DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor


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High-definition DVD Update

September 2, 2005

If you were planning on getting a next-gen high-definition optical disc player for Christmas to show HD movies on your HD television, you should maybe ask Santa for another high-tech toy.

There's been no change in the deadlock on unified-standard talks between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc camps. Both are set to go it alone with their respective product introductions. Timetables have been pushed back, however.

Look for HD-DVD to come on the market early in 2006. The Blu-ray Disc (BD) people are now planning to release the final BD specification in the spring, which means that players and pre-recorded BD movies won't likely show up before summer.

Meanwhile, the movie studios backing HD-DVD seem to have lost some of their enthusiasm and scaled down the number of titles that will initially be available for that format.

Blu-ray Disc has gained converts as it fleshed out its standard, especially with regard to content protection (anti-piracy protocols).

In the meantime, more HD sets will be sold, most all of them equipped with HDMI inputs. And the more HDMI-equipped sets there are in consumers' homes, the more likely either of the new movie disc formats will succeed, since they will not deliver full high-definition quality to older HD sets that do not have the newer digital inputs (either DVI, or HDMI--High-Definition Multimedia Interface, compliant with HDCP--High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection--protocols).

So the delay is not likely to hurt the overall take-up of the new optical disc formats (notwithstanding the format war). It can nevertheless be expected to disappoint some folks with big new HD sets.