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Waiting for Blue Laser

DRM technology and high cost may change things for everybody By Miles Weston

Suddenly we can't wait for blue laser technology to arrive so we can get beyond the war of words to real products! Imagine this: 5x the storage capacity, sharp, brilliant movies and a real choice -- BD or HD DVD.  Well, yes, the two standards are totally incompatible, but don't worry. They will eventually work out their differences. When they do, you'll get to buy new burners, new players and new media all over again.
 
Oh, we forgot to add that both sides have embraced some super digital rights management (DRM) technology that Hollywood would "like" included before they are going to knock out copies of their stellar masterpieces.  The cool and super-advanced DRM technologies include digital watermarking, programmable cryptography and self-destruct codes.  Don't try to decide which is best for everyone involved -- including the consumer -- throw them all into the mix!
 
Don't the three sound like something you just have to buy and put in your home?
 
Digital watermarking is something they call a ROM Mark.  It really only applies to the pre-recorded media you buy -- movies, music and games.  Don't worry about it because they say you'll never even know it is there.  It was used in today's DVD technology but you could easily defeat it just by writing over it with a permanent marker.
 
Both sides like Advanced Access Control System (AACS) which requires your player to maintain connections to the content provider through the Internet.  If your disc doesn't pass their security check it isn't a big thing.  The provider will simply send your player a "self-destruct code" ROM update that will blow up your player. Okay, so it won't physically blow up.  You simply won't be able to use it until a repair technician reprograms the player.   And your entire library of discs that may have been encoded with the broken security may be unplayable also.
 
That is so cool !!!
 
Just in case you get past these two hurdles, they've added a third.  This is a renewability method that lets content providers implement dynamic updates of compromised code.  This is an advanced form of CSS (content scramble system that they used before which was defeated within hours after it was released) and is called SPDC. Simply stated, every time someone cracks the code the encryption algorithm will "learn from its mistakes" and improve the code.  That's a challenge no hacker can refuse! 

 
 
If these fail, say, when the 15-year-old kid cracks it all, Hollywood has a fallback plan: Their lobbyists will put the squeeze on Congress to "protect us from ourselves." Don't worry, their lawyers will continue to get their paychecks by suing every Tom, Ricardo and Harriet who might have an illegal copy.
 
Both sides (and they will continue down their separate revenue, oops, technology paths) are determined to win and have lined up an almost equal number of hardware and content providers.  They are quite similar technically but dramatically different in the important areas of media structure and write/read techniques.
 
H.264 - "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." - Wizard of Oz 
Our personal life has been so preoccupied with the here and now -- MPEG-2 (the dramatic increase of quality storage/viewing over MPEG-2 - VHS) -- that we missed the big picture.  There is another standard out there and it isn't exactly "brand new!"
 
Contrary with what the blue technology folks would like you to believe, they didn't invent the superior storage capabilities of MPEG-4 or H.264. The technology, an open standard, has been around since 1998 and it's being widely used?except in storage.
 
It's big in broadcast and it's big in wireless content delivery.  Truth is, H.264 delivers the best compression efficiency for a wide range of applications: Broadcast or satellite delivery, DVD, video conferencing, video-on-demand, streaming and multimedia messaging.
 
It is so good that Microsoft developed its own version, Windows Media Video 9 (previously called VC-9 and now VC-1/AVC).  From the industry's perspective H.264 is a great codec because it scales beautifully from mobile content phones/devices up to high-definition broadcast. Since it makes efficient use of bandwidth and the distribution spectrum, H.264 broadcasters have already begun using the technology to send digital TV.  It will be an efficient technology for them to use when they begin streaming video across the Internet to your home.
 
In its leading-edge fashion, Apple integrated H.264 into the Mac OS and QuickTime early this year, and frankly, we never even noticed the news.  So this past weekend we visited an Apple store to see if it was as good as their web site PR said it was.  It is darn good!
 
Even though you who are Mac diehards already know this, the "real world" doesn't. But the sales person also showed us how we didn't have to wait for blue ray technology to store and play back high definition DVDs.  Mac users simply use Steve's DVD Studio Pro to write the high def content to a regular DVD+/-R disc. It was a COMPLETE high def movie and nothing was lost in the writing?everything was there!
 
It was almost enough to convert us from Windows to Macs?almost. 

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Related Keywords:blue laser technology, war of words, storage capacity, sharp, BD, HD DVD, standards, incompatible, burners, players, media, Blu-ray, Miles Weston, DVD insider, DVD

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