HD DVDs Are Coming!
By Ryan Parsons | Images property of Blu-Ray.Com
Let’s face it. Some of the top emerging technologies
that will begin to flood our homes this year and next are widescreen monitors
and anything that has ‘high definition’ stamped on it. Though
cable has already introduced consumers to the advantage of having a television
capable of high definition images, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
However, what a tip it is! Because of this new technology, just about 10%
of American homes have at least one television set that is HD compatible.
But can this shift in demand be just from the possibility of better cable?
Well, not exactly.
Phillips case for the ‘Blu-Ray’ disc.
Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD
There are already Progressive-Scan DVD players
that take advantage of the high-definition technology by outputting a video
signal to a HD television set at 480P, instead of 480i. However, this is
moderately different than the HD signal offered by HD-compatible channels
through your local cable company. The resolution witnessed is almost 3x
that of 480i, with 1080 lines of resolution (1080i). If you own an HD projector
such as a Panasonic or Mitsubishi DLP, watching your favorite sporting event
or late night television show is more than promising. The picture is so
sharp that some consumers mention that the image shown is near ‘surreal.’
However, before now this type of picture has been
limited to cable and streaming videos on the net. Luckily, both Sony and
the king of DVD production, Toshiba, have decided to take a shot into creating
an HD DVD.
Actually, I should not refer to the next stage of DVD as HD DVD but High
Definition DVD. I know, it is the exact same thing, but Toshiba has trademarked
the title HD DVD. Both Toshiba and Sony have set out and created two separate
technologies that represent the next age of DVD products. Sony has named
their high-def DVD ‘Blu-Ray’ while Toshiba has taken a more
familiar name in ‘HD DVD.’ Though both have their advantages,
the market is setting up to allow only one of these technologies to move
forward; which is a good thing for consumers. So what can we expect to see
in computers and on store shelves by next year?
Though the competition is still heated between the two companies, with even
Bill Gates joining the ranks of ‘HD DVD’ in criticism of various
aspects of ‘Blu-Ray’, it looks like Sony will remain the new
king of the electronics market. How did they pull it off? Well, let’s
first take a brief look at the specs for each different hi-def DVD technology.
This arena got a majority of the consideration
when it came to which technology was going to take us into the future. Any
time you create something new, you want to make sure that the new product
will have the ability to last and grow with further advancements. This is
one of the first major advantages to using ‘Blu-Ray’ over ‘HD
DVD.’ According to the latest estimates, ‘Blu-Ray’ will
dominate ‘HD DVD’ when it comes to storage capacity. Featuring
the ability to hold up to 200GB of data compared to 60GB by ‘HD DVD’,
‘Blu-Ray’ has found one their greatest stepping stones. Though
the technology only allows up to 100GB to be placed on a ‘Blu-Ray’
disc at this point in time, it has been suggested that over time they could
push it up to 200GB, allowing further advancements in resolution and extra
features to be captured onto a single disc.
Panasonics prototype players for the ‘Blu-Ray’ disc.
The cost to produce the high-def DVDs is the largest
disadvantage that Sony faces. ‘Blu-Ray’ discs have a surface
layer that is thin, extremely thin. At almost 1/5th the surface thickness
that is featured on ‘HD DVD’, Sony explains that the difference
in size is to allow the disc laser to focus properly on the condensed data.
Though CDs and DVDs are thin already, this change in thickness will force
Sony to admit to high production costs in order to build the machinery needed
to create ‘Blu-Ray’ DVDs on a mass scale.
Though this is most likely the largest issue to Sony’s ‘Blu-Ray’,
it does have the factor of time, something that will allow the costs to
drop significantly eventually.
Another big factor into which company will take
the lead in this new technology is the amount of support and backing either
Sony or Toshiba receives from various companies in the following fields:
gaming, software, computer manufacturing, film distribution and more. Since
it would be more of a set back to allow both Toshiba and Sony to move forward
with their technologies, there must come a point where one of the high-def
DVD manufacturers receives a majority of support. As of the writing of this
article, Sony has witnessed a domino effect as more and more companies begin
to join their ranks. But why?
The easy solution is to admit that Sony has a strong hold on household electronics
such as computer accessories, consoles, players and monitors. We have already
witnessed Sony display their strength during the release of their PSP console,
a product that had a surprising amount of support and tons of products,
add-ons, movies and software available upon its release.
You can also take a look at the success of Sony’s Playstation 2. Even
though the games on X-Box do look better and play better, Sony’s connections
and history has allowed it to offer more for its console system than that
of Microsoft. However, case in point, more may not always be better..
Now that gaming consoles has been mentioned, it is best to point out that
Sony’s greatest strength may be their upcoming console Playstation
3 (PS3). Doing somewhat of a horizontal maneuver, Sony has answered this
question with a single product: “How can Sony, Panasonic and Sharp
introduce this new technology to consumers and therefore cause demand for
their product, ‘Blu-Ray,’ and necessary accessories/players
grow?” Considering that prices will start high, the most available
option to Sony was to include the ‘Blu-Ray’ technology in Playstation
By doing so, Sony will ‘seed’ the market with their ‘Blu-Ray’
technology by selling an estimated thirty-million Playstations over the
next three years. Besides ‘seeding’ the market, the high-def
technology may just give Sony the technology boost they need to outperform
Microsoft’s X-Box 2. Therefore, Sony’s PS3 will work as a double
positive, as the inclusion of ‘Blu-Ray’ in the gaming console
should cause demand to increase for both the technology and the console
Over the next few months expect to see Sony replace the DVD king Toshiba
as the hi-def DVD king; a technology that will be delivered by ‘Blu-Ray’
It was suggested that both the technologies from Sony and Toshiba could
possibly survive in the consumer market. However, it has also been proven
that it would be nearly impossible to have a player that can play both
types of DVDs. If both technologies were to enter the consumer market,
it would mean that players and other products would have to be developed
specifically for each disc. Wal-Mart decided to put its foot down on this
decision and announced that it would only carry one technology, but wouldn’t
announce which one.
Sony added further encryption on the ‘Blu-Ray’ to help
satisfy various critics including the movie studios. The encryption will
protect the studios from having films ripped directly off of the hi-def
discs. However, the encryption also prevents Microsoft’s Windows
Media Center from streaming video off the disc to deliver to connected
monitors around the house. Bill Gates balked at this and probably doesn’t
appreciate the edge this technology will give PS3.
To witness the domino effect mentioned above, head over to Blu-Ray.Com
where you can watch as companies in various fields announce their support
for Sony’s ‘Blu-Ray’ instead of Toshiba’s ‘HD
*As of right now, the ‘Blu-Ray’ disc will come in 25GB and 50GB formats.
Stay tuned for updates.
Sources: Images property of Blu-Ray.Com
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