The Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD debate will intensify as we head towards 2006 when both formats finally make its way to the market. Although fundamentally both formats uses blue laser (smaller wavelength) instead of red laser that is used for today’s DVD or CD, they have different technical implementation that makes both formats incompatible with one another. The Blu-ray format is spearheaded by Sony and Philips while the HD (High Density)-DVD is spearheaded by Toshiba and Hitachi.
I’m starting to feel a little deja vu with the technology industry when it comes to agreeing on a common standard. First there was the VHS vs. Betamax, zip disk vs. superdisk LS-120, and in recent years came DVD+R vs. DVD-R, and now we have Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD disc. It seems like there’s always a competing standard that splits the industry into two (or more) from adopting a universal standard that could reduce the confusion among consumers as well as accelerate an industry-wide adoption of a common standard. In most cases, these competing standards do not work well with one another until an in-between solution is made, such as the DVD+/-R compatible drives or one of the other standards fades away from the competition.
Here’s some quick facts of Blu-ray and HD-DVD:
- 25GB (single layer) / 50GB (dual layer)
- 0.1mm surface layer thickness
- 15GB (single layer) / 30GB (dual layer)
- 0.6mm surface layer thickness (similar to CD/DVD)
So here’s my 2 cent, Blu-ray may stand a better chance in becoming the next generation of DVD. Firstly, from a technical point of view, Blu-ray offers more capacity compared to HD-DVD. In this digital age, we can never seem to get enough of storage space and thus having more capacity could give Blu-ray a better advantage to be the next generation of DVD. Furthermore, looking at the list of companies behind the Blu-ray Disc Association, it has, in my opinion, more influential companies and studios in the industry that could push Blu-ray into the forefront as the next generation media format compared to HD-DVD.
Knowing the fact that Sony would include Blu-ray drives in the upcoming PS3 console, the popularity of Blu-ray media and devices would certainly surge despite the higher cost to produce the thinner Blu-ray media. The past success story of Sony’s PS2 console has in some ways popularized as well as lowered the prices of DVD devices. This could perhaps generate the same effect on Blu-ray from the upcoming PS3 console release. Microsoft on the other camp (HD-DVD) is rumoured to include HD-DVD drives in future Xbox 360 console which like every other rumour, may or may not happen.
The HD-DVD camp has, in my opinion, cost as its strongest point in this competition to be the next generation DVD. But like every other new technology, the cost would fall dramatically once it reaches a certain level of mass production. And using the name DVD in HD-DVD may make it sounds more like the next generation of higher density DVD. Perhaps it would make it easier to promote HD-DVD to the average Joe, while Blu-ray would be equivalent to explaining about the change from CD to DVD. Well, we did it once, and as long as it gives a noticeable advantage to the average Joe, doing it again would probably be easier this time.
Just my 2 cents… and will the better of the two formats wins.