The world of High-Definition is upon us, whether or not the public is ready or aware of it. High-Definition is available in almost every media format now from Televisions to Video Game Consoles and now actual movies. But the true question that lies ahead for the public is, which format do we support? Which format will eventually become BetaMax 2.0? In this new weekly column exclusive to UpcomingDiscs, we’re going to take a further look into every High-Definition as if we were fans cheering from the sideline of a foot…all game.
In the middle of April of this year, Toshiba released the HD-A1 or HD-XA1 players for a retail of either $499.99 or $799.99. Companies like Universal Home Studios, and Warner Brothers swarmed retail outlets with new movies in this new format. Titles like The Last Samurai, Doom, The Fugitive, The Perfect Storm, The Rundown, and Million Dollar Baby can be found at many retailers across the country. Now let’s find out what HD-DVD exactly is all about.
HD-DVD or High Density Digital Versatile Disc can hold about 15GB of data as a single-layer disc or about 30GB as a dual-layer disc (compared to DVD’s 4.7GB for a single layer disc). Figuring this out, HD-DVD can hold about three times as much information resulting in the capacity to deliver amazing picture and audio. HD-DVD is backed by companies like Toshiba, Sanyo, NEC, Microsoft, and Intel as companies but is backed by film giants like Universal Studios exclusively, meaning only Universal HD-DVD’s. Studios like Paramount, Warner Brothers and The Weinstein Company back HD-DVD but not exclusively as Universal does (meaning titles like The Fugitive can appear on both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray). The first HD-DVD player, Toshiba’s HD-A1 and HD-XA1, can play either DVD, HD-DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, CD-R, CD-RW. On the video and audio sides, HD-DVD offers audio that can be mastered up to 7.1 discrete channels of audio using either Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD (which has appeared on very few titles thus far), or DTS HD. On the video side, HD-DVD gives us either 720p, 1080i, or 1080p giving the average film (when compared to DVD’s 420p) roughly 2.5 times better picture.
HD-DVD’s main competitor, Blu-Ray launched in June of this year when Samsung released the BDP-1000 for a retail price of $999.99. Films like The Terminator, 50 First Dates, House of Flying Daggers, Underworld Evolution, xXx, and The Fifth Element was chosen as some of the format’s first titles. Now onto what Blu-Ray actually is.
Blu-Ray, on the other hand, is Sony’s child. Originally started by a group of consumer electronics and PC companies called the Blu-Ray Disc Association (BDA), Sony eventually took charge and spearheaded the entire thing. Blu-Ray’s name was developed due to the blue-laser that the player uses to read and write information to the disc. Compared to HD-DVD, Blu-Ray can hold 25GB per single layer (roughly two hours of high-definition video) and 50GB per dual layer (four hours of high-definition video). The Blu-Ray format has the support of companies like 20th Century Fox (STAR WARS!!), Metro-Goldwen-Mayer (MGM which is now owed by Sony), and of course Sony Pictures. Similar to HD-DVD, Blu-Ray can play either DVD, CD, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW, and DVD+R meaning that one player can do quite a lot. On the video and audio sides, Blu-Ray offers audio in the standard Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS or PCM (uncompressed audio). On the video side, Blu-Ray offers either 720p, 1080i, or 1080p (similar to HD-DVD).
That’s it for this week folks when we discuss both format’s first public reactions from fans and from critics. Hear what the people are saying about the format’s first discs and what the future may hold for each format. Tune in next week.