RealTime IT News

Can Blu-ray, HD-DVD Meet in The Middle?

Looking to bridge the gap between two competing optical disk standards, HP has asked the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) to include two technologies already supported in HD-DVD in the Blu-ray format specification.

Specifically, HP appealed to the group about Managed Copy and iHD, which it said will "address the fundamental technical needs of the PC and help create a seamless experience throughout the digitally connected home."

Managed Copy allows consumers to make legitimate copies of their HD movies to use around the home or across their networks. Making this feature mandatory will ensure a consistent consumer experience across all next-generation DVD content, HP argued.

iHD allows new interactivity with standards-based development tools and technologies to provide consumers with better content, navigation and functionality for HD films. HP said Microsoft plans to support iHD in its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system.

The formal request reflects HP's desire to ensure that customers are not forced to choose between competing HD formats for DVDs.

"HP is committed to delivering rewarding consumer experiences, and we see format compatibility as critical to making technology accessible and easy to use for consumers," said John Romano, senior vice president for HP's Consumer PC Global Business Unit.

HP's olive branch is a welcome sign in a fierce battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, two pending optical disk formats that promise consumers crystal clear picture resolution.

Blu-Ray and HD DVD use blue lasers, which have a shorter wavelength than the red lasers used in current DVD players. This allows discs to store data at the higher densities needed for high-definition TV.

But each spec has different backers, creating two formidable camps.

HP, Dell, Sony and Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Co. and Twentieth Century Fox support Blu-ray. Microsoft, Intel, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Studios have endorsed HD DVD.

While DVD players equipped with either format aren't expected until 2006, Forrester Research has already tabbed Blu-ray the winner, citing Blu-ray's greater capacity, Java support and ability to be used in games and computers.