HiDef DVD format war over?
Posted 27 September 2006 - 09:46 AM
New technology could nip DVD format war in the bud
Movie studios save money and consumers don't have to worry about buying the "right" player
September 26, 2006 (Reuters) -- The format war around next generation DVDs may be over before it has begun, thanks to a breakthrough from a British media technology company.
Britain-based New Medium Enterprises (NME) said today it had solved a technical production problem that makes it possible to produce a cheap multiple-layer DVD disk containing one film in different, competing formats.
"Current technologies to create multiple layer disks mostly don't work. We've created a technology for mass production of multiple layers that does not suffer from the well known problem of low yields," said NME Chief Technology Officer Eugene Levich.
A low yield means that many DVDs coming off the manufacturing lines are not working and have to be discarded.
The production costs of a multi-layer DVD using the new NME technology are estimated to be around 9 cents, compared with the 6 cents for a standard single-layer play-back DVD, according to Dutch company ODMS, one of the world's leading makers of production lines for optical disks.
This 50% cost increase compares favorably with the current generation of multi-layer recordable DVD disks which cost 3 to 5 times as much to produce than a single layer disk, due to low yields.
The technological breakthrough comes one week after three employees at movie studio Warner Bros. filed a patent for the application of multiple formats on a single DVD disc.
"There's no collision between Warner and us. They patent the application, we are patenting the technology. These are complementary patents. I'm glad it's happened. Warner opened our eyes, because it shows they really want to do this and create multi-format, multi-layer disks," Levich said.
Time Warner is the world's largest media company and owns Warner Bros. Former Warner Home Video President James Cardwell joined NME as a board member last month.
Nipped in the Bud?
Multiple format DVD disks can solve the emerging war between the two new high capacity DVD formats: Blu-Ray, which is backed by Sony Corp., and Toshiba-supported HD-DVD.
High capacity DVD disks are needed to store high definition movies on a single disk. Movies stored in high definition provide five to six times more picture detail than standard definition which is used in normal DVDs.
Hollywood studios have been choosing sides in the DVD format war, each supporting one of the two formats. Some have said they will produce films in both, in addition to the standard DVD format.
By putting the same film on a single disk in the two competing formats, movie studios can save money and consumers do not have to worry if they are buying the right disk for their player.
The technological breakthrough by NME was confirmed by ODMS.
"I can confirm this. We were very skeptical when NME approached us. We have experience with producing dual layer recordable DVD discs and the yield is below 50%. But their technology gives a much higher yield and also brings other cost savings," said ODMS Chief Executive Jadranko Dovic.
ODMS said it will have the first prototype production line using NME's technology running by early 2007.
NME said it had also created new technology for the machines which have to read and write the disk, which is another bottleneck with multi-layer disks. The current generation of DVD players can read up to two layers.
NME has created DVD disks with up to 10 different layers that were still readable. It has created its own player, but it is willing to license the technology to mainstream consumer electronics companies, Levich said.
Movies on a DVD are stored at different depths depending on the technology. Blu-ray discs store information only 0.1 millimetre from the surface while HD-DVD discs store it at 0.6 millimeters. Movies longer than two hours would need to be stored on two layers of the same format very close to each other.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 01:02 PM
BBC: Hybrid answers to DVD format wars
The first DVD player to play both rival high definition DVD formats has been announced by South Korean firm LG.
The dual-format player will be able to play the Sony-backed Blu-ray discs and the Toshiba-led HD DVD discs.
The introduction of two next-generation formats has split both the electronics industry and Hollywood film studios.
The player will be launched at the same time as a hybrid double-sided Blu-ray HD DVD disc, developed by Warner Bros.
The Total HD discs and the LG player will both go on display at the Consumer Electronic's Show (CES) in Las Vegas that starts on 8 January.
Players and discs for both HD DVD and Blu-ray went on sale last year. The two technologies are incompatible but offer similar features.
Price: Roughly £900
Disc: 25GB or 50GB
Supporters: Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Sharp, Philips, Hitachi, Pioneer, Apple, Dell
Studios: Sony, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner, Paramount
Both are able to store much more high-quality data, important for high definition images and high fidelity audio, and both use a blue laser to read information.
Used in games consoles, the two formats offer detailed graphics and stunning sound on one disc.
However, the launch of the rival technologies has split the industries they serve.
Toshiba, with NEC, Sanyo and others, is pushing HD DVD; while backers of Sony's Blu-ray discs include Samsung, Dell and Apple.
In Hollywood, companies like Disney and 20th Century Fox have sided with Sony, while the supporters of HD DVD include Universal. Warner Bros, the company behind the hybrid discs, has said it will support both.
