Blu-ray/HD DVD Combo Discs Delayed

Warner Home Video's answer to the rift in the high-definition DVD industry will not arrive in the second half of this year as planned, instead reaching the market in 2008. 10-20 movies will be initially offered using the "Total HD" technology, which includes both HD DVD and Blu-ray on a single disc.

Total HD made its official debut at CES 2007, with the promise of sandwiching two data layers atop one another -- not one format on one side and another on the flip side -- with each layer capable of being read by its respective player.

As previously reported by BetaNews' Scott Fulton, the key is enabling the transmissivity of the lower layers in the sandwich, by reducing the reflectivity of those above them. Warner's inventors claimed to have discovered that high reflectivity was not entirely necessary for even existing players to read the signals from thinner, underlying layers - transmissivity could theoretically be reduced from 100% to as low as 12%, and still be effective.

Most importantly, a Total HD disc would not need a hybrid player such as the one LG unveiled at CES, and may solve the problem of media retailers having to divide their high-def shelves into separate segments. But, up to this point, neither the HD DVD nor Blu-ray camps have supported the possible compromise.

Warner says that it sees demand for standard-definition DVDs, as well as growing demand for HD DVD and Blu-ray. Instead of crowding the market with multiple versions of the same movies (the studio is already combining widescreen and fullscreen DVDs), Total HD would mean one movie disc for both high-definition formats and, in turn, reduce the required expensive retail shelf space in the process.

The studio says it's not in a rush to bring Total HD to the market, and will do so only when the technology is ready. The company was originally working on a three layer disc that would have enabled up to 22 format combinations.

A triple-layer disc is something Toshiba is also testing in order to offer capacity of 51GB. But the fact that each layer is limited to 17 GB, rather than the 25 GB per layer that's possible with dual-layer blue-laser discs, may be an indication that a three-layer format such as the one Warner Bros. patented last year may not have been feasible with older or existing blue-laser players after all.

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