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Blu-ray Versus HD-DVD at CES: Another Format War?

There was a lot of buzz about Blu-ray versus HD DVD at CES, but neither could declare a victory By Guy Wright

At this years CES there was an awful lot of talk and debate about the two new high definition DVD formats that are scheduled to hit the markets this spring. The Blu-ray Disc Association and HD-DVD Promotion Group both made sure that their members were properly promoted. Most of the big consumer electronic companies at the show were either talking about or showing off their players, recorders, software, or blank media. But for every diehard Blue-ray or HD-DVD company there were also companies supporting both formats.

Now you might think that the DVD industry would have learned its lesson a few years back when competing formats ended up delaying the launch of DVDs by a number of years, but apparently not. Back in November 2003, the DVD Forum officially adopted the HD-DVD format as the next-generation, post-DVD standard for high capacity, high definition optical discs and that should have been the end of it. But the Blu-ray folks went ahead and announced their new "standard" anyway.

Perhaps they figure that like DVD-R and DVD+R, both formats will end up being incorporated into future products and theyre probably right. In fact, Broadcom has already announced a single chip that will decode both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats as well as the current DVD formats. Most of the DVD authoring software companies have already announced theyll support both formats and a number of Hollywood studios will be releasing new titles in both formats at the same time.

So heres a list of Blu-ray and HD-DVD products that were announced at the show:

Warner Home Video is scheduled to release 10 titles on Blu-ray and 24 titles for HD-DVD.

Paramount announced 10 titles on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment announced itll be shipping a line-up of Blu-ray disc titles.

Warner Home Video, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, HBO Video and New Line Home Entertainment announced 50 HD-DVD titles by spring and expect over 150 titles by the end of 2006.

Warner Brothers also said it will release Blu-ray titles.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment announced 20 Blu-ray Disc Titles.

Lionsgate announced their first 10 releases will be on Blu-ray discs.

Sony Pictures and MGM announced 20 Blu-ray titles.

SONY BMG's initial slate of Blu-ray audio titles will be announced during the course of 2006.

Authoring and Duplication
Technicolor announced it will use Sonic Scenarist HD-DVD Edition and Scenarist Blu-ray Edition authoring solutions to create Interactive Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD Titles.

Beginning in late February of 2006, Sony DADC will be ready to accept orders and begin duplicating 25GB Blu-ray Discs on a global basis.

Ulead and InterVideo announces HD-DVD and Blu-ray authoring software.

CyberLink demonstrated HD-DVD playback software with NEC and Toshiba. CyberLink also supports Blu-ray/HD-DVD burning.

Nero supports both HD-DVD and Blu-ray playing and recording.

Sonic Solutions supports both HD-DVD and Blu-ray authoring.

NTI announced that it will support Blu-ray authoring.

Blank Media
Verbatim/MKM announced shipping plans for HD-DVD-R Recordable Media (15GB single layer, 30GB dual layer). It will also ship Blu-ray media (25GB single layer BD-R and BD-RE).

Fujifilm-branded Blu-ray and HD-DVD media will be available mid 2006.

TDK announces Blu-ray media - BD-R25, BD-R50, BD-RE25, and BD-RE50. The company also showed a technology demo of a quad-layer 100GB Blu-ray disc.

Panasonic also announced plans to introduce a series of blank 50GB and 25GB rewriteable and write-once Blu-ray discs this spring.

Sony will ship Blu-ray media.

Memorex will ship both Blu-ray and HD-DVD media.

Surround Sound
DTS announced that their DTS-HD Master Audio is a key part of the next generation DVD formats (both HD-DVD and Blu-ray).

Dolby TrueHD is available for both.

DVD Players
Pioneer showed a BDP-HD1 Blu-ray Disc player that will be available in June at a suggested price of $1,800. It features 1920x1080p output and offers backward compatibility for standard DVDs. The company also plans to ship a PC-based Blu-ray disk player.

Hitachi showed a 1-Terabyte high-definition hard disk drive and dual digital recorder capable of recording two simultaneous HD broadcasts. This device enables 128 hours of digital recording or 1,700 hours in extended play mode. The Blu-ray Disc HDD Recorder is a multi-drive supporting all Blu-ray Disc, DVD and CD formats.

Sony's first Blu-ray Disc home player, model BDP-S1, will be available in early summer.

Toshiba demonstrated the company's first two production HD-DVD player models. The HD-XA1 ($799.99) and the HD-A1 ($499.99) will start shipping to retailers in March 2006. They also announced that their Qosmio line of laptops will have HD-DVD drives.

Panasonic also announced a Blu-ray player and a notebook Blu-ray drive.

Samsung announced its BD-P1000 Blu-ray disc player ($1,000) will ship in early spring.

NEC announced its next generation PCs will have HD-DVD drives.

Broadcom will incorporate Sonic Solutions AuthorScript BD Navigator into its BCM97438 high definition media player reference platform. The company also has a single-chip (BCM7411D) that decodes both Blu-ray and HD-DVD as well as MPEG-2.

Texas Instruments and Intel announced support for HD-DVD.

Game Machines / Games
Microsoft announced that it will offer a new Xbox 360 external HD-DVD drive in 2006. Microsoft also reaffirmed that it will build the infrastructure to support HD-DVD into the upcoming Windows Vista operating system coming later this year.

Sony Computer Entertainment's Playstation3 computer entertainment system scheduled for launch this year will adopt Blu-ray BD-ROM disc as its medium.

EA and Vivendi announced support for Blu-ray.

Best Buy, Crutchfield, Sears and Tweeter, plan to carry HD DVD players and movies beginning in March.

Im sure that amid the thousands of booths at the show I missed a few products, but Im certain that well be hearing about them over the coming months. I dont think that either Blu-ray or HD-DVD has a tremendous technological advantage over the other and I dont think that well see a clear winner anytime soon. Blu-ray discs can hold a bit more than HD-DVD discs but the players are more expensive. As I said at the beginning, I believe that eventually both formats will be supported by most players. So Im placing my bets right in the middle.

About The HD-DVD Promotion Group
The HD-DVD Promotion Group was created to help bring HD-DVD products and content into the marketplace and share its promotional activity among members to encourage the broad acceptance of the platform on a worldwide basis. Its 124-member list includes Toshiba Corporation, Microsoft, Intel, HP, SANYO, NEC, Memory-Tech, Warner Home Video, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures.

For more information visit

About Blu-ray Disc Association
The Blu-ray Disc Association Board of Directors consists of Apple; Dell Inc.; Hewlett Packard Company; Hitachi, Ltd.; LG Electronics Inc.; Mitsubishi Electric Corporation; Panasonic (Matsushita Electric); Pioneer Corporation; Royal Philips Electronics; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.; Sharp Corporation; Sony Corporation; TDK Corporation; Thomson; Twentieth Century Fox; Walt Disney Pictures and Television; Warner Bros. Entertainment.

For more information visit

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Guy Wright has been kicking around computers and video for more years than he cares to admit and written too many articles to count. He has been a director, editor, producer, video operator, and announcer for a score of radio and TV stations. His credits include hundreds of insipid local-origination programs and commercials, dozens of cheesy radio spots, and even a book or two. Mainly he writes and edits articles for Digital Media Online.
Related Keywords:Blu-ray, HD-DVD, Microsoft, Sony, NEC, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba, Hitachi, Pioneer,

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