Price: Roughly £450
Disc: 15GB or 30GB
Supporters: Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo, Microsoft, Intel
Studios: Universal, Warner, Paramount
Analysts have warned that the format war, which has been likened to the Betamax-VHS videotape fight in the 1980s, could cause confusion amongst consumers and impact on sales of both technologies.
The new player and discs could allay these fears.
Both would mean that consumers would not be forced to choose between rival formats and risk investing in an expensive technology or DVD library that could rapidly become obsolete.
No prices or release dates for the technologies were announced.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 01:14 PM
Probably Sony is to blame for their usual winner-take-all attitude, but I don't know the details.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 01:23 PM
Bollywood Goes High Def With HD VMD
Six Major Bollywood Film Distributors Commit to Providing High Definition Content On VMD Format for Worldwide Release
LONDON, Dec. 4, 2006 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- New Medium Enterprises (NME) , developers of high definition platforms, processes and technologies, has today concluded content distribution deals with six of India's largest film content distributors. For the first time ever, major Bollywood titles will be available in high-definition (HD) through NME's HD VMD format. The titles will go on sale in January 2007 together with the HD VMD player; a bundled solution of 10 Bollywood titles and a player will be available for US$299 through Indian retailers and on various Indian e-commerce sites for Asian audiences living overseas.
"Bollywood productions have an epic global audience but viewers have been frustrated by the lack of high definition content. Now, for the first time ever, VMD offers the vibrant, ultra-high quality high-definition experience which the content deserves," said Mahesh Jayanarayan CEO of NME. "VMD's adoption by Bollywood alone will provide a life-long annuity for NME; we are committed to providing high-quality HD content, but most importantly we are making it affordable to both consumers and vendors."
Launched at Mipcom in October 2006, NME's first generation HD VMD player offers true high definition to the international mass consumer market; in addition it is backwards-compatible, capable of playing existing DVD formats. The player utilizes NME's HD VMD format, a natural successor to the existing DVD platform.
Since the first Indian film was screened in 1899, the industry has grown to dwarf its Western counterparts; it is now the largest in the world catering to the appetite of some 23 million Indian movie goers on a daily basis. The Indian star Shahrukh Khan has 1 billion fans worldwide rivaling the celebrity of Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise or Nicole Kidman. The Bollywood film business is expected to grow by more than 15% over the next three years; with improvements in distribution, the advent of digital cinema and better exploitation of films, the industry is likely to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18% to gross $2,244 million by 2008 ).
NME's deal with India's film distributors adds to content deals already in place in Germany and in China. In the coming months, NME expects to announce further deals as content vendors and distributors embrace the opportunities afforded by NME's low-cost high-definition technology. Along with the HD VMD platform, NME also brings a one-stop solution to the HD market, incorporating optical disc solutions, file formats, encryption technology, authoring tools and compression technologies.
New Medium Enterprises (NME) provides a one-stop solution for the HD market, incorporating optical disc solutions, file formats, encryption technology, authoring tools and compression technologies.
NME is the first company to perfect a commercially viable 2P process that can contain multiple formats -- including both HD DVD and Blu Ray -- on one single disc. The breakthrough technological innovation provides a complementary path for other formats creating greater options and business opportunities for the ecosystem.
Dr. Eugene Levich and the engineers of NME have developed and have begun manufacturing its flagship product, VMD (Versatile Multilayer Disc). This is a proprietary high capacity multi-layer disc which provides the world's first low-cost true High Definition solution utilising today's red laser DVD technology and its industrial infrastructure. The VMD players are inherently backward compatible with DVD and CD.
This is the only low-cost high-end offering to the discerning consumer comparable to contemporary DVD market prices. New Medium Enterprises, Inc. is a Nevada Corporation and listed on the OTC exchange in the U.S. under the symbol NMEN.
For additional information about NME, please consult the Company's website at http://www.nmeinc.com.
The New Medium Enterprises, Inc. logo is available at http://www.primezone...prs/?pkgid=2824
The 'Press Release' contains forward-looking statements as defined by the federal securities laws which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may discuss our future expectations, contain projections of our future results of operations or of our financial position, or state other forward-looking information. However, there may be events in the future that we are not able to accurately predict or control. Forward-looking statements are only predictions that relate to future events or our future performance and are subject to substantial known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that may cause actual results, outcomes, levels of activity, performance, developments, or achievements to be materially different from any future results, outcomes, levels of activity, performance, developments, or achievements expressed, anticipated, or implied by these forward-looking statements. As a result, we cannot guarantee future results, outcomes, levels of activity, performance, developments, or achievements, and there can be no assurance that our expectations, intentions, anticipations, beliefs, or projections will result or be achieved or accomplished. In summary, you should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements.
CONTACT: New Medium Enterprises
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Posted 04 January 2007 - 01:31 PM
Then again, I don't know much about how this industry works. Disregarding manufacturing costs, would a dual-format disc like this potentially cost significantly more, since you're buying two versions of the film at once? Or is the encoding format less important to the final cost than the fact that you're buying one "unit" of a film, kind of like in the music industry?
