An Introduction to HD-DVD

HD DVD is a new format developed by a group headed by Toshiba. It is technologically superior to the previous DVD formats and is waging war on the Blu-ray technology, a war that HD DVD will most likely win. While Blu-ray discs have a larger capacity they are harder to manufacture so cost more. Blu-ray technology is being researched and adopted by Sony who probably won't give it up easily, expect the war to rage on.

The technological advancement comes from the type of laser used. Standard DVD lasers were 650nm and the new ones, that are blue (how pretty) are 405 nm. This shorter wavelength means that they can read smaller chunks of data then the DVD lasers so information can be laid down more densely thus resulting in a same size disc but with larger storage capabilities.

The storage capability of a HD-DVD is 15 GB single layered while a double layered disk will present 30 GB of space. A triple layer format has been announced which would be a whopping 45 GB, now that's some space. Perhaps the best part of having so much space available is the technology that can be integrated. Many resolutions are available from CIF to very high resolution HDTV formats like 1080i. It can be mastered with 7.1 sound which is impressive enough, but the most exciting feature is that it also supports lossless formats like Dolby TrueHD which is of superior quality.

Digital rights management will also be incorporated quite strictly as a matter of fact. Imprinting audio watermarks have been talked about which would be inaudible to the human ear but if the HD-DVD player does not "hear" it it will not play back the disc. On the bright side so far there is no regional coding so hurrah for Europeans buying US discs and vice-versa.

The best use will come of the HD-DVD when it becomes widely available©able with a range of players coupled with HDTV technology. Amazing video quality, ear-dropping sound and interactivity will be available. All this was really unavailable because of capacity limitations but now that a small disc can store so much better and better quality can be achieved. Remember, what studios actually capture on film is far better quality than your standard DVD, so the better disc technology gets the better the film immersion experience. The new system in HD-DVD also allows far better menu editing as it is based on HTML, CSS, Java and so on, hence film technology is becoming much more widely accessible.

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