HP Blesses Rival HD-DVD Formats


HP has agreed to support the HD-DVD high-definition DVD format in addition
to the Blu-ray Disc format, becoming the latest influential company to back
both competing standards for high-quality digital television.


The Palo Alto, Calif., systems vendor also joined the HD-DVD Promotions
Group.


Originally only a backer of Blu-ray, HP last month promised
to add support for HD-DVD if Blu-ray didn’t adopt Mandatory Managed Copy and
iHD, which are already included in the HD-DVD format.


Blu-ray adopted Mandatory Managed Copy, which permits consumers to make
legal copies of video content. But it did not accept iHD, which allows
content providers to offer new interactivity to provide consumers with
better content, navigation and functionality for HD films.


Microsoft developed iHD and will support it in its forthcoming Windows Vista
operating system.


HP believes both Mandatory Managed Copy and iHD are important to fostering
the digitally connected home, which is why it chose to support HD-DVD.
Moreover, HP is in bed with Microsoft on most digital media strategies,
making iHD an obvious support decision for HP.


HP believes this integration will reduce development costs and provide a
more cost-effective solution for consumers. HP also blessed HD-DVD for being
cheaper and easier to manufacture.


HP is now essentially a neutral supporter of both technologies.


“We’re encouraged that the Blu-ray Disc Association is adopting Mandatory
Managed Copy. Because HP wants to deliver the most user-friendly and
cost-effective solution to our customers, we have decided to support both
formats,” said Maureen Weber, general manager, personal storage business,
HP.


“By joining the HD-DVD Promotions Group and continuing work with the Blu-ray
Disc Association, HP will be in a better position to assess true development
costs and, ultimately, provide the best and most affordable solution for
consumers.”


Neutral or not, HP’s stance mirrors that of several movie studios, most of
which chose one standard but ultimately decided to support both.


No one wants to invest in just one technology in case the other fails, which
is how several companies lost money in the Sony-Betamax video cassette
protocol war in the 1980s.


Consumer electronics retailers will be pressured to aggressively market DVD
players equipped with either technology, creating a multi-billion-dollar
market space.


Latest polls give Blu-ray the edge.


DVD players equipped with Blu-ray or HD-DVD aren’t expected until 2006, but
Forrester Research has already tabbed Blu-ray the winner, citing its greater
capacity, Java support and ability to be used in games and computers.


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.

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