Posted 04 January 2007 - 03:24 PM
In some major ways Sony can afford to be more stubborn. HD-DVD largely will only ever be a consumer format. While Sony can position Blu-ray in many more markets.
One major advantage is Blu-ray in the Playstation 3. Sony has sold over 120 million Playstation consoles around the world. Far more than all other gaming consoles combined. The Playstation 3 is forecast to sell 75 million units over the next 4 years.
Sony also has the power to position Blu-ray as a standard professional media format. Beta lost the consumer market to VHS, but Beta became the standard professional tape format for nearly 20 years and was extremely lucrative for Sony. Sony can do the exact same with Blu-ray. Sony can adapt Blu-ray media to be used in consumer video/audio, computer storage, as well as in professional video/audio media.
There is little chance HD-DVD will be used in so many different markets.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 05:53 PM
Two will battle and one will win. I'm putting my money on thee blueray discs. Ihave seen both in Bestbuy and Sony Style and people seem to be more interested in it. Pluswhen I went to see a Blueray versus HD DVD demonstration Sony was doing in their store, Blueray came out looking better for quality on the split screen demo they had. In all honesty I don't see a split format thing honestly going to be that big really. Plus out where I'm from HD-DVD has been around and hasn't been catching on. Blueray is and I think thats going to be the next format. I say in five years everything will be Blueray and DVD will be gone.
Posted 04 January 2007 - 06:42 PM
Still a tough say, though. Users who buy a PS3 are forced to adopt the Blu-Ray standard, while it's optional (though cheap) for the Xbox 360. And, I would bet that the same people who are shelling out big bucks for one of these consoles would be major consumers of HD movies.
Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:29 AM
The Philips BDP9000 is the second dedicated Blu-ray Disc set-top player to hit the market
Melissa J. Perenson
January 04, 2007 (PC World) -- The Philips BDP9000 is the second dedicated Blu-ray Disc set-top player to hit the market, following Samsung Corp.'s BD-P1000, which released last summer. I looked at a shipping version of Philips Electronics NV's $899 (as of Dec. 21) device and found that it offers a sleeker design and has better-rounded functionality than the Samsung model does.
The BDP9000, which is about the same size as a standard DVD player, sports a glossy, piano-black finish. The front features a soft blue light that illuminates the top and sides of the drive tray. An LCD on the front shows disc information; the memory card slots, as well as the (too-small) buttons necessary to operate the unit sans remote control, hide under a flip-down door on the bottom of the unit.
The player's sharp design extends beyond its hardware. Its menus are more organized than those of the Samsung device. The home screen has friendly navigation menus to adjust options such as audio output and display, with clearly readable selections that don't overwhelm you with choices. One of the screens -- for speaker setup -- is even graphical, with audio prompts to help you test your speaker arrangement. And if something isn't clear from the menus, you'll likely find the answer in the generous, well-crafted manuals.
The BDP9000 can play back videos on Blu-ray Discs or DVDs (it converts standard-definition DVDs to 1,080p via HDMI), music on audio CDs or MP3 files on CD or DVD, and JPEG pictures stored on DVD or CD. Unlike the Samsung, it also has a dual-slot CompactFlash, Memory Stick and SD Card media reader, and it can play back MP3s and JPEGs from media cards.
Blu-ray Disc movies looked vibrant and sharp -- as expected on a Pioneer Elite FHD1 50-in. plasma screen, the television I used to view the movies. In my casual hands-on trials, disc start-up time was reasonable, but I noticed an occasional delay as I switched scenes in the middle of the movie.
The unit's limited audio coder/decoder support depends on how you output from the player to the TV. For example, it supports Blu-ray Disc playback of two- and six-channel PCM audio, but not 5.1-channel Dolby Digital (which is supported over analog but not HDMI). If you want to hear a rousing movie soundtrack in its full multichannel glory using audio codecs other than those supported on-board, you'll need to output audio as bitstream to an HDMI 1.2-capable receiver that can decode the raw audio signal stored on the disc.
The comfortable ergonomic remote has responsive buttons that I found easy to navigate once I familiarized myself with the layout (several buttons were smaller than I had expected). The bookmarks button -- a standard feature of Toshiba Corp.'s competing HD DVD player -- offers to save up to 10 favorite marks for a disc. Unfortunately, unlike the Toshiba version, the feature in the Philips unit worked only while a disc was inserted; once you take your movie out of the player, you won't be able to jump right back to your favorite scene.
With its sophisticated look, easy navigation and support for CDs, MP3s, DVDs and flash media cards, Philips's BDP9000 is a well-designed challenger to the Samsung in the Blu-ray player market.
Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com.
Story copyright 2006 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.