12 September 2007

China Adopts New HD Disc Standard, HD DVD Reaches 51GB

CH-DVD (China High Definition DVD), the new high-def DVD has been developed by the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center (OMNERC), a laboratory inside the Tsinghua University, in collaboration with other research institutes and manufacturing enterprises at home and abroad.

The relationship between Toshiba’s HD DVD and the CH-DVD is very close, since the latter is designed based on the HD DVD specifications, but also includes Chinese intellectual property. CHDA will play a leadership role in the promotion of CH-DVD, and will make a big push to launch CH-DVD player into the Chinese market in 2008.

The CH-DVD boasts with advanced copy-protection features (piracy being one of China’s greatest plagues), which should effectively prevent the spreading of pirated discs.

HD DVD and CH DVD are compatible, which means HD DVD players (with additional software) can read CH DVD, and vice versa.

The news of a third next-gen DVD format comes in a time of intense fighting between the two main rivals, Toshiba and Sony. Toshiba allegedly paid $150 to Paramount and DreamWorks for the two studios’ exclusive support for HD DVD, while Sony claimed at the end of August an early lead in front of its home ground rival, with 1 million Blu Ray discs sold in the US, and 250,000 sold in Europe. According to Sony's estimates, Blu-ray discs now account for 69% of the total high-definition market in Europe, with Sony titles making up more than 47% of the total European Blu-ray market.

However, with the launch of this third format, China becomes the preferred territory for the high-def battle. At the beginning of September, China Film Group, one of China’s largest film distribution groups, had also adopted the Bly Ray in detriment of HD DVD, while Toshiba responded with the launch of a super-cheap, $199 HD DVD player from Venturer Electronics, a Canadian-based distributor of Chinese made consumer electronics.

The player, which will be on North American store shelves in Q4 2007, is called SHD7000 and features 1080i video output, an HDMI connection (to upconvert standard DVD to near HD quality) and Ethernet connectivity, which allows for network access to studios and third parties via the Internet. Toshiba currently sells its HD-A2 HD DVD player for $299 after a $100 manufacturer’s rebate.

And to spice things up even more, on September 7, the DVD Forum officially approved on August 31 the 51 GB single-sided triple-layer HD DVD disc (an extension to the HD DVD standard, which was submitted by Toshiba in April) for production. With this approval, the HD DVD camp not only demolishes the Blu Ray camp’s argument that the BD is better because it can store more information, but also surpasses Blu Ray, which can only hold 50GB of data.

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