2 min read

Next generation DVD sings the blues

The ongoing war between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc is causing some concern

For the past two years a battle has been forming between opposing high-definition optical storage formats, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD. With their impending release they are starting to gain mind share. It’s a fight that’s similar to the war between VHS and Beta. The winner was VHS because it was first to market with major movie titles, while Beta concentrated on TV broadcast.

The war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD is getting worse, in my opinion, and the only winner I see is Hewlett-Packard, which, shrewdly, is backing both standards.

If you are keeping score, here are the differences: Blu-ray has a capacity of 25GB on one layer and 50GB on two. HD-DVD has capacities of 15GB on a single layer and 30GB on dual layer discs. Those with a data storage priority will favour Blu-ray.

HD-DVD is backward compatible with standard DVD disks out of the gate. Blu-ray will lean on vendor partners to do this for them.

Apple, Dell, HP, LG, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sony and Thomson are backing Blu-ray, while Acer, HP, Intel, Kenwood, Lenovo, Microsoft, NEC and Toshiba are behind HD-DVD.

Hollywood powerbrokers who want to ensure their intellectual property is protected favour Blu-ray. They say viewers watching Lawrence of Arabia on a Blu-ray disc will be able to see every grain of sand. As a person who loves movies, that will be worth the wait. However, Microsoft and Intel see it a little differently. They want to ensure users will be able to wirelessly transmit content around the home and argue HD-DVD will make this a lot easier because of its less-stringent digital rights management.

As the two standards fight there is a possibility that a third standard could develop. The DVD Forum, for example, is interested in one.

What will this mean for digital home integrators or resellers interested in developing a home networking practice? Well, it means a long wait to see if there is a winner. Here are a couple of things to keep an eye on, though.

First to market
The first to market could get a jump on sales. Pioneer has product available. A spokesman from Pioneer said early adopters have demanded Blu-ray drives early. Toshiba, on the other hand, will release its HD-DVD drive this month as well.

Also, don’t forget about price. Sometimes the least expensive solution wins out. That was one of the reasons VHS triumphed.

Lastly, keep in mind who owns the content. Hollywood owns the titles and they like Blu-ray.