The other night I was sitting on my couch participating in one of Americaís great mind-numbing past-times: watching television. When a commercial came on, I was about to get up for a quick drink, but I saw it was a commercial for UnderWorld: Evolution. At the end of the commercial, they indicated that the movie is available now on DVD, and coming soon to BLU-RAY. The only thing I could think was, ďThe War is Here.Ē
For those of you who havenít been paying attention, a war has been brewing over the next generation of DVD standards. In one corner stands the BDA, with its Blu-ray specification. In the other corner is the DVD Forum, supporting its HD DVD format. This war has been heating up for the last several years, but seeing a commercial on network television told me that the fight has finally come to the consumer.
If youíre a regular reader of Dev Hardware, you may have read an article on this subject that we published back in November of 2005. In that article, Terri Wells talked about the emerging technologies, before they actually hit the streets. With the airing of that commercial last night (which was most probably NOT the first time itís aired), it is obvious that this fight is about to get a whole lot tougher.
So why do we even NEED a new DVD format? Well, there are actually two reasons for that. First, with the number of blockbuster movies each year, not only are the movies in high demand, but so are the extras that come along with them. When you buy a movie on DVD, you get not only the movie, but maybe different versions (Widescreen and standard), different soundtracks (English, Spanish, French, etc.), featurettes (the making of the movie, behind the scenes, etc.), bloopers, interviews, commentaries, original art concepts, again the list goes on. With each new feature, the space requirements go up. I personally own movies that include five or six DVDs full of extras (pick any Lord of the Rings movie). A disc with more capacity would be a welcome change from the current options.
The other reason for a new format is the coming explosion of HDTV. While high definition TVs have been available for a while now, they are not yet widespread. But changes in manufacturing and technological innovations are swiftly bringing HDTV into the realm of the everyday consumer. With high definition being available, consumers are going to want to be able to watch their movies in this format. A single high definition movie won't even fit on todayís DVDs, let alone any extras. So yes, a new DVD format is definitely needed.
So which of the formats should we choose? Which one is best for the consumer? Letís read on a bit, to find out.
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