Posted by: kurtsh | September 29, 2005

NEWS: Why are Intel & Microsoft supporting HD-DVD over Blu-Ray

Much has been said by the peanut gallery over Intel & Microsoft’s announcement to support HD-DVD over Blu-Ray.  The comments I’ve read are mostly by supposed savants of the technology that, based on their comments appear to have done nothing but read articles and have no true practical knowledge or experience with DVD format standards.
There’s been an article put out on Tom’s Hardware that goes into very good detail as to why we are supporting HD-DVD:  There are many reasons, including China’s recent declaration that their largest DVD player manufacturing plants will adopt the HD-DVD standard and focus production on manufacturing HD-DVD players – not Blu-Ray. 
However, the topic that’s on everyone’s minds is the comment that we made about "HD-DVD having a greater capacity that Blu-Ray".  This has sparked SHEER OUTRAGE by the bloggers and the aforementioned "savants" of the technology claiming that "it’s well known that Blu Ray’s capacity is 50GB and HD-DVD’s capacity is 30GB.
What the URL above describes however is the rationale behind this statement: 
1) HD-DVD discs are in production today in mass quantities as are the players and recorders.  They will undoubtedly be first to market providing the full 30GB capacity promised and the hardware to play/record on these discs will ship just as quickly.  There are tons of samples of these floating around and it has been demonstrated numerous times.
2) BluRay, on paper (which is what everyone’s "well known" information has come from since no one’s actually seen a mass produced BluRay disc or player or recorder) appears to have the capacity edge with 50GB.  However after you’ve read all the paper, Intel & Microsoft discovered that in reality there hasn’t been any work to mass produce 50GB BluRay discs – 50GB discs are only available in lab environments.  All the discs being created in a manner that is conducive to true mass production are 25GB in capacity.
This is the reason, the announcement was made that HD-DVD had a greater capacity.  And this will be EASILY provable.  Watch for the release of HD-DVD players, recorders, and discs.  Then simply hold your breath for the BluRay products to come out at 50GB capacities.
I wouldn’t hold my breath too long.  The fact of the matter is that this is VHS vs Betamax all over again.  VHS was cheaper to manufacture and more easily producable.  Betamax, which technically superior, was a laggard and essential resigned to a niche position in today’s market.  Will HD-DVD dominate BluRay in the same way, probably not to this extreme – however even if they manage to produce 50GB discs, it isn’t likely going to remedy any of the other issues listed at
UPDATE 9/29/2005 – 3:36PM
I just got a comment from a PM from the group that wrote iHD and he confirmed that BluRay 50GB discs aren’t just vapor in terms of mass produceable consumer product, they’re THEORETICAL – as in they don’t even exist today.  The 50GB capacity is just what the disc could potentially do at some point in time… once they get the 25GB discs functional… and they get players and writers that can use them.
One thing he stressed was the this is NEED that the world has now.  People want high fidelity, high resolution HD video on disc and the general public (not the geeks of the world) don’t care about an extra 20GB anyway because a HD movie can be fit easily into 15-20GB using VC1 and H264 codecs.  What they care about is that the HD-capable disc they buy with their copy of Lord Of The Rings in Hi-Def is cheap and readily available in stores along with cheap HD video disc players… and eventually cheap writers as well.  People’s tendency to quibble on the "potential 20GB" that BluRay might some day deliver is simply not important compared to having a great product available that satisfies a business need today of movie publishers.
UPDATE 9/30/2005 – 5:40PM
There’s an analysis of this news highlighting consumer choice around the topic of DVD formats:
There’s also an article the goes over the issue of next gen DVD media durability and the economics of disk protection which frankly makes one wonder why there is even a discussion:


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