In a perfect world there would be one format but today consumers are accustomed to choosing the solution and approach which bests meets our specific needs…and budget!

The State of Next Generation DVD

G.A. “Andy” Marken

The State of Next Generation DVD
By: G.A. "Andy" Marken

In a perfect world there would be one format but today consumers are accustomed to choosing the solution and approach which bests meets our specific needsand budget!

Ten years after its introduction, the installed base of home DVD players has finally - almost - replaced VHS players. No matter how much the PC, CE industry wants people to replace today's technology with tomorrow'sit takes time.

At the same time people have been wringing their hands that two high definition disc formats (Blu-ray Disc - BD - and HD DVD - High Definition DVD) are keeping the consumer from buying next generation movies.

Most of the attention thus far surrounding blue laser technology focuses on movies and which will be the dominant format for the home. One camp enjoys saying that HD DVD is less expensive to produce - thus being cheaper - than BD. The other camp points out that their format delivers more storage capacity - 15GB vs. 25GB for single layer discs - thus enabling Hollywood to include more special content and providing consumers more storage capacity.

But this isn't really an issue because both formats are roughly the same price at the present (now roughly under $500). As the economies of scale kick in, production costs for both formats will drop to the point (estimates are this will take at least another year) where players and recorders become mass consumer products.

If neither side concedes (and they show no sign of abandoning their commitment), the selection point will be based on movie content and application, not format.

Business, financial, legal and government applications are the first place the writable formats (R or RW) will be implemented. This is because despite all of the attention, consumers won't be able to copy their favorite movie because of digital rights management (DRM) encryption. Thus copying movies (legally) becomes a moot point.

SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) legislation and the need for companies to retain all documents including emails will require archiving media. The new dual layer write-once media will deliver 30GB (HD DVD) and 50GB (BD-R) archival capacity.

We are already seeing a number of PC manufacturers shipping computers - desktops and notebooks - with HD DVD and BD players/burners. These include Toshiba, Dell, HP, Acer and others.

With the availability premium-quality recordable media from firms such as Verbatim that meets the specifications of these new high-capacity, high-definition formats, consumers will be able to record and enjoy the amazingly sharp BD and HD DVD video.

Industry analysts note that there are already nearly 2,200 TV stations broadcasting HDTV content in every key market across the U.S. With the ready availability of high-definition content and affordable HDTVs, consumers will want to record HD broadcasts for viewing at a more convenient time and produce their own TV series libraries.

Early demand for the media has been in professional content development. Videographers and producers are taking advantage of the added capacity for special features and more high definition video content. These early adopters and firms involved in delivering high capacity optical disc libraries for corporate applications are the initial customers for the high capacity media.

The single- and double-layer Blu-ray and HD DVD formats are based on the blue laser which has a shorter wavelength than the red laser used in CD and DVD systems. The shorter wavelength allows the laser beam to make a smaller spot on the disc surface. With each bit of data taking up less space, more data can be stored on the blue laser disc.

To deliver the capacity and quality for example, firms like Verbatim/MKM developed a unique recording layer dyes for blue laser media that provides for wide laser power margin tolerance for enhanced read/write performance. The new sputtering and media production processes ensure consistent dye coating and greater media flatness.

Business and home users are able to back up their laptop PC hard drives or transfer/share content on long-lasting 30GB HD DVD or 50GB BD discs.

People are increasingly capturing personal and family video content using today's new high-definition and AVCHD camcorders. Then they edit and author the material on their PC with products like Corel's VideoStudio 11 or MovieFactory 6 software. With the new software they can burn the content onto HD DVD, BD and even high-definition content on today's very low-cost single and double layer standard DVD media for viewing on the appropriate playback device.

With the ability to store up to 50GB or about 4 hours of HD-quality video on a single disc without having to flip or change the disc, the new media offers distinct advantages for professional video production, business storage, backup, archiving, radio and television broadcast storage, education, banking, healthcare and government applications.

In a perfect world there would be one format but today consumers are accustomed to choosing the solution and approach which bests meets our specific needsand budget!

In the home this will be for family moment/memory movies. In the office it will be capacity and business considerations.

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