
    next-generation Xbox. However, recent rumors on the Web suggest that
    Microsoft will support only standard DVD in the Xbox 2. If true, that
    would certainly tip the scales in Blu-ray's favor as the next-gen
    platform for gaming.

    More Alike Than Not

    I'll save a recitation of the detailed disc size, layer thickness, and
    dyes for another time. Physically, both Blu-ray and HD-DVD media are
    dye-based optical discs, similar in size to today's DVDs. Both formats
    pack more data on the disc by relying on a blue-laser diode instead of
    the red laser used in current DVD technology. The blue laser has a
    shorter wavelength, which allows it to read more data packed into a
    given space.

    Although neither Blu-ray Discs nor HD-DVD media will work on existing
    DVD players, both formats incorporate laser designs that make them
    backward compatible, so devices based on them will play back current
    DVDs and audio CDs. And both formats will use the same video
    compression schemes: MPEG-2, H.264, and VC-1. This development evens
    the playing field with respect to the video codec, at least.

    While both formats will continue to support existing audio formats,
    advanced audio codecs are still being nailed down, as is the
    copy-protection scheme.

    So which format has the advantage? As its name implies, HD-DVD is more
    closely related to its predecessor--but only in that the disc's
    physical structure is virtually identical to that of current DVD
    media. Proponents of the HD-DVD format point to that trait as an asset
    that makes ramping up production more seamless than doing so with
    Blu-ray Discs.

    By contrast, Blu-ray requires an entirely different manufacturing and
    replication process, one that will require some infrastructure
    investment up front for manufacturers. Surely this will make a
    difference--but only in the early days. I've yet to hear anything that
    makes me think HD-DVD holds an insurmountable advantage. The question
    is, how long will it take for the technologies needed to produce
    Blu-ray Discs to ramp up and get the manufacturing costs down? Because
    the transition to HD-DVD involves less up-front expense, that format
    has an early edge.

    When it comes to capacity, though, the point advantage goes hands-down
    to Blu-ray. Never mind the various rewritable and recordable specs;
    read-only specs are the only ones that matter for prerecorded
    Hollywood content. A Blu-ray Disc holds a whopping 25GB on a
    single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. By contrast, HD-DVD
    holds only 15GB on a single-layer disc and 30GB on a dual-layer disc.

    And here's a reality check, folks: A standard 135-minute movie,
    encoded at 12 megabits per second, will require about 12GB to 13GB of
    storage, just for the video of the film alone. Factor in up to 5GB
    more for a high-end, DVD-Audio-level soundtrack, plus space for
    additional audio tracks (to support the requisite Dolby Digital and
    DTS), multiple language tracks and extras, and suddenly those 30GB
    dual-layer HD-DVD discs sound like they're going have a tough time
    handling all that content.

    Before Hollywood commits to a format, it needs to remember that this
    next content-delivery format choice is for the long haul. What works
    in the context of today's standards for "roomy" won't necessarily work
    three years from now. And no one has ever regretted having too much

    Survey Says...

    So what's going to decide this race? If it's first to market, HD-DVD
    may cross the finish line first--if the Advanced Access Content System
    copy protection scheme is finalized by March. That technology is
    holding up the finalization of read-only disc specs for both HD-DVD
    media and Blu-ray Discs. HD-DVD proponents have selected AACS for
    digital rights management; backers of the Blu-ray format are still
    finalizing their copy protection plans, but consider AACS as a front

    If AACS is delayed--and several industry folks I've spoken with feel
    this is likely--Toshiba and NEC may have a difficult time making their
    aggressive launch schedule. According to an NEC engineer, the company
    will need a minimum of three months after AACS copy protection is
    completed and the HD-DVD-ROM specification is finalized in order to
    get a HD-DVD drive into production. Consumer electronics products,
    such as the HD-DVD players that Toshiba will be selling, typically
    require even more time to market, to account for design, manufacture,
    and testing.

    Even if AACS doesn't arrive on schedule, HD-DVD may still have a few
    months' lead on Blu-ray. Some Blu-ray Disc products may ship by the
    end of the year, but sources say it's looking more realistic for the
    beginning of 2006. And both formats could be delayed if the
    finalization of AACS drags on far beyond March.

    In the contest of names, I have to say that it's a draw. HD-DVD is a
    marketer's dream: The format is blessed with a name that needs no
    introduction, given the hype over high-definition broadcast
    technologies and the off-the-meter popularity of DVD. But Blu-ray has
    a sea-breeze-like coolness factor. Together with Sony's pledge of
    PlayStation support, Blu-ray has a niche already carved
    out--regardless of which camp, or camps, Hollywood chooses to back.

    Regardless of which format wins, an even newer optical technology is
    already waiting in the wings, ready to douse cold water on the victory
    parade. Backers of the Holographic Versatile Disc announced this month
    that the format will support mammoth 200GB media when it launches in
    the fourth quarter of this year--posing a direct challenge to
    blue-laser-based storage formats like Blu-ray and HD-DVD.,aid,119665,tk,dn021505X,00.asp

    "Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none." -- Benjamin Franklin
    Ablang, Feb 20, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. Ablang

    Black Locust Guest

    In article <>,
    Ablang <> wrote:

    > Regardless of which format wins, an even newer optical technology is
    > already waiting in the wings, ready to douse cold water on the victory
    > parade. Backers of the Holographic Versatile Disc announced this month
    > that the format will support mammoth 200GB media when it launches in
    > the fourth quarter of this year--posing a direct challenge to
    > blue-laser-based storage formats like Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

    LOL! This is just getting so stupid. 3 competing formats? **** all this
    high def nonsense...

    > ===
    > "Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one;
    > enemy to none." -- Benjamin Franklin

    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we.
    They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people,
    and neither do we." - George Dumbya Bush
    Black Locust, Feb 20, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. Ablang

    Alpha Guest

    This may be the most stupid article ever written that claims any technical
    understanding. Total crap.
    Alpha, Feb 20, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

It takes just 2 minutes to sign up (and it's free!). Just click the sign up button to choose a username and then you can ask your own questions on the forum.
Similar Threads
  1. Allan

    Blu-ray Movie Disc Format Unveild

    Allan, Aug 15, 2004, in forum: DVD Video
    Aug 15, 2004
  2. Allan
    Jul 11, 2005
  3. Replies:
  4. Blig Merk
    Apr 27, 2008
  5. K. B.
    Archimedes' Lever
    Jan 3, 2009