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New optical disc formats, BD vs. HD-DVD

For some time now all major players in the optical industry have been working on the successor of DVD. Indeed, a new disc type with more capacity, about 25 GB per layer as opposed to the 4.5 GB per layer for DVDs. Similarly as with DVD there are again two camps and unfortunately two competing disc formats.

Remember with DVD it was the plus camp (DVD+RW) and the dash or minus camp (DVD-RW), not to mention DVD-RAM which is still very popular and not only in the far East. Fortunately there was a common DVD standard for stamped discs that could be used for all Video and Data applications. And all players and writers of both camps could at least deal with those. But once you wanted to write your own discs you had to decide on one of two formats, each also with their own Video recording standards. In the beginning there was sort of a tension ... who's going to win ..., yet today we know that there will never be a winner and both (or all three) formats live next to each other. These days multi-format drives deal with all formats. And while this is a blessing, as one can now read all discs, there are serious draw backs. Quality of reading, quality of writing, cost of the final product etc. but this is another discussion.

Today's camps, and we won't go into the boring details of who's with who, are promoting two new standards. BD, which comes from Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, which of course also makes use of the blue laser. The blue laser's wavelength makes it possible to read data from smaller pits and lands, put closer to each other on a disc, so that more data can be packed on the same physical space.

It is to early to say how things will evolve with these two formats. Will one of the two formats win or will they coexist like the different DVD formats? The situation however is not the same as with DVD and I'm curious to see how things will play out. This time there is no common standard for stamped Video and Data discs. The Video discs that you will buy for instance will be in the BD or HD-DVD format. So this time the movie industry plays a much bigger role in the game. If all studios go for one format only then the other format will most likely disappear, because in time video players and applications will be produced for this one format and as Video is such an important factor in the game the effort for data alone would probably not survive.

In the early adoption phase it is my guess that the opportunists that support the two formats for play- back will make money.

If you want to read up on the latest stories, successes, announcements etc., I have collected a few interesting links for you:

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