HD-DVD Eases Transition to High Def

Japanese electronics giants Toshiba and NEC, joined by disc manufacturer Memory-Tech continue to work on a new format called HD-DVD that will help ease the transition to high definition DVD. The companies hope that Hollywood and DVD player manufacturers take their side in what looks to be a brutal fight brewing in the race to HD.

The competing format, called Blu-ray, is being developed by Sony and several partners. Disney recently announced it will release movies based on the format when discs become available late next year.

According to the New York Times, Blu-ray relies heavily on Sony technology, and was designed more for traditional DVD usage with video - despite its whopping 50 gigabyte capacity. However, HD-DVD proponents see their format as one that can be used both for movies and a new and much larger storage medium for personal computing use.

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HD-DVD discs will have two layers of data. One will be in the old DVD format, which can hold about five gigabytes. The second layer will have the data stored in HD-DVD format, which holds 15 gigabytes. The discs have already been successfully tested in over 200 regular DVD players, Masato Otsuka of Memory-Tech told PCWorld this week.

Both Hollywood and several companies including NEC and Sanyo say that HD-DVD players and compatible discs should be ready for the 2005 holiday shopping season. This will include a HD-DVD player for under $1,000 USD by Toshiba.

Although the players will initially be too expensive for most consumers, BetaNews has learned that the hybrid discs are not expected to cause the price of DVDs themselves to rise. HD-DVD discs can be manufactured for the same price as current DVDs.

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