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Click and Hack: What’s next for DVDs?

Click and Hack
High Country Business Review
Click and Hack is provided by The Computer Store and Repair, located in Frisco, Colorado. E-mail clickandhack@friscocomputerstore.com.
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If you’re old enough to remember the VHS vs. Betamax videotape battle of the early 1980s, then you might be interested in watching the next battle in video formats unfold between Blu-ray and HD DVD. The two technologies are battling to be the new replacement for DVD.

With high-definition TV becoming the norm, the new formats support the higher storage demands of high-definition video. Although both Blu-ray and HD DVD players will play your “old” DVDs, they won’t play in high definition. At some point, you’ll need to choose between the two, and herein lies the problem.

The two technologies are incompatible, and most observers agree that only one format will survive long term. You can find some movies available in both formats, but often,they’re available in only one or the other depending upon the studio. Players that handle both HD DVD and Blu-ray are on the horizon (LG offers one), but for now, your best choice may be to wait until the battle unfolds or commit to one format or the other with the hope that you’ve chosen the right path.



Both Blu-ray and HD DVD are high-density optical-disc formats that use a blue laser to read and write to the disc. The blue laser uses a shorter wavelength than the laser used by DVDs today and therefore substantially more data can be stored.

Blu-ray, however, offers a capacity advantage. According to PC Magazine, this advantage is important, as it gives the technology room to grow and also allows the movie studios to provide full, uncompressed audio. Blu-ray players, however, suffer by comparison to HD DVD in the interactivity they currently offer in the movie playback experience (such as on-demand picture-in-picture displays, book-marking of favorites scenes, Java-based games, etc.), which, though possible with the technology, isn’t generally available due to the fact that early specifications didn’t require this functionality in players, though this will change.



HD DVD, on the other hand, required more stringent minimum requirements from the beginning, so HD DVD players currently include ethernet connections among other features enabling you to enjoy a variety of fun interactive features, as explained by PC Magazine.

Regarding the players, there are currently more choices available with Blu-ray technology than with HD DVD. But, over time, the playing field will likely level as the price of high definition players overall will drop while the features available will continue to improve in both formats.

In the end, your best option may still be to wait and see how the battle plays out. Similar to the race of VHS and Betamax, our opinion is that the winner in the end may not be decided on technological superiority at all, but on the marketing prowess of the sponsors. The sponsor that can make the best feature-rich product widely available at an acceptable price may well be the winner, regardless of the relative technical specifications.




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