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Blue-Ray vs. HD DVD interesting stuff

Dual-format discs may give peace of mind in next-gen optical wars
1/4/2007 11:23:11 AM, by Eric Bangeman

Warner Brothers will announce a new hybrid disc capable of playing both HD DVD and Blu-ray movies in addition to DVD at next week's Consumer Electronics Show. Dubbed Total HD, the disc will store content in the HD DVD format on one side and Blu-ray on the other.

Both HD DVD and Blu-ray are vying to become the successor to the DVD format, which in turn has only recently overtaken VHS as the most popular medium for viewing home movies. Each of the next-generation formats has a set of studios behind it. Universal Studios has thrown its weight behind HD DVD, ignoring Blu-ray altogether. Disney, MGM, Sony, and 20th Century Fox are releasing content only in Blu-ray, while Paramount and Warner are supporting both HD DVD and Blu-ray.

Warner Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer is pitching the dual-format DVDs as a consumer-friendly solution to the conundrum of which of the competing formats to purchase, a challenge consumers will be facing for the foreseeable future. "We felt that the most significant constituency for us to satisfy was the consumer first, and the retailer second," Mayer told the New York Times. "The retailer wants to sell hardware and doesn't want to be forced into stocking two formats for everything. This is ideal for them."

At the onset, only Warner Brothers will be releasing movies on the Total HD discs. Chances are Paramount will follow suit if Warner licenses the disc format—which is the subject of a few patents—at a reasonable cost. The rest of the studios that are currently backing one format over another are unlikely to follow suit at the onset. This is especially true of Sony, which has made Blu-ray support a centerpiece of the PlayStation 3 and has a huge investment in the format's success.

Once Total HD discs begin shipping, retailers are going to have to find space on their shelves for a fourth type of optical disc. Despite the problems this might cause, stores will likely embrace the dual-format discs as they give consumers another option when it comes to deciding which bandwagon to jump on.

ARS Technica

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