HD DVD — Live in Las Vegas

Seems like only yesterday we were here at the Las Vegas Convention Centre talking about how HD DVD was "coming soon". Now we're here again just a few short months later for the NAB trade show (National Association of Broadcasters), but this time the players are real, the titles are real, and people are loving it.

Folks are amazed when they come up to the Microsoft booth, see the cool demos, and ask us "When will HD DVD be available in stores?" because the reply is "HD DVD shipped last week!"

So next they ask "How much will the players cost?" and we reply "Toshiba's player starts at $499!"

And then "How much do the discs cost?" -- "$20-$25!"

And finally "How many titles are there?" -- "6 right now; around 200 by Christmas!"

HD DVD has more announced content, more guaranteed features, more proven disc capacity, and more affordable pricing than Blu-ray. And if you have an HD TV and you want to get your hands on some unbelievably good-looking content right now, HD DVD is the only format you can actually buy! (Assuming they haven't already sold out at your local store... these things are selling fast!).

If you're at NAB, drop by the Microsoft booth and say "Hi!" We're also showcasing a bunch of other cool things, like the VC-1 standard codec (used in all current HD DVD titles), our broadcasting, IPTV, and mobile solutions, and of course Windows Vista and PlaysForSure devices.

(Interestingly, one of the questions I get asked a lot is "Why are there still black lines [letterboxes] on these movies?" The answer is that the movies are shot in wide screen 2.35:1 aspect ratio, whereas a 16:9 TV is only 1.77:1. The cool part though is that there is no more anamorphic "squeezing" on HD DVD like there was on DVD -- the movie is encoded in its full native resolution of 1920 x 1080.)

Comments (7)

  1. SOmeUser says:

    The only reason MS is going for HD-DVD only is because Bluray mandates Java, whereas HD-DVD does not. And we all know the problems MS had with Sun because of Java, and my guess is that MS wants to avoid more hassle.

  2. Rosyna says:

    What does "More proven disc capacity" mean?

    And I still haven’t seen how either format handles animation. DVD handles it very, very badly. In fact, many times VHS animation can look better than DVD animation, depending on how it was encoded.

  3. ptorr says:

    SomeUser — If what you said was true, then Microsoft would have pushed for .NET in HD DVD as it competes with Java.

    But the fact is that for authoring interactive movie titles, a general-purpose platform like Java is not the best approach. Instead, it is much better to have a system like iHD that is tailored to timeline-based programming and uses industry-standard technologies like XML, XPath, and SMIL to perform layout and animation.

    I encourage you to read some of my other posts about iHD to see why this is so.

  4. ptorr says:

    Rosyna: HD DVD is currently shipping 30Gb pre-recorded discs, such as the titles from Warner and Universal on-shelves today.

    There are no pre-recorded Blu-ray discs on the market at the moment, and TDK — one of the founders of BD — is only selling 25Gb blanks. The 50Gb is listed as coming "later this year", and it’s the same story with Panasonic.

    Things may change in the future, but right now HD DVD has "more proven capacity"

  5. SomeUser says:

    Ptorr, I don’t discount the fact that Java is not very good, and iHD may be better or not.

    My point was that MS wanted to avoid Java because of the licensing hassle with Sun, rather than whether BR or HD-DVD is better/worse.

    MS could have well supported both BR and HD, and I have the impression they were going to at first, until the Java part became mandatory for BR.

    MS should not be taking sides with either BR or HD. They should suport both, after all do you want consumers to not use Windows because there is no good standard for players and it is found that BR won (hypothetically) ?

  6. ptorr says:

    We expect Blu-ray playback will be provided on Windows by 3rd parties, just as they support DVD playback today. So Windows users will still get to choose either format.

    BD-J isn’t as simple as just licensing Java from Sun. You should check out http://www2.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/16/mhp_licensing_uproar/ for example (BD-J is based on MHP).

  7. If you were at CES or NAB this year, you probably saw Microsoft’s "concept" demo for Universal Pictures’…

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