Tuesday, November 13, 2007
One of the most interesting and contentious new TV technologies available today is high definition DVD technology. This new technology basically allows enough data for a full length movie in HDTV format to be encoded on an optical disc the same size as a CD or a conventional DVD. This is accomplished using blue laser technology that can encode data more finely on a disc as well as read that data back because of the wavelength of the blue laser is smaller than that of the red lasers that are used for conventional DVD's and CD's.
The thing that makes this new form of technology controversial is the fact that there are two different formats of high definition DVD's and that they're incompatible with each other. HD-DVD was the first to be introduced by Toshiba, but Sony's Blu-ray came hot on its heels. While both formats take advantage of similar technology, players that support one format won't play the other. This is controversial because it's generally agreed by industry analysts that only one of these two formats can survive the format war that's waging between the two, and that insight has scared many consumers from investing in either format.
The fact that there was a similar situation back in the nineteen eighties with a format war between the VHS and the Betamax video cassette formats, gives consumers good reason to be worried. In that format war, a lot of people found that they had essentially wasted their money on Betamax cassettes and equipment, and many consumers don't want to make that same mistake with high definition DVD equipment right now.
The format war has prompted a lot of interesting strategies from both Toshiba and Sony- as well as the movie studios, computer manufacturers, and software companies that are backing them- in an effort to convince the public that their respective formats are the best or that they're winning. This is the type of format war where if enough people think that one format or the other is winning, that boost in confidence will bring out a winner. In that sense, the war is almost entirely PR. In and effort to shape that PR, both sides have incorporated drives for each format into computer systems and video gaming platforms. They've also given away free discs with movie titles.
In the end though and in a perfect world, the format that's based on the best technology should come out on top. In this case, there's a lot to be said for the Blu-ray format. Blu-ray's main advantage is that it can store a lot more data on a single disc than the HD-DVD format is capable of holding. Basically, an HD-DVD disc can hold 15 GB of data per side while the new Blu-ray disc can store twenty five. That's a difference of twenty gigabytes when you compare the two if both sides are filled. This translates into a lot more room for bonus features in the case of movies and a lot more data in the case of computer applications.
The fact is that even if HD-DVD wins the format war, it will still be replaced by something like Blu-ray at some point in the future, so it would be a shame not to take that step forward right now.