Friday, August 3, 2007

HD DVD Vs Blu-ray

There has been a technology on the horizon for quite some time, and now it is here. High Definition movies will be available mid 2006 in two formats: Blu-Ray and HD DVD. These two formats both offer similar features on the same sized disc, but they have no plans to be compatible in the same movie player. This has created a split in the movie industry and companies are taking sides.

Blu-ray technology was developed by Sony who has a history for creating incompatible products like Beta-Max video tape (against VHS) and Memory Stick flash memory (against SD). A Blu-Ray Disc is simply the same as a DVD, but the information is more tightly packed together. This was made possible by using a more precise laser to read the disc. The blue-violet laser beam replaces the typical red beam of past technology like DVD and CD formats. The wavelength of the blue-violet laser beam is shorter, allowing it to be focused onto a smaller area. That way the information can be more tightly packed. Blu-Ray claims it can fit five times more information on one disc than there is available on a conventional DVD. This extra space makes it possible to fit HD quality movies and sound that will not fit on currently available DVDs. Blu-Ray players will also be backward compatible, which means that they will play CDs and DVDs as well. It will not support the HD DVD format.

HD DVD uses almost the same technology as Blu-Ray, but it is not as compressed. This only allows for about three times more capacity than a DVD can hold. This is still sufficient space for HD quality movies, and HD DVD promises no difference in picture/sound quality. The technology was created by Toshiba, NEC and Sanyo. Recently, Intel and Microsoft have backed HD DVD which will help in the computer integration of HD DVD. HD DVD players will also be backward compatible with CDs and DVDs.

The two are very similar technologically, however, Blu-Ray seems to have an edge on marketing their product. More studios and electronic companies are using the Blu-Ray format. Blu-Ray Discs also offer more capacity that could carry them further in the long run. There is skepticism about there being two formats, but in a free market society competition is what drives companies to offer better quality at a fair price. This is a sizable advantage for consumers and it will keep the video media industry from having a monopoly on a high demand product. If you are going to shell out $500+ for a player, go with Blu-Ray.

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