You may recall that Toshiba, Intel, and Microsoft are backing the HD DVD format (although Vista will not support it initially), while Sony and the movie studios are supporting Blu-ray along with Dell and HP (although HP is waffling). Well, here’s the latest.
The DVD Forum, the international DVD standard authority, has given Chinese engineers the go-ahead to look into developing a next-generation DVD format which will compete with Sony’s Blu Ray and Toshiba’s HD-DVD standards.
Last month China announced plans to develop its own format in a bid to eliminate the need to pay licensing fees to foreign companies. The DVD Forum has now agreed that a study can be carried out to test the feasibility of a China-only format, according to news network NewsFactor.
The format will be based on, though not compatible with, HD-DVD technology and is due for release in 2007. According to Lu Da of the government-backed National Disc Engineering Center, the format will offer higher definition, better sound quality and more effective means of combatting piracy than Blu Ray and HD-DVD.
In another clarifying move, the DVD Forum also approved twin rewritable formats:
Re-recordable HD DVD discs will be branded ‘HD DVD-RW’, the DVD Forum confirmed at its most recent steering committe last week.
But in a move which would seem to be calculated to win support from as many firms as possible, the Forum also said re-writeable discs will be branded ‘HD DVD-RAM’. They were originally supposed to be called ‘HD DVD-RW’.
That begs the question: how does re-recordable differ from re-writeable? Alas the Forum provided no clear guidance.
And spreading the discord to another aspect of the technology, Sony opted to ship its recordings using the old MPEG2 format:
Microsoft surprised many two years ago when it submitted its Windows video technology, called VC-1, to technical standards bodies in hopes of seeing it appear on the new DVDs. Other technology giants hold patents in a rival advanced format called MPEG-4 AVC.
Last week, studio giant Sony Pictures quietly voted for “none of the above,” and took a swipe at the new codec formats. The new advanced codecs aren’t immediately necessary for discs released in Sony’s high-capacity Blu-ray format, Sony Pictures executives said in an interview with CNET News.com, and the studio would instead use the 11-year-old MPEG-2 video codec used on today’s DVDs.
Then, Sony and NEC, who had been on opposite sides of the format battle, merged their optical disk drive operations:
“This joint venture relates to the creation of joint manufacturing operations,” said Rick Clancy, senior vice president of communications for Sony Electronics, San Diego. “It is conceivable that there could be a variety of disk-drive requests produced, based on requests for a variety of customers.” Those drives include CD-based drives, DVD drives, Blu-Ray, and “perhaps even that other format,” Clancy said.
And finally, HP is still waffling.
Oh wait, there’s one more item: Sony has chosen Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle as the first Blu-ray movie:
We can’t claim to have viewed said picture, but lets just say that even Blu-ray could not compel us to such an act. Sony says that “this achievement will help everyone understand that Blu-ray is real and poised to enter the marketplace,” but we’re guessing and hoping it will take more than this to win the format war.