Tonight (or appropriately enough in Japan, er tonight…er make that tomorrow), Microsoft and Intel announced their plans to support HD DVD and join the DVD Forum’s HD DVD Group.
Both companies have been undergoing extensive reviews of the competing formats, and have determined that only the HD DVD format delivers unique and crucial advantages, including PC and connected device interoperability, superior capacity, and an easy, affordable transition to HD for consumers. The companies believe HD DVD will bring more high definition video to the consumer faster, with the potential for more affordable hardware and more interactive features than other HD optical formats.
Microsoft and Intel rationalized this by noting the following strengths of the HD DVD format:
- Managed Copy – A First for DVDs: Managed Copy is a guaranteed feature within HD DVD that gives consumers the freedom to make copies of their discs to a hard drive or home server, including Media Center PCs, and enjoy them in every room of the house over their home networks. HD DVD discs also will allow copies of the movie to be played on portable devices.
Sean’s take: Imagine that, a balance of consumer and intellectual property holder rights. Yes others are going to belly ache that DRM is evil but come on, give it up- the day DVD was released with CSS, that decision was made. This puts fair-use rights in the hands of the end-user than a draconian DRM system that locks the user out.
- Future Proof Compatibility: Using HD DVD “hybrid disc” technology, a single disc can store both high definition and standard definition versions of a film, allowing consumers to immediately enjoy the standard definition movies stored on these discs on today’s DVD players, while HD movies can be replayed later on the HD DVD platform. This is an opportunity for consumers to buy discs at launch that “future proof” their collections.
Sean’s take: Let’s see- multiple formats on a single disc, which means no more accidentally buying the wrong disc like when I bought the pan & scan version of Apocalypse Now: Redux instead of widescreen and they wouldn’t take the return because I opened it? “The horror… the horror.”
- Proven low-cost, high-volume manufacturing. HD DVD uses the same manufacturing equipment as existing DVDs, meaning that production of HD DVD can ramp extremely quickly and at a very low cost.
Sean’s take: Ok, so cheaper media. Hopefully this translates to cheaper prices for the consumer.
- Superior Capacity: HD DVD-ROM discs will offer dual-layer 30GB discs at launch, compared to BD-ROM discs, which will be limited to 25GB.
Sean’s take: Ok, not a big deal, except when combined with the hybrid feature. Can full-featured (yet locked) versions of the movie’s PC game also be on the way? Hot damn that would be cool. Love the movie? Install the game demo and unlock it right there.
- Superior Interactivity: HD DVD discs will offer greater interactivity using iHD technology, allowing for enhanced content, navigation, and value added functionality for high definition films. For example, HD DVDs can offer advanced picture-in-picture capability where other video, such as a director’s commentary, could play on top of the movie.
Sean’s take: That’s great, let’s get back to the putting games on the disc too eh? I think this has real viability, even just related games. Hopefully someone over at Bungie is taking notes here. Major Nelson, pass this over to Pete for when the DVD release of Halo comes out?
For those of us who suffered through the DVD format wars and cringing at the thought of doing the same with High Definition DVD (HD-DVD), this news may be enough to bring all the players together and unify a format before we get to Betamax vs. VHS. Here’s to wishful thinking 😉 What do you think?