Wednesday, September 28, 2005

HD-DVD Vs Blue-Ray and Why Microsoft/Intel went with HD

Microsoft and Intel have announced that they are nolonger staying neutral in the coming standards war and instead backing HD-DVD. I was a little surprised by this and Tom's Hardware has an article about why they have abandoned Blue-Ray.

Effectively Intel and Microsoft have jointly produced a requirements document for the next big storage medium and Blue-Ray has failed a fair few of them:
  • Authorised copies of a legally obtained disc
    Blue-Ray will not allow you to copy discs, this might seem odd, but Microsoft and Intel want to do this because Intel has a new standard coming out (like Centrino) called Viiv that will allow you to do some funky home entertainment stuff, and in that they want to copy films to a hard drive. Blue-Ray will not let them do that.

  • Support for hybrid discs
    Blue-Ray will not support forwards compatibility (do not get me started Again). Either by one side bing DVD and the other being Blue-Ray or some other method. HD-DVD discs on the other hand have the real potential to be sold as HD-DVD discs and still offer functionality if you only have a standard DVD reader.

  • Maintaining low production costs
    China is backing HD-DVD. So HD-DVD drives will be much cheaper.

  • Maintaining low disc replication costs
    For a disc replication facility to produce Blue-Ray discs, they will have to invest $1.7million per production line. HD-DVD on the other hand does not require a complete retooling of the facility. That isn't to say it won't cost money, but it is cheaper because HD-DVD is fairly close to how our current DVD standard works.

  • Disc storage capacity
    This surprised me, but HD-DVD has working 30GB drives where as Blue-Ray only has 25GB drives. Sony has promised 50GB discs, but they haven't managed to get that into a demonstration unit.

  • Interactivity standards (I think this means the Title Menus)
    HD-DVD is using iHD which is XML powered (sounds like it might use WinFX, better know as the Flash killer). And Blue-Ray is using BDJ which is powered by Java and supposedly so difficult to use, nobody will.
It seems that the only thing Blue-Ray has going for it is that discs can't be copied (a pro depending on your perspective) and the promised capacity of 50GB, but Toshiba has said that they will be able to support 45GB so even that isn't going to be an advantage over HD in the future.