HD-DVD News from CES

I watched the Bill Gates keynote at CES tonight (via the web, I'm not in Vegas or anything) and it included a demo and hot news about HD-DVD, the next generation hi-def DVD format.

The hot news was that HD-DVD drives will be available as an add-on for the Xbox 360 - very cool.

The demo was exciting as my team had been working hard on that, and it went well. In case you missed it, it showed:

  • High definition movie content (obviously!), it was "The Bourne Identity"
  • iHD interactivity, which included the menu and other interactive features showing up while the movie was still running (is this the end of the boring-menu-at-the-start-of-the-disc? I hope so)
  • Directors Commentary showing you the executive producer (Frank Marshall) talking overlaid in the corner of the movie, not just another audio track like DVDs. iHD supports Picture in Picture (PIP) to make this easy
  • Pop-ups showing recently featured actors, letting you check their bios while the movie is still running (to instantly solve those "oooh what movie was she in?" quandries)
  • Managed Copy which lets you make a legal copy of the HD movie onto your PC hard drive

In separate CES news, Toshiba has announced that their first HD-DVD players will be shipping in March for less than $500. I want one!

Comments (9)

  1. Rik says:

    Is there going to be an option to have a big pause in the middle of the movie when the drive switches layers, or something?

  2. Dave R. says:

    Unless the add-on is considerably cheaper than that standalone player, then I doubt it’s going to be that popular. The existing DVD format is fine and many will be playing wait-and-see with the PS3, which will have the competing high-def standard onboard.

  3. Klimax says:

    You said Managed copy?Then i am not intersted.Unless I can make a copy of purchased movie wherever I want,I will not buy any HD-DVD.No content is worth of DRM!

  4. Andy-Pennell says:

    Rik: for a layer change the bitrate of the video has to be temporariliy reduced (I forget the exact number), for a seamless layer change. Good encoders have this as an option, and good authors choose a suitable point in the movie to reduce the bitrate.

  5. Andy-Pennell says:

    Kilmax: I think you are somewhat delusional if you think the studios are going to let HD content be freely copied without DRM. The trick with DRM is making it easy to use and flexible, and Managed Copy is just that.

    Enjoy your low-def movies Kilmax, I’ll enjoy my HD ones.

  6. zzz says:

    What is the big deal about managed copy. Who the f* cares about copying? Can you actually watch the HDD copy from every set in the house, wireless or not? That is what matters, not whether or not one can copy it to HDD.

    Also I saw the Blu-Ray dvds sport 1080p logo. Is this also the ?standard/recommended/minimum? resolution for HD-DVD? I mean, it must be, otherwise it is not HD right?

  7. Andy Pennell says:

    zzz, I don’t quite understand the first part of your comment. You can watch an HD-DVD from any TV that has a player attached. Managed copy will let you also watch a copy of that disc on your portable video devices, and other devices on your home network.

    Regarding the actual video content, both formats support a maximum vertical resolution of 1080 pixels in the video files. Whether a player actually emits 1080i or 1080p depends on the player: players of both formats have been announced that only support 1080i output (due to HDMI issues I think). You’ll only care if your TV supports 1080p input.

  8. Andy-Pennell says:

    Ahem it was, of course, "Bourne Supremacy" in fact. Having watched the first 10 minutes maybe a hundred times to fix an audio sync issue, I really should know its name.

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